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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Sri Lanka

Useful phrases for Sri Lanka

Sinhala is the native language of the largest ethnic group of Sri Lanka. It's spoken as a first language by around three-quarters of the population and as a second language by most other people on the island. However, the vast majority of Sri Lankans speak pretty good English too, meaning you may not need too many Sinhalese phrases, but it's always polite to try a few.

Many Sinhalese nouns are an adaptation of English words with an added -eka, e.g. a bus is buseka, a torch is torcheka, so it should be easy to understand these words.

The translations given below are how you would pronounce the words as well. It should be noted that in Sinhalese the noun comes before the verb phrase. So, for 'I don't speak Sinhala', instead of saying 'Danna naa Singhala', they say 'Singhala danna naa'.

Common Sinhala phrases

Hello - Hallo
Good morning - Subha udesenak
Good evening - Subha sendewak
Good night - Subha ratthriyak
Bye (informal) - Gihin ennam
Yes – Ou
No – Nehe
OK – Hari
Please - Karunakara
Thank you – Stutti
Excuse me, … - Samawenna, ...
My name is ... - Mageh namma ...
I don't understand that - Mata eka therenne nehe
Do you speak English? - Katha karanawada engriesi baschawa?
I don't speak Sinhala - Singhala danna naa

Numbers

One – Ekka
Two – Dekka
Three – Thunna
Four – Hathara
Five – Paha
Six – Haya
Seven – Hatha
Eight – Atta
Nine - Nawaya
Ten - Dahaya

Out and about

How much is it? - Ehekka keeyada?
I will buy it - Mama Meka Gannawa
Where is...? - ...Kohe dha?
A ticket to..., please – Karunaka ra la...ta, Tikat ekak dhenna

Eating out

Restaurant - Apana sala
Breakfast - Udee tee
Lunch - Dawal kaama
Dinner - Paa kaama
I am vegetarian - Mama nairamaamaa vaemai
Not spicy please (I don't like spices) - Kau?au ba?au taearava
I am allergic - Ma?a asaata-mai-kayai
What can you recommend? - Oba maeana-vaada raekama-daarau karana-nae?
It was delicious - Eya itaa rasaya
The bill please - Karunaka rala bila Genna

Food and Drink terms

I would like... - Mama kah-matai-yai…
Meat - Mas
Fish - Malu
Vegetable – Ela walu
Fruit – Palathuru
Bread – Paan
Potato - Ala
Salad - Saladha
Steamed rice cakes - Idli
Pancake made from fermented dough - Dosai
Thin, spicy soup, usually with a tamarind base – Vadai rasam
Dry vegetable curry - Poriyal
Chicken curry - Kolikarri
Lamb curry - Attukkari
Sweet festival dish – Payasam
Dessert - Athurupasa
Drink – Beema
Coffee – Kopi
Tea – The
Juice – Isma
Water – Wathura
Beer – Beer
Wine - Wine