Your stay in Nigeria will always be fun when you learn the top 20 Pidgin English phrases to use in Nigeria. This guide will teach you how to have fluent communication with Nigerians either in Nigeria or even abroad.
Introduction to Nigeria Pidgin English (NPE)
Statistics prove that there are over 520 languages in Nigeria and without doubt English is Nigeria’s official language. Besides Nigeria has three most common languages; Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo, which are widely spoken while Nigeria Pidgin is the most accepted Language in Nigeria
Nigeria Pidgin English (NPE) also known as Broken English: is an English-based creole language originated as a lingua franca for trade purposes amongst the Nigerians and the Portuguese merchants during the 17th century while it was later used to aid communication among Nigerians in almost different cities in most Nigeria states
Pidgin English Phrases Used in Nigeria
- Oya (“Hurry up”) – This word functions as a call-to-action while others conclude it as a command, which also depends on the context of how it was used. It can mean ‘come on’ or ‘hurry up’ It can also be used to coax; “Oya N”” can mean something along the lines of “please reconsider” Used as; “Oya make we dey go” (Hurry up, let’s go)
- Nawa oh! (”Wow!”) – The phrase is used as an expression of surprise. The ‘oh’ at the end is usually added to a lot of words and phrases, a kind of conversational tick to add emphasis. Used as;
- Abeg (“Please”) – “ah beg o!” or “Abeg! No waste my time!” This word can mean a lot. but you have to pay attention to how it was used or even facial expressions in most cases. When used as “Abeg Na” it refers to a request like “please help me”. “Abeg” can also be used to express disbelief or when you’re skeptical about something. Used as; “Abeg carry me go airport” (Please take me to the airport)
- Listen well well (“Pay attention”) – This phrase is mostly used when you talk to someone and need to pass across some very important information and they’re not giving you their attention, ”Listen well well” should get someone’s attention.
- Go slow (“Traffic jam”) – This phrase is common in Nigeria and mostly used by Nigeria in Lagos State for the high traffic they experience in their everyday life. it’s a phrase worth knowing for when you’re running late for a meeting, “Go slow” means “Traffic jam”. Used as; “Go slow dey for third mainland bridge this morning” (There was traffic jam at the third mainland bridge this morning)
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- How far (“Hello/How is everything?”) – This is a common phrase popularly used in all parts of Nigeria meaning; ‘How is everything?’. It almost the easiest means to exchange pleasant among Nigerians, it is a simple, informal greeting that’s best used with people you know well, or in casual settings. The verb at the end is often dropped, so beware: if someone asks you How far? they aren’t referring to your journey to meet them.
- You do well (“Thank you”) – The good thing about pidgin is that it most of it is easy to get your head around. “You do well” simply means “Thank you”. For example, in an informal setting with a friend, you can say “My friend you do well”.
- Wétin dey? (“What’s up/What’s going on?”) – This is another common phrase for greeting – one to try out with a taxi driver or market seller, for instance. If anything, this one is even more informal than how far. It can also be used aggressively in the sense of ‘what’s your problem?’. Dropping the dey and asking someone wétin only is a good way of telling them to back off. Back it up with your best scowl.
- No wahala (“No problem”) – “Wahala in pidgin mean trouble or problem” while “No wahala” is a phrase used to express approval or confirmation. When someone says “No wahala”, it could mean “Yes” or “No problem”. While “Wahala” means “trouble”, it can also refer to stress. Also used as; Wahala dey o (There’s problem)
- E don do (“Stop”) – This phrase is important especially when you engage with public transport in Nigeria or even a taxi.
- Make you turn left / right (“Turn left / right”) – This is pretty easy, as it is all English – it’s just the manner in which it is spoken. Giving a Taxi directions in pidgin is always helpful – as long as you know where you’re going, of course.
- Where the bathroom dey? (“Where is the bathroom?”) – Knowing how to ask where the bathroom is in pidgin is an obvious essential. Also used as: “Where i go put am” (where will i keep it?) or when you a hotel attendant “where your manager dey” (where is your manager?).
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At The Market
- How much this one cost? (“How much is this?”) – If you will need to buy something from the market or stores in Nigeria then, this phrase will be very essential for you to make a good bargain.
- E too cost abeg (“Too expensive”) – The prices of some things could be more expensive than you anticipated. Also used as: “E too cost abeg” Then a good bargain could continue from there.
- How much last? (“What is the last price?”) – Some trader might also like to bargain furthermore after you say “E too cost abeg”. To show how proficient you are with pidgin, You can say: “Oya, how much last?
- I no get (“I don’t have”) – This phrase generally mean ‘I don’t have’. Can be used as: “I no get anytin to tell you” means, “I have nothing to say to you” or “I’m speechless”
At the restaurant / bar
- I wan chop (“I’m hungry”) – A definite must-use phrase in a country renowned for its amazing food, “I wan chop” or “I dey H” means you’re hungry and want to eat.
- Dis food sweet well well (“Delicious”) – Maybe you just had a delicious traditional dishes in one restaurant in Nigeria and you want to express your pleasure and congratulate the chef. You can say: ”This food sweet well well” is the best way to give thanks and impress your hosts.
- Water (“Water”) – Not to worry, if you’re dying of thirst anyone around you will know what you mean when you ask for water as it’s the same in pidgin English.
- Make we go shayo (“Let’s grab a drink”) – “Shayo” can refer to beer, red wine, vodka or whatever else you might fancy on a night out in one Nigeria’s bars. “Make we go shayo” is definitely a great way to make new acquaintances and lasting friendships.