Do they speak French in Rwanda?

The most important words for a trip to Rwanda

Contact local travel agency

The fact that Rwanda is not particularly big has a clear advantage: everyone speaks the same language, Kinyarwanda. This language is very beautiful and particularly difficult to learn. But don't worry, in cities you can use one or the other official language, French and English. Depending on the age of the person you are talking to, you can decide as follows: older people have generally learned French, but the younger generation has chosen English. Certain people, especially traders and Muslims, also speak Kiswahili, a language that is very common in the rest of East Africa.

Pronunciation rules

The letter “e” is always pronounced “e”

The letter "u" is always pronounced "u"

The letter “c” is always pronounced “tch”

The letter “g” is always pronounced “g”

The letter "s" is always pronounced "ss" (sharp S) and never "s" (as in rope)

The letter “r” is halfway between “r” and “l”, one reason why the two are often confused

The pronunciation of Kinyarwanda is not very complicated for a German speaker. However, there are a few differences in pronunciation when two vowels or two consonants are next to each other. For example, in “mwiriwe” (which means hello), “mw” is almost pronounced like “mg”. The same is true for “Rwanda”, which is pronounced with a discrete “g” that is inserted between the two consonants. To discover these unfamiliar sounds, just listen carefully to the locals. You should also know that there is no pause between the words of a sentence, everything is connected.


In Kinyarwanda, the order of words isn't very important, but that doesn't mean the grammar is easy. On the contrary, the Rwandan names are divided into eleven different nominal classes. These classes affect the rest of the sentence: pronouns, verbs, etc. It would be too complicated to list all possible variations. But you should know that the beginning of a word changes depending on the noun class, the end of the word generally stays the same: it is the last letters that will help you to recognize a word in a sentence. The most common forms are listed in the following dictionary. The letter M before a verb indicates that you are addressing more than one person.

To find out more about this, we offer you a guide to conversation, which is very extensive and based on English.

Basic idioms / common expressions

Good day good eveningMwaramutse / Mwiriwe
How are you?Umeze ute? / Mumeze mute?
Good thanks and you?Meze neza, (m) urakoze, nawe se?
I understand / I don't understandNdabyumva / Simbyumva
Good dayIkaze
Many ThanksUrakoze / Murakoze (cyane)
Excuse me pleaseMbabarira / Nyabuneka
My name is...Nitwa ...
no thanksOya, (m) urakoze
Yes NoYego / Oya
Here you goMurakaza neza

Trade / Buy

How much does it cost?Bigura attacked?
That is a good priceSi igihendo
It is too expensiveMurahenda cyane
Can you bring the price down?Nyabuneka gabanya
I would like to buy thisNashaka kugura ... ibyo!
I like it / I don't like itNdakunda / Nanga
Just browsing.Ndareba gusa

Mode of Transport

I want to go to ...Ndashaka kujya
trainGari ya moshi
I want to rent a ...Ndashaka gukodesha ...


Where is ...? / How do I get to / to ...?Ni hehe hari ...? / Nagera nte i ...?
railway stationGare rutiyeri
City centerUmujyi rwagati
Is it far?Ni hafi? / Ni kure?
straightKomeza imbere
Left RightIbumoso / Iburyo
North South West EastMu majyaruguru / Mu majyepto / I Burasirazuba / I Burengerazuba


one two three four five six seven eight nine tenrimwe, kabiri, gatatu, kane, gatanu, gatandatu, karindwi, umunane, icyenda, icumi
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixtymakumyabiri, mirongo itatu, mirongo ine, mirongo itanu, mirongo itandatu
seventy, eighty, ninetymirongo irindwi, mirongo inani, mirongo icyenda

Times / date and days

What time is it?Ni gihe ki?
Today (tomorrow / noon / evening)Uyu munsi (igitondo / saa sita / numya ya saa sita)
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday SundayKuwa mbere, kuwa kabiri, kuwa gatatu, kuwa kane, kuwa gatanu, kuwa gatandatu, ku cyumweru
I'm on vacation hereNdi hano ku mpamvu y'ibiruhuko / y'urugendo
I am here to workNje muri akazi / afere

To table!

I'm hungry / I'm thirstyNdashonje / Mfite inyota
Good AppetiteMuryoherwe
Bottom up!Kubuzima bwacu!
It was great!Biraryoshye!
What do you recommend?Mwadushimira gufata iki?
I'm vegetarianSindya inyama
Not sharp! (I don't like it spicy)Nta rusenda
It is too hot!Ibi biryo birashyushe cyane
I have an allergyNgira ingaruka mbi ku ...
seafoodIbiribwa biva munyanja
glutenGluteni (ifarini)
I take / I would like to haveNdashaka ...
Tea / coffeeIcyayi / Ikawa
Beer WineInzoga / Divayi
The Bill pleaseNyabuneka, mpa fagitire

Health / Emergency / Safety

I have to see a doctorNkeneye umuganga
Call a doctor / ambulanceHamagara umuganga / imbangukiragutabara
Where is the hospital?Ni he ibitaro?
I do not feel goodNdumva ntameze neza
I am in pain hereNdababara hano
Where are the restrooms?Imisarani iri he?
Help!Ntabara! / Mfasha!
I've lost my wayNatakaye


Good day !Umunsi mwiza!
Updated October 8, 2018
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