There are so many different words and phrases that you could learn in Igbo, but I am going to show you the top 30 most useful Igbo phrases.
These phrases will help you to impress your Igbo Aunties, help you navigate the Lagos streets and be a great ice-breaker when you meet your relatives when you go back home.
And most importantly, help you get a deeper connection with your Igbo roots.
So without waiting any longer, here are your essential Igbo phrases.,
There are Igbo greetings for different times of day, activities and situations etc.
1. Ụ̀tụ́tụ̀ ọ́má – Good morning
Your first Igbo phrase is ‘Ụ̀tụ́tụ̀ ọ́má’,
‘Ụ̀tụ́tụ̀ ọ́má’ means ‘good morning’ in Igbo,
Don’t be alarmed by the accents and the dots, this article gives a clear explanation on how Igbo accents work.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ụ̀tụ́tụ̀ ọ́má’ like ‘Uh-tuh-tuh oh-mah’, make sure to raise your voice when you say ‘ọ́má’. You’d typically use this greeting in the morning between 6am and 11am.
But that’s not the only way to say ‘good morning’ in Igbo, another way to say ‘good morning’ is…
2. Ị̀sáálá chī – Good morning
‘Ị̀sáálá chī’ is used to say ‘good morning’ in Igbo, note ‘Ị̀sáálá chī’ is a more traditional way of saying ‘good morning’ so the more modern way of saying ‘good morning’ would actually be ‘Ụ̀tụ́tụ̀ ọ́má’.
Interestingly enough the literall translation of ‘Ị̀sáálá chī’ to English means “have you woken well?”, this double meaning of ‘Ị̀sáálá chī’ means that you could actually say it after saying ‘Ụ̀tụ́tụ̀ ọ́má’ to someone as a follow up question.
But let me not bog you down with the details…
Phonetically you would pronounce ‘Ị̀sáálá chī’ like ‘Ih-sah-lah chi’.
Now let’s move on to greetings that you can use a little later on in the day…
3. Èhíhìè ọ́má – Good afternoon
‘Èhíhìè ọ́má’ means ‘good afternoon’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Èhíhìè ọ́má’ like ‘Eh-hih-heh oh-mah’, make sure to raise your voice when you say ‘ọ́má’ .
To be a bit more time specific, this greeting is used in the afternoon between 12pm and 4pm.
I’m sure you’ve seen the trend here, and you’re right ‘ọ́má’ means ‘good’ in Igbo.
Now how to greet someone in the evening…
4. Ḿgbèdè ọ́má – Good evening
‘Ḿgbèdè ọ́má’ means ‘good evening’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ḿgbèdè ọ́má’ like ‘Mmh-gbeh-deh oh-mah’, make sure to raise you voice at the beginning of ‘Ḿgbèdè’ then drop it at the end of the word.
To be a little bit more time specific, since what I would classify as the afternoon might not be what you would classify as the afternoon (some of my friends see 1am as the night time rather than the morning…anyhoo), you would use ‘Ḿgbèdè ọ́má’ in the evening between 5pm and 8pm.
5. Kà chí fóó – Good night
‘Kà chí fóó’ means ‘good night’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Kà chí fóó’ like ‘Kah chi foh’, pronounce ‘Kà’ in a low voice and then pronounce ‘chí’ and ‘fóó’ in a high voice. This greeting is used in the night just before bed time.
You might not want to be avidly watching the clock and trying to remember which Igbo greeting to use, so I’m going to show you a superpower Igbo greeting…
6. Ǹdéèwō – General greeting
‘Ǹdéèwō’ is a general greeting in Igbo. It doesn’t matter what time of the day it is, morning, noon or night, you can use it at any time of day.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ǹdéèwō’ like ‘Nnh-deh-woh’,
One important note to make is that ‘Ǹdéèwō’ can also be used to say ‘sorry’ and ‘thank you’, so it’s up to you to detect from the situation, what the person is trying to say to you when they use this word, but don’t worry it should be fairly easy to work out.
Anyhoo, I’ve got another Igbo greeting for you, I’m guessing that you’ve gathered that greetings are really important in Nigeria, across cultures. You might have heard an Aunty or Uncle say, “Can’t you greet?” or “have you seen me this morning?” which is just the person telling you that you should greet them.
So it’s good for you to arm yourself with all these different phrases,
So here’s the next greeting…
7. Ǹnọ́ọ̀ – Welcome
‘Ǹnọ́ọ̀’ means ‘welcome’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ǹnọ́ọ̀’ like ‘Nnh-noh-oh’, make sure to raise your voice towards the end of the word. This greeting is self-explanatory, like the ones above, it is used to welcome someone.
You’ve already seen a lot of words with different Igbo accents and dots, and each of them have a particular way that they should be pronounced. You can learn how to pronounce Igbo words with audio here.
Great! That’s all the important Igbo greetings done, let’s move on to introductions in Igbo.
Now that you know how to greet someone the next thing you’ll want to know is how to introduce yourself…
8. Áhà ḿ bụ̀ – My name is
‘Áhà ḿ bụ̀’ means ‘my name is’ in Igbo,
To say your name, just add your name to the end of ‘Áhà m bụ̀’ to the end of this Igbo phrase.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Áhà ḿ bụ̀’ like ‘Ah-hah-mmh-buh’, raise your voice at the beginning of the phrase then make sure to lower your voice when you say ‘bụ̀’.
You wouldn’t want to just introduce yourself and not ask the other person about themself, so here’s your next essential Igbo phrase,
9. Gị́nị bụ̀ áhà gị́? – What is your name?
‘Gị́nị bụ̀ áhà gị́’ means ‘what is your name’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Gị́nị bụ̀ áhà gị́’ like ‘Gih-nih buh-aha gih’,
It’s really good to check up on people and to ask them how they are, so here is how to say it in Igbo,
10. Kèdú kà í mèrè? – How are you/how do you do?
‘Kèdú kà í mèrè’ means ‘how are you’ or ‘how do you do’ in Igbo.
Interestingly enough, the first time that I heard of the word ‘kèdú’ was when I was reading the book, “Americanah” by Chimamada Adichie, shout out to Chimamanda, one of my favourite authors…I digress,
So I was reading the book and one of the characters, maybe Ifemelu or Obinze said the word ‘Kèdú’, Chimamanda throws quite a few Igbo words in her books and she doesn’t always put the meaning so it’s a good way to keep you on your Igbo learning toes…
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Kèdú kà í mèrè’ like ‘Keh-duh kah ih meh-reh’,
Here’s how to respond if someone ask you how you are in Igbo,
11. Ádị̀ m ḿmā – I am fine
‘Ádị̀ m ḿmā’ means ‘I am fine’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ádị̀ m ḿmā’ like ‘Ah-dih mmh mah’,
Person A: Kèdú kà í mèrè?
Person B: Ádị̀ m ḿmā
12. Ábụ̀ m ónyé – I am from
So you’ve greeted, asked someone about their wellbeing and said your name in Igbo, but you don’t want to end there, how else are you going to make your abundance of Igbo friends?
It’s time to go into more detail about yourself in Igbo and to say where you are from.
‘Ábụ̀ m ónyé’ means ‘I am from’ in Igbo.
Then all you have to do is attach where you are from to the end of the Igbo phrase ‘Ábụ̀ m ónyé’,
Ábụ̀ m ónyé Ábị̀à = I am from Abia
Ábụ̀ m ónyé Ánáḿbārā = I am from Anambara
Ábụ̀ m ónyé Ánáḿbārā Énúgwū = I am from Enugu
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ábụ̀ m ónyé ‘ like ‘Ah-buh mmh oh-nyeh’, make sure to raise your voice when you say ‘ónyé’.
13. Ímēēlā – Thank you
‘Ímēēlā’ means ‘thank you’ in Igbo.
You’ve probably heard this phrase already in church before from the song, “Ímēēlā Ímēēlā Ọ̀kàká Ónyé kērē ụ̀wà…”
Translation: (Thank you, thank you, the greatest, creator of the world)
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘ímēēlā’ like ‘Ih-meh-lah’, make sure to you raise your voice at the beginning of the word. This greeting is used to thank and appreciate someone (lolol same as English). When someone does something for you, you thank the person by saying ‘Ímēēlā’.
But it doesn’t stop there, there’s actually another way to say ‘thank you’ in Igbo,
14. Dàálụ́ – Thank you
‘Dàálụ́’ equally means ‘thank you’ in Igbo,
There’s no difference between ‘Ímēēlā’ and ‘Dàálụ́ ‘ so feel free to use whichever one,
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Dàálụ́’ like ‘Dah-ah-luh’, drop your voice at the beginning of the word then raise it at the end of the word.
15. Ǹdó – Sorry
‘Ǹdó’ means ‘sorry’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ǹdó’ like ‘Nnh-doh’, drop your voice at the beginning of the word and raise it at the end.
It is used to apologize and to show remorse to someone.
You can also use it even when you haven’t done something wrong, but you just want someone to know that you feel for them, for example you could say it to someone that might be in a sad or really difficult situation.
So if you see someone who is sad, hurt or in a tough situation, you could say to them ‘Ǹdó’.
16. Jìsí íkē – Well done
‘Jìsí íkē’ means ‘well done’ in Igbo.
I want to say a big ‘jìsí íkē’ to you dear reader for taking an interest in learning the Igbo language, and for actually making the steps to do so,
Anyhoo, back to the Igbo phrases…
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Jìsí íkē’ like ‘Jih-sih-keh’.
It is used to praise someone who is working or someone who has made a great achievement.
One really Nigerian thing is to sometimes say “well done o” when you pass by someone that is working, it’s a really casual & informal thing to say (take note) and is just a nice throw away comment.
You can do the same thing in Igbo, you can say ‘Jìsí íkē’ when you come across someone that is working.
17. Kà émésíá – Goodbye
‘Kà émésíá’ means ‘goodbye’ in Igbo.
…You use it the same way you use ‘goodbye’ in English…
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Kà émésíá’ like ‘Kah eh-meh-sih-ah’, make sure that you drop your voice when you say ‘Kà’. It is used to tell someone ‘goodbye’ and ‘see you later’.
It’s really important to be able to say what you want and don’t want, and what you like and dislike in this life, so here are the next few essential phrases in Igbo.
18. Áchọ̀rọ̀ m – I want
‘Áchọ̀rọ̀ m’ means ‘I want’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Áchọ̀rọ̀ m’ like ‘Ah-chor-or muh’, raise your voice at the beginning of the word and drop it at the end of the word.
While you say ‘Áchọ̀rọ̀ m’, just add whatever you want to the end of this Igbo phrase,
Áchọ̀rọ̀ m égō – I want money,
Áchọ̀rọ̀ m ákwụ́kwọ́ – I want book,
Áchọ̀rọ̀ m júùsù – I want juice, etc.
19. Àchọ́ghị m – I don’t want
‘Àchọ́ghị m’ means ‘I don’t want’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Àchọ́ghị m’ like ‘Ah-chor-yih muh’, make sure to drop your voice at the beginning of the word,
Here are some example sentences you may have heard your parents say before,
Àchọ́ghị m ńsògbú – I don’t want trouble
Àchọ́ghị m ḿkpọ́tụ́ – I don’t want noise
It’s also really important to know ‘wey you carry’ (what you have) in this life as well, so here you go…
20. Énwèrè m – I have
‘Énwèrè m’ means ‘I have’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Énwèrè m’ like ‘Enh-weh-reh muh’, raise your voice at the beginning of the word and drop it towards the end of the word.
When saying ‘Énwèrè m’, just like ‘Áchọ̀rọ̀ m’, just add what you want to the end of the sentence,
Énwèrè m égō – I have money,
Énwèrè m ákwụ́kwọ́ – I have a book
The ‘nw’ sound is a sound that isn’t found in English. If you’re having trouble pronouncing it, make sure to check out our advice here.
Sometimes we don’t have it all…so here’s what to say if you don’t have something,
21. Ènwéghī m – I don’t have
‘Ènwéghī m’ means ‘I don’t have’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ènwéghī m’ like ‘Enh-weh-yih muh’, drop you voice at the beginning of he word and raise it towards the end of the word.
Here are some more essential Igbo Phrases to help build your Igbo fluency.
22. (Ọ́) nà-àmásị́ m – I like (it)
‘Ọ́ nà-àmásị́ m’ means ‘I like it’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ọ́ nà-àmásị́ m’ like ‘Or nah-mah-sih muh’,
When you are actually saying the thing that you like in Igbo just replace the ‘Ọ́’ with the thing that you like.
Íhé yā nà-àmásị́ m – I like him/her
Ụ́dárà nà-àmásị́ m (I like African Star Apple)
NB – If you’re not sure of what an African Star Apple is, you might of heard its other name ‘agbalumo’
23. (Ọ̀) nághị àmásị́ m – I don’t like (it)
‘Ọ̀ nághị àmásị́ m’ means ‘I don’t like’ in Igbo,
When you are actually saying the thing that you don’t like in Igbo just replace the ‘Ọ́’ with the thing that you don’t like.
Ụ́dárà ànághị àmásị́ m – I don’t like African Star Apple
Íhé yā ànághị àmásị́ m – I don’t like him/her
24. Bị̀á – Come
‘Bị̀á’ means ‘Come’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Bị̀á’ like ‘Bee-yah’, starting with a low tone and ending with a high tone.
‘Bị̀á’ has a special memory for me because it reminds me of a radio station I used to listen to as a child on my way back from school on the school bus.
The radio station was called Wazobia, and something interesting about the name is that it means ‘come’ in Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo (in that order), that’s how I learnt what the work ‘Bị̀á’ means.
The station had a cute little catchphrase though I can’t remember what it was right now, but I always used to say it to my Mum all the time, so if you remember what Wazobia’s catchphrase used to be in 2009 email me!
It’s not only ‘come’, it’s also ‘come in’, so here’s how to welcome someone into your home,
25. Bàtá – Come in
‘Bàtá’ means ‘Come in’ in Igbo.
Be a good host and welcome people into your home the right way, with this key Igbo phrase,
A time when you would use this phrase for example, would be if someone were knocking on the door and you wanted them to…come in.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Bàtá’ like ‘Baa-tah’, make sure to drop your voice at the beginning of the word, and raise your voice at the end of the word.
26. Gàwá – Go
‘Gàwá’ means ‘Go’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Gàwá’ like ‘Gaa-wah’, make sure to drop your voice at the beginning of the word, and raise your voice at the end of the word.
Sometimes ‘Gàwá’ can be used to let someone know that they are ‘permitted to go somewhere’, you could just say ‘Gàwá’ to the person.
The good thing about ‘Gàwá’ is that it sounds like what it means, it kind of looks like the phrase, ‘go away’ so hopefully that help you remember the phrase.
27. Pụ̀ọ́ – Go out
‘Pụ̀ọ́’ means ‘Go out’ in Igbo.
‘Pụ̀ọ́’ is actually a shortened phrases of ‘pụ̀ọ́ n’ụ́zọ̀’ which essentially means, ‘leave the way’.
So if you’re in a Nigerian market, the chances are that you’ll hear this phrase lots of times, as people that are pushing their stuff in wheelbarrows try to get by you.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Pụ̀ọ́’ like ‘Puh-or’, drop your voice when you say ‘Pụ̀’ then raise it when you say ‘ọ́’.
28. Éé – Yes
‘Éé ‘ means ‘yes’ in Igbo.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Éé’ as you pronounce ‘air’ in English, make sure you raise your voice when you say this word.
‘Éé’ means ‘yes’ in Igbo, and you use it exactly the same way that you would use ‘yes’ in English.
So when someone asks you if you want semo with a big bowl of egusi what do you say?
29. Ḿbà – No
‘Ḿbà ‘ means ‘No’ in Igbo.
Just like ‘Éé’ you use ‘Ḿbà’ the same way you use ‘No’ in English.
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘Ḿbà’ like ‘Mmh-bah’, raise your voice at the beginning and then drop it at the end of this Igbo phrase.
30. Bíkō – Please
Phonetically, you would pronounce ‘bíkō’ as you pronounce ‘bee-koh’ in English,
‘Bíkō’ means ‘please’ in Igbo.
There is a huge chance that you’ve heard this work before!
You use ‘Bíkō’ the same way that you use ‘please’ in English,
You might also hear someone say it in a ‘girl please’ kind of way,
Person A: “Isn’t that your man?”
Person B: “Ahh, bíkō!”
And that’s it! You now know the 30 most essential Igbo phrases.
We post new helpful Igbo phrases every week so make sure to keep coming back, and if you would like to learn more about the Igbo alphabet and on how to pronounce Igbo words you can see our online Igbo lessons here.