Amara & Matt's Luo guide Page

Dholuo language guide



Luo, or Dholuo, as its speakers call it, is the language of more than three million people. Dholuo speakers are centered in Nyanza Province, located in southwestern Kenya. Languages in Kenya are often divided into Bantu, Nilotic, and Cushitic; Luo is Nilotic.

According to Owen Ozier, "The three most closely related languages to Kenyan Luo are the languages of the Acholi and Lango in Uganda, and the Alur language in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both Lango and Acholi languages are sometimes referred to as "Lwo" by native speakers. Because Luo speakers are centered in southwest Kenya, there are significant populations of Luo speakers across the borders in both Tanzania and Uganda.

"Luo occasionally borrows from Kiswahili, as Kiswahili has a larger vocabulary, and is one of the official national languages of Kenya. There are also cases of words shared between Luhya and Luo, despite their disparate (Bantu vs. Nilotic) origins. Examples include words for yes and no."

As a disclaimer, the author of this brief text is neither a linguist nor a person at all fluent with Dholuo, but merely someone who likes languages, and thought that there was not nearly enough information about Dholuo available on line. This is a work in progress and not a definitive text.


Dholuo is a tonal language, but this will not be treated in this brief introduction to grammar (more information about the tonality can be found in the external links).

The distinction between ng' and ng is like the difference between the ng sounds in the English words "hanger" and "anger". The word nanga, meaning "cloth", uses the same ng sound as in "anger", where the g can be heard distinctly; the word ang'wen, meaning "four", uses the ng' sound similar to that used in the English word "hanger", where the g is not distinct.

The two English sounds for "th" as in "thin" and "either" are denoted in Dholuo, respectively, by th and dh. Also note that a trailing y after a consonant, as in the word meaning "tomorrow", kiny, is barely pronounced, so in this example, the word comes out sounding much like the English word "keen".

In many instances w and u are used interchangeably to express a sound similar to that in the French tu or the name Sue. Spelling is not very consistent—if you can't find the word in a dictionary, try changing all the w's to u's and vice versa. For example, the verb "to need" can be written dwaro or duaro.



Six personal pronouns are used in Dholuo. These are often but not always used, much like in Spanish.

English Dholuo
I an
you in
he, she en
we wan
you (plural) un
they gin

Demonstrative pronouns are used to stand for an object (but not a person): this, that, those, these. The following table shows the demonstrative pronouns that can stand alone; you will learn later about attaching these to nouns:

Number Dholuo English Example Translation
Singular ma (or mani) this (near the speaker) Ma ang'o? What is this?
mano that (near the person spoken to) Mano ofis. That's an office.
macha that (far from both people) Macha ang'o? What is that (over there)?
Plural magi these Magi ang'o? What are these?
mago those (near) Mago kombe. Those are chairs.
maka those (far) Maka udi. Those are houses.

These pronouns are affixed to ka ("where") and kor ("side") to form adverbs of place:

  • Kacha, kucha. There (within sight).
  • Koni. This side.
  • Koni gi koni. Both sides.
  • Kocha. That side.


Verbs have many different tenses, of which only a few are described here. More information can be found in the external links.

Verb infinitive

In Dholuo, verbs usually end in -o, like chiemo, "to eat". An exception is the verb dhi, "to go", which actually is shortened from dhiyo. Some examples:

  • ndiko, to write
  • uso, to sell
  • somo, to study
  • biro, to come
  • hero, to like

Present tense

The present tense gives not only the English "he writes" meaning, but also the "he is writing" meaning. In other words, there is no separate present progressive form.

To conjugate a verb in the present tense, a prefix is added to the beginning of the infinitive. To form the prefix, simply remove the final -n from the pronoun. The only exception to this rule is for he/she/it: the en pronoun changes to have an o- prefix. The present tense conjugation of the verb chiemo:

Pronoun Prefix Dholuo English
an a- achiemo I eat
in i- ichiemo you eat
en o- ochiemo he/she eats
wan wa- wachiemo we eat
un u- uchiemo you pl. eat
gin gi- gichiemo they eat

In sentences that have overt subjects (like "the dog" or "the police man" or "Paul", but not "I" or "you" or "we" or "he"), the prefix is omitted in the present tense:

  • Overt subject is "Achieng'" (a name): Achieng' uso. Achieng' sells.
  • Subject is "she" which is not overt: Ouso. She sells.

Direct and indirect objects with verbs

A direct or indirect object may be indicated by removing the final -o from the verb and adding a suffix. For direct objects, the suffix is formed by removing the final n from the pronoun. You will later see that this suffix is the same as that used to indicate possessives.

Pronoun Suffix Dholuo English
None None akonyo I help
an -a ikonya you help me
in -i akonyi I help you
en -e akonye I help him/her
wan -wa gikonywa they help us
un -u akonyu I help you pl.
gin -gi akonygi I help them

For indirect objects, the suffix is the same as for direct objects, except that you add -n- at the beginning of the suffix (and ni- for the "them" form):

Suffix Dholuo English
-na Kelna! Bring to me!
-ni Akelni. I bring to you.
-ne Kelne! Bring to him!
-nwa Gikelnwa. They bring to us.
-nu Akelnu. I bring to you (plural)
-nigi Akelnigi. I bring to them.

Use of pronouns with verbs

Usually the conjugated verb (prefix + infinitive) can stand alone without an additional pronoun:

  • Achiew maber. I'm fine. (lit: "I wake up well")

The pronoun is sometimes used for emphasis:

  • An bende achiew maber. I'm fine too. (lit: "I/me also I wake up well")
  • An athi chiro, to in ithi dala. Me, I'm going to the market, and you are going home.

To be & to have

There is no Dholuo equivalent to the English verb "to be" in the present tense. Thus to translate "The food is tasty," you would say chiemo mamit!, "food tasty!" without any verb.

There is, however, a verb tie, "to be located or present", which has a somewhat unusual conjugation. Basically, the full pronoun (an, in, en, wan, un, gin) is used before tie, instead of the derived prefixes normally used (a-, i-, o-, wa-, u-, gi-). Thus to say "he is present" you use entie rather than the expected otie. Also, nitie is used when there is an overt subject (like "the dog" or "what" or "Paul", but not "I" or "you" or "we" or "he"). The opposite of tie is onge, "to be lacking, missing, not present":

  • Chiemo onge. There is no food.
  • Oonge. He/she/it is not present.
  • Chiemo nitie? Is there any food?
  • Ee, chiemo nitie. Entie. Yes, there is food. It's present.
  • Antie. I'm here.
  • Entie. He or she is here.

To express the verb "to have", use a pronoun followed by either gi or kod, both of which have the meaning "with":

  • An gi chiemo. I have food. (Lit. I with food.)
  • En gi guok. He has a dog.
  • Gin gi nyithindo. They have children.
  • An kod sufuria. I have a cooking pot.

When the subject is overt (like "the dog" or "the police man" or "Paul", but not "I" or "you" or "we" or "he"), the copula ni is added before gi:

  • Nyieka nigi nyithindo. My co-wife has children.

Habitual tense

The suffix -ga is used to indicate habitual action:

  • Paul chiemoga gokinyi. Paul usually eats in the morning.
  • Aheroga sikuma. I usually like kale.

Future tense

The immediate future is formed by placing the verb infinitive after the helping verb biro, "to come". Biro is conjugated, but the verb infinitive is not. Biro can be contracted to bo. Following is the future tense of the verb chiemo, to eat:

English Dholuo Contracted
I will eat abiro chiemo abochiemo
you will eat ibiro chiemo ibochiemo
he/she will eat obiro chiemo obochiemo
we will eat wabiro chiemo wabochiemo
you pl. will eat ubiro chiemo ubochiemo
they will eat gibiro chiemo gibochiemo

To express "to be" in the future, the verb bedo is used. See the following examples:

  • An gi nyathi achiel. Due mar achiel, abiro bedo gi nyithindo ariyo.
  • I have one child. In January, I will have two children.
  • Literally: I with child one. Month of one, I come to be with children two.

There are also other forms of the future tense. The part in bold is the part conjugated (so "Later today you will return" would be Ang'nidogi):

Dholuo English Dholuo derivation Literal translation
Abiro dok. I'm about to return. Abiro dok. I come to return.
Ang'nadogi. Later today I will return. Wang' ni adogi. Today that I return.
Kiny nadogi. Tomorrow I'll return. Kiny ni adogi. Tomorrow that I return.
Chieng' nadogi. Sometime in the future I'll return. Chieng' ni adogi. Sometime indefinite that I return.

Notice that all future tenses, except the immediate future, use the subjunctive form of the verb, which will be treated later.

Past tenses

A present tense verb (like achiemo, "I eat") is transformed into the plain past ("I ate") by adding the word ne (derived from nende, "formerly") to the beginning: Ne achiemo. The ne is often contracted with the verb to form one word: Nachiemo. Following is the conjugation of the verb ndiko, to write:

English Dholuo Contracted
I wrote ne andiko nandiko
you wrote ne indiko nindiko
he/she wrote ne ondiko nondiko
we wrote ne wandiko newandiko
you pl. wrote ne undiko nundiko
they wrote ne gindiko negindiko

Ne is the most commonly used past tense, but there are many others. For example, nyo- (short for nyoro, "yesterday") can be prefixed to indicate the past of yesterday:

  • Nyoro nyo atuo or Nyo atuo or Nyatuo. I was sick yesterday.
  • Nyo watuo. We were sick yesterday.

Similarly, a can be prefixed to indicate the very immediate past:

  • A apuro. I have just been digging (but have now stopped).
  • A ipuro. You have just been digging.

Other words can also be used similarly to form different past tenses, as the following table summarizes:

Past tense marker Meaning Dholuo example Translation
ne or nende formerly ne atuo / natuo I was sick (today)
nyo or nyoro yesterday (nyoro) nyo atuo / nyatuo yesterday I was sick
nyocha two days ago nyocha atuo I was sick two days ago
yande recently yande atuo recently I was sick
a come from a atuo I was just sick (but no longer am)

Finally, one type of past tense is formed differently. To indicate an action that has just been completed, -se- is interjected between the prefix and the verb infinitive. Achiemo, "I eat" or "I am eating", becomes asechiemo, "I have eaten".

English Dholuo
I have eaten asechiemo
you have eaten isechiemo
she/he has eaten osechiemo
we have eaten wasechiemo
you pl. have eaten usechiemo
they have eaten gisechiemo

Subjunctive mood

The subjunctive form is used very frequently. In many words it is made by removing the final -o (if there is one) from the verb:

  • agomb, that I desire
  • ochiem, that he may eat

In some verbs an –i is added at the end as well, sometimes (the details are beyond the scope of this work, but just for recognition purposes it is mentioned here):

  • aluoki, that I may wash
  • inindi, that you may sleep
  • athiethi, that I may be treated
  • gipuonji, that they may teach
  • watedi, that we may cook
  • amodhi, that I may drink

There are two common exceptions: for the verb biro ("to come"), the subjunctive form is simply bi, and for neno ("to see"), the subjunctive form is ne. Also, for words ending in [vowel]yo, the subjunctive form drops the y as well (unless a pronoun suffix is added, as in the last example below):

  • ati, that I may work
  • ami, that I may give
  • amiyi, that I may give you

For all verbs that end in nyo, the subjunctive form ends in ny as expected. However, the final y is dropped when followed by a plural pronoun suffix (like gi, wa, or u):

  • akony, that I help
  • akonyi, that I help you
  • akonu, that I help you all

The subjunctive construction is used in many situations:

  • Potential situation:
    • Miya pi amodhi. Give me water that I may drink. (Lit: Give me water I drink.)
    • Owinjore ikonya. It's necessary that you help me.
  • Questions:
    • Ere poudho apur? Where is the garden that I may dig?
    • Waduog kode chieng' machielo? We are returning with him on which day?
  • Commands:
    • Donj ot, mos minu. Come in the house, greet your mother.
    • Kik ibi. Don't come.
    • Konya, ka aeto kongi. Help me, then help them.
    • Wachiem! Let's eat!
  • Compound instructions (note that the command form uses the subjunctive as well but is not bold here):
    • Imos minu kendo inyise ni obi. Greet your mother and tell her that he is coming.
    • Dhi imosna jaodi. Go that you may greet for me your wife.
    • Wachne mondo ong'iewna buk. Tell him that he buys for me a book.
  • With the article of potentiality, "d":
    • Dakonyi puro koso? Could I possibly help you dig something?
  • After owinjore:
    • Owinjore ikonya. You ought to help me.
  • Negative future and negative present:
    • Ok abi chiemo kiny. I will not eat tomorrow.
    • Ok adwar chiemo. I don't want food.
  • Future tense (except the immediate future):
    • Kiny nadogi. Tomorrow I will return.
    • Ang' nadogi. I will return sometime today.


To indicate reflexiveness, add -re to the end of a verb infinitive. This can change the meaning of the verb in different ways:

Verb Meaning Reflexive verb Meaning
tedo to cook (a person cooking food) tedore to cook (the food cooking itself)
neno to see nenore to see each other or oneself
puonjo to teach puonjore to learn (teach oneself)
kano to keep kanore to be kept

Conjugate according to the following table:

Dholuo English
apuonjora I learn
ipuonjori you learn
opuonjore he/she learns
wapuonjore we learn
upuonjoru you (pl.) learn
gipuonjore they learn

A reflexive verb can be used as a noun with the suffix -ruok. Notice when to use the reflexive verb infinitive (with -re) and when to use the noun (with -ruok):

  • Luokruok ber. Washing oneself is good.
  • Ok odwar luokore. He doesn't want to wash himself.
  • Goruok rach. Fighting one another is bad.
  • Ok gidwar gore. They don't want to fight each other.

Other tenses

There are many other tenses for which I don't know the correct categorization, but here are some examples and translations. Note that some employ the subjunctive and have lost the final o in the verb andiko:

  • Should
    English Dholuo Contracted
    I should write Onego andik Onegandik
    We should write Onego wandik Onegowandik

  • May
    English Dholuo Contracted
    I may write Dipop andiko Dipopandiko
    We may write Dipop wandiko Dipopwandiko

  • Would
    English Dholuo Contracted
    I would write De andiko Dandiko
    We would write De wandiko Dewandiko

  • Let me!
    English Dholuo
    Let me write! Andik!
    Let us write! Wandik!

  • Should have
    English Dholuo Contracted
    I should have written Ne onego andik Nonegandik
    We should have written Ne onego wandik Nogenowandik

  • Had done
    English Dholuo Contracted
    I had written Ne asendiko Nasendiko
    We had written Ne wasendiko Newasendiko

  • To make
    English Dholuo
    I make him write Ami ondiko
    We make him write Wami ondiko
    I don't make him write Ok ami ondik
    We don't make him write Ok wami ondik
    We make you write Wami indik


The good news about nouns in Dholuo: there is no gender (like la mesa and el dia in Spanish), and there are no articles (like "the", "a", "an"); the noun stands alone. But nouns are tricky for two reasons: the formation of the plural is very irregular, and a special noun construct form must be used in some cases.


Plurals are formed by changing the ending of the noun according to a complex set of rules, which unfortunately has many exceptions. For example, san (meaning "dish") changes to sende in the plural. The following tables show some of the nouns that follow rules, followed by some that appear irregular. Notice that often the vowel -a- changes to -e- when a word is pluralized:

Singular ending Plural ending Singular noun Plural noun Translation
-n or -n[vowel] -nde san sende dishes
gueno guende chickens
rabuon rabuonde potatoes
-l or -l[vowel] -nde tielo tiende legs
del dende bodies, skins
-dh[vowel] -the puodho puothe gardens
-y[vowel] -che apuoyo apuoche rabbits
-r or -r[vowel] -che ndara ndeche roads
bur buche (dug) holes
-ch -ye wich wiye heads
ich iye stomachs
-ach -ech mach mech fires
kwach kwech leopards
-ny -nje lweny lwenje wars
-ng' -nge chong' chonge knees
wang' wenge eyes
-d[vowel] -te luedo luete hands
kede kete sticks, twigs
kidi kite stones
-w or -w[vowel] -pe lowo lope lands
-m or -m[vowel] -mbe chiemo chiembe foods
kom kombe chairs
-t -de bat bede arms
got gode hills, mountains
-th -dhe ruoth ruodhe chiefs, kings
luth ludhe sticks

Some exceptions (you'll find numerous others as you learn more words):

Singular Plural Translation
diel diek goats
dala mier homesteads
nyako nyiri girls
dichuo chuo men

Noun Construct

The noun construct is a form of the noun used in special circumstances. Like the regular form of the noun, it has a singular and a plural form. To make the singular noun construct, take the plural noun and remove the final vowel:

English Singular noun Plural noun Singular noun construct
garden puodho puothe puoth-
food chiemo chiembe chiemb-

Of course there are exceptions aplenty:

English Singular noun Plural noun Singular noun construct
house ot udi od-
woman dhako mon chi-

The construct of a plural noun is usually identical to the plural noun:

English Singular noun Plural noun Singular noun construct Plural noun construct
garden puodho puothe puoth- puothe-
food chiemo chiembe chiemb- chiembe-

And some of the exceptions:

English Singular noun Plural noun Singular noun construct Plural noun construct
house ot udi od- ute-
woman dhako mon chi- mond-

The noun construct has several important uses. It can be used to form a possessive, by adding a suffix to the end of the noun construct. This will be treated later, in the section on possessives. The noun construct can also be used to describe a noun with a demonstrative pronoun (like "this food", "that cat", "those people", "these cars"). A suffix, derived from the demonstrative pronouns that stand alone, is added to the end of the noun construct. Note that yor- is the singular noun construct of yoo, "path", and yore- is the plural construct:

Noun construct Suffix Translation Complete word Translation
yor- -ni this yorni this path
yor- -no that (near) yorno that path (near)
yor- -cha that (far) yorcha that path (far)
yore- -gi these yoregi these paths
yore- -go those (near) yorego these paths (near)
yore- -ka those (far) yoreka those paths (far)

Adjectives and adverbs

Adjectives are words that describe nouns: beautiful or good (ber), tall (bor), sweet or tasty (mit), sad (sin). Adverbs are words that describe verbs: quickly (piyo), slowly (mos). In Dholuo, adjectives and adverbs can often be used interchangeably. Thus ber means both "good" and "well" and piyo means both "fast" and "quickly".

Adjectives and adverbs can either stand alone (ber, "good" or "well") or they are used following ma- ("which is" or "that is") as in maber ("[which is] good or well"). The longer form (maber) is used when following a noun or a verb; the shorter form (ber) is used when the adjective stands alone in a sentence. Thus when describing what you are eating you could say any of the following:

  • Mit ahinya! Very tasty! (lit: Sweet very)
  • Chiemo mamit ahinya! Very tasty food! (lit: Food which is sweet very)
  • Itedo maber! You cook well!
  • Otedo nadi? Ber! How does he cook? Well!

Adjectives can also function as verbs. To do so, just add the prefix normally used to conjugate verbs (a-, i-, o-, wa-, u-, gi-) to the short form of the adjective. For example:

  • Aber. I'm good/well.
  • Ibor ahinya. You're very tall.

Finally, the short version of the adjective (ber) often functions as a noun as well: ber means both "good" and "goodness"; bor means both "tall" and "height".

Plural Adjectives

Adjectives have two forms: plural and singular. To describe a plural noun you use the plural form. For example: nyathi maber ("good child") becomes nyithindo mabeyo ("good children"). The following table lists several of the adjectives in singular and plural:

Singular Plural Translation
maber mabeyo beautiful, good
marach maricho bad
madoung' madongo big
matin matindo small, few
(none) mang'eny many
mabor maboyo tall, long
machiek machieko short
marateng' maratenge black
marachar marachere white

Forming Adjectives from Verbs

Adjectives can also be formed from verbs like wer ("to sing") and tho ("to die"), using ma ("which is" or "that is"). "A singing child" can be expressed by nyathi ma wer or nyathi mawer (sometimes you will see the words separated, and at other times the words are contracted together). Similarly matho means "which is dying". To indicate "dead" or "which has died", the past tense of the verb must be used: ma otho, which contracts to motho.

Verb Meaning Adjective Meaning
loso to fix, make molosi which is made
loso to fix, make malosi which is being made
tho to die motho which is dead
tho to die matho which is dying


To form a negative, ok ("not") is placed before the verb, and can be contracted with ne, if it is present:

  • Ne ok achiemo. I did not eat.
  • Nokachiemo. I did not eat.

In the present and future tenses, the verb is in the subjunctive form; the final –o is omitted. Sometimes in the negative future bi changes to be:

  • Ok achiem. I am not eating.
  • Ok abi chiemo. I will not eat.
  • Okabechiemo. I will not eat.

In the past perfect tense, ok changes to pok (a contraction of pod, "still, not yet", and ok):

  • Pok asechiemo. I have not yet eaten.

In the command form, ok changes to kik:

  • Kik bi! Don't come!


Imperatives or commands use the subjunctive form of the verb. Thus the singular imperative is formed by removing the final -o from a verb, and sometimes adding a final -i. To form a plural imperative, add uru to the end of the verb. The equivalent of "Let's…" is created by adding wa- to the beginning.

Command form Dholuo English
You singular Chiem! Eat!
You plural Chiemuru! Eat (y'all)!
We Wachiem! or Wachiem uru! Let's eat!
We (reflexive) Wanere! Let's see each other!


Remember that questions (often) employ the subjunctive tense. The following vocabulary will help you:

how, nadi
how many, adi
how, why, nang'o
what, ang'o
when, kar ang'o
where, kanye
where are, eke
where is, ere
which (singular), mane
which (plural), mage
who (singular), ng'a, ng'ano, ng'awa
who (plural), ng'a gini
why, mar ang'o

Here are some examples of questions:

  • Macha ang'o? What is that?
  • Ng'a ma nitie e kilas? Who is in class?
  • Ma ng'a? Who is this? (persons)
  • Ma ang'o? What is this? (things)
  • Nyingi ng'a? What is your name?
  • Diher chiemo mane? Which food would you like? (Lit: You would like food which?)
  • Chiemo mane madiher? Which food would you like? (Lit: Food which that you would like?)
  • Ihero kombe mage? Which chairs do you like?
  • Buge ni kanye? Where are the books?
  • Kalam ni kanye? Where is the pen?

Notice the use of the copula ni in the last two examples. In the response to these last two questions, ni is retained with an overt subjuct, but is dropped when the subjuct is a pronoun like en:

  • Buge ni kucha. The books are over there.
  • Kalam ni kucha. The pen is over there.
  • En kucha. It's over there.


Prepositions are words that describe location or relationship of nouns: with, in, on, under, through. Here is a list of some prepositions in Dholuo.

Dholuo English Example Translation
e at, to Wan gi nyithindo ariyo e odwa We have two children at our house
ewi on top of Paka nitie ewi ot The cat is on top of the house
ei inside Pake nitie ei ot The cat is inside the house
ebuo under Entie ebuo mesa He's under the table
etie under Paka nitie etie mesa The cat is under the table
mar of Ere chak mar nithindo? Where is the childrens' milk?
chien back, behind En chien It's behind
malo top, above A malo! Stand up!
piny down, on the ground Bed piny! Sit down!
mag for Atiyo mag UCRC I work for UCRC
ni for Atiyo ni pesa I work for money
kuom for Erokamano kuom chiemo Thank you for the food
gi with Abiro gi Achieng' I come with Achieng'
kod with Abiro kod Achieng' I come with Achieng'

You may find it interesting to know the derivation of some of these. Ewi comes from e wiy, "at the head of"; ei comes from e iy, "at the stomach of"; etie comes from e tiende, "at the foot of".

Note in the above table the subtle differences between mag, ni, and kuom. Also, you will find more uses of mar as a general possessive further on.

Gi and kod are both used to express "with". There is a difference, however. Kod can be used with pronoun suffixes (kode "with him/her/it", koda "with me", etc). Gi cannot be used with pronoun suffixes, except for when go is used, meaning "with it".

  • Abiro kode e ot. I come with him/it to the house.
  • Abiro gi sufuria e ot. I come with a pot to the house.
  • Abirogo e ot. I come with it [not him] to the house.

Other grammatical points


As in Kiswahili, Dholuo frequently doubles words to change the meaning.

To be just doing something, double the verb, and change both the beginning prefix and the final vowel of the second verb to a:

  • Abet abeta. I'm just sitting.
  • Ibet abeta. You're just sitting.
  • Gisomo asoma. They're just reading.
  • Ling' aling'a. Just keep calm, be quiet, don't worry (command form).

An adjective or adverb can be doubled to imply emphasis (both adjectives are pluralized, and the second has no ma):

  • Kom madongo dongo. A very big chair.
  • Matin tin. Little by little.
  • Matindo tindo. Small enough.
  • Awuotho piyo piyo. I walk very quickly.
  • Mos mos. Take it easy, I'm so sorry, Get better soon.

Some other uses of doubling:

  • Moro amora. Any.
  • Ng'ato ang'ata. Anyone.
  • Moro ka moro. Each thing.
  • Ng'ato ka ng'ato. Each person.

Moro and Moko

Moro means "other one, another". Moko is the plural, and means "others, other ones". The words can be used in the following ways:

  • Kamoro. Somewhere.
  • Samoro. Sometime.
  • Mamoko. The other ones.
  • Gimoro. Something.
  • Gikmoko. Somethings.


If/When ... is expressed with Ka ... to:

  • Ka ibiro, to wabiro dhi. If/when you come, then we will go.
  • Ka ichiemo, to wabiro chiemo. If/when you eat, then we will eat.
  • Ka atedo chiemo, wanacham. If I cook the food, we shall eat it.
  • Ka gisetedo chiemo, giniluong' nyithindo. When they have cooked the food, they will call the children.
  • Ka Akech tedo chiemo, to Anyango keto dise ewi mesa. While Akech is cooking the food, Anyango puts the plates on the table.


Use moloyo to indicate a comparison (from the verb loyo, to overcome):

  • Ahero sikuma moloyo rabolo. I like kale more than bananas.
  • Ahero chai moloyo sikuma. I like tea more than kale.
  • Ahero njugu moloyo te. I like groundnuts the best (more than all).


Numbers are fairly straightforward:

  • achiel, one
  • ariyo, two
  • adek, three
  • ang'wen, four
  • abich, five
  • auchiel, six
  • abiriyo, seven
  • aboro, eight
  • ochiko, nine
  • apar, ten
  • apar gachiel, eleven
  • apar gariyo, twelve
  • piero ariyo, twenty
  • piero ariyo gachiel, twenty-one
  • piero adek, thirty
  • piero ang'wen, forty
  • mia achiel, one hundred
  • mia ariyo, two hundred
  • alufu, thousand

To indicate a certain number of times, use di- followed by the number, contracting when possible:

  • dachiel, once
  • dariyo, twice
  • dadek, three times
  • dauchiel, six times


Dholuo is rich in idioms, just as English is. This can be fun but also make it difficult to follow a conversation. Here are some examples of idioms using the verb goyo, "to beat":

  • goyo thum, to play music
  • goyo rangi, to paint
  • goyo oriti, to say good-bye
  • goyo erokamano, to say thank you
  • goyo mpira, to play soccer/football
  • goyo koko, to make noise

Many constructions use parts of the body to express an emotion or feeling; all of these change their pronouns according to person except for mako ich.

Dholuo Literal Meaning
iya owang' my stomach burns I'm angry
owang'o iya it burns my stomach it annoys me
iya lit my stomach is painful I'm jealous
chunye pek his heart is heavy he is sad
chunye oduogo his heart has returned he is encouraged
wiye owil his head turned he has forgotten
wiye tek his head is hard he is stubborn
wiye pek his head is heavy he is not intelligent
mako ich to hold stomach to conceive
iya kaya my stomach bites me my stomach aches
tienda rama my foot pains me my foot hurts
wiya bara my head splits me my head aches


A possessive can be formed in two ways. The first way is by adding a suffix to the end of the noun construct. The suffix is the same one formed for affixing objects to verbs. Following are the possessives of a singlular noun, chiemo, for which the singular noun construct is chiemb-:

Singular Construct Suffix Dholuo English
chiemb- -a chiemba my food
chiemb--i chiembi your food
chiemb--e chiembe his/her food
chiemb--wa chiembwa our food
chiemb--u chiembu your (pl) food
chiemb--gi chiembgi their food

Following are the possessives of a plural noun, chiembe. For the most part, the process is the same as for a singular noun: a suffix is added to the end of the plural noun construct. However, because most plural noun constructs end in -e, the -a suffix changes to -na to separate the two vowels. This happens with -i, -e, and -u as well:

Plural Construct Suffix Dholuo English
chiembe--na chiembena my foods
chiembe--ni chiembeni your foods
chiembe--ne chiembene his/her foods
chiembe--wa chiembewa our foods
chiembe--nu chiembenu your (pl) foods
chiembe--gi chiembegi their foods

The second way to form a possessive uses the word mar, meaning "of". For singular nouns, the suffix (-a, -i, -e, -wa, -u, -gi) is added to mar, which comes after the noun it modifies:

Singular Possessive Dholuo English
mara chiemo mara my food
mari chiemo mari your food
mare chiemo mare his/her food
marwa chiemo marwa our food
maru chiemo maru your pl. food
margi chiemo margi their food

To indicate the possessive of a plural noun, things get tricky, and there are different ways to say the same thing. Use the following table to help you form plural possessives:

Plural Dholuo English
mago, meka nyimine meka my sisters
magi, meki nyimine magi your sisters
mage, meke nyimine meke his/her sisters
magwa, mekwa, or mawa nyimine mawa our sisters
magu, meku, or mau nyimine mau your pl. sisters
maggi, mekgi nyimine mekgi their sisters


The conditional (would-ness) can be indicated by the prefix d-, known as the article of potentiality. Alternatively, dipo ni ("perhaps") can be used before a verb:

  • Dagomb. I would like.
  • Dakonyi? Could I help you?
  • Dipo nadhi. Perhaps I will go.
  • Dipo nichiemo. Perhaps you are eating.
  • Dipo nibo (or nibiro) chiemo. Perhaps you will eat.


Use the following vocabulary table to help you understand time and dates in Dholuo:

English Dholuo Plural
date tarik tarik
day odiechieng' ndalo
week juma juma
month due dueche
year higa higni
minute dakika dakika
hour, time saa seche
half (hour) nus -
morning okinyi -
afternoon odhiambo -
night otieno -
  • Dates
    • Kawuono en tarik mane? What is today's date?
    • In Dholuo, the months are numbered. January is due mar achiel, February is due mar ariyo, and December is due mar apar gariyo.
    • March 24, 2004 would be written as tarik 24 due mar adek higni 2004.
  • Days
    • Kawuono en tich mane? What day is it today?
    • The word for Monday literally means "coming out to work", and Tuesday through Friday are numbered: "work two", "work three", etc:
      Dholuo English
      wuok tich Monday
      tich ariyo Tuesday
      tich adek Wednesday
      tich ang'wen Thursday
      tich abich Friday
      chieng' ngeso Saturday
      jumapil Sunday
  • Tomorrow
    • The following words describe the date relative to today:
      Dholuo English
      nyocha the day before yesterday
      nyoro yesterday
      kawuono today
      kiny tomorrow
      orucha the day after tomorrow
  • Time
    • Saa adi? What time is it?
    • To denote afternoon use godhiambo (formed from gi + odhiambo), gotieno for evening, and gokinyi for morning.
    • Time is measured differently: saa achiel, "first hour" is 7:00am. To convert from Luo to English time, add or subtract six:
      Luo time English time
      saa achiel 7:00am
      saa ariyo 8:00am
      saa adek 9:00am
      saa auchiel 12:00pm
      saa abiriyo gi nus 1:30pm
      saa apar gariyo gokinyi 6:00am
      saa apar gariyo godhiambo 6:00pm

Greetings and dialogues

Dialogues are given first in Dholuo, followed by a translation of meaning into English. To clarify some words that do not translate literally, the literal translation is given in brackets. Vocabulary can be found in the vocabulary lists below.

List of dialogues


Greetings are quite formulaic and very important. Most of these simple greetings that ask for information of the other person can be lengthened as is done for the "Any time" table. For brevity, this lengthening is not shown here for subsequent greetings, but it frequently occurs in speech where there is time for it.

  • Any time
  • Dholuo English
    Ber ahinya.
    Greetings! (lit. I greet you)
    Very well.
    Ithi nadi?
    Athi maber. To in?
    An bende athi maber.
    How are you doing?
    I'm doing well. And you?
    I also am doing well.
    Uthi nadi?
    Wathi maber. To un?
    Wan bende wathi maber.
    How are all of you doing?
    We're doing well. And you all?
    We also are doing well.
    Misawa ahinya. or Ber ahinya.
    Peace to you.
    How are you? (lit. You are present?)
    I'm find. (lit. I'm present)
    Angima maber.
    You're well?
    I'm very well.

  • Morning
  • Dholuo English
    Oyawore ahinya!
    Good morning! (Lit. It [the sky] has opened itself)
    Good morning! (Lit. It has opened itself indeed!)
    Ichiew nadi?
    Achiew maber.
    How's your morning? (Lit. How did you wake up?)
    Great! (Lit. I woke up well)
    Uchiew nadi?
    Wachiew maber.
    How're you all this morning? (Lit. How did you pl. wake up?)
    We're fine! (Lit. We woke up well).

  • Midday
  • Dholuo English
    Osawore ahinya!
    Good day!
    Good day!

  • Towards the end of the day
  • Dholuo English
    Iriyo nadi?
    Ariyo maber.
    How did your day go? (Lit. How did you pass your day?)
    It went well.
    Uriyo nadi?
    Wariyo maber.
    How did your day go for all of you?
    Our day was fine.

  • At night
  • Dholuo English
    Oimore ahinya!
    Good evening! (Lit. It [the sky] has closed itself)
    Good evening!

Relationships within the family

Anna: Achieng', ji ng'eny dalani. Ok awinjo maber kaka gin wede. Jerusha en ng'a?

Achieng': Jerusha en mikach Nyakwaka.

Anna: To Yohana?

Achieng': Yohana en wuod Nyakwaka maduong'.

Anna: To macha en od ng'a?

Achieng': Macha od dhako matin.

Anna: Adier. To Maria to ng'a?

Achieng': En dayo.

Anna: Erokamano.


Achieng', there are many people at your compound. I don't know how they are relatives. Jerusha is who?

Jerusha is the first wife of Nyakwaka.

And Yohana?

Yohana is the eldest [big] son of Nyakwaka.

And that is the house of who?

That is the house of the last wife [small woman].

Truly. And Maria is who?

She is the grandmother.

Thank you.

Meeting other relatives in the market

Aluoch and mother: Misawa uru.

Adhiambo and others: Misawa uru ahinya.

Mother: Ubiro chiro?

Adhiambo: Ee wabiro chiro. To ma e kachi?

Mother: Ee.

Aluoch: Mama magi ng'a gini?

Mother: Ma wayi baba. En nyamin wuon baba. En e chogo to ma to nyamin jaode. Ma kayo, machielo no to yuore.


Greetings to all of you.

Greetings to you.

You are all coming to the market?

Yes we are coming to the market. And that is your first born?


Mama, those were who?

That was the aunt of your father. She is the sister of the father of your father. He is the last born and that is the sister of his wife. That is the first-born, the other is his brother-in-law.

Comments on the food

Wenzel: Chiemo mit ahinya e otendni.

Anna: Adier, chunyni ochiel mamit. Dagomb ng'eyo kaka gitede.

Achieng': Tede yot. Abiro puonji kaka watede. Itede ateda kaka itedo ring'o.

Anna: Abiro ng'eyo mos.

Waiter: Uwinjo chiembwagi nade?

Wenzel: Chiembu mit ahinya. Wabiroga chiemo kae pile.

Waiter: Waruakou. Chudo maru ee.

Anna: Pesa ee. Erokamano.

All: Oriti.

Waiter: Oritu, uduog kendo.


The food is very delicious at this hotel.

Truly, this liver/heart is fried deliciously. I would like to know how they cook it.

Cooking it is easy. I will teach you how we cook it. You just cook it like you cook meat.

I will know slowly.

You feel our food is how?

Your food is very delicious. We will be eating it every day.

We welcome you. Here's your bill.

Here's the money. Thank you.


Bye, come back again.

A visit to a family

Jerusha: Oyawore!

Anna: Oyawore ahinya!

Jerusha: Machiegni, bed piny.

Anna: Ere wach?

Jerusha: Onge wach.

Anna: Aduogo limou kendo mondo wang'ere maber.

Jerusha: Mano ber ahinya; kawuono wantie waduto. Wuon parua kende ema onge.

Anna: An aa Sweden. Wan gi nyithindo ariyo e odwa.

Jerusha: An Jerusha. Ma nyachira, to ma reru to mano dhako matin. Wan gi nyithindo ma yowuowi gi manyiri to gi nyikwawa. Wuoda madoung' nyinge Yohana, osekendo. En kod nyithindo ariyo. Chi wuoda ni e od tedo, otedo chiemb okinyi. Wuon pargi ni e od nindo, pod onindo. Dawa Maria bende nitie. En dayo maber, wahere ahinya. Kwarwa to ne osetho.

Achieng': Openjo ni ka iyie to inyise kaka ute madalau kae obet.

Jerusha: Ma en oda, macha od dhako mar ariyo, macha mar adek to mogik cha mar dhako mogik.


Good morning!

Good morning!

Come close, sit down.

What's up? (Where's the news?)

Not much. (There's no news.)

I come back to visit you all again so that we know each other better.

That's very good, today we are all present. My husband only is not here.

I'm from Sweden. We have two children in our house.

I'm Jerusha. That's the second wife, and that's the third wife and that's the youngest wife. We have children that are boys and that are girls and also our grandchildren. My old son his name is Yohana, he is married. He has two kids. The wife of my son is at the kitchen, she is cooking breakfast. Her husband is in the sleeping house, still sleeping. My grandmother Maria also is present. She is a good grandmother, we love her very much. Our grandfather also has died.

she asks if you believe and you show her how the houses of your compounds here are situated.

That is my house, that one over there is the house of the second wife, that of the third and the last over there of the last wife.

Visiting a neighbour


Misawa ahinya!

Uriyo nadi?

Wariyo maber.

Ere minu gi wuoru?

Minwa ni e abich diek to wuonwa ni e kund dhok.

Adwaro mosogi.




You spent the day how?

We spent it well.

Where is your mother and your father?

Our mother is in the goat-hut and our father is in the cow pen.

I must greet them.

Meeting an old friend


Misawa ahinya.

Intie maber?

Ee antie. Angima.

In e Kenya kuom kinde marom nadi?

Antie nyaka tarik 24 due mar 6 higa 2002. To in?

Antie kuom higni adek.

Kara pod intie kuom ndalo mang'eny. Sani to idhi kanye?

Adhi tich Bondo. Bende in thuolo chieng' tich abich mondo warom. Dunga godhiambo wago mbaka?

Ee, an dhuolo tich abich.




You're good?

Yes, I'm here. I'm good.

You are in Kenya for how long a time (lit. time which lasts how?)

I'm here until the date of the 24th of the 6th month (June), year 2002. And you?

I'm here for three years.

Then still you are present for many days. And now you are going where?

I'm going to work, in Bondo. And you have free time on Friday that we can meet. Dunga evening we can chat?

Yes, I have free time on Friday (that we can meet).

Telling ages

Hiki gin adi?

Hika gin piero adek gi ang'wen.

An abiro bedo gi higni piero adek gi ang'wen due mar apar gi achiel.

Akuongo ni matin.

Wan mbese.

Ee matin.



How old are you?

I'm thirty-four years.

I'll be thirty-four years in the month of November.

I'm first by a bit.

We're age mates.

Yes, a bit.


Discussion about plans for the week

Jumani idwaro timo ang'o?

Wuok tich onego arom gi jotendwa e ofis saa adek okinyi.

An onego adhi Kisumu wuok tich godhiambo.

Tich ariyo an e ofis nyaka saa apar gi achiel, an gi tije mang'eny.

An tich ariyo to adhi Bondo kendo achopo Nyang'oma.

Tich adek igoya simu ka ichopo maber. Abiro rito simono saa aboro.

Ee to ka ok agoyoni simu tich adek to agochoni tich abich saa abiriyo.

Onge wach. Inyalo gocho sama ihero kata chieng' jumapil, an eot.

To kiny wanyalo dhi limo osiepewa koso wadhi orucha.

Nyoro onego wadhi kata nyocha, kiny to adich.


This week you must do what?

Monday I must meet with my bosses at the office at 9 in the morning.

I must go to Kisumu Monday evening.

Tuesday I'm at the office until five o'clock, I have lots of work.

And Tuesday I'm going to Bondo and I reach Nyang'oma.

Wednesday you give me a call when you arrive well. I will wait for the call at 2 o'clock.

Yes and if I don't call you Wednesday then I will hit you Friday at 1 o'clock.

No problem. You will be able to strike (call) at whatever time you like or on Sunday, I'm at home.

And tomorrow we will be able to go visit our friends or we go the day after tomorrow.

Yesterday we should have gone or the day before yesterday, tomorrow I'm busy.

Telephone conversation

Halo, project office?

Halo, an Achieng'. Adwaro wuoyo gi Mary.

Achieng', idhi nadi? Rit matin.

(Mary): Halo, Achieng'.

Halo, Mary. Bende wanyalo romo bang' tich kar saa apar gi achiel?

A-a. Saa 11 adich. Wan gi bura. Ok wanyal romo sano.

Saa adi maber?

Saa achiel gi nus.

Saa achiel gi nus. Wanere sechego.



Hello, I'm Achieng'. I must speak with Mary.

Achieng', how are you? Wait a bit.

Hello Achieng'.

Hello, Mary. And we will be able to meet after work at five o'clock?

No. At 5 o'clock I'm busy. We have a meeting. I'm not able to meet at that time.

What time is good?

At 6:30.

6:30. See you at that time.

Making appointments

Oyawore, japuonj.

Oyawore ahinya. Idhi nadi?

Aber. Akwayi ni kiyie to abi awuo gi nyithind sikul Majengo chieng' wuok tich.

Seche mage?

Saa adek okinyi nyaka saa auchiel odiechieng'.

Onge wach. Bi abia.

Erokamano ahinya. Oriti.


Good morning, teacher.

Good morning. How you doing?

I'm good. I request you that please I come to speak with the school children of Majengo on Monday.

What time?

9:00 in the morning until noon.

No problem. Just come.

Thank you very much. Bye.

Booking a train


Misawa ahinya! Dakonyi gi ang'o?

Bende nitie gari madhi Nairobi chieng' tich abich gokinyi?

Ooyo. Onge gari ma aa Kisumu gokinyi, gari dhi Nairobi gotieno kende.

Be nitie gari madhi Nairobi tich abich gotieno?


En pesa adi?

Kilas mane?

Kilas mar ariyo.

En siling' mia ochiko kende.

Pesa ee. Erokamano.

Otiko ni ee. Oriti.

Oriti ahinya.



Greetings! Could I help you with something?

Is there a train that goes to Nairobi on Friday morning?

No. There's no train that comes from Kisumu in the morning. The train goes to Nairobi in the evening only.

Is there a train that goes to Nairobi Friday night?


It's how much money?

Which class?

Second class.

It's eight hundred shillings only.

Here's the money. Thanks.

Here's your ticket. Bye.


Household furniture
Odi. Odi ka!

Ee. Osiepna donji ei ot. Ndalo mang'eny! Oimore.

Oimore ahinya. Kor budho ni nenore maber manadi. Kombe mabeyo gi ing'iewo kanye?

Ang'iewogi Dunga. Iherogi?

Ee, gibeyo ahinya. Mesani bende ber.

Ee, ober to aparo ni obor.

Mesa mabor ok berni? An mesa mabor berna ahinya.


Knock knock! (Literally "Your house")

Yes. My friend, come inside the house. So many days (since we've seen each other). Good evening.

Good evening. The sitting room [lit: side entertainment] appears so good. The beautiful chairs they you bought where?

I buy them at Dunga. You like them?

Yes, they are very beautiful. This table also is nice.

Yes, it is nice and I think it is tall.

A tall table is not good to you? To me a tall table is very good.

Walking around the house

He! Heee ma kitanda tee!

Ee ahero kitendni madongo.

Ma okawo pesa adi?

Okawo siling' alufu ang'wen kende.

Suknigi chieko ni kitandani.

Ee, oonge sukni maboyo e duknigi.


Wow! That all bed!

Yes I like the big beds.

Which takes how much money?

It takes four thousand shillings only.

These sheets are short for the bed.

Yes, there are no long sheets at the store.

Office equipment


Oyawore ahinya.

Wauso gik ofis machalo kaka kombe mag ofis, mesa, compiuta, fotokopi masin gi kalatese kod gik mamoko.

Mano ber. Usna kombe ariyo kod situl ariyo modong'. Abiro duogo ng'iewo.

Magi duto siling' alufu ang'wen gi piero adek.

Eri pesa.

Erokamano, oriti.



Good morning.

Good morning.

We sell office things which are like chairs for the office, table, computer, photocopy machine and papers with other things.

That's good. Sell me two chairs with two big stools. I'll come back to buy.

All that is four thousand and 30 shillings.

Here's the money.

Thanks, bye.


Visiting a family friend


Misawa ahinya.

Itimo ang'o?

Apuro puodho. Donj ot.

Adonj ot? Minu odhi kanye?

Odhi chiro. Odhi ng'iewo chiemo.

To wuonu to ni kanye?

Entie, okwayo dhok; anene ochung' kucho.

An bende abiro limou. Ere nyithindu mamoko?

Akinyi odhi omo pi e nam, Aluoch tedo chiemb saa auchiel, Otieno to riembo ong'er e puodho, Anyango to luoko sande. Donj ot, ibed piny.





What are you doing?

I'm working in the garden. Come in the house.

I come in? Your mother went where?

She went to the market. She went to buy food.

And your father is where?

He's here, he is grazing the cows. I see him standing over there.

I also am coming to visit all of you. Where are the other children?

Akinyi went to fetch water at the lake, Aluoch is cooking food for lunch (for noon), Otieno is chasing monkeys from the garden, and Anya ngo is washing dishes. Come in the house and sit down.


Distribution of household duties to children

Atieno, okinyi adwaro ni iluok sende motieno ae idhi nam iom pi ae inud nyuka, eka, idhi sikul.

To Ochieng' to timo ang'o?

Ochieng' bi ka! Idhi kwa rombe ae itergi modho.


An to adhi chiro.


Atieno, this morning I need you to wash the morning dishes and then you go to the lake and you fetch water, then you cook porridge, then, you go to school.

And Ochieng' is doing what?

Ochieng' come here! You go graze the cows and then take them to drink water.


I'm going to the market.

Feeling sad

Achieng' di kuyo akuyo?

Akuyo nikech nyaminwa Aluoch otho kendo wuod waya bende otho.

Ling' aling'a. Nyasaye ong'eyo wan onge gima wanyalo timo kuom tho.

Wechegi litna malich nikech nyo pod gin ji matindo tee.

Kik idew; ling' aling'a osiepna. Ji biro tho tee, wadhi dalawa eka wang'ne waduogo.

Ee, wadhi samoro bedo kenda kae bende meda paro mang'eny.


Achieng' why are you so sad?

I'm sad because my sister Aluoch died and the son of my aunt also died.

Keep calm. God knows we have nothing available that we are able to do for death.

Your words hurt me strangely because yesterday they were still all small people (children).

Don't mind, keep calm my friend. All people will die. Let's go to our home than later we'll come back.

Yes, we'll go sometime to be alone again then add to me many thoughts.

Consulting a traditional healer

Donj ot. Misawa.

Misawa ahinya.

Ibiro? Dakonyi gang'o [gi ang'o]?

Atuo. Iya kaya.

Ichiemo gi nyieki?

Ok achiem kode.

Utedo kode?

Ok ated kode. Atedo yora.

Imiyo nyieki pesa?

Ooyo, ok ami nyieka pesa.

Idhi e ode?

Ooyo, ok adhi.

Pok idonjo e ode?

Ok adonji.

Lawi moro olal?

Eee, lawa moro olal.

Ineno nyieki negi. Kaw yadhni idhi iluokri go. Ikelna gueno mathuon. Oriti.

Oriti ahinya.


Come in the house. Greetings.


You come? Could I possibly help you with something?

I'm sick. My stomach hurts.

You eat with your cowife?

No I don't eat with her.

You cook with her?

No I don't cook with her. I cook alone.

You give your co-wife money?

No, I don't give my co-wife money.

You go to her house?

No, I don't go.

You still have not entered her house?

I don't enter.

Is one of your clothes missing?

Yes, one of my clothes is missing.

I see that your co-wife kills you (or causes extreme discomfort). Take this treatment, go wash yourself with it. Bring me a cock. Bye.


A short visit

Odi ka.



Ok angima.

Ang'o marach?


Nyithindo dhi nadi?

Gin bende ok giber.

Mos ahinya.


Knock knock!

Come in.

You're doing well?

I'm not healthy.

What's wrong?

I'm sick.

The kids are doing how?

They also are not well.

I'm so sorry.

Visiting the chief to explain about a project

Oyawore uru.

Oyawore ahinya.


Erokamano. Wadwaro wuoyo kodi matin kuom tich mawatiyo kae.

Mano ber.

Adwaro timo nonro kuom nyithindo madhi e sikul. Adwaro nono kit dakgi kod ngimagi.

Mano ber. To idwaro riwo nyithindo manie sikunde duto?

A-a. Wabiro yiero ma watiyogo.

Igologi esikunde duto koso?

Ooyo, aa mana nyala sikul kende.

Bende idwaro ji manyalo konyi e tijni?

Ee, aseyudo nyiri ariyo gi wuoyi achiel. Gin jomabeyo.


Good morning.

Good morning.

Sit down.

Thank you. We need to speak with you a little about the work that we are doing here.

That's fine.

I need to do research about the children that go to school. I need to examine the customs of their dwellings (or their manners) and their lives.

That's fine. And do you need to use [put together, delay] children that are at every school?

No. We are going to choose the ones we will work at.

You will take away at all the schools?

No, I come from the Nyala school only.

And do you need people who will be able to help you in your work?

Yes, I have gotten two girls and one boy. They are good people.

Looking for a house to live in


Misawa ahinya. Amanyo od dak, dikonya?

Nitie moro Milimani. En ot man kod kuonde nindo adek, kar budho maduong', kar chiemo to gi kar tedo. Cho gi kar lwok bende nitie to gi baranda. Kendo nitie puodho maduong' mar maua gi lum. Dalano nigi jatich mang'iyo puodho to kendo rito godiechieng'. Jatich mar ot bende nitie.

To gik ot bende nitie eiye?

Onge gimoro amora e ot.

Ichule pesa adi e due?

Wuon ot dwaro siling alufu piero ariyo kende.

Oo mano ber. Inyalo tera mondo adhi ane odno?

Ee, wanyalo dhi sani.



Greetings. I am looking for a house to stay in, can you help me?

There is one in Milimani. It is a house with three bedrooms, a big sitting room, a dining room and a kitchen. A toilet and wash room also are there, and a veranda. And there is a big garden of flowers and grass. The compound has a worker who looks after the garden and also watches it during the day. A worker for the house is also there.

And the household things are also inside?

There's nothing in the house.

You pay how much money per month?

The owner of the house needs only 1020 shillings.

That's good. You will be able to take me so that I can go to see the house?

Yes, we can go now.

Renting a house

Adwaro ot.

Idwaro ot machal nadi?

Adwaro ot man gi gik ot duto eiye.

Gik machal nadi?

Gikmoko kaka cho, jikon, kar nindo, gi gik ot.

Mano ot maduong'.


I'm looking for a house.

What kind of house are you looking for?

I'm looking for a house with all the household goods inside.

What kind of goods? [Things that look how?]

Things like toilet, kitchen, bed room, and household goods.

That is a big house.

Looking for an office


Misawa ahinya. Dakonyi gang'o?

Amanyo ofis.

Ofis ma chal nadi?

Daher ofis ma ok duong'. Adwaro ofis ma ong'ad iye didek: konchiel kara ma abetie, kon machielo kama karan betie to komachielo kor rwako welo.

Wan kod ofis ma rom kamano, cho to ni oko.

Bende nitie kombe kod gik mamoko mag ofis?

Ooyo, onge. Mago ing'iewo kendi iwuon.

En pesa adi e due?

Siling alufu adek kende.

Kara mano ok rach. Adwaro sani. Oriti.

Oriti ahinya.



Greetings. Can I help you with something

I'm looking for an office.

What kind of office?

I would like an office that is not big. I need an office that is divided in three: one side for where I would be, another place the secretary would be and another visitor welcome room.

We have an office that is the same size as that, and also has a toilet.

And are there chairs with things like that for the office?

No, nothing. Those you buy yourself on your own.

It's how much money each month?

Three thousand shillings only.

Then that's not bad. I need it now. Bye.


Reading Comprehension #1

E piny Kenya, nitie ndalo koth, chieng' gi opon. Nitie ndalo koyo bende. Ndalo chieng' chakorega due mar apar gi ariyo to dhi nyaka due mar adek. Ndalo chieng' nitie liet mang'eny gi chieng' makech. Ndalo koth chakorega due mar adek kata due mar ang'wen. Koth chwuega ahinya ndalogi nikech ndalogi inyaloga pidho chiemo mopogore opogore.

Ndalo koyo chakorega giko due mar auchiel to dhi nyaka due mar ochiko. Ndalogi, jopur ok pur. Omiyo nengo chiemo tek ahinya. To ndalo keyo nitie liet matin gi yamo. Ndalo keyo jopur mor ahinya. Chiemo mang'eny kaka rabolo, muogo, rabuon gi olemo yudore ndalogi.


In the country of Kenya, there are days which are rainy, sunny, and short rains. There are also cold days. The sunny season [days] usually begin in the month of November and go until the month of March. The sunny season is very hot and with a harsh [hunger] sun. The rainy season begins in the month of March to the month of April. Rain usually falls a lot during these days because these days you can usually plant different foods.

The cold days usually begin sometime in the month of June and go until the month of September. These days, farmers don't farm [dig]. It leads to food prices that are very high. And the harvest days are a bit hot and windy. During the harvest season farmers are very joyful. Many foods like bananas, cassava, potatos, and fruit can be gotten during this season.

Reading Comprehension #2

Naivasha en dala matin. Entie Nairobi ma Nyandwat. Dalani oluor gi puothe mag jopur mang'eny. Thoth ji ma dak Naivasha gin johala. Giuso leuni, chiemo gi buge. Ei Naivasha nitie dukni mang'eny, posta, bank, gi ospitande. Kambe ok ng'eny Naivasha. Nitie kambi ma tuoyo alode, kambi mar chak, gi kambi mar kong'o. Ji mang'eny indiko ekambegi.

Nam ma iluongo ni Naivasha nitie e Naivasha ma milambo. Nitie puothe mang'eny but nam. Kendo, jopur puro chiemo mopogore opogore kaka oganda, rabuon, gi olembe kaka machunga kod alode.

Jopur keyo maber ahinya nikech gitiyo gi pi ma oa e nam. Bang' keyo jopur uso chiembi e pinje ma oko kaka Amerika gi Ingeresa. Jopur moko pidho maua ma itiyogo Nairobi to moko ioro e pinje ma oko.

Naibasha ma nyandwat gi imbo nitie jamni kaka diek, rombe e ma ipidhe. Naivasha ma milambo nitie gode. Ku nitie le mang'eny ma okalo. Jorachere mang'eny kalo ka kadhi neno le gi bungu kendo ka gidhi e otende madongo dongo ma nitie machiegni gi nam ma Naivasha.


Naivasha is a small town [homestead]. It is in the far east of Nairobi. This town is surrounded with gardens for the many farmers. Many people that stay in Naivasha are business people. They sell clothes, food, and books. In Naivasha there are many shops, a post office, a bank, and clinics. There are not many factories in Naivasha. There is a factory that dries vegetables, a factory for milk, and a factory for beer. Many people are employed [same as "to write"] at these factories.

The lake that is called Naivasha is in the south of Naivasha. There are many gardens near the lake. Also, farms farm [dig] different foods like beans, potatos, and fruits like oranges with vegetables.

Farmers harvest very well because they use the water that comes from the lake. After the harvest the farmers sell their food in countries that are outside like America and England. Other farmers plant flowers that you get in Nairobi and others you send to countries that are outside.

Eastern and Western Naivasha over there there is livestock like goat, sheep, and what you raise. In Southern Naivasha there are mountains. There, there are many animals that have passed. Many white people pass there when they go to see the animals and bush and when they go to the enormous hotels that are close to the lake of Naivasha.

Reading Comprehension #3

Jaduong' Omolo nigi ot maduong' gi puodho maduong'. Ode ne ogero e puothe. Puothe no en eka apar gi abich. Puothe no ne ong'iewo ka ne pod en japuonj. Ka ne pok obedo japuonj, ne otiyo gi joka pi [or jopi] edala mar Kakamega. En gi dhako gi nyithindo abich.

Nyathine mokuongo iluongo ni Otieno; en laktar e osipital mar Kenyatta. Nyathine mar ariyo nyinge Akinyi; en karan e kampani. Nyathi mar adek iluongo ni Odhiambo; en japuonj e skul ma iluongo Nyamasare ei Karachuonyo. Nyathi mar ang'wen nyinge Anyango; en pod osomo e yunibasiti mar Nairobi. Nyathi ma ogik iluongo ni Nalo; en bende pod osomo e praimari ma chiegni gi puoth wuongi. Jaduong' Omolo ne oweyo tich ka ne en gi higni piero auchiel gi abich. Sani en japur opidho rabuon.


Elder Omolo has a big house and a big garden. His house he built and his garden. His garden is 25 acres. His garden he bought when he was still a teacher. When he had not yet become a teacher, he worked with the minister of water for Kakamega. He has a wife [woman] and five children.

His eldest child is called Otieno; he's a doctor at Kenyatta hospital. His second child's name is Akinyi; she's a clerk in a company. His third child is called Odhiambo; he's a teacher in a school that is called Nyamasare in Karachuonyo. His fourth child is named Anyango; she's still studying in the university of Nairobi. His last child is called Nalo; he also is still studying at primary school that is near the garden of their father. Elder Omolo stopped working when he was 65 years old. Now he is a farmer who plants potatoes.

Reading Comprehension #4

Onyango ne onyuol tarik apar e due mar abich higa mar alut achiel mia ochiko gi piero auchiel gi ariyo. Sani en gi higni piero adek gi ariyo. Ne onyuole e dala mar Kisumu e piny mar Kenya. Ne odak Kisumu nyaka ne ochopo higni ang'wen. E Kisumu wuongi ne japuonj. E higa mar piero auchiel gi auchiel jonyuol Onyango ne odar Kisumu odhi Nairobi.

E Nairobi Onyango ne ochako skul mar praimari. Bang' higni aboro ne otieko skul mar praimari. Kaeto odonjo e skul mar sekondari. E higa mar piero abiriyo gi ochiko Onyango ne odonjo e yunivasiti mar Nairobi. Kuro ne opuonjore sayans mar siasa.

Ka ne otieko yunivasiti ne otiyo matin e Nairobi. Kaeto odhi medore somo e piny mar France. E France Onyango ne opuonjore dho French matin. Bang'e ne oduogo Kenya. Kaeto odhi nyime gi somo matin. Kaeto oyudo digri mare e higa mar piero aboro gi adek. Bang' yudo digri Onyango ne mor mokalo nikech ne ochako dak kende.

Onyango ne ochako manyo tich kata kamano ne ok oyudo dichiel. Bang' dueche ang'wen ne oyudo tich mar puonj e skul mar sekondari. Bang'e ne ondike gi serekali. Sani oyudo musara maduong' kendo oparo mar donjo e siasa higa manyien.


Onyango was born on the date of the tenth of may in the year of one-thousand nine hundred and sixty two. Now he is thirty-two years old. He was born in the town of Kisumu in the country of Kenya. He stayed in Kisumu until he reached the age of four. In Kisumu his father was a teacher. In the year '66 the parents of Onyango migrated from Kisumu to go to Nairobi.

In Nairobi Onyango began primary school. After eight years he finished primary school. Then he entered secondary school. In the year '79 Onyango entered Nairobi university. Over there he learned/studied science and politics.<./p>

When he finished university he worked a little in Nairobi. Then he went to add to his studies in the country of France. In France Onyango studied the language of French a bit. After he returned to Kenya. Then he continued with some studies. Then he got his degree in the year '83. After getting the degree Onyango was happy that he got through because he had begun to live alone.

Onyango began to search for work, however like that he didn't get [it] at first. After four months he got work as a teacher in a secondary school. After he was employed with the government. Now he gets a large salary and think s of entering in politics in recent years.

The Lord's Prayer / Our Father

Wuonwa manie polo.

Nyingi mondo omi luor.

Lochni obi.

Kendo dwaroni mondo otimre e piny kaka timore e polo.

Imiwa chiembwa mar tindende.

Bende iwenwae richowa kaka waweyo ni joma timonwa marach.

Kik iwe wadonj e tem

to reswa e richo.

Nikech loch, gi teko, gi duong' gin magi nyaka chieng'.



Our father who is in heaven

Your name be given respect

Your kingdom come

And your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven

Given us our food today

And forgive us our sins

As we forgive the people we do bad against

Don't let us enter into temptation and save us from sin

Because kingdom and power and glory are yours until forever. Amen.

May the grace...

Nguono mar ruothwa Yesu Christo

Hera mar Nyasaye wuonwa

Kod achiel ma wanjo kuom Roho Maler

Obed kodwa duto nyaka chieng'.



The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

The love of God our Father

With the unity (oneness) from the Holy Spirit

Be with us all until forever.

Vocabulary lists

The Dholuo words are written in the following format:

  • Verbs: infinitive (subjunctive form)
  • Nouns: singular noun, plural noun (singular construct, plural construct)

Because the language often adds prefixes to words, it can be often be hard to find a word you don't recognize in the dictionary. For example, the meaning of achiemo would be found under chiemo. An electronic glossary (such as on this website) makes this process easier: just search for the root of a word--look up chiem instead of the whole word, look up rach instead of marach, etc.

Dholuo to English

a, to come from

a malo, stand up

abich, five

abila (abich), hut

abiriyo, seven

aboro, eight

achiel, one

adek, three

adi, how many

adier, truly

ae, aeto, then

ah-ah, no

ahinya, very

alufu, thousand

an, I

ang'o, what

ang'wen, four

aora, aore (aoch), river

apar, ten

apar gachiel, eleven

apar gariyo, twelve

apuoyo, apuoche, rabbit

ariyo, two

asara, loss

auchiel, six

awinjo riyo, I'm thirsty (lit. "I feel thirst")

baba, father

bang', after

bang'e, later

bari (bar), to miss

bat, bede, arm

bayo, to stroll

bed, sit (command)

bed piny, sit down

bedo, to be (in the future)

bel, millet

bende, also

ber, beyo, goodness; good, well

bet (bed), to sit

beto, to clear grass

biro, to come

bor, boyo, tall

budho, to rest, delay

buk, buge (bug), book

bul, bunde (bund-), drum

bungu, thicket, forest, bush

buogo, scare

bur, buche (buch), hole

bura, meeting

chak (chag), milk

chako, to begin

chakruok, beginning

chalo, image

chalo, perhaps

cham, grain

chano, to plan

chieg (chieg), wife

chiegni, be close, almost

chiek, short, ripe, ready

chielo, to fry

chiemo, chiembe (chiemb, chiembe), food

chiemo / chamo, to eat (intransitive/transitive)

chieng', sun, day

chieng' ngeso, Saturday

chik, chike (chik), law

chiew, to wake up

chiro, market

cho, toilet

chogo, last born

chogo (chok), bone

choko, to gather

chon, early

chong', chonge (chong), knee

chopo, to arrive, reach

chudo, bill or payment

chulo, to pay

chung', stop/stand

chuny, heart, liver

chuodho, mud

dachiel, once

dariyo, twice

dak, to stay, live in a place

dakika, minutes

dala, mier, homestead

dayo, deye (da, deye), grandma

del (dend), body

del, dende (dend-), skin, body

dewo, to care, mind

dhako, mon (chi, mond), woman

dhi or dhiyo, go

dhiang', dhok (dhe, dhog), cow

dhok, mouth

dibedie, perhaps

dich, to be busy

dichuo, chuo (chuor, chuo), man

diel, diek (diend), goat

ding'eny, usually, often

dipo, perhaps

dok, return or go back

dong', to remain

donjo, to enter

due, dueche, month

duka, store

dumo, jump

duogo, come back

duoko, to answer or return

duol, duonde (duond-), voice, sound

doung', big

duto, all

duwe, moon

dwaro, to need, look for

dwaro, dwara, need or want

e, in, at, during, is

e wang'e, exactly

ebuo, under

ee, yes

ei, inside

eka, then

eke, where are

eki gi, here are

en, he, she or it

en saa adi sani?, what time is it now?

ere, where is

eri e, here is

erokamano, thank you

etie, under

ewi, on top

fualo, to bring in

gam, to get

gari, geche, train

geno, to hope, trust

gi, with, and, through, during

gi, and

gi tielo, by foot

gi, gik (gir), thing

giko, end

gimoro, gikmoko, something

gimoro amora, anything

gin, they

gocho, to hit, strike

godhiambo, in the afternoon

godhro, mattress

gokinyi, in the morning

golo, to remove, subtract

gombo, to desire, wish for

gomo, to rebel

gorro, to draw

got, gode, hill

got madoung', mountain

gotieno, at night

goyo, to beat

goyo, to beat, play

goyo erokamano, to say thank you

goyo koko, to make noise

goyo mbaka, have a chat

goyo nengo, to bargain

goyo oriti, to say good-bye

goyo rang'i, to paint

goyo simu, to phone

goyo thum, to play music

gueno, guende (guend), chicken

gueno mathuon, cock

guok, guogi (guog, guogi), dog

hero, like

higa, higni (hik), year (age)

Hika gin …, I'm … years old.

Hiki gin adi?, how old are you?

ich, iye (iy-), stomach

imo, to cover

in, you

it, ear

jakony, helper

jamni, livestock

janualo, parent

jaot, joudi (jaod, jout), spouse

japuonj, teacher

jatedo, cook

ji, people

joot, family

jotendwa, our boss

jowasungu or wasungu, white person

juma, week

jumapil, Sunday

ka, when, if; here

ka …, at the home of …

ka aeto, then

kae, here

kaka, like, how

kalam, pen

kalatas, kalatese, paper

kalo, to pass, get through

kamano, like that

kambi, kambe, company

kamoro, somewhere

kano, to keep

kanore, to be kept

kanye, where

kar, kuonde, place of, time of

kar ang'o, when

karibu, you're welcome

kata, either, or, although, nor

kawo, to take

kawuono, today

kawuono en tich adi?, what day is it today?

kayo, to bite

kayo (kach), first born

kech, hunger

kech, to be hungry

kech kaya, I'm hungry (lit. "Hunger bites me")

kede, kete, stick, twigs

kel, bring

kelo, to bring

kende, only, alone

kende, himself or herself

kendo, again, to marry

kendre, to marry each other

ketho, sin

ketho, to spoil

keto, to put

kido (kit), custom, character

kidi, kete, stone

kik, don't

kinde, period of time, occasion

kiny, tomorrow

kitanda, kitendni, bed

kiyie, please

kod, with

koko, noise, ugly

kom, kombe (kom), chair

kong'o, beer

konyo, help

kor (kor), chest, side

koro, now, then

koso, so, perhaps, or

koth, rain

koth, rain

koyo, cold

kucho, there (far away)

kudni, insect

kund, pen for animals

kuom, about, of, for

kuon (kuon), traditional food

kuongo, to be first

kuro, over there

kuyo, to be sad

kwach, kwech, leopard

kwalo, to steal

kwanyo, to pick

kwaro, kwere (kwar, kwere), grandpa

kwath or kwayo, to graze cows

kwayo, to request

kwer, kwe (kwer), hoe

lal, to be lost

lamo, to adore

law, leuni, cloth or clothes

le, animals

lemo, to pray

lep (lew), tongue

ler, light

lewo, to be late

liet, hot

limo, to visit

ling', to be quiet, calm

lit, sorrow, pain

loch, victory

loso, to fix, repair, make

lowo, lope (lop, lope), land

loyo, to overcome

luedo, luete (luet), hand

luoko, to wash

luongo, to call, order

luoro, to circle, surround

luth, ludhe, stick

lweny, lwenje, war, battle

ma, this; which is, that is

maber, mabeyo, good, well

mabiro, next

mabor, maboyo, tall

mach, mech (ma), fire

macha, that (far)

machal, machalo, similar

machiegni, close, near

machielo, which

machiek, machieko, short

machon, early

madho, drink (not water)

madiny, narrow

madoung', madongo, big

mag, for

mage, which ones

magi, these

mago, those (close)

maka, those (far)

makati, bread

malach, wide

maler, holy

malich, nice, beautiful; wonderful; dangerous; unheard of, strange

maliet, hot

malo, stand / rise

malo, up

mama, mother

mamoko, other ones

mane, which one

mang'eny, many, much

mang'ich, cold, wet

mano, that (close)

manyo, to look for

mapek, heavy

mar, of

mar ang'o, why

marach, maricho, bad

marachar, marachere, white

marateng', maratenge, black

matek, hard, difficult, expensive

matin, matindo, small

mayom, easy

mayot, light, cheap

mbaka, chat, discussion, argument, debate

mbas, bmese, same age group

mesa, table

mia, hundred

miel, to dance

mikayo (mikach), first wife

misawa, peace

mit, sweet, tasty

miyo, to give

miyo, mine (min, mine), mother

modho, drink (water)

mogik, last

mogo, flour

mokalo, past, last

moko, other ones

mokuongo, first

moloyo, more than

mondo, so that

mor, to be joyful, happy

mor, joy

moro, moko, another, other, one

moro a mora, anything

moro ka moro, each thing

mos, slow, slowly

moso, greet

moyueyo, relaxed

mpira, ball

mudho, darkness

muogo, cassava

musara, wage

nadi, how

nam, lake

nang'o, how, why

nanga, cloth

ndalo, days

ndara, ndeche, road

ndawa (ndap), cigarette

ndiko, to employ, write

ndowo, ndope, bucket

nengo, price

nengone en adi?, what is the price of it?

neno, see

neno, to see

ng'a, who

ng'ado, to cut, reduce, divide

ng'ado, to cut, reduce, divide

ng'ato a ng'ata, anyone

ng'ato ka ng'ato, each person

ng'ato, ji, person

ng'eny, to be many

ng'eyo, know

ng'ere, to know each other

ng'ich, cold and wet

ng'iewo, to buy

ng'iyo, to look at

ng'ol, to be lame

ng'ueto, to gather

ng'ut (ng'ut), neck

ngima, life, healthy

nikech, because

nikuop, because

nimar, because

nindo, sleep

niwach, because

njugu, peanuts (groundnuts)

nono, to inspect, examine

nono, free

nonro, research

nualo, to give birth

nudo, to prepare porridge

nus, half

nyachira, second wife

nyaka, should, must

nyaka, until

nyako, nyiri (nyar, nyi), girl

nyakwaro, nyikweye (nyakwar-, nyikweye-), grandchild

nyalo, to be able

nyamin, nyimine (nyamin, nyimine), sister

nyanya, tomato

nyaroya, nyiroye, calf

nyasaye, God

nyathi, nyathindo , child

nyathi, nyithindo (nyathi), child

nyero, to laugh

nyiego (nyiek), cowife

nyien, recent

nyime, forward (dhi nyime, continue)

nyiso, to show, tell

nyoro, yesterday

nyuka, porridge

ochiko, nine

ochwere, forever

odiechieng', ndalo, day

oduma, maize

ogut, hat

ohala, profit, business

ok, not

okapu, adita, basket

okinyi, morning

oko, excrement; outside

ol, to be tired

ol, to be tired

olemo, fruit

omo, to fetch (water)

onego, should

otel (otend), hotel or restaurant

ong'er, ong'eche, monkey

onge, to be lacking or absent

onget, blanket

ooyo, no

oro, to send

orom, to be enough, suffice

oromo, enough

orucha, day after tomorrow

osiep, osiepe, friend

ot, udi (od, ute), house

otel, otende, hotel or restuarant

otieno, night

otiko, otikni, ticket

owadgi omin, owete (owadgi, owetegi), brother

owinjore, should

oyi, to be willing

paka, cat

pako, to praise

pala, pelni or pande (pand, pende), knife

paro, to think

pasia, curtain

pek, heavy

penjo, to ask

pesa, money

pi, water

pidho, to plant

pien (pien), skin

pien, piende, skin

piero adek, thirty

piero ang'wen, forty

piero ariyo, twenty

piero ariyo gachiel, twenty-one

pile ka pile, every day

piny, down

piny, pinje, earth, country, ground, world

piyo, quick, quickly

pod, still, yet

pok, not yet

puodho, puothe (puoth), garden

puonjo, teach

puonjore, learn

puonjruok, practice

puoyo, to praise

puro, to dig, farm

rabolo, rabonde, banana

rabuon, rabuonde, potato

rach, richo, bad

rachar, white

ragol, comb

rang'i, mirror

rangi, color

rang'ol, lame person

rapur, hoe

rarind, lock

rateng', ratenge, black

rawera, youth

rawera, youth

rech, fish

remo (remb), blood

reru, third wife

riembo, to drive or chase away

ring'o (ring), meat

ringo, run

rito, to wait for, protect

riwo, to join, unite, add to

riyo, thirst

rombo, rombe, sheep

romo, be enough, meet, be worth, be satisfied

romo, meeting

ruako, welcome, accept

ruoth, ruodhe, chief or leader

saa, seche, time

saa, seche, time

saamoro, sometime

san, sende, plate

sani, now

serekali, government

siage, butter

sianda (sianda), buttocks

sikuma wiki, kale

sin, sadness

somo, to read, study

sufuria, pot

suka, sukni or suke, sheet

tarik, date

taya, teyni (tach), lamp

te, all

tedo, to cook

tek, expensive, difficult, hard

teko, power

temo, to try

teno, support

tero, to take

tero, to take away

tero, to take

thiodho, to treat (an illness)

tho, death

tho, die

thoth, many

thum, music

thuno (thund), breast

thuol, thuonde, snake

thuolo, spare time, freedom, leisure

tich abich, Friday

tich adek, Wednesday

tich ang'wen, Thursday

tich ariyo, Tuesday

tich, tije (tij), work

tie, to be present (conjugated antie, intie, nitie, wantie, untie, gintie)

tieko, to finish

tiel, tiende (tiend-), foot

tielo, tiende (tiend), leg

tik (tik), chin

tim, timbe, act, deed, habit

timo, to make, do

tin, small, few

tiyo, to work

tiyogo, to use

to, and

toke, behind

tol, toned (tond-), rope, string

tong', egg

tuoyo, to dry, cause to dry out

um, nose

un, you plural

uru, you plural (command)

uso, to sell

wach, weche, word, news

wacho, to say

wan, we

wang', wenge, face, eye

wang', later today, soon now

wat, wede, relative

(way), aunt of

we, wende (wend), song

welo, wendo, visitor

wer, to sing

weyo, to stop, cease

wich, wiye (wi-), head

winjo, to hear, obey, listen, understand, feel

wuok, to come out

wuok tich, Monday

wuon, owner, possessor, self (awuon, myself)

wuon pacho, husband

wuoru, wuone (wuon, wuone), father

wuotho, walk

wuotho, to walk

wuowi or wuoyi, jowuowi (wuod, yawuot), boy, son

wuoyo, to talk

yande, a few days ago

yath (yadh), medicine, treatment

yawo, to open

yie, to believe

yie, faith

yie (yiedh or yiey), boat

yie (yien), faith, belief

yieng', to be satisfied, full

yiero, to choose


yotcheap, easy, light

yoo (yor, yore), path

yora, on my own

yudo, to get

yueyo or yuweyo, to relax

yuore, brother-in-law

yuwecho, to sweep

English to Dholuo

a few days ago, yande

about, of, kuom

act, deed, habit, tim, timbe

adore, lamo

after, bang'

again, kendo

all, duto

all, te

alone, kende

also, bende

and, gi or to

answer or return, duoko

anyone, ng'ato a ng'ata

anything, gimoro amora

anything, moro a mora

arm, bat, bede

arrive, reach, chopo

ask, penjo

at night, gotieno

at the home of …, ka …

aunt of, (way)

bad, marach, maricho

ball, mpira

banana, rabolo, rabonde

bargain, goyo nengo

basket, okapu, adita

battle, lweny, lwenje

be able, nyalo

be busy, dich

be close, almost, chiegni

be enough, meet, be worth, be satisfied, romo

be enough, suffice, orom

be first, kuongo

be hungry, kech

be joyful, happy, mor

be kept, kanore

be lame, ng'ol

be late, lewo

be lost, lal

be many, ng'eny

be quiet, calm, ling'

be present, tie (conjugated antie, intie, nitie, wantie, untie, gintie)

be sad, kuyo

be satisfied, full, yieng'

be tired, ol

be tired, ol

be willing, oyi

beat, play, goyo

beat, goyo

because, nikech

because, nikuop

because, nimar

because, niwach

bed, kitanda, kitendni

begin, chako

beginning, chakruok

behind, toke

believe, yie

big, madoung', madongo

bite, kayo

bill (payment), chudo

black, marateng', maratenge

black, rateng', ratenge

blanket, onget

blood, remo (remb)

boat, yie (yiedh or yiey)

body, del, dende (dend)

bone, chogo (chok)

book, buk, buge (bug)

boss, jotendwa (our boss)

boy, son, wuowi or wuoyi, jowuowi (wuod, yawuot)

bread, makati

breast, thuno (thund)

bring in, fualo

bring, kel

bring, kelo

brother, owadgi omin, owete (owadgi, owetegi)

brother-in-law, yuore

bucket, ndowo, ndope

butter, siage

buttocks, sianda (sianda)

buy, ng'iewo

by foot, gi tielo

calf, nyaroya, nyiroye

call, order, luongo

care, mind, dewo

cassava, muogo

cat, paka

chair, kom, kombe (kom)

chest, kor (kor)

chicken, gueno, guende (guend)

chief or leader, ruoth, ruodhe

child, nyathi, nyathindo

child, nyathi, nyithindo (nyathi)

chin, tik (tik)

choose, yiero

cigarette, ndawa (ndap)

clear grass, beto

close, near, machiegni

cloth or clothes, law, leuni

cloth, nanga

cock, gueno mathuon

cold, wet, mang'ich

cold, koyo

color, rangi

comb, ragol

come back, duogo

come from, a

come out, wuok

come, biro

continue, dhi nyime

cook, jatedo

cook, tedo

cook (porridge), nudo

cow, dhiang', dhok (dhe, dhog)

cowife, nyiego (nyiek-)

curtain, pasia

custom, character, kido (kit)

cut, reduce, divide, ng'ado

cut, reduce, divide, ng'ado

dance, miel

darkness, mudho

date, tarik

day after tomorrow, orucha

day, odiechieng', chieng'

days, ndalo

death, tho

desire, wish for, gombo

die, tho

difficult, hard, expensive, matek

dig, farm, puro

discussion, chat, argument, mbaka

dog, guok, guogi (guog, guogi)

down, piny

draw, gorro

drink (not water), madho

drink (water), modho

drive or chase away, riembo

drum, bul, bunde (bund-)

each person, ng'ato ka ng'ato

each thing, moro ka moro

each, moro

ear, it

early, machon

earth, ground, world, piny

easy, mayom

eat, chiemo (intransitive)/chamo (transitive)

egg, tong'

eight, aboro

either, or, kata

eleven, apar gachiel

employ, ndiko

end, giko

enough, oromo

enter, donjo

every day, pile ka pile

exactly, e wang'e

eye, wang', wenge

faith, belief, yie (yien)

faith, yie

family, joot

father, baba

father, wuoru, wuone (wuon, wuone)

feel, winjo

fetch (water), omo

finish, tieko

fire, mach, mech (ma)

first, mokuongo

first born, kayo (kach)

first wife, mikayo (mikach)

fish, rech

five, abich

fix, repair, make, loso

flour, mogo

food, chiemo, chiembe (chiemb, chiembe)

foot, tiel, tiende (tiend-)

for, mag

forever, ochwere

forty, piero ang'wen

forward, nyime

four, ang'wen

free, nono

freedom, spare time, leisure, thuolo

Friday, tich abich

friend, osiep, osiepe

fruit, olemo

fry, chielo

garden, puodho, puothe (puoth)

gather, choko

gather, ng'ueto

get, gam

get, yudo

girl, nyako, nyiri (nyar, nyi)

give birth, nualo

give, miyo

go, dhi or dhiyo

goat, diel, diek (diend)

God, nyasaye

good, well, ber, beyo

grain, cham

grandchild, nyakwaro, nyikweye (nyakwar-, nyikweye-)

grandma, dayo, deye (da, deye)

grandpa, kwaro, kwere (kwar, kwere)

graze cows, kwath or kwayo

greet, moso

half, nus

hand, luedo, luete (luet)

hard, matek

hat, ogut

have a chat, goyo mbaka

head, wich, wiye (wi-)

healthy, ngima

hear, obey, listen, understand, feel, winjo

heart, chuny

heavy, mapek

help, konyo

helper, jakony

here are, eki gi

here is, eri e

here, ka, kae

hill, got, gode

himself or herself, kende

hit, gocho

hoe, kwer, kwe (kwer)

hoe, rapur

hole, bur, buche (buch)

holy, maler

homestead, dala, mier

hope, trust, geno

hot, maliet

hotel, otel (otend)

house, ot, udi (od, ute)

how many, adi

how old are you?, Hiki gin adi?

how, why, nang'o

how, nadi

hundred, mia

hunger, kech

hut, abila (abich)

if, ka

I'm … years old., Hika gin …

I'm hungry (lit. "Hunger bites me"), kech kaya

I'm thirsty (lit. "I feel thirst"), awinjo riyo

image, chalo

in the afternoon, godhiambo

in the morning, gokinyi

in, at, during, e

insect, kudni

inside, ei

inspect, examine, nono

join, unite, add to, riwo

joy, mor

jump, dumo

kale, sikuma wiki

keep, kano

knee, chong', chonge (chong)

knife, pala, pelni or pande (pand, pende)

know, ng'eyo

know each other, ng'ere

lack, onge

lake, nam

lame person, rang'ol

lamp, taya, teyni (tach)

land, lowo, lope (lop, lope)

last born, chogo

last, mogik

later, bang'e

laugh, nyero

law, chik, chike (chik)

learn, puonjore

leg, tielo, tiende (tiend)

leopard, kwach, kwech

life, ngima

light, cheap, mayot

light, ler

like that, kamano

like, how, kaka

like, hero

listen, understand, feel, winjo

lock, rarind

look at, ng'iyo

look for, manyo

loss, asara

maize, oduma

make, do, timo

man, dichuo, chuo (chuor, chuo)

many, much, mang'eny

market, chiro

marry, kendo

marry each other, kendre

mattress, godhro

meat, ring'o (ring)

medicine, yath (yadh)

meeting, bura

meeting, romo

milk, chak (chag)

millet, bel

minutes, dakika

mirror, rang'i

miss, bari (bar)

Monday, wuok tich

money, pesa

monkey, ong'er, ong'eche

month, due, dueche

moon, duwe

more than, moloyo

morning, okinyi

mother, mama

mother, miyo, mine (min, mine)

mountain, got madoung'

mouth, dhok

mud, chuodho

music, thum

narrow, madiny

neck, ng'ut (ng'ut)

need or want, dwaro, dwara

need, look for, dwaro

news, wach, weche

next, mabiro

night, otieno

nine, ochiko

no, ah-ah

no, ooyo

noise, koko

nose, um

now, koro, sani

obey, listen, understand, feel, winjo

of, mar

on my own, yora

on top, ewi

once, dachiel

one, achiel

only, kende

open, yawo

other ones, mamoko

other, moko

overcome, loyo

paper, kalatas, kalatese

parent, janualo

pass, kalo

past, last, mokalo

path, yoo (yor, yore)

pay, chulo

payment, chudo

peace, misawa

peanuts (groundnuts), njugu

pen, kalam

perhaps, chalo

perhaps, dibedie

perhaps, dipo

person, ng'ato, ji

people, ji

phone, goyo simu

pick, kwanyo

place of, kar, kuonde

plan, chano

plant, pidho

plate, san, sende

please, kiyie

porridge, nyuka

pot, sufuria

potato, rabuon, rabuonde

power, teko

practice, puonjruok

praise, pako

praise, puoyo

pray, lemo

price, nengo

profit, business, ohala

protect, wait for, rito

put, keto

quick, quickly, piyo

rain, koth

rabbit, apuoyo, apuoche

read, somo

rebel, gomo

relative, wat, wede

relax, yueyo

relax, yuweyo

relaxed, moyueyo

remain, dong'

request, kwayo

research, nonro

rest, delay, budho

return or go back, dok

river, aora, aore (aoch)

road, ndara, ndeche

rope, string, tol, toned (tond-)

run, ringo

sadness, sin

same age group, mbas, bmese

Saturday, chieng' ngeso

say, wacho

scare, buogo

second wife, nyachira

see, neno

sell, uso

seven, abiriyo

sheep, rombo, rombe

sheet, suka, sukni or suke

short, ripe, ready, chiek

short, machiek, machieko

should, must, nyaka

should, onego

should, owinjore

show, tell, nyiso

similar, machal, machalo

sin, ketho

sing, wer

sister, nyamin, nyimine (nyamin, nyimine)

sit down, bed piny

sit, bet (bed)

six, auchiel

skin, body, del, dende (dend-)

skin, pien (pien)

skin, pien, piende

sleep, nindo

slow, slowly, mos

small, matin, matindo

snake, thuol, thuonde

so that, mondo

something, gimoro

sometime, saamoro

somewhere, kamoro

song, we, wende (wend)

sorrow, pain, lit

spoil, ketho

spouse, jaot, joudi (jaod, jout)

stand / rise, malo

stand up, a malo

stay, live in a place, dak

steal, kwalo

stick, kede, kete

stick, luth, ludhe

stomach, ich, iye (iy-)

stone, kidi, kite

stop/stand, chung'

store, duka

stroll, bayo

subtract, golo

sun, chieng'

Sunday, jumapil

support, teno

sweep, yuwecho

sweet, tasty, mamit

table, mesa

take away, tero

take, kawo

take, tero

take, tero

talk, wuoyo

tall, mabor, maboyo

teach, puonjo

teacher, japuonj

tell, show nyiso

ten, apar

thank you, erokamano

that (close), mano

that (far), macha

then, eka

then, ka aeto

there (far away), kucho

these, magi

thing, gik, gikmoko

think, paro

third wife, reru

thirst, riyo

thirty, piero adek

this, ma

those (close), mago

those (far), maka

thousand, alufu

three, adek

Thursday, tich ang'wen

ticket, otiko, otikni

time, saa, seche

time, occasion, period of time, kinde

today, kawuono

toilet, cho

tomato, nyanya

tomorrow, kiny

tongue, lep (lew)

traditional food, kuon (kuon)

train, gari, geche

treat (an illness), thiodho

treatment, yath (yadh)

truly, adier

try, temo

Tuesday, tich ariyo

twelve, apar gariyo

twenty, piero ariyo

twenty-one, piero ariyo gachiel

twice, diriyo

twig, kede, kete

two, ariyo

under, ebuo

under, etie

understand, feel, winjo

until, nyaka

up, malo

use, tiyogo

usually, often, ding'eny

very, ahinya

victory, loch

visit, limo

visitor, welo, wendo

voice, sound, duol, duonde (duond-)

wait for, protect, rito

wake chiew

walk, wuotho

walk, wuotho

war, lweny, lwenje

wash, luoko

water, pi

Wednesday, tich adek

week, juma

welcome, ruako

what day is it today?, kawuono en tich adi?

what is the price of it?, nengone en adi?

what time is it now?, en saa adi sani?

what, ang'o

when, ka

when, kar ang'o

where are, eke

where is, ere

where, kanye

which one, mane, machielo

which ones, mage

white person, jowasungu or wasungu

white, marachar, marachere

who, ng'a

why, mar ang'o

wide, malach

wife, chieg (chieg)

with, and, through, during, gi

with, kod

woman, dhako, mon (chi, mond)

word, wach, weche

work, tich, tije (tij)

work, tiyo

write, ndiko

year (age), higa, higni (hik)

yes, ee

yesterday, nyoro

yet, pod

you, in (singular), un, uru (plural)

you're welcome, karibu

youth, rawera

youth, rawera


banana, rabolo, rabonde

bread, makati

butter, siage

cassava, muogo

egg, tong'

fish, rech

flour, mogo

food, chiemo, chiembe (chiemb, chiembe)

fruit, olemo

grain, cham

kale, sikuma wiki

maize, oduma

meat, ring'o (ring)

milk, chak (chag)

millet, bel

peanuts (groundnuts), njugu

potato, rabuon, rabuonde

tomato, nyanya

traditional food, kuon (kuon)


aunt of, (way)

boss, jotendwa (our boss)

boy, son, wuowi or wuoyi, jowuowi (wuod, yawuot)

brother, owadgi omin, owete (owadgi, owetegi)

brother-in-law, yuore

chief or leader, routh

child, nyathi, nyithindo

cook, jatedo

cowife, nyiego (nyiek-)

family, joot

father, baba

father, wuoru, wuone (wuon, wuone)

first born, kayo (kach)

first wife, mikayo (mikach)

friend, osiep, osiepe

girl, nyako, nyiri (nyar, nyi)

grandchild, nyakwaro, nyikweye (nyakwar-, nyikweye-)

grandma, dayo, deye (da, deye)

grandpa, kwaro, kwere (kwar, kwere)

helper, jakony

lame person, rang'ol

last born, chogo

man, dichuo, chuo (chuor, chuo)

mother, mama

mother, miyo, mine (min, mine)

parent, janualo

person, ng'ato, ji

relative, wat, wede

second wife, nyachira

sister, nyamin, nyimine (nyamin, nyimine)

spouse, jaot, joudi (jaod, jout)

teacher, japuonj

third wife, reru

visitor, welo, wendo

white person, jowasungu or wasungu

wife, chieg (chieg)

woman, dhako, mon (chi, mond)

youth, rawera

youth, rawera

Adjectives & Adverbs

again, kendo

alone, kende

bad, marach, maricho

behind, toke

big, madoung', madongo

black, marateng', maratenge

black, rateng', ratenge

close, near, machiegni

cold, wet, mang'ich

difficult, expensive, matek

early, machon

easy, mayom

exactly, e wang'e

first, mokuongo

forever, ochwere

forward, nyime

free, nono

good, well, maber, mabeyo

half, nus

heavy, mapek

holy, maler

hot, maliet

last, mogik

later, bang'e

light, cheap, mayot

many, much, mang'eny

more than, moloyo

narrow, madiny

next, mabiro

on my own, yora

past, last, mokalo

quick, quickly, piyo

relaxed, moyueyo

short, machiek, machieko

short, ripe, ready, chiek

similar, machal, machalo

slow, slowly, mos

small, matin, matindo

sweet, tasty, mamit

tall, mabor, maboyo

truly, adier

usually, often, ding'eny

very, ahinya

which one, mane

white, marachar, marachere

wide, malach


calf, nyaroya, nyiroye

cat, paka

chicken, gueno, guende (guend)

cock, gueno mathuon

cow, dhiang', dhok (dhe, dhog)

dog, guok, guogi (guog, guogi)

goat, diel, diek (diend)

insect, kudni

leopard, kwach, kwech

monkey, ong'er, ong'eche

rabbit, apuoyo, apuoche

sheep, rombo, rombe

snake, thuol, thuonde

Body parts

arm, bat, bede

blood, remo (remb)

body, del (dend)

bone, chogo (chok)

breast, thuno (thund)

buttocks, sianda (sianda)

chest, kor (kor)

chin, tik (tik)

ear, it

eye, wang', wenge

foot, tiel, tiende (tiend-)

hand, luedo, luete (luet)

head, wich, wiye (wi-)

heart or liver, chuny

knee, chong', chonge (chong)

leg, tielo, tiende (tiend)

mouth, dhok

neck, ng'ut (ng'ut)

nose, um

skin, pien (pien)

skin, pien, piende

skin, del, dende (dend-)

stomach, ich, iye (iy-)

tongue, lep (lew)


to adore, lamo

to answer or return, duoko

to arrive, reach, chopo

to ask, penjo

to bargain, goyo nengo

to be able, nyalo

to be busy, dich

to be close, almost, chiegni

to be enough, meet, be worth, be satisfied, romo

to be enough, suffice, orom

to be first, kuongo

to be hungry, kech

to be joyful, happy, mor

to be kept, kanore

to be lame, ng'ol

to be late, lewo

to be lost, lal

to be many, ng'eny

to be quiet, calm, ling'

to be present, tie (conjugated antie, intie, nitie, wantie, untie, gintie)

to be sad, kuyo

to be satisfied, full, yieng'

to be tired, ol

to be tired, ol

to be willing, oyi

to beat, goyo

to beat, play, goyo

to begin, chako

to believe, yie

to bite, kayo

to bring, kel

to bring, kelo

to bring in, fualo

to buy, ng'iewo

to call, order, luongo

to care, mind, dewo

to choose, yiero

to clear grass, beto

to come, biro

to come back, duogo

to come from, a

to come out, wuok

to cook, tedo

to cut, reduce, divide, ng'ado

to cut, reduce, divide, ng'ado

to dance, miel

to desire, wish for, gombo

to die, tho

to dig, farm, puro

to draw, gorro

to drink (not water), madho

to drink (water), modho

to drive or chase away, riembo

to eat, chiemo / chamo

to employ, ndiko

to enter, donjo

to finish, tieko

to fix, repair, make, loso

to fry, chielo

to gather, choko

to gather, ng'ueto

to get, gam

to get, yudo

to give, miyo

to give birth, nualo

to go, dhi or dhiyo

to graze cows, kwath or kwayo

to greet, moso

to have a chat, goyo mbaka

to hear, obey, listen, understand, feel, winjo

to help, konyo

to hit, gocho

to hope, trust, geno

to inspect, examine, nono

to join, unite, add to, riwo

to jump, dumo

to keep, kano

to know, ng'eyo

to lack, onge

to laugh, nyero

to learn, puonjore

to like, hero

to look at, ng'iyo

to look for, manyo

to make, do, timo

to marry each other, kendre

to miss, bayo (bar)

to need, look for, want, dwaro

to open, yawo

to overcome, loyo

to pass, kalo

to pay, chulo

to phone, goyo simu

to pick, kwanyo

to plan, chano

to plant, pidho

to praise, pako

to praise, puoyo

to pray, lemo

to put, keto

to read, somo

to rebel, gomo

to relax, yueyo or yuweyo

to remain, dong'

to request, kwayo

to rest, delay, budho

to return or go back, dok

to run, ringo

to say, wacho

to scare, buogo

to see, neno

to sell, uso

to show, tell, nyiso

to sing, wer

to sit, bet (bed)

to sleep, nindo

to spoil, ketho

to stand / rise, malo

to stay, live in a place, dak

to steal, kwalo

to stop/stand, chung'

to stroll, bayo

to subtract, golo

to support, teno

to sweep, yuwecho

to take, kawo

to take, tero

to take away, tero

to talk, wuoyo

to teach, puonjo

to think, paro

to treat (an illness), thiodho

to try, temo

to use, tiyogo

to visit, limo

to wait for, protect, rito

to wake, chiew

to walk, wuotho

to wash, luoko

to welcome, ruako

to work, tiyo

to write, ndiko


achiel, one

ariyo, two

adek, three

ang'wen, four

abich, five

auchiel, six

abiriyo, seven

aboro, eight

ochiko, nine

apar, ten

apar gachiel, eleven

apar gariyo, twelve

piero ariyo, twenty

piero ariyo gachiel, twenty-one

piero adek, thirty

piero ang'wen, forty

mia achiel, one hundred

mia ariyo, two hundred

alufu, thousand

External links and sources

The introduction and pronunciation sections have information borrowed from the website of Owen Ozier.

Much of the grammatical information and many of the dialogues are borrowed from an unknown textbook of which I have an old photocopied version, entitled Dholuo Course Book. The title page is missing, so I have no other information about the source, but I wish to acknowledge it. (The translations into English, and the errors therein, are my own responsibility.

Also helpful was the Bilingual Dholuo-English Dictionary, published by Carole Capen in Tucson AZ, USA, 1998.

For more detailed grammar and phonological information about Dholuo: