15 Popular Phrases in Nigerian Pidgin English

Published on: June 9, 2021 (Updated on: April 22, 2024)

Popular phrases in Nigerian pidgin English

Nigeria is a country with diverse people and culture. In a nation with a population of over 200 million people, 250 ethnic groups and more than 500 languages, daily interaction can be quite unbalanced. However, as diverse as the country may seem, the many tribes and ethnic groups in the nation have adopted a means of communicating with one another. English might be the nation's official language, however Nigeria's lingua franca is pidgin English. This post highlights 15 popular phrases in Nigerian pidgin English that you need to know when learning Nigerian pidgin.

Pidgin English, also commonly known as "Broken", is spoken every day as a means of communication in Nigeria. The language has gone beyond being spoken by just the unlearned, and is now widely adopted by everyone. Today, Nigerian pidgin English has become the norm and is spoken by music artistes, media personnel, content creators, businessmen and the likes.

Brief history of Nigerian pidgin English

Pidgin English was created in the seventeenth century when the British and Portuguese people made contact with West African locals. For trading and religious purposes, the language was adopted for easier communication with the people native to Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone. 

If you are visiting Nigeria for the first time, or would just like to learn the language, there are a few common phrases and sentences used on a daily basis. In every language, only about 5% of the whole vocabulary is applied to daily communication, and this applies to Nigerian Pidgin English as well.

1. How far/How far you

This is probably the most popular phrase in Nigerian pidgin English. It is a normal greeting and could mean Hello" or "How are you". It is a common and informal greeting exchanged between people familiar with one another and can also be used when greeting strangers.

2. Wetin dey/ Wetin dey sup

This could mean "What's up" or "What's going on?". "Wetin dey" or "wetin dey ground" could also mean "what's available?"

3. You do well

This is a way of saying "Thank you". It could also mean "well done" depending on the circumstance in which it is used.

4. I no sabi

When asked a question you have no answer to, you could simply say "I no sabi". It means I don't know." It could also mean "I don't understand" in the case when you meet someone speaking a foreign language to you. In such a case, you could say "I no sabi wetin you dey talk" meaning "I don't understand what you are saying."

5. How much last

When visiting the market and pricing market goods, if you want to beat down the price, you could simply say "how much last." It means "What's the final price?". If you find an item too expensive, you could say " It too cost, how much last?" It simply means "It's too expensive, what's the final price." 

6. I wan chop/ I dey 'H'

This is one you would like to know how to say because nobody likes to be left with an empty stomach. This simply means "I want to eat" or "I am hungry". The 'H' in the sentence means 'hungry'. So if you are asking for directions to a restaurant, you could say "where I fit chop". It means "where can I eat"

7. My domot

This simply means "my place" or "my home". So if you want to invite someone over, you could say "come my domot" which means "come to my place."

8. Abeg now

This is usually added to sentences as a show of courtesy. Abeg means "please" but it could also be an impolite statement or used to show incredulity depending on how you use it. You could say "Abeg, I wan chop" which means "please I want to eat." You could also say "Abeg!! I want chop" which could mean "Don't bother me!! I want to eat." In another instance, someone can say "Abeg! E no possible" which means "Ridiculous!! It's impossible."

9. No wahala./ No Yawa

This means "No qualms" or "No problem." It is an expression that shows approval. So when someone says "No wahala", it shows that they approve of you or whatever suggestion you might have made.

10. How e be

This is another phrased commonly used. It could mean a number of things base on the circumstance you find yourself. It could mean "how are you" or "how are things" or "what's going on."

11. I wan sleep

You can translate this as "I want to sleep". So if you're tired after a long day, you could say. "I don tire, Iwan go sleep" meaning "I'm tired, I'm going to sleep."

12. Shey you go chop?/ Shey you wan chop?/Wetin you wan chop

If you want to show courtesy to your guests by offering them a meal, you could say "shey you go chop?" meaning "will you eat?", " shey you wan chop?" meaning "do you want to eat?" or you could ask "wetin you wan chop?" meaning "what do you want to eat?"

13. I wan go baff

If you want to take a shower or a bath, you could say "I wan go baff" meaning, "I'm going to bathe."

14. Wey I fit find

When asking for directions to a particular place, you could say something like "Wey I fit find restroom?" or "Wey I fit find restaurant?". This means where can I find the restroom" or "Where can find a restaurant?"

15. I no fit

This simply means "I can't". You could say. "I no fit do am" meaning "I can't do it." 

Nigerian pidgin English also has numerous slangs that can be mixed into the basic everyday language. however, the above are popular phrases in Nigerian pidgin English that you ought to know when learning Nigerian pidgin. Like any other language, the more you practice and interact with those who understand and can speak it, the better you become at it.

You might also be interested in popular colloquial english phrases in Nigeria.



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