21 Sinhala Phrases You ABSOLUTELY Must Know!

If you’ve already seen this video on Youtube, then skip over to the text version below. More details, more explanation.

Video Version: 21 Sinhala Phrases


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In this post, I’ve put together 21 Sinhala phrases that I think that you, the person wanting to learn Sinhala, absolutely must know.

As you may have figured out by now, I’m someone who’s a “maximum return, minimum effort” kind of guy.

So, I sat down and thought of the typical phrases or questions I might want to know in a language, at least, as a start.

I came up with this list and have put them into 9 categories to make it easier to sort through them.


Text Version: 21 Sinhala Phrases

Meeting & Greeting


1 – “How are you?”



(ko∙ho∙mȧ∙dhȧ? = Literally, “how?”; It’s an informal way of greeting someone)


2 – “My name is [Dilshan]”

ma∙gé   na∙mȧ   [Dilshan]


(ma∙gé = “my”; na∙mȧ = “name”)


3 – “What is your name?”

o∙yaa∙gé   na∙mȧ   mo∙kak∙dhȧ?


(o∙yaa∙gé = “your”; na∙mȧ = “name”; mo∙kak∙dhȧ? = “what?”)

4 – “Where are you from?”

o∙yaa   ko∙hén∙dhȧ?


(o∙yaa = “you”; ko∙hén∙dhȧ? = “from where?”)


Food & Drinks


5 – “I’m hungry”

ma∙tȧ   ba∙dȧ   gi∙niyi


(ma∙tȧ = “for me”; ba∙dȧ gi∙niyi = “(am/are/is) hungry”)


6 – “I want (some) water”

ma∙tȧ   va∙thu∙rȧ   ō∙né


(ma∙tȧ ō∙né = “I want”; va∙thu∙rȧ = “water”)

Frequently Used Words


7(a) – “Yes”




7(b) – “No”



7(c) – “This”




7(d) – “That”



Health & Emergency


8 – “I don’t feel well”

ma∙tȧ   sa∙nee∙pȧ   nǣ


(ma∙tȧ nǣ = “I don’t have”; sa∙nee∙pȧ = “wellness”)


9 – “I want/need a doctor”

ma∙tȧ   dhos∙thȧ∙rȧ   ké∙nék∙vȧ   ō∙né


(ma∙tȧ ō∙né = “I want/need”; dhos∙thȧ∙rȧ ké∙nék∙vȧ = “a doctor”)


10 – “Help me!”

ma∙tȧ   u∙dhauw   kȧ∙ran∙nȧ!


[ma∙tȧ = “to me”; u∙dhauw kȧ∙ran∙nȧ! = “do help!” or “help!” (imperative)]


Language Related


11 – “Do you speak English?”

o∙yaa   in∙gree∙si   ka∙thaa   kȧ∙rȧ∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?


(o∙yaa ka∙thaa kȧ∙rȧ∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ? = “Do you speak?”; in∙gree∙si = “English”)


12 – “I don’t understand”

ma∙tȧ   thḗ∙rén∙né   nǣ


(ma∙tȧ = “for me”; thḗ∙rén∙né nǣ = “don’t understand”)



13 – “How much?”




14 – “(It’s) too expensive”

ga∙nang   væ∙diyi


(ga∙nang = “expensive”; væ∙diyi = “(is/are) too much”)




15 – “Let’s go”




16 – “I want to go here”

ma∙tȧ   mé∙hé∙tȧ   yan∙nȧ   ō∙né


(ma∙tȧ ō∙né = “I want”; mé∙hé∙tȧ = “to here / to this place”; yan∙nȧ = “to go”)


17 – “Are there any rooms (available)?”

kaa∙mȧ∙rȧ   thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ?


(kaa∙mȧ∙rȧ = “rooms”; thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ? = “are there?”)

Polite Words


18(a) – “Please”

ka∙ru∙naa   kȧ∙rȧ∙la



18(b) – “Sorry / Excuse me”

sa∙maa   vén∙nȧ



18(c) – “Thank you (very much)”

bo∙hō∙mȧ   sthoo∙thi


18(d) – “No, thank you (very much)”

é∙paa,   bo∙hō∙mȧ   sthoo∙thi



Special Expressions

19 – “Happy birthday”

su∙bȧ   u∙pan   dhi∙nȧ∙yak   vḗ∙va!


(su∙bȧ = “happy/prosperous”; u∙pan dhi∙nȧ∙yak = “a birthday”; vḗ∙va! = (word used to express a wish. Equivalent to saying “May you have…”)


20 – “I love you”

ma∙mȧ   o∙yaa∙tȧ   aa∙dhȧ∙réyi


(ma∙mȧ = “I”; o∙yaa∙tȧ = “to/towards you”; aa∙dhȧ∙réyi = “(am) loving”)

As I’ve mentioned in another post, below is a line which I’ll always try to find out before visiting another country

Ultra-Emergency Expression!


21 – “Where is the toilet?”

væ∙si∙ki∙li∙yȧ   thi∙yén∙né   ko∙hé∙dhȧ?


(væ∙si∙ki∙li∙yȧ = “toilet”; thi∙yén∙né ko∙hé∙dhȧ = “where is it?”)

If you had to choose your own list of 21 Sinhala Phrases, which phrases would you remove from my list and what would you replace them with? Do let me know in the comments below.

Enroll for free in my new Sinhala email course!

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62 Responses to 21 Sinhala Phrases You ABSOLUTELY Must Know!

  1. Wendy June 16, 2013 at 18:55 #

    Hi! I have a question regarding the use of the words “here”, “there”, “this” and “that” and how to use them when constructing sentences. Where do place them? Could you, for example, say: mata yanna oné éhé — I want to go there?

    Maybe an idea for a next post or video? :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha June 18, 2013 at 10:22 #

      Hi Wendy,

      Regarding your guess on how to say “I want to go there”, in terms of the vocabulary you used and the placement of é∙hé, I would say it is almost perfect.

      Let me be clear: If you say it exactly the way you suggested, EVERYONE will understand you. So in keeping with this blog’s underlying theme of “good enough Sinhala / minimum needed effort”, this is a totally acceptable way of saying “I want to go there”.

      Having said that, let me now guide you on the more correct way. Let’s try to construct the sentence “I want to go to the hotel”:

      As you know, ma∙tȧ yan∙nȧ ō∙né means “I want to go”. Our destination, “the hotel” in Sinhala (if you look at my Phrase eBook) is hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ

      At this starting stage, I would advise you the two following guidelines:

      1) First, we add the suffix ‘tȧ’ to the end of hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ to make it hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ (which now means “to the hotel”)
      2) Then, we place it between ma∙tȧ and yan∙nȧ

      … and this give you the correct way of saying it which is ma∙tȧ hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ yan∙nȧ ō∙né.

      And that’s it!

      You can now improvise by replacing hō∙tȧ∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ with all other places mentioned in my ebook such as bæn∙ku∙wȧ∙tȧ (“to the bank”), po∙lis∙si∙yȧ∙tȧ (“to the police”), or is∙pi∙ri∙thaa∙lȧ∙yȧ∙tȧ (“to the hospital”).

      Getting back to your original phrase, let’s now s try to say “I want to go there”.

      ***One small note: in English we wouldn’t say “I want to go TO there”. But in Sinhala, this is exactly how we would say it. That’s the only difference.

      Ok, so far?

      So, following the above guidelines:

      1) First, we add ‘tȧ’ to the end to make it é∙hé∙tȧ (which means “to there”)
      2) Then, we place it between ma∙tȧ and yan∙nȧ

      … and this give you the correct way of saying it which is ma∙tȧ é∙hé∙tȧ yan∙nȧ ō∙né

      (I’m not going to give you the answer, but try to improvise and say “I want to come here” – different words but the guidelines stay the same).

      Hope that makes it clearer for you.

      And you’re right, I think this deserves an entire blog post. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • Wendy June 18, 2013 at 20:55 #

        Wow, Dilshan. That’s amazing, thank you very much. Thanks to my newfound knowledge I can now say….. let me think for a moment:

        Mata méhéta énna oné – I want to come here.

        Or even – Mata éhéta inna oné – I want to wait there.

        Am I correct :)?
        I would love to see a seperate blog post about this, but it seems to me you’ve just about written it already!

        • Wendy June 18, 2013 at 20:59 #

          No, wait. Because ‘to wait’ doesn’t express any distance to be covered, so you wouldn’t need the suffix, right? It’s only for when you’re actually going somewhere?

          So waiting would be – Mata éhé inna oné?

          • Dilshan Jayasinha June 18, 2013 at 21:51 #

            Exactly! Well done on both sentences.

            More than anything, I’m happy with how you reasoned your way into translating them. This is exactly what I meant by ‘improvising’.

            I’ll think about doing a post that also includes “this” and “that”.

            Great stuff, Wendy!

  2. abrar December 12, 2013 at 17:57 #

    hi Dilshan
    thanks for your effort to help in learning Sinhala
    I need your help in above sentences
    In Sinhala “mama” is used for I but in above sentences
    “mata” is used for I
    8 – “I don’t feel well”
    ma∙tȧ sa∙nee∙pȧ nǣ

    I don’t understand”
    ma∙tȧ thḗ∙rén∙né nǣ
    please explane it

    • Viatcheslav December 23, 2014 at 19:10 #

      The internal sense there is like „it’s not well _to me_“; many languages with grammar cases have similar structures, like in Russian „mne nekhorosho“ (to me not well, literally). That’s how I understand it, but Dilshan will come and explain in a „lazier“ way, we all like so much :)

  3. KOSIN February 19, 2014 at 07:54 #

    Amazing and i will visit the SRILANKA soon
    This is so useful for me
    And i have a question
    Can i talk “budu sananai” with everyone even i am not a Buddist
    And I want to request your free book.
    Thank you very much

    • Dilshan Jayasinha May 16, 2014 at 15:16 #

      Hi Kosin, first of all thanks for the kind words about the blog.

      To answer your question, I personally don’t see any issue with you wishing someone budhu saranayi even if you’re not Buddhist. However, I would make sure that the person you’re talking to is Buddhist. It’s not going to be the end of world if you do; it’s just not appropriate.

      Hope that answered your question.

      For the free ebook, simmply go to the following page and enter your details and a link will be emailed to you within minutes: http://www.lazybutsmartsinhala.com/join/


  4. Dominique May 6, 2014 at 05:56 #

    Thank you this was really helpful!

  5. Jothy November 6, 2014 at 15:58 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    Many thanks for the lessons for the Sinhala lessons. I find them very easy and useful,

    You are an excellent teacher

    Please continue to help me.

    Thank you.


    • Dilshan Jayasinha November 6, 2014 at 17:39 #

      You’re very welcome Jothy and thanks for the compliment!

      • Soma Jaiswal February 9, 2017 at 00:18 #

        Hope I’m reaching dilshan. Friend…Pl help me to create miracle…How.. Explaining u. I soma Jaiswal from India would be traveling to your emerald island to meet an invitation from Rotary district conference.there I would love to deliver lecture on Sinhala language..Can u pl help me in this regard…One month I have time in hand.

  6. liah November 12, 2014 at 01:17 #

    Hello… Yes I just want to thank u for the tutorials… And I want to know how to get a book from you

  7. Eosin November 28, 2014 at 15:22 #

    Hello Dilshan, I’m a Chinese student and I will come back to Sri Lanka soon to see my friend and his families. Could you please teach me how to say these 4 sentences in sinhalese that even children can easily understand? Thanks a lot~
    Do you miss me?
    I miss you so much.
    Me too.
    See you tomorrow.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha April 9, 2015 at 17:46 #

      Hi Eosin, easiest way would be:

      – Do you miss me? = o∙yaa∙tȧ maa∙vȧ mis vé∙nȧ∙va∙dhȧ ? (it’s a sentence mixed with the English word “miss”)

      – I miss you so much = ma∙tȧ o∙yaa∙vȧ go∙dak mis vé∙nȧ∙va (lit: I miss you a lot)

      – me too = ma∙tath é∙hé∙mayi (lit: for me too, it’s like that)

      – See you tomorrow = hé∙tȧ aayith ham∙bȧ vému (lit: let’s meet again tomorrow)

      Hope that helped and hope my response was not too late.

  8. Hanna March 24, 2015 at 09:11 #

    The flashcards are great and an excellent way to memorize words and sentences. I am getting better and better but I think what is important is a regular exercise. Every morning ten minutes is probably the best way for me to advance fast with Lazy but Smart Sinhala. Thanks Dilshan! Hanna

  9. නිශාන් April 10, 2015 at 04:16 #

    හොඳ වැඩක් ඔයා කරන්නේ.

    දිගටම කරගෙන යන්න දිල්ශාන් මහත්තයා.

    මෙයටලාට සිංහල අක්ෂරත් ඉගැනනුවානමු හොඳයි කියලා මම සිතවනවා.

    සිංහල අක්ශර පට්ට ලස්සනයි. ඒවා ඉගෙනගන්නත් ලේසියි.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha April 12, 2015 at 12:15 #

      Dear Nishan, thanks for the very kind and encouraging comment. And also for the suggestion. All the best to you.

  10. Chris April 15, 2015 at 15:32 #

    Hi Dilshan,
    Thanks for the blog. One question: many many (yes, many) years ago, I lived near Embilipitiya. The phrase “Kohede yanawa?” (where are you going) was always used instead of “how are you? Was this only back then? Or is it still used? Cheers!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha April 15, 2015 at 20:06 #

      Hi Chris, I think the phrase you’re referring to is “kohedha yanné?” (“where are you going?”). This is usually said when you meet someone you know on the street. And instead of a “kohomadha?”, you’ll ask this. Either one is fine; one is obviously less inquisitive :)

      • Chris April 20, 2015 at 09:09 #

        Cheers! And thanks for the correction – it’s been too long! What is the standard reply to “kohedha yanné”?

        • Dilshan Jayasinha April 22, 2015 at 18:16 #

          There’s no standard answer I can think of except tell the person exactly where you’re going (that’s if you want to share). I usually say an ambiguous “mḗ laňgȧ∙tȧ” meaning “nearby” :)

  11. Juliana Barbieto April 28, 2015 at 09:37 #

    Hi, I appreciate your effort in teaching your language to every person interested. You know I’ve been trying to learn through google sinhala words written by my Sri Lankan friends but I found it in squares, not letters. How will I go about it?
    Thank you and I hope you give me your time…

  12. Juliana Barbieto April 28, 2015 at 09:42 #

    Please tell me what is the meaning of this:
    “ohata epaa wela dayak hariyata karaganna baa”

  13. Tintu June 9, 2015 at 22:52 #

    Great job Dilshan..!

  14. Rosemary Minogue December 7, 2015 at 04:01 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    I am enjoying your tutorials,but my only problem apart from pronunciation,is the pace in which I enunciate sinhala language.

    Just a suggestion, not sure if it would be too much for the lazy part of the tutorial, but can you provide some little exercises, to help us lazy Aussies pronounce the phrases in a quicker manner. I find I am getting too tongue tied trying to quicken my pronunciation. What do you think.

    We are coming over in February and looking forward to trying out some of our phrases.

    Thankyou so much


    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 7, 2015 at 07:47 #

      Hi Rosemary, thanks for the comment. I don’t know if I quite understood you. What kind of exercises did you have in mind? Have you seen something like that when learning another language that I might be able to use? Also, do you find my pronunciation of the words too fast?

      • Rosemary minogue December 7, 2015 at 08:28 #

        Thanks Dilshan,

        I can pronounce the Sinhalese words slowly but cannot seem to match the speed with which you pronounce the words. So I wonder ed do other English speaking people, get up to speed so to speak, and if so how. I think it Is spoken faster than English language. And that isn’t a criticism. Sorry if I am being a nuisance. Does this make sense?

  15. syed mohiddin March 12, 2016 at 11:05 #

    Good job Mr. Dilshan

    • Dilshan Jayasinha March 13, 2016 at 17:39 #

      Thank you Syed. And please call me Dilshan. “Mr.” is not necessary.

  16. Mel March 26, 2016 at 14:06 #

    Hi Dilshan, when we were growing up I recall mum used to call us “chuchhi” sometimes as a term of endearment. I had forgotten about it, but heard it used on a comedy show a little while ago. Is this the correct spelling and meaning? Hope you can help! Thanjs!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha April 21, 2016 at 14:04 #

      Hi Mel, I don’t think I ever replied to your question, sorry about that. I don’t think there is a standard way of spelling that word. I personally haven’t heard this term of endearment, but I’d guess it comes from the word “chooti” which is a cute way of saying small/tiny. Hope that helps. Sorry again.

      • Mel April 21, 2016 at 15:40 #

        Hi Dilshan, thanks for replying. Lucky you did as I was busily googling Sri Lankan expletives haha, just kidding. That’s really helpful, maybe we just misheard it or pronounced it incorrectly all these years. Thanks again!! Mel

  17. chris April 6, 2016 at 11:07 #

    Hi Dilshan, what’s the meaning of monowada oya karanne?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha April 6, 2016 at 11:09 #

      Hi Chris, it means “what are you doing?”. When and by whom was this asked from you?

      • Chris April 6, 2016 at 12:38 #

        Yehey!!! Thank you Dilshan. I got it right before you reply me i already answered my fiancee that i am at home fixing things… I have a Sri lankan fiancee and i wanted to learn your language so as of today i started it.. I have a hard time searching those words coz i cannot get the exact words to translate so i searched one by one and it is used in different sentences… and as my understanding and comparing, i understand it in english as what are you doing, same what u said now. Cheers!!!is it okay with you if i blog again here….. asking for translations?

      • Kameo September 5, 2020 at 00:25 #

        What’s the word for “there”?
        Also is there a suffix in the pronunciations for “-ing?”
        I was thinking it would be “eyi” as in the word for “(am) loving “

  18. Chris April 6, 2016 at 12:43 #

    When.? Just this lunchtime… Does it matter in understanding Sinlahe, the time and person…..thank you for the time Dishlan.. Love ur blog… Its good i found u…

  19. Faiz June 17, 2016 at 12:57 #

    I found your blog by chance – been in Sri Lanka for the past 10 years and haven’t learnt the Sinhala language so this year I have made up my mind to do this. Am so glad I found your blog and I really hope it would be a wonderful learning process. Thank you so much for all the help you’re offering here. You’re doing a fantastic job! Simple and straightforward – I love it already!

    • Dilshan Jayasinha July 1, 2016 at 14:49 #

      Hi Faiz, I love hearing that you’ve made up your mind. Keep me posted on your progress. Thanks also for the kind words about my blog.

  20. Hanna June 28, 2016 at 09:01 #

    Have been living here for almost two years and now i can finally say these words without confusing them. This was so helpful. Thank you! :)

    • Dilshan Jayasinha July 1, 2016 at 14:50 #

      Excellent, thanks! Let me know of any stumbling blocks you come across in your learning.

  21. Kirralee September 2, 2016 at 08:17 #

    It feels like home speaking this language after falling in love with the country and the people <3 I am desperate to learn the phrase "Can i please help you e.g. with cooking, cleaning, etc And also the phrase can you please teach me e.g. weaving, cultural things, music… I desperately want to be able to help Loku ama and nanda in the home but can't seem to express to them… Thank you so much :)

    I think I have an idea of the order of sentence I just don't know the words for teach and help…

    Also is there a more repectful way to ask to be taught or ask to help, for example could I say "i really want to learn from you, i respect your way and would like to learn"

    • iminlovewithasinhaleseman February 15, 2018 at 10:44 #

      I would like to know, too, Kirralee!

  22. Soumen Patnaik December 3, 2017 at 19:56 #

    Dear Dilshan,

    In the sentence ” I am hungry” means “Mata badaginiyi”.Can it not be pronounced as “Mama badaginiyi”?

    • Dilshan Jayasinha December 12, 2017 at 23:56 #

      Soumen, ‘mama’ will not be correct in this context. It’ll be ‘mata” instead.

  23. Lis February 21, 2018 at 22:06 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    I just wanted to say that your blog really helped on my recent trip to Sri Lanka. My father grew up speaking Sinhala but since immigrating to England in the 70’s he has lost a lot of it and didn’t bother to teach my brother or I.
    Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited and it has inspired me to learn more of the culture.
    I even want to get a tattoo in Sinhala to honour my father whose principles of right and wrong are ever present in my life. Are you able to help with the translation? I would like it to say ‘strength to do right’ but have only managed to find the phrase හරි දේ කරන්න
    If you could point me in the right direction I’d be ever so grateful.

  24. Anula Dharmawardane March 24, 2018 at 08:09 #


    As a Sri Lankan native and growing up in the West, your blog and videos have help me teach my western born sri Lankan to be more fluent in “lazy” Sinhalese. Which is great when all of us are in public and need to comment about something. Even something has simple as let’s leave this place or talking in a uber!

    Keep up that great work
    Fellow SL

    • Dilshan Jayasinha March 25, 2018 at 11:58 #

      That makes me happy, it’s always an advantage to speak Sinhala in a foreign country. My 2 aunts lived in France and constantly used it in public places. Unfortunately for them though, during a holiday in Sri Lankan they forgot where they were and said something snarky in front of the sales person…

      How old is your kid, Anula?

  25. reesman April 23, 2018 at 16:39 #

    how to say go to arpico or can you drop me by arpico in sinhala?

  26. Paul September 8, 2018 at 03:48 #

    Hi Dilshan,

    Great blog, really enjoying it. I notice you use the phrase “i want” sometimes, as in the phrase
    “I want to go here” = ma∙tȧ   mé∙hé∙tȧ   yan∙nȧ   ō∙né
    Where I come from “i want” is a correct phrase but seen as a little impolite when asking a question. More often people would say
    “i would like” or “I’d like” instead of “I want”
    Is it similar in Sinhala?
    For example if asking for a coffee, would you say
    “I would like a coffee” or “I want a coffee”
    Many thank, great work! :-)

  27. Brenda September 25, 2018 at 08:05 #

    Thanks Dilshan we are presently back in Sri Lanka after a very long absence, and my Sinhala, as bad as it was before, is now lacking many of the basic. My memory not what it used to be, So finding your phrase book very helpful. There is one important sentence I used to use, that I cannot remember when walking , everyone asks Koheda tanner.. I think I would reply nearby, but cannot remember he phrasing. My husband is also using the phrase book, and we are finding very helpful, it also helps we have those around to help us with our bad pronunciation.

    • Dilshan Jayasinha October 23, 2018 at 23:39 #

      Hi Brenda, glad you had a great time.

      Was it “kohédha yanné?” (“where are you going?”).

  28. Kristen Warnakulasuriya January 13, 2020 at 07:44 #

    I think your phrases are super helpful and you make it easier to learn Sinhala then most.

  29. Alina Tsakonas August 23, 2020 at 17:52 #

    Thanks so much, Dilshan, for making available your user-friendly course! Blitzed through your introductory lessons, but have been held up of late in getting stuck into learning verbs. Will get a start on these in the coming days and see how I go! Regards, Alina

  30. Mona September 5, 2020 at 00:38 #

    Does “ thi∙yén∙né “ mean “is it”?
    How is “ thi∙yén∙né” related to “ thi∙yé∙nȧ∙va“ ?

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