Lesson 1: Greetings

This page will introduce you to the main greetings used in Setswana. It is always important to greet to demonstrate respect. You will also see that by just knowing these greetings you will more easily foster interpersonal relationships.

Learning Objectives

  1. You will know how to greet at every time of the day in Setswana
  2. Understand what a typical greeting exchange sounds like

Introductory greetings

These greetings are appropriate to use at any time of day.

  • Dumela rra/mma – good day
    • rra – sir
    • mma – ma’am
  • Le kae? – how are you and your family?
    • directly translated as ‘are you all here?’
    • People will often enquire about your family.
  • Re teng – we are fine
    • ‘we are here’
  • O kae? – Are you here?
    • ‘how are you?’
  • Ke teng – I am here
    • ‘I am fine’

An example exhange:

Person 1: Dumela mma

Person 2: Dumela rra, le kae?

1: Re teng, wena le kae?

2: Re teng, ke a leboga

Phakela (Morning) greetings 

  • O tsogile jang? – How did you rise? (formal)
  • O tsogile? – How did you rise? (informal)
  • Ke tsogile sentle – I have risen well (formal)
  • Ke tsogile – I have risen well (informal)

Motshegare/Maitseboa (afternoon/early evening) greetings

  • O tlhotse jang? – How did you spend your day (formal)
  • Ke tlhotse sentle – I spent my day well (formal)

Informal greetings

  • Howz it? – {this is really how it sounds}
  • Sharpo – I’m good
  • Wa reng? – What do you say
  • Ga ke re sepe OR Ga ke bue – I didn’t say anything/nothing
  • Go jwang? – what’s up?
  • Go sharpo – I’m good
  • Go siame – it’s good (also used as ‘goodbye’)
  • Ga gona mathata – no worries
  • Ga ke go na mathata – I have no problems
  • Ke na mathata – I have a problem

Provide an appropriate response/greeting (fill in the blank)

  • Dumela ___
  • __ ___?
  • __ ____, wena le kae?
  • __ ____


  • O tsogile?
  • __ _______


  • __ ____?
  • Ga ke re sepe

Go siame! Ke a leboga thata!


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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.