Learn Papiamentu With Our Free Guide

Many people who visit Curaçao want to learn Papiamentu. It makes it easy to communicate with your new friends and it also helps to get your way around the island.

Using small words like Bon Dia and Danki will be very much appreciated by the islanders.

We have compiled an extensive guide of expressions and words that will come in handy for you. We share with you the basics of learning Papiamentu such as greetings, asking questions, and common phrases in daily life. 

The wonderful story of Papiamentu in an image -papiamento-Curacao_by_Exploring_Curacao_exploringcuracao.com - 5

The History of Papiamentu 

Before we dive into the guide of words and expressions let’s briefly review a bit of the history of the Papiamentu Language.

Papiamentu (phonology-based spelling) is spoken in the Islands of Curacao and Bonaire and Papiamento (etymology-based spelling) in Aruba. A key difference besides phonetics is the use of letters “U” and “K” in Papiamentu and “O” and “C” in Papiamento.

It’s quite a unique language derived from a blend of languages influenced by Arawak Indian, and Buntu African languages, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, and French.

As you hear it, you will recognize many words from different languages making it somehow familiar but foreign at the same time. Just as the island of Curacao will make you feel!

Curacao Flag - Papia Papiamento Papear or Papia meaning “to chat, say, speak, talk, communicate,”

The word Papiamentu

The word “papia” comes from the Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole verb “papear”, which means “to chat, say, speak, talk, communicate,” and is followed by “mento”, the noun-forming suffix.

the most influential cultures to the language are the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch - Curacao by exploring Curacao

The origin of the language

There are various theories regarding the origin and development of the Papiamentu language but unarguably the most influential cultures to the language are the Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch from the 17th century onwards.

ABC Islands, Aruba Bonaire and Curacao

Where do they speak Papiamentu?

In the present time, Papiamentu or Papiamento is the official language of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, Known as The ABC Islands and former Netherlands Antilles. The language can also be heard among locals in Sint Maarten, in The Netherlands and at the Venezuelan Peninsula de Paraguana.

The title is "Practice your papiamento". The image contains popular papiamentu words like bon dia, dushi, mi ta bi laman, masha danki, mi ke bai punda, ayó, ban dal un drink, mi gusta baila. with a van in the center and a group of friends having fun dancing and talking

Practice the language

Venezuelan Spanish and American English are constant influences today. word-switching and lexical borrowing from Spanish, Dutch, and English among native speakers are common. So feel free to use words in these languages as it will help you communicate with locals uniquely and authentically.

The more you communicate the faster you’ll understand the Papiamentu language. Have fun! 

In this Wikipedia article, you can find more information about the different theories about the origins of Papiamentu.

Group of people/friends at the beach having a conversation_papiamentu_Curacao__papiamento_languange_guide_exploringcuracao

Speaking Papiamentu

Now we understand a little bit about the origins and principal characteristics of Papiamentu let’s try some expressions. This will come in handy when you greet locals and you want to immerse yourself deeper into the culture.

Don’t be afraid of any misspelling or pronunciation. Locals will appreciate and enjoy your Papiamentu. They will be smiling at you when you say hi, bye, or see you later.

You can use those words when you walk down the streets of Willemstad, get into restaurants and bars, or visit one of the beautiful beaches the Beaches of Curaçao.

Dushi a vibrant word - What does "dushi" mean? A beautiful word with lots of positive meanings and extremely cool vibe.

Dushi, is our favorite Papiamentu word! 

Whenever you want to describe something you like, Dushi will be the right word. It’s always the right word! This is how you pronounce Dushi: Doo-She.  

The literal meaning is tasty or delicious, meaning that you will hear it a lot around the kitchens, eating tables, and bars.

You can also find situations where the word acts as an endearment such as dear, darling, honey, etc. 

A fast way to understand the meaning is, if you find something that is the next level of “very nice” then the right word to use is DUSHI.

Learn Papiamentu language of Curaçao

Learn Papiamentu Guides

We have compiled a guide of words and expressions that will make speaking Papiamentu a breeze. We hope you will enjoy it.

Greetings in Papiamentu

Halo (haa-loow) Hello
Bon dia (bon dee-ah) Good morning
Bon tardi (bon tardee) Good afternoon
Bon nochi (bon knochee)  Good evening / Goodnight
Felis- dia/atardi/anochi Have a Happy day/afternoon/night
Kon ta bai ku bo? (Kon ta koo-boh) How are you?
Kon ta? (Kon-tah) How is it going on?

Learn Good bye in Papiamentu

Ways to say Goodbye

Ayó (A-yoh) Bye
Te ‘oro (Teh-oro) See you!
Te aki ratu (Teh-akeeh-ratu) See you later
Te después (teh- despoo-es) See you soon
Nos ta topa (Nos-tah-topa) We see each other

Talking having conversations in Papiamentu language of Curaçao

Manners in Papiamentu

Bon! (Bon) Good / Good one!
Bon Bini (bon bee-nee) Welcome
Danki (Dan-kee) Thank you
Masha Danki ( Masha Dan-kee) Thank you very much
Di nada You’re welcome 
Por fabor Please
Dispensa Excuse me

Ordering in Papiamentu learn the language in Curaçao

Express your desires

Mi tin calor (mee tin)  I have/am warm (literally)
Mi tin sed I am thirsty
Mi tin hamber I’m hungry
Mi ke sinta I would like to seat
Mi ke bai I want to go

Questions in Papiamentu Curaçao

Questions to ask in Papiamentu

Kuantu (koo-wan-too) How much?
Kon (kohn) How?
Ki; Kiko (kee-koh) What?
Kuant’or (Kwan-t’or) How late? 
Ki ora, ki dia What time, Which day?
Na unda ? Where?
ken, kende Who?
Wablif  (wa-bleef) What was that?
Si (see) Yes
No (no) No

Learning papiamentu for free

Your Family and Friends

Persona Person
Dushi (Dooh-shee) Dear/ Darling/ Sweetheart
Amigu (A-mee-goo) Friend
Mati (Matee) Mate
Ruman (Rooh-maan) Bro / Buddy
Mener (me-ner) Sir / Mr. 
Senjora (Sen-yor-a) Ma’am / Mrs. 
Famia (fa-mee-a) Family
Tata (ta-ta) Father
Mama (ma-ma) Mother
Yu / Yiu (Yee-ooh) Son; Daughter / Pupil
Ruman homber (Roo-man hom-ber) Brother
Ruman Muhe(Roo-man moo-he) Sister
Oma (oh-ma) Grandmother
Opa (Oh-pa) Grandfather
Primu (Pree-moo) Cousin
Swa / Sua (Soo-ah) Buddy / Brother in Law

Counting in Papiamentu numbers

How much and how many.

Hopi (ho-peeh) A lot / Very much
Mashá (Mash-ah) Too much
Un Tiki (oon tee-kee) A little

The numbers in Papiamentu

0 zero, nul (zeo-roh) 13 diestres (D-jes-tres)
1 unu (oonoo) 14 diescuater (D-jes-kwater)
2 dos (Dos) 15 diescincu (D-jes-cincu)
3 tres (tres) 20 binti (Been-tee)
4 kwater or cuater (kwater) 30 trinta (treen-ta)
5 sinku or cincu (Seen-Koo) 40 cuarenta (kwaren-ta)
6 seis (Sei-s) 50 sinkuenta (Seenku-en-ta
7 shete, siete (See-e-teh) 60 sesenta (Se-sen-ta)
8 ocho (oh-cho) 70 setenta (seten-ta)
9 nuebe (noo-e-beh) 80 ochenta (ochen-ta)
10 djies (D-jes-) 90 nobenta (noh-benta)
11 diesun (D-jes-oon) 100 shen (Shen)
12 diesdos (D-jes-dos) 1000 mil (mil / un mil)

Who’s first and who’s next?

1st – Prome(r), di prome(r) 5th – di cincu
2nd – di dos 6th -di seis
3rd – di tres 7th di shete
4th – di kwater 8th – di ocho
5th – di cincu 9th – di nuebe
6th -di seis 10th – di djes 
Lastu (Lahs-too) Last / Last one

Days of the week in Papiamentu

The days of the week

Siman (See-mahn) Week
Djadomingu (djia-domeengoo) Sunday
Djaluna (djia-loona) Monday
Djamars (djia-mars) Tuesday
Djarason (djia-ra-zon) Wednesday
Djaweps (djia-weps) Thursday
Djabièrne (djia-bee-r-ne) Friday
Djasabra (djia-sa-bra) Saturday

Learn Papiamentu speaking Curaçao Aruba

The months of the year

Januari  January
Februari February
Maart March
April April
Mei May
Juni June
Juli July
Augustus August
September September
Oktober October
November November
December December

Sunset Curaçao papiamentu speaking in Curaçao, Bonaire and Aruba

The moment of the day

Mainta (Ma-een-ta) Morning
Merdia (Mehr-dee-ah) Midday
Atardi (A-tahr-dee) Afternoon
Anochi (A-noh-chee) Night
Awe (A-weh) Today
Manjan (Mahn-yan) Tomorrow
Wiekent (Week-end) Weekend
Papiamentu talking learning
Papiamentu talking learning

Common day-to-day phrases

Bon bini Welcome
kon ta bai? How are you?
Hopi bon Very good
Bon, danki! Fine, thank you!
Masha danki Thank you very much
Di nada / Na bo ordu You’re welcome
Te aworo See you later
Dushi Sweety / Darling / Honey
Un sunchi A Kiss
Masha pabien Congratulations
Masha pabien Happy Birthday
Pasa un bon dia Have a nice day
Ayo Goodbye
Bon dia Good morning
Bon tardi Good afternoon
Bon nochi Good evening / good night

Download your free copy

Found this guide useful? Download a free full version of our Papiamentu guide through the link button below. This way you can always keep an offline copy with you on your phone. 

Download Your Free Guide Here

If you want to dive into a deeper and more detailed History of Papiamento / Papiamentu visit this article written by Tara Sanches at Hawaii.edu 


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