Krio is the most widely spoken language in Sierra Leone and is native to the Creoles who are freed slaves from Britain, The United States and West Indies. It is mainly derived from English but has influences from other African languages (Yuroba for example), European languages (such as French) and also contains some expressions found in the West Indies.

NOTE: The writing system used here is the recommended orthography used in schools and colleges in Sierra Leone. The orthography uses phonetic symbols for some vowel sounds in krio.

An important thing to note is that each symbol represents ONE and only ONE sound, and each sound is represented by only ONE symbol. The vowel sounds are usually the problem. Below is a guide to the pronunciation of the vowels of Krio.

1. ɛ as in English ‘bed.’

2. e as in English ‘day’

3. ɔ as in English ‘cot’

4. ʌ as in English ‘cut’ (not found in Krio)

5. ə as in English ‘ among’ (not found in Krio)

6. o as in English ‘bowl’ or ‘boat’

7. u as in English ‘fool’

8. I as in English ‘seat’

Also, the velar nasal sound, ŋ , as in English ‘King,’ is used in Krio ‘fulɔp piŋ’ (full to the brim), and in Temne ‘kʌ lɛŋ’ ( to grow grey hair).


English Krio
Afternoon santɛm
Alcohol rɔm/ɔmɔle
Bar/Pub ba
Bargain bagin
Beard biabia
Be careful tek tɛm
Bed bed
Biscuit/Cookies biskit
Blind blɛn
Bobby / Cop polis
Bonnet / Hood bɔnɛt
Boy bɔy
Rubbish botobata
Braids plant
Bread bred
Bus bɔs/podapoda
Candy/Sweet swit
Car mɔtoka
Child pikin
Diarohea/Dysentry rɔnbɛlɛ
Roundabout tɔntebul
Coconut koknat
Cross Roads/ Junction jɔnkshɔn
Door domɔt
Drunk chak
Dust bin / Trash can dɔti bɔks
Ear yes
Enough I du so
Excuse me kɔmɔt na rod
Finish dɔn
Flip Flops/Slippers afbak
Food it
Friend padi
Gas / Petrol pɛtrol
Out in the open gbamgbaode
Determined gbakanda
Girl titi
Good Bye a de go
Grill kolpɔt
Happy gladi
Head tie/Head band ɛnkincha
Hello kushɛ/kabɔ
Help me ɛp mi/una kam o
House os
How are you? Aw yu du?
How do I? Aw fɔ ?
How much does it cost? ɔmɔs fɔ am ?
How old are you? ɔmɔs yu ol ?
Hurry Up mekes
I am fine a wɛl
I am full a bɛlful
I am going home a de go na os
I am going to XYZ a de go XYZ
I am on my way a de kam
I am sorry a beg pardon
I am XYZ / My name is XYZ a nem XYZ
I don’t have a nɔ gɛt
I know a sabi
I’d like to go to XYZ a wan fɔ go XYZ
I’ll be back a de kam
Leave me alone lɛf mi
Man man
Market makit
Maybe sɔntɛm
Medication mɛrɛsin
Money kɔpɔ
Mosquito maskita
Mouth mɔt
Neighbour neba
Night nɛt
Onions yabas
Orange Fruit ɔrinch
Outside na do
Peanut granat
Please duya
Plenty bɔku
Poor po
Power outage blakawt
Provinces ɔplayn
Rich gɛntri
Sand sansan
Shoe sus
Shop/Store shap
Shout/Yell ala
Sit down sidɔm
Snacks mumunyɛrɛ
Sneakers / Trainers krep
Soda/Pop/Soft drink sɔft drink
Stand up timap
Stop lɛf
Street trit
Tailor telaman
Take me go kɛr mi go
Tap pɔmp
Taxi / Cab taksi
Thank You tɛnki
Thief tifman/ayampi
Today tide
Tommorow tumara
Female Trader makit uman
Tree tik
Trouser trɔsis
Trunk / Boot bakbut
Uniform for a special function ashɔbi
Upset vɛks
Walk waka
Water wata
What are you doing? wetin yu de du?
What? wetin?
What’s your name? wetin yu nem?
When ustɛm?
Window winda
Woman uman