How To Speak Jamaican
A Simple Introduction

Sharing Is Caring! Share this awesome content with your friends now.

start_here_if_new_image_link

Caution! Don't risk your vacation... get my Jamaica Travel Guide

Custom Search





Learn How to Speak Jamaican Patois by Crystal Holness

New! See the real Jamaica in VIDEOS

Click Here to visit and subscribe to my YouTube channel -you'll love it!


If you have ever visited Jamaica,  or even listened to Jamaicans speaking in a television show or movie, you would likely have noticed that they have a different way of saying many things even though they are speaking English.

This manner of talking is known as Patois, or Jamaican Creole and it is a regional dialect spoken throughout the island. In professional settings such as an office or school,  Standard English is spoken, but Patois is the most common way for people to converse casually with each other.

Patois is made up of words which are borrowed from many other languages including English, Spanish, and numerous West African languages. It is a fairly flexible way of speaking, and is not strictly bound by rules, for instance there can be more than one acceptable spelling and pronunciation of certain words. 

Although an actual Jamaican accent is not easily developed by those who are not native to the island, it is not difficult to learn how to speak Jamaican Patois and understand what is being said when others speak it. As with any type of language, Patois has some unique grammatical qualities which should be noted.

Basic Pronouns In Patios:

Mi – I                                                                           

Yu – You                                                                       

Unu – You all

Dem – They, Them, Their

Wi – We

Im – He or She

Key Features Of the Jamaican (Patois) Language


  1. Verb does not change with subject of a sentence. Example:   In English we would say I run and he runs,  in Patois we say Mi run and Im run.

  2. Forming plurals:  Standard English adds “s” or “es” to indicate plurality, Patois adds “nuff” to the beginning of a word or “dem” to the end of a word to show more than one. Example:   “books” becomes “nuff books” or “books dem” in Patois.

  3. The subject or object in a sentence is not differentiated. Example: I am going – Mi a guh, Come for me- Come fi mi.  Mi is used in both forms.
  4. Possessive pronouns such as hers, his etc. are not used. Example:  “My bottle” becomes “Fi mi backle”.

  5. Letter “h” is dropped in most words. Example:  “healthy” is pronounced “ealthy”.

  6. Words beginning with a vowel may have an “h” sound added to them. Example: “Asian” becomes “ H'asian”. 

  7. Words containing “ttle”  are pronounced with a “k” sound instead. Example “little” becomes “likkle”. Likewise, words containing “ddle” are pronounced with a “g” sound , “middle” becomes “miggle”

  8. The letter “a” can be used as a connecting word or “copula” in sentences. Example: “He is going for it” becomes “Im a guh fi it”.

  9. A word may be repeated twice in a sentence for emphasis, such as “big-big” to describe how much a baby has grown. It may also be used for a characteristic such as “nyami-nyami” for greedy.

  10. Unlike Standard English, it is acceptable to use double negatives when speaking Patois, for example;  “I am not going anywhere” becomes “Mi nah guh nuh weh”.

  11. Compound words such as “Bwoy pickney” for a little boy or “foot battam” for the sole of one's foot, are often used.
  12. In Standard English past tense is indicated by changing the form of the verb, for instance “I went”, in Patois this same sentence would be “Mi did guh”.  Besides “did”, “en” and “ben” can also be used to form sentences in the past tense.

Here are some common Jamaican words and their meanings:


Patios


Wh'appen?

Wa mek?

Ya no see it?

Whole heap  

Pickney  

Nyam  

Aks  

Feel no way  

Likkle more  

Yahso  

Yard  

Wa gwaan?  

'Pon haste

English Meaning


What's happening?

Why?  

You know?  

A lot  

Child  

Eat  

Ask  

Don't Worry  

See You Later  

Here  

Home  

What's going on?  

In a hurry


With a little practice anyone can learn to speak and understand Jamaican Patois reasonably well.

Who knows? On your next visit to the island, you might even impress the locals with your grasp of their language!

Likkle More....

Back To Top of How To Speak Jamaican


Related Pages

Return to Vacation In Jamaica from How To Speak Jamaican

Return to My Island Jamaica Homepage from How To Speak Jamaican

New! Talk To Me
Was the information helpful? Something needs changing? I welcome your feedback here.

Read More ...

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Recommended For You ...

And, Before You Go!

Here (below) are some sweet deals on matching products at Amazon that you might have otherwise missed. 

Amazon.com, by the way, is the internet's most reputable retailer and usually showcases only the best products that are related to your search. Be sure to check them out.

Note: If link does not show, please click here to be redirected to our page at Amazon.com.


Great Articles You Might Have Missed

data-matched-content-rows-num="2" data-matched-content-columns-num="3"

Please help me get the message out by sharing this article with your friends on social media (links below). Thnx ;-)

Also connect with My-Island-Jamaica.com on Social Media: 
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

Thank You!

P.S. Didn't find exactly what you were looking for? Still need help?

Click Here to try our dependable and effective Site Search tool. It works!

Or, simply click here and here, to browse my library of over 500 questions and answers! Chances are someone already asked (and got an answer to) your question.


About The Author

wellesley gayle - booking link

A patriotic Jamaican who adores his culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.  

To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.

His efforts have earned him featured positions in local publications, including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers, as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies and universities.

He invites you to join his friends list and stay updated on all the latest. You are also invited to join his exclusive patron community

copyscpe
Top Of Page
Wellesley Gayle

New Here?

I recommend you START HERE to enjoy the best of this website!


What's New?

Click Here to see the VERY latest articles and features.


Trending Now

Site Sponsors

jamaica_click_down_here_visit_our_sponsors

Our Preferred Sponsors  & Friends (below)

(Our Sponsorship Policy)

list your business here

Builders in Jamaica - Building Contractors
Recommended Building Contractors In Jamaica Photographers in Jamaica
Wedding Photographers
Cars For Sale In Jamaica
Cars For Sale

JamaicaSunshine Tours.com

Click Here to Visit Our Sponsors' Page

Top Articles

What's New?

Below is a list of the very latest articles I posted on the site.

Recent Articles

  1. Jamaican National Heroes Quiz -24 Fun Questions To Test Your Knowledge

    Oct 21, 19 10:45 AM

    So you know Jamaica's history, heroes and all huh? I'll put you to the test! Let's see how much you know about the Jamaican national heroes with this fun quiz.

    Read More

  2. Nanny Of The Maroons | National Hero | Indomitable, Resolute & Defiant

    Oct 21, 19 10:06 AM

    A maroon warrior & military tactician, she refused to bow to slavery and oppression and led the resistance to our now free Jamaica. She is nanny of the maroons.

    Read More

  3. The Pimento Tree /Allspice Plant Explored |The Secret Taste Of Jamaica

    Oct 19, 19 07:45 PM

    It's allspice berries are the most aromatic in the world! So what is special about this plant? Read on to learn more about this, the Jamaican pimento tree.

    Read More

  4. Norman Washington Manley| Jamaica's National Hero & Social Engineer

    Oct 18, 19 11:34 PM

    He might be father of the political movement, but his impact is much greater! Get to know this esteemed scholar and national hero, Norman Washington Manley.

    Read More

New!  I've created a Welcome Audio. Just click the Play button below to listen.

Please subscribe here to get my latest updates.