Tibeto-Birman language
Phrasebooks > Tibetan phrasebook

Tibetan (བོད་སྐད་ / ལྷ་སའི་སྐད་) is the main language of Tibet, and its accompanying regions and among overseas Tibetan communities around the world. Tibetan is spoken by several million people in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of the Chinese People’s Republic, the Chinese provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan, as well as the neighboring countries Bhutan (around 4,000 speakers), India (over 124,000 speakers), and Nepal (around 60,000 speakers). Written Tibetan is used as the religious language in the countries where Tibetan Lamaistic Buddhism is practiced (e.g. in Mongolia and parts of China proper). Tibetan communities also exist in Taiwan, Norway, Switzerland and the United States of America. It is an official language in Tibet, as well as in the Tibetan autonomous prefectures of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, and all road signs in this region are bilingual in Chinese and Tibetan.

The Om mani padme hum mantra in Tibetan

This phrasebook is based on the Ü-Tsang dialect of Tibetan, which is the dialect spoken in Lhasa, and the officially-recognised standard version of Tibetan. We have a separate Amdo Tibetan phrasebook for that dialect.

Pronunciation guideEdit

While Tibetan spelling in the written language is fairly standard throughout the ages and regions, spoken pronunciation is very diverse and there are many, often mutually incomprehensible, dialects.

In recent times "Lhasa dialect" has been taught to foreigners as a standard. However, there is neither an easy nor a widely agreed standard on how to indicate the phonetics of speaking Tibetan using the Latin alphabet. So be prepared for confusion and fun as you try to pronounce these phrases and hear many different pronunciations from the locals.

VowelsEdit

Like "a" in "alone"; like "a" in "cat" (a).
Like "aw" in "paw" (å).
Like "e" in "bet" (e).
Like "i" in "in" (i).
ཱི
Like "ee" in "seen" (í).
Like "o" in "so" (ó).
ྲྀ
Like "e" in "father" (ö).
ཱུ
Like "ue" in "glue" (ú).
Like "oo" in "soon" (ū).
Like "ee" in "seen" but with rounded lips (ü).
Like "ay" in "day" (ą).

ConsonantsEdit

Like "k" in "skill" (k).
Like "g" in "garden" (g).
Like "ng" in "sing" (ng).
Like "ch" in "charge" (ç).
Like "j" in "jar" (xh).
Like "ny" in "canyon" (nj).
Like "t" in "stop" (t).
Like "d" in "drop" (d).
Like "n" in "never" (n).
Like "p" in "spot" (p).
Like "b" in "beat" (b).
Like "m" in "mighty" (m).
Like "ts" in "weights" (c).
Like "ds" in "adds" (x).
Like "y" in "you" (j).
Like "z" in "zoo" (z).
Like "s" in "treasure" (zh).
Must be trilled - just like Italian "r" (r).
Like "sa" in "sand" (s).
Like "sh" in "shut" (sh).
Like "l" in "lonely" (l).

Common diphthongsEdit

Like "k" in "kill" (kh).
Like "ch h" in "punch hard" (çh).
Like "t" in "time" (th).
Like "p" in "pit" (ph).
Like "ts h" in "fights hard" (ţh).

Phrase listEdit

Some phrases in this phrasebook still need to be translated. If you know anything about this language, you can help by plunging forward and translating a phrase.

BasicsEdit

Common signs


OPEN
ཁ་ཕྱེ། kha chad
CLOSED/SHUT
ཁ་རྒྱག་པ། kha gyabpa
ENTRANCE
འཇུག་སྒོ། jug go
EXIT
ཐོན་སྒོ། thön go
PUSH
བིགྱར་གྱབ། Bigyar gyab
PULL
ཐན། Than
TOILET
གསང་སྤྱོད། sang chö
MEN
བུ། bu
WOMEN
བུ་མོ། བོུ། bu mo
FORBIDDEN
བྱེད་མ་ཆོག je ma chog
SHRINE THIS WAY
མཆོད་མཇལ་ཡོད། chö jel yö
Hello.
Tashi delek (བཀྲ་ཤིས་བདེ་ལེགས།)
Hello. (informal)
De-po ()
How are you?
Khye-rang ku-zug de-po yin-pe ()
Fine, thank you.
De-po yin. Thug je che.
What is your name?
Khye-rang gi tshen-la ga-re zhu-gi yod? (polite) Khye rang gi ming ga re yin (informal)
My name is ______ .
Ngai ming ___ yin.
Nice to meet you.
Khye-rang jel-ney ga-po joong ()
Please.
Thuk-je zig ()
Thank you.
Thuk-je-che (ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེ།)
You're welcome.
()Yin dang yin
Yes.
Re (རེད།)
No.
Ma re (མ་རེད།)
(Note: Yes and no are usually expressed using an affirmed or negated version of the question ending.)
Excuse me
gong-pa-ma-tsom / gong-ta
I'm sorry.
Gong dag
Goodbye
Chagpo nang, as in take care. Kha lay shug (said to other person if they are staying). kha lay pheb (said to other person if they are going)
I can't speak Tibetan [well]
nga pö-kay [yag-po] kyab gi mey
Do you speak English?
khye-rang in-ji-kay she gi yö pey?
Is there someone here who speaks English?
dhir inji-kay shenyan yö pey.
Help!
Rog pa je
Look out!
Phar toe
Good morning.
ngadro deleg
Good evening.
gondro deleg
Good night.
Sim shag nang
I don't understand.
Ngai she gyi med. Ha kho gi mey.
Where is the toilet?
Sang chod gawa yö rey.

ProblemsEdit

NumbersEdit

chig
nyi
sum
zhi
nga
drug
dun
gyey
gu
༡༠
chu
༡༡
chu chig
༡༢
chu nyi
༡༣
chu sum
༡༤
chu zhi
༡༥
chob nga
༡༦
chu drug
༡༧
chu dun
༡༨
chu gyey
༡༩
chu gu
༢༠
nyi shu
༢༡
nyi shu tsa chig
༢༢
nyi shu tsa nyi
༢༣
nyi shu tsa sum
༣༠
sum chu
༤༠
zhib chu
༥༠
ngab chu
༦༠
drug chu
༧༠
dun chu
༨༠
gyey chu
༩༠
gub chu
༡༠༠
gya
1000
chig tong

TimeEdit

Now
da ta
After
Jē la
Before
göng ma
Morning
shok-pa
Moon
nyin-gung
Evening
gong-dag
Night
tsen mo
Midnight
tshen gung

Clock timeEdit

1AM
tshen la tchhu tshö chig pa
2AM
tshen la tchhu tshö nyi pa
1PM
tchhu tshö chig pa
2PM
tchhu tshö nyi pa

DurationEdit

du ring

Minute(s)
kar ma
Hour(s)
tchhu tshö
Day(s)
nyi ma
Week(s)
za khor
Month(s)
da wa
Year(s)
lo

DaysEdit

today
དེ་རིང་ (de ring)
yesterday
ཁ་སང་ (kha sang)
tomorrow
སང་ཉིན་ (sang nyin)
last week
གཟའ་འཁོར་སྔོན་མ་ (za khor ngön ma)
next week
གཟའ་འཁོར་རྗེས་མ་ (za khor jey ma)
Sunday
གཟའ་ཉི་མ་ (za nyi ma)
Monday
གཟའ་ཟླ་བ་ (za da wa)
Tuesday
གཟའ་མིག་དམར་ (za mi mar)
Wednesday
གཟའ་ཧླག་པ་ (za hlag pa)
Thursday
གཟའ་ཕུར་བུ་ (za phur pu)
Friday
གཟའ་པ་སངས་ (za pa sang)
Saturday
གཟའ་སྤེན་པ་ (za pen pa)

MonthsEdit

When referring to months, the Tibetans distinguish between their own calendar and the internationally used calendar. For the purposes of this phrasebook we only want to refer to the latter and this is quite easy, since it follows the pattern:
"foreigner-month-<number 1-12>-pa"
ཕྱི་ཟླ་<xx>པ་
chhi da <xx> pa

The numbers are listed above. The only exception is for January, because the Tibetan for 'first' is not chig pa but དང་པོ་ dang po, so:

January
chhi da dang po
February
chhi da nyi pa
March
chhi da sum pa
April
chhi da zhi pa
May
chhi da nga pa
June
chhi da drug pa
July
chhi da dun pa
August
chhi da gyey pa
September
chhi da gu pa
October
chhi da chu pa
November
chhi da chu chig pa
December
chhi da chu nyi pa

Writing time and dateEdit

ColorsEdit

Color
ཚོན་མདོག་ tseun dok
Blue
སྔོན་པོ་ ngeun po
Yellow
སེར་པོ་ ser po
Green
ལྗང་ཁུ་ jang koo
Red
དམར་པོ་ mar po
Brown
སྨུག་པོ་ mook po
Black
ནག་པོ་ nak po
Orange
ལི་ཝང་ li wang
White
དཀར་པོ་ kar po

TransportationEdit

Bus and trainEdit

DirectionsEdit

Street
Lam kha
Right
Ye-la
Left
Yon-la
Straight
kha thug
North
Jang chog la
South
lho chog la
East
shar chhog la
West
nub chhog la

TaxiEdit

LodgingEdit

MoneyEdit

How Much

Ga-Tsod

Yuan

Gor-mo

1-Yuan

Gor-mo Chik

EatingEdit

Fruits
sching tog
Vegetables
tsel
Apple
ku shu
Breakfast
zhog dzha
Lunch
nyi gung kha lag
Supper
gpong dro kha lag
Chicken
dzha scha
Beef
Kang scha
Meat
tshag scha
Fish
nya scha
Cheese
chur wa
Egg
go nga
Salad
drang tsel
Bread
ba lap
Rice
dre
Noodles
thuk pa
Bon appetit!
ཞལ་ལག་མཉེས་པོ་ནང་གོ། shelak nye po nang ko
delicious
ཞིམ་པོ་ སྤྼོ་པོ་(H) shimpo t(r)opo (H)
meal
གསོལ་ཚིགས་ sol tsi'
meal, food
ཁ་ལག (NH) ཞལ་ལག (H) kalak, shelak

BarsEdit

ShoppingEdit

DrivingEdit

AuthorityEdit

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