Gujarati Language Overview and Common Words

Updated March 2, 2020
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Looking to learn a popular Indian language? Gujarati is a very old language that is based on the Indo-Aryan languages. It is one of the official languages of India, spoken by over 55 million people. Because of the large population of individuals who speak this language in India and beyond, Gujarati is the 26th most spoken language in the world.

Gujarati has a rich history that includes ties to the ancient language Sanskrit. If you are interested in learning Gujarati, it’s very important to learn about the various dialects and common words, and to form an understanding of the writing system.

The Various Dialects of Gujarati

When learning Gujarati words, it is important to note that there are a number of variations within the language. This is mainly because, as Gujarati developed in different regions, other influences affected both the written and spoken delivery of the language.

The standard or traditional dialect is spoken in the area that includes Baroda and Ahmedabad. However, there are several complex dialects centered mostly around the Indian state of Gujarat. A few popular dialects include:

  • Surati
  • Khakari
  • Kharwa
  • Kathiyawadi
  • Mehoni
  • Parsi
  • East African Gujarati

To really gain an appreciation for the Gujarati language, look at common word translations in English and explore the diverse vocabulary.


Common Gujarati Words and Phrases

Gujarati uses a different writing system than the Latin or Roman alphabet. This means the spelling of the Gujarati words here is based on pronunciation. Additionally, remember that Gujarati vocabulary includes three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter.

Let’s start with some common words and phrases in Gujarati.

  • Namaste - Hello
  • Suprabhata - Good morning
  • Shubh sandhya - Good evening
  • Avajo - Goodbye
  • Shubhakamna - Good wishes
  • Mapha karajo - Pardon me (excuse me)
  • Dhanyavaad - Thank you
  • Manane mapha karo - Sorry
  • Tame kema cho - How are you?
  • Tarum nama su che - What’s your name?
  • Maru nama…chhe - My name is…
  • Tamane maline ananda tha’i - Pleased to meet you
  • Meherbani - Please
  • Mane khabara nathi - I don’t know
  • Ha - Yes (informal)
  • Na - No (informal)
  • Batharuma kyam che - Where is the bathroom?
  • Tamarum nama su che? - What is your name?
  • Ketala vagya che? - What time is it?

Days of the Week

The days of the week in Gujarati are as follows:

  • Somavara - Monday
  • Mangalavara - Tuesday
  • Budhavara - Wednesday
  • Guruvara - Thursday
  • Sukravara - Friday
  • Sanivara - Saturday
  • Ravivara - Sunday

Loan Words in Gujarati

In the Gujarati language, the vocabulary includes loanwords. Loanwords are words that are carried over into another language. Throughout the Gujarati language, you will find that there are a variety of loaned words from the Hindi, Swahili, Persian, English and Portuguese languages.

Tadbhav Words

Tadbhav words are derivatives of Sanskrit. They are mainly the most common, critical words used in Gujarati. The words are representative of more formal vocabulary used for business or religious purposes.


Written Gujarati

Upon learning the different varieties of Gujarati, it will be necessary for you to learn how to effectively write the language, too. Gujarati is written in script: it’s similar to the Devanagari script except it doesn’t have the horizontal line above the characters.

History of the Gujarati Language

Now that you have a basic understanding of the language, looking at the history of Gujarati can be fun. The Gujarati language is based on Sanskrit. In fact, because Gujarati is a very simple language, at times it requires using Sanskrit words for more technical or complicated verbal and written expressions.

The development of the Gujarati language spans hundreds of years. It has gone through three distinct phases of formation:

  • The beginnings of the language are from the 10th to 14th centuries, with the oldest written examples coming from the 12th century. During this period, the Gujarati language was highly influenced by the Parsis people, who originally spoke Sanskrit.
  • From the 15th to the 17th century, court system languages, Persian and Urdu, along with local dialects, started affecting Gujarati phonetics.
  • After the 17th century, the British influence marked the beginning of using consonant final words. It was also at this time that the world saw a number of Gujarati literature achievements, such as the writing of the first essay, novel and autobiography.

There you have it. You now have a basic understanding of the Gujarati language!


The Gujarati Language

One of India’s official languages, Gujarati finds its roots in Sanskrit. It also includes loanwords from other languages. Interested in learning more languages? You might want to travel over to Africa and check out Egyptian languages. This old language finds its roots in ancient pharaohs and is one of the oldest languages known to man.