We hope this short guide will bring you one step closer to understanding the Jamaican Patois (pronounced Pat-wah). The guide is divided into three sections namely greetings, responses, and goodbyes. Upon completion, you’ll have a better understanding of popular slangs like “Wah Gwaan”, “Mi deh yah” and “likkle more”. This is especially helpful if you plan on visiting Jamaica anytime soon.
Greetings – How to greet someone in Patois
Wah Gwaan / What A Gwaan / Weh Yuh Deh Pon / Wat A Guh Dung
What’s going on? Whats happening? What’s up?
All these expression typically mean the same thing and it all boils down to personal preference.
Weh Yuh Up To / Weh Yuh Ah Deal Wid
What are you up to?
This is another way of asking how someone is doing, but in this case, you want to know if they have anything planned.
Howdy Do / How yuh duh / Howdeedo
How do you do? How are you doing?
While not as popular as the ‘Wah Gwaan’ counterpart, this form of greeting achieve the same thing but is more popular with the older generation.
Are you alright?
You’re asking if the person is ok and if everything is well with them.
Good Mawning / Gud Mawning – Good Morning
Good Evening / Gud Evening – Good Evening
Greetings Bredren / Greetings Sistren / Greetings Empress – This is how Rasta greet their brothers (bredren) and sisters (sistren or empress). Please note that you don’t have to be blood-related.
One Love / Blessings / Hail Up – Another short and effective way of saying ‘hello’ and is used quite often by Rastas. Remember you don’t have to dread to be Rasta, therefore anyone can use them.
Psst – Guys make this sound with their mouths to get the attention of girls when they walk by.
Yow – Hey
Look Pon Dem Example Yah – Check out these examples
[Patois]: Wah gwaan my yute, everything gud?
[English]: What’s going on my friend, how’s everything?
[Patois]: Ah wat a gwaan wid di radio star? mi cyah hear nutten.
[English]: What’s happening with the radio? I can’t hear anything.
[Patois]: Howdy do missa Smith? A long time mi nuh see yuh.
[English]: How are you doing Mr. Smith? It’s been a long time.
[Patois]: Psst, psst. Hey gyal yuh nuh hear man a call yuh?
[English]: Hey girl, you don’t hear me calling you?
Responses – Responding like a true Jamaican
Mi Deh Yah
Mi A Gwaan Easy / Juss A Gwaan Bill
Kicking it back
Mi Nice / Mi Criss / Mi Gud
I’m doing ok, I’m good, I’m great, I’m fine
Mi Naw Deal Wid Nutten / Nutten Naw Gwaan
Having a bad day. Not doing too well.
This response is more of a downer, which is used when a person is stressed, in a bad mood or just not doing too well at the moment.
Everything Sort Out – All is well
Everything Irie – Rastafarian way of saying everything is nice or everything is going well
Mi Thing Shell
My thing is on another level.
This response is more popular with the youths and is used frequently in the reggae and dancehall space.
Si Some Example Yah – Here are some examples
[Patois]: Mi deh yah a wait pon di bus.
[English]: I’m here waiting on the bus.
[Patois]: Everything irie, mi juss a gwaan bill
[English]: Everything is going well, I’m just chilling
[Patois]: From mi lef Kingston Nutten Naw Gwaan fi mi
[English]: From I left Kingston, nothing is going my way
[Patois]: Yow dawg yuh thing shell
[English]: My friend your thing is on point
Goodbyes – Saying your Goodbyes in Patwah
Little More. See you later.
This expression is used to tell someone later, goodbye, or see you soon.
Mi Gaan – I’m gone, Goodbye
Lata – Later
Inna Di Morrows – See you tomorrow
Pree Dem Example Yah – Check out these examples
[Patois]: Likkle more, mi gone a mi yaad
[English]: See you later, I’m going home
[Patois]: Yow mi a come link yuh inna di morrows
[English]: Hey, I’ll check back with you tomorrow
[Patois]: A lata ting dat, mi haffi finish mi homework
[English]: I’ll deal with that later, I have to finish my homework