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Lesson 1. Common Phrases.

July 09, 20235 min read


This blog will be a series to learn Telugu. I made this for my partner to learn Telugu in a way that I learned Korean. I thought learning Korean was really easy from the resources I used (university education sucks), but I saw there was a lack of Telugu resources for something that was commonly spoken around the world. Like 8% of the world speaks Telugu, which may not sound like a lot, but it's def a lot considering 8 billion people on the earth.

Also, there will be romanization throughout the course, my partner hates the Telugu alphabet with how many sounds there are.


Feel free to import this into your own quizlets.


India - Indiya

Name - Perru
I - Naenu
Man - Abbayi
Women - Ammayi
That - Adhi
This - Idhi
Chair - Kurchi
Bed - Mancham
House - Illu
Person - Manishi
Book - Pustakam
Computer - Compyuter
Tree - Chittu
Door - Taloopu
Salutations - Namaskaaram
Thank you - Dhanyavadam
Yes - Auwoonu
No - Kaadu
Let's see each other again (Formal) - Malli Kalluddaam
I will go and come back - Velli Vastaanu
Safely go and come back - Kshehmanga velli tirigeeraa
Go and come back - Velli randi
Sorry/Excuse me - Kshaminchandi
Please - Daiyacheysi

Let's Begin

Something to note in Telugu was that since the British took over India, a large part of Telugu words were replaced with English words. This is done to create an ease in some of the more complicated words, and it also introduced a more standardized form of informal speech. Many words in Telugu are also derived from Sanskrit, which you may notice similarities with other languages also derived from Sanskrit. Telugu did at some point be closer to Tamil, but Sanskrit was introduced into the language to create a standardized grammar and vocabulary system. Similar to how English has Shakespeare to thank for its grammar, we also have a person named Nannayya. Back to English, there are some differences between plain English and Tenglish (Telugu + English). So let's take a look at one of these differences.


నమస్కారం (Namaskaaram)

This is the formal form of saying a simple "Hello" in Telugu. If it helps to think about it, this version of a greeting moreso means "salutations", which is odd in everyday speech. This is said along with the action of putting both palms together pointing upwards, as a sign of respect. This is a loanword from Sanskrit, and this will become really important later on.

హలో (Halo)

Most just go along with saying Hello, or Hi. Or more specifically, we pronounce hello as "Halo".

With these two phrases, if someone were to say either one to you, you will reply accordingly with the same phrase.

Sample Conversation

A: Namaskaaram. = Salutations

B: Namaskaaram. = Salutations


A: Halo. = Hey

B: Halo. = Hi

In Telugu, there are levels of politeness that are called "honorifics" in English. It's kind of like calling someone "Mr. Vedantam" vs calling them their full name "Sriaditya". Or to exemplify this difference, a nickname such as "Sri" vs "Sir Sriaditya", is archaic but it does show how far English has come today. It might seem scary to learn about honorifics, but it's important to use and utilize them depending on who you are talking to. Such as your in-laws or a professor, it's different than calling your younger sibling. These honorifics go as far as your older sibling versus younger sibling even!


ధన్యవాదం (Dhanyavaadam)

This is the formal form of saying "Thanks" in Telugu. Similar to what we had before, this is also a loanword from Sanskrit. And note from now on, almost all words ending in "-am" are loanwords from Sanskrit.

The informal form of saying this in Telugu is the same as in English "Thank you" or "Thanks" would work.

In English, when you say “Thank you”, the expression has the word “you” in it. In Telugu, however, people just say Dhanyavaadam, but the word does not have an object (“you”) in it. You do not have to say “you” in Telugu because it is easy to guess to whom you are offering thanks. As you learn more Telugu expressions, you will see that many need not include the object within the sentence.

Yes and No

అవును (Auwoonu) / కాదు (Kaadu)

In Telugu, అవును (Auwoonu) is "Yes", and కాదు (Kaadu) is "No". The way to say "no" in the future content will show how complicated it is to say no but in generality, this is true. In most cases when you are denying or saying "no" it will be Kaadu.

It's interesting in Telugu, but when people say Auwoonu, it doesn't always have the same meaning as saying "Yes". This is something even some ABCD's (American Born Confused Desi), struggle with. To explain in simpler terms, saying Auwoonu just means an agreement with what the other person is saying, whereas Kaadu is in disagreement.

Sample Conversation

A: You don't like coffee?

B: Auwoonu, I don't like coffee.

To put it simpler, we can think of these two words as the following:

Auwoonu. = That is right. / I agree. / Sounds good. / What you said is correct. Kaadu. = That is not right. / I do not agree. / What you said is not correct.

Sample Conversation

A: You don't like coffee?

B: Auwoonu, I don't like coffee.

A: You don't like coffee?

B: Kaadu, I like coffee.

A: Do you like coffee?

B: Auwoonu, I like coffee.

A: Do you like coffee?

B: Kaadu, I don't like coffee.

More uses of Auwoonu.

Auwoonu has more uses than just agreeing!

While it is used accordingly, it can also just be used as filler phrases to continue a conversation.

Sample Conversation

A: You know what, I bought this book yesterday.

B: Auwoona (Oh, you did?)

A: and I really like it.

B: Auwoonaa... (I see...)

A: But it is a bit too expensive.

B: Auwoonu. (I see!)

A: Do you know how much it was?

B: How much was it?

A: It was 100 dollars!

B: Auwoona?! (What?!)

A: So I paid the money with my credit card.

B: Au. (I got it.)

What was also done at the end was to show a shortened version of "Yes" that is more colloquial and used. As my partner says, I sound like a sheep when responding in Telugu, saying Au to anything that my parents say.


When saying goodbye in Telugu, there are multiple ways of saying it. We don't exactly say "goodbye" because it is believed to bring bad fortune.

For context, I can never say "Bye", "See you", or "I will go" to my parents, and I think it's an important part of the culture. It is seen as a rude or negative comment and associated with bad omens. Most Indians will use the word "auspicious" and saying any form of these three phrases is considered "inauspicious".

Saying Goodbye as a Guest

మళ్ళి కలుద్దాం (Malli Kaluddaam)

This is a way to say let's see each other again. And it is very formal. Generally, when I have seen people do this, it is the same action as putting both hands together kind of like "Namaskaaram".

వెళ్లి వస్తాను (Velli Vastaanu)

This is a bit more informal but it still bids good fortune. It means "I will go and come back", which is a sincere form of goodbye among friends or family.

Saying Goodbye as a Host

క్షేమంగా వెళ్ళి తిరిగిరా (Kshehmanga velli tirigeeraa)

This means "Go safely and return", but informally isn't all too different...

వెళ్ళి రండి (Velli randi)

Sorry/Excuse me

క్షమించండి (Kshaminchandi)

If it hasn't been noticeable for the past couple of lessons, we have a lot of sounds that don't exactly work with the English tongue. It may seem hard to make a "Ksha" sound at first, but with practice and trying to copy sounds you hear that use this sound, you will get it down. Practice makes perfect.

Anyway, Kshaminchandi means both "I am sorry" and "Excuse me". It takes personal blame for any action or words said. To understand what this means let's pull up a sample conversation.

Sample Conversation

A: My dog died last night.

B: Kshaminchandi.

A: Huh? Why are you saying "forgive me"...

This is important to highlight because this phrase was used out of the context you might mean. If someone's dog died, and you took the personal blame, then you would be the reason for the dog's death (hopefully not).

The more acceptable way to offer condolences is to simply say "Sorry".


Now in Telugu, there are a lot of ways to say sorry, however, the most common way is to just say "Please" in English. This is really important because you don't want to sound like you begging. Let's give a sample sentence to what I mean.

దయచేసి (Daiyacheysi)

Sample Conversation

A: Daiyacheysi give me the potato.

B: What happened? Why are you so dramatic?

A: Huh?

This is the most formal way to say please, however, it is also the most exaggerated. It is really odd for commonplace randomly say this phrase. It is said in huge announcements or negative phrases. Something that should be taken alarmingly almost. However, you can also just say "Please" in English and people will understand.


Now I have been introducing these forms of politeness and informality, this will be a topic on its own but keep track of what you have learned so far.

Published July 09, 2023, by ZyphenSVC.

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