Poti dati dape – getting to grips with Sranan basics

I am trying to pick up some Sranan tongo. Dutch might be the official language of Suriname, knowing a bit of the other languages that are spoken here in Paramaribo, helps in understanding how people communicate in such a multilingual city. Sranan is the most spoken language, it is a living language, in continuous state of change, and people from a wide range of backgrounds speak it. Creoles, Buru, Hindustani, Javanese, Chinese ….

This website has been a great help to start things up: it provides quite a good dictionary Sranan < -> English:

With some other neighbors I am staying in Stichting Unu Pikin (our children) Some of the neighbors are here for a holiday, some for a longer residency, some live permanently here. An is staying for several months, she is retired, living in De Bijlmer, in Holland. Being from Surinamese origin she comes here every year to visit family and revisit her former home town Paramaribo.

Today, before the rains came, she sat with me on the veranda to help with my pronunciation. Bless her, she takes time for that and she is bearing with my terrible beginner level.

Below is a recording, you can listen and speak along and improve your own Sranan. The little side note An adds about medicinal herbs testify of her professional life as a nurse and her common sense to be critical of too many chemical medicine.
I pasted a quick transcription of the most important words below. It will contain misspellings, please let me know if you have improvements to propose.

If you wonder why we talk about such sososani things, we are refering to some exercises from “Sranantongo, Surinaams voor reizigers en thuisblijvers” by Michaël Ietswaart and Vinije Haabo, a great help. So our subjects might not seem terribly exciting, but it all makes sense in the bigger scheme.

mi e go na wroko
ik ga naar het werk
i am going to work

meh go sribi
ik ga slapen
I go to sleep

my mi meh
‘me’ in anyway you want it


mijn eigen ik
my own me


I try:
yu go tak yusrefi
(fout, werkt niet)
(wrong doesn’t work)

mi ego taki tangi
ik ga danken
I am going to say thanks

yu e go taki tangi
jij gaat bedanken
you are going to say thanks

yusrefi e go tak tangi
Jij gaat zelf bedanken
Go say thanks yourself

mijn / ons meisje
my / our girl

(unclear when to pronounce ‘k’ as ‘tsj’

unu pikin e go a skoro
our children have gone to school

pe de pikin de (wrong spelling ?)
waar zijn de kinderen ?
where are the children ?

na meh taki: unu pikin ga skoro
dan zeg ik: onze kinderen zijn naar school
then I say: our children went to skool

unu pikin e go na skoro
onze kinderen zijn naar school (netjes)
our children are of to school (properly)

yu sabi dati mi no lobi merki
je weet dat ik niet van melk hou
you know I don’t like milk

fa mi musu tiri a kondre disi
hoe moet ik dit land besturen
how do i gouvern this country

mi taki dati misrefi no sabi
ik zeg dat ik hetzelf niet wist
I said I don’t know myself

mi taki dati mi lobi yu
ik zeg dat ik van je hou
I said I love you

pe yu poti a sani ?
waar heb je dat ding gezet ?
where did you put that thing?

daar, ginder

mi libi dape
ik woon daar
I live there

pe yu e libi ?
waar woon je ?
where do you live ?

mi e libi dape
daar woon ik
I live there

mi ben libi dape
Ik woonde daar
I lived there

dape mi e go libi
daar ga ik nu wonen
I will live there

mi e go na sranan
ik ga naar suriname

mi ben go na Sranan
ik ging naar Suriname
I went to Suriname

mi o go na Sranan
ik zal naar Suriname gaan
i will go to Surinam


wan sweet morgu
een fijne ochtend
nice morning

wan sweet bakadina
een fijne middag
have a nice afternoon

‘s morgens



good evening

mensen uit de dorpen en jongeren
hé morgu !
for people from the villages and young people

wan sweet bakadina
een fijne middag
a nice afternoon

wan sweetie
heerlijk avond
fijne middag

interval Surinaamse cultuur geschiedenis
interlude Surinamese cultural history

wan sweet teng
een fijne tijd
a sweet time

wan bun teng
een goede tijd
a good time

wan bun neti
een goede avond
a good evening

switi is gemeend, lief
switi is dichterbij
bun is neutraler

switi is heart felt, sweet
switi is closer
bun is more neutral

wo miti
we zien elkaar weer
we meet again

teng bun wi e mite baka
goede tijd, we zien elkaar weer
have a good time and we’ll meet back

teng bun teng bun mi switi sisa
switi sisa we e teng bun
wi miti baka

goede tijd mijn lieve zus
lieve zus we hebben een goede tijd
we zien elkaar later

good times my sweet sister
sweet sister we have good times
we meet again

tangi fu yu
dank aan jou, bedankt
thanks to you

gi mi
geef me dat ding
give up

gi mi wan blik broinbonki
geef me een blik bruine bonen
give a can of brown beans