Mongolian phrasebook

Phrasebooks > Mongolian phrasebook


Mongolian (монгол хэл) is a Mongolic language and the most widely spoken member of the Mongolic language family. Mongolian is the first language for the vast majority of residents in Mongolia, and most of the ethnic Mongols in the Inner Mongolia region of China. It is the sole official language of Mongolia, and co-official with Mandarin in Inner Mongolia and several Mongol autonomous prefectures and counties in the neighboring provinces.

Mongolian has two writing systems: The traditional Mongolian script (the official script in China) and the Cyrillic alphabet (the official script in Mongolia). For the sake of simplicity, this article covers Khalkha Mongolian, the most commonly spoken dialect and the main dialect used in Mongolia.

Whether or not travellers need to learn Mongolian is doubtful, as many Mongolians are proficient in Russian, the most widely taught foreign language in the country, while in China, most ethnic Mongols are bilingual in Mongolian and Mandarin. This said, you're guaranteed to get some delighted reactions and a lot of respect from the locals if you make any attempts to speak Mongolian, since very few people, if any, make an effort to learn Mongolian.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

The Mongolian language is somewhat challenging to pronounce. There are a few sounds that are unknown to native speakers of English, and the language employs vowel harmony. English does make similar distinctions – consider the "a" sounds of father (back) and cat (front), or the difference in the "i" sound for bit (short) and beat (long) – but you will need to pay extra attention to it in Mongolian.

Short vowels[edit]

А
like "a" in art
Э
like "e" in met
И
like "ee" in leaf
О
like "o" in off
Ө
like the German ö, similar to e in her (transcribed eu )
У
like "uh" in cut
Ү
like "oo" in look

Long vowels[edit]

АА
like "ah" in father
ЭЭ
like "e" in Edward
ИЙ
like "ee" in seen
ОО
like "oh" in dog
ӨӨ
like "Ө" but longer
У
like "У" but longer
Ү
like "Ү" but longer

Vowel pronunciation guide[edit]

In Mongolian, the stress always falls on the first syllable of a word, unless a word has long vowels or diphthongs. Loanwords are also exceptions to this rule.

If the first syllable of a word contains a short vowel, the vowel will be pronounced as it is written. Short vowels in other syllables of a word will be dropped from pronunciation.

Let us take a look at the phrase Сайн байна уу. The first word of the phrase "Сайн" will be pronounced as (sain), whereas the second word of the phrase "байна" won't be pronounced as (bai-nah). It will be pronounced as (bain) instead.

Here are a few other examples:

Амархан: This word is pronounced as (Amr-Khn). The short vowels in the second and third syllables will not be pronounced.
Үндэстэн: This word is pronounced as (Un-ds-tn). The short vowels in the second and third syllables will not be pronounced.

These pronunciation rules can be challenging to grasp at first, but with time and practice, you will gradually get the hang of it.

Consonants[edit]

ch
the "ch" in chat
j
the "j" in jewel
kh/h
the "h" in hug
sh
the "sh" in shoe
ts
the "zz" in pizza
z

If an "n" is followed by a vowel, the vowel is silent and the "n" is pronounced like the English "n". For example: Baina is actually pronounced "Bain".

If an "n" is followed by a consanent or comes at the end of a word, then it is pronounced "ng". For example: Ulaanbaatar is pronounced "Ulangbatar".

Common diphthongs[edit]

Writing[edit]

Mongolian is written using the Cyrillic alphabet in Mongolia and written using the traditional Mongolian script in Inner Mongolia.

Cyrillic characters: the following presents the upper case and lower case Cyrillic character, followed by the English transliteration, example word and the English transliteration of the word. The Latin character transliteration used here is what is used locally in Mongolia. Linguists have a complete set of characters to transliterate Mongolian to English, but those characters are not useful for the traveler. The following are the most common transliterations.

А а

Б б - B b - Баянхонгор - Bayankhongor (a province in Southern Mongolia.)

В в - V v - Хөвсгөл - Khovsgol (a province in Northern Mongolia.)

Д д - D d - Дорнод - Dornod (a province in Eastern Mongolia.)

Г г - G g - Говь - Govi (The Gobi desert. see below for the "ь" below.)

Е е - Ye ye - Еэвэн - Yeeven (Means round cake with filling)

Ё ё - Yo yo - Ёотон - Yoton (Means lump sugar)

Ж ж - J j - Жаргалант - Jargalant (Common sum name. A Sum, similar to a US county.)

З з - Z z - Завхан - Zavkhan (a province in Northwest Mongolia).

И и - I i - Нийслэл - Niislel (Means Capital, in the sense Ulaanbaatar is the capital.)

й й - I i - Аймаг - Aimag (Means Province)

К к - K k - Кино - Kino (Means movie)

Л л - L l - Лам - Lam (Buddhist monk, Lama)

М м - M m - Мах - Mah (Means meat)

Н н - N n - Наадам - Naadam (Mid-Summer Holiday, festival, games. First part of July)

О о - O o - Орхон - Orkhon (a province in Northcentral Mongolia, also a River)

Ө ө - O o - Өмнөговь - Omnogovi (a province in Southern Mongolia)

П п - P p - Перс - Persia (The "П" is mostly used for loan words)

Р р - R r - Рашаан - Rashaan (Mineral Spring)

С с - S s - Сүхбаатар - Sukhbaatar (Mongolian Hero, Main Square in UB, Province, city)

Т т - T t - Төв - Tov (center, Province in Central Mongolia surrounding UB)

У у - U u - Улаан - Ulaan (red, Ulaanbaatar Red Hero)

Ү ү - U u - Түүх - Tuuh (Means history)

ф Ф

Х х - Kh kh - Хархорин - Kharkhorin (Sum which contains the ancient capital of the Mongolian Empire) Note 1.

Х х - H h - Хаан - Haan (Emperor) Note 2.

Ц ц - Ts ts - Цэцэрлэг - Tsetserleg (Capital of Arkhangai Province)

Ч ч - Ch ch - Чихэр - Chiher (Means candy)

Ш ш - Sh sh - Шивээс - Shivees (Means tattoo)

Щ щ

Э э - E e - Эрдэнэт - Erdenet (City in North Central Mongolia, Orkhon Province, Copper mine)

Ю ю - Yu yu - Оюутан - Oyutan (Student at a University).

Я я - Ya ya - Япон - Yapon (Japan)

ь ь - i i - Говь - Govi (Acts like a silent e, changes the sound of the preceding vowel) Note 3.

Note 1. These transliterations are from course material from the Language and Culture Department of the Mongolian National University. Dr. Б. Сарантуяа.

Note 2. These transliterations come from the Mongolian Government Website "www.pmis.gov.mn", this site is not consistent.

Note 3. There are two other signs not seen often in place names, "ы" and "ъ". "ъ" generally modifies verbs and "ы" is used to make possessives.

The place names are from "Монгол улс Авто замын Атлас" (Mongol national Auto Highway['s] Atlas)

Much of the difficulty comes from the two sets of vowels. Back  : А, О, У, Я, Ё, ы Front : Э, Ө, Ү, Е, ю Neutral: И Generally words should have only back or front vowels plus the "И" but some words are combined from two words, such as Өмнөговь.

Grammar[edit]

Unless you intend to seriously study Mongolian, learning Mongolian grammar on your trip is not realistic. But it can help to at least understand how the language works.

The Ground Basics[edit]

  • There is no grammatical gender in Mongolian.
  • There are several grammatical cases: Nominative, Accusative, Genitive, Dative, Ablative, Instrumental, Comitative, Privative, and Directional.

Personal Pronouns[edit]

Pronoun Meaning Transliteration
Би I Bee
Та You (formal, singular) Chee
Чи You (informal, singular) Chee
Тэр He/She/It/That Tehr
Энэ It/This Ehn
Бид нар We Beed-Nar
Та нар You (plural) Tah-Nahr
Тэд нар They Tehd-Nar

Phrase list[edit]

Basics[edit]

Common signs


OPEN
НЭЭЛТТЭЙ
CLOSED
БОЛОМЖТОЙ
ENTRANCE
ОРОЛЦОО
EXIT
ГАРАХ
PUSH
ТҮЛХЭХ
PULL
ТАТАХ
TOILET
БИЕ ЗАСАХ ГАЗАР
MEN
ЭНЭ
WOMEN
ЭМЭГТЭЙ
FORBIDDEN
ХОРИГЛОЛТ
Hello.
Сайн байна уу. (Sain bain oo)
Hello.
Сайн уу. (informal) (Sain oo)
How are you?
Yuu baina? (Юу байна?)
Fine, thank you.
Sain sain. (Сайн сайн)
What is your name?
Chinii/Tany* neriig hen gedeg ve? (Чиний/Таны нэрийг хэн гэдэг вэ?)
Who are you / Who is it?
Chi/ta* khen be?(Чи/Та хэн бэ?)
My name is ______ .
Mini neriig ______ gedeg. (Миний нэрийг _____ гэдэг.)
Nice to meet you.
Taniltsahad taatai baina. (Танилцахад таатай байна.)
Please.
Guij baina . (Гуйж байна.)
Thank you.
Bayarlalaa . (Баярлалаа.)
You're welcome.
Zuuger zugeer . (Зүгээр зүгээр.)
Yes.
Tiim . (Тийм.)
No.
Ugui . (Үгүй)
Sorry.
Уучлаарай. (OOCH-laa-ruhy.)
Goodbye
Bayartai . (Баяртай.)
I can't speak Mongolian
Bi Mongoloor yarij chadahgui[ ]. (Би Монголоор ярьж чадахгүй[ ].)
Do you speak English?
Chi angliar yaridaguu? (Чи Англиар ярьдаг уу?)
Help!
Tuslaarai! (Туслаарай!)
Look out!
Eniig/teriig hardaa! (Энийг/Тэрийг хардаа!)
Good morning.
ugluunii mend . (Өглөөний Мэнд.)
Good afternoon.
udriin mend . (Өдрийн мэнд.)
Good evening.
oroin mend. (Оройн мэнд.)
Good night (to sleep)
saikhan amraarai . (Сайхан амраарай.)
I don't understand.
Би ойлгохгүй байна . (bee-oyl-guh-goey-bayn.)
Where is the toilet?
Biy zasah gazar haana ve? (Бие засах газар хаана байдаг вэ?)
*Ta or Tany - it's like deference form.

Problems[edit]

Don't touch me!
Nadad buu khur! (Надад бүү хүр!)
I'll call the police.
Bi tsagdaa duudlaa (Би цагдаа дуудна.)
Police!
Tsagdaa! (Цагдаа!)
Stop! Thief!
Zogsoogooroi! Khulgaich! (Зогсоогоорои! Кhулгаич!)
Please help / I need your help.
Tuslaach/nadad ööriin chini tuslamj kheregtei baina (Туслаач/надад өөрийн чинь тусламж хэрэгтэй байнаz!)
I'm lost.
Bi toorchihloo. (Би төөрчихлөө.)
I lost my bag.
Bi tsunkhee geechihlee. (Би цүнхээ алдчихлаа.)
I lost my wallet.
Bi turuivchee geechihlee. (Би түрийвчээ алдчихлаа.)
I'm sick.
Bi uvchtei baina. (Би өвчтэй байна.)
I've been injured.
Bi gemtsen. (Би гэмтсэн.)
I need a doctor.
Nadad emch kheregtei. (Надад эмч хэрэгтэй.)
Can I use your phone?
Bi tanii utsiig hereglej boloh uu? (Би таны утсыг ашиглаж болох уу?)

Numbers[edit]

0
тэг (tehg)
1
нэг (nehg)
2
хоёр (ho-yor)
3
гурав (GOO-ruv)
4
дөрөв (DUHR-ruv)
5
тав (tav)
6
зургаа (zoor-GAH)
7
долоо (dol-OH)
8
найм (naim)
9
ес (Yes)
10
арав (AH-ruv)
11
arvan neg
12
arvan hoyor
20
hori
21
horin neg
30
guch
31
guchin neg
40
duch
41
duchin neg
50
tavi
60
jar
70
dal
80
naya
90
yer
100
zuu
200
hoyor zuu
1000
myanga
3451
gurvan myanga dorvon zuun tavin neg
20000
horinmyanga
1,000,000
saya
number ____ (train, bus, etc.)
nomer/dugaar ____
half
tal
a lot
ih
a little
baga

Time[edit]

now
odoo
later
daraa
before
umnu
after
daraa
morning
ugluu
afternoon
udur
evening
oroi
night
shono


Clock time[edit]

one o'clock AM
shoniin neg tsag
noon
udriin arvan hoyor tsag
one o'clock PM
udriin neg tsag
midnight
shoniin arvan hoyor tsag

Duration[edit]

___ minute(s)
___ minut
___ hour(s)
___ tsag
___ day(s)
___ udur
___ week(s)
___ doloo honog
___ month(s)
___ sar
___ year(s)
___ jil


Days[edit]

today
unuudur
tomorrow
margaash
yesterday
uchigdur
this week
ene doloo honog
last week
ungursun doloo honog
next week
daraagiin doloo honog
Monday
davaa
Tuesday
myagmar
Wednesday
lkhavga
Thursday
purev
Friday
baasan
Saturday
byamba
Sunday
nyam

Months[edit]

January
neg dugaar sar
February
hoyor dugaar sar

(etc. The number of the month (1-12), followed by "dugaar sar")

Writing time and date[edit]

When writing the date with digits, 14/11/08. The 24 hour clock is used, rather than the 12 hour clock.

Colors[edit]

black
хар (Har)
white
цагаан (tsa-gaan)
gray
саарал (SAA-ruhl)
red
улаан (oo-LAAN)
blue
хөх (huekh) - use this carefully, because it also means "breast"!
light blue
цэнхэр (TSEHN-kuhr)
yellow
шар (shar)
green
ногоон (Noh-Gohn)
orange
улбар шар (OOL-bur SHAR)
purple
нил ягаан (NEEL-yah-GAAN)
brown
бор (Boar)
pink
ягаан (Yah-GAAN)

Transportation[edit]

Bus and train[edit]

How much is a ticket to ___?
___ yavah biletnii une hed ve?
One ticket to ___, please.
___ yavah neg bilet avya.
Where does this train/bus go?
Ene galt tereg/avtobus haashaa yavah ve?
Where is the bus/train to ___?
___ yavah avtobus/galt teregnii zogsool haana baina ve?
Does this train/bus stop in ___?
Ene galt tereg/avtobus ___-d zosgoh uu?
When does the train/bus to ___ leave?
___ yavah galt tereg/avtobus hodloh ve?
When will the train/bus arrive in ___?
___-t galt tereg/avtobus hezee ochih ve?

Directions[edit]

How do I get to ___?
Bi yaj ___-d ochih ve?
... the train station
galt teregnii buudal
... the bus station
avtobusnii buudal
... the airport
ongotsnii buudal
... downtown
hotiin tuv
... the hotel
zochid buudal
... the American/British/Canadian/Australian embassy
Amerik/Angli/Kanad/Avstir elchin saidiin yam
street
gudamj
Turn left
zuun tiishee erge
Turn right
baruun tiishee erge
straight ahead
chigeeree
towards the ___
___ tiishee
north
hoid
south
urd
east
zuun
west
baruun

Taxi[edit]

Taxi!
Taxi!
Take me to ___, please.
namaig ___ ruu hurgej ogooch.
How much does it cost to get to ___?
___ ruu yavhad hed ve?

Lodging[edit]

Do you have rooms available?
Uruu baina uu?
How much is a room for one person/two people?
Neg/hoyor hunii uruu hed ve?
Does the room come with ___?
Uruund ___ bii uu?
...bedsheets
ornii davuu
...a bathroom
bannii uruu
...a telephone
utas
...a TV
zuragt
May I see the room first?
Uruug ehleed uzej boloh uu?
Do you have anything quieter?
Chimee bagatai uruu bii uu?
...bigger
tomhon
...cleaner
tseverhen
...cheaper
hyamdhan
OK, I'll take it.
Za, avya.
I will stay for ___ nights.
Bi ___ udur honono.
Can you suggest another hotel?
Uur zochid buudal haana baidag ve?
Do you have a safe?
Safe baigaa uu?
Is breakfast included?
Ugluunii hool orson uu?
Please clean my room.
Minii uruug tseverlej ugnu uu.
Can you wake me at ___?
Ta namaig ___ tsagt sereej ugnu uu?
I want to check out.
Bi buudlaasaa garya.

Money[edit]

Do you accept American/British/Canadian/Australian currency?
Ta Amerik/Angli/Kanad/Avstrali mungu avdag uu?
Do you accept credit cards?
Kredit kart avdag uu?
Can you change money for me?
Mungu solij ugnu uu?
Where can I get money changed?
Bi munguu haana soliulj boloh ve?
How much for one ___?
Neg ___ hed ve?

Eating[edit]

A table for one/two, please.
Neg/hoyor hunii shiree.
Can I look at a menu, please?
Bi hoolnii zes harj boloh uu?
I'm a vegetarian.
Bi mah iddeggui.
I don't eat pork.
Bi gahain mah iddeggui.
I don't eat beef.
Bi uhriin mah iddeggui.
Breakfast
ugluunii hool
Lunch
udriin hool
Dinner
oroin hool
I want ___
___-g avya.
Chicken
tahianii mah
Beef
uhriin mah
Pork
gahain mah
Fish
zagasnii mah
Soda
undaa
Cheese
byaslag
Eggs
ondog
Salad
salat
Vegetable
nogoi
Fruit
jims
Bread
talh
Noodles
goimon
Rice
budaa
Corn
erdene shish
Apple
alim
Orange
mandrin
Lemon
limon
Banana
banan
May I have a glass of ___?
Bi neg ayga ___ avch boloh uu?
May I have a bottle of ___?
Bi neg lonh ___ avch boloh uu?
Coffee
coffee
Tea
tsai
Juice
shuus
Milk
suu
Water
us
Beer
pivo
Alcohol
arhi
Wine
vino
Salt
davs
Pepper
pierts
Butter
maslo
I'm finished (full.)
Bi tsadchihlaa.
It was delicious.
Goyo amttai baisan.
The check, please.
Bi munguu tolyo.

Bars[edit]

Do you serve alcohol?
End arhi zardag uu?
A beer, please.
Neg shil pivo.
___ (liquor) and ___ (mixer), please.
___ arhiig ___-tai.
whiskey
viski
vodka
tsagaan arhi
orange juice
orangenii shuus
Coke (soda)
koka kola
One more, please.
Dahiad neg.
When is closing time?
Hezee haah ve?

Shopping[edit]

Do you have this in my size?
Minii razmer baigaa uu?
How much (is this)?
Hed ve?
That's too expensive.
Ih unetei baina.
Would you take _____?
_____ avdag uu?
expensive
Unetei
cheap
Hyamdhan
I can't afford it.
Bi uniig ni diilehgui um baina.
I don't want it.
Nadad taalagdahgui baina.
You're cheating me.
Chi namaig hulhidaj baina.
I'm not interested.
Bi sonirhohgui baina.
OK, I'll take it.
Za, bi avya.
Can I have a bag?
Bi uut avya.
Do you ship (overseas)?
Shuudangaar ilgeej chadah uu? (dalain chandad)
I need...
Nadad ____ heregtei baina.
...toothpaste.
...shudnii oo
...a toothbrush.
...shudnii soiz
...tampons.
...tampon / ariun tsevriin hereglel
...soap.
...savan
...shampoo.
...shampuuni
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
...uvchin namdaagch
...cold medicine.
...haniadnii em
...stomach medicine.
...gedesnii em
...a razor.
...sahliin tatuurga
...batteries.
...baterrei
...an umbrella. (rain)
...zoontik
...a postcard.
...otkirit
...postage stamps.
...mark
...writing paper.
...bichgiin tsaas
...a pen.
...uzeg
...English-language books.
...Angli nomnuud
...English-language magazines.
...Angli setguuluud
...an English-language newspaper.
...Angli sonin

Driving[edit]

Driving

I want to rent a car.
Bi mashin prokatlahiig husej baina.
Can I get insurance?
Bi avto daatgal avch boloh uu?
stop (on a street sign)
Zogs
one way
neg ursgal
yield
zam tavij og
no parking
mashin tavij bolohgui
speed limit
hurdnii limit
gas (petrol) station
binzen klonk
diesel
diesel

Authority[edit]

I haven't done anything wrong.
Bi buruu um hiigeegui.
It was a misunderstanding.
Buruu oilgoltschih shig bolloo.
Where are you taking me?
Namaig haash ni avch yavj bainaa?
Am I under arrest?
Bi barivchlagdaj baigaa um uu?
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
Bi Amerik/Avstrali/Angli/Kanad-iin irgen.
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
Bi Amerik/Avstrali/Angli/Kanad-iin elchin saidiin yamtai/konsultai holboo barih heregtei.
I want to talk to a lawyer.
Bi huulichtaigaa yarihiig husej baina.
Can I just pay a fine now?
Bi odoo zovhon tulbur hiichihej boloh uu?

Learning more[edit]

This Mongolian phrasebook is a usable article. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.