Language Basics

Malagasy uses a Verb-Object-Subject word order. English, and most European languages uses a SVO order.

Malagasy uses  the passive tense much more than European languages.

That is you would rather say something like: The ball is being kicked by me.

(This reflects the cultural orientation of avoiding conflict and maintaining good relationships.)

The stress of a word usually falls on the penultimate, or pre-penultimate syllable. That is the 2nd or 3rd last syllable.

For example the surname Ravalomanana Stressin Capitals: RavaloMAnana and NOT RavalomaNANA

It is interesting to note that when giving an order, one should use the passive tense. Using the active tense indicates a suggestion.

Aloavy ny vola! The money should be paid! This is a clear, strict order.

Mandoava ny vola! In active: Pay the money! Is a gentler suggestion, but people often use the active to avoid the potentially aggresively sounding passive.

 The verb TO BE does not exist in Malagasy.  

 Useful Phrases 

Pronounciation: IPA symbols should be added 

Hello,Hi, Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening: Manao ahoana! 

Goodbye: Veloma! 

Good: Tsara

Bad: Ratsy

Thank you Misaotra

 Thank you very much! Misaotra betsaka!

 My pleasure Tsy misy fisaorana!

 My name is XXXX XXX no anarako.

Where does this bus go? Handeha ho aiza ity bus ity?

How much? Hoatrinona?

Expensive Lafo

Cheap/ Easy Mora

Hot Mafana

Cold Mangatsiaka

Far lavitra

Close akaiky

A long time Ela

Not a long time Tsy ela

What Inona

Where Aiza

How Ahoana

When (past) Oviana

When (future) Raoviana

Today Androany

Tomorrow Rahampitso

Yesterday Omaly 

Negation: If you add TSY infront of a word it means Not XXXX

Example: Lafo (expensive) Tsy lafo (not expensive)

Question: You form a question by adding the word ve

Question: Lafo ve? Would mean: Is it expensive? 

Aza fady is a very useful phrase. If you use it at the beginning of a sentence it means :Excuse me!

And when you use it at the end of a sentence it means: Please! 


Additional Information

Peacecorps volunteers learn Malagasy. This is one of the documents they use. Probably more than what you need, but interesting! 

A beautiful document from Wild Madagascar 

iLanguages with audio