The Bulgarian Language

Some facts and basic knowledge

Bulgarian is part of the Slavic family of languages - one of the major language families in the modern world. Other languages from the sale family are Russian, Serbian, Croatian, Polish, Czech, Slovac, etc. Around 12 million people speak Bulgarian mainly in Bulgaria and in many countries all over the world.

Bulgarian was the first Slavic language to be written as early as the 9-th century in the Glagolitic Alphabet which was replaced by the Cyrillic Alphabet, variation of which is used up to the present day.

If you want to be able to read or write in Bulgarian, the first thing you should start with is the alphabet. Unlike the English alphabet the Bulgarian alphabet has got 30 letters which means there are a few letters which will look entirely strange and new to you.

So you can start with practising the letters by writing and pronouncing them. Once you learn the letters and the way they are pronounced, you will find out Bulgarian is not that dufficult.

So here it is, do you want to have a go? Below you will see in a row the Bulgarian letter and the corresponding English letter or sound together with an example of it's pronunciation in a word:

А - a as in back

Б - b as in big

В - v as in vet

Г - g as in green

Д - d as in dog

Е - e as in egg

Ж - zh as in television

З - z as in zip

И - i as in lip

Й - y as in yo-yo

К - k as in kite, cat

Л - l as in lemon

М - m as in map

Н - n as in net

О - o as in fog

П - p as in pet

Р - r as in roller

С - s as in salt

Т - t as in tin

У - u as in put

Ф - f as in food

Х - h as in hot

Ц - ts as in tsar

Ч - ch as in chain

Ш - sh as in shoe

Щ - sht as in brushed

Ъ - u as in cut

Ь - y as in yo-yo (always followed by o and after a consonant)

Ю - iu as in few

Я - ia as in via


So, do you think it's hard? Well,it's not but you have to be patient enough and simply take a writing pad and a pen and take your time to practise. One very important thing is to pronounce every letter aloud so you can gain more confidence.

Once you have learned how to write and pronounce the letters things will start to make sense as unlike English in Bulgarian what you read is what you say!

Let's try!

Here are some most common greeting expessions:

Здравей! - Zdravey! - Hello!

Здравейте! - Zdraveyte! - Hello! (N.B. used when addressing more than one person)

Здрасти! - Zdrasti! - Hi! ( informal)

Добро утро! - Dobro utro! - Good morning!

Добър ден! - Dobur den! - Good afternoon!

Добър вечер! - Dobur vecher! - Good evening!

Now a few general conversation phrases:

Аз се казвам... - Az se kazvam... - My name is....

Аз съм от Англия. - Az sum ot Anglia. - I come from England.

Как си? - Kak si? - How are you?

Как сте? - Kak ste? - How are you (when you address more than one person)

Благодаря, добре. - Blagodaria, dobre. - Fine, thanks.

Благодаря - Blagodaria - Thank you

Мерси - Mersi - Thank you

Довиждане - Dovizhdane - Good bye

Да - Da - Yes

Не - Ne - No

You will find this strange and amusing! Bulgarians nod their heads meaning NO and shake heads for YES, which foreigners find really odd. You can find yourself in some funny situation with this difference, so be well aware of it.

Here are some most common words that could be helpful when you visit Bulgaria:


Числа - Numbers

1 - едно - edno

2- две - dve
3 - три - tri
4 - четири - chetiri
5 - пет - pet
6 - шест - shest
7 - седем - sedem
8 - осем - osem
9 - девет - devet
10- десет -deset
Места - Places
магазин - magazin - shop
кино - kino - cinema
кръчма - kruchma - pub
аптека - apteka - chemist's
лекар - lekar - doctor
зъболекар- zubolekar-dentist
болница - bolnitsa - hospital
такси - taksi - taxi
училище-uchilishte - school
община-obshtina - town hall
хотел - hotel - hotel
полиция-politsia-police station
град - grad - town
село- selo - village
летище - letishte - airport
автогара - avtogara-bus station
гара - gara - railway station
банка - banka - bank
кафене - kafene - cafe
Храни и напитки-Food and drinks
пиле - pile - chicken
картофи - kartofi - potatoes
хляб - hliab - bread
захар - zahar - sugar
сирене - sirene - cheese
месо - meso - meat
чай - chay - tea
кафе - kafe - coffee
бира - bira - beer
вода - voda - water
Дрехи - Clothes
блуза - bluza - top
риза - riza - shirt
тениска - teniska - T-shirt
пола - pola - skirt
жилетка - zhiletka- cardigan
рокля - roklia - dress
чорапи - chorapi - socks
палто - palto - coat
яке - iake - jacket
Цветове - Colours
бял - bial - white
черен - cheren - black
червен - cherven - red
син - sin - blue
жълт - zhult - yellow
зелен - zelen - green
кафяв - kafiav - brown
сив - siv - grey
розов - rozov - pink
оранжев - oranzhev - orange
Посоки - Directions
ляво - liavo - left
дясно - diasno - right
направо-napravo-straight on


If you have learned all this so far, you have achieved a lot. Of course, this is just the start but at least you have made the first steps knowing that it's not that difficult and it could be fun. Also you will be able to say some things to the locals when you visit Bulgaria and you will be able to read the sign in the streets as you know now what you read is what you say. Having made the first steps, you will find yourself wanting to learn more and more as learning a foreign language can be a real challenge or as the saying is: "Learning a language has a beginning but no end".


If you have any questions, comments or want me to add something you are particularly interested in and want to know in Bulgarian, feel free to contact me at
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