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how many

dih kwee

Literally: how many(?)

When you use the word díkwíí, you will be inquiring about the amount, or quantity, of certain objects. Using this Navajo word will create a question to which a response would be a number, or simply ‘I don’t know.’

For example:

Mark díkwíí bichidí? How many vehicles does Mark have?

[note: ‘bi’ in bichidí is attached in order to direct possession of the object to the third person; if possession of the object were directed to you or to me (assuming I am the speaker) then ‘bi’ would be replaced with ‘ni’ and ‘shi’ respectively; essentially, bichidí=his vehicle, nichidí=your vehicle, and shichidí=my vehicle.]


home or house

hoh ghun

Literally: home, or hogan.

The traditional Navajo family house is called hooghan. The most common variety are constructed of logs arranged in a circle, stacked upwards upon which support beams and an earthy mixture form a rounded roof. Many other varieties are still used, but they all open up facing ha’a’aah, to greet the day.

Many new family homes are built using suburbanite design principles, so the word is meant to reflect the home aspect more than the house aspect.

yas dóó zas


yahs / zahs

Navajo has several words that differ between regions. Such is the case with _snow.

Since the creation of state lines, the word yas has generally been used by people who live on the western side of the Arizona/New Mexico border. On the eastern side, zas is employed more commonly.

Using either word can give a conversational partner or group some context as to the general area one comes from. This is a reliable distinction because most people use a particular word form throughout their life.

For me, it’s yas.

díí jį́


dee jih

Literally: this day.

Use díí jį́ to refer to today. Like previous words, you can break díí jį́ into two other Navajo words.

Namely, díí means this, or these. Further, jį́ means day.

Díí jį́ éiyá Monday.

[note: éiyá and its shorter version éí are phonetic filler words; they’re almost like respected ‘ums’ and ‘uhhs’’ll see examples in the coming weeks.]


metal knife


Literally: knife.

The knife came to Navajo people alongside the introduction of forged metals, so you’ll often see béésh in phrases that involve other metal objects.

If metal is a core component, it is combined with other characteristics of a particular object. For example, technology-related things like telephones, tvs, radios, stoves, train tracks, etc., use béésh to distinguish their metallic nature.

So, used on its own, it simply means knife.