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Sak Pase: What it means and how to respond properly

sak pase haiti cherie
Haiti has some of the world most exotic beaches.

Sak pase and nap boule? Where and from whom have you heard those expressions from?

Many of you know those phrases as Haitian expressions, but unfortunately you do not know what they mean or how to respond.

Today, in this post, I'm going to teach you everything you need to know about the expressions "sak pase and nap boule", what they mean and how to use them properly.

What does "sak pase" mean?

"Sak pase" is a Haitian Creole phrase that literally means "what's up".
Notice, it's not one word. It's two. You can use it in conversation with your friends and most people you know, but in formal situation you will need to use different expressions which I discuss below.

What does "nap boule" mean?

"Nap boule" is a Haitian Creole phrase that means "I'm fine, or I'm okay". It is the response you will give to the person who ask you "sak pase?"
If this is the case, then why do you keep hearing people say things like "sak pase nap boule"?
I am sure you already get the gist of the situation from the translations above. But let's go further.

The wrong way to use "sak pase" and "nap boule"

sak pase couple soaking up the sun
Couple relaxing on one of Haiti's exotic beaches
Many TV personalities such as Beyonce Knowles, Jamie Foxx, Jason Derulo, Wyclef Jean, Oprah Winfrey and Garcelle Beauvais have used the phrase "sak pase or sak pase nap boule".

In fact, here is an example of Beyonce misusing the phrase. But it's not her fault because the journalist doesn't point out the difference for her.

Many TV superstars, school friends, and people at work make the same mistake, and they don't realize that they ask the question and respond to it at the same time.

Even worst, those of you with Haitian background make that mistake too. What's going on here?

You see when you say "sak pase nap boule", you're saying "what's up I'm fine".

This is a forgivable mistake for non-Creole speakers. However for those of you who have Haitian roots, I seriously don't get. You should know better.

Non-Creole speakers mostly make this mistake because they have no idea what they're saying. They repeat what they hear you say.

So, "sak pase nap boule" becomes one of those cool expression you use with Haitians you meet, but it is absolutely wrong.

As an English speaker, what would you say if you hear someone says to others "what's up I'm fine"?

Yep, I thought so too. Now let's see how I can help you use it properly.

How to use "sak pase" and "nap boule" properly?

sak pase nap boule
Haiti's Beautiful Mountain top
Here are some standard Creole greeting and response similar to "sak pase". Organized by Creole phrases followed by English translation and indication of which one is more or less formal.

You ask any of the following:

Sak pase? (What's up) - less formal
Bonjou (Hello) - more formal than "sak pase"
Ki jan ou ye? (How are you) - more formal than "sak pase"
Koman ou ye? (How are you) - more formal than "sak pase"
Kouman ko a ye? (How is everything) - more formal than "sak pase"
Sa fè lontan wi (Long time no see) - use with people you know
Sa fè lontan nou pa wè (Long time no see) - use with people you know

Here is how to respond to the above questions:

N'ap boule (I'm ok) - less formal
M'ap lite (I'm alive) - formal
M'ap boule (I'm fine) - less formal
Mwen byen (I'm well) - more formal
Konm si, konm sa (so, so) - less formal
Mwen byen. E ou mem? (I'm fine. And you?) - formal

To learn more get this book or that book.

I think you are clear now on how to use sak pase, what it means and how to use it properly. So, if you have further questions join me in the comments below.

Do you know someone who still uses "sak pase and nap boule" the wrong way? Are you changing your way? Do you need help with Creole?

Let me know below.

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