Welcome to the world of Jamaican Patois! While English is Jamaica's official language, Patois, also known as “Patwa” or “Jamaican Creole,” thrives in everyday conversations. It's a language of its own, used casually by most Jamaicans, while English tends to take the stage in formal settings.

Now, Patois is a fascinating mix! It's got words borrowed from English, Spanish, and West African languages, yet the way they're said often rings close to Jamaican English. The thing about Patois is, it's not about strict rules—pronunciations and spellings can differ for the same word (think 'Pickney' or 'Pickeney' both meaning 'Child'). What matters most is being understood.

Acquiring that Jamaican accent? Well, that's a journey! It's tricky, even for those who've soaked up the vibes of Jamaica for years. But hey, with a little practice, you can definitely get the hang of the basics. Let's jump in and explore the colorful world of Jamaican Patois. Yuh ready fi dis?

Let us now take a look at some of the grammatical features of Jamaican Patois.


Sentences in Jamaican Patois are built like English sentences in that, there is a subject, a predicate (or verb), and an object. However, there is no subject-verb agreement in Jamaican Patois. The verb does not change with the subject. Let us look at the table below.

2. Formation of Plurals

One common method of forming plurals in standard English is by adding 's' or; 'es' to the end of a word. (e.g. toy-toys, class- classes etc..)

However, in Jamaican Patois a word can be pluralized by adding 'dem' to the end word or, inserting 'nuff' or a number at the beginning of the word.

NOTE: In Jamaican Patois, the letters '-s' or '-es' do not necessarily denote plurality as is shown in the examples below:


In Jamaican Patois:

  • There is no differentiation in the use of pronouns to show gender. The pronoun 'im' can mean both or either 'he' or 'she'.
  • There is no distinction between subject and object.

Denoting a 'person' in Jamaican Patois differs from Standard English in the following ways:

There are no possessive pronouns in the Jamaican Patois such as your, her, his, its, ours and theirs, for example:


The copula is a connecting word; for example, in Jamaican Patois the copula is the letter 'a' which is used for the particle as well as for the continuous tense.

For example:


In Jamaican Patois:

Repetition is used for degrees of comparison as well as emphasis; for example, using Jamaican Patois to talk about how big a child has become:

Repetition is also used for emphasis or to increase intensity or number; for example:

Some words form by reduplication show character traits, for example:


In Standard English it is never acceptable to use double negatives such as 'nobody does not'. However, in• Jamaican Patois double negatives are accepted.


Compound words are commonly used in Jamaican Creole; for example:

8. Tense

Unlike Standard English, in the Jamaican Creole, the verb does not change. Instead a new word is introduced and placed in front of the verb; for example:

Present Tense:

Past Tense:

In Jamaican Creole, past tense is formed by using one of the following three words: 'en', 'ben' and 'did', whereas in Standard English the verb is changed or "e" or "ed" is added ; for example, collect-collected, run-ran, buy-bought, etc…

By now you probably have a basic understanding on the differences between Jamaican Patois and Standard English, for a more detailed guide, you can check out our how to speak Jamaican Patois series.