ArabicPod101.com Blog
Learn Arabic with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Arabic Culture' Category

Open Ears and Minds with a Great Compliment in Arabic

Thumbnail

Have you gotten a nice compliment recently?

The right compliment, delivered genuinely, can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

That’s exactly the feeling you want to be giving locals when you’re speaking to them in Arabic. A polite and well-placed compliment in Arabic is going to be an absolute hit anywhere, from the boardroom to the hotel lounge. So why is a word of praise in Arabic so highly valued?

First, Arab culture values expansive and literary-sounding compliments. If you can take care of the language side, you’ll come across as very well-read and educated.

Second, a foreigner who can speak good Arabic is still a rarity in today’s world. You’ll very much stand out from the crowd and make yourself remembered.

So how do you go about actually giving compliments in Arabic?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Table of Contents

  1. What to Say and What not to Say When Complimenting Appearance
  2. What to Say Back
  3. Compliments are Business as Usual
  4. Complimenting the Family
  5. Complimenting People on What They’ve Done
  6. Conclusion

1. What to Say and What not to Say When Complimenting Appearance

Woman Smiling

Something interesting about Arabic culture is that you should try not to compliment others’ possessions.

That’s because it may cause the person receiving the compliment to feel as though you’d really like to have what they have (i.e. that you’re envious). It puts them in an awkward place where it’s not quite polite to just accept the compliment; it’s better for them to either downplay it or laugh it off.

Close friends and family members, though, may compliment each other on clothing or accessories. The reason is simply that with more context between the two people, there’s no risk of misunderstanding.

Suppose someone has a new dress. Her sister might say:

“It looks like the moon.”

.شَكلُهُ مِثلَ القَمَر

šakluhu miṯla al-qamar.

“How nice is it!”

ما أروعه!

mā ʾarwaʿuh!

How about smell? In English, it’s acceptable to say that someone “smells good.” But in Arabic, this can be taken in very much the wrong way.

Saying the equivalent in Arabic can only be used for complimenting someone’s perfume, and if they aren’t actually wearing perfume, the phrase is going to be taken very sarcastically.

“What a lovely smell!”

يَالَها مِن رائِحَةٍ جَميلَة.

yalahā min rāʾiḥaẗin ǧamīlah.

There are also some Arabic compliment categories that don’t really exist in English. Think about it: In English, we might compliment someone’s clothing, their hair, their makeup, or perhaps even their physical features if we’re being flirty.

Speaking of flirty, strangers of the opposite sex should, as a rule, avoid paying each other compliments like these about their appearances. The bar for what’s considered flirting is much, much lower in Arab culture.

In Arabic, though, the concept of cleanliness is considered very important and worthy of respect. That’s why there’s a separate compliment specifically for someone who’s gotten a nice haircut!

“Nice haircut!”

نَعيماً!

naʿīman!

2. What to Say Back

Compliments

When you learn a language, you’ve really got to fix it in your mind, imagining yourself in the position of the people in the sample dialogues.

And how can you imagine taking compliments if you don’t know how to respond?

There are generally three ways that people in the Arab world respond to compliments, and each has its own connotations.

First, you can simply accept the compliment graciously with a simple “Thank you.” This is probably the most common response in the Western world.

Thank you.”

شُكراً

šukran

Perhaps even more common, though, is deferring or deflecting the compliment. This shows your humility, and doing it skillfully is a major way to win points in a conversation.

“Oh, it’s nothing really.”

أوه، هَذا لا شَيْء حَقاً.

ʾūh, haḏā lā šayʾ ḥaqan.

And one last thing to keep in mind: Be specific, and be sincere.

Anyone can tell when you’re just fishing for words, though of course, you’ll get a little leeway as a foreign speaker of Arabic. Save your compliments until you’re ready to speak from the heart, and you know they’ll be treasured.

The best way to do this is to be specific about what you’re complimenting, so that the person you’re talking to understands that you’re paying attention to them. Check out these compliments, tailor-made for these different situations!

3. Compliments are Business as Usual

Business Professionals Complimenting Each Other

In Arab business culture, as in the West, it can be seen as “trying too hard” for someone to compliment their superior. Compliments and gifts should generally flow downwards.

In addition, Arab business culture is generally more conservative than Western business culture. Therefore, when the compliments do come, it usually means much more than it does in English-speaking countries.

Let’s take an example of a boss who’s asked a new employee to work overtime.

“You put in such long hours!”

لَقَد عَمِلتَ لِساعاتٍ طَوِيلَة!

laqad ʿamilta lisāʿātin ṭawilah!

The employee might then respond politely with:

“It’s nothing, don’t bother to mention it!”

هَذا لا شَيْء, لا تُكَلِّف نَفسَكَ عَناء ذِكرِ ذَلِك!

haḏā lā šayʾ, lā tukallif nafsaka ʿanāʾ ḏikri ḏalik!

The business world is a good place to mention compliments for specific things that employees might create, such as a resume, a project, or an award.

“Your resume is impressive.”

سيرَتُك الذاتِيَّة مُدهِشَة.

sīratuka al-ḏātiyyah mudhišah.

“Congratulations on winning ‘Employee of the Month!’”

تَهانينا بِالفَوْزِ بـ”مُوَظَّفِ الشَهر”.

tahānīnā bilfawzi bـ”muwaẓẓafi al-šahr”.

If you happen to be in charge of several Arabic-speaking employees, you can pay them a very deep compliment by humbling yourself in your praise of them.

You shouldn’t ignore the hierarchy that you belong to, so don’t directly put yourself in their places, but do show that you’re impressed. Doing this, especially as a foreigner, means a lot.

“You have all done great work for this quarter, and I am proud to have worked with you.”

لَقَد أَنجَزتُم جَميعاً عَمَلاً رائعاً في هَذا الرُبع، و أَنا فَخورٌ بِالعَمَلِ مَعَكُم

laqad ʾanǧaztum ǧamīʿan ʿamalan rāʾʿan fī haḏā al-rubʿ, wa ʾanā faḫūrun bilʿamali maʿakum.

4. Complimenting the Family

Positive Feelings

In Arab culture, family is something to be very proud of. It’s always a good idea to find something nice to say about someone’s family or children.

Note that “spouse” was not mentioned! As in English, saying nice things about another man’s wife or another woman’s husband is a recipe for disaster.

The typical Arabic compliment when someone shows you a picture of their kids is just one word:

“God has willed it.”

ما شاء الله

mā šāʾ al-llah

This has a sense of “Look at this beautiful thing in the world, isn’t God’s will grand?” It’s very much a set phrase, so you’d do well to learn it by heart.

You can also use these Arabic compliments that sound more like what you’d say in English:

“You must be proud of your children.”

لا بُدَّ أَن تَكونَ فَخوراً بِأبنائِك.

lā budda ʾan takūna faḫūran biʾbnāʾik.

“Your children look healthy and strong!”

أَطفالُكَ يَبدونَ بِصِحَّةٍ و قُوَّةٍ جَيِّدَتَيْن!

ʾaṭfaluka yabdūna biṣiḥḥaẗin wa quwwaẗin ǧayyidatayn!

“May your children be successful!”

أَتَمَنّى أَن يَكونَ أَطفالُكَ ناجِحين!

ʾatamannā ʾan yakūna ʾaṭfal-uka nāǧiḥīn!

With the right compliments here, you may find yourself invited to an Arab wedding!

5. Complimenting People on What They’ve Done

Friends

If you get invited over to someone’s home for dinner, it’s the perfect chance to compliment their cooking. In fact, it’s expected that you’ll praise the food from your host. Remember to take your shoes off after entering!

Naturally, there’s one catch-all word for “tasty” that you can use, and you should.

“Delicious!”

لَذيذ!

laḏīḏ!

Remember, you should be specific about what you’re complimenting. Do you remember your food vocabulary?

“This is fantastic rice.”

هَذا أَرُزٌّ رائِع!

haḏā ʾaruzzun rāʾiʿ!

“The flavors all come together beautifully.”

النَكَهات كُلَّها مُجتَمِعَة بِشَكلٍ جَميل

al-nakahāt kullahā muǧtamiʿah bišaklin ǧamīl.

One classic Arabic format for complimenting something that someone else has done is to compare it to your own abilities, painting your own efforts as hopelessly inadequate.

“You make soup so well, it’s far better than my own soup.”

أَنتَ تُعِدُّ حَساءاً جَيِّداً، إنَّهُ أَفضَل بِكَثير مِن حَسائي

ʾanta tuʿiddu ḥasāʾan ǧayyidan, ʾinnahu ʾafḍal bikaṯīr min ḥasāʾī.

We can practice this same sentence pattern with other skills and hobbies that people like to do.

“Your penmanship is beautiful! My own is just scribbles.”

خَطُّكَ جَميل! خَطّي هُوَ مُجَرَّدُ خَربَشات

ḫaṭṭuka ǧamīl! ḫaṭṭī huwa muǧarradu ḫarbašāt.

6. Conclusion

There are endless situations in addition to these in which a compliment in Arabic might be warranted. And as we’ve shown, there are situations where compliments from some people (such as close friends) are welcome, but from others (strangers of the opposite sex) are far from it.

This kind of thing simply can’t be studied.

No matter how many articles you read about etiquette and communication, they’re all poor substitutes for real experience with the language.

And that’s what you get here with ArabicPod101.com. You get real cultural notes, targeted vocabulary lists, and engaging native-speaker audio content with our podcast.

Why wait? Try out our sample lessons today in the links above, and sign up for a free lifetime account now!

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section with any questions you may have, or compliment phrases you still want to know!

Happy Arabic learning!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Word Gender in Arabic

Thumbnail

Many foreigners throughout the years have gotten high praise for speaking “correct” Arabic.

And many others have spoken “broken” Arabic.

Obviously, there are a lot of things that could go into that distinction, but one of the most important is grammatical gender. If you get those word endings wrong on nouns, adjectives, and verbs, you’ll still be understood—but it’ll sound strange.

That’s not a word you want to associate with your Arabic level!

If you’re not yet comfortable with word gender in Arabic, don’t worry. Simply read on, and let the knowledge come to you.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic
Table of Contents

  1. What is Grammatical Gender?
  2. The Arabic Noun Gender System: See a Word, Guess its Gender
  3. Gender in Arabic Pronouns and Verbs
  4. Plural Nouns
  5. Noun Gender Plus Adjectives
  6. Memorizing Gender from the Beginning
  7. Conclusion

1. What is Grammatical Gender?

Gender Signs on Chalkboard

First, let’s solve a quick problem of nomenclature. Quit thinking of this “gender” as it relates to the English word “gender.” Instead, think of it more like a “category.”

Noun gender is just a secondary feature of a noun that determines which form other adjectives or articles need to take. Some nouns in some categories have adjectives with X ending, and some with Y ending.

Most languages with grammatical gender have just two, called “masculine” and “feminine.” Some languages have a third one, called “neuter” or sometimes “common.” Some languages have quite a few more!

In the European linguistic tradition, we have a habit of calling these categories “genders” because they usually line up with living beings of different genders.

For example, the word for “boy” has a masculine grammatical gender, while the word for “girl” has a female gender. Other words are up in the air. There’s usually no consistency between languages as to what inanimate objects will be masculine or feminine.

In Arabic, there are two grammatical genders, and every noun has one. And there’s good news and bad news here. Most Arabic words have a clearly-guessable gender, with certain verb endings that we’ll talk about in a moment. However, there are a lot of exceptions. There are masculine-looking nouns that take feminine adjectives, and there are feminine-looking nouns that take masculine adjectives. There are even unmarked nouns that simply must be memorized. But don’t worry—we’ll talk about that later, too.

2. The Arabic Noun Gender System: See a Word, Guess its Gender

Woman Deep in Thought

So, how do you know if a word is masculine or feminine in Arabic?

In Arabic, the masculine form is the “unmarked” form. That means there’s no special ending.

Therefore, it’s the feminine form that’s “marked.” That is, it has an ending. By far, the most common ending is ة. This letter is called taa marbuuta, and it only appears at the end of a word. It’s always preceded by fatha, so feminine nouns generally end in -a.

This is what’s called a “productive suffix,” meaning that you can add it to words and generate a new word that people will accept as correct. That’s how we get the feminine forms of different occupations. For instance:

president (male)
رَئيس
raʾīs

president (female)
رَئيسَة
raʾīsah

scientist (male)
عالِم
ʿalim

scientist (female)
عالِمَة
ʿal-imah

Some more endings are ʾalif maqsūrah and ʾalif hamzah. But watch out—some of the words ending with these two forms don’t have a predictable gender.

desert
صَحراء
Ṣaḥrāʾ

hospital
مُستَشفى
mustašfā

Lastly, there are some words that are accepted as either feminine or masculine. Here are three relatively common ones:

road
طَريق
ṭarīq

souq
سوق
sūq

knife
سِكّين
sikkīn

Was that really so hard? Unfortunately, now we’ll look at some exceptions to these Arabic gender rules.

First, there are a handful of names with feminine endings that are actually masculine. Muawiya and Talha are two male figures from the Quran whose names end in taa marbuuta. But such names aren’t popular anymore.

There are also some mass nouns in Arabic that use the taa marbuuta to signify just one of that thing. For example, the words “ants” and “trees” are usually referred to in the plural, but to refer to just one ant or one tree, we can use the taa marbuuta to make it a singular (masculine) noun.

Trees give the world oxygen and shade.
الأَشجار تُعطي العالَم الأوكيسيجين والظِل.
al-ʾašǧār tuʿṭī al-ʿalam al-ʾūkīsīǧīn ūlẓil.

The floor is covered in ants.
الأَرضِيَّة مَليئَة بِالنَمل.
al-ʾarḍiyyah malīʾah bilnaml.

The ant slowly climbs up the tree.
النَملَة تَتَسَلَّق الشَجَرَة بِبُطء.
al-namlah tatasallaq al-šaǧarah bibuṭʾ.

3. Gender in Arabic Pronouns and Verbs

Let’s take a brief detour from nouns to talk about gender in other parts of Arabic, namely the pronoun system and the verb system.

Some languages have just one third-person gender, covering “he,” “she,” and “it.” English, of course, has three, for masculine, feminine, and neuter. Arabic has the same, but Arabic speakers also distinguish that for the second person, that is, “you.”

Where are you? (to a man)
مِن أَيْنَ أَنتَ؟
min ʾayna ʾanta?

Where are you? (to a woman)
مِن أَيْنَ أَنتِ؟
min ʾayna ʾanti?

There’s also a distinction made for the plural form, both in the equivalents of “you all” and “they.”

Are you all alright? (to several women)
هَل أَنتُنَّ بِخَيْر؟
hal ʾantunna biḫayr?

Are you all alright? (to several men)
هَل أََنتُم بِخَيْر؟
hal ʾantum biḫayr?

These example sentences are a little unwieldy, so we won’t write out all the differences here. Instead, there are plenty of great charts and grammar lessons online!

You may have heard of Arabic verbs also being inflected for gender in some way. That’s sort of true, but it’s not as bad as you might have thought.

Object pronouns (“him,” “her,” “me,” “them” ) just get attached to the verb instead of staying as separate words. So you could think of verbs as just linking up with a gendered pronoun, not having a complex gender system of their own.

I am helping Anna.
أَنا أُساعِد آنا.
ʾanā ʾusāʿid ʾānā.

I am helping her.
أَنا أُساعِدُها.
ʾanā ʾusāʿiduhā.

Again, this is something that deserves an article of its own, but we included it here to show you how word gender across all of Arabic simply works differently than in English. It’s not only the nouns!

4. Plural Nouns

Many Dishes and Glasses

The most important overarching concept to remember with Arabic plurals is that non-human nouns in the plural are treated as singular feminine nouns. If you happen to know any German, it’s a similar concept.

Take a look at the following sentences.

The new (female) teacher is eating.
الأُستاذَة الجَديدَة تَأكُل.
al-ʾustāḏah al-ǧadīdah taʾkul.

This city has new streets.
لَدى المَدينة شَوَارِع جَديدَة.
ladā al-madīnh šawariʿ ǧadīdah.

David has four new cars.
لَدى داوُود أَربَع سَيّارات جَديدَة.
ladā dāwūd ʾarbaʿ sayyārāt ǧadīdah.

Here, the adjective for “new” stayed the same, even though we first talked about one female teacher, then many new streets, then four new cars.

5. Noun Gender Plus Adjectives

Adjectives in Arabic have to match their nouns. This is commonly known as “agreement,” so if there’s a mistake in your adjective endings, you can say that they’re not agreeing.

To get them to cooperate with each other, we have to make sure that we match feminine nouns with feminine adjectives.

Fortunately, this is simple in principle. Just as we added the taa marbuuta to some masculine job occupations to get the feminine form, we’ll add the taa marbuuta to adjectives in order to modify feminine nouns.

The brown cat is walking.
القِطَّة البُنِّيَّة تَمشي.
al-qiṭṭah al-bunniyyah tamšī.

The brown mouse is walking.
الفَأر البُنّيُّ يَمشي.
al-faʾr al-bunniyyu yamšī.

Brown Mouse

Since “cat” is feminine and “mouse” is masculine, the word for “brown” has to change.

Naturally, we can’t just have one adjective agree and the rest disagree. What happens when we include two adjectives?

My uncle is a short and funny man.
عَمّي/خالي رَجُل قَصير و مُضحِك.
ʿammī/ḫal-ī raǧul qaṣīr wa muḍḥik.

My aunt is a short and funny woman.
عَمَّتي/خالَتي إمرَأَة قَصيرَة و مُضحِكَة.
ʿammatī/ḫal-atī ʾimraʾah qaṣīrah wa muḍḥikah.

Same sentence structure, different adjective forms.

There are many adjectives that follow slightly different rules for noun gender, and some that don’t change at all. For example, the words “sick” and “tolerant” don’t change.

When I first saw him, he was an old and sick man.
عِندَما رَأَيْتُهُ لِأَوَّلِ مَرَّة, كانَ رَجُلاً مُسِنّاً و مَريضاً.
ʿindamā raʾaytuhu liʾawwali marrah, kāna raǧulan musinnan wa marīḍan.

Have you talked to the sick woman in room 7?
هَل تَحَدَّثتَ إلى اللمَرأَة المَريضَة في غُرفَة رَقَم سبِعة؟
hal taḥaddaṯta ʾilā al-lmarʾah al-marīḍah fī ġurfah raqam sbiʿh?

It is good to have tolerant (female) teachers.
مِن الجَميلِ أَن يَكونَ لَدَيْكَ أُستاذَة مُتَسامِحَة.
min al-ǧamīli ʾan yakūna ladayka ʾustāḏah mutasāmiḥah.

Jacques is a tolerant man.
جاك رَجُلٌ مُتَسامِح.
ǧāk raǧulun mutasāmiḥ.

6. Memorizing Gender from the Beginning

Woman Trying to Memorize Words

Research shows that Arabic learners in particular have a hard time with getting perfectly accurate word gender, even if the learners have spent years in Arabic-speaking countries.

And if you happen to come from a European background, no luck there either—there’s no benefit from being a native speaker of another language with grammatical gender!

That particular study revealed that even advanced learners have “incomplete” models of grammatical gender in their minds, where they may know all the rules but fail to apply them correctly.

So here are a couple of different techniques you can use to train yourself to remember the Arabic word gender as often as possible!

First, you can use memory tricks. Some people are really great at visualizing things in their mind’s eye, and those people will probably prefer this method.

Imagine the word حرب (harb) meaning “war.” Although it doesn’t end with taa marbuuta, it’s a feminine word which takes feminine adjectives:

That was a long and terrible war.
لقد كانَت حَرباً طَوِيلَة و رَهيبَة.
laqad kānat ḥarban ṭawilah wa rahībah.

One memory trick is to imagine a room full of women generals, with coats covered in medals of valor.

Take a moment to look around that boardroom in your mind’s eye—is it open and well-lit or are the generals hunched over war plans on a table? Fix that image in your head, and you’ll think of it whenever you need to say “war” in Arabic (which hopefully won’t be too often!).

Since you probably can’t forget that one if you tried, let’s think of another mnemonic for another irregular Arabic word.

The word راديو (radiu) is a loanword meaning “radio.” Like many loanwords about technology, راديو is masculine.

I don’t need that old radio.
لا أَحتاجُ إلى ذَلِكَ الراديُو القَديم.
lā ʾaḥtāǧu ʾilā ḏalika al-rādyuū al-qadīm.

Other methods that people use include writing masculine and feminine words in different-colored ink in a notebook. This may get tedious, though, because as you know, most Arabic words are regular.

One of the most effective ways to learn to produce Arabic word gender correctly in fluent speech is to simply practice set phrases that are likely to come up.

Look at your own writing or listen critically to a recording you make of yourself. Then write down some of the words you’re having trouble with, and come up with some example sentences where you’d like to use it.

Practice those set phrases aloud, even recording your own voice again to listen back. This will really help stick those patterns into your memory, and because they’re tailored for you, your exercises will be extremely efficient.

7. Conclusion

In addition to those targeted noun and adjective exercises, sometimes the best way to learn a language is simply through exposure. That means native Arabic materials, whether it be TV soap operas, audiobooks, or even podcasts. You can also check out our video about gender in Arabic.

Here at ArabicPod101, you have access to some of the best Arabic learning material on the internet for all levels, including study guides and vocabulary lists.

With all of these tools right at your fingertips, you’ll never fail. Start speaking excellent Arabic today!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how comfortable you feel about Arabic word gender so far. Practice will help you get better, but feel free to let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you!
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Make Your Point Crystal-Clear with Angry Arabic Phrases

Thumbnail

A lot of people stereotype Arabic as an “angry language.” What does that even mean?

They’re only talking about how it sounds. Anybody who knows any Arabic understands that it’s a language famous for its poetry and scripture, with elegant, untranslatable words for love and beauty.

But Arabs get angry too.

And in this article, we’ll guide you through the process of using the Arabic language to talk about frustration and anger, and even share with you some juicy insults. You won’t find any vulgar curse words here—those are members-only at ArabicPod101.com. This is just a list of angry Arabic phrases to get you started.

Since this topic is personal and emotional, we’re using a lot of colloquial Arabic phrases. It may not all be perfect MSA, but it’s certainly something that communicates straight to the heart.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Arabic
Table of Contents

  1. Talking About Your Anger
  2. Talk to the Hand
  3. This is Your Last Warning
  4. Ordering People Around
  5. Blame it All on Them
  6. De-Escalate the Situation
  7. Re-Escalate the Situation
  8. Apologizing
  9. Calming Down
  10. Conclusion

1. Talking About Your Anger

Couple Conversing

Your emotions are important. Most people don’t like to talk about their feelings, so when you come out and directly state how you feel, you might be taken seriously. Here are different ways you can say “I am angry” in Arabic, or describe other negative emotions to those around you.

  • I’m angry.
    أَنا غاضِب.
    ʾanā ġāḍib.
  • That’s annoying.
    هَذا مُزعِج.
    haḏā muzʿiǧ.

Looking for more words about feelings in Arabic? Look no further—they’re right here.

  • What you said made me angry.
    ما قُلتَهُ أَغضَبَني.
    mā qultahu ʾaġḍabanī.
  • I don’t feel good when you do that.
    أنزَعِجُ عِندَما تَفعَلُ ذَلِك.
    ʾnzaʿiǧu ʿindamā tafʿalu ḏalik.
  • It makes me frustrated when we disagree.
    أُحِسُّ بِالإحباط عِندَما لا نَتَّفِق.
    ʾuḥissu bilʾiḥbāṭ ʿindamā lā nattafiq.

2. Talk to the Hand

Talk to the Hand

Is somebody bugging you and not getting the hint? You’ve got permission to be direct. In many cultures, including Arab cultures, these phrases for directly saying that you don’t want to talk to someone are taken rather seriously. Many people aren’t used to communicating in this way. Here are some perfect angry Arabic phrases for communicating this feeling to people.

  • I don’t want to talk to you.
    لا أُريدُ التَكَلُّمَ مَعَك.
    lā ʾurīdu al-takalluma maʿak.
  • It’s none of your business.
    هَذا لَيْسَ مِن شَأنِك.
    haḏā laysa min šaʾnik.
  • This doesn’t concern you.
    هَذا لا يَخُصُّك.
    haḏā lā yaḫuṣṣuk.
  • What are you looking at?
    إلى ما تَنظُر؟
    ʾilā mā tanẓur?
  • Whatever.
    مَهما يَكُن.
    mahmā yakun.

3. This is Your Last Warning

Negative Verbs

Are things heating up in your conversation? You can use these angry phrases in Arabic to get across the idea that if the other person doesn’t stop while they’re ahead, things might get bad.

  • Don’t start anything.
    لا تَبدَأ أَيَّ شَيْء.
    lā tabdaʾ ʾayya šayʾ.
  • You’re in trouble now.
    أَنتَ في مُشكِلَةٍ الآن.
    ʾanta fī muškilaẗin al-ʾān.
  • I’m not going to take that from you.
    لَن أَتَقَبَّل ذَلِكَ مِنك.
    lan ʾataqabbal ḏalika mink.
  • I won’t tell you again.
    لَن أُخبِرُكَ نَفس الشَيْء مُجَدَّداً.
    lan ʾuḫbiruka nafs al-šayʾ muǧaddadan.
  • That’s enough.
    هَذا يَكفي.
    haḏā yakfī.
  • Watch your mouth.
    اِنتَبِه لِكلامِك.
    intabih liklāmik.
  • Back off.
    اِبتَعِد
    ibtaʿid
  • What did you say to me?
    ماذا قُلت لي؟
    māḏā qult lī?

There’s one more phrase that’s particularly hard to translate. Tayyeb is a word with many meanings. Usually, it’s fairly positive or noncommittal, like “fine” or “not bad.” However, it’s very easy to use in a sarcastic or even threatening way. It can mean “Yeah, so what?” and in an annoyed tone, “Watch it.”

4. Ordering People Around

Woman Screaming into Megaphone

Nobody likes to be ordered around, but sometimes when people are pushing your buttons, you just have to snap.

Here we’ve got three great phrases for telling people to just be quiet. First, an all-purpose one:

  • Shut up!
    اِخرَس!
    iḫras!

These next two come from Levantine Arabic, and they’re quite similar on the surface. We’ve translated them both here as “shut your face” because what you’re supposed to shut is actually not the mouth.

Nee’ak refers to the entire cheek, jaw, and mouth area, while boozak is quite similar to “beak” or “snout” in English—thus, the animal connotations make it harsher.

  • Shut your mouth.
    اَغلِق فَمَك.
    aġliq famak.
  • Get out of my face.
    اُغرُب عَن وَجهي.
    uġrub ʿan waǧhī.
  • Get out of my sight.
    اِبتَعِد عَن أَنظاري.
    ibtaʿid ʿan ʾanẓārī.

Here’s a particularly Arab variant of the last two phrases we just heard. This one pops up on lists of “untranslatable words” a lot, but in this context, the message is clear.

  • Go tile the ocean. (Lebanese Arabic)
    روح بَلَّط البَحر.
    rūḥ ballaṭ al-baḥr.
  • Get out and never come back! (Maghrebi Arabic)
    روح بَلا رَجعَة.
    rūḥ balā raǧʿah.

Here’s one last variant, this time from Morocco. Many people say that the Moroccan dialect is the hardest to learn, but one look at your face and everybody will understand what you mean with this phrase:

  • Go away!
    سير بحالَك.
    sīr bḥalak.

5. Blame it All on Them

Complaints

Something’s gone wrong in your life, and you’re not to blame. When another person’s bad decisions have really let you down, you can use these phrases to tell them how much they’ve messed up.

First, we’ll start off with a great pair of lines from Levantine Arabic. Even if you’re not very comfortable with the Arabic language yet, hopefully you can see the difference here and internalize it, because the meaning is quite important!

  • May God forgive you (for what you’ve done).
    الله يِسامحَك.
    Allah yisāmḥak.
  • May God NOT forgive you (for what you’ve done).
    الله لا يِسامحَك.
    Allah la yisāmḥak.

See the difference? One thing was acceptable enough for my prayer, and the other thing? Definitely not, and in fact, I hope it comes back to bite you!

Now for some more all-purpose phrases. First, some declarations of surprise at the sheer audacity of the action.

  • I can’t believe you did that.
    لا أَستَطيعُ أَن أُصَدِّق أَنَّكَ فَعَلتَ ذَلِك.
    lā ʾastaṭīʿu ʾan ʾuṣaddiq ʾannaka faʿalta ḏalik.
  • This is your fault.
    هَذا خَطَؤُك.
    haḏā ḫaṭaʾuk.
  • How could you do this?
    كَيْفَ لَك أَن تَفعَل ذَلِك؟
    kayfa lak ʾan tafʿal ḏalik?
  • I’m disappointed in you.
    أَشعُرُ بِخَيْبَةِ أَمَلٍّ مِنك.
    ʾašʿuru biḫaybaẗi ʾamallin mink.
  • What were you thinking?
    ماذا كُنتَ تَظُن؟
    māḏā kunta taẓun?

These next two phrases sound like a parent chiding their kid in Western culture, but in Arab culture, the concept of shame and dignity is quite different than you may be used to.

  • You should be ashamed of yourself.
    يَجِبُ أَن تَستَحي مِن نَفسِك.
    yaǧibu ʾan tastaḥī min nafsik.
  • You shouldn’t have done that.
    لَم يَكُن عَلَيْكَ القِيَام بِهَذا.
    lam yakun ʿalayka al-qiyam bihaḏā.

6. De-Escalate the Situation

Woman Meditating

Alright, take a deep breath here. I know you’re angry, but violence isn’t the answer. Here are some things you can try saying or doing to calm down and make up.

  • I don’t want any trouble.
    لا أُريدُ أَيَّ مَشاكِل.
    lā ʾurīdu ʾayya mašākil.
  • You’re right, I’m sorry.
    أَنتَ عَلى حَق، أَعتَذِر.
    ʾanta ʿalā ḥaq, ʾaʿtaḏir.
  • Tell me how you feel about it.
    قُل لي كَيْفَ تَشعُرُ حِيَال ذَلِك.
    qul lī kayfa tašʿuru ḥiyal ḏalik.
  • We don’t have to fight about this.
    لَيْسَ عَلَيْنا المُشاجَرَة حَوْلَ هَذا.
    laysa ʿalaynā al-mušāǧarah ḥawla haḏā.
  • I shouldn’t have said that.
    لَم يَكُن عَلَيَّ قَوْلُ ذَلِك.
    lam yakun ʿalayya qawlu ḏalik.
  • Let’s agree to disagree.
    فَلنَتَّفِق عَلى أَنَّنا لَم نَتَّفِق.
    falnattafiq ʿalā ʾannanā lam nattafiq.
  • This isn’t worth fighting over.
    هَذا لا يَستَحِق المُشاجَرَة.
    haḏā lā yastaḥiq al-mušāǧarah.
  • Calm down.
    إهدَأ.
    ʾihdaʾ.

Note: Most people hate being told to calm down in any language! If you don’t use this one at the right moment, it might really wind someone up. Speaking of which…

7. Re-Escalate the Situation

Kid Threatening Another Kid

Couldn’t de-escalate? Whatever. Now it’s time for some words and phrases designed to provoke—so you’d better be ready to back them up with action if need be.

  • Idiot!
    !غَبي
    ġabī!
  • Ugly moron!
    يَالَكَ مِن قَبيح مَعتوه!
    yalaka min qabīḥ maʿtūh!
  • Are you ugly AND stupid?
    هَل أَنتَ قَبيح وغَبِيّ؟
    hal ʾanta qabīḥ ūġabiyy?
  • You are a shoe! (Egyptian Arabic)
    إنتَ جَزمَة!
    ʾinta ǧazmah!

Thrown off by that one? Shoes and feet are considered particularly unclean in Arab culture, and so this insult is pretty low-down.

  • You are a donkey!
    إنتَ حمار.
    ʾinta ḥmār.

From Egypt, here’s a phrase that can come off as quite threatening in some contexts.

  • May your house be destroyed!
    يِخرِب بيتَك.
    yiḫrib bītak.

You should know that there are lots of things that don’t translate well between cultures. In Arab culture, calling somebody a liar or crazy is considered a big deal. You might think you’re just joking around, but these feelings go very deep into the culture.

In fact, a lot of these insults might sound pretty silly in English! But that doesn’t mean you can use them freely. Many people have lost friends over arguments stemming from “I didn’t mean it!” / “Then why did you say it?!”

So although some of these might seem fun to say, remember that as an outsider, you’ll never really grasp what it’s like to be on the receiving end of these.

8. Apologizing

So in that case, you should also be well-equipped with some apology words. We have a couple of different lessons on apologies in Arabic, so don’t forget to check those out. This section is just to cool you off after reading the rest of the article!

Did you go too far with your insults? Try these phrases.

  • I don’t know what came over me.
    لا أَعرِف ما حَدَث بي.
    lā ʾaʿrif mā ḥadaṯ bī.
  • I know that I hurt you.
    أَعرِفُ أَنَّني قَد آذَيْتُك.
    ʾaʿrifu ʾannanī qad ʾāḏaytuk.
  • I’m sorry.
    عُذراً.
    ʿuḏran.
  • Words can’t express how much I regret what I said.
    الكَلِمات لا تَستَطيعُ أَن تُعَبِّرَ عَن نَدَمي عَلى ما قُلتَه.
    al-kalimāt lā tastaṭīʿu ʾan tuʿabbira ʿan nadamī ʿalā mā qultah.
  • Will you forgive me?
    هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تُسامِحَني.
    hal yumkinuka ʾan tusāmiḥanī.

None of these is guaranteed to work, but if you’re lucky, you might just hear:

  • It’s no problem at all.
    لا مُشكِلَة عَلى الإطلاق.
    lā muškilah ʿalā al-ʾiṭlāq.
  • Forget it.
    إنسى الأَمر.
    ʾinsā al-ʾamr.

9. Calming Down

Getting Over a Fight

Everybody pretty much agrees that it’s not good to fight with others. If you’re angry, there are lots of things you can do to calm down instead. You can use these phrases to either invite others to calm down, or simply do them yourself.

  • I’m gonna go take a little walk.
    سَأَخرُج لِأَتَمَشّى قَليلاً.
    saʾaḫruǧ liʾatamaššā qalīlan.
  • Take some deep breaths.
    خُذ بَعض الأَنفاس الطَوِيلَة.
    ḫuḏ baʿḍ al-ʾanfās al-ṭawilah.
  • Try to see it from my point of view.
    حاوِل أَن تَرى ذَلِك مِن وِجهَةِ نَظَري.
    ḥāwil ʾan tarā ḏalik min wiǧhaẗi naẓarī.
  • Let’s come back to this in a few minutes.
    فَلنَعُد إلى هَذا بَعد بِضع دَقائِق.
    falnaʿud ʾilā haḏā baʿd biḍʿ daqāʾiq.
  • Let me try to forget about this.
    دَعني أُحاوِل أَن أَنسى الأَمر.
    daʿnī ʾuḥāwil ʾan ʾansā al-ʾamr.

You’ll note that a lot of these phrases can be applied in many situations, from the boardroom to your personal life. That’s because the sentiments of tolerance and understanding are recognized anywhere.

Last, here’s an Arabic idiom that means “You have no bad feelings inside of you.” Say this to remind people that it’s true.

  • Your heart is white.
    قَلبُكَ أَبيَض.
    qalbuka ʾabyaḍ.

10. Conclusion

You may be wondering, “Is that it?”

Arabic is ancient, Arabic is poetic, Arabic is beautiful, but doesn’t it have anything stronger than that?

Yes. Very much yes. But we didn’t want to print it here.

Members of ArabicPod101 enjoy many benefits—fantastic grammar explanations, vocabulary exercises, and a world-class podcast course.

And a bunch of dirty words.

Arabic curse words are vibrant and full of life, and if you really want to understand Arab culture like a local, you’ve got to know some of them.

Plus, after you sign up on our website and access the word list, you’ll be able to keep learning Arabic with the other materials, in the best way possible!

What’s your favorite angry Arabic phrase on this list? Feel ready to use them when the time comes, or to let someone know you’re angry in Arabic? Let us know in the comments.

Just remember to use your new powers of language responsibly. We’re not liable for any trouble you get into—and we hope that you use your fluent Arabic to navigate any tricky situation respectfully.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Arabic

Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Arabic & Beyond

Thumbnail

Language is really about making connections.

If you know how to chat with somebody about the weather or the food you’re eating, well, good for you. That might lead to an interesting conversation.

But when you know a little bit more about your target language culture, and you can pull out the right phrase for the right situation (like how to wish a happy birthday in Arabic), you show that you’ve gone beyond just knowing a handful of words.

And when that phrase is about some major life event, something that really has an emotional effect on somebody? That’s when you make a fantastic impression.

So that’s what this article is all about: the absolute essential phrases that you need in Arabic to show somebody that you care, no matter what they’re going through.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Table of Contents

  1. Birthdays
  2. Holidays
  3. Weddings and Anniversaries
  4. Babies
  5. Graduation and Academic Success
  6. Workplace Success
  7. Bad News in General
  8. Good News in General
  9. Conclusion

1. Birthdays

Happy Birthday

Although birthdays can seem like a big deal at times, there’s actually not a very solid tradition of celebrating birthdays in Arab culture. It’s not necessarily related to religion either—Christian and Muslim holy texts say little about birthdays one way or another.

Some people say that the lack of “birthday culture” is because Arabs tend to be very close to their extended families. In that case, getting a gift and going to parties for your scores of cousins would end up taking a big chunk out of your time and money every year!

That said, many Arabic-speakers do celebrate their birthdays, particularly those living in Western countries. If you’re invited to such a party, you should remember to bring a gift.

But what should you say? Don’t worry: you only really need one phrase of Arabic congratulations:

    عيد ميلاد سعيد
    ʿīdu mīlādin saʿīd
    Happy birthday!

It doesn’t matter whether you’re speaking to a man or a woman when you use this phrase. For something more poetic, try these two:

    كُلُّ عام وَأَنتَ بِخَيْر
    kullu ʿāmin waʾanta biḫayr
    May each year be happy.

    كُلُّ سَنَة وأَنتَ سالِم
    kullu sanah waʾanta salim
    May you be fine every year.

These are two very similar ways to basically say “and many more!”

2. Holidays

Basic Questions

Anyone with a little bit of knowledge about the Middle East and Islam knows that Ramadan is the number-one holiday of the year. Even if you’re not a Muslim, it’s impossible not to notice as stores close early, prayer calls ring through the streets, and businesses do their best to turn it into a shopping holiday. It’s celebrated at a different time each year, lasting one lunar month and leading up to Eid al-Fitr, the day of celebration.

As with every holiday, there are a lot of things you could say. Many people write cards with poetry or other intricate well-wishings. Here, we’ll just give you the one magic Arabic congratulation you need:

    رَمَضان مُبارَك
    ramaḍān mubārak
    Happy Ramadan!

However, there’s a lot more to religion in the Arab world than Islam, and therefore a lot more holidays than Ramadan. Christmas is widely celebrated, even by non-Christians, thanks to its prominence as an international Western holiday. In Egypt, it’s actually celebrated on January 7, as opposed to the December 25 you often see in other parts of the world.

    عيد ميلاد مجيد مبارك!
    ʿiīd miyilād maǧīd mubaārak!
    Merry Christmas!

The last of the major Middle Eastern religions is, of course, Judaism. Although Judaism is often associated with the Hebrew language, there are large communities of Arabic-speaking Jews in many countries as well, especially Morocco. The major holiday in Judaism is Hanukkah, celebrated in November or December each year according to the Jewish calendar.

    عيد هانوكة سعيد
    ʿiīdu hānūkkah saʿīd
    Happy Hanukkah!

3. Weddings and Anniversaries

Marriage Proposal

In Islamic culture, most people think of weddings a little differently than Westerners from a Christian or secular background might. Most wedding wishes in English are simply some variant of “Congratulations!”

But from an Islamic point of view, the wedding is the result of Allah’s guidance through life. And there are a lot of ways to say that. For that reason, these three common phrases all kind of translate to “Congratulations” and also kind of translate to “Praise Allah!”

ما شاء الله!
mā šāʾ allah!
Praise Allah!

سُبحان الله!
subḥān allah!
Thanks to Allah!

الحَمدُ لله!
al-ḥamdu lillah!
Allah is great!

There’s one more quick phrase of congratulations in Arabic that you can use for a wedding that explicitly acknowledges the event:

زَوَاج مُبارَك!
zawaǧ mubārak!
Happy wedding!

Yes, it may sound a little strange in English, but it’s a perfectly common wish in Arabic!

If you’d like to be more poetic, here’s a slightly longer phrase for weddings:

أَلف مَبروك لِلعَروس والعَريس عَلى زَوَاجِهِما السَعيد.
ʾalf mabrūk lilʿarūs ūlʿarīs ʿalā zawaǧihimā al-saʿīd.
Congratulations to the happy bride and groom.

Lastly, we’ve got one last phrase for another love-related event: the anniversary. Although it’s common and expected for people to bring gifts to a wedding, friends and family would only be expected to acknowledge “big” anniversaries like ten years, twenty-five years, and so on. Don’t worry—the couple will tell you, so you don’t have to remember by yourself!

عيدُ ميلادٍ سَعيد!
ʿīdu mīlādin saʿīd!
Happy anniversary!

4. Babies

Talking about Age

First comes love, then comes marriage…then comes a baby in a baby carriage!

In Islam, traditionally there’s no “baby shower” before the birth. Instead, the child is welcomed into the world with a ceremony called ʿaqiqah. This generally happens on the seventh, fourteenth, or twenty-first day after birth. There’s a sacrifice of a sheep or goat, the child’s hair is cut for the first time, and a large feast is prepared afterward.

As the child is already born by the time of this ceremony, the things people say are naturally slightly different depending on whether the couple has a son or a daughter, like so:

تَهانينا بِوِلادَةِ المَوْلود الجَديد!
tahānīnā biwilādaẗi al-mawlūd al-ǧadīd!
Congratulations on the arrival of your new beautiful baby boy/girl!

In this next phrase, you’re specifically addressing the mother. This is often seen in a card addressed to her directly.

لِلأُم الجَديدَة. أَطيَبُ التَمَنِّيات لَكِ ولِابنِك/اِبنَتِك.
lilʾum al-ǧadīdah. ʾaṭyabu al-tamanniīāt laki ūliābnik/ibnatik.
To the new mother: Best wishes for you and your son/daughter.

5. Graduation and Academic Success

Although more and more people are graduating from universities each year around the world, it’s still cause for celebration. Particularly in the Arab world, where economic development has made it possible for significantly more people to attend university now than ever before.

First, here’s a cute phrase you can use for a good friend when they’ve done well on some exam or test.

ما أَذكاك!
mā ʾaḏkāk!
Look at you, clever bunny!

More formally, for instance if you’ve already graduated but someone you know is still in school, you can use this phrase of congratulations in Arabic for graduation:

أَلف مَبروك عَلى النَجاح في الاِمتِحانات.
ʾalf mabrūk ʿalā al-naǧāḥ fī al-imtiḥānāt.
Congratulations on your success with the exams.

With such good exam results, a graduation is probably coming up! You can use this phrase in speech or in a card:

أَلف مَبروك عَلى حُصولِكَ عَلى الشَهادَة الجامِعِيَّة!
ʾalf mabrūk ʿalā ḥuṣūlika ʿalā al-šahādah al-ǧāmiʿiyyah!
Congratulations and happy graduation!

6. Workplace Success

Man Calculating Numbers at Work

A foreigner in the Arab business world is already going to be expected to work hard to not only excel at their job, but also to fit in culturally.

A lot of businesses in the Middle East work at breakneck speed already, and so if you know how to compliment your coworkers correctly, you’ll make great strides in assimilating into the company culture.

حَظّاً سَعيداً في مَنصِبِك الجَديد!
ḥaẓẓan saʿīdan fī manṣibik al-ǧadīd!
Best of luck in your new position!

Outside of moving up in the same company, people you know outside of work are naturally going to go on their own career paths. Here’s a phrase of congratulations in Arabic for success you can say when someone really nails the interview and lands a nice job:

تَهانينا عَلى الوَظيفَة الجَديدَة!
tahānīnā ʿalā al-waẓīfah al-ǧadīdah!
Congratulations on your new job!

Here’s a slightly more formal way to say the same thing, used when you might not know the person well. In that case, you’ll want to add on the actual name of the company at the end.

نَتَمَنّى لَكَ الحَظ الجَيِّد في وَظيفَتِك الجَديدَة عِندَ…
natamannā laka al-ḥaẓ al-ǧayyid fī waẓīfatik al-ǧadīdah ʿinda…
Best of luck at your new job at…

7. Bad News in General

Time for a brief downer section. If someone you know has received bad news, then you can reach out and comfort them with some heartfelt words. Of course, it will come off as a bit superficial or rude if you use stock phrases—try your best to modify these phrases to fit the actual situation.

Particularly when it comes to events related to death, religious people often use passages from holy texts. There are a number of resources online for Quranic quotes about life and death, and if you use them appropriately, the effort will be strongly appreciated in this trying time.

With that said, in this section we’ll stick to simpler Arabic condolences messages instead of direct scripture quotations.

Funerals

When somebody you know has lost someone close to them, a sympathetic card, letter, or even a phone call is the perfect gesture. Use these Arabic condolences to show your kind feelings.

تَقَبَّّلوا مِنّا خالِص التَعازي لِوَفاةِ المَرحوم
taqabbalū minnā ḫaliṣ al-taʿāzī liwafāẗi al-marḥūm
I am very sorry to hear of your loss.

قَلُبنا مَعَكُم ومَع عائِلَتِكُم بِما أَلَمَّ بِكُم مِن مِحنَة في هَذا الوَقت الصَعب.
qalubnā maʿakum ūmaʿ ʿāʾilatikum bimā ʾalamma bikum min miḥnah fī haḏā al-waqt al-ṣaʿb.
Our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

نُقَدِّم إلَيْكُم أَخلَص عِبارات التَعازي
nuqaddim ʾilaykum ʾaḫlaṣ ʿibārāt al-taʿāzī
Please know that we would like to offer our deepest sympathy.

Poor Health

Little Girl Sick in Bed

Naturally, in Arabic as well as in English, people would much rather send “get-well” messages instead of discussing the particulars of the illness. The standard messages for this situation sound a lot like their English equivalents.

These condolences in Arabic are what you’d normally write on cards to the sick person’s home or hospital bed.

تَمَنِّيَاتي لَك بِالشِفاء العاجِل
tamanniyatī lak bilšifāʾ al-ʿāǧil
Get well soon.

If your coworker is suffering from an illness and you’d like to send a message of support from the whole office, you can phrase it this way:

نَرجو لَك الشِفاء العاجِل. الجَميع هُنا يُفَكِّرُ فيك.
narǧū lak al-šifāʾ al-ʿāǧil. al-ǧamīʿ hunā yufakkiru fīk.
Get well soon. Everyone here is thinking of you.

In a more personal way, you can make a phone call or send a text, and say this phrase:

.أَتَمَنّى لَكَ الشِفاء العاجِل
ʾatamannā laka al-šifāʾ al-ʿāǧil.
I hope you make a speedy recovery.

8. Good News in General

And in order to end on a happy note, let’s look at just a few more phrases you can use for any kind of catch-all good stuff.

First, remember those phrases from the wedding section about praising Allah? Those are excellent for when something good happens, no matter what it is.

To be honest, these may seem super-religious to some people, but they’ve entered the Arabic language as set phrases and are used by everyone. I remember one time it took me a long time to order at a restaurant, and the impatient waiter said al-hamdullilah under his breath once I finally made my choice!

We’ve also seen the word mubarak a couple times. A related word is مبروك (mabruuk), or “blessed”, which comes from the root بَرَكة (barakah), or “blessing.”

So when something’s gone very well for someone, and you want the perfect Arabic phrase for congratulations, you can simply wish them mabruuk! To emphasize it, you can say:

ألف مَبْرُوك
alf mabrūk
A thousand blessings!

And if a thousand blessings aren’t enough to make them happy, nothing will.

Silhouette of Man Against Sunset

9. Conclusion

Although this article may seem comprehensive, the only way to really get a deep understanding of what to say and how to say it for different life events in Arabic is to get more experience.

Watch Arabic movies and read Arabic books—and check out the Arabic material here on ArabicPod101.com. Each episode comes with can’t-miss culture notes, so you’ll never be lost for words again.

Before you go, let us know in the comments what you learned today. Are there any life events or messages that you still want to learn? We look forward to hearing from you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Outstanding Arabic Shows on Netflix to Learn Arabic

Thumbnail

There are two things that make for a fantastic language-learning environment.

The first is people chatting naturally, as actual people do, without any kind of stilted usage meant for learners. No “How are you?” “I’m fine, thank you.” You want: “Hey, what’s up?” “Hey.” Or, you know, that in Arabic.

The second is to have something interesting to care about. If you’re not interested in what’s happening, and you don’t care which way it ends up at the end, your mind won’t be focused enough to really remember what you’re picking up language-wise.

Watching Arabic shows on Netflix—long and engaging—is seriously one of the best things you can do for yourself. And when you think of great television in 2019, you probably think of Netflix.

So what’s the deal with Arabic Netflix, anyway? Why should you take the plunge to watch Netflix shows in Arabic? Can you really learn Arabic on Netflix?

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Table of Contents

  1. Netflix Arabic Content: Why is Arabic Netflix Different?
  2. The Ten Best Arabic Netflix Offerings
  3. Hey, All of These are TV Shows!
  4. Using Dubbed Media in Arabic to Enjoy Another World of Content
  5. Be the First to Leverage Arabic Audio Descriptions for Your Learning
  6. Conclusion

1. Netflix Arabic Content: Why is Arabic Netflix Different?

Improve Pronunciation

Ever gone on a vacation overseas and fired up your Netflix, only to be told that what you were watching was no longer available because you’d crossed a border? Or discussed a great show with a friend abroad who wasn’t able to find it on their own Netflix catalog?

Netflix changes the shows available to different people based on their geographic location. This is because of different licensing deals, and this is also one of the reasons they’re producing original content—so they can get to distribute it to whatever market they want.

Unfortunately, the bottom line for you is that unless you’re living in an Arabic-speaking country or have VPN access to one, you’re unlikely to get the true and complete catalog of Arabic Netflix offerings.

But supposing you’re able to circumvent that problem, get an Arabic Netflix app, or simply gain access to the Arabic Netflix series… Here are what Arabic shows are on Netflix!

2. The Ten Best Arabic Netflix Offerings

1- The Writer (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

Imagine this: You’re a well-known novelist in your community, best known for writing books on crime. Then, mysterious things start happening around you that sound an awful lot like your stories. Is somebody being inspired by you in the worst of ways? Or are your books coming true for some unknowable reason?

Starting right off, the Arabic Netflix series The Writer will expose you to plenty of words and phrases related to crime, police, and investigations. It moves pretty fast, so don’t worry about rewinding or skipping around in order to follow what’s going on.

Ready to watch one of the best Arabic Netflix shows? Head to the Arabic Netflix sign in and prepare to binge!

2- al Hayba (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

If you’re not familiar with Middle Eastern geography, you may not realize at first that al-Hayba is the name of an area right on the border of Syria and Lebanon. But that’s where this story takes place, as a young, intensely motivated arms dealer comes to grips with the death of his brother while handling the conflicts in his community.

In a border region, people tend to be bilingual from necessity or just sheer force of habit. Native speakers of Arabic won’t have too much trouble following the dialogue that’s in both Syrian and Lebanese Arabic, but as a learner, you’ll have to work hard to understand the nuances of what’s going on.

If you’re serious about your Arabic-learning, Netflix Arabic programs like this are essential!

3- The Secret of the Nile (Egyptian Arabic)

So in Arabic, this series is just called The Grand Hotel. But that doesn’t fly too well in English since there’s already another with the same name—the Spanish series that this one was based on. In this plot, a man talks his way into the staff of a luxurious Egyptian hotel in order to investigate the disappearance of his sister, finding out quite a lot more about Egypt’s most powerful people along the way.

People absolutely loved this show when it came out. In addition, the Egyptian dialect used in the show reflects the high-society schmoozing that could only take place in a beautiful period drama production. When it comes to Netflix shows in Arabic, you can’t miss this one!

4- I Have a Script (Kuwaiti Arabic)

Here’s a social comedy Netflix Arabic TV series with a unique angle: It’s about a woman pursuing her passion for writing television scripts. If you have a dream, sometimes it might never come to fruition without some big event that pushes you to make a leap of faith. In this show, that event is a death in the family—enough to give anyone pause about what they’re doing with their own life.

5- Black Crows (Various Dialects)

This one is intense.

Black Crows tells the story of women living under the rule of the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria. It’s not a documentary, but rather a Sopranos-style look at the lives of a slave, an undercover journalist, child soldiers, and a woman who was recruited because of ISIS propaganda.

The thirty-episode Arabic Netflix series was released during Ramadan, and only a few episodes in, the actresses involved began to get death threats from the real ISIS for the show’s strongly anti-Islamic State viewpoint. Fortunately, none of the threats have materialized into any kind of real danger, but it certainly lends an incredible sense of realism to watching the series.

Be sure to watch this show with Netflix subtitles (Arabic) for the best learning results!

6- Justice (Emirati Arabic, MSA)

This series from the United Arab Emirates is a fascinating legal drama about Farah, an ambitious lawyer who has just returned home with an American law degree. Her father is already one of the most successful lawyers in the whole UAE and, naturally, he has big plans for his daughter. But her plans don’t necessarily fall in line—and in fact, she aims to carve a new path for women in law.

This Arabic series on Netflix isn’t necessarily a courtroom drama, so you won’t be spending every episode hearing from witnesses and defendants. But at the same time, it’s a great, detailed look at the legal system in a country you might not know much about in the first place.

7- What If? (Kuwaiti Arabic)

Another Ramadan series from 2019, and of the best Arabic Netflix series for learners, this show is about four young people at a crossroads in life. This show actually sparked a bit of controversy because of a single scene in which a woman gives a kiss to a man as she breaks up with him. The fact that this caused a stir on social media should clue you in to what kind of standards are usually upheld in Ramadan series. Nevertheless, the Arabic Netflix series still remains quite popular.

8- Jinn (Multiple Dialects)

Jinn was Netflix’s very first Arabic-language original series. It broke ground in more ways than one, as it’s one of very few Arabic series that focuses on the lives of teenagers instead of adults. The teenagers in the story find themselves tasked with the heavy burden of understanding and investigating the malevolent jinn (a type of spirit in classical Arabic mythology capable of possessing people) in their midst.

Also, because of the multiple dialects, you may find it useful to watch it with Netflix subtitles (Arabic). If you’re up to the challenge, head over to the Arabic Netflix sign in to watch!

9- Hidden Worlds (Egyptian Arabic)

This is a very interesting Arabic show on Netflix when examined in its larger cultural context. The story is about a journalist investigating corruption and finding that the evidence from a murder case points to bigger problems in society as a whole. It even stars the famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam. You might not recognize him, but call up an Egyptian friend and they certainly will.

However, the show is clearly influenced by a particular set of cultural norms and, overall, may be rather shocking to some viewers in the opinions it holds. Watch it critically, or take it as it is: both are good options for your Arabic learning.

10- In the Bosom of a Thorn (Kuwaiti Arabic)

In the year 1990, Kuwait was invaded by the Iraqi Army, triggering the Gulf War. This dramatic Arabic Netflix show tells the story of a baby who was separated from her family during that time and, years later as an adult, must try to make it home to find her mother. It’s not all heartbreaking and it’s not all funny either; this show has a large cast of characters that are more complex than you might realize at first.

3. Hey, All of These are TV Shows!

Best Ways to Learn

You’re right! The thing about using native media to learn another language is that TV shows are actually better than movies for that goal. Thus, to learn Arabic, Netflix TV shows should your first choice.

In a movie, you’ve got two, maybe three hours of story to deal with. There’s going to be action scenes, suspenseful silences, and long, loving gazes. That’s great for cinema, but less great for learning.

TV lets you get used to a relatively small cast over many more hours. You’re likely to hear similar references and turns of phrase over and over, reinforcing your learning each time.

What’s interesting about Arabic TV shows compared to others is that the highest-quality ones are often made to be binge-watched.

During Ramadan, it’s a tradition to follow a particular TV special every day during the entire holy month. Some specials are produced to have exactly as many episodes as that year’s Ramadan has days, while others gamble a bit and make their shows longer or shorter.

Thanks to Netflix’s expansion into the Arabic-speaking market, they’re happy to purchase and distribute Ramadan specials each year.

All this said, if you’re still more of a movie person, we have another article on the best Arabic movies that you can check out!

4. Using Dubbed Media in Arabic to Enjoy Another World of Content

Okay, we just said that TV shows are better than movies for learning. And we’re not taking that back. But if you have a movie from childhood that you’ve watched a zillion times and practically know by heart, you may just have a chance to watch it in Arabic right now.

At the time of this writing, classic animated films like Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, The Bee Movie, and the sequels to Shrek and Madagascar are all available on Netflix with Modern Standard Arabic audio in some regions like Egypt or the UK. Using Netflix Arabic subtitles can be a useful addition to your learning, especially when it comes to movies you already love! This also makes it more than worth the Arabic Netflix price (and you get thirty days free, anyway…).

And of course, there are dubbed shows as well. Most of them are kids’ shows like Puffin Rock and Peppa Pig (with plenty of cartoons for older kids, too), but there are a handful of Netflix-distributed documentaries that come with Arabic audio tracks or Netflix Arabic subtitles.

Although the language used in kids’ cartoons might seem to be simple at first listen, you might be surprised at the range of vocabulary and grammar that they utilize. Just because they’re not describing adult situations doesn’t mean they’re not using the language correctly.

And besides, shows or movies that come from a Western cultural background are probably going to be easier to understand for Westerners because they share the same general principles of narrative structure or cultural references. Using Netflix Arabic subtitles with these movies is a great way to ease yourself into Arabic media if the shows on this list are too advanced for you at the moment.

5. Be the First to Leverage Arabic Audio Descriptions for Your Learning

Another cool thing about Netflix?

If you take a look at some of the most popular TV shows and movies on Netflix, you can see that there’s a second audio track beyond all the dubbed tracks. It’s an “audio description,” meaning that there’s a narrator talking between the lines of dialogue to let you know what’s happening on the screen.

This is extremely useful for language learners.

For example, when you see someone open a refrigerator and there’s nothing to eat, chances are they’re not going to say “The fridge is empty.” So you won’t know how that’s expressed naturally in Arabic until you look it up.

But with an audio description, the seamless narration will fill that tiny gap in the audio, saying exactly what happens. You not only get more Arabic exposure per minute of TV show, you get to learn how everyday things are described by native speakers. It’s immersion turned up to eleven.

As of this writing, there’s just one thing on Netflix that has an audio description in Arabic. It’s Justice, the legal drama mentioned earlier, and the narrator speaks MSA. In order to turn it on, you need to have your account language set to Arabic in the settings.

However, the more viewers turn on that audio description, the more Netflix’s algorithms report that such a thing is popular, meaning that they’re likely to invest more into that type of feature. In regions where Netflix has been around for longer, there are tons of audio description tracks available already for all kinds of shows.

6. Conclusion

As you can see, Netflix is the single biggest platform where you can watch the highest-quality Arabic shows today. This year, there were four big Ramadan releases on Netflix. Next year? The year after that?

An investment in Netflix isn’t for everyone, particularly with the region blocking that goes on (or in some cases, the Arabic Netflix price). But even right now, you can utilize the original series and the dubbed content to get your Arabic media fix, meaning that going ahead to the Arabic Netflix sign in may still be worth your time and money.

The point of using native media to boost your learning is to let yourself escape into another world, driven by another language. When you really want to find out what happens, you’re going to ignore the language difficulties you have and focus on meaning.

That’s when the learning happens.

What did you think about our list of Arabic Netflix shows? Want even more? Check these out, too:

Are there any Arabic Netflix shows we missed that you think are worth mentioning? Let us know in the comments!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

Your Ultimate Language Guide to Arabic Conjunctions

Thumbnail

When you consider studying a new language, you never really think about all the little bits and pieces you have to learn. For instance, the “conjunction” meaning in Arabic.

Arabic learners think longingly of the beautiful script, the challenging sounds, and the rich literary vocabulary. Mastering all the uses of how to say “and” ranks pretty low on people’s lists.

But here’s the thing—you can change your mindset about this. You can treat these little bits of grammar as stepping stones to producing elegant and elaborate language.

And longer, complex sentences actually tend to be more regular than shorter sentences, which makes sense. More frequent things get repeated so much that the irregularities become natural, while more complicated things have to be built from rules each time.

All that to say, when you master Arabic conjunctions, you’ll immediately be able to speak about the world in way more detail. Thus, in Arabic grammar, conjunctions may just be one of the most essential things you learn. Let’s find out why.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Table of Contents

  1. What Do Conjunctions Do?
  2. Conclusion

1. What Do Conjunctions Do?

Sentence Patterns

You already know that Arabic has a rich history of poetry, scripture, and literature. What you may not have been aware of is that it has a rich history of grammar, as well.

Ali ibn Abi Talib, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, wrote in the seventh century that there were three types of words in Arabic: names, actions, and particles. Modern linguistics may divide things into a few more shades, but you’ll still find plenty of people discussing the language in these terms.

Arabic conjunction words, being neither noun nor verb, fall into the “particle” category. It may already be clear to you why: The most common conjunction “and” is always attached to the following word in traditional grammar.

The point of conjunctions is also pretty simple to grasp. They simply connect words and ideas to show relationships such as cause and effect, sequence, and relatedness.

Or in simpler terms, they let you stop talking about the world in simple sentences and isolated terms, and open up a whole new universe of possibility.

To clear up any questions you may still have, let’s take a look at some examples of Arabic conjunctions in English, and a short Arabic conjunctions list.

Man Studying Vocabulary

Giving Extra Information

We’ve already mentioned one: the humble particle و (wa) meaning “and.” It shares some similarities to English in the way it’s used. There’s no hierarchy of importance, and there’s no implication of ordering:

  • Ahmad and Rania arrived at work.
    وصل أَحمَد ورانيَة إلى العَمَل.
    waṣal ʾaḥmad wa rānyah ʾilā al-ʿamal.

With this sentence alone, nobody can tell who arrived first, nor can you tell who is whose boss.

But Arabic has words for that, and here we diverge from English. There are two words for “then” that indicate either a short period of time or a long period of time between the two happenings.

First, فَـ is used when it’s not necessary to mention the length of time, or when one thing happens close after another.

  • I entered the room, then I sat down.
    دَخَلتُ الغُرفَة فَجَلَست.
    daḫaltu al-ġurfah faǧalast.

Now look at the word ثُمَّ which means “then,” and has the sense of a longer time delay.

  • She graduated from high school, then from university.
    تَخَرَّجتُ في المَدرَسَةِ الثانَوِيَّة، ثُمَّ في الجامِعَة.
    taḫarraǧtu fī al-madrasaẗi al-ṯānawiّah, ṯumma fī al-ǧāmiʿah.

Another particle in the same vein is ليس (la) meaning “not.” When saying that one person did a thing, but not somebody else, you don’t need to include the verb a second time.

  • Adil was late, not Hamid.
    عادِل تَأَخَّر, لَيْسَ حامِد.
    ʿādil taʾaḫḫar, laysa ḥāmid.

Similarly, the word لَكِنْ (lakin) meaning “but” fits into the same pattern, where you just need a single word after the preposition.

  • The car wasn’t stolen but the bike (was).
    السَيّارَة لَم تُسرَق, لَكِن الدَرّاجَة سُرِقَت.
    al-sayyārah lam tusraq, lakin al-darrāǧah suriqat.

In fact, there are two ways to do this, and here’s the other: بالأحرى bil’ahra meaning “rather.” You can think of it not necessarily as negating the previous mentioned thing (though it can perform this function), but instead it adds clarifying detail.

  • I visited Egypt, or rather, Luxor.
    لَقَد زُرتُ مِصر, أَوْ بِالأَحرى, الأُقصُر.
    laqad zurtu miṣr, ʾaw bilʾaḥrā, al-ʾuqṣur.

Showing Cause and Effect

Improve Listening

So far, we’ve covered some of the most common Arabic coordinating conjunctions, which connect two similar things together. Now, though, we’ll look at Arabic subordinating conjunctions, which connect one idea to a closely related idea.

You can think of it like this: Coordinating conjunctions in Arabic connect two ideas that could stand alone if necessary, while subordinating conjunctions connect ideas that are so close-knit as to require each other to exist.

And one of the most common ways that this relationship can manifest is in cause and effect, also known as conditionals.

(in) إِن is one Arabic word for “if.” It always comes at the beginning of the sentence.

This word is used for simple if-then statements about the present time, and therefore, it’s always followed by a present-tense verb. It’s for things you’re sure about.

  • If you sleep late, you will miss the exam.
    إن نِمتَ مُتأَخِّراً, سَوْفَ تَتَغَيَّب عَن الإمتِحان.
    ʾin nimta mutʾaḫḫiran, sawfa tataġayyab ʿan al-ʾimtiḥān.

Woman Asleep on Study Materials

  • If we see him, we will talk to him.
    سَوْفَ نُكَلِّمُهُ إن رَأَيْناه.
    sawfa nukallimuhu ʾin raʾaynāh.

As you can see, we can’t fully express this cause-effect relationship without directly connecting the two ideas together. Two separate sentences wouldn’t cut it here, in English or in Arabic.

لَوْ (law) is another word with a similar meaning. It’s used to talk about things that might possibly happen—hypothetical statements, in other words.

Similar to English, a past-tense verb follows the word “if.”

  • If I had more money, I would buy a boat.
    لَوْ كانَ لَدَيْ المَزيد مِن النُقود لاشتَرَيْتُ قارِباً.
    law kāna laday al-mazīd min al-nuqūd lāštaraytu qāriban.

Boat in Harbor

  • If I knew Spanish, I would move to Spain.
    كُنتُ سَأَنتَقِل إلى إسبانيَا لَوْ كُنتُ أَعرِف الإسبانِيَّة.
    kuntu saʾantaqil ʾilā ʾisbānya law kuntu ʾaʿrif al-ʾisbāniyyah.

Now we can move from hypothetical statements to actual statements of effects that were caused by something else.

لِأَنَّ (li’ana) is a relatively versatile word. In English, it sounds a bit off to start a sentence with “because” and then give the reason afterward. Not so in Arabic; we can place that part before or after the other part.

  • Because I have no money, I won’t go to the cinema.
    لَن أَذهَبَ إلى السينِما لِأَنَّني لا أَملُكُ أَيَّ نُقود.
    lan ʾaḏhaba ʾilā al-sīnimā liʾannanī lā ʾamluku ʾayya nuqūd.
  • He lives in Marrakesh because he likes the weather.
    نَّهُ يَعيش في مَراكِش لِأَنَّهُ يُحِبُّ جَوْ المَدينَة.
    ʾinnahu yaʿīš fī marākiš liʾannahu yuḥibbu ǧaw al-madīnah.

Unlike “because,” the Arabic equivalent of “so” which is لِذَلِك so, has to go in the middle of the sentence, just like in English.

  • He likes the weather in Marrakesh, so he lives there now.
    إنَّهُ يُحِبُّ الجَوْ في مَراكِش، لِذَلِك يَعيشُ هُناكَ الآن.
    ʾinnahu yuḥibbu al-ǧaw fī marākiš, liḏalik yaʿīšu hunāka al-ʾān.

Some More Notes on Wa

Improve Listening Part 2

Right at the beginning, we introduced و (wa) with the simple translation “and.” But that’s not really the whole truth.

You see, و (wa) is by far the most-used particle and most-used conjunction in the Arabic language. And as your Arabic level increases, you’ll note that you can’t easily translate it to “and” every time.

A simple و (wa) is frequently used repeatedly, where it would sound quite dull to English ears. Whole theses have been written on its use, but we’ll look at just one example.

  • Sulayman Al-Halaby was once walking along a street (wa) with his hands in his pockets when (wa) he stopped for a while to light up a cigarette…
    كان سُلَيْمان الحَلَبي ذاتَ مَرَّة يَمشي في الشارِع و كانَت يَداه في جَيْبِه و حينَ تَوَقَّف لِيُشعِلَ سيجارَة…
    kān sulaymān al-ḥalabī ḏāta marrah yamšī fī al-šāriʿ wa kānat yadāh fī ǧaybih wa ḥīna tawaqqaf liyušʿila sīǧārah…

Here, we see that wa is used twice in this rather literary sentence—once to show the change from “walking along a street” to “with his hands in his pockets,” and once that the translator has chosen to translate as “when.”

Man Lighting Cigarette with Burning Money

2. Conclusion

The subtle detail mentioned above, as well as the overall sense of when to use which conjunctions in Arabic, is really something that has to be picked up slowly over time.

A good writing tutor can go a long way to improve your own writing, but when it comes to a language that has such a deep literary tradition, your best bet is to do your best to work through it yourself.

The good news is that conjunctions are such a common part of language that every single time you read, you’ll expose yourself to a huge number of them. There must be dozens in English in this article alone!

By taking the time to understand Arabic conjunctions, you’ve stepped firmly out of the beginner stages of the language. Congratulations. And keep it up!

Which of these Arabic conjunctions are you ready to practice? Are there any you’re still struggling with? Let us know in the comments!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

Your Guide to Arabic Customs and Etiquette

Thumbnail

So, why exactly should you learn Arabic customs and etiquette?

Imagine for a moment two foreigners coming to your place of work.

The first one speaks your native language flawlessly—but they’re a total jerk. It’s easy to communicate with them, but it’s just words. You have no evidence that your message is actually getting through to their behavior.

The second has a moderate to thick accent, and sometimes there are things you have to ask them to repeat. But they fit right in with the work culture, and every time you’re able to communicate, things work out exactly as you intended.

Which one do you prefer? Someone who knows your language, or someone who knows your culture?

Since you’re reading this article, it’s clear that you’re interested in languages to some extent. And that’s great! It makes a big difference to speak to someone in their native language.

But actually being polite in that language—fully understanding the different cultural norms that might apply—is a whole new level.

And so we’ve got a great guide right here for any Arabic learner who wants to give a boost to their knowledge of language and culture in the Middle East. By the end of this article, you should have a good grasp of all the Arabic customs and etiquette you should as a tourist or newcomer.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Table of Contents

  1. Arabic Greeting Etiquette
  2. Arab Business Etiquette
  3. Arabic Table Etiquette
  4. Arab Etiquette for Sightseeing
  5. Arab Etiquette When Visiting Others
  6. Arabic Customs and Etiquette for Public Transportation
  7. How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic Etiquette

1. Arabic Greeting Etiquette

It literally all starts with greetings. If you don’t do what’s expected of you during the very first step, you’ll have a rough time recovering.

Fortunately, we have a whole separate article about greetings in Arabic.

For now, just one extra point:

If you’re seated when someone else enters the room, absolutely stand up. Your body language during a greeting is very important. Men should extend handshakes to other men, but don’t be surprised if they’re less firm than they would be in the West.

Shaking Hands

Very nice to meet you.
tašarraftu bimaʿrifatik
تَشَرَّفتُ بِمَعرِفَتِك

2. Arab Business Etiquette

Business

Some of you are, in all likelihood, preparing to use your Arabic on a business trip. Whether that involves having meetings or wooing clients, you should know what to say and how to say it.

Although local dialects and customs are quite different across the Arab world, there are many things that remain consistent. One of the most important is the exchanging of business cards, which has a certain ritual to it.

Your card should have your full department title on it, with one side in Arabic and one in English. Present it with your right hand (or both hands), and say:

Here is my business card.
tafaḍḍal biṭāqaẗu ʾaʿmalī
تَفَضَّل بِطاقَةُ أَعمالي

Exchanging Business Card

There’s also a sort of double standard that can exist for foreign business visitors—and I’m not even talking about the tendency for Arabs to keep foreigners waiting.

During a meeting, you may start to get annoyed if your interlocutor is constantly checking his phone or speaking to other staff. But that’s normal in Arab business culture, and you shouldn’t hold it against them. What you also shouldn’t do is imitate that behavior. As a visitor, you’re expected to have your full attention on the meeting.

Please excuse me, I have to take this call.
aʾrǧū al-maʿḏirah, lābud ʾan ʾuǧrī haḏihi al-mukalamah
َأرجو المَعذِرَة, لابُد أَن أُجري هَذِهِ المُكالَمَة

It’s quite alright.
kullu šaīʾin ʿalā mā yurām
كُلُّ شَيءٍ عَلى ما يُرام

Be prepared for this sort of exchange to occur, and you’ll handle it excellently every time.

3. Arabic Table Etiquette

Hygiene

When it comes to Arabic etiquette, dining is based mostly around body language. For one thing, the feet are considered dirty at all times, so you shouldn’t cross your legs (thus pointing the sole of your foot toward somebody else).

For another, it’s considered bad manners to refuse food from somebody else, particularly if they’re hosting you or paying for the meal. Once you’re full, you’ll have to use a phrase like this to do it politely:

Thank you, but I absolutely can’t eat any more.
šukran, lakinnanī ḥaqqan lā aʾsatṭīʿu ʾan ʾākul ʾakṯar min haḏā.
شُكراً، لَكِنَّني حَقّاً لا َأسَتطيعُ أَن آكُل أَكثَر مِن هَذا.

Man Who Ate Too Much

Of course, you should also return the favor to others. When you offer food, be sure to use your right hand (or both hands), as the left hand is considered unclean.

Here, try some of this. It’s delicious!
hā hunā, ǧarrib baʿḍan min haḏā, ʾinnahu laḏīḏ!
ها هُنا, جَرِّب بَعضاً مِن هَذا, إنَّهُ لَذيذ!

4. Arab Etiquette for Sightseeing

Thanks

With so many governments pouring money into tourism every year, it’s no secret that plenty of people are coming to the Middle East to simply see what it’s like.

One thing that Western visitors may struggle with is the etiquette around taking photos of mosques and Muslim worshippers. Entering a mosque may seem like a major event for a non-Muslim, but in many cases, it’s actually quite encouraged. No matter where you are, an educated and respectful visitor is a welcome guest indeed. Here’s what you should do.

Please take off your shoes.
ʾiḫlaʿ ḥiḏāʾaka min faḍlik
إخلَع حِذائَكَ مِن فَضلِك

Cleanliness is quite important in Islam, as we’ve seen, and as houses of worship, mosques are immaculate. If you don’t want to remove your shoes, stay outside.

May I take photos here?
hal yumkinunī al-taṣūīr hunā?
هَل يُمكِنُني التَصوير هُنا؟

Like churches in Europe, most mosques in the Middle East are perfectly okay with visitors taking photos. Be respectful as you do it, especially if you have a noisy camera. Some mosques will allow tripods, and some won’t—simply point to the tripod, if you have it, as you ask the question.

Unless you’ve specifically asked the individuals beforehand, don’t take photos of people praying or cleaning themselves. These are highly personal moments and aren’t done for performance.

When you’ve finished, it’s good etiquette in Arabic-speaking countries to extend a heartfelt thank you—and perhaps a compliment—as you leave.

Thank you very much. This place is beautiful.
šukran ǧazīlan. haḏā al-makān ǧamīl.
شُكراً جَزيلاً. هَذا المَكان جَميل.

Naturally, there are places to visit besides mosques. At museums, for instance, you’ll certainly want to ask the same questions about photos. And one other phrase I’ve found very helpful at a museum (or any interesting site) is this one:

Is it okay to touch this?
hal yumkinunī lams haḏā?
هَل يُمكِنُني لَمس هَذا؟

Boy Looking at Painting in Museum

Although it can be an interesting experience to enjoy a museum without understanding a thing, this last phrase is probably something you’ll want to ask if your Arabic isn’t quite up to snuff.

Do you have any guides in English / in French?
hal ladaykum ʾayy muršidīn siyaḥiyyin billuġah al-ʾinǧlīziyyah / billuġah al-faransiyyah?
هَل لَدَيْكُم أَيّ مُرشِدين سِيَاحِيِّن بِاللُغَة الإنجليزِيَّة / بِاللُغَة الفَرَنسِيَّة؟

5. Arab Etiquette When Visiting Others

Bad Phrases

So remember when you visited the mosque and took your shoes off? Same deal here, except the stakes are a tiny bit higher; this is because at least big mosques have probably had clueless tourists visit before. When you see a rug (not if) you had better not let your shoes touch it.

You can, and should, bring a small gift, like honey, chocolates, nuts, or dried fruit. During Ramadan, dates are the typical gift to bring to others.

This is for you.
Tafaddal. haḏā lak.
تفضل. هَذا لَك.

Don’t be offended when the recipient rushes to put it away. It’s impolite in Arab cultures to open gifts in front of the sender. If you receive one, give them your sincere thanks:

How lovely! Thank you so much!
kam haḏā laṭīf! šukran ǧazīlan!
كَم هَذا لَطيف! شُكراً جَزيلاً!

While you’re being entertained, you should pay attention to your body language. The same things that signify “I’m having a bad time,” in the West—hands in pockets, slouching against chairs, general sullenness—are understood in the Arab world, but they’re taken much more personally as a sign of the host’s failure. Stay chipper and upbeat as best you can, and treat each interaction with respect.

When the evening is winding down and it’s time to hit the road, there’s one last moment for polite words:

I had an excellent time. Please do visit me someday!
alaqd ʾistamtaʿt biwaqtī hunā, min faḍlik qum biziīāratī yūman mā!
َلَقد إستَمتَعت بِوَقتي هُنا, مِن فَضلِك قُم بِزِيارَتي يَوْماً ما!

6. Arabic Customs and Etiquette for Public Transportation

Arab men will, without hesitation, offer their seats to women on public transportation, especially if the women are older. You should too!

Here, you can have my seat.
hā hunā, yumkinuki al-ǧulūs ʿalā miqʿadī.
ها هُنا, يُمكِنُكِ الجُلوس عَلى مِقعَدي.

If you’re not certain about whether you’re in the right place, you can ask the driver or someone around you. Remember, people you see every day on the street are unlikely to be able to reply to you in good MSA, so keep your ears open for similar words and pay attention to their body language.

Does this bus stop at…?
hal tatawaqqaf haḏihi al-ḥāfilah ʿinda …?
هَل تَتَوَقَّف هَذِهِ الحافِلَة عِندَ …؟

Two Women On a Bus

In the UAE and Dubai, there are some buses and metro trains with women-only sections. If you happen to be a man and miss the pink stickers and sit down anyway, you may hear:

Excuse me, you can’t sit there. That’s for women only.
ʿuḏran , lā yumkinuka al-ǧulūs hunāk. haḏā muḫaṣṣaṣ lilnisāʾ faqaṭ.
عُذراً ، لا يُمكِنُكَ الجُلوس هُناك. هَذا مُخَصَّص لِلنِساء فَقَط.

If you’re obviously very ill and there are no other seats, you may get a pass, but otherwise you’d better get up and respond:

I’m sorry, I didn’t see the sign.
ʾanā ʾāsif , lam ʾara al-ʿalāmah.
أَنا آسِف ، لَم أَرَ العَلامَة.

Pay attention to signs or announcements such as these:

It is forbidden to drink water on the train.
yumnaʿ šurb al-māʾ dāḫil al-qiṭār.
يُمنَع شُرب الماء داخِل القِطار

Don’t risk the fine!

7. How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic Etiquette

If this sort of article makes you nervous about traveling to new places, don’t sweat it. Nobody’s going to jump on you for making simple mistakes when in an unfamiliar area.

It’s just that being prepared happens to go a really long way. It changes minds and opens doors.

So right now, you can be prepared on both the language and culture fronts by checking out the additional Arabic material here on ArabicPod101, and you can make sure that there will be no surprises lying in wait once you arrive. You can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program, to learn more about Arabic customs and etiquette, along with the language, with your own personal teacher!

Until next time, let us know if any of these etiquette rules we went over are similar in your own country. Or are they very different? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.

Reading, Writing and Understanding Arabic Dates and Years

Thumbnail

Everybody knows that numbers are just no fun to learn in other languages.

I’ve had plenty of language teachers—fluent, expressive users of English—fall back on their native tongues when quickly counting out handouts.

Boy Frustrated with Homework

Sorry to tell you, but the numbers are easy. It’s dates you have to worry about. Especially Arabic dates.

Ever read through an article in a foreign language, and just mentally read the dates out in your head in English because you didn’t want to figure out how to really say them? Everybody has.

If you’re not used to reading numerals aloud in Arabic, check out our article on numbers in Arabic for a little bit of practice. It’s good to have a strong foundation in number-reading before you tackle date-reading; this way, dates in Arabic numbers will be much easier to pick up.

Table of Contents

  1. Reading and Writing Dates in Arabic
  2. Reading Years Aloud
  3. Reading Months Aloud
  4. The Week in Arabic
  5. Reading Days Aloud
  6. Putting it All Together
  7. Phrases You Need to Talk about Dates in Arabic
  8. Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Arabic

1. Reading and Writing Dates in Arabic

Weekdays

First, the easy part. How are dates written in Arabic?

We’ll start with just the numbers as they appear on paper. Don’t worry about how to actually read them out yet. Baby steps here.

Like most of the world, dates in Arabic format look like this: day/month/year. February 15, 2019, appears as 15/2/2019.

You’re likely already at least passingly familiar with the Arabic alphabet, and when you learned that, you might have learned about the numerals used by many Arabic speakers. In Eastern Arabic numerals (as opposed to the Western Arabic ones that we, confusingly, call “Arabic numerals” in English), that particular date in Arabic would appear like so: ٢٠١٩/٢/١٥/ (15/2/2019).

As you’ll recall, the Western Arabic numerals are widely used in the Arab world, but when the Eastern ones are used, they’re written left-to-right in running text.

All right, so far so good for how to write dates in Arabic. Let’s move on to reading things out loud.

2. Reading Years Aloud

Numbers

Okay, reading dates in Arabic.

Fortunately, as long as you can read numbers, you can read years.

Arabic numbers are read out with lots of “and”s, because as you’ll recall, numbers above twenty are read out with the tens place and the ones place, as follows:

خمسة وعشرون
ḫamsah wa ʿišrūn
twenty-five
five and twenty

تسعة وتسعون
tisʿah wa tisʿūn
ninety-nine
nine and ninety

Years in Arabic are read as if they were long numbers—so 1925 is “one-thousand nine-hundred and five and twenty”:

ألف وتسعمائة وخمسة وعشرون
ʾalf wa tisʿumiʾah wa ḫamsah wa ʿišrūn
one-thousand nine-hundred and five and twenty

Let’s try reading out two more dates for practice.

1956 (the year Morocco gained formal independence from France):

ألف وتسعمائة وست وخمسون
ʾalf wa tisʿumiʾah wa sitt wa ḫamsūn
one-thousand and nine-hundred and two and twenty

2022 (the date the World Cup will be held in Qatar):

ألفان واثنان وعشرون
ʾalfān wa iṯnān wa ʿišrūn
two-thousand two and twenty

By the way, things have been happening in the Arab world for a long time. How do we say BC and AD?

If you’re using the Gregorian calendar (more on that very soon), it’s not difficult at all. After the date, we simply add ق.م for BC and ميلادي (miladi) for AD. Of course, this is only for when you specifically need to distinguish between the two dating systems.

3. Reading Months Aloud

Months

When it comes to months in Arabic, it’s time to relax and savor one of the vanishingly few times that you can transfer your knowledge directly from English. Well, for now.

Take a look at this table and see how you like it:

English           Arabic (Gregorian Names) Arabic Pronunciation
January            يناير yanayer
February           فبراير febrayer
March           مارس mares
April           أبريل ebril
May           مايو mayo
June           يونيو yonyo
July           يوليو yolyo
August           أغسطس ʾuġusṭus
September           سبتمبر septamber
October           أكتوبر oنtober
November           نوفمبر novamber
December           ديسمبر desamber

These are so friendly and familiar because all Arab countries use the Gregorian calendar for official governmental business. When using this calendar system, how to pronounce dates in Arabic is so simple.

Where’s the catch? Well, you’ll still find other calendars (or the same calendar with different etymology) in other countries.

In the Levant, it’s still quite common for people to refer to the months by their Aramaic-derived names instead of the Latin ones. Here’s what those look like.

English           Arabic (Aramaic Names) Arabic Pronunciation
January           كانون الثاني kānūn al-ṯānī
February           شباط šubāṭ
March           آذار ʾāḏār
April           نيسان nīsān
May           أيار ʾyār
June           حزيران ḥazīrān
July           تموز tamūz
August           آب ʾāb
September           أيلول ʾaylūl
October           تشرين الأول tišrīn al-ʾawwal
November           تشرين الثاني tišrīn al-ṯānī
December           كانون الأول kānūn al-ʾawwal

You’ll also find the Islamic calendar in wide use in religious contexts, as well as more secular contexts in Saudi Arabia. It’s a lunar calendar, starting from 622 CE, so both the month and the year are quite different from the solar calendar. For most of 2019, it’s the year 1440 according to this calendar.

You probably already know the holy month of Ramadan—now it’s time for the rest.

Approximate English Meaning Arabic           Arabic Pronunciation
Forbidden محرم           muḥarram
Void سفر           safar
The First Spring ربيع الأول           rabīʿ al-ʾawwal
The Second Spring ربيع الثاني           rabīʿ al-ṯānī
The First of Parched Land جمادي الأول           ǧamādī al-awwal
The Last of Parched Land جمادى الثاني           ǧamādī al-ṯānī
Respect رجب           raǧab
Scattered شعبان           šaʿbān
Burning Heat رمضان           ramaḍān
Raised شوال           šawwal
The One of Truce ذو القعدة           ḏū al-qiʿdah
The One of Pilgrimage ذو الحجة           ḏū al-ḥiǧǧah

That’s a lot of months to keep straight! Don’t stress about memorizing them all right now—just be aware that they’re likely to come up at some point during your Arabic studies, and it’ll be good to understand them when they do.

4. The Week in Arabic

After all those months, you really can breathe a sigh of relief when you turn to the days of the week. The “first day” is Sunday, and the next four follow a simple numbering pattern.

Friday and Saturday get special names, but one might not be too unfamiliar to you.

English      Arabic      Arabic Pronunciation
Sunday      الأحد      al-ʾaḥad
Monday      الإثنين      al-ʾiṯnayn
Tuesday      الثلاثاء      al-ṯulāṯāʾ
Wednesday      الأربعاء      al-ʾarbaʿāʾ
Thursday      الخميس      al-ḫamīs
Friday      الجمعة      al-ǧumʿah
Saturday      السبت      al-sabt

You may have caught it – the word for “Saturday” is quite close to the English “sabbath,” as they both mean “day of rest.”

Man Relaxing

Speaking of rest, when’s the “نهاية الأسبوع” (nihāyatu al-ʾusbūʿ) or “weekend?”

Usually, Friday. In the Middle East, Friday and Saturday (or Thursday and Friday) are the official weekends when schools and offices are generally closed.

In other Muslim-majority countries, Saturday and Sunday are used as the official weekend, while there’s a long break at midday on Friday to allow everyone time to worship. This is the case in Turkey and Indonesia, for example.

5. Reading Days Aloud

If you’re a native English speaker, you might not have ever stopped to think about how we actually say the dates. And if you’ve ever taught English, you know how strange and arbitrary it can be. May 17? The first of August? September third?

Fortunately, saying dates in Arabic is super easy. Take a look at these three examples to see that as long as you know the numbers, you can say the dates too.

الأول من أبريل
al-ʾawwalu min ʾebrīl
April first

التاسع والعشرون من فبراير
al-tāsiʿ walʿišrūn min febrāyer
February twenty-ninth

الأول من فبراير
al-ʾawwalu min febrāyer
The first of October

As you can see, no matter how we write it in English, it’s the same pattern every time in Arabic! Number + “min” + month name. Simple!

6. Putting it All Together

Let’s take what we’ve learned so far and practice reading out the names of dates in Arabic.

When talking about today’s date, you’d use the phrase …اليوم هو (al-yawmu huwa) meaning “Today is…”

اليوم هو الثالث والعشرون من فبراير
al-yawmu hūwa al-ṯaliṯ walʿšrūn min febrāyer
Today is February 23.

Otherwise, you’d say …اليوم كان (al-yawmu kān) meaning “Today was…”

اليوم كان الثالث من أكتوبر
al-yawmu kāna al-ṯaliṯ min oktobar
Today was October 3.

Next, you say the day of the week (optional, naturally), the number, and the month.

اليوم كان الثلاثاء, الثامن عشر من أبريل
al-yawmu kāna al-ṯulāṯāʾ, al-ṯāmin ʿašr min ʾebrīl
Today was Tuesday, the 18th of April.

Next comes the phrase من العام (min al-ʿām) which means “in the year.” And finally, the year.

اليوم هو السبت, الثالث والعشرون من فبراير من العام ألفين وتسعة عشر
al-yawmu hūwa al-sabt, al-ṯaliṯ walʿišrūn min febrāyer min al-ʿām ʾalfayn watsiʿat ʿašar
Today is Saturday, February 23, 2019.

7. Phrases You Need to Talk about Dates in Arabic

Now, how do people actually talk about dates in real life? Let’s look at a couple of phrases to answer that very question.

First, how do we handle concepts such as “next” and “last” when talking about dates?

هل يمكننا اللقاء يوم الثلاثاء المقبل؟
hal yumkinunā al-liqāʾ yawm al-ṯulāṯāʾ al-muqbil?
Can we meet next Tuesday?

ذهبت إلى روما الشهر الماضي
ḏahabtu ʾilā romā al-šahr al-māḍī
I went to Rome last month.

And of course, no matter how often you check your phone for the date and time, you’ll always need to be able to talk to somebody else about the date.

أي يوم هو الغد؟
ʾayyu yawm hūwa al-ġad?
What day is it tomorrow?

في أي يوم يبدأ رمضان هذه السنة؟
fī ʾay yawm yabdaʾ ramaḍān haḏihi al-sanah?
What day does Ramadan start this year?

يبدأ رمضان يوم الأحد في الخامس من مايو.
yabdaʾ ramaḍān yawm al-ʾaḥad fī al-ḫāms min māyo.
Ramadan starts on Sunday, May 5.

8. Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic

Woman with Glasses Reading a Book

Did you find our Arabic dates article useful? Do you feel more confident about dates in Arabic writing and speech? Why not practice by dropping us a comment below with today’s date in Arabic? We look forward to hearing from you.

Like any other challenging aspect of language learning, it really just takes practice to get past obstacles like dates in Arabic.

That means when you see dates written down in the text, make a conscious effort to read them aloud instead of skipping over them (or reading them in your head in English). Seriously, put in the work just a handful of times, and it’ll become much easier immediately.

One other good trick is to turn whatever numbers you see into dates. What about car license plates? How many of those do you see on your daily commute? Even if there are only three spaces for digits, just pretend it’s ancient history.

The better your Arabic vocabulary in general, the better your command of dates. This minimal active study combined with your other regular Arabic studies really goes a long way toward building that sort of automatic feeling in your head with Arabic. And it doesn’t matter what day it is—that feeling is a good feeling any time.

In short, with enough hard work and practice, even the toughest aspects of the Arabic language will become second-nature to you. And ArabicPod101.com is here to help you every step of your language-learning journey! If you want to learn Arabic from a native speaker, you can upgrade your account and take advantage of our MyTeacher program for an even more accelerated approach to learning.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Arabic

Understanding and Talking About Family in Arabic

Thumbnail

No matter what culture you visit, you’ll likely learn that the way other people think of family is completely different from how you do.

When you speak in your native language about your own family, you’re drawing on many years of ingrained cultural knowledge that shapes what you’re likely to share and what you’re likely to keep private. This cultural influence may even affect the way you present that knowledge.

But if you use another language to talk about your own family, like if you speak about your family in Arabic, you may sometimes find that it doesn’t quite line up. Certain phrases you expect to use aren’t there, and the person you’re speaking with may have a very different expectation of what you’re going to communicate.

All that to say: In order to take your Arabic studies to the next level, you’d better work on getting your knowledge about families in Arabic up to par.

You’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll read up on the following topics about family in Arabic:

  • Members of the family in Arabic
  • Describing your family in Arabic
  • How to talk about your family in Arabic effectively
  • Quotes about family in Arabic

But first, what is the family in Arabic cultures?

Table of Contents

  1. What a Family is in Arabic Culture
  2. The Nuclear Family in Arabic
  3. The Extended Family in Arabic
  4. What Marriage Does to the Words About Family
  5. Expressions About the Family
  6. How ArabicPod101 Can Teach You All You Need to Know About Arabic

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Family Phrases in Arabic

1. What a Family is in Arabic Culture

Family Words

Learning the words you need in a foreign language is one thing. But if you want to use them well, you’ve got to learn a little bit about the culture you’ll be in.

Although the name “Arab countries” covers quite a few very different regions, there are certain family values that tend to hold constant across the lines of culture.

People are loyal to their families in Arabic culture, thus the idea of family above all in Arabic countries. Every year during the Eid al-Fitr holiday, huge extended families unite for a celebration. Beyond just hanging out, though, people are expected to side with their families in disagreements, as well as help out family members in need, at the drop of a hat.

These connections hold strong across generations. Elders are consulted on matters large and small, and children begin imitating their parents at a young age. Children are expected to live with their parents until they start families of their own.

As you can imagine, the classical (and thus the modern standard) language has many unique terms to represent this very different way of looking at the family compared to what we’re used to in the West. Let’s begin with something not too far away.

2. The Nuclear Family in Arabic

Parent Phrases

The word أسرة (usrah) means your closest family, or what we often term the “immediate family” in English.

Here’s some family vocabulary Arabic people use for immediate family in Arabic-speaking countries:

English           Arabic           Pronunciation
Brother           أخ           ʾaḫ
Sister           أخت           ʾuḫt
Mother           أم           ʾum
Father           أب           ʾabb
Son           إبن           ʾibn
Daughter           إبنة           ʾbnah

Remember that you’re most often going to be speaking about your family, so here are a couple of phrases for just that.

My father is a doctor.
أبي طبيب
ʾabī ṭabīb

My sister is married.
أختي متزوجة
ʾuḫtī mutazawwiǧah

Like most languages, including English, there are formal and informal ways to say “father” and “mother” in Arabic. In English, this is like “father” compared to “papa.”

Where’s my mom?
أين أمي؟
ʾayna ʾummī?

My dad is really tall!
أبي طويل جدا!
ʾabī ṭawīlun ǧiddan!

The word for “parent” is والد (walid), which can, of course, be used in the singular, though it’s far more common to see it in the dual form: والدان.

My parents live in Cairo.
والداي يعيشان في القاهرة
walidāy yaʿīšān fī al-qāhirah

Arabic normally doesn’t distinguish between older and younger siblings, unlike some Asian languages which have separate words for “younger sister” and “older sister.” So just like in English, you’d add the specific age words to be more clear.

For “older” use الاكبر, and for “younger” use الاصغر.

My older brother is shorter than me.
أخي الأكبر أقصر مني
ʾaḫī al-ʾakbar ʾaqṣaru minnī

My younger sister is smart.
أختي الصغرى ذكية
ʾuḫtī al-ṣuġrā ḏakyyah

3. The Extended Family in Arabic

Grandparents with Granddaughter Going through Photo Album

So that about covers it for the people you grow up around. How about the عائلة (ʿāʾilah), the “extended family?”

The best way to explain it all is in another chart. Although Arabic doesn’t make that older/younger distinction, there is a difference between maternal and paternal aunts/uncles (though not grandparents). On the whole, though, it’s not too many Family in Arabic words to memorize.

English           Arabic           Pronunciation
Grandfather           جد           ǧad
Grandmother           جدة           ǧadddah
Grandson           حفيد           ḥafīd
Granddaughter           حفيدة           ḥafīdah
Paternal Uncle           عم           ʿamm
Paternal Aunt           عمة           ʿammah
Maternal Uncle           خال           ḫal
Maternal Aunt           خالة           ḫalah
Cousin on Father’s Side           إبن عم / إبن عمة           ibn ʿamm / ibn ʿammah
Cousin on Mother’s Side           إبن خال / إبن خالة           ibn ḫal / ibn ḫalah

As you can see, there are a number of patterns that start to become apparent pretty quickly. To go a little bit deeper, we can distinguish between male and female cousins by adding the word إبن (ibn) for men and بنت (bint) for women. Check it out.

My (female) cousin lives with her parents.
إبنة عمي تعيش مع والديها
ʾibnatu ʿammī taʿīšu maʿ waldayhā

I like to work out with my (male) cousin.
أحب ممارسة الرياضة مع إبن عمي
ʾuḥibbu mumārasatu al-riyāḍah maʿ ʾibn ʿammī

4. What Marriage Does to the Words About Family

Wedding Toast

Have you ever been to an Arab wedding, or at least seen videos? They’re big deals, full of formality and tradition.

It’s no wonder that the Arabic language would not only have many specialized words for the marriage ceremonies, but also that the way people refer to each other before and after marriage might change too.

Leading up to the wedding, we have:

English           Arabic           Pronunciation
Boyfriend           شريك           šarīk
Girlfriend           شريكة           šarīkah
Fiancé           خطيب           ḫṭīb
Fianceé           خطيبة           ḫaṭībah
Groom           عريس           ʿarīs
Bride           عروسة           ʿarusah

In many more conservative families, the relationship tends to progress immediately from “friend” to “fiancé.” However, in others, there’s space for the Western habit of having a relationship first.

After the wedding festivities end?

Well, there’s no neutral word for “spouse” in Arabic. One must either say زوجة (zawǧah) for “wife” or زوج (zawǧ) for “husband.”

Traditionally, a bride will move in with the husband’s family after marriage, and the parents of both the bride and the groom maintain close contact. The families are wed, not just the individuals; essentially, you’ve become a joint family in Arabic culture. Therefore, there’s a whole set of vocabulary in this sphere. Time for another quick chart.

Son-in-law           زوج البنت           zawǧ al-bint
Daughter-in-law           زوجة الإبن           zawǧatu al-ʾibn
Father-in-law           حمى           ḥamā
Mother-in-law           حماة           ḥamāh
Brother-in-law           أخ الزوج(ة)           ʾaḫ al-zawǧ(ah)
Sister-in-law           أخت الزوج(ة)           ʾuḫt al-zawǧ(ah)

5. Expressions About the Family

Family Quotes

And now for something that I think sheds more light on family relations in Arabic than anything else: idioms and sayings related to family life. This is a fun and insightful way of describing family in Arabic.

  • الأقربون أولى بالمعروف
    Your relatives (in need) are more deserving of your generosity.
    (Family before friends.)

The concept of “brotherhood” or الأخوة (al-ʾuḫuwwah) is something that you see over and over in traditional Arabic teachings.

  • I and my brother against my cousin, I and my cousin against a stranger.
    أنا وأخي على إبن عمي وأنا وإبن عمي على الغريب
    ʾnā waʾaḫī ʿalā ʾibn ʿammī waʾanā waʾibnu ʿammī ʿalā al-ġarīb
  • Without a brother, you’re like a person rushing to battle without a weapon.
    إن مَنْ لا أخا له كَساعٍ إلى المعركة بغير سلاح
    ʾinna man lā ʾaḫā lahu kasāʿin ʾilā al-maʿrakah biġayri silāḥ
  • Your brother is who’s honest with you, not who believes you.
    أخوك من صَدَقك لا من صدّقك
    ʾaḫūka man ṣadaqaka lā man ṣaddaqak

And finally, the love between a parent and child is eternal, a concept found in every language. Here’s what people say about that in Arabic:

  • When your son grows up, become his brother.
    إن كبر ابنك آخيه
    ʾin kabura ibnuka ʾāḫīh

And the Egyptian saying:

  • Only your grandchild is dearer to you than your child.
    أعز من الولد ولد الولد
    ʾaʿaz min el-weld weld el-weld

Grandmother Embracing Granddaughter in Field

6. How ArabicPod101 Can Teach You All You Need to Know About Arabic

Really, when it comes to something as important as family in Arabic, you can’t treat it with enough respect.

On the one hand, Arabs are famously welcoming to foreigners and will tend to let even relatively big language slip-ups slide as long as it’s clear that respect was intended.

But on the other hand, as I mentioned, family is such an important part of any culture that if it becomes clear you’re not making any effort to understand its significance, well, woe betide you.

I can’t help you be better at respecting things—but I can give you advice about learning things. And one of the best ways to make these particular vocabulary words stick is to find a nice long Arabic TV series and watch a couple dozen episodes.

There are a number of thirty-episode Ramadan specials filmed in Modern Standard Arabic that have enough family schemes and betrayals to make sure you’ll never forget the words.

When you get to that point, your Arabic family will welcome you with open arms.

But for now, we hope that this article on family in Arabic proved helpful to you. Did you learn anything interesting about the Arab family culture? Let us know in the comments! And while you’re at it, why not practice describing family in Arabic writing by writing us a family paragraph in Arabic? We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Also visit ArabicPod101.com to learn more about Arab culture and additional vocabulary. You can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program by upgrading to Premium Plus, so that you can learn Arabic with your own personal teacher!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Family Phrases in Arabic

How To Post In Perfect Arabic on Social Media

Thumbnail

You’re learning to speak Arabic, and it’s going well. Your confidence is growing! So much so that you feel ready to share your experiences on social media—in Arabic.

At Learn Arabic, we make this easy for you to get it right the first time. Post like a boss with these phrases and guidelines, and get to practice your Arabic in the process.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic

1. Talking about Your Restaurant Visit in Egyptian Arabic

Eating out is fun, and often an experience you’d like to share. Take a pic, and start a conversation on social media in Arabic. Your friend will be amazed by your language skills…and perhaps your taste in restaurants!

ʾAmīr eats at a restaurant with his friends, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

POST

Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

باكل في مطعم جديد في المعادي. (bākul fī maṭʿam ǧedīd fī el-maʿādī.)
“Eating out at a new restaurant in Maadi.”

1- باكل في مطعم جديد (bākul fī maṭʿam ǧedīd)

First is an expression meaning “Eating out at a new restaurant.”
Since there isn’t a definite article at the beginning of the phrase “new restaurant,” it’s implied that it’s an indefinite noun. You can add the definite article “el” for both words to specify a certain restaurant.

2- في المعادي (fī el-maʿādī.)

Then comes the phrase – “in Maadi.”
Maadi is one of the most popular areas amongst young people in Cairo. It has a lot of good restaurants and cafes.

COMMENTS

In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

1- مقلتليش ليه يا خاين! (maʾuletlīš līh yā ḫāyen!)

His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Why didn’t you tell me, you traitor!”
Use this expression to show, in passionate way, that you feel left out.

2- حلو؟ (ḥelū?)

His girlfriend’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Is it good?”
Ask this question if you would like to know more about the poster’s experience, and want to make conversation.

3- أسعارهم عاملة إيه؟ (ʾasʿārhum ʿāmlah ʾeīh?)

His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “How are the prices over there?”
This is another question about the restaurant that could keep the conversation rolling.

4- إللي ياكل لوحده يزور يا أمير! (ʾellī yākul lewaḥduh yezwar yā ʾamīr!)

His girlfriend’s nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “You’ll choke on food if you eat alone, ʾAmīr! (an Egyptian proverb)”
This comment uses a bit of cynicism, together with humour that could indicate that you feel excluded. The proverb means it’s more charitable, and probably more enjoyable to share food.

VOCABULARY

Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • باكل (bākul): “eating”
  • حلو (ḥelū): “good”
  • مقلتليش (maʾultelīš): “you didn’t tell me”
  • خاين (ḫāyen): “traitor”
  • أسعار (ʾasʿār): “prices”
  • عاملة (ʿāmlah): “doing (good or bad)”
  • يزور (yezwar): “to choke”
  • So, let’s practice a bit. If a friend posted something about having dinner with friends, which phrase would you use?

    Now go visit a Arabic restaurant, and wow the staff with your language skills!

    2. Post about Your Mall Visit in Egyptian Arabic

    Another super topic for social media is shopping—everybody does it, most everybody loves it, and your friends on social media are probably curious about your shopping sprees! Share these Arabic phrases in posts when you visit a mall.

    Munā shop with her sister at the mall, posts an image of the two of them in a clothes shop, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    بشتري هدوم مع أحلى صحاب. (bašterī hdūm maʿ ʾaḥlā ṣuḥāb.)
    “Buying clothes with the best friends ever.”

    1- بشتري هدوم (bašterī hdūm)

    First is an expression meaning “Buying clothes.”
    This is a very short expression in the Egyptian dialect meaning that you’re buying clothes.

    2- مع أحلى صحاب (maʿ ʾaḥlā ṣuḥāb.)

    Then comes the phrase – “with the best friends ever.”
    This expression, meaning “the best friends ever,” is usually used by girls on social media, often with heart emoticons after.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- كفاية خروج و روحي ذاكري! (kefāyah ḫurūǧ wa rūḥī ḏākrī!)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “Enough going out! Go home and study!”
    Use this expression if you’re old fashioned and want to sound like a teacher or a parent.

    2- بقالي كتير منزلتش أجيب هدوم. (baʾālī ketīr manzelteš ʾaǧīb hudūm.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “I haven’t gone shopping in forever.”
    Use this expression to share a personal experience, just to make conversation.

    3- شكله تحفة عليكي. (šakluh tuḥfah ʿalīkī.)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “It looks amazing on you.”
    Use this expression to compliment the poster on the clothes she wears in the photo.

    4- راح المرتب. (rāḥ el-murattab.)

    Her boyfriend, ʾAmīr, uses an expression meaning – “Your salary is gone.”
    This phrase indicates what the boyfriend thinks of his girlfriend’s spending habits. Use it wisely, as it could come across as criticism.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • بشتري (bašterī): “buying”
  • هدوم (hudūm): “clothes”
  • كفاية (kefāyah): “enough”
  • خروج (ḫurūǧ): “going out”
  • شكله (šakluh): “looks”
  • تحفة (tuḥfah): “amazing”
  • المرتب (َālmurattab): “salary”
  • So, if a friend posted something about going shopping, which phrase would you use?

    3. Talking about a Sport Day in Egyptian Arabic

    Sports events, whether you’re the spectator or the participant, offer fantastic opportunity for great social media posts. Learn some handy phrases and vocabulary to start a sport-on-the-beach conversation in Arabic.

    ʾAmīr plays with his friends at the beach, posts an image of the scenery, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    مافيش أحلى من الشمس و البحر و الهوا. (māfīš ʾaḥlā men el-šams wa el-baḥr wa el-haūā.)
    “There’s nothing better than the sun, the sea, and the fresh air.”

    1- مافيش أحلى من (māfīš ʾaḥlā men )

    First is an expression meaning “Nothing better than.”
    You use this to express how much you like something. It’s a lot like its English translation.

    2- الشمس والبحر و الهوا. (el-šams wa el-baḥr wa el-haūā.)

    Then comes the phrase – “the sun, the sea, and the fresh air..”
    This is a set combination that is used as an expression.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- الجو تحفة هنا يا جماعة! (ālǧaw tuḥfah henā yā ǧamāʿah!)

    His girlfriend, who is with ‘Amir, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “The weather is great here, my friends!”
    Use this expression to add to the poster’s comment about the perfection of the scene.

    2- هو ده الكلام! (huwwa dah el-kalām!)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “That’s what I’m talking about!”
    Use this expression to show your encouragement and admiration.

    3- اشتغلوا كويس و انبسطوا كويس يا شباب. (eštaġalū kuwayyes wa enbesṭū kwayyes yā šabāb.)

    His supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “Work hard, play hard, guys!”
    Use this expression to be encouraging.

    4- انبسطوا يا حبايبي. (enbesṭū yā ḥabāybī.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “Have fun, sweeties!”
    Use this expression as a warmhearted way to wish the poster and his friends a good time.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • مافيش (māfīš): “There is no..”
  • الجو (el gaww): “weather”
  • تحفة (tuḥfah): “amazing”
  • يا جماعة (yā ǧamāʿah): “you guys”
  • اشتغلوا (eštaġalū): “work”
  • انبسطوا (enbesṭū): “have fun”
  • كويس (kuwayyes): “good”
  • Which phrase would you use if a friend posted something about sports?

    But sport is not the only thing you can play! Play some music, and share it on social media.

    4. Share a Song on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

    Music is the language of the soul, they say. So, don’t hold back—share what touches your soul with your friends!

    Munā shares a song she just heard at a party, posts an image of the artist, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    الأغنية دي بتفكرني بالأيام الحلوة. (elʾuġneyyah dī betfakkarnī belʾayyām el-ḥelwah.)
    “This song reminds me of the good old days.”

    1- الأغنية دي بتفكرني (ālʾuġneyyah dī betfakkarnī)

    First is an expression meaning “This song reminds me.”
    Adding the pronoun “di” after a definite noun is like adding “this” before a noun in English.

    2- الأيام الحلوة. (elʾayyām el-ḥelwah.)

    Then comes the phrase – “the good old days..”
    This expression, which literally means “the good old days,” is used as a set expression that can’t be taken apart.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- دي من حفلة امبارح؟ (dī men ḥaflet embāreḥ?)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Is it from yesterday’s concert?”
    Use this question to ask for more details about the song in question.

    2- دي أغنية قديمة؟ (dī ʾuġneyyah ʾadīmah?)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “Is this an old song?”
    This is another question about the poster’s song to make conversation and get information.

    3- كئيبة أوي. (kaʾībah ʾawī.)

    Her nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “Very depressing.”
    Use this expression to give a personal opinion that differs from the poster’s.

    4- جميلة زيك. (ǧamīlah zayyek.)

    Her boyfriend, ʾAmīr, uses an expression meaning – “Beautiful, just like you.”
    Use this expression if you wish to compliment both the song and your girlfriend.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • أغنية (ʾuġneyyah): “song”
  • الأيام (elʾayyām): “days”
  • بتفكرني (betfakkarnī): “reminds me”
  • امبارح (embāreḥ): “yesterday”
  • كئيبة (kaʾībah): “depressing”
  • جميلة (ǧamīlah): “beautiful”
  • Which song would you share? And what would you say to a friend who posted something about sharing music or videos?

    Now you know how to start a conversation about a song or a video on social media!

    5. Egyptian Arabic Social Media Comments about a Concert

    Still on the theme of music—visiting live concerts and shows just have to be shared with your friends. Here are some handy phrases and vocab to wow your followers in Arabic!

    ʾAmīr goes to a concert, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    الباند دي جامدة موت! (el-bānd dī ǧāmdah mūt!)
    “This band is so awesome!”

    1- الباند دي (ālbānd dī)

    First is an expression meaning “This band.”
    The word “band” is the same in Egyptian Arabic: band!

    2- جامدة موت. (ǧāmdah mūt.)

    Then comes the phrase – “is so awesome..”
    This expression is not to be taken literally. Literally, it translates to “dead solid,” but it really means “awesome.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- معرفش بيعجبك إيه فيهم. (maʿrafš byeʿǧebak ʾeīh fīhum.)

    His girlfriend’s nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “I have no idea what you like about them.”
    Use this expression to show you are in disagreement with the poster about the band.

    2- المهم إنك مبسوط يا روحي. (el-muhem ʾennak mabsūṭ yā rūḥī.)

    His girlfriend, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “As long as you’re happy, love.”
    Use this expression to show your support for your boyfriend.

    3- ابقى احكيلي عن الحوار ده لما نتقابل. (ebʾā eḥkīlī ʿan el-ḥewār dah lammā netʾābel.)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Tell me about it when we meet up.”
    Use this expression to indicate that you’re interested in the topic and would like to know more.

    4- يالهوي! كل دي ناس! (yālahwī! kul dī nās!)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Oh, my God. So many people!”
    Use this expression to make an observation about the crowd at the concert.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • معرفش (maʿrafš): “I don’t know”
  • بيعجبك (byeʿǧebak): “You like it”
  • مهم (muhem): “important”
  • مبسوط (mabsūṭ): “happy”
  • روحي (rūḥī): “sweety/honey (term of endearment)”
  • يالهوي (yālahwī): “oh my God”
  • If a friend posted something about a concert , which phrase would you use?

    6. Talking about an Unfortunate Accident in Egyptian Arabic

    Oh dear. You broke something by accident. Use these Arabic phrases to start a thread on social media. Or maybe just to let your friends know why you are not contacting them!

    Munā accidentally breaks her mobile phone, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    موبايلي العزيز مات. (mūbāylī el-ʿazīz māt.)
    “My beloved phone is dead.”

    1- موبايلي العزيز (mūbāylī el-ʿazīz )

    First is an expression meaning “My beloved phone.”
    This expression personifies the phone as a good friend because phones are dear to young people these days.

    2- مات (māt.)

    Then comes the phrase – “died.”
    This also personifies the phone by saying that it “died” instead of “broke.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- أتاريني مش عارفة أوصلك. (ʾatārīnī meš ʿārfah ʾawaṣallek.)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “No wonder I can’t reach you.”
    Use this expression to make a comment for conversation.

    2- البقاء لله. (el-baqāʾ lillah.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Rest in peace.”
    Use this expression to be funny by also personifying the phone.

    3- المهم إن إنتي كويسة. (elmuhem ʾen ʾentī kwayyesah.)

    Her boyfriend, ʾAmīr, uses an expression meaning – “The important thing is that you’re ok.”
    Use this expression to show your support for your girlfriend.

    4- فداكي يا روحي. (fadākī yā rūḥī.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “As long as you’re okay, it’s not a problem.”
    This is another expression of warmhearted support.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • موبايل (mūbāyl): “mobile”
  • أتاري (ʾatārī): “No wonder.”
  • أوصل (ʾawṣal): “reach”
  • عزيز (ʿazīz): “dear”
  • مات (māt): “died”
  • البقاء (ālbaʾāʾ): “staying”
  • الله (Allāh): “God”
  • If a friend posted something about having broken something by accident, which phrase would you use?

    So, now you know how to describe an accident in Arabic. Well done!

    7. Chat about Your Boredom on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

    Sometimes, we’re just bored with how life goes. And to alleviate the boredom, we write about it on social media. Add some excitement to your posts by addressing your friends and followers in Arabic!

    ʾAmīr gets bored at home, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    قاعد زهقان. حد عايز يخرج؟ (ʾāʿed zahʾān. ḥad ʿāyez yuḫruǧ?)
    “Sitting here (all) bored. Is anyone doing anything today?”

    1- قاعد زهقان. (ʾāʿed zahʾān.)

    First is an expression meaning “Sitting here all bored.”
    The word “sitting” in Egyptian has an implied meaning of “doing something for a long interval of time.” So, Amir may not actually be sitting down.

    2- حد عايز يخرج؟ (ḥad ʿāyez yuḫruǧ?)

    Then comes the phrase – “Is anyone doing anything today?”
    Literally translated, this phrase is a statement. But, in Egyptian, you can use an affirmative sentence to create a question by changing only the intonation. It’s super easy!

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- تعالى ننزل شوية. (taʿālā nenzel šwayyah.)

    His girlfriend, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “Let’s go out for a while.”
    Use this expression to make a suggestion in order to help the poster.

    2- في ناس معندهاش بيت. احمد ربنا! (fī nās maʿandhāš bīt. eḥmed rabbenā!)

    His girlfriend’s nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “Some people don’t even have a house. Be grateful!”
    Use this expression to direct the poster’s attention to the fact that demonstrates their privilege. As long as you have a good relationship with the poster, and they understand that you’re not scolding them, this phrase is safe to use on social media.

    3- تيجي نروح القهوة نشيش؟ (tīǧī nrūḥ el-ʾahwah nešayyeš?)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Why don’t we go to the café and smoke some shisha?”
    This is another suggestion in order to help the poster.

    4- اقعد ارتاح شوية يا حبيبي. (ʾuʾʿud ertāḥ šwayyah yā ḥabībī.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “Sit back and relax for a bit, dear.”
    This is another warmhearted suggestion, also to help the poster feel better.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • زهقان (zahʾān): “bored”
  • عايز (ʿāyez): “I want”
  • معندهاش (maʿandahāš): “don’t have”
  • تيجي (tīǧī): “Let’s”
  • نروح (nrūḥ): “go”
  • القهوة (ālʾahwah): “cafe”
  • نشيش (nešayyeš): “smoke shisha”
  • شوية (šwayyah): “a little bit”
  • If a friend posted something about being bored, which phrase would you use?

    Still bored? Share another feeling and see if you can start a conversation!

    8. Exhausted? Share It on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

    Sitting in public transport after work, feeling like chatting online? Well, converse in Arabic about how you feel, and let your friends join in!

    Munā feels exhausted after a long day at work, posts an image of herself looking tired, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    آاه مش قادرة بجد! (ʾāh meš ʾādrah bǧad!)
    “Oh, I honestly can’t do this anymore..”

    1- آه مش قادرة (ʾāh meš ʾādrah)

    First is an expression meaning “Oh I can’t do this anymore…”
    This expression literally means “I can’t,” but it’s often used to mean that you’re fed up or very exhausted with something.

    2- بجد! (bǧad!)

    Then comes the phrase – “honestly.”
    Use this expression to show how serious you are about a statement.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- الواحد محتاج أجازة للأبد. (elwāḥed meḥtāǧ ʾaǧāzah lelʾabad.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “I need an eternal vacation.”
    Use this expression if you want to indicate that you understand how the poster feels.

    2- ربنا معاكي يا بنتي. (rabbenā maʿākī yā bentī.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “May God be with you, my dear.”
    Use this as a warmhearted blessing to soothe the poster.

    3- الشغل أهم حاجة في الدنيا. (elšuġl ʾaham ḥāǧah fī el-dunyā.)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “Work is the most important thing in the world.”
    This is a comment that indicates you take note of what the poster says, but feel that their plight is just part of life. Work is of the greatest importance in life.

    4- متتعبيش نفسك أوي كده يا روحي. (matetʿebīš nafsek ʾawī kedah yā rūḥī)

    Her boyfriend, ʾAmīr, uses an expression meaning – “Don’t overdo yourself, dear.”
    Use this expression to show your warmhearted support of and concern for your beloved.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • آاه (ʾāh): “oh”
  • قادرة (ʾādrah): “able”
  • محتاج (meḥtāǧ): “needing”
  • للأبد (lelʾabad): “forever”
  • الشغل (elšuġl): “work”
  • حاجة (ḥāǧah): “thing”
  • متتعبيش (matetʿebīš): “do not over do it”
  • كده (kedah): “like that”
  • If a friend posted something about being exhausted, which phrase would you use?

    Now you know how to say you’re exhausted in Arabic! Well done.

    9. Talking about an Injury in Egyptian Arabic

    So life happens, and you manage to hurt yourself during a soccer game. Very Tweet-worthy! Here’s how to do it in Arabic.

    ʾAmīr suffers a painful injury, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    لسه طالع من المستشفى. الحمد لله. (lessah ṭāleʿ men el-mustašfā. el-ḥamdu llh.)
    “Just got out of the hospital. Praise be to God.”

    1- لسه طالع من المستشفى. (lessah ṭāleʿ men el-mustašfā. )

    First is an expression meaning “Just got out of the hospital”.
    This expression literally means “going up from the hospital.” But, when “going up” is used with a destination, it means that you’re getting out of that place.

    2- الحمد لله. (el-ḥamdu lillah.)

    Then comes the phrase – “Praise be to God.”
    Muslims generally use this expression after an incident to show that they’re content with what God has given them, even if it was a bad thing.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- بطل شقاوة يا واد. (baṭṭal šaʾāwah yā wād.)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Stop playing around, boy!”
    Use this suggestion to show concern for the poster in a rough kind of way, typical to men.

    2- خلي بالك من نفسك يا إبني. (ḫallī bālak men nafsak yā ʾebnī.)

    His supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “Take care, my son.”
    This is a caring comment to show your concern for the poster.

    3- سلامتك يا أمير! (salāmtak yā ʾamīr!)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Get well soon, Amir!”
    This is the traditional wish for someone’s speedy recovery.

    4- قلقتني عليك يا روحي. (ʾalaʾtenī ʿalīk yā rūḥī.)

    His girlfriend, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “I was so worried about you, dear!”
    Use this phrase to express your feelings of worry and concern for your beloved.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • بطل (baṭṭal): “Stop (imperative)”
  • شقاوة (šaʾāwah): “playing around”
  • واد (wād): “(Egyptian slang for) boy”
  • خلي بالك (ḫallī bālak): “Take care”
  • سلامتك (salāmtak): “Get well soon”
  • قلقتني (ʾalaʾtenī): “worried me”
  • If a friend posted something about being injured, which phrase would you use?

    We love to share our fortunes and misfortunes; somehow that makes us feel connected to others.

    10. Starting a Conversation Feeling Disappointed in Egyptian Arabic

    Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned. Share your disappointment about this with your friends!

    Munā feels disappointed about today’s weather, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    لازم تمطر يوم الأجازة يعني! (lāzem temaṭṭar yūm el-ʾaǧāzah yaʿnī!)
    “Does it have to rain on the weekend?”

    1- لازم تمطر (lāzem temaṭṭar)

    First is an expression meaning “Does it have to rain .”
    This expression is in the affirmative form, but the intonation is that of a question.

    2- يوم الأجازة يعني! (yūm el-ʾaǧāzah yaʿnī!)

    Then comes the phrase – “on the weekend?.”
    Egyptian Arabic doesn’t have a specific word for “weekend”, so we use the word “holiday” instead. Also, weekend in Egypt and most other mid-Eastern countries is Friday through Saturday, not Saturday through Sunday!

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- معلش لسه في بكرة. (maʿleš lessah fī bukrah.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “It’s ok. We still have tomorrow!”
    Use this expression to try and encourage the poster.

    2- احمدي ربنا إنك لسه عايشة. (eḥmedī rabbenā ʾennek lessah ʿāyšah.)

    Her nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “You should thank God you’re still alive!”
    Use this expression to try and point out a positive to a poster.

    3- ممكن نروح حته مقفولة متزعليش. (mumken nrūḥ ḥettah maʾfūlah matezʿalīš.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “We could go somewhere indoors. Don’t be sad.”
    Use these phrases to be helpful to the poster by making a suggestion.

    4- تيجي عندي البيت نتفرج على فيلم؟ (tīǧī ʿandī el-bīt netfarraǧ ʿalā fīlm?)

    Her boyfriend’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Would you like to come over to my place and watch a movie?”
    This is another suggestion so as to be supportive of the poster.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • تمطر (tmaṭṭar): “rains”
  • معلش (maʿleš): “it’s ok”
  • بكرة (bukrah): “tomorrow”
  • حتة (ḥettah): “place”
  • مقفولة (maʾfūlah): “indoors”
  • متزعليش (matezʿalīš): “don’t be sad”
  • نتفرج (netfarraǧ): “(we) watch”
  • How would you comment in Arabic when a friend is disappointed?

    Not all posts need to be about a negative feeling, though!

    11. Talking about Your Relationship Status in Egyptian Arabic

    Don’t just change your relationship status in Settings, talk about it!

    ʾAmīr changes his status to “In a relationship”, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    أنا أسعد واحد في الدنيا! (ʾanā ʾasʿad wāḥed fī el-dunyā!)
    “I’m the happiest person in the world!”

    1- أنا أسعد واحد (ʾanā ʾasʿad wāḥed )

    First is an expression meaning “I’m the happiest person.”
    When you see the word for “one” in this context, it usually means “person.”

    2- في الدنيا! (fī el-dunyā!)

    Then comes the phrase – ” in the world!.”
    This expression is just like its English counterpart. You can use it to mean that something, usually a certain adjective, is at its maximum level and can’t be topped.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- أيوة بقه! (ʾaywah baʾah!)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Oh yeah!”
    Use this expression to show you are feeling frivolous.

    2- ربنا يسعدكوا. (rabbenā yesʿedkū.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “May God bring you both happiness.”
    This is a traditional blessing on the relationship.

    3- بحبكوا إنتو الإتنين. (baḥebbukū ʾentū el-ʾetnīn.)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “I love you both.”
    Use this expression to show you are feeling optimistic about the poster’s relationship.

    4- بحبك موت. (baḥebbak mūt.)

    His girlfriend, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “I love you like crazy.”
    This is a more passionate version of the previous expression of optimism.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • أسعد (ʾasʿad): “the happiest”
  • الدنيا (āldunyā): “the world”
  • أيوة (ʾaywah): “Yes”
  • يسعدكوا (yesʿedkūā): “make you happy”
  • موت (mūt): “death”
  • واحد (wāḥed): “a person”
  • What would you say in Arabic when a friend changes their relationship status?

    Being in a good relationship with someone special is good news – don’t be shy to spread it!

    12. Post about Getting Married in Egyptian Arabic

    Wow, so things got serious, and you’re getting married. Congratulations! Or, your friend is getting married, so talk about this in Arabic.

    Munā is getting married today, so she leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    فرحي النهارده و كلكو معزومين! (faraḥī el-nahārdah w kullukū maʿzūmīn!)
    “My wedding is today, and all of you are invited!”

    1- فرحي النهارده (faraḥī el-nahārdah )

    First is an expression meaning “My wedding is today.”
    The word for wedding in Egyptian literally means “happiness.” Context is very important!

    2- و كلكو معزومين! (w kullukū maʿzūmīn!)

    Then comes the phrase – “and all of you are invited!”
    You’re unlikely to invite everyone you know on Facebook to your wedding. People understand that this is just talk and that they aren’t really expected to show up!

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- ألف مبروك! (ʾalf mabrūk!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Congratulations!”
    This is a universal expression of congratulations.

    2- أخيراً! (ʾaḫīran!)

    Her nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “Finally!”
    Use this expression to show you were expecting the marriage and is happy about it.

    3- مبروك ليكو إنتو الإتنين. (mabrūk līkū ʾentū el-ʾetnīn.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Congratulations to you both.”
    This is a slightly more extended version of the traditional congratulations.

    4- ما شاء الله ربنا يخليكو لبعض. (mā šāʾ allah rabbenā yeḫallīkū lebaʿḍ.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “May God protect you both.”
    This is a warm blessing for the couple’s protection.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • النهارده (elnahārdah): “today”
  • كلكو (kullukū): “all of you”
  • معزوم (maʿzūm): “invited”
  • ألف (ʾalf): “one thousand”
  • مبروك (mabrūk): “congratulations”
  • How would you respond in Arabic to a friend’s post about getting married?

    For the next topic, fast forward about a year into the future after the marriage…

    13. Announcing Big News in Egyptian Arabic

    Wow, huge stuff is happening in your life! Announce it in Arabic.

    ʾAmīr finds out he and his wife are going to have a baby, posts an image of the two of them, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    مراتي حامل! ادعولنا! (mrātī ḥāmel! edʿūlnā!)
    “My wife is pregnant! Pray for us!”

    1- مراتي حامل! (mrātī ḥāmel!)

    First is an expression meaning “My wife is pregnant!.”
    The Egyptian word for “my wife” literally means “my woman”. The word for “pregnant” literally means “carrying”.

    2- ادعولنا! (edʿūlnā!)

    Then comes the phrase – “Pray for us…”
    This expression is in the dual form because he’d like people to pray for both of them as a family.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- يا رب ميطلعش زيك! (yā rab mayeṭlaʿš zayyak!)

    His nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “Let’s hope he doesn’t look like you!”
    Use this expression to make light fun of the poster.

    2- الحمد لله! (elḥamdu lellah!)

    His wife, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “Thanks be to God!”
    This is a common response to good news in Arabic.

    3- ربنا يقومها بالسلامة يا حبيبي. (rabbenā yeʾawwemhā belsalāmah yā ḥabībī.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “Hope she gets through it safe and healthy.”
    Use this expression to wish the poster’s wife a safe and healthy pregnancy and birth process.

    4- إن شاء الله هيطلع جميل زيكو إنتو الإتنين. (ʾen šāʾ allah hayeṭlaʿ ǧamīl zayyًokū ʾentū el-ʾetnīn.)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “With the grace of God it will look beautiful like you two.”
    This is a blessing specifically to wish the child beauty.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • مراتي (merātī): “my wife”
  • حامل (ḥāmel): “pregnant”
  • زيك (zayyak): “like you”
  • ربنا (rabbenā): “God”
  • السلامة (ālsalāmah): “safety”
  • حبيبي (ḥabībī): “baby (term of endearment)”
  • Which phrase would you choose when a friend announces their pregnancy on social media?

    So, talking about a pregnancy will get you a lot of traction on social media. But wait till you see the responses to babies!

    14. Posting Egyptian Arabic Comments about Your Baby

    Your bundle of joy is here, and you cannot keep quiet about it! Share your thoughts in Arabic.

    Munā plays with her baby, posts an image of the sweetie, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    تفتكرو هيطلع شبه مين؟ (teftekrū hayeṭlaʿ šabah mīn?)
    “Who do you think he will take after?”

    1- تفتكرو (teftekrū)

    First is an expression meaning “Who do you think .”
    This expression literally means “do you remember,” but in Egyptian Arabic it’s an idiom that means “do you think that….”

    2- هيطلع شبه مين؟ (hayeṭlaʿ šabah mīn?)

    Then comes the phrase – “he will take after?.”
    This expression is also an idiom. This verb+noun combination literally means “will go up like someone,” but it actually means to take after somebody.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- يتربى بالهنا إن شاء الله. (yetrabbā belhanā ʾen šāʾ Allah.)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “May you raise him felicitously with the will of God.”
    This is an old-fashioned, traditional wish for new parents about their newborn.

    2- هو مش كل الأطفال شبه بعض؟ (huwwa meš kul el-ʾaṭfāl šabah baʿḍ?)

    Her college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Don’t all children look alike?”
    Use this expression if you want to be humorous and frivolous.

    3- المهم ميطلعش شبه أمير هههه. (elmuhem mayeṭlaʿš šabah ʾamīr hahahah.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “The important thing is that he doesn’t take after Amir, haha.”
    Use this expression as a joke.

    4- جميل و شبهكو إنتو الإتنين ما شاء الله. (ǧamīl wa šabahkū ʾentū el-ʾetnīn mā šāʾ Allah.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “He is beautiful and he takes after you two.”
    Use this expression to show you are feeling warmhearted and appreciative of the baby’s looks.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • تفتكرو (teftekrū): “Do you think”
  • يتربى (yetrabbaā): “grow up”
  • بالهنا (beālhanā): “felicitously”
  • مش (meš): “not, don’t, isn’t”
  • هههه (hahahah): “haha (laugh sound)”
  • جميل (ǧamīl): “beautiful”
  • If your friend is the mother or father, which phrase would you use on social media?

    Congratulations, you know the basics of chatting about a baby in Arabic! But we’re not done with families yet…

    15. Egyptian Arabic Comments about a Family Reunion

    Family reunions – some you love, some you hate. Share about it on your feed.

    ʾAmīr goes to a family gathering, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    مفيش زي اللمة الحلوة دي. (mafīš zay el-lammah el-ḥelwah dī.)
    “Nothing is as good as this beautiful get-together.”

    1- مفيش زي (mafīš zay )

    First is an expression meaning “Nothing is as good as .”
    This expression is a lot like its English counterpart. Literally, it means “there is nothing like,” and it expresses how great something is.

    2- اللمة الحلوة دي. (el-lammah el-ḥelwah dī.)

    Then comes the phrase – “this beautiful get-together..”
    The phrase “beautiful get-together” is mostly used the way it is in English. In Egyptian, the word “this” comes after the noun.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- بجد و لا كلام و خلاص؟ (bǧad wa lā kalām w ḫalāṣ?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Really? Or is it just talk?”
    Use this expression if you want to make fun of the poster by questioning the honesty of their post.

    2- أكيد طبعاً, أكل تيتا مفيش زيه! (ʾakīd ṭabʿan, ʾakl tītā mafīš zayyuh!)

    His nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “Of course, there is nothing like grandmother’s food!”
    Use this phrase to express appreciation for your grandmother’s cooking skills.

    3- ربنا يخليكو لبعض. (rabbenā yeḫallīkū lebaʿḍ.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “May God protect you for each other(‘s sake).”
    This is a warmhearted blessing for the poster’s family.

    4- الأكل مع العيلة ليه طعم تاني. (elʾakl maʿ el-ʿīlah līh ṭaʿm tānī.)

    His supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “Eating with the family has a different taste.”
    With this expression, you’re saying that sharing meals with family is more pleasant than with others.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • مفيش (mafīš): “isn’t there, there isn’t”
  • زي (zayy): “like/resemble”
  • اللمة (āllammah): “get-together”
  • بجد (beǧad): “seriously”
  • طعم (ṭaʿm): “taste”
  • تيتا (tītā): “grandmother”
  • العيلة (ālʿīlah): “family”
  • Which phrase is your favorite to comment on a friend’s photo about a family reunion?

    16. Post about Your Travel Plans in Egyptian Arabic

    So, the family are going on holiday. Do you know how to post and leave comments in Arabic about being at the airport, waiting for a flight?

    Munā waits at the airport for her flight, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    باي باي قاهرة, أشوفك كمان اسبوعين. (bāī bāī ʾāherah, ʾašūfek kamān āusbūʿīn.)
    “Bye bye Cairo. See you in a couple of weeks.”

    1- باي باي قاهرة, (bāī bāī ʾāherah, )

    First is an expression meaning “Bye bye Cairo. .”
    The word “bye bye” is used the same way it’s used in English, but some people say “salam” instead. Cairo is Egypt’s capital city.

    2- أشوفك كمان اسبوعين. (ʾašūfek kamān āusbūʿīn.)

    Then comes the phrase – “See you in a couple of weeks..”
    This expression is used by people mostly when traveling to indicate that they’ll be away for some time. You can change the interval in the expression, but it’s more natural to stick with shorter intervals.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- يا بختك! (yā baḫtek!)

    Her nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “Lucky you!”
    Use this expression to show you are feeling a bit envious of the poster, in a nice way.

    2- خديني معاكي! (ḫudīnī maʿākī!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Take me with you!”
    Use this expression if you wish you could join the poster.

    3- تروحي و تيجي بالسلامة. (trūḥī wa tīǧī belsalāmah.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “May you return safely.”
    This is a wish for a safe journey.

    4- كلمينا أول ماتوصلي! (kallemīnā ʾawwel mātewṣalī!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Call us once you get there!”
    Use this expression if you wish the poster to stay in contact with you during their trip.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • أشوفك (ʾašūfek): “see you (said to a female)”
  • كمان (kamān): “also, as well”
  • بختك (baḫtek): “your luck”
  • خديني (ḫudīnī): “take me”
  • تروحي (etrūḥī): “you go”
  • تيجي (tīǧī): “you come”
  • توصلي (tewṣalī): “you arrive”
  • Choose and memorize your best airport phrase in Arabic!

    17. Posting about an Interesting Find in Egyptian Arabic

    So maybe you’re strolling around at a local market, and find something interesting. Here are some handy Arabic phrases!

    ʾAmīr finds an unusual item at a local market, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    حد يقوللي إيه ده؟ (ḥad īʾūllī ʾeīh dah?)
    “Can someone tell me what this is?”

    1- حد يقوللي (ḥad īʾūllī )

    First is an expression meaning “Can someone tell me.”
    The Egyptian Arabic word for “person” literally means “one.” The full expression is used when you need answers to something you don’t know or understand.

    2- إيه ده؟ (ʾeīh dah?)

    Then comes the phrase – “what this is?”
    This is a very simple expression that you’ll use a lot when you get to Egypt because it means “What is this?” Use it to ask about anything you don’t know or aren’t sure about.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- سفينة فضائية؟ (safīnah faḍāʾeyyah?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Is it a UFO?”
    Use this question to partake in the conversation with humour.

    2- مخلوق فضائي؟ (maḫlūʾ faḍāʾī?)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Is it an alien?”
    This is another humorous question to contribute to the conversation in a lighthearted manner.

    3- ده بيتباع فين؟ (dah byetbāʿ fīn?)

    His nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “Where do they sell this?”
    Ask questions for more details and to keep the conversation flowing.

    4- طب ما كنت تسألنا كده. (ṭab mā kunt tesʾallenā kedah.)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “You should’ve asked for us.”
    Say this if you are of the opinion that the poster should’ve asked someone else – for the sake of all the social media friends.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • حد (ḥad): “somebody”
  • إيه (ʾeīh): “what”
  • سفينة (safīnah): “ship”
  • فضائي (faḍāʾī): “spatial/alien”
  • مخلوق (maḫlūʾ): “creature”
  • بيتباع (byetbāʿ): “is sold”
  • فين (fīn): “Where”
  • Which phrase would you use to comment on a friend’s interesting find?

    Perhaps you will even learn the identity of your find! Or perhaps you’re on holiday, and visiting interesting places…

    18. Post about a Sightseeing Trip in Egyptian Arabic

    Let your friends know what you’re up to in Arabic, especially when visiting a remarkable place! Don’t forget the photo.

    Munā visits a famous landmark, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    مكنتش أعرف إن أسوان جميلة كده! (makunteš ʾaʿraf ʾen ʾaswān ǧamīlah kedah!)
    “I didn’t know Aswan was so beautiful!”

    1- مكنتش أعرف إن (makunteš ʾaʿraf ʾen)

    First is an expression meaning “I didn’t know .”
    Use this expression to show surprise about something you didn’t expect.

    2- أسوان جميلة كده! (ʾaswān ǧamīlah kedah!)

    Then comes the phrase – “Aswan is so beautiful!.”
    When you use the word meaning “like that” after an adjective, it elevates its level similar to the word “very.” Notice that the Arabic is in the present tense, so the phrase literally means “Aswan is so beautiful.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- روحي الأقصر بالمرة. هتعجبك. (rūḥī el-ʾuʾṣur belmarrah. hateʿǧebak.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “Go to Luxor while you’re at it. You’ll like it.”
    Use these phrases to make suggestions for the poster.

    2- النيل في أسوان تحفة! (elnīl fī ʾaswān tuḥfah!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “The Nile in Aswan is gorgeous!”
    Use this expression to add information pertaining to the poster’s comment about Aswan.

    3- متشخبطيش على الحيطان بس! (matšaḫbaṭīš ʿalā el-ḥīṭān bas!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Just don’t write on the walls!”
    Use this expression to add to the conversation in a lighthearted, humorous way.

    4- وديتي البيبي فين؟ (waddītī el-bībī fīn?)

    Her nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “What did you do with the baby?”
    Ask this question if you want to know the whereabouts of the poster’s child.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • مكنتش (makunteš): “I was not/did not”
  • بالمرة (beālmarrah): “while you are at it”
  • هتعجبك (hateʿǧebek): “you will like it”
  • النيل (ālnīl): “the Nile river”
  • الحيطان (ālḥīṭān): “the walls”
  • البيبي (ālbībī): “the baby”
  • Which phrase would you prefer when a friend posts about a famous landmark?

    Share your special places with the world. Or simply post about your relaxing experiences.

    19. Post about Relaxing Somewhere in Egyptian Arabic

    So you’re doing nothing yet you enjoy that too? Tell your social media friends about it in Arabic!

    ʾAmīr relaxes at a beautiful place, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    قاعد على الشط في الغردقة. (ʾāʿed ʿalā el-šaṭ fī el-ġardaʾah.)
    “Chilling on the beach in Hurghada.”

    1- قاعد على الشط (ʾāʿed ʿalā el-šaṭ)

    First is an expression meaning “Chilling on the beach”.
    This expression uses the verb “chilling,” but, like in English, in Egyptian it doesn’t necessarily mean “to make cold.” It just means that you’re engaging in all sorts of cool, relaxing activities.

    2- في الغردقة. (fī el-ġardaʾah.)

    Then comes the phrase – ” in Hurghada.”
    This expression is used to indicate location, in this case, Hurghada. Hurghada is the location of one of the most popular beaches in Egypt and is considered one of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the Red Sea.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- إنت دايماً بتلعب كده؟ (ʾenta dāyman betelʿab kedah?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Are you always playing?”
    Ask this question to tease the poster a bit.

    2- فين البنات الحلوين؟ (fīn el-banāt el-ḥelwīn?)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Where are the beautiful girls?”
    Ask this question if you wish to know more about the pretty women on the beach.

    3- نفسي مرة أشوفك بتشتغل! (nefsī marrah ʾašūfak beteštaġal!)

    His nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning – “I want to see you working for once!”
    Use this phrase to tease the poster.

    4- عايزين صور كمان! (ʿāyzīn ṣewar kamān!)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “We want more pictures!”
    Use this expression to show you are interested in the topic and would like to see more photos.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • الشط (ālšaṭ): “the beach”
  • الغردقة (ālġardaʾah): “Hurghada”
  • دايماً (dāyman): “always”
  • البنات (ālbanāt): “girls/ladies”
  • نفسي (nefsī): “I wish”
  • أشوفك (ʾašūfak): “see you (for a male)”
  • عايزين (ʿāyzīn): “we want”
  • Which phrase would you use to comment on a friend’s feed?

    The break was great, but now it’s time to return home.

    20. What to Say in Egyptian Arabic When You’re Home Again

    And you’re back! What will you share with friends and followers?

    Munā returns home after a vacation, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    التغيير حلو بس بيتي وحشني الصراحة. (eltaġīīr ḥelū bas bītī waḥašnī el-ṣarāḥah.)
    “Change is nice, but honestly I missed home.”

    1- التغيير حلو بس (eltaġīīr ḥelū bas )

    First is an expression meaning “Change is nice, but.”
    There are many words for “but” in Egyptian, but the one used here, “bas,” is most common.

    2- بيتي وحشني الصراحة. (bītī waḥašnī el-ṣarāḥah.)

    Then comes the phrase – “honestly I missed home…”
    The word for “missing” someone or something in Egyptian differ among dialects. The word for “honestly” in Egyptian literally means “honesty”.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- حمدالله عالسلامة! (ḥamdeāllh ʿālsalāmah!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Welcome back!”
    This is the traditional greeting when people return from a trip.

    2- نورتي بيتك يا جميلة. (nawwartī bītek yā ǧamīlah.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “Home lit up with your presence, sweetie.”
    Use this expression to show you are feeling warmhearted and positive about the poster’s return.

    3- عايزين نشوفك! (ʿāyzīn nšūfek!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “We want to see you!”
    Use this expression if you would like to meet up with the poster.

    4- احكيلي كل اللي عملتيه بالتفصيل! (eḥkīlī kul el-llī ʿamaltīh beltafṣīl!)

    Her college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Tell me everything you did, in detail!”
    Use this expression to show your great interest in the poster’s trip.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • التغيير (āltaġīīr): “change”
  • وحشني (waḥašnī): “I miss (it)”
  • نورتي (nawwartī): “you lit up”
  • نشوفك (nšūfek): “see you “
  • احكيلي (eḥkīlī): “tell me”
  • بالتفصيل (beāltafṣīl): “in detail”
  • How would you welcome a friend back from a trip?

    What do you post on social media on a religious day such as Eid?

    21. It’s Time to Celebrate in Egyptian Arabic

    It’s a religious day and you wish to post something about it on social media. What would you say?

    Amīr observes Eid, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    كل سنة وإنتو طيبين. (kul sanah ūʾentū ṭayyebīn.)
    “Happy Eid to you all.”

    1- كل سنة (kul sanah )

    First is an expression meaning “Happy Eid (literally: every year).”
    This expression literally means “every year,” but it’s part of a bigger expression and doesn’t mean much on its own. Keep in mind that there are two Eids a year. One is called the “Small Eid” and takes place the day after the end of Ramadan. It is also known as “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” The other, called the “Grand Eid,” takes place on the third day of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. It commemorates the sacrifice of an animal in place of the prophet Ishmael, and is also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice.” The same expression is used for both Eids.

    2- وإنتو طيبين. (ūʾentū ṭayyebīn.)

    Then comes the phrase – “to you all..”
    This expression literally means “and all of you are ok.” So the English equivalent of the entire phrase is “may you all be ok next year as well.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- وإنتو طيبين يا حبايبي. (wʾentu ṭayyebin yā ḥabaybī.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “Same to you, sweeties.”
    Use this expression to return the poster’s blessing/wish, using a term of endearment.

    2- تعالو نتقابل بكرة! (taʿālu netʾābel bukrah!)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Let’s meet up tomorrow!”
    Use this expression if you would like to make a date with the poster.

    3- أخدتو العيدية؟ (ʾaḫadtu el-ʿīdyyah?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Did you guys receive the Eid gift?”
    Ask this question for more information. It is customary for Egyptians to exchange gifts during Eid.

    4- أول عيد معاك يا حبيبي. (ʾawwel ʿīd maʿāk yā ḥabībī.)

    His wife, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “First Eid with you, honey.”
    Use this expression to lovingly remind your husband that it’s your first religious holiday as a married couple.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • طيبين (ṭayyebīn): “good”
  • تعالي (taʿālī): “come”
  • نتقابل (netʾābel): “let’s meet”
  • بكرة (bukrah): “tomorrow”
  • العيدية (ālʿīdeyyah): “Eid gift”
  • عيد (ʿīd): “feast (eid)”
  • معاكي (maʿākī): “with you”
  • If a friend posted something about a holiday, which phrase would you use?

    Eid and other religious days are not the only special ones to remember!

    22. Posting about a Birthday on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

    Your friend or you are celebrating your birthday in an unexpected way. Be sure to share this on social media!

    Munā attends her birthday party, posts an image of the event, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    مش عارفة أقولوكو إيه. بحبكوا أوي. (meš ʿārfah ʾaʾūllūkū ʾeīh. baḥebbukū ʾawī.)
    “I don’t know what to say to you all. I love you all so much.”

    1- مش عارفة أقولوكو إيه. (meš ʿārfah ʾaʾūllūkū ʾeīh.)

    First is an expression meaning “I don’t know what to say to you all..”
    Use this phrase to express that you’re speechless about an event or an incident, whether positive or negative.

    2- بحبكوا أوي. (baḥebbukū ʾawī.)

    Then comes the phrase – “I love you all so much!.”
    The word for “very” or “very much” in Egyptian literally means “strong”. It’s placed after an adjective or a verb. This expression is used mostly to express platonic love.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- وإحنا كمان بنموت فيكي. (wʾeḥnā kamān benmūt fīkī.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “We love you back.”
    Use this phrase to let the poster know you feel the same about them.

    2- كل سنة و إنتي طيبة يا منى! (kul sanah wa ʾentī ṭayyebah yā munā!)

    Her college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Happy birthday, Munā!”
    This is the traditional birthday wish.

    3- المهم إنك انبسطي. (elmuhem ʾennek enbasaṭṭī.)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “The important thing is that you had fun.”
    Use this comment to partake in the conversation in a positive manner.

    4- عقبال مليون سنة! (ʿuʾbāl melyūn sanah!)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “May you live for a million years!”
    This is an exaggeration, indicating a warmhearted, enthusiastic wish.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • أقولوكو (ʾaʾūllūkū): “I tell you (all)”
  • بحبكوا (baḥebbukūā): “I love you (all)”
  • أوي (ʾawī): “very (Egyptian Arabic)”
  • إحنا (ʾeḥnā): “we”
  • بنموت فيكي (benmūt fīkī): “we love you to death”
  • انبسطي (enbesṭī): “have fun”
  • مليون (melyūn): “million”
  • If a friend posted something about birthday greetings, which phrase would you use?

    23. Talking about New Year on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

    Impress your friends with your Arabic New Year’s wishes this year. Learn the phrases easily!

    ʾAmīr celebrates the New Year, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    في حفلة راس السنة. كل سنة و أنتو طيبين. (fī ḥaflet rās el-sanah. kul sanah wa ʾentū ṭayyebīn.)
    “At the New Year’s party. Happy New Year, everyone.”

    1- في حفلة راس السنة. (fī ḥaflet rās el-sanah.)

    First is an expression meaning “At the New Year’s party. .”
    Starting a sentence with a prepositional phrase that explains where you are is something that’s usually seen on social media and in status updates.

    2- كل سنة و أنتو طيبين. (kul sanah wa ʾentū ṭayyebīn.)

    Then comes the phrase – “Happy New Year, everyone..”
    This is an expression used for many annual occasions, including New Year’s and Eid. The literal translation is something like “May you be healthy every year.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- ربنا يخليك لعيلتك. (rabbenā yeḫallīk leʿīltak.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “May God watch over you and your family.”
    Use this expression to give the poster and their family a blessing.

    2- وإنت طيب يا أمير. (ūʾenta ṭayyeb yā ʾamīr.)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Happy New Year to you too, ʾAmīr.”
    This is the traditional response to the poster’s New Year wish.

    3- إن شاء الله السنة الجاية أحلى. (ʾen šāʾa Allah el-sanah el-ǧāyyah ʾaḥlā.)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “May God make next year even better.”
    Another positive, optimistic blessing for the New Year.

    4- رحت حفلة راس السنة فين؟ (ruḥt ḥaflet rās el-sanah fīn?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “Where did you celebrate the New Year’s party?”
    Use this question if you wish for more information about the poster’s New Year, and to keep the conversation going.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • حفلة (ḥaflah): “party “
  • الجاية (ālǧāyyah): “next”
  • أحلى (ʾaḥlā): “better”
  • راس السنة (rās el-sanah): “new year’s eve”
  • رحت (ruḥt): “you went”
  • Which is your favorite phrase to post on social media during New Year?

    But before New Year’s Day comes another important day…

    24. What to Post on Christmas Day in Egyptian Arabic

    What will you say in Arabic about Christmas?

    Munā celebrates Christmas with her family, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    عيد ميلاد مجيد. (ʿīd mīlād maǧīd.)
    “Merry Christmas.”

    1- عيد ميلاد (ʿīd mīlād)

    First is an expression meaning “Christmas.”
    Adding the word “merry” after the word “birthday” turns “birthday” into “Christmas” in Egyptian. So literally, there’s no “Christ” in this expression. Keep in mind that Christmas in Egypt falls on January 7th.

    2- مجيد. (maǧīd.)

    Then comes the phrase – “Merry.”
    The expression “Merry Christmas” is the other way around in Arabic, so it’s literally “Christmas Merry.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- أخيراً هناكل لحمة! (ʾaḫīran hanākul laḥmah!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “At last, we will eat meat!”
    Use this expression to share your excitement about the menu over this time.

    2- الناس زهقت من الفول والبطاطس! (elnās zehʾet men el-fūl welbaṭāṭes!)

    Her college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “People are so sick of beans and potatoes!”
    Use this expression to agree with the previous poster about the cuisine.

    3- تعالو ننزل ناكل مع بعض. (taʿālū nenzel nākul maʿ baʿḍ.)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning – “Let’s go eat out together.”
    Use this suggestion if you wish to get together with the poster.

    4- شكراً يا منى. (šukran yā munā.)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning – “Thank you, Mona.”
    This is a simple response of gratitude for the poster’s Christmas wish.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • ميلاد (mīlād): “birth”
  • مجيد (maǧīd): “glorious”
  • هناكل (hanākul): “we will eat”
  • لحمة (laḥmah): “meat”
  • زهقت (zeheʾt): “I am bored”
  • فول (fūl): “beans”
  • بطاطس (baṭāṭes): “potatoes”
  • If a friend posted something about Christmas greetings, which phrase would you use?

    So, the festive season is over! Yet, there will always be other days, besides a birthday, to wish someone well.

    25. Post about Your Anniversary in Egyptian Arabic

    Some things deserve to be celebrated, like wedding anniversaries. Learn which Arabic phrases are meaningful and best suited for this purpose!

    ʾAmīr celebrates his wedding anniversary with his wife, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    كل سنة و إحنا مع بعض يا روحي. (kul sanh wa ʾeḥnā maʿ baʿḍ yā rūḥī.)
    “May we spend more years together, honey.”

    1- كل سنة و إحنا مع بعض (kul sanah wa ʾeḥnā maʿ baʿḍ)

    First is an expression meaning “May we spend more years together,.”
    This expression is similar to the expression for “Happy New Year,” or “kul sanah w enta tayyib”. This phrase is normally used on New Year’s Day. But this time, after the expression meaning “every year,” you add “being together” (w ʾeḥnā maʿ baʿḍ) و احنا مع بعض. This makes it clear that Amir is referring to his wedding anniversary.

    2- يا روحي. (yā rūḥī.)

    Then comes the phrase – “honey..”
    Egyptians use the phrase “my soul” as a term of endearment, like “baby” or “honey.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- إن شاء الله كل سنة أحلى من إللي قبلها. (ʾen šāʾ el-lh kul sanah ʾaḥlā men ʾellī ʾablahā.)

    His wife, Munā, uses an expression meaning – “Hopefully every year will be better than the one before it.”
    Use this expression to show you agree with your husband’s sentiments.

    2- ربنا يهنيكو ببعض. (rabbenā yehanīkū bebaʿḍ.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning – “May God bring you happiness together.”
    Use this blessing to wish the couple even more happiness.

    3- جبتلها هدية؟ (ǧebtelhā hedeyyah?)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning – “Did you get her a present?”
    Use this expression if you are feeling humorous.

    4- عقبال 100 سنة مع بعض يا حلوين. (ʿuʾbāl 100 sanah maʿ baʿḍ yā ḥelwīn.)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning – “May you spend 100 more years together, lovelies.”
    This is another warmhearted wish for many more happy wedding anniversaries.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • قبلها (ʾablahā): “before it”
  • جبتلها (ǧebtelhā): “I got her”
  • هدية (hdeyyah): “gift”
  • عقبال (ʿuʾbāl): “wishing you”
  • بعض (baʿḍ): “some”
  • If a friend posted something about Anniversary greetings, which phrase would you use?

    Conclusion

    Learning to speak a new language will always be easier once you know key phrases that everybody uses. These would include commonly used expressions for congratulations and best wishes, etc.

    Master these in fun ways with Learn Arabic! We offer a variety of tools to individualize your learning experience, including using cell phone apps, audiobooks, iBooks and many more. Never wonder again what to say on social media!

    Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic