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100+ All-Purpose Arabic Adjectives

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Psst. Hey.

Wanna buy an adjective?

The appropriate adjectives can really go a long way toward making your Arabic speech more careful and precise.

Right here, right now, you can pick up more than 100 Arabic adjectives—these are the good ones, too.

We’ve hand-selected the words on this Arabic adjectives list to cover the most common situations that might come up. We use adjectives in every conceivable part of life, and for that reason, your efforts to learn Arabic adjectives are vital to ensuring total language mastery!

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Table of Contents

  1. A Quick Overview of Arabic Adjectives
  2. List of the 100+ Best Arabic Adjectives
  3. Conclusion


1. A Quick Overview of Arabic Adjectives

Improve Pronunciation

Adjectives in Arabic require a bit of thought to use completely correctly. Let’s take a quick look at Arabic adjective rules, in four simple points.

  • First, they’re always going to be placed after the noun.
  • Second, if the noun is definite, you have to add the prefix al- to the beginning. Any adjectives following that noun also have to take that definite prefix.
  • Third, according to Arabic adjective agreement, nouns that are dual or plural need to have adjectives in the dual or plural.
  • Last, masculine nouns take masculine adjectives, and feminine nouns take feminine adjectives.

Many native Arabic speakers will leave off some or all of the noun endings when they speak their dialect of Arabic, but it’s important for you to know them for MSA reading and writing purposes.

For that reason, we’ll give you the full adjectives here in these example sentences, and you can practice your Arabic adjectives grammar by working out what gender and number they’re in!


2. List of the 100+ Best Arabic Adjectives

Most Common Adjectives

1- Describing Colors

Let’s start things off with the first and most common Arabic adjectives adjectives almost all new Arabic learners go over.

  • أسود
    ʾaswad
    black

قَميصُهُ أَسوَد.
qamīṣuhu ʾaswad.
His shirt is black.

  • أبيض
    ʾabyaḍ
    white

إنَّها تَرتَدي سِروَالاً أَبيَضاً.
ʾinnahā tartadī sirwalan ʾabyaḍan.
She’s wearing white pants.

  • أَخضَر
    ʾaḫḍar
    green

العُشبُ أَخضَر جِدّاً اليَوْم.
al-ʿušbu ʾaḫḍar ǧiddan al-yawm.
The grass is very green today.

  • رَمادي
    ramādī
    gray

لا أَستَريح عِندَما تَكونُ السَماء رَمادِيَّة.
lā ʾastarīḥ ʿindamā takūnu al-samāʾ ramādiyyah.
I don’t like it when the sky is gray.

  • أَزرَق
    ʾazraq
    blue

هَل سَبَقَ لَك أَن شَرِبتَ الشايْ الأَزرَق؟
hal sabaqa lak ʾan šaribta al-šāy al-ʾazraq?
Have you ever had blue tea?

  • بُنّي
    bunnī
    brown

عادَةً ما أرتَدي الأَحذِيَة البُنِّيَّة.
ʿādaẗan mā ʾrtadī al-ʾaḥḏiyah al-bunniyyah.
I normally wear brown shoes.

  • أَحمَر
    ʾaḥmar
    red

اِحذَر مِن الأَفاعي ذات العُيُون الحَمراء.
iḥḏar min al-ʾafāʿī ḏāt al-ʿuyūn al-ḥamrāʾ.
Be careful of snakes with red eyes.

  • أَصفَر
    ʾaṣfar
    yellow

اِنتَظِر حَتّى يُصبِح المَوْز أَصفَراً لِتَأكُلَه.
intaẓir ḥattā yuṣbiḥ al-mawz ʾaṣfaran litaʾkulah.
Wait for the banana to become yellow before you eat it.

  • بُرتُقالي
    burtuqalī
    orange

إشتَرَت لي أُمّي قَميصاً بُرتُقالِيَّاً.
ʾištarat lī ʾummī qamīṣan burtuqaliyyaan.
My mom bought me an orange shirt.

2- Describing Food and Taste

Whether traveling or living in an Arabic-speaking country, everybody’s gotta eat. Describe your food with these basic Arabic adjectives.

  • حار
    ḥār
    spicy

هَل عادَةً ما تَأكُل الطَعام الحار؟
hal ʿādaẗan mā taʾkul al-ṭaʿām al-ḥār?
Do you often eat spicy food?

  • نَيِئ
    nayiʾ
    raw

لا آكُل السَمَك النَيِئ.
lā ʾākul al-samak al-nayiʾ.
I don’t eat raw fish.

  • مر
    mur
    bitter

هُناك شَيْء مُر في طَعامي.
hunāk šayʾ mur fī ṭaʿāmī.
There’s something bitter in my food.

  • حامِض
    ḥāmiḍ
    sour

بَعض الناس يُحِبّون الحَلوَى الحامِضَة.
baʿḍ al-nās yuḥibbūn al-ḥalwa al-ḥāmiḍah.
Some people like sour candy.

  • مَقلي
    maqlī
    fried

لَيْسَ مِن الصِحّي أَكل الكَثير مِن الطَعام المَقلي.
laysa min al-ṣiḥḥī ʾakl al-kaṯīr min al-ṭaʿām al-maqlī.
It’s not healthy to eat a lot of fried food.

  • حُلو
    ḥulū
    sweet

إنَّنا حَقّاً نُحِبُّ أَكل الطَعام الحُلو بَعد العَشاء.
ʾinnanā ḥaqqan nuḥibbu ʾakl al-ṭaʿām al-ḥulū baʿd al-ʿašāʾ.
We really love eating sweet food after dinner.

  • مَطبوخ
    maṭbūḫ
    cooked

هَل هَذِهِ الخُضرَوات مَطبوخَة أَم نَيِئَة؟
hal haḏihi al-ḫuḍrawat maṭbūḫah ʾam nayiʾah?
Are these vegetables cooked or raw?

  • مالِح
    maliḥ
    salty

هَذا شَديد المُلوحَة بِالنِسبَةِ لي.
haḏā šadīd al-mulūḥah bilnisbaẗi lī.
This is a little too salty for me.

  • طازَج
    ṭāzaǧ
    fresh

هَل لَدَيْكُم لَحمٌ طازَج؟
hal ladaykum laḥmun ṭāzaǧ?
Do you have fresh meat?

  • لَذيذ
    laḏīḏ
    delicious

هَذا لَذيذٌ جِدّاً.
haḏā laḏīḏun ǧiddan.
This is so delicious!

3- Describing Personality

You meet a lot of interesting people out and about, with a lot of big personalities. Better know how to talk about them! Here’s our list of useful Arabic adjectives to describe personality.

  • مُهَذَّب
    muhaḏḏab
    polite

لَدَيْكَ أَطفال مُهَذَّبون.
ladayka ʾaṭfal- muhaḏḏabūn.
You have polite children.

  • شرير
    širrīr
    wicked; malicious

المَلِك الشِرّير اِحتَجَز الأَميرَة في قَلعَة.
al-malik al-širrīr iḥtaǧaz al-ʾamīrah fī qalʿah.
The wicked king locked the princess in a castle.

  • صادِق
    ṣādiq
    honest

كُن صادِقاً مَعي.
kun ṣādiqan maʿī.
Be honest with me.

  • ظَريف
    ẓarīf
    nice; likable

إنَّها ظَريفَة.
ʾinnahā ẓarīfah.
She’s likable.

  • هادئ
    hādi
    calm

جَدَّتي هادِئَةٌ دائِماً.
ǧaddatī hādiʾaẗun dāʾiman.
My grandmother is always very calm.

  • خَجول
    ḫaǧūl
    shy

الأَطفال الصِغار غالِباً ما يَكونون خَجولين مَع الكِبار.
al-ʾaṭfal- al-ṣiġār ġal-iban mā yakūnūn ḫaǧūlīn maʿ al-kibār.
Little children are often shy around adults.

  • مُنفَتِح
    munfatiḥ
    extroverted

هَل تَرى أَنَّكَ شَخص مُنفَتِح؟
hal tarā ʾannaka šaḫṣ munfatiḥ?
Do you think you’re an extroverted person?

  • ذَكي
    ḏakī
    clever

يالَكِ مِن فَتاةٍ ذَكِيَّة!
yalaki min fatāẗin ḏakiyyah!
What a clever girl!

  • جَدير بِالثِقَة
    ǧadīr bilṯiqah
    dependable; trustworthy

كُل أَصدِقائي جَديرون بِالثِقَة.
kul ʾaṣdiqāʾī ǧadīrūn bilṯiqah.
My friends are all trustworthy.

  • مُشاغِب
    mušāġib
    naughty; badly behaved

التَلاميذ الآخَرون في القِسم مُشاغِبون.
al-talāmīḏ al-ʾāḫarūn fī al-qism mušāġibūn.
The other students in my class are naughty.

4- Describing Feelings

Woman Crying

When somebody asks how you’re doing, don’t blow them off. Answer honestly!

  • سَعيد
    saʿīd
    happy

أَشعُر بِأَنَّني سَعيد اليَوْم.
ʾašʿur biʾannanī saʿīd al-yūm.
I’m feeling so happy today!

  • حَزين
    ḥazīn
    sad

لا تَكُن حَزيناً!
lā takun ḥazīnan!
Don’t be sad!

  • قَلِق
    qaliq
    nervous

دائِماً ما أَقلَق قَبل التَحَدُّث أَمام الآخَرين.
dāʾiman mā ʾaqlaq qabl al-taḥadduṯ ʾamām al-ʾāḫarīn.
I always get nervous before speaking in front of others.

  • غاضِب
    ġāḍib
    angry

أَبي يَغضَب كَثيراً.
ʾabī yaġḍab kaṯīran.
My dad gets angry a lot.

  • خائِف
    ḫāʾif
    frightened

هَل تَخاف مِن العَناكِب؟
hal taḫāf min al-ʿanākib?
Do you get frightened of spiders?

  • فَخور
    faḫūr
    proud

أَنا فَخور بِك.
ʾanā faḫūr bik.
I’m so proud of you.

  • مُنزَعِج
    munzaʿiǧ
    annoyed; upset

لا تَتَكَلَّم إلَيّ مِن فَضلِك. أَنا مُنزَعِج قَليلاً.
lā tatakallam ʾilayy min faḍlik. ʾanā munzaʿiǧ qalīlan.
Please don’t talk to me. I’m a little annoyed.

  • راضي
    rāḍī
    content; satisfied

أَشعُرُ بِأَنَّني راضٍ بِالمَشروع.
ʾašʿuru biʾannanī rāḍin bilmašrūʿ.
I feel satisfied with the project.

  • نادِم
    nādim
    regretful

إنَّهُ نادِم عَلى البَقاء في بَلَدِه.
ʾinnahu nādim ʿalā al-baqāʾ fī baladih.
He is regretful about staying in his country.

  • حائِر
    ḥāʾir
    confused

هَل أَنتَ حائِرٌ في مُهِمَّتِك؟
hal ʾanta ḥāʾirun fī muhimmatik?
Are you confused about your task?

  • في حالَةِ تَأَهُّب.
    fī ḥalaẗi taʾahhub
    alert

جَلَسَ عَلى السَرير, في حالَةِ تَأَهُّبٍ يُراقِب.
ǧalasa ʿalā al-sarīr, fī ḥal-aẗi taʾahhubin yurāqib.
He sat up in bed, alert and watching.

5- Describing Appearance (People)

Describing people’s appearance is different than describing things. Here’s what you need for the former.

  • شاب
    šāb
    young

كُنتُ شابّاً حائِراً في الحَيَاة.
kuntu šābban ḥāʾiran fī al-ḥayah.
I was young and confused about life.

  • عَجوز
    ʿaǧūz
    old; elderly

هَذِهِ العَجوز لَدَيْها قِصَصٌ عَظيمَة
haḏihi al-ʿaǧūz ladayhā qiṣaṣun ʿaẓīmah
This old woman has great stories.

  • قَصير
    qaṣīr
    short

مَن هَذِهِ المَرأَة القَصيرَة؟
man haḏihi al-marʾah al-qaṣīrah?
Who’s that short woman?

  • طَوِيل
    ṭawil
    tall

إنَّهُ رَجُلٌ مُسِن, لَكِنَّهُ مازال طَوِيلاً جِدّاً.
ʾinnahu raǧulun musin, lakinnahu māzal- ṭawilan ǧiddan.
He’s an old man, but he’s still very tall.

  • قَوِي
    qawi
    strong

نَحتاجُ شَخصاً قَوِيّاً لِحَملِ هَذا.
naḥtāǧu šaḫṣan qawiّan liḥamli haḏā.
We need someone strong to lift this.

  • مُلتَحي
    multaḥī
    bearded

السوق مَليء بِالمُسِنّين والمُلتَحين.
al-sūq malīʾ bilmusinnīn ūlmultaḥīn.
The market is full of old and bearded men.

  • أَصلَع
    ʾaṣlaʿ
    bald

إنَّهُ شاب لَكِنَّهُ أَصلَع.
ʾinnahu šāb lakinnahu ʾaṣlaʿ.
He’s young, but he’s already bald.

  • جَميل
    ǧamīl
    beautiful; handsome

لَدَيْكَ زَوْجَةٌ جَميلَةٌ.
ladayka zawǧaẗun ǧamīlaẗun.
You have a beautiful wife.

  • بَشِع
    bašiʿ
    ugly

لَستَ بَشِعاً عَلى الإطلاق.
lasta bašiʿan ʿalā al-ʾiṭlāq.
You’re not ugly at all.

  • سَمين
    samīn
    fat

لاحَظت أَنَّني أَصبَحتُ سَميناً قَليلاً.
lāḥaẓt ʾannanī ʾaṣbaḥtu samīnan qalīlan.
I noticed that I’m getting a little fat.

  • نَحيف
    naḥīf
    skinny

أَخي نَحيفٌ جِدّاً.
ʾaḫī naḥīfun ǧiddan.
My brother is very skinny.

  • نَشيط
    našīṭ
    athletic; lively

أَغلَب الطَلَبَة الجامِعيين رِيَاضِيُّون.
ʾaġlab al-ṭalabah al-ǧāmiʿīīn riyaḍiyyūn.
Most college students are athletic.

6- Describing Nationality

People come from all over, and country names are something you can’t avoid learning.

  • مَغْرِبِيّ
    maġribiyy
    Moroccan

هَل أَبوكَ مَغرِبِيّ؟
hal ʾabūka maġribiyy?
Is your father Moroccan?

  • كَنَدِيّ
    kanadiyy
    Canadian

هَل تَعلَم مَن هُوَ رَئيس الحُكومَة الكَنَدِيّ؟
hal taʿlam man huwa raʾīs al-ḥukūmah al-kanadiyy?
Do you know who the Canadian prime minister is?

  • فَرَنْسِي
    faransiī
    French

لا أُحِب الأَكل الفِرِنسِيّ.
lā ʾuḥib al-ʾakl al-firinsiyy.
I don’t like French food.

  • إِنْدُونِيْسِيّ
    ʾiinduūniysiyy
    Indonesian

الإندونيسِيُّون أُناسٌ طَيِّبون جِدّاً.
al-ʾindūnīsiyyuūn ʾunāsun ṭayyibūn ǧiddan.
Indonesian people are very friendly.

  • صيْنِيّ
    ṣiniyy
    Chinese

هُناكَ مَطعَمٌ صينِيّ قُرب مَنزِلي.
hunāka maṭʿamun ṣīniyy qurba manzilī.
There’s a Chinese restaurant near my house.

  • أَمْرِيْكِيّ
    ʾamriykiyy
    American

السَيّارات الأَمريكِيَّة مَعروفَة في العالَم.
al-sayyārāt al-ʾamrīkiyyah maʿrūfah fī al-ʿalam.
American cars are popular around the world.

  • مِصْرِيّ
    miṣriyy
    Egyptian

الجامِعات المِصرِيَّة مَشهورَة حَوْل العالَم.
al-ǧāmiʿāt al-miṣriyyah mašhūrah ḥawl al-ʿalam.
Egyptian universities are famous around the world.

  • تُوْنِسِيّ
    tunisiyy
    Tunisian

يُعجِبُني الطَقس التونِسي.
yuʿǧibunī al-ṭaqs al-tūnisī.
I enjoy Tunisian weather.

  • إِمَارَاتِيّ
    ʾimārātiyy
    Emirati

لَدَيَّ عِلاقاتٍ مَع عِدَّةِ شَرِكاتٍ إماراتِيَّة.
ladayya ʿilāqātin maʿ ʿiddaẗi šarikātin ʾimārātiyyah.
I have connections with several Emirati companies.

7- Describing Appearance (Things)

Arc of Pebbles

Now let’s learn how to describe inanimate objects, as opposed to people.

  • جَيِّد
    ǧayyid
    good

هَذِهِ صِوَرٌ جَيِّدَة.
haḏihi ṣiwarun ǧayyidah.
These are good pictures.

  • عَظيم
    ʿaẓīm
    great

يَالَها مِن فِكرَةٍ عَظيمَة.
yalahā min fikraẗin ʿaẓīmah.
What a great idea!

  • سَيِّء
    sayyiʾ
    bad

هَذِهِ سَيَّارَة سَيِّئَة. لا أَظُنٌ أَنَّكَ يَجِبُ أَن تَشتَريها.
haḏihi sayyaārah sayyiʾah. lā ʾaẓunun ʾannaka yaǧibu ʾan taštarīhā.
That’s a bad car and I don’t think you should buy it.

  • رَهيب
    rahīb
    terrible

أَخبَرَني أَنَّ أَفكاري رَهيبَة.
ʾaḫbaranī ʾanna ʾafkārī rahībah.
He told me my ideas were terrible.

  • ضَخم
    ḍaḫm
    huge

لَدَى وَالِداي شَجَرَة كَبيرَة أَمام مَنزِلَيْهِما.
ladā walidāī šaǧarah kabīrah ʾamām manzilayhimā.
My parents have a huge tree in front of their house.

  • كَبير
    kabīr

    big

أُريدُ سَيَّارَةً كَبيرَة.
ʾurīdu sayyaāraẗan kabīrah.
I want a big car.

  • صَغير
    ṣaġīr
    small

أُختي لَدَيْها كَلبٌ صَغير.
ʾuḫtī ladayhā kalbun ṣaġīr.
My sister has a small dog.

  • طَوِيل
    ṭawil
    long

أَقرَأُ كِتاباً طَويلاً.
ʾaqraʾu kitāban ṭawīlan.
I’m reading a long book.

  • شاسِع
    šāsiʿ
    vast; wide

الصَحراء شاسِعَة.
al-ṣaḥrāʾ šāsiʿah.
The desert is vast.

  • جَديد
    ǧadīd
    new

هاتِفي كانَ جَديداً, والآن لا أَستَطيعُ إيجادَه.
hātifī kāna ǧadīdan, ūlʾān lā ʾastaṭīʿu ʾiīǧādah.
My phone was new, and now I can’t find it.

  • قَديم
    qadīm
    old

يُمكِنُكَ إستِعمال هاتِفي القَديم.
yumkinuka ʾistiʿmal hātifī al-qadīm.
You can use my old phone.

  • ثَقيل
    ṯaqīl
    heavy

هَذِهِ الحَقيبَة ثَقيلَة.
haḏihi al-ḥaqībah ṯaqīlah.
This bag is heavy.

8- Describing Weather

Family Ralking in Rain

Weather’s a great icebreaker since it happens everywhere and all the time. If these words don’t do it for you, check out our adjectives vocab list!

  • حار
    ḥār
    hot

أُفَضِّل الطَقس الحارّ.
ʾufaḍḍil al-ṭaqs al-ḥārr.
I prefer hot weather.

  • بارِد
    bārid
    cold

شَخصِيّاً, أَنا حَقّاً أُحِبُّ الطَقس البارِد.
šaḫṣiyyan, ʾanā ḥaqqan ʾuḥibbu al-ṭaqs al-bārid.
Personally, I really like cold weather.

  • غائِم
    ġāʾim
    cloudy

مَع الأَسَف, الطَقسُ غائِم لَيْلاً.
maʿ al-ʾasaf, al-ṭaqsu ġāʾim laylan.
Unfortunately, it’s cloudy at night.

  • مُشمِس
    mušmis
    sunny

إنَّهُ يَوْمٌ جَميل و مُشمِس.
ʾinnahu yūmun ǧamīl wa mušmis.
It’s a beautiful and sunny day.

  • عاصِف
    ʿāṣif
    windy

إنَّ الطَقسُ عاصِف دائِماً قُرب الساحِل
ʾinna al-ṭaqsu ʿāṣif dāʾiman qurb al-sāḥil
It’s always windy near the coast.

  • مُمطِر
    mumṭir
    rainy

تَكادُ لا تُمطِر السَماء في الرَبيع.
takādu lā tumṭir al-samāʾ fī al-rabīʿ.
It’s almost never rainy in spring.

  • رَطِب
    raṭib
    humid

الطَقسُ رَطِب جِدّاً في هاوَاي طول السَنَة.
al-ṭaqsu raṭib ǧiddan fī hāwaī ṭūl al-sanah.
The weather is really humid in Hawaii all year.

9- Describing Touch

This goes hand-in-hand with describing objects—these adjectives are rarely learned at the beginning, but they’re very useful in daily life.

  • أَملَس
    ʾamlas
    smooth

اِنظُر إلى سَطح الماء الأَملَس.
inẓur ʾilā saṭḥ al-māʾ al-ʾamlas.
Look at the smooth surface of the water.

  • خَشِن
    ḫašin
    rough

جِلدُهُ خَشِن.
ǧilduhu ḫašin.
His skin is rough.

  • مُتَشَقِّق
    mutašaqqiq
    cracked

مِرآتي مُتَشَقِّقَة. هَل تَعرِفُ مَن فَعَلَ ذَلِك؟
mirʾātī mutašaqqiqah. hal taʿrifu man faʿala ḏalik?
My mirror is cracked. Do you know who did it?

  • لامِع
    lāmiʿ
    shiny

لَدَيْها شَيْءٌ لامِع في يَدِها.
ladayhā šayʾun lāmiʿ fī yadihā.
She has something shiny in her hand.

  • زَلِق
    zaliq
    slippery

الأَطباق زَلِقَة.
al-ʾaṭbāq zaliqah.
The dishes are slippery.

  • مُبَلَّل
    muballal
    wet

الأَرضِيَّة مُبَلَّلَة, ِلذا كُن حَذاً.
al-ʾarḍiyyah muballalah, ilḏā kun ḥaḏiran.
The floor is wet, so be careful.

  • جاف
    ǧāf
    dry

اترُك الأَرُز جافّاً قَبلَ اِستِعمالِه لِلطَبخ.
itruk al-ʾaruz ǧāffan qabla istiʿmal-ih lilṭabḫ.
Keep rice dry before using it to cook.

  • لَزِج
    laziǧ
    sticky

هُناكَ شَيْءٌ لَزِج عَلى الطاوِلَة.
hunāka šayʾun laziǧ ʿalā al-ṭāwilah.
There’s something sticky on the table.

  • هَش
    haš
    fragile

هَذِهِ قِطعَةُ آثارٍ هَشَّة.
haḏihi qiṭʿaẗu ʾāṯārin haššah.
This is a fragile antique.

  • ناعِم
    nāʿim
    soft

أُحِبُّ الأَسِرَّة الناعِمَة.
ʾuḥibbu al-ʾasirrah al-nāʿimah.
I like soft beds.

10- Describing Concepts

People, places, things, and ideas—all of them get separate types of adjectives when it’s time to be specific. Here are the Arabic adjectives that are used for describing concepts.

  • صَعب
    ṣaʿb
    difficult

هَل مِن الصَعب تَحَدُّث العَرَبِيَّة بِطَلاقَة؟
hal min al-ṣaʿb taḥadduṯ al-ʿarabiyyah biṭalāqah?
Is it difficult to speak Arabic fluently?

  • هام
    hām
    important

يُرجى تَدوين المُلاحَظات خِلال هَذا الاِجتِماع المُهِم.
yurǧā tadūīn al-mulāḥaẓāt ḫilal- haḏā al-iǧtimāʿ al-muhim.
Please take notes during this important meeting.

  • خاص
    ḫāṣ
    private; special

هَل يُمكِنُنا أَن نَأخُذَ غُرفَة خاصَّة؟
hal yumkinunā ʾan naʾḫuḏa ġurfah ḫāṣṣah?
Can we have a private room?

  • عام
    ʿām
    public

لَقَد أَدلَت بِإعلان عام الأَمس.
laqad ʾadlat biʾiʿlān ʿām al-ʾams.
She made a public announcement yesterday.

  • مُعَقَّد
    muʿaqqad
    complex

هَذِهِ المُشكِلَة مُعَقَّدَة.
haḏihi al-muškilah muʿaqqadah.
This problem is complex.

  • بَسيط
    basīṭ
    simple

العَرَبِيَّة لَيْسَت لُغَة بَسيطَة.
al-ʿarabiyyah laysat luġah basīṭah.
Arabic is not a simple language.

  • خاطِئ
    ḫāṭiʾ
    wrong

أَنتَ خاطِئ حَوْل ذَلِك.
ʾanta ḫāṭiʾ ḥawl ḏalik.
You’re wrong about that.

  • صَحيح
    ṣaḥīḥ
    true; correct

لا أَظُنُّ أَنَّ ما قالَهُ صَحيح.
lā ʾaẓunnu ʾanna mā qal-ahu ṣaḥīḥ.
I don’t believe that what he said is correct.

  • مُمِل
    mumil
    boring

هَذِهِ مُحاضَرَة مُمِلَّة.
haḏihi muḥāḍarah mumillah.
This is a very boring lecture.

  • وَاضِح
    waḍiḥ
    clear; obvious

الجَوَابُ وَاضِح الآن.
al-ǧawabu waḍiḥ al-ʾān.
The answer is clear now.


3. Conclusion

Reading

Finished reading through the list?

Let me tell you, if you read through it again once more tomorrow, and then once more after that, these phrases are going to stick in your head like nobody’s business. Consistency and repetition are important while increasing your Arabic adjectives vocabulary!

Looking for more Arabic resources? ArabicPod101 has got you covered, with blog articles, vocab trainers, flashcards, and, of course, podcasts.

Before you go, let us know in the comments what new adjectives you learned today. Are there are any adjectives you still want to learn? We look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you have!
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Outstanding Arabic Shows on Netflix to Learn Arabic

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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?

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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.

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Understanding and Talking About Family in Arabic

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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

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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!

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The Most Essential Arabic Travel Phrases

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Isn’t it exciting to imagine?

The crashing surf of a Moroccan beach or the tall and rugged mountains of Jordan. The streetside bazaars in Cairo or the resorts in Dubai.

And you’re there. Speaking in Arabic.

Or rather, that’s the plan, right?

You’re still working on it. And that’s okay. Arabic is a long, long journey for anybody.

Speaking of journeys, there are a couple of Arabic travel phrases that tourists need to learn in the local language, no matter where they go. In this article, I’ll outline some of the most useful travel phrases in Arabic for any traveler, tourist, or expat in an Arabic-speaking country. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

  1. Using Modern Standard Arabic vs. Using Dialects
  2. The Most Essential Arabic Vocabulary and Phrases for Your Travel Needs
  3. Conclusion: ArabicPod101 is Your Guide to Arabic Mastery

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1. Using Modern Standard Arabic vs. Using Dialects

World Map

Before you learn Arabic travel phrases, we need to go over the topic of MSA vs. dialects.

When it comes to Arabic words and phrases for travellers, this is a perpetual debate among Arabic learners.

Is it better to start with MSA or with a dialect? What if you’re planning to visit more than one country? What if you’re hanging out in a cafe in Egypt, and suddenly your friend from Iraq and his roommate from Morocco come in? What do you speak?

The position of this article is: Start with MSA. In terms of Arabic travel phrases for beginners, this is the best place to begin.

Most people in the Arab world won’t be able to speak MSA to you. They’ll do their best, but they may end up switching to another international language or just trying to make their local language sound as close to MSA as possible.

But you’ll be understood wherever you go, and when traveling, that’s what matters most. With a basic or intermediate ability in MSA, you can easily express your travel needs—not to mention read what’s written around you everywhere!

Once you’re able to express yourself in MSA, read up on the local language of wherever you’re planning to go, and listen to learning materials or native content as much as you can to get prepared for the answers you hear.


2. The Most Essential Arabic Vocabulary and Phrases for Your Travel Needs

Survival Phrases

Now, without further ado, here are Arabic travel phrases for your trip that you need to know!

1- Basic Expressions

Cartoon Waving Goodbye

What types of things do tourists usually say?

Pretty much the same things over and over, it turns out. Being able to speak a language “at a tourist level,” to me, means that you can handle the situations that are likely to come up, without necessarily being able to hold a real conversation.

That means, for instance, that you can order, pay for, and maybe even compliment a meal pretty smoothly in Arabic, but if the cook asks if you have that kind of food in your own country, you might find yourself grasping for words.

But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

If you only look at one guide to tourist Arabic, it should be the next three paragraphs. Here, I go over the most important Arabic travel phrases, the one you shouldn’t be traveling without.

2- Greetings and Goodbyes

We’ll start with the first words out of anybody’s mouth: Hello.

  • “Hello!”
    Ahlan!
    أَهلاً

In Arabic, there are appropriate hellos for the morning, evening, and night.

  • “Good morning!”
    ṣabāḥu al-ḫayr
    صَباحُ الخَيْر
  • “Good evening!”
    masāʾu al-ḫayr
    مَساءُ الخَيْر
  • “Good night!”
    laylah saʿīdah
    لَيْلَة سَعيدَة

Now let’s have a look at how to properly address people that you need to talk to. How should you get their attention?

  • “Excuse me. Could you tell me…”
    raǧāʾ, hal yumkinuka ʾiḫbārī…
    رَجاء, هَل يُمكِنُكَ إخباري…

And when you’ve finished what you need to do, it’s time to take your leave.

  • Goodbye!
    ʾilā al-liqāʾ
    إلى اللِقاء

3- Manners

Business Associates Shaking Hands

Although you can point and grunt your way through a language barrier, it’s simply good manners to be able to use a couple of nice words when the time comes.

  • “This one, please.”
    haḏihi min faḍlik.
    .هَذِهِ مِن فَضلِك

Suppose you’re on the bus and an elderly man gets on. The polite thing to do is offer your seat with the phrase:

  • “Go ahead.”
    tafaḍḍal.
    .تَفَضَّل

I personally always like to learn “thank you” in as many languages as I can, just in case. If there’s one phrase you remember after reading this article, make it this one.

  • “Thank you!”
    šukran!
    !شُكراً
  • “Thank you very much!”
    šukran ǧazīlan!
    !شُكراً جَزيلاً

Of course, guests aren’t the only ones doing the thanking. An exchange of “thank you” is likely to occur several times any time that money is exchanged for goods or services.

This means you’ll have to be ready with the “It’s nothing” and “Sure thing!” equivalent in Arabic.

  • “No problem!”
    lā muškilah
    لا مُشكِلَة

4- Compliments

Family Eating Dinner

It’s amazing how far you can get in a foreign language by pointing, smiling, and saying “Good!” People simply love to hear that! And it’s one of the simplest Arabic-language travel phrases.

The word for “good” in Arabic is جَيِّد (ǧayyid). But you can do a little bit better.

  • “I really like this!”
    yuʿǧibunī haḏā kaṯīran!
    يُعجِبُني هَذا كَثيراً!

For referring to food you just had:

  • “It was excellent!”
    kān rāʾiʿan!
    !كان رائِعاً

For looking at a view from a room or complimenting something aesthetic:

  • “This is so beautiful!”
    haḏā ǧamīlun ǧiddan!
    !هَذا جَميلٌ جِدّاً

5- Transportation

Preparing to Travel

One pretty scary challenge in a foreign language is making a phone call. And if your language skills make the difference between arriving at the airport on time or arriving at the bus station two hours late, the pressure starts to get pretty high.

When you order a taxi in a foreign language, it’s a good idea to speak loudly and slowly, and probably repeat yourself a couple of times to make sure they understand.

The thing is, though, taxi companies are used to hearing the same sort of formula said over and over with a variety of different accents, so as long as you’ve got all the right words in there, you’re probably good to go.

  • “I want to order a taxi to the airport for tomorrow morning.”
    ʾurīdu sayyāraẗa ʾuǧrah ʾilā al-maṭār ġadan ṣabāḥan.
    .أُريدُ سَيّارَةَ أُجرَة إلى المَطار غَداً صَباحاً

It never hurts to double-check:

  • “Did you understand all that?”
    hal fahimt?
    هَل فَهِمت؟

Shuttle buses and minibuses are very popular in many Middle Eastern countries. Here are some vital phrases for dealing with those:

  • “Does this bus go to…?”
    hal taḏhabu haḏihi al-ḥāfilah ʾilā…?
    هَل تَذهَبُ هَذِهِ الحافِلَة إلى…؟
  • “Where can I buy a ticket?”
    ʾayn yumkinunī širāʾ taḏkarah?
    أَيْن يُمكِنُني شِراء تَذكَرَة؟
  • “I want two tickets to … please.”
    ʾurīdu taḏkarataīn ʾilā… min faḍlik.
    أُريدُ تَذكَرَتَين إلى… مِن فَضلِك.

6- Shopping

Produce Displayed at Market

When most people imagine shopping in Arabic, the first thing that comes to mind is that stereotypical image of a crowded street market.

You know the one: goats, toothless old men selling rugs, maybe a snake charmer in the corner. Something out of Indiana Jones.

Those definitely still exist (or at least street markets do), but don’t forget that big cities in the Arab world are pretty much like big cities anywhere else.

You’ll find just as many big air-conditioned malls with local and international brands. Need some Nikes or Levi’s? No problem.

And guess what? You’ll need Arabic there, too! Just because a brand is international doesn’t mean all the shop staff will be amazingly multilingual. That’s particularly the case if you go out of the touristed city centers and head to the other malls further out of the way.

  • “Do you have a bigger size? / Do you have a smaller size?”
    hal ladaykum ḥaǧmun ʾakbar? / hal ladaykum ḥaǧm ʾaṣġar?
    هَل لَدَيْكُم حَجمٌ أَكبَر؟ / هَل لَدَيْكُم حَجم أَصغَر؟
  • “I’m looking for jeans size 32/34.”
    ʾabḥaṯ ʿan sarāūīl ǧīnz min maqās ʾiṯnān wa ṯalāṯūn ʿalā ʾarbaʿah wa ṯalāṯūn.
    أَبحَث عَن سَراويل جينز مِن مَقاس إثنان و ثَلاثون عَلى أَربَعَة و ثَلاثون.
  • “Can you make it any cheaper?”
    hal min taḫfīḍ?
    هَل مِن تَخفيض؟
  • “Okay, I’ll take it!”
    ǧayyid, saʾāḫuḏuh
    جَيِّد, سَآخُذُه

Part of bargaining effectively is knowing when to quit, or perhaps when to fake quitting so that you can get a better deal. Whether or not you’re serious about walking away, it’s polite to say something like this as you go:

  • “Maybe next time.”
    rubbamā fī al-marrah al-qādimah.
    رُبَّما في المَرَّة القادِمَة.

7- Restaurants

  • “How do you say this?”
    kayfa yunṭaqu haḏā?
    كَيْفَ يُنطَقُ هَذا؟

It’s very likely that you’ll find things on the menu that you’re not able to pronounce. Depending on your study motivation, you might still have trouble with the Arabic alphabet when you arrive.

So you can ask somebody nearby to read out the name of the food. Maybe you’ve heard of something similar at another restaurant, or maybe it even has a loanword in its name that you’re familiar with.

  • “What exactly is…?”
    mā … bilḍabṭ?
    ما … بِالضَبط؟

You may not understand the answer in its entirety—food words are notoriously specific and vary based on location. But the important thing is to keep your ears tuned for loanwords you may recognize, as well as the body language of the person you’re talking to. If they look like they’re holding back a smile or silently guessing that you won’t like it, better order something else.

Travelers with allergies can have a rough time of it in foreign countries. Many expats don’t speak the language of the country of residency except the words for things they can’t eat. It’s imperative to know those words well.

  • “I’m allergic to …”
    laday ḥasāsiyyah min…
    لَدَيْ حَساسِيَّة مِن…

Here, you simply say the phrase, tacking on the name of the food you can’t eat. For a list of common food names, check out this vocabulary list on ArabicPod101.com. (It includes common allergens like peanuts and soybeans!)

Once you’ve enjoyed your meal and are ready to leave, you’d best know this phrase:

  • “Can I have the bill, please?”
    hal yumkinunī ʾaḫḏ al-fātūrah laū samaḥt?
    هَل يُمكِنُني أَخذ الفاتورَة لَو سَمَحت؟

8- Directions

Directions are relatively complicated, and they’re not made any easier the way they get taught in a lot of coursebooks.

Have you ever noticed how in textbooks, people are always giving each other complicated directions in order to fit in as many vocabulary words as possible?

  • “Where is …?”
    ʾayna…?
    أَيْنَ…؟
  • “I’m looking for the…”
    ʾabḥaṯu ʿan…
    أَبحَث عَن…
  • “It’s over there.”
    ʾinnahā hunāk.
    إنَّها هُناك.
  • “Go straight down this road.”
    iāḏahab mubāšaraẗan ʿalā haḏā al-ṭarīq.
    .ِاذَهَب مُباشَرَةً عَلى هَذا الطَريق
  • “You need to take the number 10 bus.”
    ʿalayka ʾan taʾḫuḏ al-ḥāfilah raqm 10.
    عَلَيْكَ أَن تَأخُذ الحافِلَة رَقم 10.
  • “Is it far?”
    hal hiya baʿīdah?
    هَل هِيَ بَعيدَة؟
  • “Can I walk there?”
    hal yumkinunī al-mašī hunāk?
    هَل يُمكِنُني المَشي هُناك؟

Really, these basic Arabic travel phrases are enough to get you from A to B in most cases. But it’s always good to have more complex direction phrases in your Arabic arsenal, just in case.

9- Emergencies

  • “Do you have a bathroom?”
    hal ladaykum ḥammām?
    هَل لَدَيْكُم حَمّام؟
  • “I lost my passport.”
    faqadtu ǧawaza safarī.
    فَقَدتُ جَوَازَ سَفَري.
  • “I need to go to a hospital.”
    ʾanā biḥāǧah lilḏahāb ʾilā mustašfā.
    أَنا بِحاجَة لِلذَهاب إلى مُستَشفى.
  • “May I please borrow your phone? It’s an emergency.”
    hal yumkinunī istiʿāraẗu hātifik? ladayya ḥal-ah ṭāriʾah
    هَل يُمكِنُني اِستِعارَةُ هاتِفِك؟ لَدَيَّ حالَة طارِئَة
  • “My phone was stolen.”
    laqad tammat sariqaẗu hātifī.
    لَقَد تَمَّت سَرِقَةُ هاتِفي.

If you’ve lost something in a public space, you may be in luck if an honest stranger turned it in to the information desk. In that case, you can ask:

  • “Did anyone find a laptop here?”
    hal waǧad ʾaḥaduhum ḥāsūban hunā?
    هَل وَجَد أَحَدُهُم حاسوباً هُنا؟

10- Language Troubles and Triumphs

Speaking Arabic when you’re out and about isn’t going to be all smooth sailing, no matter how easy it may seem when you’re flipping through a phrasebook.

There’s a helpful set of phrases that can really go a long way toward smoothing things over when your vocabulary or grammar fails you.

  • “How do you say…?”
    kayfa taqūl…?
    كَيْفَ تَقول…؟
  • “Does anyone here speak English? French?”
    hal yatakallamu ʾaḥaduhum al-ʾinǧlīziyyah ʾaw al-firinsiyyah hunā?
    هَل يَتَكَلَّمُ أَحَدُهُم الإنجليزِيَّة أَوْ الفِرِنسِيَّة هُنا؟
  • “I don’t know that word.”
    lā ʾaʿrifu haḏihi al-kalimah.
    لا أَعرِفُ هَذِهِ الكَلِمَة.
  • “Thank you! I’ve been learning for one year.”
    šukran. ʾanā ʾataʿallam min sanah.
    شُكراً. أَنا أَتَعَلَّم مِن سَنَة.
  • “Sorry, my Arabic isn’t very good.”
    ʾāsif, luġatī al-ʿarabiyyah laysat ǧayyidah
    آسِف، لُغَتي العَرَبِيَّة لَيْسَت جَيِّدَة
  • “Sorry, I can’t read Arabic very well.”
    ʾāsif , lā ʾastaṭīʿ qirāʾaẗa al-ʿarabiyyaẗa ǧayyidan
    آسِف ، لا أَستَطيع قِراءَةَ العَرَبِيَّةَ جَيِّداً
  • “You just said ___. What does that mean?”
    laqad qult al-ʾān… māḏā yaʿnī ḏalik?
    لَقَد قُلت الآن… ماذا يَعني ذَلِك؟


3. Conclusion: ArabicPod101 is Your Guide to Arabic Mastery

Basic Questions

Now that you’re packed with the most useful Arabic travel phrases, you’re all set for your next adventure. Want to learn even more Arabic? Check out ArabicPod101.com and get access to more than a thousand Arabic learning audio and video lessons that will take your Arabic to the next level.

Until next time, let us know how comfortable you feel with Arabic travel phrases. Is there anything you’re still struggling with? Drop us a comment and tell us about it!

Log

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.

Hit the Ground Running with Arabic Numbers

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So, what are Arabic numbers?

Arabic numbers are, perhaps, one of the most challenging things for Arabic learners. Numbers in Arabic language-learning may be difficult, but they’re so vital to language mastery!

Have you ever been listening to a pleasant conversation in a language you understand, then suddenly get hit with something like “…and then, on a date that would live in infamy…”

Poof. There goes your comprehension. You’ll never know when it happened.

It’s really hard to truly internalize the rules for a new number system to the point where you can hear and understand the numbers being spoken to you. And on top of that, if the numbers are relatively complex, it takes even more time to produce numbers on demand.

For that reason, the best thing you can do is to never shy away from practicing the numbers, whenever and wherever you can. When striving to really learn basic Arabic numbers, lessons like this one are a good place to start. The first step is to understand the system as a whole.

Table of Contents

  1. Just How Arabic are these Numerals?
  2. Cardinal Numbers Zero to Ten
  3. A Taste of Numbers in Colloquial Arabic
  4. Ordinal Numbers
  5. Some Very Easy Math
  6. Lemme Get Your Number
  7. Checking the Time
  8. Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Learn More Arabic

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1. Just How Arabic are these Numerals?

Arabic Numbers

In the United States, we call our numbers “Arabic numerals.” In fact, they’re called that pretty much all over the world. Even in China, the word for Arabic digits (as opposed to Chinese digits) is “Arabic numbers.”

Perhaps the only exception is where they speak Arabic.

It turns out that what English-speakers know as “Arabic numbers” are actually Western Arabic numbers. Those get called “Hindu-Arabic numerals” or نظام العد الهندي العربي (niẓām al-ʿad al-hindī al-ʿarabī) in the Arabic language.

So what are Arabic numerals?

Eastern Arabic numerals are still regularly used in Arabic writing, and so that’s what we’ll focus on today. However, it’s important (and perhaps reassuring) to note that Western Arabic digits are universally understood. In fact, in many public displays such as street signs or advertising, they’ve actually displaced the Eastern Arabic ones.

Let’s have a look at these numbers, go over the Arabic number formats, and get started using them in Modern Standard Arabic to help you better understand about counting numbers in Arabic languages.


2. Cardinal Numbers Zero to Ten

The Number Zero

Let’s learn the Arabic numbers 1 to 10 (or rather, 0 to 10). The simplest thing to start with is zero. Without zero, it would be pretty hard to get math off the ground at all.

By the way, we also have a simple Arabic number vocabulary list you can check out first. Here, you can hear each word pronounced and see it accompanied by an image of its English numeral!

Number Eastern Arabic Numeral Pronunciation
Zero ٠ صِفْر (sifr)
One ١ واحد (waḥid)
Two ٢ إثْنان (ʾiṯnān)
Three ٣ ثَلاثة (ṯalāṯah)
Four ٤ أربَعة (ʾarbaʿah)
Five ٥ خَمْسة (ḫamsah)
Six ٦ سِتّة (sittah)
Seven ٧ سَبعة (sabʿah)
Eight ٨ ثَمانية (ṯamāniyah)
Nine ٩ تِسعة (tisʿah)
Ten ١٠ عَشْرة (ʿašrah)

We’re giving the Eastern Arabic numerals here, though on many signs and public notices you’ll see the Western Arabic forms (1, 2, 3) that you’re already used to. This is particularly true for places (such as Pakistan) which use an Arabic-derived alphabet but have a large population of English-speakers.

Now onward to 100!

Number Eastern Arabic Numeral Pronunciation
Eleven ١١ إحدى عشر (ʾiḥdā ʿašar)
Twelve ١٢ إثنا عشر (ʾiṯnā ʿašar)
Thirteen ١٣ ثلاثة عشر (ṯalāṯatu ʿašar)
Fourteen ١٤ أربعة عشر (ʾarbaʿaẗu ʿašar)
Fifteen ١٥ خمسة عشر (ḫamsaẗu ʿašar)
Sixteen ١٦ ستة عشر (sittaẗa ʿašar)
Seventeen ١٧ سبعة عشر (sabʿaẗa ʿašar)
Eighteen ١٨ ثمانية عشر (ṯamāniyaẗa ʿašar)
Nineteen ١٩ تسعة عشر (tisʿaẗa ʿašar)
Twenty ٢٠ عشرون (ʿišrūn)

When it comes to numbers in Arabic, grammar and additional structure rules are important to remember. The numbers eleven through nineteen are similar in structure to their English counterparts.

  • أربعة عشر
    ʾarbaʿaẗu ʿašar
    Four ten (fourteen)

What’s the deal, though, with the order of digits? There’s no mistake here. The Arabic digits are written left to right, opposite from the rest of the script.

As strange as that sounds, it’s actually about to make a little more sense when you see the numbers after twenty.

  • واحد و عشرون
    waḥid wa ʿišrūn
    one and twenty (21)
  • سبعة وعشرون
    sabʿah wa ʿišrūn
    seven and twenty (27)

And we simply follow that pattern up through ninety-nine. Germans and German learners should feel right at home.

So you see, as Arabic speakers read running text right to left, they don’t have to readjust their speech for two-digit numbers, as their eyes run into the ones place first, then the tens.

1- Counting Things Part 1: Counting to Two

Where English has singular and plural, Arabic has singular, dual, and plural forms of words.

Because of this explicit grammar marking, the Arabic singular and dual forms also capture the feeling of having “one” or “two” of something.

  • كتاب
    kitab
    One book
  • كتابان
    kitaban
    Two books

A Book with Flipping Pages

If you really need to emphasize the number, you actually put the number after the item described. Since the number is an adjective, it has to match the noun in its case and gender.

  • كتابٌ واحدٌ
    itābun waḥidun
    One book (one single, solitary book)
  • رسالتان اثْنَتان
    risal-atān iṯnatān
    Two letters (no more and no less)

2- Counting Things Part 2: Universal Reverse Agreement

After two, counting and the Arabic number system in general are more difficult. People say it’s the hardest part of MSA grammar by far, simply because it involves so much memorization.

To keep from overwhelming you, this guide will only touch on counting things from three to ten.

It’s important to note here that lots and lots of people speaking MSA simply don’t bother with these rules. Different colloquial varieties have already reduced, or eliminated entirely, the agreement between number and noun, and most people who speak MSA aren’t going to be pedantic enough to insist on correct number grammar in speech.

Annoyed Woman with Ruler

The next section is going to go into more detail about colloquial numbers, but for now, let’s focus on the rules for MSA.

When counting one and two, you put the number after the noun; when counting from three to ten, you put the number before the noun. This makes a bit of sense, really, for a language with a distinction between singular, dual, and plural. When talking about one or two things, it’s only natural for native speakers to simply use that noun form.

The fact that there is a difference is the part that makes sense. It’s a little bit harder to explain why the difference manifests in the way it does.

What ends up happening is that the noun becomes plural, declines in the genitive case, and the number takes the opposite grammatical gender.

This is called reverse agreement. It works the same way with every single noun (as long as we’re talking about three to ten).

So let’s look at the noun “teacher.” This is a masculine noun in Arabic, so if we want to say “three teachers,” it will look like this:

  • ثلاثة مدرسين
    ṯalāṯaẗu mudarrisīn
    Three of-teachers (three teachers; “teacher” is genitive plural)

There’s a word مُدَرِّسة (madrasa) which refers specifically to a female teacher. What about three madrasas? Genitive plural, male number:

  • ثلاث مدرسات
    ṯalāṯu mudarrisāt
    Three of-female-teachers

It may be a lot to take in at first glance, but it’s entirely rule-governed. And think about which numbers of things you mention in your daily life—two sheets of paper, four bananas, etc. If you learn the rules well, you’ll cover most of the numbers that life throws at you.

Mastering this will also make you feel like a total grammar superhero. If that’s not enough motivation (for whatever reason!), have a quick glance at how numbers get used outside of MSA rule books.


3. A Taste of Numbers in Colloquial Arabic

The simplest shortcut is to always use the masculine form of the number without changing it. This is a marker of efficiency when speaking MSA. Absolutely everybody will understand you, and nobody will blame you for not remembering the artificial rules.

What exactly is the difference between numbers in MSA and numbers in different colloquial varieties of Arabic? Have a look at this table.

Digit MSA Egyptian Arabic Moroccan Arabic
٠ صِفْر (sifr) صِفْر (sifr) صفر (sifr)
١ واحد (waḥid) واحد (waḥid) واحد (waḥed)
٢ إثْنان (ʾiṯnān) إثْنان (ʾiṯnen) جوج (zouj)
٣ ثَلاثة (ṯalāṯah) ثَلاثة (ṯalāṯah) تلاتة (telata)
٤ أربَعة (ʾarbaʿah) أربَعة (ʾarbaʿah) ربعة (reb’a)
٥ خَمْسة (ḫamsah) خَمْسة (ḫamsah) خمسة (ḫemsa)
٦ سِتّة (sittah) سِتّة (sittah) سْتة (setta)
٧ سَبعة (sabʿah) سَبعة (sabʿah) سْبعة (seb’a)
٨ ثَمانية (ṯamāniyah) ثَمانية (ṯamānyah) تْمنية (tmenya)
٩ تِسعة (tisʿah) تِسعة (tisʿah) تْسعود (tes’od)
١٠ عَشْرة (ʿašrah) عَشْرة (ʿašrah) عْشرة (’eshra)

As you can see, with the numbers zero through ten, there aren’t any enormous differences in pronunciation (though short vowels tend to disappear in Moroccan Arabic in particular).

After a little bit of getting used to the way different people say these numbers, you’ll be able to understand all of them with no trouble at all.

The grammar is also significantly simplified. There’s still a dual form and masculine and feminine agreement, but all colloquial varieties of Arabic have lost their cases entirely.


4. Ordinal Numbers

The definite article is attached to all of these, so you should really read the English as “the first, the second,” etc.

The masculine form of the numbers is presented here.

First ألأَوَّلُ al-awwal
Second الثّاني aṯ-ṯani
Third الثّالِثُ aṯ-ṯaleṯ
Fourth الرّابِعُ arrabe’
Fifth الْخامِسُ al-ḫaames
Sixth السّادِسُ assadis
Seventh السابعُ assabe’
Eighth الثّامِنُ aṯṯamen
Ninth التّاسِعُ attase’
Tenth الْعاشِرُ al-ʿašer

One thing to note as the numbers climb higher and higher: Numbers that are multiples of ten form their ordinal with a simple prefix.

So that means we have أربعون (arba’un) or “forty,” which takes the prefix al- to mean “fortieth.” The number seventy is سبعون (sab’un), and its prefix is a- because it doesn’t start with a vowel. Thus asab’un is how you would say “seventieth.”


5. Some Very Easy Math

Numbers are written from left to right, but math isn’t. Have a look at this:

  • ١+٣ =٤
    واحد جمع ثَلاثة يساوي أربَعة
    waḥid ǧamʿ ṯalāṯah yusāūī ʾarbaʿah
    one plus three equals four

You might not think you need to know words for math, but if you live in an Arabic-speaking environment, the words “plus”, “minus”, and “equals” show up relatively often.

  • جمع
    ǧamʿ
    plus
  • طرح
    tarḥ
    minus
  • يساوي
    yusawi
    equals

One other thing to note is the way people say percentages. It’s as easy as pie! You say the number and then use the Arabic word for “percent.”

  • عشرون بالمائة
    ʿišrūn bilmiʾah
    twenty percent


6. Lemme Get Your Number

Man Asking for Woman’s Phone Number

Phone numbers in different Arabic countries vary pretty strongly in length.

In Tunisia, for instance, phone numbers are six digits with a two-digit area code. In Egypt, landlines are seven digits and mobile numbers are eight. And in Iraq, mobile numbers are ten digits, including a separate prefix for each telecom.

Some languages like German, Mandarin, and even English use separate variants of the digits when reciting phone numbers. Imagine the struggles (perhaps you don’t have to imagine) of an English-learner hearing “My number is five oh four, triple two, seventy-eight fourteen.”

There’s quite a bit of mental gymnastics going on to convert that to 504-222-7814.

But for perhaps the first time in this article, Arabic learners can take the easy road. Check out these phrases.

  • ما رقم هاتفك؟
    mā raqmu hātifik?
    What is your telephone number?
  • رقم هاتفي هو.
    raqmu hātifi huwa…
    My telephone number is…

And then? All you do is say each digit individually. tis’a wahid wahid sitta… (9117…).

Now, in colloquial variants of Arabic, people may have their own individual systems. But when speaking MSA, people tend to slow down and speak more clearly anyway. For that reason, they’ll keep phone number recitals as simple as can be.

Oh, and if you’re exchanging phone numbers in Arabic, you may find it helpful to know some vocabulary for talking about the days in Arabic! Also keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming Dates in Arabic article so you can start setting up appointments and dates.


7.Checking the Time

Remember those differences between MSA and colloquial numbers? Here’s a huge one.

Colloquial varieties of Arabic use the cardinal numbers to tell time. So to say that it’s three o’clock in Egyptian Arabic, you would literally just say الساعة ثلاثة (el-sa’ah talaata) or “three o’clock” and leave it at that.

In MSA, though, you need the ordinal numbers.

  • الساعةُ الواحدة
    al-sāʿaẗu al-waḥida
    one o’clock
  • الساعةُ الثامنة
    al-sāʿaẗu al-ṯāminah
    eight o’clock
  • كم الساعةُ؟ الساعةُ الثانية.
    kam al-sāʿaẗu? al-sāʿaẗu al-ṯāniyah.
    What time is it? Two o’clock.

It’s not too hard to start using these as there aren’t any complicated rules about declension or agreement. Just remember that if you really want to stick to the grammar of MSA as much as possible, use the ordinal forms.

Besides, it’s what you’ll hear on the news anyway.


8. Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Learn More Arabic

Woman Napping with Book on Face

Like any aspect of language, the use of numbers in Arabic can seem to get more and more complex the more you look at it.

But your native language is guaranteed to have just as many things that can seem equally maddening to Arabic speakers.

It’s all a matter of exposure. The more you hear and use this number system, the more you get used to it, and then at some point it’ll seem completely crazy that you ever had trouble remembering the cases.

So embrace the challenge. Embrace the complexity of Arabic numbers, and come out knowing that you’ve mastered one of the most difficult challenges in Arabic learning. And that’s saying something!

Know that ArabicPod101.com will be here with you on each step of your language-learning journey with tons of practical and fun learning tools! You can do this!

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.

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How To Post In Perfect Arabic on Social Media

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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!

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    How to Say Sorry in Arabic: Keys to the Perfect Apology

    Well, you blew it. Perhaps it wasn’t even your fault. Maybe it was a moment of weakness and you definitely won’t do it again.

    The point is, you’ve got to apologize for something now. And you’re going to have to do it in Arabic, which is why, when learning Arabic, how to say sorry is so essential.

    Trying to navigate the intricacies of politeness in a new language isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It would be a lot easier if you could just communicate in English—easier for you, that is!

    Saying sorry in Arabic is something you shouldn’t do until you’re well past the language-learning level of taking phrases from articles like this one. Each situation that calls for an apology is unique and complex.

    But everyone has to start somewhere, and when it comes to how to say sorry in Arabic, lessons like this one are a good place to do so. Even learning a simple “sorry” in Arabic language can have massive benefits. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Arabic Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

    1. What is an Apology?
    2. Basic Phrases for Apologizing
    3. Asking for Forgiveness
    4. Four Different Approaches to Apologizing
    5. Saying Sorry When it Really Wasn’t so Bad
    6. Learning to Apologize Like a Native
    7. Conclusion

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    1. What is an Apology?

    3 Ways to Say Sorry

    An apology is when one person has wronged another in some way, through word or deed, and now must bear a certain amount of responsibility to right that wrong. In other words, an apology is a way of transforming what has been seen as offensive into what can be seen as acceptable.

    Sometimes that’s as easy as saying a set phrase like “I’m sorry.” After all, life happens and we can’t all be perfect. There are bound to be little mishaps from time to time that simply take a tiny acknowledgment of guilt to fix.

    But many times, it’s not so simple.

    It often takes specific reflection on the offensive act before the other party is satisfied—particularly in formal or serious situations. This is even more apparent in conservative Arab cultures.

    Take just one example: You’re a professor, and a student arrives late to your class. Would you prefer that he mumbles “sorry” as he heads to his seat, or that he gives you a more detailed and “real” apology along the lines of “Sorry I’m late, Professor, there was construction on the road.”

    It might not matter to you. But it certainly does to others.

    Knowing how to navigate these treacherous cultural waters is one of the most important things you can learn in terms of cross-cultural communication. Far more so than just the language itself! That said, when learning how to say sorry in Arabic, phrases like the ones below make for good building blocks as you work toward more complex apologies, and are great for building your core “sorry” in Arabic vocabulary.


    2. Basic Phrases for Apologizing

    Say Sorry

    So, what does saying sorry in Arabic words look like? The simplest way of how to say sorry in spoken Arabic is with the word “sorry.”

    • آسِف
      ʾāsif
      Sorry

    Infinitesimally more complicated is “I’m sorry,” which naturally requires the pronoun.

    • أنا اسفة / أنا آسِف
      ana ʾāsif / ana ʾāsifa

    In Arabic and in English, there’s also a verb form: I apologize.

    • أنا أعتذر
      ʾanā ʾaʿtaḏir
      I apologize.

    This is more formal and slightly heavier in tone. As you can probably guess, something as simple as your choice of words can have a big effect on how the other party perceives your message.

    And yet, taking the time to learn “sorry” in Arabic may simply not be enough. Let’s dive a little deeper, and learn how to say “forgive me” in Arabic.


    3. Asking for Forgiveness

    Asking for Forgiveness

    If you ask someone to forgive you, it’s possible that it might actually make them angrier than if you waited for things to blow over naturally.

    After all, forgiveness takes a certain amount of sacrifice. And when you’ve been wronged by someone, sacrifice is the very last thing you want to do.

    On the other hand, if someone is already past being emotional, but still harbors a little bit of a grudge, asking for forgiveness puts the ball in their court to give up their enmity and move on. It can be a wake-up call, like “I guess it’s time to let this go.”

    • أرجوك سامحني، أتوسّل إليك
      ʾarǧūk sāmiḥnī, ʾatawassalu ʾilayk
      Please forgive me, I beg you.

    Let’s take a closer look at that verb: سامِحْنِي‎ (sāmiḥnī).

    The triliteral root is س م ح, s-m-ḥ, which is related to permission and magnanimity. For instance, there’s سَمَحَ (samaḥa) which means “to allow; to permit” as well as سَمُحَ (samuḥa) which means “to be generous.”

    The verb sāmiḥnī itself translates most directly to the English phrase “forgive me.” If a woman is speaking, it would be sāmiḥinī instead.

    And it’s a pretty serious word! You absolutely wouldn’t use it for simple annoyances or misunderstandings that resolve themselves quickly.

    The more you pull apart these words and phrases, the more impossible the whole task seems. And yet, tons of second-language Arabic speakers have figured it out. How, then, can you come up with a foolproof way to apologize in Arabic?


    4. Four Different Approaches to Apologizing

    Woman Covering Her Mouth

    There are as many different ways to get an apology across as there are bends in a river. In general, the most effective and heartfelt apologies are a combination of multiple approaches.

    Saying sorry isn’t enough on its own, but check out these different strategies and think about how you might express these feelings in Arabic.

    1- Trying to Right the Wrong

    With this strategy, you implicitly accept guilt and want to show with your actions that you regret what happened.

    Righting the wrong could be as simple as paying for something that you accidentally broke, buying someone a meal, or even something as complex as making a thoughtful gift from scratch to show that you care.

    The important thing is that you’re expending time, effort, or money on behalf of the other person because they were inconvenienced by you. Here are three different ways to let someone know you’re immediately prepared to make amends.

    • سأحاول إصلاح ذلك
      saʾuḥāwilu ʾiṣlāḥa ḏalik
      I’ll try to fix it.
    • سأشتري لكِ واحدة جديدة
      saʾaštarī lak waḥidah ǧadīdah
      I’ll buy you a new one.
    • يمكنك أن تأخذ طعامي
      yumkinuka ʾan taʾḫuḏa ṭaʿāmī
      You can have my food instead.

    What do these phrases have in common? They refer to something in particular, such as “food” in the last example.

    2- Accepting Responsibility

    Here, you’re explicitly accepting guilt and admitting that it was, in fact, your fault. This is a very valuable trait to have. No matter how much people enjoy making excuses, nobody likes to hear them.

    • أنا المسؤول.
      ʾanā al-masʾuūl.
      I am responsible (for it).
    • لقد كانت غلطتي.
      laqad kānat ġalṭatī.
      It was my mistake.
    • إنها غلطتي
      ʾinnahā ġalṭatī
      It’s all my fault.

    As you can see from these two examples, the word غَلَط‎ (ghalata) here means “error” or “mistake.” Idiomatically, in English we can say “it’s my fault,” but in Arabic it’s better to stick with phrasing in the style of “it’s my mistake” or “the error was mine.”

    3- Not Doing it Again

    As long as you can keep your promise, you’ll definitely want to reassure the other person that you won’t make the same mistake again.

    Are you trustworthy? Hopefully you’re not a خائن (ḫāʾin) or a traitor, a snake, or a backstabber. If somebody calls you that, you might want to skip straight to the later part of this article where you learn how to beg for forgiveness. Either that or start a fight.

    Assuming that nobody is brawling over an attack on their honor, here are two phrases you can use to try and convince the other person that you’ve turned over a new leaf.

    • .أعِدُك أنني لن أفعَلَ ذلك مرة أخرى
      ʾaʿiduka ʾannanī lan ʾafʿala ḏalika marraẗan ʾuḫrā.
      I promise I won’t do it again.

    Of course, with most people, you’re lucky to even get this chance. Your actions have to speak louder than your words here.

    4- Explaining Your Actions

    Who doesn’t like to stick up for themselves? Although we mentioned earlier that you should try to avoid excuses and stay honorable, it’s not a black-and-white situation.

    If the thing that happened really wasn’t that serious, then explaining the circumstances can let the other person step into your shoes for a moment, and understand that you really didn’t mean any harm.

    • لقد كان الطريق مزدحماً
      laqad kān al-ṭarīqu muzdaḥiman
      There was a lot of traffic.
    • الحقيقة أنها ليست لي
      al-ḥaqīqaẗu ʾannahā laysat lī.
      The truth is, it wasn’t mine.
    • لقد كان سوء تفاهم
      laqad kāna sūʾa tafāhum
      It was a misunderstanding.
    • أعتذر بشدة. لم أتمكن من الرد على هاتفي
      ʾaʿtaḏir bišiddah. lam ʾatamakkan min al-rad ʿalā hātifī
      I’m sorry, I couldn’t pick up my phone.

    Who knows when you might need phrases like these? As alluded to previously, however, doing this too much is a recipe for being brushed off in the future. If you’re always the one to come up with an excuse, well, congratulations on reaching such an impressive level in Arabic!

    But whichever of your friends that are still sticking around might be having second thoughts.


    5. Saying Sorry When it Really Wasn’t so Bad

    Woman Apologizing for Bumping Someone

    Time for something a little lighter: how to apologize in Arabic language for smaller things.

    In English, we say the word “sorry” to apologize, but we also use it as a kind of filler word when the tiniest inconvenience has taken place. It doesn’t even matter if it was your fault.

    You might say “sorry” when you mishear someone, for instance; but wasn’t it their fault in the first place for speaking so quietly? And how many times have you automatically mumbled an apology when someone bumped into you in a crowded place?

    Well, from Morocco to Iraq, people are bumping into each other and mumbling apologies just the same as people do in English-speaking countries. It’s a good idea to learn these two phrases for “excuse me'’ and “sorry” in Arabic.

    • عفوا
      ʿafwan
      Excuse me! (to squeeze past somebody in an elevator)
    • المعذرة
      al-maʿḏirah
      Sorry… (to get someone’s attention)

    If you want to be specific about mishearing someone, you can say آسِف (aasif) and then add this simple phrase:

    • ماذا قلت؟
      māḏā qult?
      What did you say?

    Lastly, the word عفوا (ʿafwan) means “excuse me,” like the kind of thing you’d say after coughing or sneezing. It’s neutral and formal, so you can easily use it in any situation where you don’t really know your audience.

    On the whole, most people find Arabs extremely polite and well-mannered. They might not take unnecessary apologies as far as some British people do, but this is one aspect of Western culture that you can import wholesale into the Middle East.


    6. Learning to Apologize Like a Native

    Woman Gesturing

    You can learn a lot about apologizing in Arabic by watching TV and reading books meant for native speakers.

    TV is a bit of a double-edged sword in this case. Soap operas have people apologizing and begging forgiveness at least once an episode, but there aren’t any ordinary daily-life soaps in MSA. Arabic TV shows dealing with everyday situations are all in colloquial Arabic.

    The MSA shows you’ll tend to find are the kind of sweeping historical epics that come out around Ramadan. Either that, or Sesame Street.

    So for really expressing yourself naturally in Modern Standard Arabic, you’ll have to do a lot of reading. Fiction in translation that you’re already familiar with is an excellent starter. It won’t teach you the cultural norms, but it will give you a great first boost for being comfortable reading the language.

    After that, you can move into original articles (because they’re short), literature, and even poetry. Authentic depictions of actual Arab cultures written in Arabic are the ideal way to pick up on real norms of how feelings get expressed—certainly not limited to apologies.


    7. Conclusion

    All in all, feelings rely heavily on language. Sure, you can shout, scream, and break things, but at the end of the day you’ve got to be clear about what you mean.

    We didn’t cover the myriad ways that people might demand or accept apologies in Arabic because there’s simply no end to the depth this topic could reach.

    Learning how to say sorry in Arabic is a valuable skill for communication across the Arab world. Even better than that, though, is a thoroughly open mind and a readiness to be extremely flexible when it comes to cultural misunderstandings.

    Most people will afford you this luxury as a visiting foreigner. Will you be prepared to offer them the same?

    If you want to take your Arabic up a notch, don’t hesitate to grab ArabicPod101’s free trial to get access to over 1060 video and audio lessons.

    Before you go, let us know in the comments how confident you feel now about offering an apology in Arabic. Much more confident, or do you still need some time to study and practice? We look forward to hearing from you!

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    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.