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How to Prepare for any Arabic Test or Exam

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Arabic is a language with a lot of prestige attached to it.

In Western culture, we don’t consume a whole lot of Arabic movies, music, or TV shows, but if someone can speak Arabic as a foreign language, we tend to assume they’re ridiculously smart.

If you don’t know any Arabic, though, it’s pretty easy for anybody with a decent accent to fool you into thinking their Arabic is perfect, even if native speakers would be totally lost trying to follow what they’re saying.

That’s why there are Arabic tests and exams that you can take to show that your Arabic proficiency has been verified by a third party.

Language exams come with certificates. Those certificates can get you a job inside or outside the Arabic-speaking world.

But which exam should you take? Which of them are trusted, and how can you approach each one in the most efficient manner?

Well, that’s why you’re here! Let’s dive together into the world of Arabic language exams, and see which of the Arabic language proficiency tests is right for you!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. The Arabic Tests Begging for Your Attention
  2. The Reading Exam
  3. The Listening Exam
  4. The Writing Exam
  5. The Speaking Exam
  6. Preparation and Test-Taking Strategies
  7. Conclusion

1. The Arabic Tests Begging for Your Attention

People Taking a Written Examination

There is no “single” Arabic exam that’s widely accepted by everyone. Instead, there are three different tests designed for three different purposes and audiences.

The ALPT, or Arabic Language Proficiency Test, is a very official-sounding exam produced by The Arab Academy, a private language school in Cairo. 

You can take this Arabic proficiency test online, but you need to have a registered proctor there with you who makes sure you’re not flipping through a dictionary under the table. Once you get this exam, it’s accepted for government and university purposes in all Arabic-speaking countries, plus several Asian and African countries. 

The CIMA (Certificat International de Maîtrise en Arabe, or International Certificate for Arabic Language Proficiency) is an exam written by the Arab World Institute in Paris. 

It’s brand-new, having just been announced in 2018, and is currently available at schools and exam centers throughout Europe and the Middle East. It comes in “cima+1” and “cima+2” variants, where the first tests from A1-B2 levels and the second tests from B2-C2 levels. 

Finally, last in the alphabet soup of acronyms, we have the DLPT, or the Defense Language Proficiency Test

This is an exam given by the United States military for speakers of many different languages who want to use their languages in military intelligence. For this reason, civilians can’t take it. Most people in the military are enrolled in specific language courses that prepare them for what they’ll be needing Arabic for, and taking the DLPT is just a part of that course. 

However, it is possible to take the DLPT even if you haven’t taken a course from the Defense Language Institute (DLI). As you probably already know, though, Arabic is one of the hardest languages to do this with! 

So those are your choices. No matter which one you take, your study routine should be roughly similar for all of them. Let’s have a brief look at the individual sections on each exam!

2. The Reading Exam

Man Reading a Book Intently

1- ALPT

The reading section for this Arabic language proficiency test is designed to pressure you into thinking quickly. For the C2 exam—the most difficult of all—you’ll have 90 multiple-choice questions, and just 60 minutes to read the texts and answer all the questions. 

The other levels adapt to you as you do better or worse in your responses. You won’t be expected to be intimately familiar with Arab or Muslim culture, as the test is designed to be internationally applicable. 

2- CIMA

The CIMA exam tests you on 35 reading questions and gives you a leisurely 45 minutes. It’s multiple-choice as well, and each question has just three possible answers. It’s designed with a focus on everyday language comprehension, so you’ll get questions about advertisements, flyers, menus, and timetables.

3- DLPT

The DLPT is also a multiple-choice exam, but it’s infamous for being extremely tricky. The test-writers put in a lot of very similar-sounding answers that are very close together in meaning. 

For example, you might read a passage where a father asks his son where he was and if he would be late coming home. 

Then in the answer, you’d have to choose between “The father wanted to know when the son would come home” and “The father wanted to know where the son was.” Both look correct, but the father only asked if the son would be late, not specifically when he’d come home! 

3. The Listening Exam

A Man Listening to Something with Headphones

1- ALPT

Since listening, by nature, takes longer than reading, the ALPT listening section allows 60 minutes to get through 38 questions. 

You’ll be tested on your knowledge of both academic and non-academic language, though it will all be in Modern Standard Arabic. There’s also a separate “Structure” section for the ALPT, where you’ll breeze through questions about syntax and word order for another 60 minutes. 

2- CIMA

On the CIMA exam, you’ll listen to monologues and dialogues about all types of content. They’re pretty creative, so on any given test day, you might hear phone conversations, business presentations, and radio programs. 

It lasts around 35 minutes, and you won’t hear anything repeated. However, you won’t have to deal with heavy regional accents or fast-paced speakers. 

3- DLPT

The listening section of the DLPT is actually a separate test from the writing module. If you’d like, you can take it on another day! It biases heavily toward news and other formal language, so as long as you can understand the news, you’re golden. 

Naturally, in news MSA, everybody speaks very clearly, so you don’t have to worry about regional accents here, either. 

    → Not very confident in your current listening skills? Learn how to improve this crucial aspect of your Arabic language abilities! 

4. The Writing Exam

A Man Typing Something on a Keyboard

1- ALPT

Fortunately, the ALPT is computer-based, so you won’t have to worry about your Arabic penmanship! Compared to the other fast-paced sections of the test, this one’s a breeze. You’ll have one general question to respond to, and one hour to write a response. 

The computer will adapt the question based on your performance in previous sections, so if you were breezing through the reading and listening questions, you may have to write an essay about an abstract and complicated topic such as ethics or technology. 

2- CIMA

If you take the CIMA exam, you’ll have to complete three tasks: briefly describing an image, responding to an informal text or email, and writing a brief paragraph on a question about daily life, such as office space organization or homework.

3- DLPT

Since the DLPT is designed for people employed by the United States military, they don’t expect that test-takers will need to produce Arabic texts. Therefore, there’s no required writing section for the DLPT. 

5. The Speaking Exam

A Man Doing a Skype Interview

1- ALPT

The ALPT speaking exam is done live over a Skype connection with a certified teacher. It takes the form of an interview lasting at least fifteen minutes. 

The interviewer will first get you comfortable and make sure you’re able to hear them clearly. Then, they’ll ask more and more detailed questions about you and what you think about different issues in the world. Since it’s an adaptive test, if they notice that you’re having a lot of trouble, they’ll circle back to easier topics so as not to stress you out. 

2- CIMA

The CIMA speaking portion is quite similar to the IELTS exam for English, though perhaps a little bit more demanding. 

First, you’ll speak with the interviewer about ordinary daily-life things for two minutes, introducing yourself and so on. 

Then you’ll take part in a roleplay, with some time for preparation. Afterwards, without any preparation, the examiner will ask you a more abstract question like “What makes a country pleasant to live in?” and you’ll have to give a three-minute monologue in which you explore and justify your own feelings. 

3- DLPT

The DLPT has no built-in speaking test. Instead, if speaking Arabic is required for your position, you’ll be referred to a telephone-based Oral Proficiency Interview, or OPI.

6. Preparation and Test-Taking Strategies

Language Skills

When it comes to Arabic language proficiency testing, the single biggest factor separating people who do well and those who don’t is probably reading efficiency.

Everybody’s naturally going to learn the Arabic alphabet during their Arabic courses, but some people are always going to be more comfortable with it than others.

Those who can skim through Arabic words with ease are going to be the most confident during the test, but that skill doesn’t come easy. You have to read thousands and thousands of pages of Arabic text, sometimes over and over, before you become as comfortable with the Arabic alphabet as you are with the Latin one.

One great exercise is to try translating a text orally. Just look at an Arabic text and try to come up with a decent translation line-by-line in English. This is an exercise used in formal courses for interpreting. But if you do it as a learner, you’ll quickly see your holes in vocabulary and grammar, more so than if you just tried reading silently and looking for unfamiliar parts. 

7. Conclusion

In addition to reading speed, the best way to get prepared for an Arabic exam is to get really comfortable with a wide vocabulary. This is good for your Arabic in general! The wider your vocabulary in MSA, the easier it will be to learn dialects later on.

And there’s no better way to start improving than right here on ArabicPod101.com

If you spend about a third of your active study time really going through the podcasts and articles one-by-one and making sure you know all the words, you can use the other two-thirds to relax. For example, doing things like listening to and reading all kinds of things on and off the ArabicPod101 website.

Lots of language enthusiasts talk about learning things as fast as humanly possible, but life is a lot more comfortable at a gentle pace. Take it easy with Arabic, and you’re sure to go far.

We hope you feel more confident now in your abilities to ace that Arabic exam. If you have any questions, or anything you would like to share with fellow readers about a previous Arabic test experience, please leave a comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Basic Arabic Sentences & Patterns: Your Ticket to Fluency


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Did you know that language is really just patterns?

Even the most complex languages, like Arabic, can be described with a long, long list of rules and patterns.

Of course, we’re talking about multiple research teams working for decades to really tease out all the patterns of a natural language. There are always some unusual things that crop up and extend the research by a couple of years.

Fortunately, the inconsistencies and the exceptions don’t detract from one simple ground truth: to speak Arabic well, you need to master key Arabic sentences and sentence patterns.

That’s one of the best ways to start speaking Arabic quickly, too. Once you have a deep knowledge of a single sentence pattern, you can use that understanding to swap in vocabulary about, well, anything! 

In this article, we’ve prepared a bit of advice and some example patterns for ten different types of very useful Arabic sentences.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Simple Arabic Noun Sentences
  2. Describing Words with Adjectives
  3. Saying “I Want” in Arabic
  4. Saying “I Need” in Arabic
  5. Can You Tell Time in Arabic?
  6. Would You Kindly…?
  7. Comparing Two Things
  8. Review: Asking Questions
  9. If This, Then That
  10. Making “Because” Sentences in Arabic
  11. Conclusion

1. Simple Arabic Noun Sentences


Sentence Patterns

First up is the easiest of all, the simple equivalency of two nouns. This Arabic sentence structure is so simple because “to be” is omitted in the present tense in Arabic. This should be quite familiar to anybody who knows a little Russian. 

So in lieu of the verb “to be,” we just put one noun next to the other and call it a day!

  • “Today is Saturday.”
    اليَوْم السَبت.
    al-yawm al-sabt.

  • “I am a high school teacher.”
    أَنا أُستاذ بِالثانَوِيَّة.
    ʾanā ʾustāḏ bilṯānawiّah.

  • “Health is a blessing.”
    الصِحَّةُ بَرَكَة.
    al-ṣiḥḥaẗu barakah.

  • “My boss is a nice guy.”
    مُديري رَجُلٌ طَيِّب
    mudīrī raǧulun ṭayyib.

  • “This is a textbook from Arabic class.”
    هَذا كِتابٌ مَدرَسِيٌّ مِن دَرس اللُغَةِ العَرَبِيَّة.
    haḏā kitābun madrasiyyun min dars al-luġaẗi al-ʿarabiyyah.

2. Describing Words with Adjectives

Constructing a simple noun-adjective sentence in Arabic couldn’t be easier. You simply put the words in the same order you would in an English sentence. 

The only thing you have to remember for this Arabic sentence construction is that adjectives need to agree with their nouns in number and gender.

  • “Wow, this bag is heavy!”
    هَذا الكيسُ ثَقيل!
    haḏā al-kīsu ṯaqīl!

  • “The sunset is beautiful.”
    الغُروبُ جَميل.
    al-ġurūbu ǧamīl.

  • “Your food is super-tasty!”
    طَعامُكَ لَذيذٌ جِدّاً!
    ṭaʿāmuka laḏīḏun ǧiddan!

  • “Your speech yesterday was brilliant.”
    خِطابُكَ البارِحَة كانَ رائِعاً.
    ḫiṭābuka al-bāriḥah kāna rāʾiʿan.

  • “I heard the new movie was terrible.”
    سَمِعتُ بِأَنَّ الفيلم الجَديدَ كارِثِيّ.
    samiʿtu biʾanna al-fīlm al-ǧadīda kāriṯiyy.

3. Saying “I Want” in Arabic


Pizza, Wings, and Pasta

As a visitor to an Arabic-speaking country, you’ll definitely get a lot of mileage out of this Arabic sentence pattern. Simply take the verb ُأُريد (ʾurīdu) and add a noun or verb after it.

  • “I want that pizza.”
    أُريدُ تِلكَ البيتزا.
    ʾurīdu tilka al-bītzā.

  • I want a cold drink.”
    أُريدُ مَشروباً بارِداً.
    ʾurīdu mašrūban bāridan.

  • “I want to go home.”
    أُريدُ أَن أَذهَبَ إلى المَنزِل.
    ʾurīdu ʾan ʾaḏhaba ʾilā al-manzil.

In English, we use a different verb form (“want” / “would like”) to be more polite. In Arabic, the verb doesn’t change, but we add on extra phrases to pad out the sentence with extra politeness markers.

  • “Please, I want the book about cats.”
    لَوْ سَمَحت، أُريدُ الكِتابَ المُتَعَلِّق بِالقِطَط.
    law samaḥt, ʾurīdu al-kitāba al-mutaʿalliq bilqiṭaṭ.

  • “If you wouldn’t mind, I want another piece of bread.”
    إذا كُنتَ لا تُمانِع، أُريدُ قِطعَةَ خُبزٍ أُخرى.
    ʾiḏā kunta lā tumāniʿ, ʾurīdu qiṭʿaẗa ḫubzin ʾuḫrā.

4. Saying “I Need” in Arabic

أَحْتَاج (ʾaḥtāǧu) is the verb meaning “need” in Arabic, and the sentence pattern is:

ʾaḥtāǧu + ilā + noun

ʾaḥtāǧu means “I need,” ilā  is a preposition meaning “for” or “to,” and then comes the noun of your choice.

  • “I need a new laptop.”
    أَحتاجُ إلى حاسوبٍ جَديد.
    ʾaḥtāǧu ʾilā ḥāsūbin ǧadīd.

  • “You will need a pencil for the exam.”
    سَوْفَ تَحتاجُ إلى قَلَمٍ رَصاص لِلاِمتِحان.
    sawfa taḥtāǧu ʾilā qalamin raṣāṣ lilimtiḥān.

  • “I don’t need anything from the store.”
    لا أَحتاجُ إلى أَيِّ شَيْءٍ مِن المَتجَر.
    lā ʾaḥtāǧu ʾilā ʾayyi šayʾin min al-matǧar.

5. Can You Tell Time in Arabic?

Clock on White Background

Telling time in Arabic is complex enough to deserve its own article, but as a tourist, you might just need to be able to say the different hours of the day. The context (a bus ride, a business closing, and so on) will make the meaning clear for everyone.

  • “It’s four o’clock.”
    الساعَةُ الرابِعَة.
    al-sāʿaẗu al-rābiʿah.

  • “The bus arrived at two o’clock in the morning.”
    الباص وَصَل عِندَ الثانِيَةِ صَباحاً.
    al-bāṣ waṣal ʿinda al-ṯāniyaẗi ṣabāḥan.

  • “By the time we get home, it will be midnight.”
    بِحُلولِ الوَقتِ الَّذي نَصِلُ فيهِ إلى المَنزِل، سَيَكونُ مُنتَصَفِ اللَيْل.
    biḥulūli al-waqti allaḏī naṣilu fīhi ʾilā al-manzil, sayakūnu muntaṣafi al-layl.

  • “He was supposed to leave at three o’clock.”
    كانَ مِن المُفتَرَضِ أَن يُغادِرَ في الساعَةِ الثالِثَة.
    kāna min al-muftaraḍi ʾan yuġādira fī al-sāʿaẗi al-ṯaliṯah.

  • “Tonight, I’ll definitely sleep before ten o’clock.”
    اللَيْلَة حَتماً سَوْفَ أَنامُ في الساعَةِ العاشِرَة.
    al-laylah ḥatman sawfa ʾanāmu fī al-sāʿaẗi al-ʿāširah.


6. Would You Kindly…? 


An Air Conditioner

This Arabic language sentence structure is similar to the polite requests section from earlier, but here we can see how to add verbs in the polite request.

  • “Could you please finish your work faster?”
    لَوْ سَمَحت، هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تُنهِيَ عَمَلَك بِشَكلٍ أَسرَع؟
    law samaḥt, hal yumkinuka ʾan tunhiya ʿamalak bišaklin ʾasraʿ?

  • “Would you mind letting me sit down?”
    هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَسمَحَ لي بِالجُلوس؟
    hal yumkinuka ʾan tasmaḥa lī bilǧulūs?

  • “Could you please turn up the air conditioning?”
    هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَرفَعَ دَرَجَةَ تَكيِيف الهَوَاء؟
    hal yumkinuka ʾan tarfaʿa daraǧaẗa takyiīf al-hawaʾ?

  • “Excuse me, could you help me reach that box?”
    لَوْ سَمَحت، هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تُساعِدَني عَلى الوُصولِ إلى ذاكَ الصُندوق؟
    law samaḥt, hal yumkinuka ʾan tusāʿidanī ʿalā al-wuṣūli ʾilā ḏāka al-ṣundūq?

Just for fun, let’s try a rude request!

  • “Sit down and shut up right now!”
    اِجلِس واِغلِق فَمَك الآن!
    iǧlis ūiġliq famak al-ʾān!

7. Comparing Two Things


Large, Expensive House

Similarly to English, in Arabic there are two ways to compare things, depending on whether or not the adjective in question has a commonly used comparative form:

1 – More skillful than…
أَكثَر مَهارَة مِن
ʾakṯar mahārah min…

2 – Bigger than…
أَكبَر مِن
ʾakbar min…

Take a look at the following sentences and observe which ones belong to the first type, and which ones belong to the second.

  • “You did better on the exam than I did.”
    كُنتَ أَفضَلَ مِنّي في الاِمتِحان.
    kunta ʾafḍala minnī fī al-imtiḥān.

  • “His house is more expensive than mine.”
    مَنزِلُه أَغلى مِن مَنزِلي.
    manziluh ʾaġlā min manzilī.

  • “Dubai is hotter than Casablanca.”
    دُبَيّ أَكثَر سُخونَة مِن الدار البَيْضاء.
    dubayy ʾakṯar suḫūnah min al-dār al-bayḍāʾ.

  • “The market near my house is dirtier than the market downtown.”
    السوق القَريب مِن مَنزِلي أَكثَر اِتِّساخاً مِن سوق وَسَط المَدينَة.
    al-sūq al-qarīb min manzilī ʾakṯar ittisāḫan min sūq wasaṭ al-madīnah.

  • “I can run faster than you can.”
    يُمكِنُني الجَري أَسرَع مِنك.
    yumkinunī al-ǧarī ʾasraʿ mink.

8. Review: Asking Questions 


Sentence Components

Before we see the last two sentence patterns (which are a tiny bit more difficult), let’s review the basic concepts we learned earlier—only this time, they’ll be in the form of questions.

  • “Is that bag heavy?”
    هَل ذَلِكَ الكيس ثَقيل؟
    hal ḏalika al-kīs ṯaqīl?

  • “Do you want water?”
    هَل تُريدُ ماء؟
    hal turīdu māʾ?

  • “Do you need help?”
    هَل تَحتاجُ إلى المُساعَدَة؟
    hal taḥtāǧu ʾilā al-musāʿadah?

  • “Is his house bigger than yours?”
    هَل مَنزِلُه أَكبَرُ مِن مَنزِلِك؟
    hal manziluh ʾakbaru min manzilik?

  • “Is today Wednesday?”
    هَل اليَوْمُ الأَربَعاء؟
    hal al-yawmu al-ʾarbaʿāʾ?

9. If This, Then That


A Dungeon

Surprise, it’s time for conditional sentences! This pattern is very regular, so once you learn it once, you know it forever.

  • “If you don’t lower the price, I’ll go somewhere else.”
    إذا لَم تُخَفِّض السِعر، سَوْفَ أَذهَبُ إلى مَكانٍ آخَر.
    ʾiḏā lam tuḫaffiḍ al-siʿr, sawfa ʾaḏhabu ʾilā makānin ʾāḫar.

  • “If you do that again, I’ll be angry.”
    إذا قُمتَ بِهَذا مَرَّةً أُخرى، سَأَغضَب.
    ʾiḏā qumta bihaḏā marraẗan ʾuḫrā, saʾaġḍab.

  • “We can escape if the guard falls asleep.”
    يُمكِنُنا الهَرَب إذا خَلَدَ الحارِس إلى النَوْم.
    yumkinunā al-harab ʾiḏā ḫalada al-ḥāris ʾilā al-nawm.

  • “If I buy this camera, I won’t have enough money for rent.”
    إذا اِشتَرَيْتُ هَذِهِ الكاميرا، لَن يَكونَ لَدَيّ المال الكافي لِلإيجار.
    ʾiḏā ištaraytu haḏihi al-kāmīrā, lan yakūna ladayy al-mal- al-kāfī lilʾiīǧār.

  • “If I see you tomorrow, I’ll say hello.”
    إذا رَأَيْتُكَ غَداً، سَأُسَلِّمُ عَلَيْك.
    ʾiḏā raʾaytuka ġadan, saʾusallimu ʿalayk.

10. Making “Because” Sentences in Arabic

Let’s go out with a bang for the last one! These two compound Arabic sentence patterns are included because they sound quite advanced, but you really only have to practice them a few times before you remember them. You could be speaking Arabic at this level within a couple of weeks!

  • “I was late because I slept in.”
    لَقَد تَأَخَّرتُ لِأَنَّني نِمت.
    laqad taʾaḫḫartu liʾannanī nimt.

  • “I need a key because the door is locked.”
    أَحتاجُ إلى مُفتاحٍ لِأَنَّ البابَ مُغلَق.
    ʾaḥtāǧu ʾilā muftāḥin liʾanna al-bāba muġlaq.

  • “He had to pay because she didn’t bring any money.”
    لَزَمَ عَلَيْهِ أَن يَدفَعَ لِأَنَّها لَم تُحضِر أَيَّ مال.
    lazama ʿalayhi ʾan yadfaʿa liʾannahā lam tuḥḍir ʾayya mal.

  • “She won a prize because her research was excellent.”
    لَقَد فازَت بِجائِزَةٍ لِأَنَّ بَحثَها كانَ مُمتازاً.
    laqad fāzat biǧāʾizaẗin liʾanna baḥṯahā kāna mumtāzan.

11. Conclusion

The best source of Arabic sentence patterns, of course (outside of a grammar book), is real Arabic language.

You can get that right here on ArabicPod101.com!

As you listen to the podcast episodes and read the transcripts, look for these ten sentence patterns as they show up again and again. Consciously marking them in your mind will really seal them into your memory.

Then see if you can find others! Even if you already know all the verbs and nouns in the sentence, think about how they relate to each other in terms of case, number, and gender. That awareness means that you’ll start speaking Arabic correctly without even thinking.

Take the opportunity right now to review this article and learn Arabic sentence patterns; then, see what you can find in real life!

Before you go, let us know in the comments how many of these sentence patterns are new to you. Did our article answer your questions about how to construct Arabic sentences? We look forward to hearing from you!

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The Adverb in Arabic: 100 Amazingly Useful Arabic Adverbs

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Can you say anything in Arabic—anything at all?

If you’re on this website, I should hope so! But how accurately can you describe what you see, and even more importantly, what people are doing?

This is a job for adverbs. Adverbs modify verbs and nouns, and in Arabic, you may be surprised how they end up coming together. Knowing just the right adverb in Arabic can take a sentence from okay to amazing, and enhance clarity.

Right here, we have 100 Arabic adverbs just for you. Check them out!

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Table of Contents
  1. Arabic Adverbs of Time
  2. Arabic Adverbs of Place
  3. Arabic Adverbs of Manner
  4. Arabic Adverbs of Degree
  5. Arabic Adverbs for Wishes, Hopes, and Probability
  6. Get in Touch with Your Emotions
  7. Personality Traits
  8. The Interesting Word Kull
  9. Conclusion

1. Arabic Adverbs of Time

A Woman Holding an Alarm Clock

By far the most common, and therefore the most plentiful, adverbs in any language are the adverbs of time. You need to be able to talk about when things happen, how often things happen, and so on.

1. Now

“Please do it now.”

مِن فَضلِك قُم بِذَلِكَ الآن.

min faḍlik qum biḏalika al-ʾān.

2. Later

“I’ll finish my homework later.”

سَأُنهي وَاجِباتي المَنزِلِيَّةِ لاحِقاً.

saʾunhī waǧibātī al-manziliyyaẗi lāḥiqan.

3. Soon

“Your parents will arrive soon.”

وَالِداك سَيَصِلان قَريباً.

Walidaka sayasilona walidāk sayaṣilān qarīban. 

4. Sometimes

“I sometimes go to sleep after midnight.” 

أَذهَبُ أَحياناً لِلنَوْمِ بَعدَ مُنتَصَفِ اللَيْل.

ʾaḏhabu ʾaḥīānan lilnawmi baʿda muntaṣafi al-layl.

5. Usually

“I usually eat a big breakfast.”

عادَةً ما آكُلُ فُطوراً كَبيراً.

ʿādaẗan mā ʾākulu fuṭūran kabīran.

6. Never

“My dad never becomes angry.”

وَالِدي لا يَغضَبُ أَبَداً.

walidī lā yaġḍabu ʾabadan.

7. Rarely

“I rarely get sick.”

نادِراً ما أَمرَض.

nādiran mā ʾamraḍ.

8. Recently

“David recently bought a new car.”

إشتَرى داوود مُؤَخَّراً سَيَّارَةً جَديدَة.

ʾištarā dāūd muʾuaḫḫaran sayyāraẗan ǧadīdah.

9. Once

“Clap your hands once.”

صَفِّق مَرَّة وَاحِدَة.

ṣaffiq marrah waḥidah.

10. Twice

“Always check your work twice.”

تَحَقَّق مِن عَمَلِكَ مَرَّتَيْن دائِماً.

taḥaqqaq min ʿamalika marratayn dāʾiman.

11. Yesterday

“I was gone yesterday.”

غادَرتُ البارِحَة. 

ġādartu al-bāriḥah. 

12. Today

“I can’t do any more work today.”

لَم أَعُد أَستَطيعُ القِيَامَ بِأَيِّ عَمَلٍ اليَوْم.

lam ʾaʿud ʾastaṭīʿu al-qiyama biʾayyi ʿamalin al-yūm.

13. Constantly

“I feel like I’m constantly cleaning.”

أُحِسُّ بِأَنَّني أُنًظِّفُ بِشَكلٍ مُتَوَاصِل.

 ʾuḥissu biʾannanī ʾunًẓẓifu bišaklin mutawaṣil.

14. Consistently

“She consistently writes terrible books.”

إنَّها تَكتُبُ كُتُباً مُريعَة بِاِستِمرار.

ʾinnahā taktubu kutuban murīʿah biistimrār.

15. Generally

“Generally, I don’t like mushrooms.”

بِشَكلٍ عامّ، أَنا لا أُحِبُّ الفِطر.

bišaklin ʿāmm, ʾanā lā ʾuḥibbu al-fiṭr.

16. Regularly

“I check my email regularly.”

أَتَحَقَّقُ مِن بَريدي الإلِكتروني بِاِنتِظام.

ʾataḥaqqaqu min barīdī al-ʾiliktrūnī biintiẓām.

17. Hourly

“The bell rings hourly.”

يَدُقُّ الجَرَسُ كُلَّ ساعَة.

yaduqqu al-ǧarasu kulla sāʿah.

18. Currently

“We currently do not have any of those in the store.”

لَيْسَ لَدَيْنا حالِياً أَيٌّ مِن تِلكَ في المَتجَر.

laysa ladaynā ḥal-iīan ʾayyun min tilka fī al-matǧar.

19. Already

“I finished my work already.”

أَنهَيْتُ عَمَلي بِالفِعل.

ʾanhaytu ʿamalī bilfiʿl.

20. Since (time)

“I’ve been crying since last night.”

لَقَد كُنتُ أَبكي مُنذُ اللَيْلَةِ الماضِيَة.

laqad kuntu ʾabkī munḏu al-laylaẗi al-māḍiyah.

21. Before

“Before you eat dinner, please wash your hands.”

قَبلَ أَن تَأكُلَ العَشاء، مِن فَضلِك اِغسِل يَدَيْك.

qabla ʾan taʾkula al-ʿašāʾ, min faḍlik iġsil yadayk.

22. After

“After you finish dinner, please clean the table.”

بَعدَ الاِنتِهاء مِن العَشاء، مِن فَضلِك نَظِّف الطاوِلَة.

baʿda al-intihāʾ min al-ʿašāʾ, min faḍlik naẓẓif al-ṭāwilah.

23. Often

“I often see him at work.”

غالِباً ما أَراهُ في العَمَل.

ġal-iban mā ʾarāhu fī al-ʿamal.

24. Early

“Please arrive early to your appointment.” 

يُرجى الوُصول في وَقتٍ مُبَكِّر إلى مَوْعِدِك.

yurǧā al-wuṣūl fī waqtin mubakkir ʾilā mawʿidik.

25. Late

“Why did you get home late?”

لِماذا وَصَلتَ إلى المَنزِلِ مُتَأَخِّراً؟

limāḏā waṣalta ʾilā al-manzili mutaʾaḫḫiran?

26. Daily

“I exercise daily.”

أَتَمَرَّنُ يَوْمِيّاً.

ʾatamarranu yūmiyyan.

27. Weekly

“Do you get paid weekly?”

هَل تَتَقاضى راتِبَك أُسبوعِيّاً؟

 hal tataqāḍā rātibak ʾusbūʿiyyan?

28. Monthly

“The rent is due monthly.”

الإيجار يُدفَعُ شَهرِيّاً.

al-ʾiīǧār yudfaʿu šahriyyan.

29. Annually

“You will be tested annually.”

سَيَتِمُّ اِختِبارُكَ سَنَوِيّاً.

sayatimmu iḫtibāruka sanawiّan.

30. Last year

“Last year was the last year of my education.”

السَنَةُ السابِقَة كانَت آخِرَ سَنَةٍ في دِراسَتي.

sayatimmu al-sanaẗu al-sābiqah kānat ʾāḫira sanaẗin fī dirāsatī.

2. Arabic Adverbs of Place

Top Verbs

Arabic can transform prepositional phrases as we know them in English to adverbs of place. In addition, did you know that the words “nowhere” and “everywhere” are also adverbs in Arabic?

31. Under the tree
“The farmer is sleeping under the tree.”

المُزارِع نائِم تَحت الشَجَرَة.

al-muzāriʿ nāʾim taḥt al-šaǧarah.

32. In the house

“The cat is eating in the house.”

القِطَّةُ تَأكُلُ في المَنزِل.

al-qiṭṭaẗu taʾkulu fī al-manzil.

33. At the hospital

“I work at the hospital.”

أَعمَلُ في المُستَشفى.

ʾaʿmalu fī al-mustašfā.

34. On the bed

“I can’t sleep on this bed.”

لا يُمكِنُني النَوْمَ عَلى هَذا السَرير.

lā yumkinunī al-nawma ʿalā haḏā al-sarīr.

35. Under the table

“The cat chased the mouse under the table.”

طارَدَت القِطَّةُ الفأَر تَحت الطاوِلَة.

ṭāradat al-qiṭṭaẗu al-fʾar taḥt al-ṭāwilah.

36. Next to the car

“A young man is standing next to the car.”

هُناكَ شابٌّ يَقِفُ بِجانِبِ السَيَّارَة.

hunāka šābbun yaqifu biǧānibi al-sayyaārah.

37. Here

“You can’t smoke here.”

لا يُمكِنُكَ التَدخين هُنا.

lā yumkinuka al-tadḫīn hunā.

38. Abroad

“How long did you work abroad?”

مُنذ مَتى وأَنتَ تَعمَلُ في الخارِج؟

munḏ matā ūʾanta taʿmalu fī al-ḫāriǧ?

39. Everywhere

“I go everywhere with my brother.”

أَذهَبُ إلى أَيِّ مَكانٍ مَع أَخي.

ʾaḏhabu ʾilā ʾayyi makānin maʿ ʾaḫī.

40. Nowhere

“This road leads nowhere.”

هَذا الطَريق لا يُؤَدّي إلى أَيِّ مَكان.

haḏā al-ṭarīq lā yuʾuaddī ʾilā ʾayyi makān.

41. Anywhere

“I can’t find my glasses anywhere.”

لا يُمكِنُني أَن أَجِدَ نَظّاراتي في أَيِّ مَكان.

lā yumkinunī ʾan ʾaǧida naẓẓārātī fī ʾayyi makān.

3. Arabic Adverbs of Manner

Women Dancing

Lots of adverbs in Arabic are made with a noun and the preposition bi. Here are some common ones.

42. Quickly

“Don’t speak quickly!”

لا تَتَكَلَّم بِسُرعَة!

lā tatakallam bisurʿah! 

43. Beautifully

“My wife can dance beautifully.”

زَوْجَتي تَستَطيعُ الرَقص بِجَمال.

zawǧatī tastaṭīʿu al-raqṣ biǧamal-.

44. Carefully

“Sign the form carefully.”

وَقِّع النَموذَج بِحِرص.

waqqiʿ al-namūḏaǧ biḥirṣ.

45. Carelessly

“He carelessly broke the mirror.”

لَقَد كَسَرَ نافِذَتي بِدونِ أَيِّ اِكتِراث.

laqad kasara nāfiḏatī bidūni ʾayyi iktirāṯ.

46. Perfectly

“The work was done perfectly.”

تَمَّ العَمَل تَماماً.

tamma al-ʿamal tamāman.

47. Fluently

“I can speak Arabic fluently.”

يُمكِنُني تَكَلُّم العَرَبِيَّة بِطَلاقَة.

yumkinunī takallum al-ʿarabiyyah biṭalāqah.

48. Quietly

“Speak quietly in the library.”

تَكَلُّم بِهُدوءٍ في المَكتَبَة.

takallum bihudūʾin fī al-maktabah.

49. Loudly

“He talks loudly when he’s afraid.”

إنَّهُ يَتَكَلَّم بِصَوْتٍ عالي عِندَما يَكونُ خائِفاً.

ʾinnahu yatakallam biṣawtin ʿal-ī ʿindamā yakūnu ḫāʾifan.

50. Easily

“We won the game easily.”

لَقَد فازَ بِاللُعبَةِ بِسُهولَة.

laqad fāza billuʿbaẗi bisuhūlah.

51. Like this

“Hold the knife like this.”

اَمسِك السِكّين هَكَذا.

amsik al-sikkīn hakaḏā.

52. Like that

“Don’t dress like that.”

لا تَلبِس هَكَذا.

lā talbis hakaḏā.

53. Fairly

“The money will be distributed fairly.”

سَيَتِمُّ تَوْزيع النُقود بِمُساوَاة.

sayatimmu tawzīʿ al-nuqūd bimusāwah.

54. Roughly

“They play too roughly.”

إنَّهُم يَلعَبونَ بِخُشونَة.

ʾinnahum yalʿabūna biḫušūnah.

4. Arabic Adverbs of Degree

More Essential Verbs

Nearly as important as the adverbs of time, adverbs of degree let you quantify pretty much anything. This includes the world-famous “not,” without which we would all be lost when speaking a foreign language.

55. Very (for adjectives)

“My food is very spicy.”

طَعامي حارُّ جِدّاً.

ṭaʿāmī ḥārru ǧiddan.

56. Not

“My shirt is not white.”

قَميصي لَيْسَ أَبيَضاً.

qamīṣī laysa ʾabyaḍan.

57. A lot (for verbs)

“We work a lot.”

نَعمَلُ كَثيراً.

naʿmalu kaṯīran.

58. More

“Can you make the light more bright?”

هَل يُمكِنُكَ جَعل الضَوْء أَكثَرَ سُطوعاً؟

hal yumkinuka ǧaʿl al-ḍawʾ ʾakṯara suṭūʿan?

59. Less

“I can only eat it if it’s less sweet.”

لا يُمكِنُني أَكلُهُ إلا إذا كان أَقَلَّ حَلاوَة.

lā yumkinunī ʾakluhu ʾilā ʾiḏā kān ʾaqalla ḥalāwah.

60. Extremely

“Planes fly extremely fast.”

الطائِرات تَطير بِسُرعَة خارِقَة. 

al-ṭāʾirāt taṭīr bisurʿah ḫāriqah. 

61. Pretty

“She’s pretty smart.”

إنَّها ذَكِيَّةٌ جِدّاً.

ʾinnahā ḏakiyyaẗun ǧiddan.

62. Well

“I can cook well.”

يُمكِنُني الطَبخَ جَيِّداً.

yumkinunī al-ṭabḫa ǧayyidan.

63. Poorly

“I used to speak Arabic poorly.”

كُنتُ أَتَكَلَّم العَرَبِيَّة بِشَكلٍ رَديء.

kuntu ʾatakallam al-ʿarabiyyah bišaklin radīʾ.

64. Barely

“I barely escaped.”

       بِالكادِ هَرِبت.                                    

bilkādi haribt.

65. Exactly

“That’s exactly what I mean.”

هَذا ما أَعنيهِ بِالتَحديد.

haḏā mā ʾaʿnīhi biltaḥdīd.

66. Approximately

“It’s approximately five kilometers from the city.”

إنَّها تَبعُدُ حَوَالي 5 كيلومِترات مِن المَدينَة.

Inaha tabeodo 5 kilomitratin min almadina.

67. Truly

“You are truly a magnificent chef.”

أَنتَ حَقّاً طَبّاخ رائِع.

ʾanta ḥaqqan ṭabbāḫ rāʾiʿ.

68. At least

“At least try to be here on time.”

عَلى الأَقَل حاوِل أَن تَكونَ هُنا في الميعاد.

ʿalā al-ʾaqal ḥāwil ʾan takūna hunā fī al-mīʿād.

69. Too

“I’m too thirsty to eat bread.”

أَنا عَطشان جِدّاً أن آكُلَ خُبز.

ʾanā ʿaṭšān ǧiddan ʾn ʾākula ḫubz.

70. Mostly

“Air is mostly nitrogen.”

الهَوَاءُ يَتَكَوَّنُ مُعظَمُهُ مِن النيتروجين.

al-hawaʾu yatakawwanu muʿẓamuhu min al-nītrūǧīn.

71. Nearly

“We’re nearly fifty years old.”

عُمرُنا تَقريباً خَمسونَ سَنَة.

ʿumrunā taqrīban ḫamsūna sanah.

72. Somewhat

“I feel somewhat sad.”

أَشعُرُ بِالحُزن إلى حَدٍّ ما.

ʾašʿuru bilḥuzn ʾilā ḥaddin mā.

73. Almost

“That’s almost true.”

هَذا صَحيح تَقريباً.

haḏā ṣaḥīḥ taqrīban.

5. Arabic Adverbs for Wishes, Hopes, and Probability

A Girl Wishing for Something

In Arabic, there are many adverbs and adverbial phrases that have to do with wishes, hopes, and probability. The first example here is even beginning to enter the English of people who have lived for a long time in the Middle East.

74. God willing

“God willing, I will get a promotion.”

سَأَحصُلُ عَلى تَرقِيَةٍ إن شاء الله.

saʾaḥṣulu ʿalā tarqiyaẗin ʾin šāʾ allah.

75. Maybe

“Maybe Dad will come home early.”

رُبَّما سَيَعودُ أَبي إلى المَنزِل مُبَكِّراً.

rubbamā sayaʿūdu ʾabī ʾilā al-manzil mubakkiran.

76. Probably

“The war will probably end soon.”

الحَربُ غالِباً سَتَنتَهي قَريباً.

al-ḥarbu ġal-iban satantahī qarīban.

77. Absolutely

“I will absolutely finish my work on time.”

قَطعاً سَأُنهي عَمَلي في الوَقت المُحَدَّد.

qaṭʿan saʾunhī ʿamalī fī al-waqt al-muḥaddad.

78. Frequently

“I frequently sleep in late.”

كَثيراً ما أَنامُ حَتّى وَقتٍ مُتَأَخِّر.

kaṯīran mā ʾanāmu ḥattā waqtin mutaʾaḫḫir.

79. Sometimes

“I sometimes forget my husband’s name.”

أَنسى أَحيَاناً اِسمَ زَوْجي.

ʾansā ʾaḥyanan isma zawǧī.

80. Always

“The sky will always be blue.”

سَتَكونُ السَماء دائِماً زَرقاء.

satakūnu al-samāʾ dāʾiman zarqāʾ.

81. Never

“My love will never end.”

حُبّي لَن يَنتَهي أَبَداً.

ḥubbī lan yantahī ʾabadan.

82. Actually

“Actually, I don’t want to eat pizza.”

في الوَاقِع، أَنا لا أُريدُ أَن آكُلَ البيتزا.

fī al-waqiʿ, ʾanā lā ʾurīdu ʾan ʾākula al-bītzā.

83. Unfortunately

“I will, unfortunately, be late tomorrow.”

مَع الأَسَف سَأتَأَخَّرُ غَداً.

maʿ al-ʾasaf saʾtaʾaḫḫaru ġadan.

6. Get in Touch with Your Emotions

Kitten Mewling

Whenever you do something while feeling a certain emotion, you can describe what you’re doing with an adverb. 

84. Angrily

“I shouted angrily at my cat.”

لَقَد صَرَختُ بِغَضَبٍ إلى قِطَّتي.

laqad ṣaraḫtu biġaḍabin ʾilā qiṭṭatī.

85. Politely

“Ask politely next time.”

اِسأَل بِاِحتِرامٍ في المَرَّةِ المُقبِلَة.

isʾal biiḥtirāmin fī al-marraẗi al-muqbilah.

86. Honestly

“Speak honestly with your family.”

تَكَلَّم بِصِدقٍ مَع عائِلَتِك.

takallam biṣidqin maʿ ʿāʾilatik.

87. Rudely

“They treated me very rudely.”

لَقَد عامَلوني بِوَقاحَة.

laqad ʿāmalūnī biwaqāḥah.

88. Seriously

“We need to discuss this seriously.”

نَحتاجُ إلى أَن نُناقِشَ هَذا بِجِدِّيَّة.

naḥtāǧu ʾilā ʾan nunāqiša haḏā biǧiddiyyah.

89. Irritably

“George answered the phone irritably.”

أَجابَ جورج الهاتِف بِاِنفِعال.

ʾaǧāba ǧūrǧ al-hātif biinfiʿal-.

90. Kindly

“The grandmother smiled kindly at the child.”

لَقَد اِبتَسَمَت الجَدَّة بِعَطفٍ إلى الطِفل.

laqad ibtasamat al-ǧaddah biʿaṭfin ʾilā al-ṭifl.

91. Hungrily

“They were all looking hungrily at my shawarma.”

كانَ الجَميع يَنظُرونَ بِجوعٍ إلى شاوِارمَتي.

kāna al-ǧamīʿ yanẓurūna biǧūʿin ʾilā šāwiārmatī.

92. Nervously

“I always play nervously on my phone.”

أَلعَب دائِماً بِتَوَتُّر عَلى هاتِفي. 

ʾalʿab dāʾiman bitawattur ʿalā hātifī. 

93. Efficiently

“It’s important to do your work efficiently.”

مِن المُهِمِّ القِيَام بِعَمَلِكَ بِفَعالِيَّة.

min al-muhimmi al-qiyam biʿamalika bifaʿal-iyyah.

94. Cleverly

“They cleverly solved the problem.”

لَقَد حَلّوا المُشكِلَةَ بِذَكاء.

laqad ḥallū al-muškilaẗa biḏakāʾ.

7. Personality Traits

Woman Winking

Subtly different from emotions are a few core personality traits that affect everything you do, not just what you do when you feel a certain way.

95. Boldly

“She walked boldly toward the enemy.”

مَشَت بِجُرأَة نَحوَ العَدو.

mašat biǧurʾah naḥwa al-ʿadū.

96. Awkwardly

“She danced awkwardly.”

إنَّها تَرقُصُ بِغَرابَة.

ʾinnahā tarquṣu biġarābah.

97. Obediently

“The knight bowed obediently to the king.”

اِنحَنى الفارِس بِطاعَةٍ لِلمَلِك.

inḥanā al-fāris biṭāʿaẗin lilmalik.

98. Attractively

“The woman winked at me attractively.”

المَرأَة غَمَزَت إلَيَّ بِشَكلٍ جَذّاب.

al-marʾah ġamazat ʾilayya bišaklin ǧaḏḏāb.

99. Happily

“We lived happily for fifty years together.”

عِشنا بِسَعادَة لِمُدَّةِ خَمسينَ عاماً مَعاً.

ʿišnā bisaʿādah limuddaẗi ḫamsīna ʿāman maʿan.

8. The Interesting Word Kull

One last adverb here is unique to Arabic and takes a bit to wrap your head around. The word is كُلّ , and it has the meanings of “each,” “every,” and “entire.”

When the noun is indefinite and singular, it means “each.”

“I wake up at five each day.”

أَستَيْقِظُ في الخامِسَة كُلَّ يَوْم.

ʾastayqiẓu fī al-ḫāmisah kulla yawm.

When the noun is definite and singular, it means “entire.”

“I was driving the entire day.”

كُنتُ أَقود اليَوْمَ كُلَّه.

kuntu ʾaqūd al-yawma kullah.

And when you use a definite and plural noun? “Every.”

“I pray every day.”

أُصَلّي كُلَّ يَوْم.

ʾuṣallī kulla yawm.

9. Conclusion

What an accomplishment!

But still, our Arabic adverbs list only scratches the surface. Dive any further into Arabic vocabulary lists and you’ll find dozens, or even hundreds, of additional Arabic adverbs.

How can you learn them all?

It just takes a little time—and some great resources. Head on over to our other articles and blog posts, and see just what else ArabicPod101.com has to offer!

If you have any questions or didn’t quite get something, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments. We’ll do our best to help you out!

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Arabic Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Arabic

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Arabic! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Arabic keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Arabic Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Arabic
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Arabic
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Arabic on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Arabic Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Arabic Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Arabic

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Arabic

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Arabic language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Arabic websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Arabic teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Arabic

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Arabic. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Arabic, so all text will appear in Arabic. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Arabic on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Arabic language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

  1. Go to “Settings” > “Change PC Settings” > “Time & Language” > “Region & Language.”
  2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Arabic.” Here you have multiple options of different countries. Choose “Arabic (Egypt)” unless you have a certain preference. This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as “(العربية (مصر” or “Arabic (Egypt)” with the note “language pack available.”
  3. Click on “Arabic (Egypt)” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.
  4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Arabic (101)” You can ignore other keyboard layouts.

2- Windows 7

  1. Go to “Start” > “Control Panel” > “Clock, Language, and Region.”
  2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”
  3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Arabic.”
  4. Expand the option of “Arabic” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Arabic.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Arabic,” and add the “Arabic” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Arabic Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Arabic will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Arabic keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Arabic” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select “العربية – Arabic” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, this is a good app to consider:

6. Arabic Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Arabic can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Arabic keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

  1. Pressing the shift button in combination with letters give you the variations of the letter.
  2. In some cases, it’s hard to predict which letter you’ll get when you combine shift with a letter. For example, the Y button, which in Arabic is the غ letter, produces a إ letter when pressed while holding down the shift button.
  3. Most vowels can be produced by pressing the letters on the left side of the keyboard while holding the shift button.
  4. Most people can’t find the ذ letter at first. It’s located to the left of number 1 and under the “Esc” button on most keyboards.

2- Mobile Phones

  1. Holding down certain buttons such as ا and ي gives you options to choose betwen variations of these letters.
  2. Don’t forget to type in spaces between words, or else words will connect the wrong way.

7. How to Practice Typing Arabic

As you probably know by now, learning Arabic is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Arabic typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a ArabicPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Arabic keyboard to do this!

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Searching for the Secrets of Arabic Verb Conjugations

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Arabic grammar has an unfair reputation of being needlessly complex and riddled with inconsistencies.

A better word might be intricate. There’s a lot to memorize, but also a lot of patterns that reveal themselves when examined.

One such pattern is within Arabic verb conjugation. Conjugation is the umbrella term for correctly using the different forms of Arabic verbs—which is not something you can just waltz in to. How many other languages can you think of that have different verb forms for talking to women and men?

This article is designed for people who are just starting out with Arabic grammar, and who want to know what makes Arabic verbs so intricate.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Verb Roots in Arabic
  2. Arabic Verbs Love Arabic Pronouns
  3. Conjugating Arabic Verbs in Present Tense
  4. Conjugating Arabic Verbs in the Past and Future Tenses
  5. Can a Verb Be “Defective?”
  6. Conclusion

1. Verb Roots in Arabic

Top Verbs

Arabic, as a Semitic language in the same family as Hebrew and Amharic, has vocabulary based on roots. Most nouns and verbs are formed from twins, triplets, quadruplets, or quintuplets of consonants that then change their vowels or add consonants to make additional words.

The overwhelming majority of words in Arabic have three consonants (called triliteral), and there are barely any two-consonant roots (biliteral) at all. Some linguists propose that there used to be a lot more biliteral roots, but right now, there are only a few very short words like that.

This is good knowledge to have about Arabic in general, but especially when it comes to verbs.

Arabic verbs are usually thought of as belonging to one of fifteen different forms (though only ten get used very much). Form I verbs (they always get described with Roman numerals) are the “base” forms of the verb. 

Other Arabic verb forms have different vowel additions and are usually associated with certain types of verbs. For example, Form II verbs have a doubled middle root letter. They’re usually more intense versions of Form I verbs, like كَسَّرَ, meaning “to shatter,” from the word كَسَرَ, meaning “to break.”

  • لَقَد كَسَرتُ الزُجاج.
    laqad kasartu al-zuǧāǧ.
    “I broke the glass.”
  • لَقَد كَسَّرَت الرَصاصَةُ النافِذَة.
    laqad kassarat al-raṣāṣaẗu al-nāfiḏah.
    “The bullet shattered the window.”

We’ll leave detailed discussion of verb forms for another article. For now, just know that you should think of “verb forms” as corresponding to different words formed by the same root, and “verb conjugations” simply as different forms of the same word.

2. Arabic Verbs Love Arabic Pronouns

Pages Making a Heart

If you’ve already learned European languages like French or Spanish before, it may come as a surprise to you that Arabic verbs fuse together with Arabic pronouns. Each pronoun in Arabic has a suffix form that attaches to the verb to show the direct object.

Therefore, if you say “I saw him,” you’re really saying “Isawhim” all pushed together as one word. Not so far off from how we actually speak the language! How does that look in practice?

We haven’t gotten to Arabic conjugation rules yet, so don’t worry about the actual verb tenses in the following examples.

  • آدَم يَراه.
    ʾādam yarāh.
    “Adam sees him.”
  • إنَّهُ يَرى آدَم.
    ʾinnahu yarā ʾādam.
    “He sees Adam.”
  • لا يُمكِنُني أَن أَجِدَك.
    lā yumkinunī ʾan ʾaǧidak.
    “I couldn’t find you.”
  • لا يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَجِدَها.
     lā yumkinuka ʾan taǧidahā.
    “You couldn’t find her.”

This is very important for you to know, because in different tenses, the attached form of the pronouns will, in fact, change ever so slightly. 

This is one aspect of learning where doing a lot of listening and reading aloud will help you. Native speakers have the muscle memory for what forms of the pronouns go with which Arabic verb tenses, but they didn’t get there through magic.

It’s all practice!

With that said, let’s start looking at Arabic conjugation charts.

3. Conjugating Arabic Verbs in Present Tense

More Essential Verbs

In Arabic, there’s no difference between the present and present progressive tenses. So saying “I run” in Arabic could mean either “I am running” or “I usually run” in English, depending on the context and adverbs.

The present tense is considered one of the most difficult to remember, because it’s the one with both prefixes and suffixes—but only for some of the pronouns! Here’s an Arabic conjugation table for you:

EnglishRomanizationArabic
“I”‘a–أ–
“you” (masculine singular)ta–ت–
“you” (feminine singular)ta–iinaت–ين
“he” / “it”ya–ي–
“she” / “it”ta–ت–
“we”na–ن–
“you” (masculine plural)ta–uunaت–وت
“you” (feminine plural)ta–naت–ن
“they” (masculine)ya–uunaت–ون
“they” (feminine)ya–naي–ن

Yes, it’s definitely quite a bit to memorize. And unfortunately, this is just for Form I verbs! Although Form II and others do share similarities with these patterns, you’ll definitely have to do a fair bit of studying before all of the Arabic verb conjugation patterns make sense to you.

We don’t have space here for fourteen more charts covering each form, but you can definitely turn to some excellent online grammar guides if you wish to know more about conjugating different Arabic verb forms.

One of the best ways to get used to these forms is to read a lot of example sentences. On the one hand, practicing writing out the chart from memory is good for your recall, but it’s only good if you combine it with a strong sense of what “feels right” built up from lots of reading and listening.

  • لا يُمكِنُني أَن أَتَذَكَّرَ ما قالَهُ الأُستاذ.
    lā yumkinunī ʾan ʾataḏakkara mā qal-ahu al-ʾustāḏ.
    “I can’t remember what the teacher said.”
  • مِن فَضلِكَ ذَكِّرني غَداً.
    min faḍlika ḏakkirnī ġadan.
    “Please remind me tomorrow.”
  • أَنا أُعَلِّمُكَ كَيْفَ تَتَحَدَّث العَرَبِيَّة.
    ʾanā ʾuʿallimuka kayfa tataḥaddaṯ al-ʿarabiyyah.
    “I am teaching you to speak Arabic.”

4. Conjugating Arabic Verbs in the Past and Future Tenses

Hourglass and Dark Background

Good news! The past and future tenses are considered much easier than the present. There’s only suffixes, no prefixes. And on top of that, every single verb form has the same suffixes in the past tense!

EnglishRomanizationArabic
“I”–tu–تُ
“you” (masculine singular)–ta–تَ
“you” (feminine singular)–ti–تِ
“he” / “it”–aVowelling sign “a” (fatha ” َ ” )
“she” / “it”–at–تْ
“we”–na–نا
“you” (masculine plural)–tum–تم
“you” (feminine plural)–tunna–تن
“they” (masculine)–uu–و
“they” (feminine)–na–ن
  • .ذَهَبتُ إلى حَفلَةٍ موسيقِيَّة اللَيْلَة الماضِيَة.
    ḏahabtu ʾilā ḥaflaẗin mūsīqiyyah al-laylah al-māḍiyah.
    “I went to a concert last night.”
  • سَرَقتَ مِحفَظَتي، أَلَيْسَ كَذَلِك؟
    saraqta miḥfaẓatī, ʾalaysa kaḏalik?
    “You stole my wallet, right?”
  • لَقَد اِصطادَت قِطَّتي طائِراً.
    laqad iṣṭādat qiṭṭatī ṭāʾiran.
    “My cat caught a bird.”

Wasn’t that a piece of cake? Just wait until you learn how to do Arabic conjugation for the future tense.

The future tense in Arabic is formed by adding the word sa and then the verb in present tense. That’s it! You may also see the word sawfa used in the same way, and you’re right. Both words are interchangeable for creating the future tense in Arabic.

Of course, you still have to conjugate the present tense form. But in a way, that’s even better because you’ll get practice with it every time you hear someone use the future form. Let’s see some examples:

  • هَل سَتَعودُ إلى المَنزِل لِلإحتِفالِ بِرَأسِ السَنَة الجَديدَة؟
    hal sataʿūdu ʾilā al-manzil lilʾiḥtifal-i biraʾsi al-sanah al-ǧadīdah?
    “Will you go back home to celebrate New Year’s?”
  • سَأَدرُسُ لِمُدَّةِ ثَلاثِ ساعات اليَوْم.
    saʾadrusu limuddaẗi ṯalāṯi sāʿāt al-yūm.
    “I’m going to study for three hours today.”

 5. Can a Verb Be “Defective?”

Someone Wearing a Cast on Their Foot

If you do any research at all on Arabic grammar, you’ll find that there’s a concept of “weak,” “defective,” “sick,” and “hollow” verbs. Don’t worry, Arabic is a very healthy language. This is just the way most people refer to the verbs in Arabic that have “weak” letters as part of the roots.

These weak letters are: و (waaw), ا (alif), and ي (yaa’). You can kind of picture that their sounds are indeed a little less distinctive than something like “t” or “j.”

They’re called “weak” because they end up assimilating into the nearby sounds. The rules for this are quite predictable, but at the same time, they’re relatively complicated since there are three weak letters and three places where they could go in a word.

One example is when a و  is the first letter of the root, like “to arrive,” which has the pattern w-s-l. Instead of the first person conjugation being ʾwaṣil, the first sound drops off and you’re left with ʾaṣil. 

Pretty intuitive! The rest of the rules are quite easy to pick up as well, and since they’re based on natural sound changes, they’re easy to remember as long as you do enough speaking practice.

6. Conclusion

Even if it may seem like a lot to take in now, speaking Arabic with correct conjugations is going to be extremely impressive to native speakers.

When you actually start speaking Arabic, try writing down what you say at the same time so you can use all the time you need to get the correct verb forms and pronouns right.

As we mentioned before, reading and listening to lots of Arabic is a great way to build your language skills without a ton of effort. That’s exactly what you can do right here on ArabicPod101.com

This lesson on the Arabic conjugation of verbs should serve as a good starting point for you, especially if you plan to continue discovering the language. If you have any questions on what you’ve learned about Arabic conjugation so far, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments!

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100 Arabic Verbs for Every Action You Can Think of

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Verbs are the meat and potatoes of language. They’re in every sentence, and pretty much every fragment too.

If you’re putting together a dinner plate of communication, the verb is the main course.

For that reason, we’ve put together a massive list of 100 Arabic verbs that cover pretty much anything anyone could ask for, including some examples that show how Arabic verbs work.

Read this list through and watch as you slowly absorb verbs in Arabic and their structures without even having to work at it! 

Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Useful Verbs in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. The Basic Tourist Set—The 20 Most Important Verbs
  2. Abstract Yet Important
  3. Interacting with Others
  4. Move Your Body
  5. Follow That Car!
  6. Hobbies and Pastimes
  7. Using Your Words
  8. In the Kitchen
  9. Conclusion

1. The Basic Tourist Set—The 20 Most Important Verbs

Top Verbs

Step right up and take your pick. These are the key Arabic verbs you need when you’re traveling in an Arabic-speaking country—they’ll get you where you need to go, and even let you make small talk on the way.

 اِلتَقَطَ صورَة (iltaqaṭa ṣūrah) — take a photo 

هَل يُمكِنُني أَن أَلتَقِط صورَة لَك؟

hal yumkinunī ʾan ʾaltaqiṭ ṣūrah lak? 

Can I take a photo of you?

مَشَيَ (mašaya) — walk 

أُريدُ أَن أَمشي إلى الفُندُق.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾamšī ʾilā al-funduq.

I want to walk to the hotel.

أَقامَ  (ʾaqāma) — stay overnight 

سَأُقيمُ في الفُندُق الَّذي بِجانِب النَهر. 

saʾuqīmu fī al-funduq allaḏī biǧānib al-nahr. 

I’m staying at a hotel near the river.

أَكَلَ (ʾakala) — eat 

أُريدُ أَن آكُلَ الأَكل المَحَلّي.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾākula al-ʾakl al-maḥallī.

I want to eat local food.

شَرِبَ (šariba) — drink 

أَنا لا أَشرَبُ الخَمر.

ʾanā lā ʾašrabu al-ḫamr.

I don’t drink alcohol.

ذَهَبَ (ḏahaba) — go 

إلى أَيْنَ يُمكِنُنا الذَهاب؟

ʾilā ʾayna yumkinunā al-ḏahāb?

When can we go?

اِشتَرى (ištarā) — buy 

أَيْنَ يُمكِنُني شِراء فُرشاةِ أَسنان؟

ʾayna yumkinunī širāʾ furšāẗi ʾasnān?

Where can I buy a toothbrush?

نَظَرَ (naẓara) — look 

اِنظُر إلى ذاك الرَجُل!

inẓur ʾilā ḏāk al-raǧul!

Look at that man!

وَجَدَ (waǧada) — find 

لَم أَجِد مُفتاح غُرفَتي.

lam ʾaǧid muftāḥ ġurfatī.

I can’t find my room key.

غادَرَ (ġādara) — leave 

سَنُغادِرُ غَداً.

sanuġādiru ġadan.

We’re going to leave tomorrow.

وَصَل (waṣal) — arrive 

مَتى يَصِل باص القاهِرَة؟

matā yaṣil bāṣ al-qāhirah?

What time does the bus to Cairo arrive?

تَحَدَّث (taḥaddaṯ) — speak 

يُمكِنُني تَحَدُّث القَليل مِن العَرَبِيَّة و القَليل مِن الفِرِنسِيَّة.

yumkinunī taḥadduṯ al-qalīl min al-ʿarabiyyah wa al-qalīl min al-firinsiyyah.

I can speak a little Arabic and a little French.

قالَ (qala) — say 

كَيْفَ تَقول هَذا بِالعَرَبِيَّة؟

kayfa taqūl haḏā bilʿarabiyyah?

How do you say this in Arabic?

قَرَأَ (qaraʾa) — read 

هَل تُجيدُ أَن تَقرَأَ الإنجليزِيَّة؟

hal tuǧīdu ʾan taqraʾa al-ʾinǧlīziyyah?

Do you know how to read English?

نَطَقَ (naṭaqa) — pronounce 

لا يُمكِنُني نُطق هَذِهِ الكَلِمَة.

lā yumkinunī nuṭq haḏihi al-kalimah.

I can’t pronounce this word.

اِستَخدَمَ الحَمّام (istaḫdama al-ḥammām) — use the bathroom 

أَحتاجُ أَن أَستَخدِم الحَمّام.

ʾaḥtāǧu ʾan ʾastaḫdim al-ḥammām.

I need to use the bathroom.

سَبَحَ (sabaḥa) — swim 

أُريدُ أَن أَسبَحَ في المُحيط.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾasbaḥa fī al-muḥīṭ.

I want to swim in the ocean.

رَكِبَ دَرّاجَة (rakiba darrāǧah) — ride a bike 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ رُكوب دَرّاجَة في المَدينَة؟

hal yumkinuka rukūb darrāǧah fī al-madīnah?

Can you ride a bike in the city?

2. Abstract Yet Important

More Essential Verbs

Here’s a short Arabic verbs list of words that are more abstract, but that you should know nonetheless.

أَحَبَّ (ʾaḥabba) — love 

أُحِبُّ زَوْجَتي.

ʾuḥibbu zawǧatī.

I love my wife.

ّفَكَّرَ ّ((fakkara) — think 


بِما تُفَكِّر؟

bimā tufakkir?

What are you thinking about?

أَصَرَّ  (ʾaṣarra) — persist 

 لَقَد أَصَرّوا عَلى أَن يَتَجادَلوا حَوْلَ الأَشيَاء البَسيطَة.

 laqad ʾaṣarrū ʿalā ʾan yataǧādalū ḥawla al-ʾašyaʾ al-basīṭah.

They persisted in arguing about tiny things.

وَضَعَ (waḍaʿa) — put 

ضَع القَلَم عَلى الطاوِلَة.

ḍaʿ al-qalam ʿalā al-ṭāwilah.

Put the pen on the table.

جَرَّبَ (ǧarraba) — try 

خُذ، جَرِّب هَذا الشاي.

ḫuḏ, ǧarrib haḏā al-šāī.

Take, try this tea.

فَعَلَ (faʿala) — do 

يُمكِنُهُ دائِماً أَن يَفعَل الصَوَاب.

yumkinuhu dāʾiman ʾan yafʿal al-ṣawab.

He can always do the right thing.

صَنَعَ (ṣanaʿa) — make 

لَيْسَ مِن الصَعب أَن تَصنَع سَندَويتش.

laysa min al-ṣaʿb ʾan taṣnaʿ sandaūītš.

It’s not hard to make a sandwich.

أَحَسَّ (ʾaḥassa) — feel 

أَحَسَّ بِالمَرَض

ʾaḥassa bilmaraḍ

I feel sick.

فَهِمَ (fahima) — understand 

يُمكِنُني أَن أَفهَم إن تَحَدَّثتَ بِبُطء.

yumkinunī ʾan ʾafham ʾin taḥaddaṯta bibuṭʾ.

I can understand if you speak slowly.

اِتَّفَق (ittafaq) — agree 

هَل تَتَّفِق مَعي؟

hal tattafiq maʿī?

Do you agree with me?

3. Interacting with Others

Women Looking Over Paperwork

These are super-useful Arabic verbs for beginners. It’s a bit of a strange name for a category, sure, but whether you’re doing business or hanging out with friends, these verbs are the ones that will come up again and again.

أَعطى (ʾaʿṭā) — give 

اِعطِني تِلكَ القارورَة.

iʿṭinī tilka al-qārūrah.

Give me that bottle.

أَخَذَ (ʾaḫaḏa) — take 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَأخُذَ هَذا إلى الطابِق العُلوِي؟

hal yumkinuka ʾan taʾḫuḏa haḏā ʾilā al-ṭābiq al-ʿulwi?

Can you take this upstairs?

أَحضَرَ (ʾaḥḍara) — bring 

أَحضَرَ أَحذِيَتي.

ʾaḥḍara ʾaḥḏiyatī.

Bring me my shoes.

ساعِد (sāʿid) — help 

مِن فَضلِك ساعِد إبني في وَاجِباتِه المَنزِلِيَّة.

 min faḍlik sāʿid ʾibnī fī waǧibātih al-manziliyyah.

Please help my son with his homework.

صَلّى (ṣallā) — pray 

فَلنَذهَب لِنُصَلّي مَعاً.

falnaḏhab linuṣallī maʿan.

Let’s go pray together.

عَمِلَ (ʿamila) — work 

لا يُمكِنُني أَن أَعمَلَ مَع الآخَرين.

lā yumkinunī ʾan ʾaʿmala maʿ al-ʾāḫarīn.

I can’t work with other people.

بَحَثَ (baḥaṯa) — look for 

أَنا أَبَحَثُ عَن المُدير.

ʾanā ʾabaḥaṯu ʿan al-mudīr.

I’m looking for my boss.

أَنصَتَ (ʾanṣata) — listen to

هَل تُنصِتُ إلَيّ؟

hal tunṣitu ʾilayy?

Are you listening to me?

وَعَدَ (waʿada) — promise 

أَعِدُكَ أَنّني لَن أَقومَ بِذَلِك مُجَدَّداً.

ʾaʿiduka ʾannnī lan ʾaqūma biḏalik muǧaddadan.

I promise (directed to a male) I won’t do it again.

وَظَّفَ (waẓẓafa) — hire 

و أَخيراً, جوجِل وَظَّقَتني.

wa ʾaḫīran, ǧūǧil waẓẓaqatnī.

Finally, Google hired me.

4. Move Your Body

Family Running through Park Together

Are you a kid at heart or traveling with little ones? These are the Arabic action verbs you’re looking for. You’d be surprised how useful a lot of these are, even if it seems like you’re in a kindergarten class!

قَفَزَ (qafaza) — jump 

يَجِبُ عَلَيْكَ أَن تَقفِزَ فَوْقَ البَرَكَة.

yaǧibu ʿalayka ʾan taqfiza fawqa al-barakah.

You have to jump over the puddle.

جَرَى (ǧaraā) — run 

بِأَيِّ سُرعَة يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَجري؟

biʾayyi surʿah yumkinuka ʾan taǧrī?

How fast can you run?

اِستَلقى (istalqā) — lie down 

  أَنا أُريدُ فَقَط أَن أَعودَ إلى المَنزِل و أَستَلقي.

ʾanā ʾurīdu faqaṭ ʾan ʾaʿūda ʾilā al-manzil wa ʾastalqī.

I just want to go home and lie down.

وَقَفَ (waqafa) — stand up 

فَليَقِف الجَميع مِن فَضلِكُم.

falyaqif al-ǧamīʿ min faḍlikum.

Everybody stand up, please.

جَلَس (ǧalas) — sit down 

ظَهري يُؤلِمُني حينَما أَجلِس.

ẓahrī yuʾulimunī ḥīnamā ʾaǧlis.

My back hurts when I sit down.

صَفَّقَ (ṣaffaqa) — clap 

الجُمهور صَفَّقَ لِمُدَّةٍ طَوِيلَة.

al-ǧumhūr ṣaffaqa limuddaẗin ṭawilah.

The audience clapped for a long time.

تَمَرَّنَ (tamarrana) — exercise  

لا أُحِبُّ التَمَرُّن حين أَكونُ مَريضاً.

lā ʾuḥibbu al-tamarrun ḥīn ʾakūnu marīḍan.

I don’t like to exercise when I’m sick.

مارَسَ الرِيَاضَة (mārasa al-riyaḍah) — play sports 

لَقَد تَعَوَّدتُ أَن أُمارِسَ الكَثير مِن الرِيَاضَة عِندَما كُنتُ صَغيراً.

laqad taʿawwadtu ʾan ʾumārisa al-kaṯīr min al-riyaḍah ʿindamā kuntu ṣaġīran.

I used to play a lot of sports when I was young.

رَقَصَ (raqaṣa) — dance 

فَلنَرقُص اللَّيْلَة كُلَّها.

falnarquṣ al-llaylah kullahā.

Let’s dance all night.

أَخَذَ حَمّاماً (ʾaḫaḏa ḥammāman) — take a shower 

أُريدُ أَن آخُذَ حَمّاماً غَداً صَباحاً.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾāḫuḏa ḥammāman ġadan ṣabāḥan.

I want to take a shower tomorrow morning.

5. Follow That Car!

In this section, we’ll learn all the verbs you need for driving in Arabic, as well as some handy phrases you can use when somebody is driving you around.

قادَ (qāda) — drive  

يُمكِنُني أَن أَقودَ أَيَّ نَوْعٍ مِن السَيَّارات.

yumkinunī ʾan ʾaqūda ʾayya nawʿin min al-sayyaārāt.

I can drive any kind of car.

قِف (qif) — stop 

أَوْقِف السَيَّارَة، مِن فَضلِك.

ʾawqif al-sayyaārah, min faḍlik.

Stop the car, please!

اِنعَطَفَ (inʿaṭafa) — turn 

اِنعَطِف يَساراً،  ثُمَّ اِنعَطِف يَميناً عِندَ الشارِع المُقبِل.

inʿaṭif yasāran, ṯumma inʿaṭif yamīnan ʿinda al-šāriʿ al-muqbil.

Turn left, and then turn right at the next street.

أَسرَعَ (ʾasraʿa) — speed up 

سَيَّارَةُ الشُرطَة أَسرَعَت لِكَيّ تَقبِضَ عَلى المُتَّهَم.

sayyaāraẗu al-šurṭah ʾasraʿat likayy taqbiḍa ʿalā al-muttaham.

The police car sped up to catch the suspect.

أَبطَأَ (ʾabṭaʾa) — slow down 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تُبطِئَ مِن فَضلِك؟

hal yumkinuka ʾan tubṭiʾa min faḍlik?

Can you please slow down?

عَمِل (ʿamil) — turn on / start 

سيارتي لا تَعمَل.

sīārtī lā taʿmal.

My car won’t start.

أَطفَأَ (ʾaṭfaʾa) — turn off 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ إطفاء المُكَيِّف الهَوَائي؟

hal yumkinuka ʾiṭfāʾ al-mukayyif al-hawaʾī?

Could you turn off the air conditioning?

رَكِبَ الحافِلَة (rakiba al-ḥāfilah) — catch a bus 

.ِ  إذا كُنتَ عَلى عَجَلَة، يُمكِنُكَ رُكوب الحافِلَة

ʾiḏā kunta ʿalā ʿaǧalah, yumkinuka rukūb al-ḥāfilah.

If you hurry, you can catch the bus.

6. Hobbies and Pastimes

Lovely Red Flowers

What do you like to do (besides learning Arabic, of course)? I bet you’ll find it on this list of hobby-related Arabic language verbs.

اِلتَقَطَ صُوَراً (iltaqaṭa ṣuwaran) — take photos 


.أُحِبُّ إلتِقاطَ صُوَر لِلطَبيعَة

ʾuḥibbu ʾiltiqāṭa ṣuwar lilṭabīʿah.

I like to take photos of nature.

تَستَمِعُ إلى الموسيقى (tastamiʿu ʾilā al-mūsīqā) — listen to music 

أُمّي تَستَمِعُ إلى الموسيقى الأَفريقِيَّة.

ʾummī tastamiʿu ʾilā al-mūsīqā al-ʾafrīqiyyah.

My mom listens to African music.

عَزَفَ عَلى الجيتار (ʿazafa ʿalā al-ǧītār) — play guitar 

أَنا أَعزُفُ عَلى الجيتار مُنذُ عَشَرَ سَنَوَات.

ʾanā ʾaʿzufu ʿalā al-ǧītār munḏu ʿašara sanawat.

I’ve been playing guitar for ten years.

رَكَضَ (rakaḍa) — go jogging 

هَل تُريدُ أَن تَركُضَ مَعي عِندَما يَتَحَسَّن الطَقس؟

hal turīdu ʾan tarkuḍa maʿī ʿindamā yataḥassan al-ṭaqs?

Want to go jogging with me when the weather is nicer?

شاهَدَ الأَفلام (šāhada al-ʾaflām) — watch movies 

أَكرَهُ مُشاهَدَةِ الأَفلام الحَزينَة.

ʾakrahu mušāhadaẗi al-ʾaflām al-ḥazīnah.

I hate watching sad movies.

اِستَرخى (istarḫā) — relax 

مِن المُهِمِّ أَن تَستَرخِيَ بَعد العَمَل بِجِد.

min al-muhimmi ʾan tastarḫiya baʿd al-ʿamal biǧid.

It’s important to relax after working hard.

أَخَذَ غَفوَة (ʾaḫaḏa ġafwah) — take a nap 

هَل مِن المُمكِنِ أَن آخُذَ غَفوَة في السَيّارَة؟

hal min al-mumkini ʾan ʾāḫuḏa ġafwah fī al-sayyārah?

Is it okay to take a nap in the car?

مارَسَ اليوغا (mārasa al-yūġā) — do yoga 

عادَةً ما أُمارِس اليوغا كُلَّ يَوْم أَحَد.

ʿādaẗan mā ʾumāris al-īūġā kulla yūm ʾaḥad.

I usually do yoga every Sunday.

دَرَسَ (darasa) — study 

هَل يُمكِنُنا أَن نَدرُسَ مَعاً؟

hal yumkinunā ʾan nadrusa maʿan?

Can we study together?

7. Using Your Words

Negative Verbs

As a language learner, you’re probably dialed in to communication in a general sense. These verbs help you talk about that communication, and help you describe how others are communicating around you.

دَردَشَ (dardaša) — chat 

إنَّهُما يُدَردِشان حَوْل السَيَّارات.

ʾinnahumā yudardišān ḥawl al-sayyaārāt.

They’re chatting about cars.

تَجادَل (taǧādal) — argue  

هَل عادَةً ما تَتَجادَل مَع وَالِدَيْك؟

hal ʿādaẗan mā tataǧādal maʿ walidayk?

Do you often argue with your parents?

أَهان (ʾahān) — insult 

لَقَد أَهانَتني أَمامَ زَوْجي!

laqad ʾahānatnī ʾamāma zawǧī!

She insulted me in front of my husband!

8. In the Kitchen

Cooking in the Kitchen

Cuisine across the Arab world is as diverse as it is delicious. Ideally, you’ll get a chance to not only sample this cuisine yourself, but also to cook it for others!

طَبَخَ (ṭabaḫa) — cook 

أَطبُخ الغَداء لِعائِلَتي مَرَّة في الأُسبوع.

ʾaṭbuḫ al-ġadāʾ liʿāʾilatī marrah fī al-ʾusbūʿ.

I cook lunch for my family once a week.

رَمى (ramā) — throw away 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَرمي ذَلِكَ البَيْض؟

hal yumkinuka ʾan tarmī ḏalika al-bayḍ?

Can you throw away those eggs?

نَظَّفَ (naẓẓafa) — clean 

نَحنُ بِحاجَةٍ إلى تَنظيف هَذا المَطبَخ.

naḥnu biḥāǧaẗin ʾilā tanẓīf haḏā al-maṭbaḫ.

We need to clean this kitchen.

مَسَحَ (masaḥa) — mop 

حاوِل أَن تَمسَح الأَرضِيَّة بِسُرعَة.

ḥāwil ʾan tamsaḥ al-ʾarḍiyyah bisurʿah.

Try to mop the floors fast.

مَسَحَ (masaḥa) — wipe 

إمسَح الطاوِلَة بِمِنشَفَة.

ʾimsaḥ al-ṭāwilah biminšafah.

Wipe the table with a towel.

غَسَلَ (ġasala) — wash 

فَلنَغسِل الأَوَاني مَعاً.

falnaġsil al-ʾawanī maʿan.

Let’s wash the dishes together. 

قَطَّعَ (qaṭṭaʿa) — cut 

قَطَّعَ اللَحم إلى قِطَع صَغيرَة.

qaṭṭaʿa al-laḥm ʾilā qiṭaʿ ṣaġīrah.

Cut the meat into small pieces.

قَلى (qalā) — fry 

اِقلي الدَجاج لِمُدَّةِ حَوَالي خَمس دَقائِق.

iqlī al-daǧāǧ limuddaẗi ḥawalī ḫams daqāʾiq.

Fry the chicken for about five minutes.

غَلى (ġalā) — boil 

اِغلي المِيَاه و أَضِف المَعكَرونَة.

iġlī al-miyah wa ʾaḍif al-maʿkarūnah.

Boil the water and add the noodles.

9. Conclusion

Whew! What a list!

Arabic verbs do have some interesting grammar points about them, but as you can see, you can already pick up quite a bit just from reading all of these examples.

Simply reading and listening to a language is one of the best ways to acquire a really great feel for how it looks and sounds, and after enough of that, you’ll have an intrinsic sense for grammar.

ArabicPod101 just so happens to offer a huge amount of text and audio content precisely for that reason! On the same note, be sure to keep watching for our upcoming article on Arabic verb conjugation.

Before you go, let us know in the comments how you feel about Arabic verbs now. Are there any you still  want to know, or grammar points you’re not quite clear on? We look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Arabic learning! 

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

Find the Beauty in Grammar Through Arabic Pronouns

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Did anybody ever tell you that grammar is beautiful?

Not the sounds of a language, nor the calligraphy on a page, but the grammar itself?

Then clearly nobody has told you about Arabic grammar.

In this lesson, we’re going to show you the ins and outs of Arabic pronouns—the words for saying “I,” “you,” “this,” “that,” “he,” “she,” and so on.

English only takes it a little bit beyond there. Arabic, by contrast, takes it significantly further. There are subtle distinctions and possibilities in Arabic that go well beyond what English is capable of.

Did you know, for instance, that in Arabic there’s a special pronoun for talking to just two people? It’s called the dual pronoun, and it’s just one of the surprises waiting for you.

The reason we say “beautiful” instead of “scary” is that once you notice how it all comes together, you’ll have no choice but to marvel at its perfection.

Ready? Let’s learn Arabic pronouns, how to use them, and what makes them so unique.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. The Lowdown on Arabic Pronouns
  2. Arabic Subject Pronouns
  3. Arabic Object Pronouns
  4. Arabic Possessive Pronouns
  5. Arabic Prepositional Pronouns
  6. Arabic Demonstrative Pronouns
  7. Pronouns in Arabic Dialects
  8. Conclusion

1. The Lowdown on Arabic Pronouns

Introducing Yourself

As we’ve mentioned, a pronoun in general is a word referring to a specific person, place, thing, or idea after it’s been mentioned. In English, it sounds weird to say “He’s a nice guy” just out of the blue. 

But if you instead say “I have a new math teacher. He’s a nice guy,” then that’s the perfect place for a pronoun.

Arabic makes distinctions with its pronouns that English absolutely does not. Colloquial dialects, like Egyptian Arabic, aren’t quite as complicated, but they still count as more complicated than English.

2. Arabic Subject Pronouns

The subject pronouns are the easiest, by far. Check out this Arabic pronouns chart first:

EnglishArabic Romanization
Iأَناana
you (masculine)أَنتَanta
you (feminine)أَنتِanti
heهُوَhuwa
sheهِيَhiya

Those are called the singular pronouns because they refer to one single person. You can see that Arabic is explicit about whether you’re talking to a man or a woman.

Now have a look at these Arabic pronouns with examples:

Male Physics Teacher
  • أَنا أُستاذ.

 ʾanā ʾustāḏ.

I am a (male) teacher.

  • أَنا أُستاذَة.

ʾanā ʾustāḏah.

 I am a (female) teacher.

  • أَنتِ مُهَندِسَة.

ʾanti muhandisah.

You (feminine) are an engineer.

  • أَنتَ مُهَندِس.

ʾanta muhandis.

 You (masculine) are an engineer.

  • يُمكِنُها تَكَلُّم العَرَبِيَّة و الهِندِيَّة.

yumkinuhā takallum al-ʿarabiyyah wa al-hindiyyah.

She can speak Arabic and Hindi.

  • يُمكِنُهُ تَكَلُّم العَرَبِيَّة و الهِندِيَّة.

yumkinuhu takallum al-ʿarabiyyah wa al-hindiyyah.

He can speak German and English.

Now we move up in number:

EnglishArabic Romanization
you twoأَنتُماantuma
they twoهُماhumaa

Whoa, what’s this?

If you can believe it, an ancestor of English used to have this same grammatical feature—the dual pronoun, specifically marking two of something instead of just singular/plural.

As you can see, though, pronouns in Arabic won’t distinguish male from female in the dual.

  • هُما يَتَكَلَّمان عَن السِيَاسَة.

humā yatakallamān ʿan al-siyasah.

They (two of them) are talking about politics.

  • هُما يُحِبّان الموسيقى و الرَقص.

humā yuḥibbān al-mūsīqā wa al-raqṣ.

They (two of them) like music and dancing.

  • أَنتُما عَلَيْكُما الوُصول إلى العَمَل غَداً مُبَكِّراً.

ʾantumā ʿalaykumā al-wuṣūl ʾilā al-ʿamal ġadan mubakkiran.

You (both of you) should arrive to work early tomorrow.

  • أَنتُما لَم تَعُدا جُزءاً مِن هَذا المَشروع.

ʾantumā lam taʿudā ǧuzʾan min haḏā al-mašrūʿ.

You (both of you) are no longer a part of this project.

Let’s move up one more step to the last set of subject pronouns in Arabic:

EnglishArabicArabic
weنَحنُnaḥnu
you (plural masculine)أنتمantum
you (plural feminine)أنتنantun
they (plural masculine)همhum
they (plural feminine)هنhun

Here, it’s obvious that Arabic wants to be as crystal-clear as possible about the number and gender of the people involved in the conversation. Well, not quite—for talking about mixed groups of men and women, the masculine pronoun is used. You’ll have to guess based on context. That’s what we do in English all the time!

  • نَحنُ في مَركَز التَسَوُّق.

naḥnu fī markaz al-tasawwuq.

 We are in the mall.

  • أَنتُن تَبدُنَّ مُمتازات.

ʾantun tabdunna mumtāzāt.

 You (to several women) look excellent.

  • هُم يَحتاجونَ إلى المَزيد مِن التَمرين.

hum yaḥtāǧūna ʾilā al-mazīd min al-tamrīn.

They (about several men) need to work out more.

  • هُنَّ مُمِلّات.

hunna mumillāt.

 They (to several women) are boring.

In the first paragraph, though, we mentioned beauty. This list of Arabic pronouns might not seem beautiful yet, but watch what happens to pronouns when we start talking about verbs.

3. Arabic Object Pronouns

So this is where you may have heard that Arabic verbs are complicated. When a verb has an object, we include it as a pronoun slapped onto the end of the verb. If you know any Indonesian or Malay, the same thing happens with pronouns in those languages.

Each pronoun takes the form of a different suffix. Sadly, these suffixes barely look connected at all to our full subject pronoun paradigm.

Time for another chart to explain:

EnglishArabic Romanization
me-y
you (masculine)-كَ-k(a)
you (feminine)-كِ-k(i)
him-هُ-h(u)
her-h(a)

So when you say “Ahmed sees him,” you’re really sticking the words together like “Ahmed seesim.” The vowels in the parentheses aren’t pronounced if the suffix is part of a word that happens to be at the end of a sentence, or if the word is pronounced independently without a sentence. 

These vowels are also dropped in most dialects of Arabic, including Egyptian and Levantine. This is the case with all final diacritics in Arabic words, not just pronouns.

Father and Son Looking Up with Binoculars
  • أَحمَد يَراه.

ʾaḥmad yarāh.

Ahmed sees him.

  • الأُستاذُ يُناديك.

al-ʾustāḏu yunādīk.

The teacher is calling you (masculine).

  • أُمّي تَشتاقُ إلَيّ عِندَما أَكون في المَدرَسَة.

ʾummī taštāqu ʾilayy ʿindamā ʾakūn fī al-madrasah.

My mother misses me when I’m at school.

Here’s a chart with the rest of the object construction.

EnglishArabic Romanization
you (dual)-كُما-kumā
them (dual)-هما-humā
us-نا-nā
you (plural masculine)-kum
you (plural feminine)-kunn(a)
them (plural masculine)-هم-hum
them (plural feminine)-هن-hunn(a)

That’s a little better! These Arabic pronoun suffixes, being a little less frequent, are more regular and therefore remind you more of the subject forms.

  • جَمال يَكرَهُنا.

ǧamal yakrahunā.

 Jamal hates us.

  • حَميد يَعرِفُهُم.

ḥamīd yaʿrifuhum.

Hamid knows them (several men).

  • هَل يَجِبُ أَن نَدعوهُم إلى الحَفلَة؟

hal yaǧibu ʾan nadʿūhum ʾilā al-ḥaflah?

Should we invite them (several women) to the party?

Women

The object pronoun suffixes are extremely important. Why’s that? Well, because they get used over and over again!

Take a look.

4. Arabic Possessive Pronouns

Basic Questions

The possessive pronouns in Arabic also take the form of suffixes. Much like how we might say “Malik’s hammer,” adding a suffix to the person who owns it, in Arabic we add the suffix to the thing being owned.

And congratulations, you basically know them all! Here’s the chart:

EnglishArabicRomanization
my-i
your (masculine)-k(a)
your (feminine)-k(i)
his-h(u)
her-ها-hā
your (dual)-كما-kumā
their (dual)-هما-humā
our-نا-nā
your (plural masculine)-كم-kum
your (plural feminine)-كن-kun
their (plural masculine)-هم-hum
their (plural feminine)-هن-hun

The chart above is virtually identical to the Object Pronouns chart. Just pay attention to the suffix for the first person singular, the equivalent of “my.” That was -ni as an object suffix for verbs, but when we slap it on a noun to show possession, it turns into -i.

As for the rest, throw those onto a noun and see what happens!

  • هَذِهِ حَقيبَةُ سَفَري.

haḏihi ḥaqībaẗu safarī.

This is my suitcase.

  • أَيْنَ سَيَّارَتُها؟

ʾayna sayyaāratuhā?

Where is her car?

  • سائِقُهُم مُتَأَخِّر.

sāʾiquhum mutaʾaḫḫir.

Their (plural masculine) driver is late.

Memorized that chart yet? You’ve still got one more chance…

5. Arabic Prepositional Pronouns

Yes, that’s right. In Arabic, a pronoun can attach to a verb, a noun, or a preposition.

And some news you’re probably dying to hear is that the schema for pronouns on prepositions is exactly the same as the chart for possessive pronouns. 

We’re not even going to print it again—we’ll jump straight to some examples.

  • هَل يُمكِنُني المَشي مَعَك؟

hal yumkinunī al-mašī maʿak?

Can I walk with you (singular masculine)?

  • هَذِهِ هَدِيَّة مِن عِندِهُن.

haḏihi hadiyyah min ʿindihun.

This is a present from them (two women).

  • وَجَدتُ رِسالَة مَكتوبَة مِن طَرَفِها.

waǧadtu risal-ah maktūbah min ṭarafihā.

I found a letter written by her.

  • المَطَر كانَ يَسقُطُ عَلَيّ.

al-maṭar kāna yasquṭu ʿalayy.

The rain was falling on me.

Woman in Heavy Rain

Note here that the word for “on,” which is ‘ala, has an irregular form, ‘alay, when it gets combined. So does li-, meaning “to.”

  • تَدَحرَجَت الكُرَة إلَيْها و اِلتَقَطَتها.

tadaḥraǧat al-kurah ʾilayhā wa iltaqaṭathā.

The ball rolled to her and she picked it up.

Arabic, like all languages, has quite a wide array of prepositions.The irregularities are simply due to how often they’re used. That’s actually good news for you, since you’ll get the memories reinforced many times!

6. Arabic Demonstrative Pronouns

Tired of those charts? Don’t worry, just a few more. The demonstrative pronoun is for pointing out specific objects. It corresponds to the English words “this” and “that.” Naturally, the plural is equivalent to “these” and “those.”Arabic nouns have gender, and therefore the demonstrative pronouns do as well. Let’s look at a chart of the demonstrative pronouns in Arabic before diving a little bit deeper into the analysis.

EnglishArabic Romanization
this (masculine)هَذاhaḏā
these (masculine/feminine)هؤلاءhā’ulā’
that (masculine)ذلكḏālik(a)
those (masculine/feminine)أولئك‘ulā’ik(a)
this (feminine)هذهhāḏih(i)
that (feminine)تلكtilka

Your eyes don’t deceive you. The plural form of these demonstrative pronouns is, in fact, identical for both masculine and feminine nouns. Let’s see some examples.

  • اِحضِر ذَلِكَ الكُرسي إلى هُنا.

iḥḍir ḏalika al-kursī ʾilā hunā.

Please bring that chair over here.

  • اِحضِر تِلكَ الكَراسي إلى هُنا.

iḥḍir tilka al-karāsī ʾilā hunā.

Please bring those chairs over here.

  • هَذِهِ الكَعكَة غالِيَة جِدّاً, لَكِن تِلكَ الكَعكَة رَخيصَة.

haḏihi al-kaʿkah ġal-iyah ǧiddan, lakin tilka al-kaʿkah raḫīṣah.

This cake is very expensive, but that cake is cheap.

Slice of Strawberry Cake

We’ve omitted something here. The dual is back—but only for super, super formal Arabic. Most people speaking MSA in real life to you, or to speakers from other regions, won’t use it.

One more complication, though, is that in the dual form, demonstrative pronouns in Arabic decline for case as well. There’s a tiny distinction made between simply saying “those two” (the nominative case) and “to those two / of those two” (the accusative and genitive cases, respectively). 

Does this sound like a very uncommon thing to say? It definitely is—and that’s why it’s only used in the most formal of situations.

7. Pronouns in Arabic Dialects

So as you may know, Modern Standard Arabic is a slightly artificial language. That means it has rules that people try to follow as they speak, instead of natural rules that come from everybody speaking the same way in one area.

Dialects, on the other hand, have those natural rules, and people speak without feeling any pressure to follow rules that were laid down by any language authorities.

How does this relate to pronouns? For you, the learner, it’s good news. You have to remember less!

First, the dual is gone. Colloquial Arabic varieties don’t retain the dual form anymore, instead replacing it with the plural.

Second, the plural forms usually don’t distinguish between masculine and feminine. The masculine plural is sufficient for speaking about men, women, or a group of both men and women.

As a foreign learner, balancing your speech between perfect grammatical correctness and colloquial idiomatic language is an endless task, so you should be aware of these possible changes and adjust your speech to the environment you find yourself in.

8. Conclusion

Improve Listening

Understanding Arabic pronouns is no easy feat, but hopefully these Arabic pronoun rules and examples will shed some light on why Arabic grammar is considered to be beautifully intricate.

Can you appreciate that beauty? Or would you rather pick up the language by example instead of by rule?

At ArabicPod101.com, you can do both. Just from learning by yourself, you can lay a strong foundation of grammar rules and then back it up with the experience of listening to real spoken Arabic by native speakers.

Those are two pieces of the same puzzle—and using both in conjunction is what’s going to get you to the highest possible level in the Arabic language. 

If you found this Arabic pronouns lesson helpful, you may want to read the following articles on ArabicPod101 as well:

Happy Arabic learning! 

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eunhaeng gyejwaleul mandeulgo sip-eoyo.

I want to open a bank account.

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Never Be Confused About Arabic Word Order Again

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Imagine a profile in a world-class international journal. The subject? You.

“Speaks near-perfect Arabic,” reads the article. “Listeners remark not only on the rich word choice, but also the extremely accurate pronunciation.”

“The only flaw is that the actual order of words is incomprehensible, requiring all listeners to rack their brains in order to understand the intended meaning.”

Would that be very flattering? No. And that’s why you absolutely must study Arabic word order if you want to be remembered for your Arabic.

As in every question about learning Arabic, the differences between Modern Standard Arabic and colloquial varieties do pop up here.

Word order is yet another one of the distinctions, with some pretty hefty differences between the two.

In this article, you’ll start to see why that’s the case. You’ll also see some of the big differences between syntax in MSA and in colloquial Arabic varieties.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. The Simplest Arabic Sentences
  2. The Simplest Arabic Questions
  3. Sentences with More Components
  4. The Genitive Construction or idafah
  5. Conjunctions to Link Sentences and Ideas
  6. Conclusion

1. The Simplest Arabic Sentences

Man Lying in the Grass with a Hat Over His Face

Let’s break things way down. What’s the simplest sentence you can make in Arabic?

To begin with, you don’t even need a verb. Arabic sentences can be as simple as a noun and a matching adjective, which is a type of nominal sentence. Nominal sentences are those that start with a noun.

Adjectives do take particular endings in Arabic based on word gender, but right now, we’ll skip over explaining those rules so you can focus only on the sentence structure.

First, look at some examples of word order in Arabic sentences, and see if you can spot a pattern.

“The teacher is tall.”

الأُستاذُ طَوِيل.

al-ʾustāḏu ṭawil.

“The engineer is tall.”

المُهَندِسُ طَوِيل.

al-muhandisu ṭawil.

“The manager is tall.”

المُديرُ طَوِيل.

al-mudīru ṭawil.

Even if this is your very first article about Arabic, you can see what’s going on. There’s no word for “is” in Arabic, not when we’re simply dealing with nominal sentences!

Even better, we can use exactly the same pattern for other nominal sentences with prepositional phrases. We just start with the subject and then say where it is—no verb necessary. Here are examples of this type of word order in Arabic:

“The hat is on the desk.”

القُبَّعَة عَلى المَكتَب.

al-qubbaʿah ʿalā al-maktab.

“The hat is on my head.”

القُبَّعَة عَلى رَأسي.

al-qubbaʿah ʿalā raʾsī.

Of course, there are lots of Arabic verbs to learn as well. Again, see if you can find the pattern.

“Raquel is reading.”

راكيل تَقرَأ.

rākīl taqraʾ.

“Raquel is sleeping.”

راكيل تَنام.

rākīl tanām.

“Raquel is eating.”

راكيل تَأكُل.

rākīl taʾkul.

Correctly conjugating Arabic verbs, especially in the present tense, is a fairly complicated endeavor. Again, don’t worry about the word forms. When we have a real verb like “read,” “sleep,” or “eat,” it’s actually possible to invert the sentence in order to put more emphasis on what the subject is actually doing. This converts it to a verbal sentence, or one that starts with a verb.

“Raquel is eating.”

تَأكُل راكيل     

taʾkul rākīl.

2. The Simplest Arabic Questions

A Physics Teacher in Front of a White Board

Now, if basic sentences could be so easy, how about questions?

For yes/no questions, we do need to add one word, right at the beginning. That word is هل (hal), and it’s similar to putting “is” or “are” at the beginning of yes/no questions in English.

“Is the teacher tall?”

هَل الأُستاذُ طَوِيل؟

hal al-ʾustāḏu ṭawil?

“Is the hat on the desk?”

هَل القُبَّعَةُ عَلى المَكتَب؟

hal al-qubbaʿaẗu ʿalā al-maktab?

“Is Rachel sleeping?”

هَل راكيل نائِمَة؟

hal rākīl nāʾimah?

In colloquial Arabic, هل (hal), meaning “is,” becomes optional, and the only difference between a question and a statement is intonation.

There are more types of questions in Arabic than just yes/no. English has “who,” “where,” “what,” “when,” and “why,” and Arabic doesn’t skimp on them either.

The remaining question words all come at the beginning of the sentence. Here are just three to start you off:

“Who is at the door?”

مَن عِندَ الباب؟

man ʿinda al-bāb?

“What is kefir?”

ما هُوَ الـ”kefir”؟

mā huwa al-“kefir”?

“Where is my cat?”

أَيْنَ قِطَّتي؟

ʾayna qiṭṭatī?

3. Sentences with More Components

A Bowl of White Rice

Now that we’ve gotten to know some basic Arabic sentence patterns, let’s try and combine what we’ve learned so far about Arabic language word order into some longer sentences.

First, a reprise of the themes from last time:

“Raquel is eating rice.”

راكيل تَأكُل الأَرُز.

rākīl taʾkul al-ʾaruz.

“Raquel is reading a book.”

راكيل تَقرَأُ كِتاباً.

rākīl taqraʾu kitāban.

The object of these sentences comes after the verb, just like in English!

Let’s make things one step more complicated, adding the adjectives from before back in.

“Raquel is reading a new book.”

راكيل تَقرَأُ كِتاباً جَديداً.

rākīl taqraʾu kitāban ǧadīdan.

“You are eating my rice.”

أَنتَ تَأكُلُ أَرُزّي.

ʾanta taʾkulu ʾaruzzī.

“My new hat is in the mud.”

قُبَّعَتي الجَديدَة في الطين.

 qubbaʿatī al-ǧadīdah fī al-ṭīn.

Even though we haven’t explicitly gone over the words “new” and “mud,” you were probably able to decode that last Arabic example as long as you were paying attention.

That’s it for basic sentence structures. There are two more things that count as “intermediate,” but you’ll soon see that they’re nothing too serious.

4. The Genitive Construction or idafah

S Cup of Honey

When you’re going through Arabic grammar resources and you keep coming across Arabic terms that haven’t been translated to English, your palms may begin to sweat.

What kind of terrible madness could this be, if it’s something that English doesn’t even have a word for?

The word idafah is one such grammatical term, but it’s really nothing crazy at all. All it is is one more pattern.

Idafah is the term for two nouns stuck together to indicate possession. No verbs or any other particles.

Any time you have a phrase in English, such as “X of Y,” it’s more than likely that your phrase can be translated to Arabic with an idafah construction. The “of” gets blended into the “Y” section of the phrase using something called the genitive case. Again, just focus on the word order here instead of the cases.

“I work at the Faculty of Arts.”

أَعمَلُ في كُلِّيَّةِ الفُنون.

ʾaʿmalu fī kulliyyaẗi al-funūn.

“I work at the Faculty of Science.”

أَعمَلُ في كُلِّيَّةِ العُلوم.

ʾaʿmalu fī kulliyyaẗi al-ʿulūm.

“This is a cup of honey.”

هَذا كَأسُ عَسَل.

haḏā kaʾsu ʿasal.

Based on the pattern above, can you figure out which word means “cup” and which “honey?”

5. Conjunctions to Link Sentences and Ideas

Group of Friends with Their Arms Around Each Other

The following sentences look quite advanced, but it turns out that they’re some of the most useful sentence patterns across languages.

Let’s take “because” for example. This is li’anna in Arabic, and it conjugates similar to how a verb does. That is, it takes a verb ending.

“I like you because you are friendly.”

أَنا مُعجَبٌ بِكَ لِأَنَّكَ وَدود.

ʾanā muʿǧabun bika liʾannaka wadūd.

Here, the verb “like” and the conjunction “because” both have the same ending. Once you know this pattern, you can combine it with what you learned before about adjectives never needing the verb “to be.”

With a few more examples, it’s easy to see how to make this relatively complex sentence!

“I like Arabic because it is beautiful.”

تُعجِبُني العَرَبِيَّةُ لِأَنَّها جَميلَة.

tuʿǧibunī al-ʿarabiyyaẗu liʾannahā ǧamīlah.

“I like Egypt because it is hot.”

أُحِبُّ مِصرَ لِأَنَّها حارَّة.

 ʾuḥibbu miṣra liʾannahā ḥārrah.

This is stuff that would be taught in the second or third semester of many Arabic classes, and here you’re picking it up right away. How about a different semi-complex sentence, say, one with a helping verb?

“I am speaking Arabic.”

أَتَكَلَّمُ العَرَبِيَّة.

ʾatakallamu al-ʿarabiyyah.

“I can speak Arabic.”

أَستَطيعُ أَن أَتَكَلَّمَ العَرَبِيَّة.

ʾastaṭīʿu ʾan ʾatakallama al-ʿarabiyyah.

“I can’t speak Arabic.”

لا أَستَطيعُ أَن أَتَكَلَّمَ العَرَبِيَّة.

lā ʾastaṭīʿu ʾan ʾatakallama al-ʿarabiyyah.

6. Conclusion

Improve Listening

It’s tough to get a big-picture view of a language from an article like this.

In fact, it’s impossible.

The only way to get an intuitive sense of what areas you need to focus on in Arabic is to actually experience Arabic.

If reading is hard for you, then that means doing lots of listening. If listening is hard for you, then it means doing lots of reading.

Absorb the language, and the patterns will start sticking out, one by one. All you have to do is pay attention when they do.

Jumping right into “real” Arabic is daunting, though. You need something that can guide you, something that can show you the steps for learning Arabic from beginner to advanced and beyond.

You need ArabicPod101.

Right now, you can sign up for a trial and find out what we’re all about. (Hint: it’s Arabic.)

With our podcasts, articles, and vocabulary resources, you’ll have everything you need to make sense of the beautiful and intricate Arabic language, and start using it for yourself.

In the meantime, let us know in the comments how you feel about Arabic word order so far. We’ll do our best to answer any questions you may still have!

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Every Minute Counts When Telling Time in Arabic

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Are you planning a trip to an Arabic-speaking country?

When do you leave?

And how do you say that in Arabic?

Yup, you’ll need to know about telling time in Arabic to get around very well and be on time. 

You wouldn’t believe how many tourists get confused and frustrated at bus stations, taxi stands, airports, and train terminals all over the world simply because they don’t understand how to talk about time in the local language.

That’s pretty surprising, to be honest, because you’d think that time words would be one of the things you would prioritize in a new language. 

But it still always just seems like something to learn later—until your taxi driver is laughing at you because you misheard what time the bus leaves, and now you’re four hours too late for the last bus out of town.

Been there.

So that’s why we’ve put together this article. It includes everything you need to know about asking for the time in Arabic, plus some interesting things you might not have considered before. Also keep in mind that we have an article about how to talk about dates in Arabic—another important topic you’ll want to know for your trip.

Let’s go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Asking for the Time
  2. Talking about Hours
  3. Talking about Minutes and Seconds
  4. Throughout the Day
  5. Time Zones
  6. Expressions and Phrases about Time
  7. Conclusion

1. Asking for the Time

Woman Asking the Time

We don’t have a lot of different ways to ask for the time in English, and in Arabic the same principle holds true. Here are some of the most common phrases for asking about time in Arabic:

  • كَم الساعَة؟

 kam al-sāʿah? 

You’re literally asking “How much hour?” This is important, because in Arabic, the question word kam is used to ask for prices:

  • كَم الساعَة؟

kam al-sāʿah?

How much is the watch?

Pretty similar, right?

Fortunately, this doesn’t cause a whole lot of confusion. Imagine you’re sitting with a friend and chatting, and it’s getting a little late. If you ask him for the time, he’s not going to think you’re asking about his accessories out of the blue!

To be a little more clear with your words, though, you could also ask:

  • كَم الساعَةُ الآن؟

kam al-sāʿaẗu al-ʾān? 

What time is it now?

Al-aan, meaning “now,” is just to eliminate any chance of confusion.

To be a little more polite when asking a stranger, try out this phrase as well:

  • الساعَةُ كَم مَعَك؟

 al-sāʿaẗu kam maʿak?

The word for “when” in Arabic is mata, but it works just like in English.

  • مَتى سَتَتَخَرَّجُ في الجامِعَة؟

matā satataḫarraǧu fī al-ǧāmiʿah?

 When will you graduate from university?

You can also ask specifically for “what time” certain things are going to happen. This sentence pattern follows the same logic as the others, so we don’t need to see a ton of examples.

  • مَتى يُغلِق هَذا المَتجَر؟

matā yuġliq haḏā al-matǧar?

What time does the store close?

2. Talking about Hours

Hourglass

One big difference between talking about the time in Arabic as opposed to other languages is that in Arabic, the ordinal numbers are used to count the hours.

That means you’re literally counting the hours—saying the equivalent of “first hour,” “second hour,” “third hour,” and so on.

Talking about time is one really great way to practice your ordinal numbers. If you’ve forgotten what they look like, here they are now:

EnglishArabicRomanization
one o’clockالساعَة الوَاحِدَةal-sāʿah al-waḥidah
two o’clockالساعَة الثانِيَةal-sāʿah al-ṯāniyah
three o’clockالساعَة الثالِثَةal-sāʿah al-ṯaliṯah
four o’clockالساعَة الرابِعَةal-sāʿah al-rābiʿah
five o’clockالساعَة الخامِسَةal-sāʿah al-ḫāmisah
six o’clockالساعَة السادِسَةal-sāʿah al-sādisah
seven o’clockالساعَة السابِعَةal-sāʿah al-sābiʿah
eight o’clockالساعَة الثامِنَةal-sāʿah al-ṯāminah
nine o’clockالساعَة التاسِعَةal-sāʿah al-tāsiʿah
ten o’clockالساعَة العاشِرَةal-sāʿah al-ʿāširah
eleven o’clockالساعَة الحادِيَةَ عَشَرَةal-sāʿah al-ḥādiyaẗa ʿašarah
twelve o’clockالساعَة الثانِيَةَ عَشَرَةal-sāʿah al-ṯāniyata ʿašarah

Different Arab countries use the twelve-hour clock or the twenty-four-hour clock. For example, Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco use the twenty-four-hour clock, while Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar use the twelve-hour clock.

Therefore, when saying the time in Arabic, you’ll need to know these words as well:

  • a.m. — صَباحاً (ṣabāḥan)
  • p.m. — مَسائاً (masāʾan)

And now some question and answer phrases to help you internalize these patterns:

  • A: كَم الساعَة؟

A: kam al-sāʿah?

A: What time is it?

B: إنَّها الثانِيَةَ عَشَرَة.

B: ʾinnahā al-ṯāniyaẗa ʿašarah.

B: It’s twelve o’clock.

  • A: عُذراً, هَل مَعَكَ ساعَة؟

A: ʿuḏran, hal maʿaka sāʿah? 

A: Excuse me, do you have a watch? 

B: أَجَل، إنَّها الساعَة الثالِثَةَ مَسائاً

B: aǧal, ʾinnahā al-sāʿah al-ṯaliṯaẗa masāʾan.

B: Yes, it’s three o’clock p.m.

  •  A: هَل الساعَة الخامِسَة؟

A: hal al-sāʿah al-ḫāmisah?

A: Is it five o’clock yet?

B: لا، إنَّها لازالَت الساعَة الرابِعَة.

B: lā, ʾinnahā lāzal-at al-sāʿah al-rābiʿah.  

B: No, it’s only four o’clock.

3. Talking about Minutes and Seconds

Clock

When discussing minutes after the hour, we use the ordinal time as well. More occasions to practice your Arabic numbers!

  • إنَّها الثالِثَة و خَمس وعِشرونَ دَقيقَة.

 ʾinnahā al-ṯaliṯah wa ḫams wa ʿišrūna daqīqah.

It’s three twenty-five.

However, there are some intricacies—and yes, shortcuts too—that make telling time in Arabic an exciting intellectual challenge.

For the first minute after the hour, English speakers just read out the digits: 5:01 becomes “five oh one.” In Arabic, though, the equivalent is “hour fifth minute.” “Minute” in Arabic is daqiiqah.

  • إنَّها الخامِسَة و دَقيقَة.

ʾinnahā al-ḫāmisah wa daqīqah.

It’s 5:01.

Arabic has a handy grammatical feature called the “dual,” which counts exactly two of something. So when we say “five oh two,” we don’t need to specify the number either. Using the dual form of “minute” is a way to say that explicitly.

  • إنَّها الخامِسَة و دَقيقَتان.

ʾinnahā al-ḫāmisah wa daqīqatān.

It’s 5:02.

After that, it follows the natural pattern that you might expect.

  • الآن الساعَة السادِسَة و تِسع و ثَلاثونَ دَقيقَة.

al-ʾān al-sāʿah al-sādisah wa tisʿ wa ṯalāṯūna daqīqah.

Right now it’s 6:39.

Of course, not everybody is as exact when telling the time in Arabic as to say the precise minute. Many people may respond more vaguely, so these are also some phrases you should know.

  • الساعَة حَوَالَيْ الثانِيَة و ثَلاثونَ دَقيقَة.

al-sāʿah ḥawalay al-ṯāniyah wa ṯalāṯūna daqīqah.

It’s about two-thirty.

In many languages, you can express the time as an hour plus or even minus a certain fraction. Arabic is no exception. The most commonly used fractions are “quarter,” “half,” and “third.”

  • سِأِراكِ غِداً عِندَ السادِسَة و النِصف.

siʾirāki ġidan ʿinda al-sādisah wa al-niṣf.

I’ll see you tomorrow at half past six.

  • أُريدُ أَن أَحجُز طاوِلَة لِلساعَة الوَاحِدَة و الرُبع.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾaḥǧuz ṭāwilah lilsāʿah al-waḥidah wa al-rubʿ.

I want to reserve a table for a quarter past one.

When we want to express the time until the next hour (“ten minutes to two”) we use the word illa.

  • إنَّها الخامِسَة إلّا عِشرونَ دَقيقَة.

ʾinnahā al-ḫāmisah ʾillā ʿišrūna daqīqah.

It’s twenty minutes to five. (Literally: Five short twenty minutes.)

Colloquial dialects use cardinal numbers for the hours and minutes, so they’ll be a little different from the numbers listed above, but not too different.

So if you’re pressed for time and going to speak a particular Arabic dialect, simply learn the numbers and the words for half and quarter, and you’re pretty much all set!

4. Throughout the Day

Time

There are several words to describe the general time of day in Arabic. However, the underlying culture of these words may be rather different than what you’ve gotten used to in your own language.

 A “day” in Arabic is a nahaar. This refers to “daytime,” basically the hours that the sun is in the sky providing light. The opposite of that is lail, which means “nighttime,” or the hours between the sun dipping below the horizon and coming back up again.

In English, we tend to divide the day into a morning, an afternoon, an evening, and a night. In Arabic, there are five words for this.

Ṣabāḥ is the word for morning, when the sun is rising and the day is new. Around eleven o’clock the day turns into ẓuhr, or “noontime.” That refers to exactly twelve o’clock noon in English, but in Arabic it’s a looser concept, covering about four hours from 11:00 to 15:00.

Next is, logically, afternoon, or baʿd al-ẓuhr. Again, we’re talking about a roughly four-hour period here when the sun is beginning to get a little lower in the sky, and people are generally finishing up their work day.

Finally is masā’. This refers to the evening, when shadows get longer and people have dinner or go out for walks in the cooler air.

Let’s look at some examples of phrases that we can use in conjunction with these words.

  • هَل تُريد المَشي مَعي هَذا المَساء؟

hal turīd al-mašī maʿī haḏā al-masāʾ?

Do you want to walk with me this evening?

  • لَدَيَّ إجتِماعَيْن غَداً مَسائاً.

ladayya ʾiǧtimāʿayn ġadan masāʾan.

I have two meetings tomorrow afternoon.

  • إلى اللَقاء! أَراكَ غَداً صَباحاً!

ʾilā al-laqāʾ! ʾarāka ġadan ṣabāḥan! 

Goodbye! I’ll see you tomorrow morning!

5. Time Zones

Airplane in Sky

The Middle East is big, real big. And in other places where people often study Arabic, like in Southeast Asia or India, there’s even more geographical diversity.

For that reason, we have to deal with time zones. The common Arabic word for “time zone” is تَوقيت.

The Middle East as a geographic entity spans four time zones from UTC+2 to UTC+4, and North Africa also includes UTC+0 and UTC+1. As a point of interest, Iran—though not an Arabic-speaking country—sets its time zone a half-hour off from neighboring Iraq and UAE.

If you’re doing a tour of several Arabic-speaking countries, you should of course be aware of these differences and perhaps even become acquainted with these helpful phrases:

  • هَل الجَزائِر في نَفس تَوْقيت مِصر؟

hal al-ǧazāʾir fī nafs tawqīt miṣr?

Is Algeria in the same time zone as Egypt?

  • الإمارات تَسبِق قَطَر بِساعَة.

al-ʾimārāt tasbiq qaṭar bisāʿah.

UAE is one hour ahead of Qatar.

  • كَم الساعَة في الرِيَاض الآن؟

kam al-sāʿah fī al-riyaḍ al-ʾān?

What’s the time in Riyadh right now?

6. Expressions and Phrases about Time

Improve Listening

When you talk about time, you don’t always talk about the numbers on the clock. In fact, look at that previous sentence—”always” is a time word!

To really get a native-like flow to your speech, you have to be aware of the different phrases you can use to add time-related detail to whatever you’re saying.

We’ve put these into the context of simple sentences so that you can see how the concepts are expressed in Arabic. You’ll find out pretty soon that not everything translates directly between Arabic and English!

الآن (al-ʾān) — Now 

أَنا مُستَعِدٌ الآن.

ʾanā mustaʿidun al-ʾān.

I’m ready now.

لاحِقاً (lāḥiqan) — Later 

أُريدُ أَن أَبدَأ الإجتِماع لاحِقاً.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾabdaʾ al-ʾiǧtimāʿ lāḥiqan.

 I want to start the meeting later.

قَريباً (qarīban) — Soon 

قَريباً سَتَفهَم العَرَبِيَّة بِشَكلٍ مُمتاز. 

qarīban satafham al-ʿarabiyyah bišaklin mumtāz. 

Soon you’ll understand Arabic perfectly.

In time, over time, out of time—it seems like you can make phrases out of any preposition in English! But notice, though, that in Arabic things are often worded differently.

في الوَقت المُحَدَّد (fī al-waqt al-muḥaddad) — On time 

لَم يَبدَأ المَشروع في الوَقت المُحَدَّد.

lam yabdaʾ al-mašrūʿ fī al-waqt al-muḥaddad.

He didn’t start the project on time.

مُتَأَخِّرون (mutaʾaḫḫirūn) — Out of time 

نَحنُ مُتَأَخِّرون! يَجِب أَن نَذهَب!

 naḥnu mutaʾaḫḫirūn! yaǧib ʾan naḏhab!

We’re out of time! We have to go!

في الوَقت المُحَدَّد (fī al-waqt al-muḥaddad) — In time 

لَقَد وَصَلَت إلى المَحَطَّة في الوَقت المُحَدَّد لِقِطارِها.

laqad waṣalat ʾilā al-maḥaṭṭah fī al-waqt al-muḥaddad liqiṭārihā.

She arrived at the station in time for her train.

مَع الوَقت (maʿ al-waqt) — Over time 

تَعَلُّم العَرَبِيَّة عَمَلِيَّة تَحدُث بِبُطء مَع مُرور الوَقت.

taʿallum al-ʿarabiyyah ʿamaliyyah taḥduṯ bibuṭʾ maʿ murūr al-waqt.

Learning Arabic is a process that happens slowly over time.

7. Conclusion

Basic Questions

What you’ve just read in this article (especially if you followed all the links) is going to cover virtually every situation you’ll have when talking about time in Arabic.

Yes, the word order and the bit about ordinal/cardinal numbers is probably pretty different from what you’re used to. But it’s really not objectively harder or easier than English.

And the best part about learning to tell time in another language is that you get opportunities for practice literally every day. 

Ask someone what the time is and they’ll tell you. Then ask somebody else, and they’ll tell you too. It’s the least-stressful conversation possible!

When you think of it that way, there’s no time to lose!

In fact, why not practice giving the time in Arabic right now? Drop us a comment with the current time in Arabic below!

Happy Arabic learning!

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