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Understanding and Talking About Family in Arabic

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

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

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

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

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

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

But first, what is the family in Arabic cultures?

Table of Contents

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

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1. What a Family is in Arabic Culture

Family Words

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

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

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

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

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


2. The Nuclear Family in Arabic

Parent Phrases

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

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

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

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

My father is a doctor.
أبي طبيب
ʾabī ṭabīb

My sister is married.
أختي متزوجة
ʾuḫtī mutazawwiǧah

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

Where’s my mom?
أين أمي؟
ʾayna ʾummī?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


3. The Extended Family in Arabic

Grandparents with Granddaughter Going through Photo Album

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

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

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

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

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

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


4. What Marriage Does to the Words About Family

Wedding Toast

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

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

Leading up to the wedding, we have:

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

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

After the wedding festivities end?

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

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

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


5. Expressions About the Family

Family Quotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Egyptian saying:

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

Grandmother Embracing Granddaughter in Field


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Most Essential Arabic Travel Phrases

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Isn’t it exciting to imagine?

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

And you’re there. Speaking in Arabic.

Or rather, that’s the plan, right?

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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1. Using Modern Standard Arabic vs. Using Dialects

World Map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Survival Phrases

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

1- Basic Expressions

Cartoon Waving Goodbye

What types of things do tourists usually say?

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

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

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

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

2- Greetings and Goodbyes

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

  • “Hello!”
    Ahlan!
    أَهلاً

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

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

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

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

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

  • Goodbye!
    ʾilā al-liqāʾ
    إلى اللِقاء

3- Manners

Business Associates Shaking Hands

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

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

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

  • “Go ahead.”
    tafaḍḍal.
    .تَفَضَّل

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

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

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

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

  • “No problem!”
    lā muškilah
    لا مُشكِلَة

4- Compliments

Family Eating Dinner

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

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

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

For referring to food you just had:

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

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

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

5- Transportation

Preparing to Travel

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

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

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

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

It never hurts to double-check:

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

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

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

6- Shopping

Produce Displayed at Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7- Restaurants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8- Directions

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

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

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

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

9- Emergencies

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

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

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

10- Language Troubles and Triumphs

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

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

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


3. Conclusion: ArabicPod101 is Your Guide to Arabic Mastery

Basic Questions

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

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

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

Hit the Ground Running with Arabic Numbers

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So, what are Arabic numbers?

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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1. Just How Arabic are these Numerals?

Arabic Numbers

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

Perhaps the only exception is where they speak Arabic.

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

So what are Arabic numerals?

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

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


2. Cardinal Numbers Zero to Ten

The Number Zero

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

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

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

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

Now onward to 100!

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

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

  • أربعة عشر
    ʾarbaʿaẗu ʿašar
    Four ten (fourteen)

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

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

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

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

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

1- Counting Things Part 1: Counting to Two

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

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

  • كتاب
    kitab
    One book
  • كتابان
    kitaban
    Two books

A Book with Flipping Pages

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

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

2- Counting Things Part 2: Universal Reverse Agreement

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

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

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

Annoyed Woman with Ruler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • ثلاث مدرسات
    ṯalāṯu mudarrisāt
    Three of-female-teachers

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

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


3. A Taste of Numbers in Colloquial Arabic

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

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

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

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

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

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


4. Ordinal Numbers

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

The masculine form of the numbers is presented here.

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

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

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


5. Some Very Easy Math

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

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

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

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

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

  • عشرون بالمائة
    ʿišrūn bilmiʾah
    twenty percent


6. Lemme Get Your Number

Man Asking for Woman’s Phone Number

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


7.Checking the Time

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

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

In MSA, though, you need the ordinal numbers.

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

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

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


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

Woman Napping with Book on Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Post In Perfect Arabic on Social Media

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

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

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

1. Talking about Your Restaurant Visit in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

POST

Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

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

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

2- في المعادي (fī el-maʿādī.)

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

COMMENTS

In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

2- حلو؟ (ḥelū?)

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

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

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

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

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

VOCABULARY

Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    2. Post about Your Mall Visit in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

    1- بشتري هدوم (bašterī hdūm)

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

    2- مع أحلى صحاب (maʿ ʾaḥlā ṣuḥāb.)

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    4- راح المرتب. (rāḥ el-murattab.)

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

    3. Talking about a Sport Day in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

    1- مافيش أحلى من (māfīš ʾaḥlā men )

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    4. Share a Song on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

    1- الأغنية دي بتفكرني (ālʾuġneyyah dī betfakkarnī)

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

    3- كئيبة أوي. (kaʾībah ʾawī.)

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

    4- جميلة زيك. (ǧamīlah zayyek.)

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    5. Egyptian Arabic Social Media Comments about a Concert

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

    1- الباند دي (ālbānd dī)

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

    2- جامدة موت. (ǧāmdah mūt.)

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

    6. Talking about an Unfortunate Accident in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

    1- موبايلي العزيز (mūbāylī el-ʿazīz )

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

    2- مات (māt.)

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

    2- البقاء لله. (el-baqāʾ lillah.)

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

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

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

    ʾAmīr gets bored at home, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

    1- قاعد زهقان. (ʾāʿed zahʾān.)

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

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

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

    1- آه مش قادرة (ʾāh meš ʾādrah)

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

    2- بجد! (bǧad!)

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    9. Talking about an Injury in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

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

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

    2- الحمد لله. (el-ḥamdu lillah.)

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    10. Starting a Conversation Feeling Disappointed in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

    1- لازم تمطر (lāzem temaṭṭar)

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    11. Talking about Your Relationship Status in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

    1- أنا أسعد واحد (ʾanā ʾasʿad wāḥed )

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

    2- في الدنيا! (fī el-dunyā!)

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- أيوة بقه! (ʾaywah baʾah!)

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

    2- ربنا يسعدكوا. (rabbenā yesʿedkū.)

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

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

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

    4- بحبك موت. (baḥebbak mūt.)

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    12. Post about Getting Married in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

    1- فرحي النهارده (faraḥī el-nahārdah )

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- ألف مبروك! (ʾalf mabrūk!)

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

    2- أخيراً! (ʾaḫīran!)

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    13. Announcing Big News in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

    1- مراتي حامل! (mrātī ḥāmel!)

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

    2- ادعولنا! (edʿūlnā!)

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

    2- الحمد لله! (elḥamdu lellah!)

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    14. Posting Egyptian Arabic Comments about Your Baby

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

    1- تفتكرو (teftekrū)

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

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

    15. Egyptian Arabic Comments about a Family Reunion

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

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

    1- مفيش زي (mafīš zay )

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

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

    16. Post about Your Travel Plans in Egyptian Arabic

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

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

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

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

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

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

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

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

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- يا بختك! (yā baḫtek!)

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

    2- خديني معاكي! (ḫudīnī maʿākī!)

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

    3- تروحي و تيجي بالسلامة. (trūḥī wa tīǧī belsalāmah.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning - “May you return safely.”
    This is a wish for a safe journey.

    4- كلمينا أول ماتوصلي! (kallemīnā ʾawwel mātewṣalī!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “Call us once you get there!”
    Use this expression if you wish the poster to stay in contact with you during their trip.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • أشوفك (ʾašūfek): “see you (said to a female)”
  • كمان (kamān): “also, as well”
  • بختك (baḫtek): “your luck”
  • خديني (ḫudīnī): “take me”
  • تروحي (etrūḥī): “you go”
  • تيجي (tīǧī): “you come”
  • توصلي (tewṣalī): “you arrive”
  • Choose and memorize your best airport phrase in Arabic!

    17. Posting about an Interesting Find in Egyptian Arabic

    So maybe you’re strolling around at a local market, and find something interesting. Here are some handy Arabic phrases!

    ʾAmīr finds an unusual item at a local market, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    حد يقوللي إيه ده؟ (ḥad īʾūllī ʾeīh dah?)
    “Can someone tell me what this is?”

    1- حد يقوللي (ḥad īʾūllī )

    First is an expression meaning “Can someone tell me.”
    The Egyptian Arabic word for “person” literally means “one.” The full expression is used when you need answers to something you don’t know or understand.

    2- إيه ده؟ (ʾeīh dah?)

    Then comes the phrase - “what this is?”
    This is a very simple expression that you’ll use a lot when you get to Egypt because it means “What is this?” Use it to ask about anything you don’t know or aren’t sure about.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- سفينة فضائية؟ (safīnah faḍāʾeyyah?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “Is it a UFO?”
    Use this question to partake in the conversation with humour.

    2- مخلوق فضائي؟ (maḫlūʾ faḍāʾī?)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “Is it an alien?”
    This is another humorous question to contribute to the conversation in a lighthearted manner.

    3- ده بيتباع فين؟ (dah byetbāʿ fīn?)

    His nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning - “Where do they sell this?”
    Ask questions for more details and to keep the conversation flowing.

    4- طب ما كنت تسألنا كده. (ṭab mā kunt tesʾallenā kedah.)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning - “You should’ve asked for us.”
    Say this if you are of the opinion that the poster should’ve asked someone else - for the sake of all the social media friends.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • حد (ḥad): “somebody”
  • إيه (ʾeīh): “what”
  • سفينة (safīnah): “ship”
  • فضائي (faḍāʾī): “spatial/alien”
  • مخلوق (maḫlūʾ): “creature”
  • بيتباع (byetbāʿ): “is sold”
  • فين (fīn): “Where”
  • Which phrase would you use to comment on a friend’s interesting find?

    Perhaps you will even learn the identity of your find! Or perhaps you’re on holiday, and visiting interesting places…

    18. Post about a Sightseeing Trip in Egyptian Arabic

    Let your friends know what you’re up to in Arabic, especially when visiting a remarkable place! Don’t forget the photo.

    Munā visits a famous landmark, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    مكنتش أعرف إن أسوان جميلة كده! (makunteš ʾaʿraf ʾen ʾaswān ǧamīlah kedah!)
    “I didn’t know Aswan was so beautiful!”

    1- مكنتش أعرف إن (makunteš ʾaʿraf ʾen)

    First is an expression meaning “I didn’t know .”
    Use this expression to show surprise about something you didn’t expect.

    2- أسوان جميلة كده! (ʾaswān ǧamīlah kedah!)

    Then comes the phrase - “Aswan is so beautiful!.”
    When you use the word meaning “like that” after an adjective, it elevates its level similar to the word “very.” Notice that the Arabic is in the present tense, so the phrase literally means “Aswan is so beautiful.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- روحي الأقصر بالمرة. هتعجبك. (rūḥī el-ʾuʾṣur belmarrah. hateʿǧebak.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning - “Go to Luxor while you’re at it. You’ll like it.”
    Use these phrases to make suggestions for the poster.

    2- النيل في أسوان تحفة! (elnīl fī ʾaswān tuḥfah!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “The Nile in Aswan is gorgeous!”
    Use this expression to add information pertaining to the poster’s comment about Aswan.

    3- متشخبطيش على الحيطان بس! (matšaḫbaṭīš ʿalā el-ḥīṭān bas!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “Just don’t write on the walls!”
    Use this expression to add to the conversation in a lighthearted, humorous way.

    4- وديتي البيبي فين؟ (waddītī el-bībī fīn?)

    Her nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning - “What did you do with the baby?”
    Ask this question if you want to know the whereabouts of the poster’s child.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • مكنتش (makunteš): “I was not/did not”
  • بالمرة (beālmarrah): “while you are at it”
  • هتعجبك (hateʿǧebek): “you will like it”
  • النيل (ālnīl): “the Nile river”
  • الحيطان (ālḥīṭān): “the walls”
  • البيبي (ālbībī): “the baby”
  • Which phrase would you prefer when a friend posts about a famous landmark?

    Share your special places with the world. Or simply post about your relaxing experiences.

    19. Post about Relaxing Somewhere in Egyptian Arabic

    So you’re doing nothing yet you enjoy that too? Tell your social media friends about it in Arabic!

    ʾAmīr relaxes at a beautiful place, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    قاعد على الشط في الغردقة. (ʾāʿed ʿalā el-šaṭ fī el-ġardaʾah.)
    “Chilling on the beach in Hurghada.”

    1- قاعد على الشط (ʾāʿed ʿalā el-šaṭ)

    First is an expression meaning “Chilling on the beach”.
    This expression uses the verb “chilling,” but, like in English, in Egyptian it doesn’t necessarily mean “to make cold.” It just means that you’re engaging in all sorts of cool, relaxing activities.

    2- في الغردقة. (fī el-ġardaʾah.)

    Then comes the phrase - ” in Hurghada.”
    This expression is used to indicate location, in this case, Hurghada. Hurghada is the location of one of the most popular beaches in Egypt and is considered one of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the Red Sea.

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- إنت دايماً بتلعب كده؟ (ʾenta dāyman betelʿab kedah?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “Are you always playing?”
    Ask this question to tease the poster a bit.

    2- فين البنات الحلوين؟ (fīn el-banāt el-ḥelwīn?)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning - “Where are the beautiful girls?”
    Ask this question if you wish to know more about the pretty women on the beach.

    3- نفسي مرة أشوفك بتشتغل! (nefsī marrah ʾašūfak beteštaġal!)

    His nephew, Sāmī, uses an expression meaning - “I want to see you working for once!”
    Use this phrase to tease the poster.

    4- عايزين صور كمان! (ʿāyzīn ṣewar kamān!)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “We want more pictures!”
    Use this expression to show you are interested in the topic and would like to see more photos.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • الشط (ālšaṭ): “the beach”
  • الغردقة (ālġardaʾah): “Hurghada”
  • دايماً (dāyman): “always”
  • البنات (ālbanāt): “girls/ladies”
  • نفسي (nefsī): “I wish”
  • أشوفك (ʾašūfak): “see you (for a male)”
  • عايزين (ʿāyzīn): “we want”
  • Which phrase would you use to comment on a friend’s feed?

    The break was great, but now it’s time to return home.

    20. What to Say in Egyptian Arabic When You’re Home Again

    And you’re back! What will you share with friends and followers?

    Munā returns home after a vacation, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    التغيير حلو بس بيتي وحشني الصراحة. (eltaġīīr ḥelū bas bītī waḥašnī el-ṣarāḥah.)
    “Change is nice, but honestly I missed home.”

    1- التغيير حلو بس (eltaġīīr ḥelū bas )

    First is an expression meaning “Change is nice, but.”
    There are many words for “but” in Egyptian, but the one used here, “bas,” is most common.

    2- بيتي وحشني الصراحة. (bītī waḥašnī el-ṣarāḥah.)

    Then comes the phrase - “honestly I missed home…”
    The word for “missing” someone or something in Egyptian differ among dialects. The word for “honestly” in Egyptian literally means “honesty”.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- حمدالله عالسلامة! (ḥamdeāllh ʿālsalāmah!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “Welcome back!”
    This is the traditional greeting when people return from a trip.

    2- نورتي بيتك يا جميلة. (nawwartī bītek yā ǧamīlah.)

    Her neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning - “Home lit up with your presence, sweetie.”
    Use this expression to show you are feeling warmhearted and positive about the poster’s return.

    3- عايزين نشوفك! (ʿāyzīn nšūfek!)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “We want to see you!”
    Use this expression if you would like to meet up with the poster.

    4- احكيلي كل اللي عملتيه بالتفصيل! (eḥkīlī kul el-llī ʿamaltīh beltafṣīl!)

    Her college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning - “Tell me everything you did, in detail!”
    Use this expression to show your great interest in the poster’s trip.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • التغيير (āltaġīīr): “change”
  • وحشني (waḥašnī): “I miss (it)”
  • نورتي (nawwartī): “you lit up”
  • نشوفك (nšūfek): “see you “
  • احكيلي (eḥkīlī): “tell me”
  • بالتفصيل (beāltafṣīl): “in detail”
  • How would you welcome a friend back from a trip?

    What do you post on social media on a religious day such as Eid?

    21. It’s Time to Celebrate in Egyptian Arabic

    It’s a religious day and you wish to post something about it on social media. What would you say?

    Amīr observes Eid, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    كل سنة وإنتو طيبين. (kul sanah ūʾentū ṭayyebīn.)
    “Happy Eid to you all.”

    1- كل سنة (kul sanah )

    First is an expression meaning “Happy Eid (literally: every year).”
    This expression literally means “every year,” but it’s part of a bigger expression and doesn’t mean much on its own. Keep in mind that there are two Eids a year. One is called the “Small Eid” and takes place the day after the end of Ramadan. It is also known as “Festival of Breaking the Fast.” The other, called the “Grand Eid,” takes place on the third day of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. It commemorates the sacrifice of an animal in place of the prophet Ishmael, and is also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice.” The same expression is used for both Eids.

    2- وإنتو طيبين. (ūʾentū ṭayyebīn.)

    Then comes the phrase - “to you all..”
    This expression literally means “and all of you are ok.” So the English equivalent of the entire phrase is “may you all be ok next year as well.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- وإنتو طيبين يا حبايبي. (wʾentu ṭayyebin yā ḥabaybī.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning - “Same to you, sweeties.”
    Use this expression to return the poster’s blessing/wish, using a term of endearment.

    2- تعالو نتقابل بكرة! (taʿālu netʾābel bukrah!)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “Let’s meet up tomorrow!”
    Use this expression if you would like to make a date with the poster.

    3- أخدتو العيدية؟ (ʾaḫadtu el-ʿīdyyah?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “Did you guys receive the Eid gift?”
    Ask this question for more information. It is customary for Egyptians to exchange gifts during Eid.

    4- أول عيد معاك يا حبيبي. (ʾawwel ʿīd maʿāk yā ḥabībī.)

    His wife, Munā, uses an expression meaning - “First Eid with you, honey.”
    Use this expression to lovingly remind your husband that it’s your first religious holiday as a married couple.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • طيبين (ṭayyebīn): “good”
  • تعالي (taʿālī): “come”
  • نتقابل (netʾābel): “let’s meet”
  • بكرة (bukrah): “tomorrow”
  • العيدية (ālʿīdeyyah): “Eid gift”
  • عيد (ʿīd): “feast (eid)”
  • معاكي (maʿākī): “with you”
  • If a friend posted something about a holiday, which phrase would you use?

    Eid and other religious days are not the only special ones to remember!

    22. Posting about a Birthday on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

    Your friend or you are celebrating your birthday in an unexpected way. Be sure to share this on social media!

    Munā attends her birthday party, posts an image of the event, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    مش عارفة أقولوكو إيه. بحبكوا أوي. (meš ʿārfah ʾaʾūllūkū ʾeīh. baḥebbukū ʾawī.)
    “I don’t know what to say to you all. I love you all so much.”

    1- مش عارفة أقولوكو إيه. (meš ʿārfah ʾaʾūllūkū ʾeīh.)

    First is an expression meaning “I don’t know what to say to you all..”
    Use this phrase to express that you’re speechless about an event or an incident, whether positive or negative.

    2- بحبكوا أوي. (baḥebbukū ʾawī.)

    Then comes the phrase - “I love you all so much!.”
    The word for “very” or “very much” in Egyptian literally means “strong”. It’s placed after an adjective or a verb. This expression is used mostly to express platonic love.

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- وإحنا كمان بنموت فيكي. (wʾeḥnā kamān benmūt fīkī.)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “We love you back.”
    Use this phrase to let the poster know you feel the same about them.

    2- كل سنة و إنتي طيبة يا منى! (kul sanah wa ʾentī ṭayyebah yā munā!)

    Her college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning - “Happy birthday, Munā!”
    This is the traditional birthday wish.

    3- المهم إنك انبسطي. (elmuhem ʾennek enbasaṭṭī.)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “The important thing is that you had fun.”
    Use this comment to partake in the conversation in a positive manner.

    4- عقبال مليون سنة! (ʿuʾbāl melyūn sanah!)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning - “May you live for a million years!”
    This is an exaggeration, indicating a warmhearted, enthusiastic wish.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • أقولوكو (ʾaʾūllūkū): “I tell you (all)”
  • بحبكوا (baḥebbukūā): “I love you (all)”
  • أوي (ʾawī): “very (Egyptian Arabic)”
  • إحنا (ʾeḥnā): “we”
  • بنموت فيكي (benmūt fīkī): “we love you to death”
  • انبسطي (enbesṭī): “have fun”
  • مليون (melyūn): “million”
  • If a friend posted something about birthday greetings, which phrase would you use?

    23. Talking about New Year on Social Media in Egyptian Arabic

    Impress your friends with your Arabic New Year’s wishes this year. Learn the phrases easily!

    ʾAmīr celebrates the New Year, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    في حفلة راس السنة. كل سنة و أنتو طيبين. (fī ḥaflet rās el-sanah. kul sanah wa ʾentū ṭayyebīn.)
    “At the New Year’s party. Happy New Year, everyone.”

    1- في حفلة راس السنة. (fī ḥaflet rās el-sanah.)

    First is an expression meaning “At the New Year’s party. .”
    Starting a sentence with a prepositional phrase that explains where you are is something that’s usually seen on social media and in status updates.

    2- كل سنة و أنتو طيبين. (kul sanah wa ʾentū ṭayyebīn.)

    Then comes the phrase - “Happy New Year, everyone..”
    This is an expression used for many annual occasions, including New Year’s and Eid. The literal translation is something like “May you be healthy every year.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- ربنا يخليك لعيلتك. (rabbenā yeḫallīk leʿīltak.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning - “May God watch over you and your family.”
    Use this expression to give the poster and their family a blessing.

    2- وإنت طيب يا أمير. (ūʾenta ṭayyeb yā ʾamīr.)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning - “Happy New Year to you too, ʾAmīr.”
    This is the traditional response to the poster’s New Year wish.

    3- إن شاء الله السنة الجاية أحلى. (ʾen šāʾa Allah el-sanah el-ǧāyyah ʾaḥlā.)

    His high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “May God make next year even better.”
    Another positive, optimistic blessing for the New Year.

    4- رحت حفلة راس السنة فين؟ (ruḥt ḥaflet rās el-sanah fīn?)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “Where did you celebrate the New Year’s party?”
    Use this question if you wish for more information about the poster’s New Year, and to keep the conversation going.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • حفلة (ḥaflah): “party “
  • الجاية (ālǧāyyah): “next”
  • أحلى (ʾaḥlā): “better”
  • راس السنة (rās el-sanah): “new year’s eve”
  • رحت (ruḥt): “you went”
  • Which is your favorite phrase to post on social media during New Year?

    But before New Year’s Day comes another important day…

    24. What to Post on Christmas Day in Egyptian Arabic

    What will you say in Arabic about Christmas?

    Munā celebrates Christmas with her family, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down Munā’s post.

    عيد ميلاد مجيد. (ʿīd mīlād maǧīd.)
    “Merry Christmas.”

    1- عيد ميلاد (ʿīd mīlād)

    First is an expression meaning “Christmas.”
    Adding the word “merry” after the word “birthday” turns “birthday” into “Christmas” in Egyptian. So literally, there’s no “Christ” in this expression. Keep in mind that Christmas in Egypt falls on January 7th.

    2- مجيد. (maǧīd.)

    Then comes the phrase - “Merry.”
    The expression “Merry Christmas” is the other way around in Arabic, so it’s literally “Christmas Merry.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, Munā’s friends leave some comments.

    1- أخيراً هناكل لحمة! (ʾaḫīran hanākul laḥmah!)

    Her high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “At last, we will eat meat!”
    Use this expression to share your excitement about the menu over this time.

    2- الناس زهقت من الفول والبطاطس! (elnās zehʾet men el-fūl welbaṭāṭes!)

    Her college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning - “People are so sick of beans and potatoes!”
    Use this expression to agree with the previous poster about the cuisine.

    3- تعالو ننزل ناكل مع بعض. (taʿālū nenzel nākul maʿ baʿḍ.)

    Her husband’s high school friend, Sārah, uses an expression meaning - “Let’s go eat out together.”
    Use this suggestion if you wish to get together with the poster.

    4- شكراً يا منى. (šukran yā munā.)

    Her supervisor, Murād , uses an expression meaning - “Thank you, Mona.”
    This is a simple response of gratitude for the poster’s Christmas wish.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • ميلاد (mīlād): “birth”
  • مجيد (maǧīd): “glorious”
  • هناكل (hanākul): “we will eat”
  • لحمة (laḥmah): “meat”
  • زهقت (zeheʾt): “I am bored”
  • فول (fūl): “beans”
  • بطاطس (baṭāṭes): “potatoes”
  • If a friend posted something about Christmas greetings, which phrase would you use?

    So, the festive season is over! Yet, there will always be other days, besides a birthday, to wish someone well.

    25. Post about Your Anniversary in Egyptian Arabic

    Some things deserve to be celebrated, like wedding anniversaries. Learn which Arabic phrases are meaningful and best suited for this purpose!

    ʾAmīr celebrates his wedding anniversary with his wife, posts an image of it, and leaves this comment:

    POST

    Let’s break down ʾAmīr’s post.

    كل سنة و إحنا مع بعض يا روحي. (kul sanh wa ʾeḥnā maʿ baʿḍ yā rūḥī.)
    “May we spend more years together, honey.”

    1- كل سنة و إحنا مع بعض (kul sanah wa ʾeḥnā maʿ baʿḍ)

    First is an expression meaning “May we spend more years together,.”
    This expression is similar to the expression for “Happy New Year,” or “kul sanah w enta tayyib”. This phrase is normally used on New Year’s Day. But this time, after the expression meaning “every year,” you add “being together” (w ʾeḥnā maʿ baʿḍ) و احنا مع بعض. This makes it clear that Amir is referring to his wedding anniversary.

    2- يا روحي. (yā rūḥī.)

    Then comes the phrase - “honey..”
    Egyptians use the phrase “my soul” as a term of endearment, like “baby” or “honey.”

    COMMENTS

    In response, ʾAmīr’s friends leave some comments.

    1- إن شاء الله كل سنة أحلى من إللي قبلها. (ʾen šāʾ el-lh kul sanah ʾaḥlā men ʾellī ʾablahā.)

    His wife, Munā, uses an expression meaning - “Hopefully every year will be better than the one before it.”
    Use this expression to show you agree with your husband’s sentiments.

    2- ربنا يهنيكو ببعض. (rabbenā yehanīkū bebaʿḍ.)

    His neighbor, Malak, uses an expression meaning - “May God bring you happiness together.”
    Use this blessing to wish the couple even more happiness.

    3- جبتلها هدية؟ (ǧebtelhā hedeyyah?)

    His college friend, Sīf, uses an expression meaning - “Did you get her a present?”
    Use this expression if you are feeling humorous.

    4- عقبال 100 سنة مع بعض يا حلوين. (ʿuʾbāl 100 sanah maʿ baʿḍ yā ḥelwīn.)

    His wife’s high school friend, Šīrīn, uses an expression meaning - “May you spend 100 more years together, lovelies.”
    This is another warmhearted wish for many more happy wedding anniversaries.

    VOCABULARY

    Find below the key vocabulary for this lesson:

  • قبلها (ʾablahā): “before it”
  • جبتلها (ǧebtelhā): “I got her”
  • هدية (hdeyyah): “gift”
  • عقبال (ʿuʾbāl): “wishing you”
  • بعض (baʿḍ): “some”
  • If a friend posted something about Anniversary greetings, which phrase would you use?

    Conclusion

    Learning to speak a new language will always be easier once you know key phrases that everybody uses. These would include commonly used expressions for congratulations and best wishes, etc.

    Master these in fun ways with Learn Arabic! We offer a variety of tools to individualize your learning experience, including using cell phone apps, audiobooks, iBooks and many more. Never wonder again what to say on social media!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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    1. What is an Apology?

    3 Ways to Say Sorry

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

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

    But many times, it’s not so simple.

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

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

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

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


    2. Basic Phrases for Apologizing

    Say Sorry

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

    • آسِف
      ʾāsif
      Sorry

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

    • أنا اسفة / أنا آسِف
      ana ʾāsif / ana ʾāsifa

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

    • أنا أعتذر
      ʾanā ʾaʿtaḏir
      I apologize.

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

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


    3. Asking for Forgiveness

    Asking for Forgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    4. Four Different Approaches to Apologizing

    Woman Covering Her Mouth

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

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

    1- Trying to Right the Wrong

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

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

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

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

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

    2- Accepting Responsibility

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

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

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

    3- Not Doing it Again

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

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

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

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

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

    4- Explaining Your Actions

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Woman Apologizing for Bumping Someone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    6. Learning to Apologize Like a Native

    Woman Gesturing

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

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

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

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

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


    7. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Egypt Holidays: Egyptian Armed Forces Day

    Egypt takes pride for its military seriously, and rightly so. On Armed Forces Day, Egypt commemorates one of its most successful and ambitious feats: regaining occupation of Sinai from the Israeli army. Naturally, this celebration extends to a holiday of recognition and appreciation for the country’s military as a whole.

    In learning about Armed Forces Day, or any other major holidays in Egypt, you’re gaining practical knowledge about Egypt’s history and, by extension, its modern culture. As any successful language-learner can tell you, this is a vital step in mastering any language.

    At ArabicPod101.com, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

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    1. What is Armed Forces Day?

    Armed Forces Day commemorates the date in 1973 when the Egyptian army succeeded in restoring the dignity of all Egyptians and defeated the Israeli army which occupied Sinai.

    This event is often referred to as the October War, though some call it the Yom Kippur War or the Crossing War. It got its latter name because the Egyptians managed to cross the Suez Canal and destroy the Israeli Bar Lev Line, which was a very high earthen berm. The Israeli army described it as the strongest defensive line in history.

    Do you know how Egyptians destroyed it? Just by using high pressure water hoses!

    This October War took place during the month of Ramadan, meaning that the Muslim soldiers of the Israeli army were fasting. The Egyptians used this to their advantage, and began an attack that the other side wasn’t expecting.

    2. When is Armed Forces Day in Egypt?

    Armed Forces Day is October 6

    Each year, Egyptians commemorate Armed Forces Day and the October War on October 6.

    3. Celebrations & Traditions for Armed Forces Day

    An Army Marching

    For Armed Forces Day in Egypt, celebrations vary but are largely patriotic and joyful.

    To celebrate Armed Forces Day, Egyptians gather together in public squares to sing patriotic songs, such as O Egypt, My Beloved and Here are the Egyptians. Oftentimes, this takes place in the form of a musical concert, complete with famous bands.

    If you happen to be in Egypt on Armed Forces Day, you’ll also see magnificent air shows performed by the Egypitan Air Force. Their planes create symbolic shapes in the sky, including the Egyptian flag and the victory sign. There may also be an Armed Forces Day parade in some regions.

    2014 was a particularly exciting year for Armed Forces Day. Participants were surprised as Egyptican Army helicopters showered them with gifts from the sky. Because the people were so pleased with their gifts, the army decided to do this every year!

    4. The Oil War

    Why do you think the 1973 October War is called “the oil war” in some countries?

    This is because oil-exporting Arab countries decided to stop its oil exports to the world during the war, to support the Egyptian army.

    5. Essential Vocabulary for Armed Forces Day in Egypt

    Silhouette of Army Men

    Here’s the essential vocabulary you should know for the Armed Forces Day Egyptian celebrations!

    • إسرائيل (ʾisrāʾīl) — Israel
    • أكتوبر (ʾuktūbar) — October
    • السوْيس (al-swīs) — Suez
    • عيد القوات المسلحة (ʿīdu al-quwwāt al-musallaḥah) — Armed Forces Day
    • السادس (al-sādis) — sixth
    • قناة (qanāh) — canal
    • حرب (ḥarb) — war
    • انتصار (intiṣaār) — victory
    • جيش (ǧayš) — army
    • الف و تسعمئة و ثلاثة و سبعون (ʾalf wa tisʿumiʾah wa ṯalāṯah wa sabʿūn) — 1973
    • أمر (ʾamr) — order

    To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, alongside relevant images, check out our Armed Forces Day vocabulary list!

    How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic

    We hope you enjoyed learning about Armed Forces Day in Egypt with us! What are your thoughts on this holiday? What kinds of celebrations does your country have for its army or military? Let us know in the comments; we always love hearing from you!

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    UAE Etiquette: Body Language in Arab Culture

    Thumbnail

    If you tie up an Arab’s hands while he’s speaking, you might as well have tied up his tongue.

    So goes an old saying about the importance of body language in Arab cultures. And there’s a lot of truth to it, which is why we’re going over UAE etiquette in today’s article.

    It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve repeated after your teacher or your textbook to nail the perfect Arabic accent. If you aren’t aware of how your body language impacts your communication, you’ll stick out as a foreigner at best—and actually impede your meaning at worst.

    Of course, there are many different “Arab cultures” out there, and each one is going to have slight differences in what’s considered normal in terms of gestures when speaking.

    But there are several key things to keep in mind, both in terms of what you should do and what you should try to avoid. These rules for body gestures in Arabic cultures tend to be applicable no matter where you go.

    In this guide, you’ll get a glimpse at some of these subtle nuances in body language and gestures in Arabic cultures, and by taking them to heart, you’ll be all set to enjoy truly seamless communication in the Arab world! Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Arabic Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

    Table of Contents

    1. Interesting and Indispensable Gestures and Body Language in Arab Culture
    2. Things You Shouldn’t Do
    3. Conclusion

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    1. Interesting and Indispensable Gestures and Body Language in Arab Culture

    1- The Right-Hand Rule

    No, you’re not back in calculus class. In fact, this is a cultural rule in tons of places all over the world, not just Arab cultures.

    The idea is that your right hand (or both hands) should be used for everything, whenever you have a choice.

    Why’s that? Some kind of obscure discrimination against the left-handed among us?

    Not exactly. It’s just that the left hand is associated with using the toilet. Traditionally, in a lot of cultures, you save the left hand for that less-than-clean purpose.

    So that’s where everyone’s mind goes when you stick out your left hand to do anything, from giving a high five to accepting a contract.

    If you happen to be left-handed, make an effort to use your right hand for giving and receiving things as much as possible. That’s the bare minimum of respect-the-right-hand that you should try to achieve.

    2- Smiling

    Woman Smiling

    Who doesn’t love a big ol’ smile to ease the mood?

    Actually, in different places around the world, smiling can mean very different things. Americans tend to wear a smile, practically as their default expression, whereas in East Asia, a smile can show that you’re uncomfortable and want to change the subject.

    Big grins are an important part of creating a friendly personal relationship in the West. In Arab countries, though, it’s likely to come across as insincere.

    People also tend not to smile or wave at strangers on the street.

    This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your smiling habit entirely. Just be aware that the “standard” for smiling is a bit higher in other places, and it might not be returned with the same enthusiasm.

    3- Handshakes

    Two People Shaking Hands

    Let’s dive a little deeper into what you can do with your hands, specifically in terms of Arabic greeting hand gestures.

    In the West, handshakes are for introductions and greetings (though lots of people nowadays hug each other, which we’ll get to shortly). If you see someone several times a day, it would be quite strange to shake their hand every time, right?

    In Arab culture, you not only shake hands every time you see someone, you do it every time you leave, too!

    It’s important to note here that many Muslim women are uncomfortable with being touched by men. And if you’re a woman visiting an Arab country, being forward with handshakes might be taken the wrong way.

    To stay on the safe side, you can touch your right palm to your heart in lieu of a handshake, or simply wave hello.

    This palm-to-the-heart gesture is actually done by default after the handshake.

    4- Man Hugs & Holding Hands

    Two Men Hugging

    Nobody ever called Arab men distant or unaffectionate.

    It’s perfectly common in Arab culture for two men to walk down the street hand-in-hand, or to give each other a friendly hug upon meeting. Childhood, teenagerhood, adulthood—even hardened military men will do this.

    Arab expressions of masculinity simply don’t restrict touching other men. Try that in the West, though, and a lot of men will look at you funny or even become quite offended.

    So what does it mean if an Arab man doesn’t touch you (assuming you’re a Western man)?

    One of two things, really. He either doesn’t like you, or he respects your culture enough to know that you probably don’t like to be touched.

    And the signal you’re sending by not touching them—pulling away from a handshake early, for instance, or not putting your hand on their shoulder when telling a good joke—is the same in reverse.

    You’re subtly implying that they’re not your good friends and that you may, in fact, be made uncomfortable by their presence.

    All of this goes right out the window, of course, when we talk about contact between members of the opposite sex. This same-sex touching isn’t affection, it’s friendship.

    Affection is culturally regulated much, much more. Public displays of affection are strongly frowned upon, and anything that could be mistaken for an advance probably will be.

    Beware that holding hands is only appropriate in actual Arabic countries (Persian Gulf countries). In North African or Levantine countries with Arabic political systems, it’s not appropriate for men to hold hands as it is in countries like the UAE.

    5- Kissing on the Cheek

    Two People Giving Air Kisses

    So we’ve covered hugging and handshakes—two very important parts of the first impression.

    And yet there’s still one more body language element to Arab greetings that can really be a sticking point for some people: the cheek kiss.

    It’s not actually a smack on the cheek. All you do is kiss the air right next to someone’s cheek. Men do this to men, and women do this to women, for the most part.

    But the main question is, how many times? And where do you start, right or left?

    Unfortunately, some people have grown up starting with the left cheek, but there’s just no way of knowing who these poor souls are.

    It’s best to clearly telegraph your intentions and always, always head for the right cheek first, because that’s what most people do. Fingers crossed, you won’t run into any embarrassing mishaps.

    6- Measuring Things with Your Arm

    Finally, an example that won’t communicate bad intentions or start any international incidents.

    In the West, we tend to hold our hands a certain distance apart to say how large certain things are. “The spider was thiiiis big!”

    In some Arab countries, people do exactly the same gesture, but in a unique way. They measure things on their left arm instead, marking off the distance from their right hand to their left via the forearm.

    Interestingly, different people may mean slightly different things when using the same gesture. Are you measuring from your right palm to your left palm, or to your left fingertips? Ask your friends!


    2. Things You Shouldn’t Do

    So we’ve covered how certain things might be interpreted differently between Western culture and Arab culture.

    But while that kind of anthropology is interesting, it’s probably not exactly why you’re here.

    You want to know what might get you in trouble. You want to know about body gestures considered rude in Arabic cultures.

    For that reason, the following examples are things you ought to make an effort to avoid as best you can.

    Please don’t:

    1- Give a Thumbs-Up

    Thumbs Up

    Actually, this is really tricky to say. Widespread exportation of Western culture has diluted the meaning of many body gestures that used to be limited to specific contexts.

    So no matter what different sources tell you, there will always be people that take things one way and people that take things another.

    With the thumbs-up sign, though, the consequences of “getting it wrong” can be more serious than you bargained for.

    Believe it or not, more traditional or conservative Arabs won’t take this well at all. To them, it’s something like saying “Up yours!”

    Now, as with the other “don’ts” in this article, the fact that you’re a foreigner is probably going to give you charisma points when speaking with others. Using the thumbs-up is, as I mentioned, quite common in international media these days.

    Just don’t be offended if someone quietly takes you aside and mentions that you shouldn’t do it around Grandpa.

    2- Point at Someone with the Index Finger

    People Pointing at Other People

    Pointing is rude! Even more so if you’re face-to-face with someone and you start jabbing your finger in their face.

    Perhaps this one is rude for you as well, so you wouldn’t be caught doing it in the first place. What about when you want to refer to someone, say “that guy over there?”

    Simply gesture with your whole hand instead, as if you were showing someone the way to somewhere.

    Using the whole hand (the right hand, naturally) removes any suspicion that you’re talking negatively about the other party. It’s almost like a gesture of welcome to join the conversation.

    3- Slap Your Fist into Your Hand

    This sounds obvious when it’s written out like that. It makes me think of some goon in a trenchcoat lurking in a back alley.

    However, I’ve personally seen quite a few Westerners do this gesture when impatiently waiting for something.

    Staring off into the distance, they’ll swing their arms back and forth, and usually wind up clapping one fist into the other hand.

    It might be a baseball thing—as I said, it’s mostly just Americans who do this.

    In North Africa and Morocco specifically, this gesture refers to sexual intercourse.

    In any case, no matter how much the Arabs nearby are into baseball, seeing someone punch their own palm tends to make people uneasy. If you’ve got to fidget in some way while waiting, try twiddling your thumbs or adjusting your shirt.

    4- Check Your Watch While Talking to Someone

    Man Checking His Watch

    As you can imagine, checking your watch while in the middle of a conversation sends a strong signal that you’re bored and can’t wait to get out of there.

    Interestingly, in business meetings, a similar gesture is not uncommon. Checking one’s phone in a meeting and shooting off a quick text isn’t seen as particularly rude in many Arab countries.

    Why the difference? The meeting is often a more casual event in Arab society. Using your phone is something that you’d likely have to do regularly during the work day anyway, so taking a few moments to quickly send a message isn’t seen as interrupting any kind of pattern.

    On the other hand, looking at your watch is only about knowing how much time is left until something else happens. It certainly happens from time to time, and in a lively conversation with someone you know it will probably be overlooked, but it’s better to avoid this one if you can.

    5- Bite Your Finger

    You may not have been inclined to bite your finger in the first place. Have you even washed your hands today?

    But it’s good to recognize what it means if you ever see it done.

    When you take your right index finger and lightly bite down on it (horizontal in your mouth) it’s showing that you can’t stand the situation a minute longer.

    Imagine gritting your teeth, but way, way more intense. It’s like you’ve got to bite down on a piece of leather to stop from screaming, and your finger is the first thing that comes to mind.

    Your temper is about to burst, so woe betide those who stand in your way.

    6- Put Your Palm Up with All Your Fingertips Touching

    Man Making Fingertips Gesture

    What was that? It’s a stereotypical Italian hand gesture, or perhaps that of someone commenting on a fine wine.

    In the Arab world, this is a sign of…well, not quite anger, not quite frustration, but more the implication that you’d better listen to me

    Something like that. People pull it out when scolding their kids, when describing someone who really grinds their gears, and even when in the middle of particularly heated phone conversations.

    Since it might not be natural to you, try to avoid picking it up unless you’ve really been immersed in the culture for a long time. Otherwise, it might come off as strange or even a little mocking.


    Conclusion

    Are you worried about how your body language might come across when you hang out with Arabs?

    To be honest, you really shouldn’t be.

    Middle Easterners are not only famous for their hospitality, they’re also extremely warm toward people who’ve made the effort to get to know the local culture and/or language.

    It doesn’t matter if you end up making little mistakes. Simply reading an article like this and keeping an open mind goes a long, long way toward having a fantastic cultural exchange. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Arabic Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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

    When is Eid Al-Adha in Egypt? - Islamic Holiday Guide

    What holiday is Eid Al-Adha?

    Each year in Egypt, Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha in remembrance of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son at Allah’s request, and Allah’s provision of a ram to sacrifice instead. This is one of the most significant Islamic holidays.

    In this article, we’ll be going over the Eid Al-Adha meaning as well as Eid Al-Adha observances and traditions. At ArabicPod101.com, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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    1. What is Eid Al-Adha in Egypt?

    Eid Al-Adha (sometimes called Eid Ul-Adha or the Feast of the Sacrifice) is the second-most-important holiday in the Islamic nation, and here we’ll give you some Eid Al-Adha background so you can better appreciate this holiday.

    The day of Eid and the three days after are called the days of sacrifice or slaughtering. The Eid begins with the Eid prayer in the early morning, followed by sacrifice of animals. The reason is that Muslims believe this is the day when Allah commanded, as a test, that the prophet Ibrahim should sacrifice his son Ismail. But, Allah sent him a ram as a ransom.

    For this reason, on the anniversary of that day, Muslims slaughter rams and other cattle and distribute parts of the meat amongst the poor.

    2. When is Eid Al-Adha?

    10th in Pink Text

    The tenth day of the Dhu al-Hijjah marks Eid Al-Adha. For your convenience, we’ve provided a list of this holiday’s date (beginning on the eve before) on the Gregorian calendar for the next ten years.

    • 2019: August 11
    • 2020: July 30
    • 2021: July 19
    • 2022: July 9
    • 2023: June 29
    • 2024: June 17
    • 2025: June 6
    • 2026: May 26
    • 2027: May 16
    • 2028: May 4

    3. Eid Al-Adha Observances & Traditions

    Family Gathered Together

    The Eid begins with the Eid prayer, which is performed in the open air in large yards or parks attached to mosques. Afterwards, immolation of animals begins in a method in accordance with Islamic law, which guarantees that the ram will not suffer and that all the blood will be drained out of the body in order to enjoy the healthy and delicious meat. Typically, people hire butchers to carry out the sacrifice as the slaughtering process is difficult and requires experience.

    After the butchers finish slaughtering, the ram meat is cut and divided into three equal parts: One-third for the owner of the sacrificed animal, another for relatives, and the last third for the poor and needy. The poor and needy wait for this day to have the chance to eat meat that is too expensive for them to buy during most of the year.

    Did you know? People always seize this opportunity of a long holiday, which sometimes lasts five days, to travel to some nice places, such as the North Coast or Ain Sokhna, to spend the days of Eid there. Because the owners of the resorts know about this, they always arrange concerts at that time.

    You may also hear Eid Al-Adha greetings exchanged in Egypt on this day.

    4. Names for Eid al-Adha

    Do you know how many names Eid al-Adha has in Egypt?

    There are three names for Eid al-Adha. In addition to the name “Festival of the Sacrifice” (Eid el-Adha), there are two others; “The Greater Eid” (Eid al-Kebiir) and “The Festival of Meat” (Eid el-Lahma). The reason for the name “The Festival of Meat,” is that the majority of people eat meat on this day.

    5. Useful Vocabulary for Eid Al-Adha

    Giving to the Poor

    Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Eid Al-Adha!

    • بقرة (baqarah) — cow
    • خروف (ḫarūf) — sheep
    • عيد الأضحى (ʿīd al-ʾaḍḥā) — Eid ul-Adha
    • العاشر (al-ʿāšir) — tenth
    • فتة (fattah) — Fatteh
    • أضحية (ʾuḍḥiyah) — sacrifice
    • اجتماع عائلي (iǧtimāʿ ʿāʾilī) — family gathering
    • صلاة العيد (ṣalāẗu al-ʿiīd) — Eid prayer
    • ذو الحجة (ḏūl-ḥiǧǧah) — Dhu al-Hijjah
    • صدقة (ṣadaqah) — charity
    • كبد (kibdah) — liver

    To hear each of these Eid al-Adha vocabulary words pronounced, check out our relevant vocabulary list.

    Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic

    We hope you enjoyed learning about Eid Al-Adha with us! What are your thoughts on this Islamic holiday? Let us know in the comments! We look forward to hearing from you.

    To continue learning about Arabic culture and the language, visit us at ArabicPod101.com and explore our variety of practical learning tools. Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study our free Arabic vocabulary lists, and download our mobile apps designed to help you learn Arabic anywhere and on your own time! By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also take advantage of our MyTeacher program and begin learning with your own teacher and a personalized plan.

    Arabic is one of the most difficult languages to learn, let alone master, but with enough hard work and perseverance, you can do it! And ArabicPod101.com will be here to help every step of the way.

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    Egyptian Revolution Day July 23: The Egypt National Day

    Egypt’s national day, Egyptian Revolution Day, is considered one of the most important holidays in the country and for good reason. It marks the end of monarchy in Egypt as the result of a coup against then-King Farouk, who lost the throne as a result.

    Learn more about the Egyptian Revolution and Egypt’s Revolution Day with ArabicPod101.com!

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    1. Why Should You Know About Egyptian Revolution Day?

    Egyptian Revolution Day is the single most important holiday in Egypt, commemorating the end of Egypt’s monarchy in 1952 and the events leading up to it. To fully grasp Egypt’s culture—and therefore its language—one must first understand the country’s origins and history, for these things also reveal the heart of Egypt and its people.

    In this article, we’ll cover information about the Egyptian Revolution of 1952 as well as the holiday that centers on it. Learn about the coup of this 1952 Revolution, and the celebrations that take place on Egypt Revolution Day, July 23—and learn some valuable Arabic vocabulary while you’re at it to help you celebrate the Egypt Revolution Day holiday!

    2. What is the Egyptian Revolution?

    The Egyptian Revolution of 1952 marks a time in Egypt’s history that will forever hold great significance to its people. This Revolution ultimately ended Egypt’s monarchy, removing its then-King Farouk from power. This allowed the country to become an independent country, setting it on the path to becoming what it is today.

    The 1952 Revolution was largely the result of the combined effort of Muhammad Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and the Free Officers Movement they took charge of. This powerful and effective coup caused King Farouk to lose power, giving Egypt the freedom to become independent.

    This success had quite a domino effect in the political atmosphere of Egypt. On top of ending the country’s monarchy, it eventually managed to rid it of British occupation and began the Nasser Era.

    The Egyptian Revolution of 1952, therefore, deserves its title as national day of Egypt and its widespread celebration. Read on for more information on the Revolution Day Egypt holds so dear.

    3. When is Arabic Revolution Day?

    January 23 is Revolution Day

    The Egyptian Revolution is celebrated each year on July 23, and is considered the national day of Egypt.

    4. How is the Egyptian Revolution Celebrated?

    Egyptian Flag is Flown

    Egyptian Revolution Day is, of course, a public holiday in Egypt; this means that most schools close and the majority of people don’t have to work.

    In Egypt, the 1952 Revolution is widely celebrated. Even before the holiday officially begins, those of high status prepare and give speeches commemorating and honoring this great day in Egypt’s history. Further, there are often street celebrations taking place well before the actual holiday begins.

    5. Three Attempts at New Government

    Did you know that from January 27, 1952 to July 20, 1952, King Farouk attempted to revive governmental systems through three different politicians? These politicians were Ali Maher, Ahmed Naguib El-Hilali, and Hussein Sirri.

    Each of their governments ultimately failed within a very short amount of time.

    6. Must-know Vocab for Egyptian Revolution Day

    King Farouk (al-malik fārūq)

    There’s some vocabulary you should know to celebrate Egyptian Revolution Day:

    • يوليو (yūlyū) — July
    • عيد ثورة 23 من يوليو (ʿīd ṯawrat al-ṯaliṯ wal ʿišrīn min yūlyū) — Revolution Day
    • الثالث و العشرين (al-ṯāliṯ wa al-ʿišrīn) — Twenty-third
    • ثورة (ṯawrah) — Revolution
    • جمهورية (ǧumhūriyyah) — Republic
    • محمد نجيب (muḥammad naǧīb) — Mohamed Naguib
    • مملكة (mamlakah) — Kingdom
    • الملك فاروق (al-malik fārūq) — King Farouk
    • جمال عبد الناصر (ǧamal- ʿabd al-nāṣir) — Gamal Abdel Naser
    • حركة الضباط الأحرار (ḥarakah al-ḍubbāṭ al-ʾḥrār) — Free Officers Movement
    • إنقلاب (ʾinqilāb) — Coup d’état

    If you want to practice your pronunciation, be sure to visit our Revolution Day vocabulary list, where you can listen to audio files alongside each word.

    Conclusion

    Now you know a little more about the Egyptian Revolution Day; what do you think about this holiday? We hope you found this article helpful and relevant, and learned some new vocabulary words along the way.

    If you want to learn even more Arabic, be sure to visit us at ArabicPod101.com. We have insightful and fun blog posts and vocabulary lists on just about any topic! You can also download our MyTeacher app for a one-on-one learning experience, and chat with other Arabic language-learners in our online community!

    We’re here to make your Arabic-learning journey an exciting one, filled with support. We wish you well as you continue deciphering Arabic and learning about its culture!

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    14 Unique and Untranslatable Arabic Words and Expressions

    There’s no way this is the first article about untranslatable words you’ve ever seen (maybe you’ve even seen articles about untranslatable Arabic words already).

    You may even be thinking: “How can you write an article about untranslatable words without explaining, and then just translating, each word?”

    You’ve got me there.

    But to ease your doubt about untranslatable words in Arabic, keep in mind that there’s a progression to how this works. There’s also a progression involved in realizing what it means for a word to be “untranslatable,” which I’ll try to outline below:

    First, you’re amazed at the world of languages out there, and you love the idea of certain words that have no equivalents in expressing meaning.

    Then, you get a little jaded and think that no matter what the concept is, there’s always going to be some way to explain it to others.

    But then, you get more involved with other cultures and really start to use a very different language in a natural way, and eventually realize—there really are some things that are extremely difficult to describe in other words.

    It’s that diversity and that spark of awe for the human race that should keep you coming back to articles like these, and learning new things.

    That said, here’s our list of untranslatable Arabic words! Here, you’ll find beautiful untranslatable Arabic words in Arabic language to color your conversation like a native. I’ll also be roughly converting untranslatable Arabic words to English words, so you can have an excellent grasp of how to use them.

    Let’s learn some untranslatable words in Arabic vocabulary!

    Table of Contents

    1. Sweet Nothings
    2. Insults and Put-Downs
    3. Describing Others
    4. Feelings and Expressing Them
    5. Conclusion

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    1. Sweet Nothings

    Flowers

    Every language and every culture has beautiful words to express love and affection, and this is no different when it comes to Arabic phrases with no English equivalent.

    But love is a feeling so uniquely shaped by one’s own culture that it’s next to impossible to truly express your love in another language.

    For that reason, even the trendiest English speakers in Arab countries (and there are many) will pretty much always prefer to use their native languages to talk about love.

    You just can’t quite get the words out in another way.

    Here are some beautiful Arabic untranslatable words that Arabic speakers use when they can’t think of anything in another language that really captures how they feel. Hopefully, these untranslatable words in Arabic grammar also show you what the concept of love looks like in Arabic culture!

    1- شو ناعمة (šū nāʿmih) - Lebanese

    Kittens, warm towels, fuzzy sweaters—soft things are nice things, generally speaking.

    But we don’t tend to just up and say so in English. We certainly don’t just tell people they’re soft. Worst-case scenario, people might assume you’re telling them to lose weight if you make a remark on their softness.

    In Lebanon, though, it’s a high compliment. This is the sort of thing you’d hear from a wife to her husband, and back again.

    2- ʿعشق (išq) - Many dialects

    What about when the word “love” itself isn’t enough to show what you’re feeling?

    That’s where the word ʿišq comes in. ʿišq refers to love in its purest form. The strong bond between two people that have spent a lifetime together, or the unconditional affection someone has for their sweetheart.

    You wouldn’t just up and say that you haveʿišq for somebody. Instead, you’d probably read this word in a novel or hear it in the narration of a film.

    3- تقبرني (teʾburnī) [you bury me] - Lebanese

    Does that sound a little dark to you? It shouldn’t. In Lebanon, it’s used in a cheerful and upbeat way!

    The meaning expressed by this phrase is that you hope you die before the other person, because the alternative is too sad to bear. You love them too much.

    You would much rather pass away before them than bear the pain of life without them. That’s the feeling mothers have for children and husbands have for wives—and that’s something that can barely be expressed in words.


    2. Insults and Put-Downs

    Just as words can express love, other words may be even better for expressing hatred.

    All languages can be extremely, perhaps outright disturbingly, creative with insults. And virtually all of them sound completely ridiculous when brought into another language and cultural context.

    A true master translator doesn’t even try to find equivalent words—they just come up with their own crazy insults in the other language that might match.

    Let’s start with what I think is one of the overall minorly insulting Arabic words with no English translation.

    1- روح بلط البحر‬‎ (rūḥ balleṭ el-baḥr‬‎) - Lebanese

    Literally, this is an invitation for someone to go and tile the ocean. What would possibly drive someone to say this? Let’s look at the example untranslatable words in Arabic sentences below:

    A: “I’m really going to buckle down this weekend and do all my homework in two days.”
    B: “Oh yeah? Go tile the ocean while you’re at it.”

    In other words, suuuuuuure you are.

    It’s not obscene in any way and, to be honest, isn’t particularly insulting. It’s more like casual teasing or brushing off. Someone has made some grandiose claim about what they can do, and you’re not buying it for a second.

    2- خايِن (ḫāyen) - Many dialects

    It’s a grave insult in many places to be called a betrayer. Even if you’re joking, it might sour the mood of the conversation pretty quick while you rush to explain yourself.

    When you look in an English-Arabic dictionary for “snake,” it’s possible that ḫāyen will make an appearance. When you look it up the other way, you’re likely to find words like “traitor,” “scoundrel,” or “turncoat.”

    For that reason, calling someone a ḫāyen is something that isn’t going to go over lightly. You’re talking about someone who’s got no morals at all, who would just as soon sell out his own mother to save his own skin in a lie.
    Snake in the grass? Backstabber? ḫāyen!

    3- طاح حظك (ṭāḥ ḥaẓẓak) - Iraqi Arabic

    May luck abandon you!

    This is what you say when you’re pretty annoyed at someone and you just want to be a little petty. It’s the kind of thing old men might say when they’re losing at chess in the park.

    And this one is the perfect example of something that just isn’t said at all in English. As far as I’m aware, there are virtually no luck-based insults in the English language in common use today.


    3. Describing Others

    Man with Face Hidden

    Next on our list of untranslatable Arabic words in Arabic language are those for describing people.

    There are so many people in the world today, and even if we limit ourselves to the Arab world, we see people from every imaginable walk of life and every conceivable background.

    It’s only natural that you would grasp for words when trying to talk about somebody else whose past experiences, or present character, are simply special in some way.

    Here are some Arabic words that are untranslatable, but are perfect for describing people in certain situations!

    1- نعيماً (naʿīman) - Egypt

    Did your friend suddenly show up with a new haircut? Does it look pretty good?

    Simply give them a smile, a nod, and a naʿīman.

    It captures the feeling of “Not bad!” and “Looking sharp!” at the same time, without necessarily being an inappropriate compliment for someone you’re not close to.

    It also has the connotation of cleanliness. In Islam, hygiene is very important, and therefore looking clean and fresh is something to be admired.

    2- بقرة (baʾarah) - Many dialects

    Okay, “cow” isn’t particularly hard to translate.

    But when you call someone a cow in English, you’re almost always commenting on their physical appearance or stature.

    In Arabic, what you’re really talking about is their clumsiness, particularly when they break things or give you some kind of bump or bruise. Even little kids aren’t exempt from this kind of criticism.

    It’s pretty hard to get that feeling across in English. “You have a certain…bovine finesse about you.” Doesn’t quite seem right, does it?

    3- مدعوك (madʿūk) - Many dialects

    Somebody who’s been through the wringer, someone who’s learned from the school of hard knocks—that person is madʿūk.

    This single word captures the unique, and sometimes contradictory, concepts of “world-weary” and “street-smart.” It literally means “rubbed soft” and it’s not too hard to see the imagery there. If you’ve spent your life a wanderer, you’ve been rubbed and pummeled and beaten down before.

    At the same time, though, a person who’s madʿūk knows their way around. They’d better—otherwise they might not have made it this far. Therefore, the word also captures the meaning of “street smart,” for better or for worse.


    4. Feelings and Expressing Them

    Jumping Girl

    Perhaps in this section more than any other, cultural background is paramount.

    In many cultures, for instance, there’s no word for “bless you” after a sneeze. That’s something in the West that we’ve gotten used to using, while in other places there are completely different traditions for speaking about what goes on in daily life.

    1- حشومة (ḥšūmah) - Morocco

    You could try translating this as “shame” or “taboo” but that misses the subtle connotations by a long shot. To really understand ḥšūmah, you’ve got to be part of a society which is way less okay with losing face in public than a lot of Western cultures are.

    In Morocco, it’s very important to fit in culturally with everything around you. Not doing so is, well, taboo.

    You can say that a particular act is ḥšūmah when it makes you feel a little guilty, because you know doing it was wrong religiously or culturally. For instance, it’s ḥšūmah to walk on people’s carpets with your shoes. That’s their house, that’s where they pray, and that’s where they need it to be clean.

    2- بتموني (betmūnī) - Many dialects

    Betmūnī is a phrase that takes the concept of “don’t worry about it” and elevates it to new heights.

    It’s kind of like a way to instantly show that you’re okay with whatever someone is asking you to do.

    But be careful. With that kind of influence, you’re also open to manipulation. It’s possible that you do so many favors that they may be taken for granted.

    3- يعطيك العافية (yeʿṭīk el-ʿāfyeh) - Lebanon

    You see a cleaner, a builder, and a ditch digger hard at work. Or you see a good friend or family member come home tired after a long, long day. What can you say to them to show your respect for their labor?

    In English, not much; maybe something like “Really nice work,” or “Wow, that’s impressive!” But in Lebanese Arabic, yeʿṭīk el-ʿāfyeh is the perfect fit. It’s something respectful and gracious that lets others know that you appreciate the effort they’re putting in.

    It means: “May God give you power.”

    4- ٱلْحَمْدُ للهِ (Al-hamdulillah) & إن شاء الله‎ (Inshallah)

    Yeah, these get their own special section. If you read an English book with Arabic speakers in it, the authors are likely to sprinkle their dialogue with these words about every other line or so.

    But if the author didn’t clearly understand what these mean, it’s blindingly obvious in the text.

    Inshallah is a Romanized contraction of in sha allah, which literally means “if God wills” or “God willing.”

    You’d use it to express the sense of “hopefully (something will happen).” Oftentimes, it’s tagged on to the end of a sentence to sort of temper the strength of a desire or wish, as the speaker reminds themselves that nothing is guaranteed in life.

    And it has another sense, too. You know when young kids ask their parents for things and the parent replies, “We’ll see,” instead of outright saying “no?” Same thing with Arabic-speaking parents and inshallah.

    You may already be using this phrase without knowing it. In Spanish and Portuguese, the words ojalá and oxalá, respectively, both come directly from Arabic and are used all the time to say “I hope.”

    Alhamdulillah is another religious expression that has entered the Arabic speech of virtually everyone. When you give good news, you add al-hamdullilah to give your thanks to God for the blessing.

    Literally, it means something like: “Thanks/praise to the God.” By using the definite article, it’s implied in the very grammar of the expression that there’s just one God. Therefore, alongside inshallah, al-hamdulillah is used by all adherents to monotheistic religions—Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike—all over the Arabic-speaking world.

    These two words, then, turn out to be pretty understandable in English. What’s not quite as translatable about them is the frequency with which they’re used.

    Religion enters speech significantly more in Arabic than in many other languages, and if you simply translate the words without paying attention to when people tend to use them, it’ll come off as clumsy and stilted.


    5. Conclusion

    Just because there are lots of Arabic words that don’t translate well into English doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty that go the other way.

    For instance, the word “access” in English is difficult to get across in Arabic—the best equivalent is وصول (wusul), meaning “arrival.”

    Languages are funny like that.

    Human experiences all over the world just don’t line up quite right. Neither do the words that we use to describe them.

    Before you go, drop us a comment and let us know which of these Arabic untranslatable words is your favorite! Were our untranslatable words in Arabic phrases helpful to you? Start with a bonus, and download the Must-Know Beginner Vocabulary PDF for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

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    Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing, & more. You can learn more about Yassir at his website YassirSahnoun.com.