Get 30% Off With The Epic Sale. Ends Soon!
Get 30% Off With The Epic Sale. Ends Soon!
ArabicPod101.com Blog
Learn Arabic with Free Daily
Audio and Video Lessons!
Start Your Free Trial 6 FREE Features

Archive for the 'Arabic Grammar' Category

100 Arabic Verbs for Every Action You Can Think of

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

Let’s go!

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

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

Top Verbs

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

 اِلتَقَطَ صورَة (iltaqaṭa ṣūrah) — take a photo 

هَل يُمكِنُني أَن أَلتَقِط صورَة لَك؟

hal yumkinunī ʾan ʾaltaqiṭ ṣūrah lak? 

Can I take a photo of you?

مَشَيَ (mašaya) — walk 

أُريدُ أَن أَمشي إلى الفُندُق.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾamšī ʾilā al-funduq.

I want to walk to the hotel.

أَقامَ  (ʾaqāma) — stay overnight 

سَأُقيمُ في الفُندُق الَّذي بِجانِب النَهر. 

saʾuqīmu fī al-funduq allaḏī biǧānib al-nahr. 

I’m staying at a hotel near the river.

أَكَلَ (ʾakala) — eat 

أُريدُ أَن آكُلَ الأَكل المَحَلّي.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾākula al-ʾakl al-maḥallī.

I want to eat local food.

شَرِبَ (šariba) — drink 

أَنا لا أَشرَبُ الخَمر.

ʾanā lā ʾašrabu al-ḫamr.

I don’t drink alcohol.

ذَهَبَ (ḏahaba) — go 

إلى أَيْنَ يُمكِنُنا الذَهاب؟

ʾilā ʾayna yumkinunā al-ḏahāb?

When can we go?

اِشتَرى (ištarā) — buy 

أَيْنَ يُمكِنُني شِراء فُرشاةِ أَسنان؟

ʾayna yumkinunī širāʾ furšāẗi ʾasnān?

Where can I buy a toothbrush?

نَظَرَ (naẓara) — look 

اِنظُر إلى ذاك الرَجُل!

inẓur ʾilā ḏāk al-raǧul!

Look at that man!

وَجَدَ (waǧada) — find 

لَم أَجِد مُفتاح غُرفَتي.

lam ʾaǧid muftāḥ ġurfatī.

I can’t find my room key.

غادَرَ (ġādara) — leave 

سَنُغادِرُ غَداً.

sanuġādiru ġadan.

We’re going to leave tomorrow.

وَصَل (waṣal) — arrive 

مَتى يَصِل باص القاهِرَة؟

matā yaṣil bāṣ al-qāhirah?

What time does the bus to Cairo arrive?

تَحَدَّث (taḥaddaṯ) — speak 

يُمكِنُني تَحَدُّث القَليل مِن العَرَبِيَّة و القَليل مِن الفِرِنسِيَّة.

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

I can speak a little Arabic and a little French.

قالَ (qala) — say 

كَيْفَ تَقول هَذا بِالعَرَبِيَّة؟

kayfa taqūl haḏā bilʿarabiyyah?

How do you say this in Arabic?

قَرَأَ (qaraʾa) — read 

هَل تُجيدُ أَن تَقرَأَ الإنجليزِيَّة؟

hal tuǧīdu ʾan taqraʾa al-ʾinǧlīziyyah?

Do you know how to read English?

نَطَقَ (naṭaqa) — pronounce 

لا يُمكِنُني نُطق هَذِهِ الكَلِمَة.

lā yumkinunī nuṭq haḏihi al-kalimah.

I can’t pronounce this word.

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

أَحتاجُ أَن أَستَخدِم الحَمّام.

ʾaḥtāǧu ʾan ʾastaḫdim al-ḥammām.

I need to use the bathroom.

سَبَحَ (sabaḥa) — swim 

أُريدُ أَن أَسبَحَ في المُحيط.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾasbaḥa fī al-muḥīṭ.

I want to swim in the ocean.

رَكِبَ دَرّاجَة (rakiba darrāǧah) — ride a bike 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ رُكوب دَرّاجَة في المَدينَة؟

hal yumkinuka rukūb darrāǧah fī al-madīnah?

Can you ride a bike in the city?

2. Abstract Yet Important

More Essential Verbs

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

أَحَبَّ (ʾaḥabba) — love 

أُحِبُّ زَوْجَتي.

ʾuḥibbu zawǧatī.

I love my wife.

ّفَكَّرَ ّ((fakkara) — think 


بِما تُفَكِّر؟

bimā tufakkir?

What are you thinking about?

أَصَرَّ  (ʾaṣarra) — persist 

 لَقَد أَصَرّوا عَلى أَن يَتَجادَلوا حَوْلَ الأَشيَاء البَسيطَة.

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

They persisted in arguing about tiny things.

وَضَعَ (waḍaʿa) — put 

ضَع القَلَم عَلى الطاوِلَة.

ḍaʿ al-qalam ʿalā al-ṭāwilah.

Put the pen on the table.

جَرَّبَ (ǧarraba) — try 

خُذ، جَرِّب هَذا الشاي.

ḫuḏ, ǧarrib haḏā al-šāī.

Take, try this tea.

فَعَلَ (faʿala) — do 

يُمكِنُهُ دائِماً أَن يَفعَل الصَوَاب.

yumkinuhu dāʾiman ʾan yafʿal al-ṣawab.

He can always do the right thing.

صَنَعَ (ṣanaʿa) — make 

لَيْسَ مِن الصَعب أَن تَصنَع سَندَويتش.

laysa min al-ṣaʿb ʾan taṣnaʿ sandaūītš.

It’s not hard to make a sandwich.

أَحَسَّ (ʾaḥassa) — feel 

أَحَسَّ بِالمَرَض

ʾaḥassa bilmaraḍ

I feel sick.

فَهِمَ (fahima) — understand 

يُمكِنُني أَن أَفهَم إن تَحَدَّثتَ بِبُطء.

yumkinunī ʾan ʾafham ʾin taḥaddaṯta bibuṭʾ.

I can understand if you speak slowly.

اِتَّفَق (ittafaq) — agree 

هَل تَتَّفِق مَعي؟

hal tattafiq maʿī?

Do you agree with me?

3. Interacting with Others

Women Looking Over Paperwork

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

أَعطى (ʾaʿṭā) — give 

اِعطِني تِلكَ القارورَة.

iʿṭinī tilka al-qārūrah.

Give me that bottle.

أَخَذَ (ʾaḫaḏa) — take 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَأخُذَ هَذا إلى الطابِق العُلوِي؟

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

Can you take this upstairs?

أَحضَرَ (ʾaḥḍara) — bring 

أَحضَرَ أَحذِيَتي.

ʾaḥḍara ʾaḥḏiyatī.

Bring me my shoes.

ساعِد (sāʿid) — help 

مِن فَضلِك ساعِد إبني في وَاجِباتِه المَنزِلِيَّة.

 min faḍlik sāʿid ʾibnī fī waǧibātih al-manziliyyah.

Please help my son with his homework.

صَلّى (ṣallā) — pray 

فَلنَذهَب لِنُصَلّي مَعاً.

falnaḏhab linuṣallī maʿan.

Let’s go pray together.

عَمِلَ (ʿamila) — work 

لا يُمكِنُني أَن أَعمَلَ مَع الآخَرين.

lā yumkinunī ʾan ʾaʿmala maʿ al-ʾāḫarīn.

I can’t work with other people.

بَحَثَ (baḥaṯa) — look for 

أَنا أَبَحَثُ عَن المُدير.

ʾanā ʾabaḥaṯu ʿan al-mudīr.

I’m looking for my boss.

أَنصَتَ (ʾanṣata) — listen to

هَل تُنصِتُ إلَيّ؟

hal tunṣitu ʾilayy?

Are you listening to me?

وَعَدَ (waʿada) — promise 

أَعِدُكَ أَنّني لَن أَقومَ بِذَلِك مُجَدَّداً.

ʾaʿiduka ʾannnī lan ʾaqūma biḏalik muǧaddadan.

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

وَظَّفَ (waẓẓafa) — hire 

و أَخيراً, جوجِل وَظَّقَتني.

wa ʾaḫīran, ǧūǧil waẓẓaqatnī.

Finally, Google hired me.

4. Move Your Body

Family Running through Park Together

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

قَفَزَ (qafaza) — jump 

يَجِبُ عَلَيْكَ أَن تَقفِزَ فَوْقَ البَرَكَة.

yaǧibu ʿalayka ʾan taqfiza fawqa al-barakah.

You have to jump over the puddle.

جَرَى (ǧaraā) — run 

بِأَيِّ سُرعَة يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَجري؟

biʾayyi surʿah yumkinuka ʾan taǧrī?

How fast can you run?

اِستَلقى (istalqā) — lie down 

  أَنا أُريدُ فَقَط أَن أَعودَ إلى المَنزِل و أَستَلقي.

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

I just want to go home and lie down.

وَقَفَ (waqafa) — stand up 

فَليَقِف الجَميع مِن فَضلِكُم.

falyaqif al-ǧamīʿ min faḍlikum.

Everybody stand up, please.

جَلَس (ǧalas) — sit down 

ظَهري يُؤلِمُني حينَما أَجلِس.

ẓahrī yuʾulimunī ḥīnamā ʾaǧlis.

My back hurts when I sit down.

صَفَّقَ (ṣaffaqa) — clap 

الجُمهور صَفَّقَ لِمُدَّةٍ طَوِيلَة.

al-ǧumhūr ṣaffaqa limuddaẗin ṭawilah.

The audience clapped for a long time.

تَمَرَّنَ (tamarrana) — exercise  

لا أُحِبُّ التَمَرُّن حين أَكونُ مَريضاً.

lā ʾuḥibbu al-tamarrun ḥīn ʾakūnu marīḍan.

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

مارَسَ الرِيَاضَة (mārasa al-riyaḍah) — play sports 

لَقَد تَعَوَّدتُ أَن أُمارِسَ الكَثير مِن الرِيَاضَة عِندَما كُنتُ صَغيراً.

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

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

رَقَصَ (raqaṣa) — dance 

فَلنَرقُص اللَّيْلَة كُلَّها.

falnarquṣ al-llaylah kullahā.

Let’s dance all night.

أَخَذَ حَمّاماً (ʾaḫaḏa ḥammāman) — take a shower 

أُريدُ أَن آخُذَ حَمّاماً غَداً صَباحاً.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾāḫuḏa ḥammāman ġadan ṣabāḥan.

I want to take a shower tomorrow morning.

5. Follow That Car!

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

قادَ (qāda) — drive  

يُمكِنُني أَن أَقودَ أَيَّ نَوْعٍ مِن السَيَّارات.

yumkinunī ʾan ʾaqūda ʾayya nawʿin min al-sayyaārāt.

I can drive any kind of car.

قِف (qif) — stop 

أَوْقِف السَيَّارَة، مِن فَضلِك.

ʾawqif al-sayyaārah, min faḍlik.

Stop the car, please!

اِنعَطَفَ (inʿaṭafa) — turn 

اِنعَطِف يَساراً،  ثُمَّ اِنعَطِف يَميناً عِندَ الشارِع المُقبِل.

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

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

أَسرَعَ (ʾasraʿa) — speed up 

سَيَّارَةُ الشُرطَة أَسرَعَت لِكَيّ تَقبِضَ عَلى المُتَّهَم.

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

The police car sped up to catch the suspect.

أَبطَأَ (ʾabṭaʾa) — slow down 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تُبطِئَ مِن فَضلِك؟

hal yumkinuka ʾan tubṭiʾa min faḍlik?

Can you please slow down?

عَمِل (ʿamil) — turn on / start 

سيارتي لا تَعمَل.

sīārtī lā taʿmal.

My car won’t start.

أَطفَأَ (ʾaṭfaʾa) — turn off 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ إطفاء المُكَيِّف الهَوَائي؟

hal yumkinuka ʾiṭfāʾ al-mukayyif al-hawaʾī?

Could you turn off the air conditioning?

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

.ِ  إذا كُنتَ عَلى عَجَلَة، يُمكِنُكَ رُكوب الحافِلَة

ʾiḏā kunta ʿalā ʿaǧalah, yumkinuka rukūb al-ḥāfilah.

If you hurry, you can catch the bus.

6. Hobbies and Pastimes

Lovely Red Flowers

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

اِلتَقَطَ صُوَراً (iltaqaṭa ṣuwaran) — take photos 


.أُحِبُّ إلتِقاطَ صُوَر لِلطَبيعَة

ʾuḥibbu ʾiltiqāṭa ṣuwar lilṭabīʿah.

I like to take photos of nature.

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

أُمّي تَستَمِعُ إلى الموسيقى الأَفريقِيَّة.

ʾummī tastamiʿu ʾilā al-mūsīqā al-ʾafrīqiyyah.

My mom listens to African music.

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

أَنا أَعزُفُ عَلى الجيتار مُنذُ عَشَرَ سَنَوَات.

ʾanā ʾaʿzufu ʿalā al-ǧītār munḏu ʿašara sanawat.

I’ve been playing guitar for ten years.

رَكَضَ (rakaḍa) — go jogging 

هَل تُريدُ أَن تَركُضَ مَعي عِندَما يَتَحَسَّن الطَقس؟

hal turīdu ʾan tarkuḍa maʿī ʿindamā yataḥassan al-ṭaqs?

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

شاهَدَ الأَفلام (šāhada al-ʾaflām) — watch movies 

أَكرَهُ مُشاهَدَةِ الأَفلام الحَزينَة.

ʾakrahu mušāhadaẗi al-ʾaflām al-ḥazīnah.

I hate watching sad movies.

اِستَرخى (istarḫā) — relax 

مِن المُهِمِّ أَن تَستَرخِيَ بَعد العَمَل بِجِد.

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

It’s important to relax after working hard.

أَخَذَ غَفوَة (ʾaḫaḏa ġafwah) — take a nap 

هَل مِن المُمكِنِ أَن آخُذَ غَفوَة في السَيّارَة؟

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

Is it okay to take a nap in the car?

مارَسَ اليوغا (mārasa al-yūġā) — do yoga 

عادَةً ما أُمارِس اليوغا كُلَّ يَوْم أَحَد.

ʿādaẗan mā ʾumāris al-īūġā kulla yūm ʾaḥad.

I usually do yoga every Sunday.

دَرَسَ (darasa) — study 

هَل يُمكِنُنا أَن نَدرُسَ مَعاً؟

hal yumkinunā ʾan nadrusa maʿan?

Can we study together?

7. Using Your Words

Negative Verbs

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

دَردَشَ (dardaša) — chat 

إنَّهُما يُدَردِشان حَوْل السَيَّارات.

ʾinnahumā yudardišān ḥawl al-sayyaārāt.

They’re chatting about cars.

تَجادَل (taǧādal) — argue  

هَل عادَةً ما تَتَجادَل مَع وَالِدَيْك؟

hal ʿādaẗan mā tataǧādal maʿ walidayk?

Do you often argue with your parents?

أَهان (ʾahān) — insult 

لَقَد أَهانَتني أَمامَ زَوْجي!

laqad ʾahānatnī ʾamāma zawǧī!

She insulted me in front of my husband!

8. In the Kitchen

Cooking in the Kitchen

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

طَبَخَ (ṭabaḫa) — cook 

أَطبُخ الغَداء لِعائِلَتي مَرَّة في الأُسبوع.

ʾaṭbuḫ al-ġadāʾ liʿāʾilatī marrah fī al-ʾusbūʿ.

I cook lunch for my family once a week.

رَمى (ramā) — throw away 

هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تَرمي ذَلِكَ البَيْض؟

hal yumkinuka ʾan tarmī ḏalika al-bayḍ?

Can you throw away those eggs?

نَظَّفَ (naẓẓafa) — clean 

نَحنُ بِحاجَةٍ إلى تَنظيف هَذا المَطبَخ.

naḥnu biḥāǧaẗin ʾilā tanẓīf haḏā al-maṭbaḫ.

We need to clean this kitchen.

مَسَحَ (masaḥa) — mop 

حاوِل أَن تَمسَح الأَرضِيَّة بِسُرعَة.

ḥāwil ʾan tamsaḥ al-ʾarḍiyyah bisurʿah.

Try to mop the floors fast.

مَسَحَ (masaḥa) — wipe 

إمسَح الطاوِلَة بِمِنشَفَة.

ʾimsaḥ al-ṭāwilah biminšafah.

Wipe the table with a towel.

غَسَلَ (ġasala) — wash 

فَلنَغسِل الأَوَاني مَعاً.

falnaġsil al-ʾawanī maʿan.

Let’s wash the dishes together. 

قَطَّعَ (qaṭṭaʿa) — cut 

قَطَّعَ اللَحم إلى قِطَع صَغيرَة.

qaṭṭaʿa al-laḥm ʾilā qiṭaʿ ṣaġīrah.

Cut the meat into small pieces.

قَلى (qalā) — fry 

اِقلي الدَجاج لِمُدَّةِ حَوَالي خَمس دَقائِق.

iqlī al-daǧāǧ limuddaẗi ḥawalī ḫams daqāʾiq.

Fry the chicken for about five minutes.

غَلى (ġalā) — boil 

اِغلي المِيَاه و أَضِف المَعكَرونَة.

iġlī al-miyah wa ʾaḍif al-maʿkarūnah.

Boil the water and add the noodles.

9. Conclusion

Whew! What a list!

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

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

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

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

Happy Arabic learning! 

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

Find the Beauty in Grammar Through Arabic Pronouns

Thumbnail

Did anybody ever tell you that grammar is beautiful?

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

Then clearly nobody has told you about Arabic grammar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. The Lowdown on Arabic Pronouns

Introducing Yourself

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

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

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

2. Arabic Subject Pronouns

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

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

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

Now have a look at these Arabic pronouns with examples:

Male Physics Teacher
  • أَنا أُستاذ.

 ʾanā ʾustāḏ.

I am a (male) teacher.

  • أَنا أُستاذَة.

ʾanā ʾustāḏah.

 I am a (female) teacher.

  • أَنتِ مُهَندِسَة.

ʾanti muhandisah.

You (feminine) are an engineer.

  • أَنتَ مُهَندِس.

ʾanta muhandis.

 You (masculine) are an engineer.

  • يُمكِنُها تَكَلُّم العَرَبِيَّة و الهِندِيَّة.

yumkinuhā takallum al-ʿarabiyyah wa al-hindiyyah.

She can speak Arabic and Hindi.

  • يُمكِنُهُ تَكَلُّم العَرَبِيَّة و الهِندِيَّة.

yumkinuhu takallum al-ʿarabiyyah wa al-hindiyyah.

He can speak German and English.

Now we move up in number:

EnglishArabic Romanization
you twoأَنتُماantuma
they twoهُماhumaa

Whoa, what’s this?

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

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

  • هُما يَتَكَلَّمان عَن السِيَاسَة.

humā yatakallamān ʿan al-siyasah.

They (two of them) are talking about politics.

  • هُما يُحِبّان الموسيقى و الرَقص.

humā yuḥibbān al-mūsīqā wa al-raqṣ.

They (two of them) like music and dancing.

  • أَنتُما عَلَيْكُما الوُصول إلى العَمَل غَداً مُبَكِّراً.

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

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

  • أَنتُما لَم تَعُدا جُزءاً مِن هَذا المَشروع.

ʾantumā lam taʿudā ǧuzʾan min haḏā al-mašrūʿ.

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

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

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

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

  • نَحنُ في مَركَز التَسَوُّق.

naḥnu fī markaz al-tasawwuq.

 We are in the mall.

  • أَنتُن تَبدُنَّ مُمتازات.

ʾantun tabdunna mumtāzāt.

 You (to several women) look excellent.

  • هُم يَحتاجونَ إلى المَزيد مِن التَمرين.

hum yaḥtāǧūna ʾilā al-mazīd min al-tamrīn.

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

  • هُنَّ مُمِلّات.

hunna mumillāt.

 They (to several women) are boring.

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

3. Arabic Object Pronouns

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

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

Time for another chart to explain:

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

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

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

Father and Son Looking Up with Binoculars
  • أَحمَد يَراه.

ʾaḥmad yarāh.

Ahmed sees him.

  • الأُستاذُ يُناديك.

al-ʾustāḏu yunādīk.

The teacher is calling you (masculine).

  • أُمّي تَشتاقُ إلَيّ عِندَما أَكون في المَدرَسَة.

ʾummī taštāqu ʾilayy ʿindamā ʾakūn fī al-madrasah.

My mother misses me when I’m at school.

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

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

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

  • جَمال يَكرَهُنا.

ǧamal yakrahunā.

 Jamal hates us.

  • حَميد يَعرِفُهُم.

ḥamīd yaʿrifuhum.

Hamid knows them (several men).

  • هَل يَجِبُ أَن نَدعوهُم إلى الحَفلَة؟

hal yaǧibu ʾan nadʿūhum ʾilā al-ḥaflah?

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

Women

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

Take a look.

4. Arabic Possessive Pronouns

Basic Questions

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

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

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

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

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

  • هَذِهِ حَقيبَةُ سَفَري.

haḏihi ḥaqībaẗu safarī.

This is my suitcase.

  • أَيْنَ سَيَّارَتُها؟

ʾayna sayyaāratuhā?

Where is her car?

  • سائِقُهُم مُتَأَخِّر.

sāʾiquhum mutaʾaḫḫir.

Their (plural masculine) driver is late.

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

5. Arabic Prepositional Pronouns

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

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

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

  • هَل يُمكِنُني المَشي مَعَك؟

hal yumkinunī al-mašī maʿak?

Can I walk with you (singular masculine)?

  • هَذِهِ هَدِيَّة مِن عِندِهُن.

haḏihi hadiyyah min ʿindihun.

This is a present from them (two women).

  • وَجَدتُ رِسالَة مَكتوبَة مِن طَرَفِها.

waǧadtu risal-ah maktūbah min ṭarafihā.

I found a letter written by her.

  • المَطَر كانَ يَسقُطُ عَلَيّ.

al-maṭar kāna yasquṭu ʿalayy.

The rain was falling on me.

Woman in Heavy Rain

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

  • تَدَحرَجَت الكُرَة إلَيْها و اِلتَقَطَتها.

tadaḥraǧat al-kurah ʾilayhā wa iltaqaṭathā.

The ball rolled to her and she picked it up.

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

6. Arabic Demonstrative Pronouns

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

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

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

  • اِحضِر ذَلِكَ الكُرسي إلى هُنا.

iḥḍir ḏalika al-kursī ʾilā hunā.

Please bring that chair over here.

  • اِحضِر تِلكَ الكَراسي إلى هُنا.

iḥḍir tilka al-karāsī ʾilā hunā.

Please bring those chairs over here.

  • هَذِهِ الكَعكَة غالِيَة جِدّاً, لَكِن تِلكَ الكَعكَة رَخيصَة.

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

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

Slice of Strawberry Cake

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

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

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

7. Pronouns in Arabic Dialects

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Conclusion

Improve Listening

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Arabic learning! 

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

Every Minute Counts When Telling Time in Arabic

Thumbnail

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

When do you leave?

And how do you say that in Arabic?

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

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

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

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

Been there.

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

Let’s go!

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

1. Asking for the Time

Woman Asking the Time

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

  • كَم الساعَة؟

 kam al-sāʿah? 

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

  • كَم الساعَة؟

kam al-sāʿah?

How much is the watch?

Pretty similar, right?

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

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

  • كَم الساعَةُ الآن؟

kam al-sāʿaẗu al-ʾān? 

What time is it now?

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

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

  • الساعَةُ كَم مَعَك؟

 al-sāʿaẗu kam maʿak?

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

  • مَتى سَتَتَخَرَّجُ في الجامِعَة؟

matā satataḫarraǧu fī al-ǧāmiʿah?

 When will you graduate from university?

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

  • مَتى يُغلِق هَذا المَتجَر؟

matā yuġliq haḏā al-matǧar?

What time does the store close?

2. Talking about Hours

Hourglass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • A: كَم الساعَة؟

A: kam al-sāʿah?

A: What time is it?

B: إنَّها الثانِيَةَ عَشَرَة.

B: ʾinnahā al-ṯāniyaẗa ʿašarah.

B: It’s twelve o’clock.

  • A: عُذراً, هَل مَعَكَ ساعَة؟

A: ʿuḏran, hal maʿaka sāʿah? 

A: Excuse me, do you have a watch? 

B: أَجَل، إنَّها الساعَة الثالِثَةَ مَسائاً

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

B: Yes, it’s three o’clock p.m.

  •  A: هَل الساعَة الخامِسَة؟

A: hal al-sāʿah al-ḫāmisah?

A: Is it five o’clock yet?

B: لا، إنَّها لازالَت الساعَة الرابِعَة.

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

B: No, it’s only four o’clock.

3. Talking about Minutes and Seconds

Clock

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

  • إنَّها الثالِثَة و خَمس وعِشرونَ دَقيقَة.

 ʾinnahā al-ṯaliṯah wa ḫams wa ʿišrūna daqīqah.

It’s three twenty-five.

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

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

  • إنَّها الخامِسَة و دَقيقَة.

ʾinnahā al-ḫāmisah wa daqīqah.

It’s 5:01.

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

  • إنَّها الخامِسَة و دَقيقَتان.

ʾinnahā al-ḫāmisah wa daqīqatān.

It’s 5:02.

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

  • الآن الساعَة السادِسَة و تِسع و ثَلاثونَ دَقيقَة.

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

Right now it’s 6:39.

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

  • الساعَة حَوَالَيْ الثانِيَة و ثَلاثونَ دَقيقَة.

al-sāʿah ḥawalay al-ṯāniyah wa ṯalāṯūna daqīqah.

It’s about two-thirty.

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

  • سِأِراكِ غِداً عِندَ السادِسَة و النِصف.

siʾirāki ġidan ʿinda al-sādisah wa al-niṣf.

I’ll see you tomorrow at half past six.

  • أُريدُ أَن أَحجُز طاوِلَة لِلساعَة الوَاحِدَة و الرُبع.

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

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

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

  • إنَّها الخامِسَة إلّا عِشرونَ دَقيقَة.

ʾinnahā al-ḫāmisah ʾillā ʿišrūna daqīqah.

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

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

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

4. Throughout the Day

Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • هَل تُريد المَشي مَعي هَذا المَساء؟

hal turīd al-mašī maʿī haḏā al-masāʾ?

Do you want to walk with me this evening?

  • لَدَيَّ إجتِماعَيْن غَداً مَسائاً.

ladayya ʾiǧtimāʿayn ġadan masāʾan.

I have two meetings tomorrow afternoon.

  • إلى اللَقاء! أَراكَ غَداً صَباحاً!

ʾilā al-laqāʾ! ʾarāka ġadan ṣabāḥan! 

Goodbye! I’ll see you tomorrow morning!

5. Time Zones

Airplane in Sky

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

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

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

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

  • هَل الجَزائِر في نَفس تَوْقيت مِصر؟

hal al-ǧazāʾir fī nafs tawqīt miṣr?

Is Algeria in the same time zone as Egypt?

  • الإمارات تَسبِق قَطَر بِساعَة.

al-ʾimārāt tasbiq qaṭar bisāʿah.

UAE is one hour ahead of Qatar.

  • كَم الساعَة في الرِيَاض الآن؟

kam al-sāʿah fī al-riyaḍ al-ʾān?

What’s the time in Riyadh right now?

6. Expressions and Phrases about Time

Improve Listening

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

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

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

الآن (al-ʾān) — Now 

أَنا مُستَعِدٌ الآن.

ʾanā mustaʿidun al-ʾān.

I’m ready now.

لاحِقاً (lāḥiqan) — Later 

أُريدُ أَن أَبدَأ الإجتِماع لاحِقاً.

ʾurīdu ʾan ʾabdaʾ al-ʾiǧtimāʿ lāḥiqan.

 I want to start the meeting later.

قَريباً (qarīban) — Soon 

قَريباً سَتَفهَم العَرَبِيَّة بِشَكلٍ مُمتاز. 

qarīban satafham al-ʿarabiyyah bišaklin mumtāz. 

Soon you’ll understand Arabic perfectly.

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

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

لَم يَبدَأ المَشروع في الوَقت المُحَدَّد.

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

He didn’t start the project on time.

مُتَأَخِّرون (mutaʾaḫḫirūn) — Out of time 

نَحنُ مُتَأَخِّرون! يَجِب أَن نَذهَب!

 naḥnu mutaʾaḫḫirūn! yaǧib ʾan naḏhab!

We’re out of time! We have to go!

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

لَقَد وَصَلَت إلى المَحَطَّة في الوَقت المُحَدَّد لِقِطارِها.

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

She arrived at the station in time for her train.

مَع الوَقت (maʿ al-waqt) — Over time 

تَعَلُّم العَرَبِيَّة عَمَلِيَّة تَحدُث بِبُطء مَع مُرور الوَقت.

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

Learning Arabic is a process that happens slowly over time.

7. Conclusion

Basic Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Arabic learning!

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

100 Arabic Nouns You Can’t Live Without



Thumbnail

I’ve always found that naming whatever I can see is a huge motivation boost.

First, it’s easy. If I learn the word for something I see or use all the time, it sticks really easily in my mind because I always see it.

Second, it feels very cool when I can use a foreign language to list and describe anything at all in my immediate environment.

In order to get to that level, you don’t have to do a lot of work. You just need to be familiar with your Arabic nouns. Hence, you should find our list of common Arabic nouns and grammar explanations very helpful.

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

Table of Contents
  1. A Few Quick Notes on Arabic Nouns
  2. List of Basic Arabic Nouns by Category
  3. Conclusion


1. A Few Quick Notes on Arabic Nouns



Nouns 1

When it comes to nouns in Arabic, grammar knowledge—even just a little bit—is essential.

Before you try to learn Arabic nouns, keep in mind that nouns in Arabic have grammatical gender. Any given noun is either masculine or feminine, though it’s usually easy to tell because the two noun genders have different endings. Some feminine nouns don’t have feminine endings, but if that’s the case, we’ll point it out in this Arabic nouns list as they come up.

Whereas English has only singular and plural noun forms, Arabic has a dual form as well, used to indicate that there are exactly two things.

There are other rules for Arabic nouns, but for this article we’ll just get you recognizing the most common Arabic nouns. The best way is to learn them in the context of sentences, and that’s exactly what we have! With ArabicPod101.com, understanding Arabic nouns has never been simpler!

2. List of Basic Arabic Nouns by Category



Nouns 2

1- Time



It all begins and ends with time. These words are absolutely necessary for everyday chitchat, because everyone wants to know about what’s going to happen and what has already happened. Here are the most common Arabic nouns for talking about time.

اليَوْم (al-yawm) — today


ماذا تَفعَل اليَوْم؟
māḏā tafʿal al-yawm?
What are you doing today?

غَداً (ġadan) — tomorrow


هَل لَدَيْكَ وَقتٌ غَداً؟
hal ladayka waqtun ġadan?
Are you free tomorrow?

أَمس (ʾams) — yesterday


كُنتُ عَلى الشاطِئ البارِحَة.
kuntu ʿalā al-šāṭiʾ al-bāriḥah.
I was at the beach yesterday.

يَوْم (yawm) — day


عيدُ ميلادي يَوْمان بَعد اليَوْم.
ʿīdu mīlādī yawmān baʿd al-yawm.
Two days from now is my birthday.

أُسبوع (ʾusbū) — weekʿ


يُمكِنُني إتمام المَشروع هَذا الأُسبوع.
yumkinunī ʾitmām al-mašrūʿ haḏā al-ʾusbūʿ.
I can finish the project this week.

شَهر (šahr) — month


الشَهر المُقبِل عُطلَة.
al-šahr al-muqbil ʿuṭlah.
Next month is my vacation.

عام (ʿām) — year


تَعَلَّمتُ الكَثير هَذِهِ السَنَة
taʿallamtu al-kaṯīr haḏihi al-sanah
I learned a lot this year.

رَمَضان (ramaḍān) — Ramadan


مَتى يَبدَأُ رَمَضان؟
matā yabdaʾu ramaḍān?
When does Ramadan start?

2- The Body



woman Meditating

Headed to the doctor? Lending an ear to a neighbor about their aches and pains? Better know about the basic Arabic nouns related to the parts of the body.

قَدَم (qadam) — foot


قالَ أَنَّ قَدَمَهُ تُؤلِمُه.
qala ʾanna qadamahu tuʾulimuh.
He said his foot hurts.

ساق (sāq) — leg


سَكَبتُ الصَلصَة عَلى ساقي.
sakabtu al-ṣalṣah ʿalā sāqī.
I spilled sauce on my leg.

رَأس (raʾs) — head


رَأسي يُؤلِمُني عِندَما لا أَشرَبُ ما يَكفي مِن الماء.
raʾsī yuʾulimunī ʿindamā lā ʾašrabu mā yakfī min al-māʾ.
My head hurts when I don’t drink enough water.

ذِراع (ḏirāʿ) — arm


لَدَيْكَ أَذرُع قَوِيَّة.
ladayka ʾaḏruʿ qawiّah.
You have very strong arms.

يَد (yad) — hand


يَداي كَبيرَتان.
yadāī kabīratān.
My hands are big.

مَعِدَة (maʿidah) — stomach


أَشعُرُ بِأَلَم في مَعِدَتي.
ʾašʿuru biʾalam fī maʿidatī.
I feel pain in my stomach.

ظَهر (ẓahr) — back


اليَوْم ظَهري في حالَةٍ أَحسَن.
al-yūm ẓahrī fī ḥal-aẗin ʾaḥsan.
Today, my back feels fine.

صَدر (ṣadr) — chest


هَل لَدَيْكَ أَيُّ أَلَم في الصَدر؟
hal ladayka ʾayyu ʾalam fī al-ṣadr?
Do you have any chest pain?

خَصر (ḫaṣr) — waist


ضَع هَذا حَوْلَ خَصرِك.
ḍaʿ haḏā ḥawla ḫaṣrik.
Put this around your waist.

3- The Family



Nouns 3

People in Arab cultures love to ask others about their families. It’s a great small talk topic, and you might even get to look at cute baby pictures!

عائِلَة (ʿāʾilah) — family


ما هُوَ حَجم عائِلَتِك؟
mā huwa ḥaǧm ʿāʾilatik?
How big is your family?

أُم (ʾum) — mother


أُمّي تَعيشُ في سَيْناء.
ʾummī taʿīšu fī saynāʾ.
My mother lives in Sinai.

أَب (ʾab) — father


أَبي سائِق شاحِنات.
ʾabī sāʾiq šāḥināt.
My father is a truck driver.

وَالِد (walid) — parent


كِلا وَالِدايْ مُتَقاعِدان
kilā walidāy mutaqāʿidān
Both of my parents are retired.

طِفل (ṭifl) — child


لَدَيَّ ثَلاثَةُ أَطفال.
ladayya ṯalāṯaẗu ʾaṭfal.
I have three children.

اِبنَة (ibnah) — daughter


عُمرُ اِبنَتي تِسع سَنَوَات.
ʿumru ibnatī tisʿ sanawat.
My daughter is nine years old.

إبن (ʾibn) — son


إنَّها فَخورَة جِدّاً بِإبنِها.
ʾinnahā faḫūrah ǧiddan biʾibnihā.
She is very proud of her son.

عَمَّة (ʿammah) — aunt


هَل إلتَقَيْتُ بِعَمَّتي؟
hal ʾiltaqaytu biʿammatī?
Have you met my aunt?

عَم (ʿam) — uncle


عَمّي يَعمَلُ في الصين.
ʿammī yaʿmalu fī al-ṣīn.
My uncle works in China.

زَوْج (zawǧ) — husband


هَذا زَوْجي.
haḏā zawǧī.
This is my husband.

زَوْجَة (zawǧah) — wife


زَوْجَتي تُجيدُ تَكَلُّم الفِرِنسِيَّة بِإتقان.
zawǧatī tuǧīdu takallum al-firinsiyyah biʾitqān.
My wife can speak perfect French.

4- Working Life



Man Working at Laptop with Coffee in Hand

We just mentioned a couple of jobs in the last section, but now let’s hit a few more. Remember that in Arabic, the noun changes based on the gender of the person holding the job. Here are basic Arabic nouns often used when talking about work or school.

بائِع (bāʾiʿ) — salesman


يَا لَهُ مِن بائِع مُزعِج!
ya lahu min bāʾiʿ muzʿiǧ!
What an annoying salesman!

بائِعَة (bāʾiʿah) — saleswoman


البائِعَة هُناك يُمكِنُ أَن تُساعِدَك.
al-bāʾiʿah hunāk yumkinu ʾan tusāʿidak.
The saleswoman over there can help you.

أُستاذ (ʾustāḏ) — teacher [male]


أُستاذ الرِيَاضِيَّات الخاص بي صارِمٌ جِدّاً.
ʾustāḏ al-riyaḍiyyaāt al-ḫāṣ bī ṣārimun ǧiddan.
My math teacher was very strict.

أُستاذَة ʾ(ustāḏah) — teacher [female]


هَل تُريدينَ أَن تُصبِحي أُستاذَة حينَ تَكبُرين؟
hal turīdīna ʾan tuṣbiḥī ʾustāḏah ḥīna takburīn?
Do you (female) want to be a teacher when you grow up?

مُدير (mudīr) — manager [male]


مُديري قالَ لا.
mudīrī qala lā.
My manager said no.

مُديرَة (mudīrah) — manager [female]


ماذا قالَت مُديرَتُك عَن عَمَلِك؟
māḏā qal-at mudīratuk ʿan ʿamalik?
What did your manager say about your work?

طَبيب (ṭabīb) — doctor [male]


الطَبيب مُستَعِد لِلِقائِك الآن.
al-ṭabīb mustaʿid liliqāʾik al-ʾān.
The doctor is ready to meet with you now.

طَبيبَة (ṭabībah) — doctor [female]


طَبيبَتي مُحتَرِفَة جِدّاً.
ṭabībatī muḥtarifah ǧiddan.
My doctor (female) is always very professional.

طَبّاخ (ṭabbāḫ) — cook [male]


أَبي طَبّاخ في فُندُق.
ʾabī ṭabbāḫ fī funduq.
My father is a cook in a hotel.

طَبّاخَة (ṭabbāḫah) — cook [female]


هَل أُختُكَ طَبّاخَة أَم نادِلَة؟
hal ʾuḫtuka ṭabbāḫah ʾam nādilah?
Is your sister a cook or a waitress?

مُوَظَّف (muwaẓẓaf) — employee [male]


أَدهَم مُوَظَّف رائِع.
ʾadham muwaẓẓaf rāʾiʿ.
Adham is an excellent employee.

مُوَظَّفَة (muwaẓẓafah) — employee [female]


رانيِة هِيَ أَفضَل مُوَظَّفَة لَدَيّ.
rānyih hiya ʾafḍal muwaẓẓafah ladayy.
Rania is my best employee.

5- School Days



Whether you’re studying abroad, teaching abroad, or know someone who is, these are fantastic words to know. And the ones about school supplies do double duty as office supplies, too!

كِتاب (kitāb) — book


اَعطِني كِتابَك.
aʿṭinī kitābak.
Give me your book.

قلم (qalam) — pen


هَل لَدَيْكَ قَلَمٌ أَسوَد؟
hal ladayka qalamun ʾaswad?
Do you have a black pen?

قَلَم رُصاص (qalam ruṣāṣ) — pencil


لَقَد اِنكَسَر قَلَم رَصاصي!
laqad inkasar qalam raṣāṣī!
My pencil broke!

جامِعَة (ǧāmiʿah) — university


مِن أَيِّ جامِعَة تَخَرَّجت؟
min ʾayyi ǧāmiʿah taḫarraǧt?
Which university did you graduate from?

دَفتَر (daftar) — notebook


تَذَكَّر أَن تُحضِرَ دَفتَر مُلاحَظاتِكَ غَداً.
taḏakkar ʾan tuḥḍira daftar mulāḥaẓātika ġadan.
Remember to bring your notebook tomorrow.

مَدرَسَة (madrasah) — school


هُناكَ مَدرَسَة قُرب مَنزِلِنا.
hunāka madrasah qurb manzilinā.
There’s a school near our house.

طالِب (ṭalib) — student


أَنتُم جَميعاً طَلَبَة جَيِّدون جِدّاً.
ʾantum ǧamīʿan ṭalabah ǧayyidūn ǧiddan.
You are all very good students.

وَاجِب (waǧib) — homework


اليَوْم, الجَميع سَيَقوم بِوَاجِبات مُضاعَفَة.
al-yūm, al-ǧamīʿ sayaqūm biwaǧibāt muḍāʿafah.
Today, everyone gets double homework.

اِمتِحان (imtiḥān) — exam


سَيَكون هُنالِكَ إمتِحان في نِهايَةِ الشَهر.
sayakūn hunalika ʾimtiḥān fī nihāyaẗi al-šahr.
There will be an exam at the end of the month.

مَقَص (maqaṣ) — scissors


لا تَجري أَبَداً أَثناء الإمساك بِالمَقَص.
lā taǧrī ʾabadan ʾaṯnāʾ al-ʾimsāk bilmaqaṣ.
Never run while holding scissors.

6- At the Restaurant



Artfully Set Table

The cuisine of the Middle East is varied and beautiful, but what good is knowing how to talk about it without knowing the other things on the table?

طَبَق (ṭabaq) — plate


هَل يُمكِنُنا الحُصول عَلى طَبَق آخَر؟
hal yumkinunā al-ḥuṣūl ʿalā ṭabaq ʾāḫar?
May we have another plate, please?

وِعاء (wiʿāʾ) — bowl


هَذا الوِعاء مُتَّسِخ.
haḏā al-wiʿāʾ muttasiḫ.
This bowl is dirty.

سِكّين (sikkīn) — knife


أسقَطتُ سِكّيني.
ʾasqaṭtu sikkīnī.
I dropped my knife.

شَوكَة (šawkah) — fork


هَذِهِ الشَوْكات ثَقيلَة.
hadhihi shawkat thaqila
These forks are heavy.

ملعقة (haḏihi al-šawkāt ṯaqīlah.) — spoon


هَل هَذِهِ المِلعَقَة لِلحَساء أَم المُثَلَّجات؟
hal haḏihi al-milʿaqah lilḥasāʾ ʾam al-muṯallaǧāt?
Is that spoon for soup or for ice cream?

فِنجان (finǧān) — cup


اَعطِني فِنجانُك.
aʿṭinī finǧānuk.
Give me your cup.

إبريق الشاي (ʾibrīq al-šāī) — teapot


لَم يَعُد هُناكَ شاي في الإبريق.
lam yaʿud hunāka šāī fī al-ʾibrīq.
There’s no more tea in the teapot.

نادِل (nādil) — waiter


نادِلُنا بَطيءٌ جِدّاً.
nādilunā baṭīʾun ǧiddan.
Our waiter is very slow.

نادِلَة (nādilah) — waitress


أَيْنَ هِيَ نادِلَتُنا؟
ʾayna hiya nādilatunā?
Where is our waitress?

فاتورَة (fātūrah) — bill


دَعني أَنظُر إلى الفاتورَة.
daʿnī ʾanẓur ʾilā al-fātūrah.
Let me look at the bill.

7- Food and Drink



Nouns 4

Now it’s time to discuss what’s actually on those plates. These are just the most basic and broadest terms for food you’ll commonly see in the Middle East.

ماء (māʾ) — water


هَل تُريدُ بَعض الماء؟
hal turīdu baʿḍ al-māʾ?
Do you want some water?

قَهوَة (qahwah) — coffee


كُن حَذِراً, القَهوَة ساخِنَة.
kun ḥaḏiran, al-qahwah sāḫinah.
Be careful, the coffee is hot.

شاي (šāī) — tea


هَل تُحِبُّ الشاي؟
hal tuḥibbu al-šāī?
Do you like tea?

لَحْم بَقَرِي (laḥm baqarī) — beef


لا آكُل اللَحم البَقَري.
lā ʾākul al-laḥm al-baqarī.
I don’t eat beef.

دَجَاج (daǧāǧ) — chicken


هَذا دَجاجٌ لَذيذ.
haḏā daǧāǧun laḏīḏ.
This is a delicious chicken.

لَحم الخَروف (laḥm al-ḫarūf) — lamb


لَم يَسبِق لي أَن أَكَلتُ لَحم خَروف بِهَذِهِ الرَوْعَة.
lam yasbiq lī ʾan ʾakaltu laḥm ḫarūf bihaḏihi al-rawʿah.
I’ve never had lamb this good in my life.

سَمَك (samak) — fish


هَل لَدَى السَمَكَة عِظام؟
hal ladaā al-samakah ʿiẓām?
Does the fish have bones?

عَصير فَوَاكِه (ʿaṣīr fawakih) — fruit juice


هَل عَصيرُ الفَوَاكِه غالٍ هُنا؟
hal ʿaṣīru al-fawakih ġalin hunā?
Is fruit juice expensive here?

مَشروب غازي (mašrūb ġāzī) — soda


أَيُّ نَوْعٍ مِن المَشروباتِ الغازِيَّةِ تُريد؟
ʾayyu nawʿin min al-mašrūbāti al-ġāziyyaẗi turīd?
What kind of soda would you like?

حَليب (ḥalīb) — milk


هَل لَدَيْكَ حَليبٌ طازِج؟
hal ladayka ḥalībun ṭāziǧ?
Do you have fresh milk?

8- Mealtimes



Bean and Lentil Soup

To round off the food section, there are a couple of important names for mealtimes in Arabic as well.

فُطور (fuṭūr) — breakfast


ماذا تَتَناوَل عادَةً في وَجبَةِ الفُطور؟
māḏā tatanāwal ʿādaẗan fī waǧbaẗi al-fuṭūr?
What do you normally have for breakfast?

غَداء (ġadāʾ) — lunch


لَم آكُل وَجبَةَ الغَداء اليَوْم.
lam ʾākul waǧbaẗa al-ġadāʾ al-yawm.
I didn’t eat lunch today.

عَشاء (ʿašāʾ) — dinner


ماذا سَنَتَناوَل العَشاء اليَوْم؟
māḏā sanatanāwal al-ʿašāʾ al-yawm?
What’s for dinner tonight?

وَجبَة خَفيفَة (waǧbah ḫafīfah) — snack


سآكُل وَجبَة خَفيفَة قَبلَ أَن أُغادِر.
sʾākul waǧbah ḫafīfah qabla ʾan ʾuġādir.
I’m going to have a snack before I leave.

وَليمَة (walīmah) — feast


يَالَها مِن وَليمَة ضَخمَة!
yalahā min walīmah ḍaḫmah!
What an enormous feast!

9- Transportation



Transportation types in different countries are as varied as the cuisine. This quick list will help you get to where you want to go—and if you’d like, check out these phrases, too.

شارِع (šāriʿ) — street


كُن حَذِراً أَثناء عُبور الشارِع.
kun ḥaḏiran ʾaṯnāʾ ʿubūr al-šāriʿ.
Be careful crossing the street.

سَيّارَة (sayyārah) — car


ما لَوْن السَيَّارَة الَّتي يَقودُها؟
mā lawn al-sayyaārah allatī yaqūduhā?
What color is the car he drives?

باص (bāṣ) — bus


الباص مُتَأَخِّرٌ دائِماً.
al-bāṣ mutaʾaḫḫirun dāʾiman.
The bus is always late.

مَحَطَّةُ الباص (maḥaṭṭaẗu al-bāṣ) — bus station


أَقرَب مَحَطَّةِ باص تَبعُدُ ثَلاثَ كيلومِترات.
ʾaqrab maḥaṭṭaẗi bāṣ tabʿudu ṯalāṯa kīlūmitrāt.
The nearest bus station is three kilometers away.

طَيَّارَة (ṭayyārah) — plane


هَل سَتَصِلُ الطَيَّارَة غَدَاً؟
hal sataṣilu al-ṭayyaārah ġadan?
Will the plane arrive on time?

دَرّاجَة هَوَائِيَّة (darrāǧah hawaʾiyyah) — bicycle


أَيْنَ يُمكِنُني أَن أَستَأجِرَ دَرّاجَة هَوَائِيَّة؟
ʾayna yumkinunī ʾan ʾastaʾǧira darrāǧah hawaʾiyyah?
Where can I rent a bicycle?

دَرّاجَة نارِيَّة (darrāǧah nāriyyah) — motorcycle


لا أُجيدُ قِيَادَةِ الدَرّاجات النارِيَّة.
lā ʾuǧīdu qiyadaẗi al-darrāǧāt al-nāriyyah.
I don’t know how to drive a motorcycle.

تاكسي (taksi) — taxi


هَل التاكسي غالٍ هُنا؟
hal al-tāksī ġal-in hunā?
Are taxis expensive here?

قِطار (qiṭār) — train


قِطاري يُغادِرُ في الخامِسَة والنِصف.
qiṭārī yuġādiru fī al-ḫāmisah wa al-niṣf.
My train is at 5:30.

مَحَطَّةُ القِطار (maḥaṭṭaẗu al-qiṭār) — train station


يَجِبُ أَن أَكونَ عِندَ مَحَطَّةِ القِطار بَعدَ عَشرِ دَقائِق.
yaǧibu ʾan ʾakūna ʿinda maḥaṭṭaẗi al-qiṭār baʿda ʿašri daqāʾiq.
I need to be at the train station in ten minutes.

10- Technology



Phones, Tablet, and Laptop

This section is for all the gadgets that invade our modern lives—can’t live without them! For these, Arabic uses some loanwords and also some “native” Arabic coinages.

تلفاز (tilfaz) — television [device]


سُرِقَ تِلفازي لَيلَةَ البارِحَة.
suriqa tilfāzī laīlaẗa al-bāriḥah.
My television was stolen last night.

حاسوب مَحمول (ḥāsūb maḥmūl) — laptop


أَيْنَ يُمكِنُني إصلاح حاسوبي المَحمول؟
ʾayna yumkinunī ʾiṣlāḥ ḥāsūbī al-maḥmūl?
Where can I get my laptop fixed?

واي فاي (wai fai) — wifi


هَل لَدَيْكُم واي فاي هُنا؟
hal ladaykum wai fāi hunā?
Do you have wifi here?

كَلِمَةُ السِر (kalimaẗu al-sir) — password


ماهِيَ كَلِمَةُ سِر الوَاي فاي؟
māhiya kalimaẗu sir al-wai fāi?
What’s the wifi password?

فيسبوك (feisbuk) — Facebook


هَل يُمكِنُني إضافَتِك عَلى الفيسبوك؟
hal yumkinunī ʾiḍāfatik ʿalā al-feisbuk?
Can I add your Facebook?

إنستاجرام (ʾinstāgrām) — Instagram


هَذا هُوَ إنستاجرامي.
haḏā huwa ʾinstāgrāmī.
Here’s my Instagram.

هاتِف (hātif) — phone


َلم أَستَطع العُثور عَلى هاتِفي!
alm ʾastaṭʿ al-ʿuṯūr ʿalā hātifī!
I can’t find my phone!

كاميرا (kāmerā) — camera


هَذِهِ كاميرا قَديمَة جِدّاً.
haḏihi kāmīrā qadīmah ǧiddan.
This is a very old camera.

لَوْح (lawḥ) — tablet


هَل تَستَعمِلُ تابلِت أَم هاتِف ذَكي؟
hal tastaʿmilu tāblit ʾam hātif ḏakī?
Do you use a tablet or a smartphone?

11- Around the Home



Whether you’re renting an apartment, doing a homestay, furnishing your own home, or staying in someone else’s flat, these appliances are perfectly commonplace in Arab households.

ثَلّاجَة (ṯallāǧah) — refrigerator


رائِحَةُ الثَلّاجَة غَريبَة.
rāʾiḥaẗu al-ṯallāǧah ġarībah.
The refrigerator smells strange.

غَسّالَة (ġassalah) — washing machine


هَل لَدَيْكُم غَسّالَة؟
hal ladaykum ġassalah?
Do you have a washing machine?

مايْكرووِيف (māykrūwev) — microwave


يُرجى الحِفاظ عَلى نَظافَةِ المايْكرووِيف.
yurǧā al-ḥifāẓ ʿalā naẓāfaẗi al-māykrūwif.
Please keep the microwave clean.

مَروَحَة (marwaḥah) — fan


أَشعِل المَروَحَة!
ʾašʿil al-marwaḥah!
Turn on the fan!

مُكَيِّف الهَوَاء (mukayyif al-hawaʾ) — air conditioner


هَل قُلتَ أَنَّ مُكَيِّف الهَوَاء مُعَطَّل؟
hal qulta ʾanna mukayyif al-hawaʾ muʿaṭṭal?
Did you say the air conditioner was broken?

فُرن (forn) — stove


هُناكَ خَطَبٌ ما في الفُرن.
hunāka ḫaṭabun mā fī al-furn.
Something’s wrong with the stove.

طاوِلَة (ṭāwilah) — table


هُناكَ عَنكَبوتٌ كَبيرٌ عَلى الطاوِلَة.
hunāka ʿankabūtun kabīrun ʿalā al-ṭāwilah.
There’s a big spider on the table.

كُرسي (kursī) — chair


هَذِهِ المَقاعِد مُريحَة.
haḏihi al-maqāʿid murīḥah.
These chairs are comfortable.

كَنَبَة (kanabah) — sofa


لا تَسكُب أَيَّ شَيْء عَلى الكَنَبَة.
lā taskub ʾayya šayʾ ʿalā al-kanabah.
Don’t spill anything on the sofa.

باب (bab) — door


أَحتاجُ أَن أَصبُغَ بابَ مَنزِلي الأَمامي.
ʾaḥtāǧu ʾan ʾaṣbuġa bāba manzilī al-ʾamāmī.
I need to paint my front door.

نافِذَة (nāfiḏah) — window


هَل نَظَّفتَ النافِذَة؟
hal naẓẓafta al-nāfiḏah?
Did you clean the window?

Conclusion



Congratulations, you’ve just read 100 sentences (or about five book pages) of Arabic! The best way to really remember these nouns and the words that go with them is to come back to this article again and again, preferably over several days.

When you see these words “in the wild,” that memory link will become even stronger.

How else can you learn Arabic, and continue studying about Arabic nouns? With the great resources here on ArabicPod101, of course! We offer flashcards, video lessons, vocab lists, and amazing podcasts.

Before you go, let us know in the comments what new Arabic nouns you learned today. Are there any nouns you still want to know the Arabic word for? We look forward to hearing from you!

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

Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Word Gender in Arabic

Thumbnail

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

And many others have spoken “broken” Arabic.

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

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

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

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

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

1. What is Grammatical Gender?

Gender Signs on Chalkboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman Deep in Thought

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

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

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

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

president (male)
رَئيس
raʾīs

president (female)
رَئيسَة
raʾīsah

scientist (male)
عالِم
ʿalim

scientist (female)
عالِمَة
ʿal-imah

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

desert
صَحراء
Ṣaḥrāʾ

hospital
مُستَشفى
mustašfā

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

road
طَريق
ṭarīq

souq
سوق
sūq

knife
سِكّين
sikkīn

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Gender in Arabic Pronouns and Verbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am helping her.
أَنا أُساعِدُها.
ʾanā ʾusāʿiduhā.

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

4. Plural Nouns

Many Dishes and Glasses

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

Take a look at the following sentences.

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

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

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

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

5. Noun Gender Plus Adjectives

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

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

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

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

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

Brown Mouse

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

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

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

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

Same sentence structure, different adjective forms.

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

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

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

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

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

6. Memorizing Gender from the Beginning

Woman Trying to Memorize Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Arabic & Beyond

Thumbnail

Language is really about making connections.

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

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

1. Birthdays

Happy Birthday

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

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

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

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

    عيد ميلاد سعيد
    ʿīdu mīlādin saʿīd
    Happy birthday!

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

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

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

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

2. Holidays

Basic Questions

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

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

    رَمَضان مُبارَك
    ramaḍān mubārak
    Happy Ramadan!

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

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

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

    عيد هانوكة سعيد
    ʿiīdu hānūkkah saʿīd
    Happy Hanukkah!

3. Weddings and Anniversaries

Marriage Proposal

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

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

ما شاء الله!
mā šāʾ allah!
Praise Allah!

سُبحان الله!
subḥān allah!
Thanks to Allah!

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

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

زَوَاج مُبارَك!
zawaǧ mubārak!
Happy wedding!

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

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

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

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

عيدُ ميلادٍ سَعيد!
ʿīdu mīlādin saʿīd!
Happy anniversary!

4. Babies

Talking about Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Graduation and Academic Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Workplace Success

Man Calculating Numbers at Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Bad News in General

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

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

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

Funerals

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

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

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

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

Poor Health

Little Girl Sick in Bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Good News in General

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

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

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

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

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

ألف مَبْرُوك
alf mabrūk
A thousand blessings!

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

Silhouette of Man Against Sunset

9. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

100+ All-Purpose Arabic Adjectives

Thumbnail

Psst. Hey.

Wanna buy an adjective?

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

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

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

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Adjectives in Arabic

Table of Contents

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

1. A Quick Overview of Arabic Adjectives

Improve Pronunciation

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

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

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

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

2. List of the 100+ Best Arabic Adjectives

Most Common Adjectives

1- Describing Colors

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

  • أسود
    ʾaswad
    black

قَميصُهُ أَسوَد.
qamīṣuhu ʾaswad.
His shirt is black.

  • أبيض
    ʾabyaḍ
    white

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

  • أَخضَر
    ʾaḫḍar
    green

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

  • رَمادي
    ramādī
    gray

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

  • أَزرَق
    ʾazraq
    blue

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

  • بُنّي
    bunnī
    brown

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

  • أَحمَر
    ʾaḥmar
    red

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

  • أَصفَر
    ʾaṣfar
    yellow

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

  • بُرتُقالي
    burtuqalī
    orange

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

2- Describing Food and Taste

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

  • حار
    ḥār
    spicy

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

  • نَيِئ
    nayiʾ
    raw

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

  • مر
    mur
    bitter

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

  • حامِض
    ḥāmiḍ
    sour

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

  • مَقلي
    maqlī
    fried

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

  • حُلو
    ḥulū
    sweet

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

  • مَطبوخ
    maṭbūḫ
    cooked

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

  • مالِح
    maliḥ
    salty

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

  • طازَج
    ṭāzaǧ
    fresh

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

  • لَذيذ
    laḏīḏ
    delicious

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

3- Describing Personality

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

  • مُهَذَّب
    muhaḏḏab
    polite

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

  • شرير
    širrīr
    wicked; malicious

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

  • صادِق
    ṣādiq
    honest

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

  • ظَريف
    ẓarīf
    nice; likable

إنَّها ظَريفَة.
ʾinnahā ẓarīfah.
She’s likable.

  • هادئ
    hādi
    calm

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

  • خَجول
    ḫaǧūl
    shy

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

  • مُنفَتِح
    munfatiḥ
    extroverted

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

  • ذَكي
    ḏakī
    clever

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

  • جَدير بِالثِقَة
    ǧadīr bilṯiqah
    dependable; trustworthy

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

  • مُشاغِب
    mušāġib
    naughty; badly behaved

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

4- Describing Feelings

Woman Crying

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

  • سَعيد
    saʿīd
    happy

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

  • حَزين
    ḥazīn
    sad

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

  • قَلِق
    qaliq
    nervous

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

  • غاضِب
    ġāḍib
    angry

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

  • خائِف
    ḫāʾif
    frightened

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

  • فَخور
    faḫūr
    proud

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

  • مُنزَعِج
    munzaʿiǧ
    annoyed; upset

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

  • راضي
    rāḍī
    content; satisfied

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

  • نادِم
    nādim
    regretful

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

  • حائِر
    ḥāʾir
    confused

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

  • في حالَةِ تَأَهُّب.
    fī ḥalaẗi taʾahhub
    alert

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

5- Describing Appearance (People)

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

  • شاب
    šāb
    young

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

  • عَجوز
    ʿaǧūz
    old; elderly

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

  • قَصير
    qaṣīr
    short

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

  • طَوِيل
    ṭawil
    tall

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

  • قَوِي
    qawi
    strong

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

  • مُلتَحي
    multaḥī
    bearded

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

  • أَصلَع
    ʾaṣlaʿ
    bald

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

  • جَميل
    ǧamīl
    beautiful; handsome

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

  • بَشِع
    bašiʿ
    ugly

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

  • سَمين
    samīn
    fat

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

  • نَحيف
    naḥīf
    skinny

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

  • نَشيط
    našīṭ
    athletic; lively

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

6- Describing Nationality

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

  • مَغْرِبِيّ
    maġribiyy
    Moroccan

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

  • كَنَدِيّ
    kanadiyy
    Canadian

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

  • فَرَنْسِي
    faransiī
    French

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

  • إِنْدُونِيْسِيّ
    ʾiinduūniysiyy
    Indonesian

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

  • صيْنِيّ
    ṣiniyy
    Chinese

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

  • أَمْرِيْكِيّ
    ʾamriykiyy
    American

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

  • مِصْرِيّ
    miṣriyy
    Egyptian

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

  • تُوْنِسِيّ
    tunisiyy
    Tunisian

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

  • إِمَارَاتِيّ
    ʾimārātiyy
    Emirati

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

7- Describing Appearance (Things)

Arc of Pebbles

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

  • جَيِّد
    ǧayyid
    good

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

  • عَظيم
    ʿaẓīm
    great

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

  • سَيِّء
    sayyiʾ
    bad

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

  • رَهيب
    rahīb
    terrible

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

  • ضَخم
    ḍaḫm
    huge

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

  • كَبير
    kabīr

    big

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

  • صَغير
    ṣaġīr
    small

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

  • طَوِيل
    ṭawil
    long

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

  • شاسِع
    šāsiʿ
    vast; wide

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

  • جَديد
    ǧadīd
    new

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

  • قَديم
    qadīm
    old

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

  • ثَقيل
    ṯaqīl
    heavy

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

8- Describing Weather

Family Ralking in Rain

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

  • حار
    ḥār
    hot

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

  • بارِد
    bārid
    cold

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

  • غائِم
    ġāʾim
    cloudy

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

  • مُشمِس
    mušmis
    sunny

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

  • عاصِف
    ʿāṣif
    windy

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

  • مُمطِر
    mumṭir
    rainy

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

  • رَطِب
    raṭib
    humid

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

9- Describing Touch

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

  • أَملَس
    ʾamlas
    smooth

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

  • خَشِن
    ḫašin
    rough

جِلدُهُ خَشِن.
ǧilduhu ḫašin.
His skin is rough.

  • مُتَشَقِّق
    mutašaqqiq
    cracked

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

  • لامِع
    lāmiʿ
    shiny

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

  • زَلِق
    zaliq
    slippery

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

  • مُبَلَّل
    muballal
    wet

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

  • جاف
    ǧāf
    dry

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

  • لَزِج
    laziǧ
    sticky

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

  • هَش
    haš
    fragile

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

  • ناعِم
    nāʿim
    soft

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

10- Describing Concepts

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

  • صَعب
    ṣaʿb
    difficult

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

  • هام
    hām
    important

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

  • خاص
    ḫāṣ
    private; special

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

  • عام
    ʿām
    public

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

  • مُعَقَّد
    muʿaqqad
    complex

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

  • بَسيط
    basīṭ
    simple

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

  • خاطِئ
    ḫāṭiʾ
    wrong

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

  • صَحيح
    ṣaḥīḥ
    true; correct

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

  • مُمِل
    mumil
    boring

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

  • وَاضِح
    waḍiḥ
    clear; obvious

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

3. Conclusion

Reading

Finished reading through the list?

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments what new adjectives you learned today. Are there are any adjectives you still want to learn? We look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you have!
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Adjectives in Arabic

Outstanding Arabic Shows on Netflix to Learn Arabic

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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

Improve Pronunciation

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

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

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

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

2. The Ten Best Arabic Netflix Offerings

1- The Writer (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

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

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

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

2- al Hayba (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

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

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

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

3- The Secret of the Nile (Egyptian Arabic)

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

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

4- I Have a Script (Kuwaiti Arabic)

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

5- Black Crows (Various Dialects)

This one is intense.

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

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

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

6- Justice (Emirati Arabic, MSA)

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

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

7- What If? (Kuwaiti Arabic)

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

8- Jinn (Multiple Dialects)

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

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

9- Hidden Worlds (Egyptian Arabic)

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

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

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

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

3. Hey, All of These are TV Shows!

Best Ways to Learn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another cool thing about Netflix?

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

This is extremely useful for language learners.

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

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

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

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

6. Conclusion

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

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

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

That’s when the learning happens.

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

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

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

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

Your Ultimate Language Guide to Arabic Conjunctions

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

  1. What Do Conjunctions Do?
  2. Conclusion

1. What Do Conjunctions Do?

Sentence Patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Studying Vocabulary

Giving Extra Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showing Cause and Effect

Improve Listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman Asleep on Study Materials

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

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

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

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

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

Boat in Harbor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some More Notes on Wa

Improve Listening Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

Man Lighting Cigarette with Burning Money

2. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Guide to Arabic Customs and Etiquette

Thumbnail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

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

1. Arabic Greeting Etiquette

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

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

For now, just one extra point:

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

Shaking Hands

Very nice to meet you.
tašarraftu bimaʿrifatik
تَشَرَّفتُ بِمَعرِفَتِك

2. Arab Business Etiquette

Business

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

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

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

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

Exchanging Business Card

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

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

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

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

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

3. Arabic Table Etiquette

Hygiene

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

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

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

Man Who Ate Too Much

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

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

4. Arab Etiquette for Sightseeing

Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boy Looking at Painting in Museum

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

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

5. Arab Etiquette When Visiting Others

Bad Phrases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Arabic Customs and Etiquette for Public Transportation

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

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

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

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

Two Women On a Bus

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

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

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

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

Pay attention to signs or announcements such as these:

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

Don’t risk the fine!

7. How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic Etiquette

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

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

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

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

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

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