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Learn the Most Important Intermediate Arabic Words

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Arabic is the richest language in the world.

With 12,300,000 words, Arabic blows other languages out of the water.

Luckily, with the rise of technology, people tend to take a lazier approach to everything—including communication.

As fewer and fewer words are being used, the number of words that language learners need to memorize continues to reduce. 

Starting out with Arabic could be a little bit difficult, especially when you’re presented with a new script and totally different sentence structures than what you’re used to in your native language. Assuming you’ve passed the beginner level, your next step is to learn some intermediate Arabic words and phrases to help you press forward. 

Learning vocabulary is the most important variable once you have the basics down. 

And as with everything in life, you’ll have to go through all the necessary steps to reach your end goal. In other words, achieving fluency means working your way up by first tackling the beginner and intermediate levels in Arabic. 

That’s why we’ve put together this article. 

Below, we’ve broken down the most important intermediate words by category, including the parallel translations and romanizations for every word.

    → In addition to memorizing these words, we recommend you check out our Lower Intermediate series to continue building your language skills!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Large Numbers – الأَعداد (al-ʾaʿdād)
  2. Nouns – الأَسماء (al-ʾasmāʾ)
  3. Verbs – الأَفعال (al-ʾafʿal)
  4. Adjectives – صِفات (ṣifāt)
  5. Adverbs – أَحوَال (ʾaḥwal)
  6. Prepositions – ظُروف (ẓurūf)
  7. Conjunctions – حُرُوفُ العَطْف (ḥuruūfu al-ʿaṭf)
  8. Particles – الحُروف (al-ḥurūf)
  9. Conclusion

1. Large Numbers – الأَعداد (al-ʾaʿdād)

Someone Raising Up a Sign that Says 28

The first set of intermediate Arabic vocabulary words we’ll cover are those we use for numbers. We already went over the numbers 1-10 in our Beginner Words article, so here we’ll focus on the numbers from ten onward. 

NumberArabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
10عَشَرَة‘ashra“Ten”
11إحدى عَشَرaḥada ‘ashar“Eleven”
12إثنا عَشَرiṯnā ‘ashar“Twelve”
13ثَلاثَةَ عَشَرṯālatha ‘ashar“Thirteen”
14أَرَبَعَةَ عَشَرarba’ata ‘ashar“Fourteen”
15خَمسَةَ عَشَرḫamsata ‘ashar“Fifteen”
16سِتَّةَ عَشَرsittata ‘ashar“Sixteen”
17سَبعَةَ عَشَرsab’ata ‘ashar“Seventeen”
18ثَمانِيَةَ عَشَرṯamāniyata ‘ashar“Eighteen”
19تِسعَةَ عَشَرtis’ata ‘ashar“Nineteen”
20عِشرون‘ishrun“Twenty”
30ثلَاثونṯālaṯun“Thirty”
40أَربَعونarba’un“Fourty”
50خَمسونḫamsun“Fifty”
60سِتّونsittun“Sixty”
70سَبعونsab’un“Seventy”
80ثَمانونṯamānun“Eighty”
90تِسعونtis’un“Ninety”
100مِئَةmi’a“A hundred”
1,000أَلفalf“A thousand”
10,000عَشَرَة آلاف’ashratu alaf“Ten thousand”
100,000مِئَةُ أَلفmi’atu alf“A hundred thousand”
1,000,000مِليونmillion“A million”

2. Nouns – الأَسماء (al-ʾasmāʾ)

Words in a Dictionary: Hospitable, Hospital, Hospitality

Time – الوَقت (al-waqt)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
القَرنal-qarn“Century”
الصَباح al-ṣabāḥ“Morning”
المَساء al-masāʾ“Evening”
الفَصلal-faṣl“Quarter”
الفَصل الدِراسيal-faṣl al-dirāsī“Semester”

Places – الأَماكِن (al-ʾamākin)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
المِنطَقَةal-minṭaqah“Region”
الإدارَة al-ʾidārah“Department”
القَريَة al-qaryah“Village”
الحَديقَة al-ḥadīqah“Park”
البَنك al-bank“Bank”
الصَيْدَلِيَّة al-ṣaydaliyyah“Pharmacy”
المُستَشفى al-mustašfā“Hospital”
المَخبَز al-maḫbaz“Bakery”
الجَرف al-ǧarf“Cliff”
الشاطِئ al-šāṭiʾ“Beach”
الجَزيرَة al-ǧazīrah“Island”
التَل al-tal“Hill”

Technology – التِكنولوجيا (al-tiknūlūǧīā)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
الشاشَةal-šāšah“Screen”
لَوْحَةُ المَفاتيحlawḥaẗu al-mafātīḥ“Keyboard”
الفَأرَةal-faʾrah“Mouse”
الجِهاز اللَوْحيal-ǧihāz al-lawḥī“Tablet”
التِلِفِزيون al-tilifizīūn“TV”
وِحدَةُ التَحَكُّم wiḥdaẗu al-taḥakkum“Console”
الشاحِن al-šāḥin“Charger”
مَوْقِع الوِيبmawqiʿ al-wib“Website”
حِساب ḥisāb“Account”
كَلِمَةُ المُرورkalimaẗu al-murūr“Password”
مَلف malaf“File”
مُجَلَّد muǧallad“Folder”
بَرنامَجbarnāmaǧ“Software”

Home – المَنزِل (al-manzil)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
الغُرفَةal-ġurfah“Room”
الطابَق al-ṭābaq“Floor”
غُرفَةُ الجُلوسġurfaẗu al-ǧulūs“Living room”
الحَمّام al-ḥammām“Bathroom”
الثَلّاجَة al-ṯallāǧah“Fridge”
خِزانَةُ المَلابِسḫizānaẗu al-malābis“Wardrobe”

City & Transportation – المَدينَة والمُوَاصَلات (al-madīnah walmuwaṣalāt)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
الضَوَاحيal-ḍawaḥī“Suburbs”
الجِوَار al-ǧiwar“Neighborhood”
الطَريق السَريعal-ṭarīq al-sarīʿ“Highway”
الزُقاق al-zuqāq“Alley”
المَيدانal-maīdān“Roundabout”
مُفتَرَق طُرُقmuftaraq ṭuruq“Crossroad”

People – الناس (al-nās)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
العَمal-ʿam“Uncle”
العَمَّة al-ʿammah“Aunt”
الحَفيد al-ḥafīd“Grandson”
الحَفيدَة al-ḥafīdah“Granddaughter”
الرَضيع al-raḍīʿ“Baby”
الجَد al-ǧad“Grandfather”
الجَدَّةal-ǧaddah“Grandmother”

Body Parts – أَجزاءُ الجِسم (ʾaǧzāʾu al-ǧism)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
إصبَعʾiṣbaʿ“Finger”
ظَهر ẓahr“Back”
بَطن baṭn“Belly”
صَدر ṣadr“Breast”
كَتِف katif“Shoulder”
ساق sāq“Leg”
فَخذ faḫḏ“Thigh”
مُؤَخِّرَة muʾaḫḫirah“Butt”
قَدَم qadam“Foot”
خَد ḫad“Cheek”
ذَقن ḏaqn“Chin”
جَبينǧabīn“Forehead”

Food – الطَعام (al-ṭaʿām)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
سِكّينsikkīn“Knife”
شَوْكَة šawkah“Fork”
مِلعَقَة milʿaqah“Spoon”
نَبيذ nabīḏ“Wine”
طَبَقṭabaq“Dish”
مُقَبِّلات muqabbilāt“Starter”
حَلوَى ḥalwa“Dessert”
مَشروب mašrūb“Drink”
قَهوَةqahwah“Coffee”

Work & Studies – العَمَل والدِراسَة (al-ʿamal waldirāsah)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
مُمَرِّضَةmumarriḍah“Nurse”
ضابِط شُرطَةḍābiṭ šurṭah“Police officer”
مُحامي muḥāmī“Lawyer”
نادِل nādil“Waiter”
جامِعَةǧāmiʿah“University”

Clothes – المَلابِس (al-malābis)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
بَنطَلونbanṭalūn“Pants”
كَنزَة kanzah“Sweater”
تي شيرتtī šīrt“T-shirt”
قَميصqamīṣ“Shirt”
مِعطَف miʿṭaf“Coat”
جَوْرَب ǧawrab“Sock”
حِذاء ḥiḏāʾ“Shoe”
فُستان fustān“Dress”
قُبَّعَةqubbaʿah“Hat”

3. Verbs – الأَفعال (al-ʾafʿal)

A List of Verbs

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
خَدَمَḫadama“To serve”
غادَرَġādara“To leave”
سَمَحَsamaḥa“To allow”
أَرسَلَʾarsala“To send”
اِستَقبَلَistaqbala“To receive”
عاشَʿāša“To live”
اِتَّصَلَittaṣala“To call”
تَذَكَّرَtaḏakkara“To remind”
قَدَّمَqaddama“To introduce”
قَبِلَqabila“To accept”
رَفَضَrafaḍa“To refuse”
عَمِلَʿamila“To work”
لَعِبَlaʿiba“To play”
تَعَرَّفَtaʿarrafa“To recognize”
اِختارَiḫtāra“To choose”
لَمَسَlamasa“To touch”
شَرَحَšaraḥa“To explain”
نَهَضَnahaḍa“To get up”
فَتَحَfataḥa“To open”
أَغلَقَʾaġlaqa“To close”
فازَfāza“To win”
خَسِرَḫasira“To lose”
وَجَدَwaǧada“To exist”
نَجَحَnaǧaḥa“To succeed”
غَيَّرَġayyara“To change”
أَتىʾatā“To come”
دَرَسَdarasa“To study”
نامَnāma“To sleep”
مَشىmašā“To walk”
حاوَلَḥāwala“To try”
تَوَقَّفَtawaqqafa“To stop”
اِستَمَرَّistamarra“To continue”
طَبَخَṭabaḫa“To cook”
اِنتَمىintamā“To belong”
خاطَرَḫāṭara“To risk”
تَعَلَّمَtaʿallama“To learn”
اِلتَقىiltaqā“To meet”
أَنشَأَʾanšaʾa“To create”
حَصَلَḥaṣala“To get”
دَخَلَdaḫala“To enter”
خَرَجَḫaraǧa“To exit”
عَرَضَʿaraḍa“To offer”
قَدَّمَqaddama“To bring”
اِستَخدَمَistaḫdama“To use”
وَصَلَwaṣala“To reach”
حَضَّرَḥaḍḍara“To prepare”
أَضافʾaḍāf“To add”
دَفَعَdafaʿa“To pay”
اِعتَبَرَiʿtabara“To consider”
اِشتَرىištarā“To buy”
دَفَعَdafaʿa“To push”
تَسَوَّقَtasawwaqa“To shop”
سافَرَsāfara“To travel”

4. Adjectives – صِفات (ṣifāt)

A Woman Sitting by the Sea

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
رائِعrāʾiʿ“Awesome”
فَظيع faẓīʿ“Horrible”
غَريب ġarīb“Weird”
مُعَقَّد muʿaqqad“Complicated”
سَميك samīk“Thick”
رَقيق raqīq“Thin”
قَريب qarīb“Near”
بَعيد baʿīd“Far”
ضَيِّق ḍayyiq“Narrow”
عَريض ʿarīḍ“Wide”
ناعِم nāʿim“Soft”
صَلبṣalb“Hard”
مُمتَلِئmumtaliʾ“Full”
فارِغ fāriġ“Empty”
خَفيف ḫafīf“Light”
ثَقيل ṯaqīl“Heavy”
فَريد farīd“Unique”
خاص ḫāṣ“Special”
جَديد ǧadīd“New”
قَديم qadīm“Old”
فَقير faqīr“Poor”
غَني ġanī“Rich”
نَظيف naẓīf“Clean”
قَذِر qaḏir“Dirty”
ضَعيف ḍaʿīf“Weak”
قَوِيqawi“Strong”
نَحيف naḥīf“Slim”
سَمين samīn“Fat”
مُثير لِلشَفَقَةmuṯīr lilšafaqah“Cute”
مُتَوَسِّط mutawassiṭ“Mean”
مُضحِك muḍḥik“Funny”
لَطيف laṭīf“Nice”
سَعيد saʿīd“Happy”
حَزين ḥazīn“Sad”
هادِئ hādiʾ“Quiet”
مُتَحَمِّس mutaḥammis“Excited”
خَطير ḫaṭīr“Dangerous”
مُمِلّmumill“Boring”
حارḥār“Spicy”
ثاني ṯānī“Second”
التالي al-talī“Next”
السابِق al-sābiq“Previous”
ما قَبل الأَخيرmā qabl al-ʾaḫīr“Second-to-last”
بُرتُقالي burtuqalī“Orange”
وَردي wardī“Pink”
رَمادي ramādī“Gray”
بَنَفسَجي banafsaǧī“Purple”
أُرجُوَانيʾurǧuwanī“Magenta”
فَيْروزيfayrūzī“Turquoise”

5. Adverbs – أَحوَال (ʾaḥwal)

When – مَتى (matā)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
بِالفِعلbilfiʿl“Already”
وَقت طَويلwaqt ṭawīl“A long time”
الآن al-ʾān“Now”
مَرَّةً أُخرىmarraẗan ʾuḫrā“Again”
أَخيراً ʾaḫīran“At last”
ثُمَّ ṯumma“Then”
بَعدَ ذَلِكbaʿda ḏalik“Thereafter”

How Often – كَم مَرَّة (kam marrah)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
أَحياناًʾaḥyānan“Sometimes”
نادِراً nādiran“Rarely”
عادَةً ʿādaẗan“Usually”
بِشَكلٍ عامbišaklin ʿām“Generally”
طَوالَ الوَقتṭawala al-waqt“All the time”

Where – أَيْنَ (ayna)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
لا مَكانlā makān“Nowhere”
في مَكانٍ ماfī makānin mā“Somewhere”
في مَكانٍ آخَرfī makānin ʾāḫar“Elsewhere”
أَعلىʾaʿlā“Up”
أَسفَل ʾasfal“Down”
فَوْقَ fawqa“Over”
تَحتَ taḥta“Under”
بَعيد baʿīd“Far”
قَريبqarīb“Close”

How – كَيْف (kayfa)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
بِهُدوءbihudūʾ“Softly”
بِبُطء bibuṭʾ“Slowly”
بِسُرعَة bisurʿah“Quickly”
بِهُدوء bihudūʾ“Calmly”
بِسُهولَة bisuhūlah“Easily”
لِحُسنِ الحَظ liḥusni al-ḥaẓ“Luckily”
بِبَساطَةbibasāṭah“Simply”

How Much – كَم (kam)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
كافيkāfī“Enough”
خاصَّةًḫāṣṣaẗan“Especially”
تَقريباً taqrīban “Almost”
بِكَمbikam“How much”
الكَثير al-kaṯīr “So many”
القَليلal-qalīl“So few”
حَوَالَيḥawalaī“About”

6. Prepositions – ظُروف (ẓurūf)

Time – الزَمان (al-zamān)

A Clock Showing a Quarter of an Hour

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
قَبلqabl“Before”
بَعدbaʿd“After”

Space – المَكان (al-makān)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
بِجانِبbiǧānib“Next to”
إلى اليَمينʾilā al-yamīn“To the right”
إلى اليَسار ʾilā al-yasār“To the left”
عِندَ ʿinda“At”
أَمامʾamām“In front of”
خَلف ḫalf“Behind”
تَحت taḥt“Under”
فَوْقfawq“Over”

Other – أُخرى (ʾuḫrā)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
بَيْنَbayna“Between”
بِفَضل bifaḍl“Thanks to”
رَغم raġm“Despite”
بِدون bidūn“Without”
مَعmaʿ“With”

7. Conjunctions – حُرُوفُ العَطْف (ḥuruūfu al-ʿaṭf)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
لا هَذا وَلا ذاك…lā haḏā walā ḏāk…“Neither…nor…”
وبِالتاليwabittalī“So”
غَيْرَ ذَلِكġayra ḏalik“Otherwise”
مُنذُ ذَلِك الحينmunḏu ḏalik al-ḥīn“Since (as)”
مَتىmatā“When”
لِذَلِكliḏalik“Therefore”

8. Particles – الحُروف (al-ḥurūf)

Arabic WordRomanizationEnglish Translation
مِنْ min“From”
إلى ʾilā“To”
عَنْ ʿan“From” / “About”
عَلى ʿalā“Upon” / “Over”
إلّا ʾillā“Except”
لَكِنْ lakin“However”
إنَّ ʾinna“Indeed”
أَنْ ʾan“To (do something)”
بََلى balā“Certainly”
بَلْ bal“Rather”
قَدْ qad“Might”
سَوفَ sawfa“Will”
حَتَّى ḥattā“Until”
لَمْ lam“Not”
لا “No”
لَنْ lan“Will not”
لَوْ law“If”
لَمّا lammā“Not yet”
ما “Not”
لا“Not”
إنْ ʾin“If”
ثُمَّ ṯumma“Then”
أوْ ʾaw“Or”

Conclusion

Congratulations on getting this far. Too many words to learn at once, I know. 

Do you have any techniques in mind for memorizing all of this vocabulary? 

I’ve got a few.

Try using flashcards, word lists, or mnemonics.

Lucky for you, ArabicPod101 is an Arabic learning resource that integrates each of these tools into its system. 

With ArabicPod101 (mobile app or desktop), you can save new vocabulary words in your online flashcard deck or word lists. Moreover, you get to study with content that is best for your language level, with the possibility to request a personalized learning plan from an experienced, native Arabic-speaking language expert.

You can access all of this (and more) by signing up for free on ArabicPod101.com! 

اِستَمتِع بِالتَعَلُّم!
istamtiʿ biltaʿallum!
Enjoy learning!

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

30+ Common Phone Phrases in Arabic to Sound Like a Native

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You may have encountered the statistic that more than 90 percent of our communication is based on body language.

While the accuracy of this number is debatable, it’s not far-fetched.

Body language and other subtle communication cues allow us to think less about what to say and make conversations easier.

But what about…the dreaded phone call? 

When you get a sudden call from a delivery guy, an unknown number, or even an old friend, you probably hesitate to pick up. Normally, the call goes smoothly—unless the caller starts talking in Arabic and you remember that you’re in an Arabic-speaking country.

That’s where learning some Arabic phone call phrases will come in handy for you.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of more than 30 phrases, with two bonus examples at the end to familiarize you with Arabic telephone conversations.

Note that the following phrases are all in MSA (Modern Standard Arabic). MSA is mostly used in official contexts, but most highly educated native speakers can understand it, and you can use it to communicate with them.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Picking up the Phone
  2. Saying Who You Are
  3. Stating the Reason for the Call
  4. Asking to Speak to Someone
  5. Asking Someone to Wait
  6. Leaving a Message
  7. Asking for Clarification
  8. Ending the Phone Call
  9. Sample Arabic Phone Conversations
  10. Conclusion

1. Picking up the Phone

Businesswoman Holding a Telephone

أَهلاً
ahlan
Hey

مَرحَباً
marḥaban
Hello

أَهلاً وسَهلاً
ahlan wasahlan
Hello and welcome

مَن مَعي؟
man maʿī?
Who’s with me?

For more ways to say hello in Arabic, check out our extended list of expressions here.

2. Saying Who You Are

Woman with Headphones Smiling

مَعَك (اِسم)
maʿak (ism)
This is [name].

مَعَك (اِسم) مِن شَرِكَةِ (اسم الشَرِكَة)
maʿak (ism) min šarikaẗi (ism al-šarikah)
This is [name] from [company].

3. Stating the Reason for the Call

أَنا أَتَّصِل لِأَسأَل…
ʾanā ʾattaṣil liʾasʾal…
I’m calling to ask…

أَنا أَتَّصِل لِأَتَأَكَّد مِن…
ʾanā ʾattaṣil liʾataʾakkad min…
I’m calling to confirm…

أَنا أَتَّصِل لِأَحجِز…
ʾanā ʾattaṣil liʾaḥǧiz…
I’m calling to make a reservation for…

أُريدُ أَن أَتَكَلَّمَ مَع أَحَدِهِم بِخُصوص…
ʾurīdu ʾan ʾatakallama maʿ ʾaḥadihim biḫuṣūṣ…
I’d like to speak to someone about…

أَنا أُعيدُ الاِتِّصال بِك.
ʾanā ʾuʿīdu al-ittiṣali bik.
I’m returning your call.

4. Asking to Speak to Someone

Man Holding Phone

هَل يُمكِنُ أَن أَتَحَدَّثَ مَع…؟
hal yumkinu ʾan ʾataḥaddaṯa maʿ…?
May I speak to…?

هَل (اِسم) هُنا؟
hal (ism) hunā?
Is [name] there?

5. Asking Someone to Wait

دَقيقَة، دَعني أَتَحَقَّقُ مِن ذَلِك.
daqīqah, daʿnī ʾataḥaqqaqu min ḏalik.
Just a moment, let me check.

سَأَضَعُكَ عَلى الاِنتِظار لِثانِيَة.
saʾaḍaʿuka ʿalā al-intiẓār liṯāniyah.
I’ll put you on hold for a second.

دَعني أَصِلُكَ بِمَكتَبِه، اِبقَ عَلى الخَط رَجاءً.
daʿnī ʾaṣiluka bimaktabih, ibqa ʿalā al-ḫaṭ raǧāʾan.
Let me transfer you to his office. Stay on the line, please.

6. Leaving a Message

Woman on the Phone

اَخبِرهُ مِن فَضلِك.
aḫbirhu min faḍlik.
Please let him know…

هَل يُمكِنُني أَن أَترُكَ رِسالَة؟
hal yumkinunī ʾan ʾatruka risalah?
Can I leave a message?

هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تُخبِرَهُ بِأَن يَتَّصِلَ بي مُجَدَّداً عَلى (رَقمِ الهاتِف)؟
hal yumkinuka ʾan tuḫbirahu biʾan yattaṣila bī muǧaddadan ʿalā (raqmi al-hātif)?
Can you tell him to call me back at [phone number]?

7. Asking for Clarification

عَفواً، هَل يُمكِنُكَ قَوْل ذَلِك مُجَدَّداً؟
ʿafwan, hal yumkinuka qawl ḏalik muǧaddadan?
Sorry, could you say that again?

صَوْتُكَ بَعيد.
ṣawtuka baʿīd.
Your voice is far.

هَل تَسمَعُني جَيِّداً؟
hal tasmaʿunī ǧayyidan?
Can you hear me clearly?

عَفواً، وَلَكِن أُواجِهُ مُشكِلَة في سَماعِك، أَظُنُّ أَنَّ هُناكَ مَشاكِل في الشَبَكَة.
ʿafwan, walakin ʾuwaǧihu muškilah fī samāʿik, ʾaẓunnu ʾanna hunāka mašākil fil-šabakah.
I’m sorry, but I’m having a problem hearing you. I think there are problems with the network.

هَل يُمكِنُكَ تَهَجّي اِسمَكَ مِن فَضلِك؟
hal yumkinuka tahaǧǧī ismaka min faḍlik?
Could you spell your name for me, please?

فَقَط لِلتَحَقُّقِ مَرَّةً ثانِيَة…
faqaṭ liltaḥaqquqi marraẗan ṯāniyah…
Just to double check…

8. Ending the Phone Call

Woman Waving and Holding Phone

هَل هُناكَ شَيءٌ آخَر تَحتاجُ المُساعَدَةَ فيه؟
hal hunāka šaīʾun ʾāḫar taḥtāǧu al-musāʿadaẗa fīh?
Any other thing I can help with?

أَيُّ خِدمَةٍ أُخرى؟
ʾayyu ḫidmaẗin ʾuḫrā?
Anything else?

لَقَد كُنتَ مُفيداً جِدّاً. شُكراً جَزيلاً.
laqad kunta mufīdan ǧiddan. šukran ǧazīlan.
You’ve been very helpful. Thank you.

أَراكَ عِندَ ماكدونالدز يَوم الثُلاثاء.
ʾarāka ʿinda mākdonaldz yawm al-ṯulāṯāʾ.
See you at McDonald’s on Tuesday.

أَتَمَنّى لَكَ يَوْماً جَميلاً.
ʾatamannā laka yawman ǧamīlan.
Have a great day.

9. Sample Arabic Phone Conversations

To give you a better idea of what a phone call in Arabic might sound like, here are two conversation examples (informal and formal contexts, respectively). 

1. Informal phone conversation

Two friends (Ahmed and Walid) are setting up a time to meet for lunch on a weekend at a local restaurant in Dubai. Here’s a short conversation they’ve had on the phone. Note that the dialogue below is in MSA, which is not used colloquially but is understood easily by native speakers.

أَحمَد: أَهلاً
وَليد: أَهلاً

ʾaḥmad: ʾahlan
walīd: ʾahlan

Ahmed: Hello.
Walid: Hello.

أَحمَد: كَيْفَ حالُك؟
وَليد: بِخَيْر. أَنا كُنتُ أَدرُسُ لِامتِحان، وَأَنتَ كَيْفَ حالُك؟

ʾaḥmad: kayfa ḥaluk?
walīd: biḫayr. ʾanā kuntu ʾadrusu liāmtiḥān, waʾanta kayfa ḥaluk?

Ahmed: How are you doing?
Walid: Good. I was studying for an exam. How about you?

أَحمَد: أَنا بِخَيْر، شُكراً. كُنت أَقرَأُ كِتاباً اليَوْم.
وَليد: حَسَناً.

ʾaḥmad: ʾanā biḫayr, šukran. kunt ʾaqraʾu kitāban al-yawm.
walīd: ḥasanan.

Ahmed: I’m good, thanks. I was reading a book today.
Walid: Nice.

أَحمَد: هَل سَتَكون في المَدينَةِ في نِهايَةِ هَذا الأُسبوع؟
وَليد: نَعَم، هَل لَدَيْكَ بَرنامَج ما؟

ʾaḥmad: hal satakūn fī al-madīnaẗi fī nihāyaẗi haḏā al-ʾusbūʿ?
walīd: naʿam, hal ladayka barnāmaǧ mā?

Ahmed: You’re in town this weekend?
Walid: Yes, you have any plans?

أَحمَد: هَل تُريدُ أَن تَخرُجَ لِوَجبَةِ الغَداء نِهايَةِ هَذا الأُسبوع؟
وَليد: أَجَل، لِمَ لا! مَتى بِالتَحديد؟

ʾaḥmad: hal turīdu ʾan taḫruǧa liwaǧbaẗi al-ġadāʾ nihāyaẗi haḏā al-ʾusbūʿ?
walīd: ʾaǧal, lima lā! matā biltaḥdīd?

Ahmed: Want to go for lunch this weekend?
Walid: Yeah, why not! When exactly?

أَحمَد: في المَساء يَوْم السَبت
وليد: هَل يُمكِنُكَ الخُروجَ في الثانِيَةِ مَساءً؟

ʾaḥmad: fī al-masāʾ yawm al-sabt
walīd: hal yumkinuka al-ḫurūǧa fī al-ṯāniyaẗi masāʾً?

Ahmed: In the afternoon on Saturday.
Walid: Can you go out at two in the afternoon?

أَحمَد: أُفَضِّلُ الساعَةَ الثالِثَة.
وَليد: يَبدو ذَلِكَ جَيِّداً.

ʾaḥmad: ʾufaḍḍilu al-sāʿaẗa al-ṯal-iṯah.
walīd: yabdū ḏalika ǧayyidan.

Ahmed: I prefer three.
Walid: Sounds good.

أَحمَد: رائِع, أَراكَ لاحِقاً!
وَليد: أَراكَ لاحِقاً، مَع السَلامَة!

ʾaḥmad: rāʾiʿ, ʾarāka lāḥiqan!
walīd: ʾarāka lāḥiqan, maʿ al-salāmah!

Ahmed: Great, see you then!
Walid: See you then, bye!

2. Formal phone conversation

After they’ve set the time and place, one of the friends calls the restaurant to reserve a table. Here’s an example of a short phone conversation for this situation:

أَحمَد: السَلامُ عَلَيْكُم.
مُوَظَّفُ الاِستِقبال: وَعَلَيْكُم السَلام – مَعَكَ مَطعَم الشارِقَة.

ʾaḥmad: al-salāmu ʿalaykum.
muwaẓẓafu al-istiqbal: waʿalaykum al-salām – maʿaka maṭʿam al-šāriqah.

Ahmed: Peace upon you!
Receptionist: May peace be upon you too, you’re speaking to Sharjah Restaurant.

أَحمَد: أَوَدُّ أَن أَحجُزَ طاوِلَة لِشَخصَيْن، مِن فَضلك.
مَوَظَّف الاِستِقبال: بِالتَأكيد، لَيْسَ لَدَيْنا أَيُّ طاوِلاتٍ مُتَبَقِّيَة اليَوْم، لَكِن يُمكِنُنا حَجزَ طاوِلَة لِلغَد.

ʾaḥmad: ʾawaddu ʾan ʾaḥǧuza ṭāwilah lišaḫṣayn, min faḍlk.
mawaẓẓaf al-istiqbal-: biltaʾkīd, laysa ladaynā ʾayyu ṭāwilātin mutabaqqiyah al-yawm, lakin yumkinunā ḥaǧza ṭāwilah lilġad.

Ahmed: I would like to reserve a table for two, please.
Receptionist: Sure, we’re out of tables today but you can make a reservation for tomorrow.

أَحمَد: في الوَاقِع، أَوَدُّ أَن أَحجُزَ طاوِلَةً لِيَوْمِ السَبت.
مُوَظَّفُ الاِستِقبال: بِالتَأكيد، في أَيِّ وَقتٍ بِالضَبط؟

ʾaḥmad: fīl-waqiʿ, ʾawaddu ʾan ʾaḥǧuza ṭāwilaẗan liyawmi al-sabt.
muwaẓẓafu al-istiqbal-: biltaʾkīd, fī ʾayyi waqtin bilḍabṭ?

Ahmed: Actually, I’d like a table for Saturday.
Receptionist: Sure. What time exactly?

أَحمَد: في الساعَة الثالِثَة عَصراً، مِن فَضلِك.
مُوَظَّفُ الاِستِقبال: حَتماً، ما اِسمُك، لَو سَمَحت؟

ʾaḥmad: fī al-sāʿah al-ṯal-iṯah ʿaṣran, min faḍlik.
muwaẓẓafu al-istiqbal: ḥatman, mā ismuk, laū samaḥt?

Ahmed: Three in the afternoon, please.
Receptionist: Sounds good. And what’s your name, please?

أَحمَد: أَحمَد عَلي.
مُوَظَّفُ الاِستِقبال: مُمتاز، أُستاذ علي. نَتَمَنّى أَن نَراكَ في نِهايَةِ الأُسبوع!

ʾaḥmad: ʾaḥmad ʿalī.
muwaẓẓafu al-istiqbal: mumtāz, ʾustāḏ ʿlī. natamannā ʾan narāka fī nihāyaẗi al-ʾusbūʿ!

Ahmed: Ahmed Ali.
Receptionist: Perfect, Mr. Ali. See you on the weekend!

10. Conclusion

تَهانينا!
tahānīnā!
Congratulations!

You now know enough to get through your next Arabic phone call.

Master a few of the sentences you’ve learned in this post, and you shouldn’t hear yourself mumbling so much during phone calls anymore. Do you feel more confident about your next all-Arabic phone call now, or are there some phrases or situations you’d still like to learn about? Let us know in the comments! 

Want to acquire even more speaking skills? Or do you think your phone conversation skills might need some polishing?

Try ArabicPod101.

Here, you get a full range of lessons to improve your speaking skills, coupled with 21st century language learning features such as pronunciation comparison tools and line-by-line breakdowns. ArabicPod101 also provides thousands of audio, video, and text lessons to improve your speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills.

If you’re in a rut or need some extra help, there are dedicated language experts available on the platform to answer your questions and provide you with all the assistance you need.

And if you feel like you’ll want more accountability for your learning, you can opt for a personalized learning program and work 1-on-1 with a language teacher.

All of this and more is available on ArabicPod101.com as well as through our free mobile app. 

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

Basic Arabic Words for Beginners to Get You Started

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Remember back when you had to grab a giant dictionary every time you wanted to find or translate one word?

Back when you had to say the alphabet from A all the way to that first letter of the word you were looking up…only to never find it or to take forever doing so?

We’re all happy those days are behind us, and that we now enjoy the luxury of Google Translate and the internet.

Still, learning new words in a foreign language like Arabic is difficult if you lack proper systems and strategic learning methods.

So, what’s a strategic way to learn new basic Arabic words for beginners?

According to statistics, learning 1000 words covers 85.5% of conversation in a given language.

Technically, this means you’ll be able to speak Arabic fluently if you learn the 1000 most used words.

Makes it sound way easier, right?

Below are 200 words to get you started. 

Let’s dig in!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Pronouns
  2. Numbers
  3. Nouns
  4. Verbs
  5. Adjectives
  6. Conjunctions
  7. Others
  8. Conclusion

1. Pronouns

Three Birds

Personal Pronouns

To start composing basic sentences in Arabic, you’ll probably need to master personal pronouns. Here’s a list of the most essential personal pronouns in Arabic.

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words
Iʾanāأنَا 
youʾantaأَنتَ
youʾantiأَنتِ
hehuwaهُوَ
shehiyaهِيَ
ithuwa / hiyaهُوَ/هِيَ
wenaḥnuنَحنُ
theyhumهُم
him-h
her-hā-ها
us-nā-نا
them-hum-هم

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are the tools you use to refer to objects and people in your conversations. Learning these will be of great use for your interactions. Here’s a list of the four demonstrative pronouns:

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words
thishaḏihi / haḏāهَذِهِ / هَذا
that dāka / ḏalikذاكَ / ذَلِك
thesehaʾulāʾ/ haḏihiهَؤُلاء / هَذِهِ
thoseʾūlaʾik / tilkأولَئِك / تِلك

Interrogative Pronouns / Question Words

Interrogative pronouns are building blocks for questions, a.k.a. the Five Ws. Here’s a list of those with romanizations:

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words
whomanمَن
whommanمَن
whoselimanلِمَن
whatmāḏāماذا
whichayyأَيّ

Along with interrogative pronouns, it’s also worth listing interrogative adverbs, which serve a similar purpose.

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words
whenmatāمَتى
whereʾaynaأَيْنَ
whylimāḏāلِماذا
howkayfaكَيْفَ

2. Numbers

Phone Unlock page
Numerals in EnglishNumerals in ArabicEnglishRomanizationsArabic Words
0٠zeroṣifrصِفر
1١one waḥidوَاحِد
2٢twoʾiṯnānإثنان
3٣threeṯalāṯahثلَاثَة
4٤fourʾarbaʿahأَربَعَة
5٥fiveḫamsahخَمسَة
6٦sixsittahسِتَّة
7٧sevensabʿahسَبعَة
8٨eightṯamāniyahثَمانِيَة
9٩ninetisʿahتِسعَة
10١٠tenʿašarahعَشَرَة

3. Nouns

Nouns are probably the first basic Arabic vocabulary words you start learning as a beginner. They’re one of two key components in a sentence (together with verbs) and you can usually get your point across using just the right noun. With that in mind, let’s look at a few beginner-level Arabic nouns. 

Time

Solar Clock
English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
hour sāʿahساعَة 
minutedaqīqahدَقيقَة
morningṣabāḥصَباح 
afternoonbaʿd al-ẓuhrبَعد الظُهر
eveningmasāʾمَساء
dayyawmيَوْم 
monthšahrشَهر 
yearsanahسَنَة 
Mondayal-ʾiṯnaynالإثنَيْن
Tuesdayal-ṯulāṯāʾالثُلاثاء
Wednesdayal-ʾarbaʿāʾالأَربَعاء
Thursdayal-ḫamīsالخَميس
Fridayal-ǧumʿahالجُمعَة
Saturdayal-sabtالسَبت
Sundayal-ʾaḥadالأَحَد

People

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
butcherǧazzārجَزّار
woodmanḥaṭṭābحَطّاب 
police officerḍābiṭ šurṭahضابِط شُرطَة
doctorṭabībطَبيب
nursemumarriḍahمُمَرِّضَة
firefighterraǧul ʾiṭfāʾرَجُل إطفاء
teachermudarrisمُدَرِّس
fatherʾabأَب
motherʾumأُم
sisterʾuḫtأُخت 
brotherʾaḫأَخ
Mr.al-sayyidالسَيِّد 
Ms.al-sayyidahالسَيِّدَة

Places Around Town

Beautiful Building with Statue
English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
hospitalmustašfāمُستَشفى
supermarketsūbar mārkitسوبَر ماركِت
schoolmadrasahمَدرَسَة
downtownwasaṭ al-madīnahوَسَط المَدينَة
universityǧāmiʿahجامِعَة
city hallǧihāz al-madīnahجِهاز المَدينَة
main squareal-maydān al-raʾīsīالمَيْدان الرَئيسي
bankal-bankالبَنك
museumal-matḥafالمَتحَف
restaurantal-maṭʿamالمَطعَم
caféal-maqhāالمَقهى
police stationmarkazu l-šurṭahمَركَز الشُرطَة
train stationmaḥaṭṭaẗu l-qiṭārمَحَطَّةُ القِطار
bus stationmaḥaṭṭaẗu l-ḥāfilātمَحَطَّةُ الحافِلات

School/Office Essentials

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
penqalamقَلَم
notebookdaftar mulāḥaẓātدَفتَر مُلاحَظات 
computerkumbīūtarكُمبيوتَر
pencil casemaqlamahمَقلَمَة
headphonessammāʿātسمّاعات
mousefaʾrahفأرَة
keyboardlawḥaẗu mafātīḥلَوْحَةُ مَفاتيح
wifiwaī fāīواي فاي
chargeršāḥinشاحِن
cablesilkسِلك
backpackḥaqībaẗu ẓahrحَقيبَةُ ظَهر
deskmaktabمَكتَب
copybookkurrāsahكُرّاسَة

Body Parts

A Woman Holding a Hand Over Her Stomach
English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
eyeal-ʿaynالعَيْن
noseal-ʾanfالأَنف
earal-ʾuḏunالأُذُن
faceal-waǧhالوَجه
armal-ḏirāʿالذِراع
chestal-ṣadrالصَدر
cheekal-ḫadالخَد
foreheadal-ǧabhahالجَبهَة
mouthal-famالفَم
chinal-ḏaqnالذَقن
armpital-ʾibiṭالإبِط
abdomenal-baṭnالبَطن
legal-sāqالساق
toeʾaṣābiʿ al-qadamأَصابِع القَدَم
fingerʾiṣbaʿإصبَع
ankleal-kāḥilالكاحِل
hipal-wirkالوِرك
forearmal-sāʿidالساعِد
elbowal-kūʿالكوع
wristal-miʿṣamالمِعصَم

Food

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
ٍٍvegetablesḫuḍrawatخُضرَوات
fruitfawakihفَوَاكِه
meatlaḥmلَحم
milkḥalībحَليب
eggbayḍبَيْض
coffeeqahwahقَهوَة
yogurtzabādīزَبادي
breadḫubzخُبز
baconlaḥm muqaddadلَحم مُقَدَّد
piefaṭīrahفَطيرَة
hamlaḥm ḫinzīrلَحم خِنزير
chickendaǧāǧدَجاج
juiceʿaṣīrعَصير
sausagesuǧuqسُجُق

4. Verbs

Our next set of Arabic beginner words covers the most essential verbs in a variety of categories. You can use these to form more complete sentences in Arabic. 

Daily Routine Verbs

The following verbs will come in handy if you want to start a journal in Arabic.

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
to get upqāmaقامَ
to eatʾakalaأَكَلَ
to drinkšaribشَرِب
to goḏahabaذَهَبَ
to workʿamilaعَمِلَ
to studydarasaدَرَسَ
to driveqādaقادَ
to riderakibaرَكِبَ
to sleepnāmaنامَ
to wake upistayqaẓaاِستَيْقَظَ
to hangʿallaqaعَلَّقَ
to do laundryqāma bilġasīlقامَ بِالغَسيل
to napʾaḫaḏa qaylūlahأَخَذَ قَيْلولَة
to work outtamarranaتَمَرَّنَ
to go outḫaraǧaخَرَجَ
to prepareḥaḍaraحَضَرَ
to cookṭabaḫaطَبَخَ
to clean naẓẓafaنَظَّفَ
to washġasalaغَسَلَ
to tidy uprattabaرَتَّبَ
to connectittaṣalaاِتَّصَلَ
to communicatetawaṣalaتَوَاصَلَ
to wearirtadāاِرتَدى
to take (something) offʾazalaأَزالَ
to grabʾamsakaأَمسَكَ
to mixḫalaṭaخَلَطَ
to carryḫamalaخَمَلَ
to freezeǧammadaجَمَّدَ
to changeġayyaraغَيَّرَ
to movenaqalaنَقَلَ

Other Common Verbs

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
to giveʾaʿṭāأَعطى
to takeʾaḫaḏaأَخَذَ
to dofaʿalaفَعَلَ
to makeǧaʿalaجَعَلَ
to lettarakaتَرَكَ
to askṭalabaطَلَبَ
to smileibtasamaاِبتَسَمَ
to findwaǧadaوَجَدَ
to useistaḫdamaاِستَخدَمَ
to losefaqadفَقَد
to comeʾatāأَتى
to looknaẓaraنَظَرَ
to hearsamiʿaسَمِعَ
to smellšammaشَمَّ
to talktaḥaddaṯaتَحَدَّثَ
to exitḫaraǧaخَرَجَ
to callittaṣalaاِتَّصَلَ
to feelʾaḥassaأَحَسَّ
to answerʾaǧābaأَجابَ
to laughḍaḥikaضَحِكَ
to crybakāبَكى
to stealsaraqaسَرَقَ
to runǧarāجَرى
to walkmašāمَشى
to meetiltaqāاِلتَقى
to createṣanaʿaصَنَعَ
to finishʾanhāأَنهى

5. Adjectives

Learning Arabic words to describe the world around you can liven up your conversations, strengthen your Arabic writing, and allow you to better express yourself in this rather expressive language. 

Describing Objects

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
bigkabīrكَبير
smallṣaġīrصَغير
longṭawilطَوِيل
shortqaṣīrقَصير
twistedmultawiمُلتَوِي
smoothnāʿimناعِم
roughḫašinخَشِن

Describing People

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
prettyǧamīlجَميل
handsomewasīmوَسيم
tallṭawilطَوِيل
shortqaṣīrقَصير
disgustingmuṯīr lilišmiʾzāzمُثير لِلاِشمِئزاز
sociableiǧtimāʿīاِجتِماعي
funnymuḍḥikمُضحِك
beautifulǧamīlجَميل
lovelyrāʾiʿرائِع
caringʿaṭūfعَطوف
generouskarīmكَريم
arrogantmaġrūrمَغرور
humblemutawaḍiʿمُتَوَاضِع
courageousšuǧāʿشُجاع
weakḍaʿīfضَعيف
strongqaweīقَوي

Describing Emotions

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
happysaʿīdسَعيد
sadḥazīnحَزين
joyfulmubtahiǧمُبتَهِج
weirdġarībغَريب
depressedmuktaʾibمُكتَئِب
anxiousqaliqقَلِق
stressed outmutawattirمُتَوَتِّر
jollymariḥمَرِح

Describing Weather

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
rainymumṭirمُمطِر 
sunnymušmisمُشمِس
humidraṭibرَطِب
dryǧāfجاف
aridqāḥilقاحِل
frigidmutaǧammidمُتَجَمِّد
foggyḍabābīضَبابي
windyrīḥīريحي
stormyʿāṣifعاصِف
partly cloudyġāʾim ǧuzʾiyyanغائِم جُزئِيّاً
cloudyġāʾimغائِم
calmhādiʾهادِئ

6. Conjunctions

When you want to link one sentence to another, you use conjunctions. Here’s a list of the most used conjunctions in Arabic:

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
and waو
butlakinلَكِن 
thenṯummaثُمَّ
becauseliʾannaلِأَنَّ 
sowabil-talīوَبِالتالي

7. Others

Below are a few filler words from different Arabic dialects and MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) to help you blend in even more with native speakers.

English TranslationsRomanizationsArabic Words 
beautiful (MSA)ǧamīlجَميل
by God (all dialects, MSA)wallahواَلله
now (Levantine)halāهَلا
ًwhat (Moroccan Arabic, Algerian Arabic)kifāšكِفاش
I mean / like (Egyptian, Levantine, Gulf)yaʿnīيَعني

8. Conclusion

Congrats for getting this far! You’re 200 words in, enough to impress most Arabs as few foreigners have the courage to get this far in their Arabic studies. How many of these words did you know already—and how many were new to you? Let us know in the comments! 

Want to be even more unique?

Why not go even deeper in your learning journey?

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Arabic Filler Words: Speak the Language Like a Native

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Imagine if people were like programmed robots.

No typos.

No slips of the tongue.

No blemishes.

Just plain perfection.

That would make everything pretty boring, wouldn’t it?

Filler words are one of those imperfections that make human interactions unique. 

Without further ado, let’s get right into the top Arabic filler words and how to use them.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. What are filler words and why do we use them?
  2. The Top Arabic Filler Words
  3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words
  4. Conclusion

1. What are filler words and why do we use them?

Woman and Question Marks

Filler words (or “fillers”) are the sounds we use to let others know that we have not yet finished talking, even if we’re pausing for a few seconds. They help remove awkward stops in our speech and connect sentences without them having to make sense grammatically. Fillers are mostly meaningless when used for that purpose, despite the words themselves having a real meaning in other contexts.

While filler words may sound unnecessary, they actually play an important role in speech. This is because it’s difficult for most people to continuously hold a smooth conversation without having to stop and think about what to say next—even if just for a second or two.

Filler words are mainly used in real-life interactions, but they can also be found occasionally in emails and text messages. Some of us like to type “uh,” “actually,” or “basically” in our texts, thinking it will add meaning to the sentence or give the reader a better understanding of our tone.

While people may not agree on the necessity of using filler words, it’s undeniable that they play a great role in our speech. Most of us start using them without even noticing it.

It’s interesting to note that filler words—while still existent—are not as frequently used in languages linked to cultures that are more direct or cold. Given the warmth of most Arabic-speaking cultures, filler words are prominent players in a variety of Arabic dialects.

With that in mind, because Arabic dialects are spoken informally, they rely more on filler words than MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) does. 

We’ve categorized the fillers below based on dialect to make sure you don’t confuse anyone by using a different dialect.

2. The Top Arabic Filler Words

Before we get started on dialects, let’s first look into MSA filler words.

A- MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) Filler Words

جَميل
ǧamīl
beautiful

This filler word is used to respond to statements you don’t really have an answer for. It’s the equivalent of “cool” in English. 

Example #1

جَميل. لِنَذهَب إلى المَقهى.

ǧamīl. linaḏhab ʾilā al-maqhā.

Beautiful, let’s go to the café.

Example #2

جَميل. فَلنَلتَقي غَداً.

ǧamīl. falnaltaqī ġadan.

Beautiful, let’s meet up tomorrow.

عَفواً

ʿafwan

sorry

This filler is used to ask for repetition or to respectfully interrupt someone.

Example #1

عَفوَاً، هَل يُمكِنُكَ إعادَةُ جُملَتِكَ الأَخيرَة؟

ʿafwan, hal yumkinuka ʾiʿādaẗu ǧumlatika al-ʾaḫīrah?

Sorry, but can you repeat your last sentence?

Example #2

عَفواً، وَلَكِنَّكَ غَيَّرتَ المَوْضوع.

ʿafwan, walakinnaka ġayyarta al-mawḍūʿ.

Sorry, but you changed the subject.

B- Moroccan Arabic Filler Words

زَعما

zaʿmā

like

This is probably the most popular Moroccan filler word. It’s the equivalent of “like” in English.

Example #1

زَعما بغيت ناكل.

zaʿmā bġīt nākl.

Like, I wanna eat.

Example #2

زَعما أَتبقا هاكا كاتِهدِر.

zaʿmā ʾatbqā hākā kātihdir.

Like, you’ll just keep talking like that.

إيوا

ʾiwa

so

This is used to confront a statement or to begin a sentence.

Example #1

إيوا خَلّيه يِكلِس بوَحدو.

ʾiwa ḫallīh yiklis bwaḥdū.

So let him sit down alone.

Example #2

إيوا سكِت.

ʾiwa skit.

So shut up.

C- Levantine Arabic Filler Words

يَعني

yaʿnī

meaning

This one is the equivalent of “like” in English.

Example #1

يَعني إنتَ رَح تِجي بُكرا؟

yaʿnī ʾinta raḥ tiǧī bukrā?

Like, you’ll come tomorrow?

Example #2

يَعني أَنا ما بَدي أُخرج. 

yaʿnī ʾanā mā badī ʾuḫrǧ.

Like, I don’t wanna go out.

والله

wallah 

by God

This filler word is used to start a sentence, and the English equivalents would be “you know” or “by God.”

Example #1

والله أَنا قاعِد إستَنّا فيه.

wallah ʾanā ʾāʿid ʾistannā fīh.

You know I’m actually sitting here waiting for him.

Example #2

والله ما بَعرِف.

wallah mā baʿrif.

By God, I don’t know.

هَلّأ

hallaʾ

now

This is a popular filler in Arabic used to transition to a new sentence.

Example #1

هَلَّأ شو بَدَّك مِنّي؟

hallaʾ šū baddak minnī?

Now what do you want from me?

Example #2

هَلّأ بَدَّك تِحكي؟

hallaʾ baddak tiḥkī?

You want to talk now?

طَيِّب

ṭayyib

okay

This filler word is great for transitioning from one topic to another. 

Example #1

طَيِّب، شو رَح نسَوِّي؟

ṭayyib, šū raḥ nsawwī?

Okay, what are we going to do?

Example #2

طَيِّب، شو رَأيكُم في القانون الجديد؟

ṭayyib, šū raʾīkum fī l-qānūn l-ǧdīd?

Okay, what’s your opinion on the new law?

D- Egyptian Arabic Filler Words

حِلو

ḥelū

sweet

Example #1

حِلو، اِتَّفَقنا.

ḥelū, ettafaʾnā.

Sweet, we have a deal.

Example #2

حِلو، نروح لِلصَفحَة إللي بَعدَها.

ḥelū, nrūḥ lelṣafḥah ʾellī baʿdahā.

Sweet, we move to the next page.

أَصلاً

ʾaṣlan

anyway

Example #1

إنتَ أَصلاً عايِز تروح فين؟

ʾenta ʾaṣlan ʿāyez trūḥ fīn?

Where did you want to go, anyway?

Example #2

أَنا أَصلاً ماكُنتِش عايِز أَخرُج.

ʾanā ʾaṣlan mākonteš ʿāyez ʾaḫrog.

I didn’t want to go out anyway.

3. Pros and Cons of Filler Words

While filler words are largely meaningless, they do leave an impression of the speaker or writer on others. Using them sends messages to the subconscious mind of the listener or reader, which helps them form an opinion of you.

Below are the key pros and cons for using filler words in different day-to-day situations.

A- Pros 

You sound more natural.

Arab Men Hugging

Cutting fluff words completely (which feels impossible for most people) will make you sound very clear and straightforward. But you never want to sound like a robot. People will perceive you as out of touch or just too different if you never use fillers. 

A better approach is to minimize your usage of filler words and strike a fine balance. This will help you sound “normal” enough to other folks without sabotaging your credibility. 

You sound friendlier.

A Smiling Doctor

In our day-to-day lives, we want to be accessible to people and make them feel safe around us. 

The spontaneity that filler words add to your tone will make you sound more natural in the ears of other people, which will consequently draw them closer to you and increase your perceived level of familiarity with each other. 

B- Cons 

You’re considered hesitant.

Using fillers excessively can cause the listener to lose focus or interest, and give them the perception that you’re hesitant. This is especially true in formal environments or events like job interviews.

For example, you may have noticed a pattern in lectures where teachers lose their students’ attention as soon as they start to sound hesitant or use many filler words.

Filler words raise doubts about your statements and make them sound weaker, which ties into the next con. 

You’re perceived as having low self-confidence.

A Confident Woman

Few people are happy to hire, befriend, date, work with, or build any kind of relationship with someone who has low self-confidence. 

Using a lot of filler words can easily give the perception that you have low confidence in yourself, your ideas, and your conversation skills.

C- How to Substitute Filler Words

Steve Jobs

Here’s a cool story on the importance of substituting filler words.

In an interview, Andy Miller (who used to be one of Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ co-workers) talked about how he had to take the so-called “Steve test” before he could sell his company to Apple and join the company board.

What’s interesting about this is that Steve Jobs would just stare at the interviewee for 60 seconds in total silence after the interview was supposed to start.

If that silence was broken with filler words within that one minute, Steve Jobs knew the interviewee wouldn’t be the right fit for the company and would therefore decide not to work with them. If they kept silent and only spoke when necessary, he would know that they were strong enough to work and negotiate for him.

The moral of the story is this: Filler words can simply be replaced with silence. If you don’t know what to say, just don’t say anything. Rather, use body language to keep your listener’s attention. 

4. Conclusion

If you’ve gotten this far, you’re now armed with a skill most Arabic learners don’t have: You know how to use and understand filler words. Which ones are your favorite? And what filler words do you use most in your own language?

It’s up to you now to decide if you’re for or against using filler words, and how much you would want to incorporate those in your Arabic speaking.

Feel like acquiring more skills? Want to learn some new pronouns, prepositions, verbs, sentences, or even letters? Or maybe you want to know how to introduce yourself or shop in Arabic?

Check out ArabicPod101.

Our website provides thousands of concise video, audio, and text lessons designed within the framework of a learning system that fits your needs at any level.

Give ArabicPod101 a go and enjoy the luxury of having an infinity of well-categorized learning content coupled with the most effective learning techniques.

Slowed-down audio, voice recording technology, online flashcards, and line-by-line breakdowns are a few of the features you get with a free sign-up for ArabicPod101.

And don’t just take my word for it. You can try it for yourself right now and test all the features above and more.

اِستَمتِعوا بِالتَعَلُّم!

istamteʿū bittaʿallom!

Enjoy learning!

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Negation in Arabic: How to Say No and More

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I get it, when learning a language we always want to be positive and say Yes! to everything that comes our way. New experiences, new skills, more language practice

However, we need to learn how to say no as well. And not just that, but also how to use negative sentences.

A Woman Holding Cards with the Words Yes and No on Them

If you want to master negation in Arabic, keep reading. In this article, we’ll look at how to… 

  • …form negative sentences in Arabic (for both nominal and verbal sentences).
  • …answer yes-or-no questions correctly and politely.
  • …use other common negative expressions such as “never,” “no one,” and “nowhere.” 

Sure, sometimes saying no isn’t easy…especially for us people-pleasers. But I assure you it will be (at least from a language-learning point of view!), after you’ve read this. 

Let’s waste no more time, then. Here’s everything you need to know about forming negatives in Modern Standard Arabic!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. What is a Negative Sentence?
  2. Negatives with Verbs
  3. Negatives without Verbs
  4. Answering “Yes-or-No” Questions
  5. Useful Negative Words and Phrases
  6. How Our Website Can Help

1. What is a Negative Sentence?

A negative sentence says that something is false or that something has not happened. In English, for example, we build negatives by adding the word “not” after a helping verb (do, have, be, etc.).

  • Dave is not happy. 
  • We did not go to work today. 

There are several different Arabic negation particles used to negate verbs. In Modern Standard Arabic, the most commonly used ones are: لا, لَمْ, لَنْ (, lam, lan).

Another thing to keep in mind when creating negative sentences in Arabic is that you’ll need to look at the type of sentence you’re negating. Is it a nominal sentence or a verbal sentence?

2. Negatives with Verbs

As we just mentioned, there are two types of sentences in Arabic. Depending on the word with which it starts, a sentence can be verbal (when it starts with a verb) or nominal (when it starts with a noun). 

A verbal (فِعْلِيَّة [fiʿliyyah]) sentence must contain at least a verb and a subject to be meaningful. For example:

أَعيشُ في مِصر.
ʾaʿīšu fī miṣr.
I live in Egypt.

Or:

يُحِبُّ هاني السَفَر.
yuḥibbu hānī al-safar.
Hany loves traveling.

Negating a sentence with a verb is quite simple: You just need to negate the verb. 

In order to perform Arabic verb negation, you just need to add the appropriate negative particle before the verb. Again, the most common Arabic negative particles are: لا, لَمْ, لَنْ (, lam, lan). 

Let’s learn how to use them!

Negatives in the Past

We use a different particle according to the tense of the verb we’re negating. The negative particle لَمْ (lam) makes a verb past tense. 

تَأكُل مَها العَشاء.
taʾkul mahā al-ʿašāʾ.
Maha eats dinner.

لَم تَأكُل مَها العَشاء.
lam taʾkul mahā al-ʿašāʾ.
Maha did not eat dinner.

Note how the tense changed from present to past even though the form of the verb didn’t change one bit. It only gained a لَمْ (lam) before it.

Two Little Girls Drinking Milk

Negatives in the Present

To negate a verb in the present tense, we can use the particle لا ().

Like the previous particle, the particle لا () does not change the verb form; it only negates the meaning when placed before it. 

أَشْرَبُ الحَلِيْب.
ʾašrabu al-ḥaliyb.
I drink the milk.

لا أَشْرَبُ الحَلِيْب.
lā ʾašrabu al-ḥaliyb.
I don’t drink the milk.

Negatives in the Future

Then we have لَنْ (lan), which makes the verb future tense.  

تَأكُل مَها العَشاء.
taʾkul mahā al-ʿašāʾ.
Maha eats dinner.

لَن تَأكُل مَها العَشاء.
lan taʾkul mahā al-ʿašāʾ.
Maha will not eat dinner.

Negatives in the Imperative

To negate the imperative form of a verb, which is used to give instructions and commands, we use the particle لا (). In this case, the verb form changes from the imperative form to the present form, conjugated according to the gender and number of the people to whom it’s directed.

اِذْهَبْ إلى الجامِعَة اليَوْم.
iḏhab ʾilā al-ǧāmiʿah al-yawm.
Go to the university today.

لا تَذْهَبْ إِلَى الجامِعَة اليَوْم.
lā taḏhab ʾiilaā al-ǧāmiʿah al-yawm.
Don’t go to the university today.

3. Negatives without Verbs

Nominal sentences (اِسْمِيَّة [ismiyyah]) are sentences that start with a noun. They usually consist of a noun, followed by either a noun, an adjective, a verb, or a prepositional phrase. Here, we’re concerned with all these combinations except for the one that contains a verb, since that one will be negated the same way that verbal sentences are negated. 

Don’t worry. You’ll need to use a different, but still simple, approach. In Modern Standard Arabic, you’ll need to insert the appropriate conjugation of ليس (laysa). 

ليس (to not be)
 EnglishStandard Arabic
SingularI am notلَستُ (lastu)
you (masc.) are notلَستَ (lasta)
you (fem.) are notلَستِ (lasti)
he is notلَيسَ (laysa)
she is notلَيسَت (laysat)
Dualwe are notلَسنا (lasna)
you are notلَستُما (lastumā)
they (masc.) are notلَيسا (laysā)
they (fem.) are notليَسَتا (laysatā)
Pluralwe are notلَسنا (lasnā)
you (masc.) are notلَستُم (lastum)
you (fem.) are notلَستُنَّ (lastunna)
they (masc.) are notلَيسوا (laysū)
they (fem.) are notلسنَ (lasna)

Here’s an example of a nominal sentence in Arabic: 

هُوَ طَوِيل.
huwa ṭawil.
He is tall.

هُوَ لَيْسَ طَويلاً.
huwa laysa ṭawīlan.
He is not tall.

A Taller Boy Standing Next to a Shorter Boy

On the other hand, Egyptian Arabic negation is quite different in this regard: You only need to insert مش (miš) between the subject and the predicate, and it doesn’t change according to number or gender, unlike in Modern Standard Arabic. Simple and easy!

أَنا لِبنانِيَّة.
ʾanā lebnāniyyah.
I am Lebanese. [f.]

أَنا مِش لِبنانِيَّة.
ʾanā meš lebnāniyyah.
I am not Lebanese. [f.]

4. Answering “Yes-or-No” Questions

There are two types of questions: open-ended and closed-ended. A closed-ended question is usually one you can answer with a “yes” or “no,” without having to give any other explanation. Let’s see how to answer these. In English, for example, we say: “Yes, I do,” or “No, I don’t.”

Logically, to answer a yes-or-no question in Arabic, we start with نَعَم (naʿam) meaning “yes” or لا () meaning “no.” In Arabic, the sentence in question is repeated again in the answer after yes or no.

 هَل ذاكَرتَ اليَوم؟
hal ḏākarta al-yawm?
Did you study today?

 . لا، لَم أُذاكِر اليَوم
lā, lam ʾuḏākir al-yawm.
No, I didn’t study today.

نَعَم، ذاكَرتُ اليَوم.
naʿam, ḏākartu al-yawm.
Yes, I studied today.

A Full Moon Over a Natural Landscape

5. Useful Negative Words and Phrases

Now that you know more about the Arabic negation system, how about we look at some commonly used expressions you’ll need to sound like a native?

Did you know, for example, that the word “never” can be translated in two different ways in Arabic, depending on the verb tense you’re using?

If you’re speaking about the past, use قَطُّ (qaṭṭ), a word that means “never,” “ever,” or “at all.”

لَمْ أَفْعَلْ ذٰلِكَ قَطّ.
lam ʾafʿal ḏٰalika qaṭṭ.
I have never done that.

If you’re speaking about the future, however, you’ll need to use another word: أَبَداً (ʾabadًan), which means “always,” “forever,” or “ever.”

لَنْ أَزُورَهُ أَبَداً.
lan ʾazūrahu ʾabadan.
.I will never visit him

Remember, قَطُّ (qaṭṭ) and أَبَداً (ʾabadًan) can only be used with the negation. 

Here are some more useful expressions to go with negative sentences: 

  • nowhere / not anywhere: لا مَكان (lā makān)
  • no one / nobody: لا أَحَد (lā ʾaḥad)
  • nothing / not anything: لا شَيء (lā šaīʾ)
  • neither…nor: لا… وَلا (lā…walā)

6. How Our Website Can Help

A Man Studying Arabic Online

If you want to learn more Arabic grammar rules and vocab, make sure you have a look at ArabicPod101.com. Here, you’ll find all the resources you need to make your language learning journey as interesting and fun as possible. 

You’ll be able to practice your listening skills with podcasts and audio lessons, expand your vocabulary with word lists and key phrases, and learn great strategies for studying Arabic more efficiently and effectively.

If you want to learn this amazing language in order to travel to an Arabic-speaking country, you cannot miss our travel Survival Course. Knowing some Arabic will help you be safe during your trip abroad, and being able to understand and communicate with the locals will make your adventures even more unforgettable… 

Of course, I hope that you’ll be able to say yes to all the invitations and offers you’ll receive… But, well, at least you now know how to say “no” correctly (from a grammatical point of view)!

And, if you’re studying Arabic for work or study reasons, make that commitment and start using our features to practice and improve every day. The content available here will keep you motivated in your Arabic studies and will help you reach your language-learning goals in no time at all!

Before you go, we’d love to hear from you. How has this article helped you? Is anything still unclear about negation in Arabic? We’ll do our best to help you out!

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Tenses in the Arabic Language: All You Need to Know

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What is a verb? 

Along with nouns, verbs are the most important part of any sentence. They are the words we use to describe an action (يُغَنّي [yuġannī] – he sings), a state of being (يوجَد [yūǧad] – he exists), or an occurrence (يُطَوِّر [yuṭawwir] – he develops), and they usually agree with the subject, which is who or what performs the action described. 

Basically, every sentence needs a verb to be complete—and this is why it’s so important to get them right when learning a foreign language! This includes using the right tenses, hence this article on tenses in the Arabic language. 

A Woman in Deep Thought about Something

We’ll admit that Arabic verbs are one of the most challenging aspects of learning this beautiful and complex language, but don’t worry. In this article, we’ll have a look at the main points you need to learn in order to use Arabic verbs with no problems! 

We’ll look at the Arabic root system, which is useful for learning verbs and gaining a better understanding of the language itself. In addition, we’ll show you how to build the different verb forms and tenses using the two verb aspects in Arabic.

Don’t worry if this all sounds too complicated and grammar-heavy (it’s normal to feel that way!). We’ll explain each concept thoroughly in the following paragraphs, simplifying them as much as possible so you can grasp them quickly and put them to good use throughout your Arabic language-learning journey!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. The Root System
  2. The Root System in Verbs
  3. The Tenses
  4. Arabic Verbs: A Summary

1. The Root System

To understand Arabic verbs, one must first look at the verb root system. Like other Semitic languages, Arabic has a complex and unusual way of building words from a basic root. In fact, most Arabic words are constructed from a three-letter (trilateral) root.

According to this system, a pattern of three letters serves as the foundation for all words in the same semantic field (i.e. related in meaning). 

Let’s take for example ‘k-t-b’ (كتب), which is a trilateral root for words that have to do with “writing“:

  • kitāb كِتَاب – “book”
  • kātib كاتِب – “writer”
  • maktab مَكتَب – “desk” or “office”
  • maktabah مَكتَبة – “library” or “bookshop”

A Tree with Many Roots

2. The Root System in Verbs

When it comes to Arabic verb roots, the most important thing to keep in mind is that each trilateral root can take up to fifteen possible verb forms. However, there are ten forms that are most common and those are what language learners usually focus on. 

One can create different verbs from these forms by adding prefixes, suffixes, and different signs to the root consonants, though all are related to the general meaning of the root. Let’s have a look at the ten different forms of the verb فعل (to do):

  • Form 1: فَعَلَ (faʿala)
    This is the basic and general meaning of the root verb.
  • Form 2: فَعَّلَ (faʿʿala) [with the doubling of the sound of the letter ع]
    The second form makes the verb transitive, with an added meaning that the action is done to someone or something. It’s built by doubling the middle letter of the root.
  • Form 3: فاعَلَ (fāʿala)
    This form also makes the verb transitive, and it also means that the action is done with someone or something else.
  • Form 4: أفْعَلَ (ʾafʿala)
    This is a causative and transitive form (requires an object).
  • Form 5: تَفَعَّلَ (tafaʿala)
    Form five is the reflexive, which means that the subject and the direct object are the same.
  • Form 6: تَفاعَلَ (tafāʿala)
    The sixth form is the reflexive or passive version of form 3.
  • Form 7: اِنْفَعَلَ (infaʿala)
    This is the passive version of form 1.
  • Form 8: اِفْتَعَلَ (iftaʿala)
    This is often a reflexive version of form 1, with different nuances. It’s the equivalent of “make up” in English, as in “make up lies.”
  • Form 9: اِفْعَلَّ (ifʿalaّ) [with the doubling of the sound of the letter ل]
    This verb form is quite rare, but it conveys the meaning of acquiring a color or a physical defect.
  • Form 10: اِسْتَفْعَلَ (istafʿala)
    This verb is generally used to mean “to consider something to be ___”

Keep in mind that the forms introduced here are in the third person past tense. This system, although complex, can be extremely helpful when learning Arabic. Understanding the system well will allow you to correctly guess the meaning of words you don’t know by recognizing their roots and structure! 

Also remember that not all forms are used as frequently, so you can first focus on the ones that are commonly used and then advance to other ones as you go on. 

Another thing: Not all verbs use all of the forms. Certain verbs are used with certain forms much more commonly than others, so it suffices to understand the meaning of the form; the rest will make sense as you study.

3. The Tenses 

Verb tenses are used to express when an action takes place. In Arabic, there are two main tenses: the past tense and the present simple. Then there’s the imperative mood, which is considered to be the third tense in Arabic grammar.

Now, let’s have a closer look at Arabic tenses and how to form them.

A Dream-like Image Featuring a Clock

A- The Present Tense

First we have the present tense. In Arabic, this tense is used to express both habitual and ongoing actions. The only way to emphasize the difference is by using adverbs like:

  • الآن (al-ʾān) – “now”
    [for ongoing actions]
  • كُلَّ يَوم (kulla yawm) – “every day”
    [for habitual actions]

For example:

أَذهَبُ إلى الجامِعَة كُلَّ يَوم.
ʾaḏhabu ʾilā al-ǧāmiʿah kulla yawm.
“I go to the university every day.”

أَتَحَدَّثُ مَع أُمي الآن.
ʾataḥaddaṯu maʿ ʾumī al-ʾān
“I am talking to my mom now.”

Have a look at the table below for an example of conjugation for the verb فَعَلَ (to do). You can form a negative of this tense by adding the prefix لا before mentioning your verb. 


Present tenseNegated present tense
أَنا (ana) – “I”أَفعَل (ʾafʿal)لا أَفعَل (la ʾafʿal)
أَنتَ (anta) – “you” masc.تَفعَل (tafʿal)لا تَفعَل (la tafʿal)
أنتِ (anti) – “you” fem.تَفعَلين (tafʿalīn)لا تَفعَلين (la tafʿalīn)
هُوَ (huwa) – “he”يَفعَل ( yafʿal)لا يَفعَل (la  yafʿal)
هِيَ (hiya) – “she”تَفعَل ( tafʿal)لا تَفعَل (la  tafʿal)
نَحنُ (naḥnu) – “we”نَفعَل (nafʿal)لا نَفعَل (la nafʿal)
أَنتُم (ʾantum) – “you” pl. masc.تَفعَلون (tafʿalūn)لا تَفعَلون (la tafʿalūn)
أَنتُما (ʾantuma) – “you” dual masc.تَفعَلان (tafʿalān)لا تَفعَلان (la tafʿalān)
(ʾantunna) أَنتُنَّ- “you” pl. fem.تَفعَلنَ (tafʿalna)لا تَفعَلنَ (la tafʿalna)
هُم (hum) – “they”يَفعَلون (yafʿalūn)لا يَفعَلون (la yafʿalūn)
هُما (huma) – “them” dual يَفعَلان (yafʿalān)لا يَفعَلان (la yafʿalān)

Adding the prefix سَـ to the beginning of the present tense form changes the verb to the future tense.

People Talking at an Arab Market

B- The Past Tense

The use of the past tense in Arabic is pretty straight-forward: just use it as you would the English simple past! In Arabic, the third person form of the past tense is the standard (or dictionary) form of a verb. This is the form you use to look a verb up in a dictionary.

    ★ ذَهَبنا إلى الإسكَندَرِيَّة في السَنَةِ الماضِيَة
    ḏahabnā ʾilā al-ʾiskandariyyah fī al-sanaẗi al-māḍiyah
    “Last year we went to Alexandria.”

To negate the Arabic past tense, you can use the prefix لم before the present tense verb, with some changes. Have a look at the table below for an example using the same verb, فَعَلَ (to do).

 Past tenseNegated past tense
أَنا (ana) – “I”فَعَلتُ (faʿaltu)لَم أَفعَل (lam ʾafʿal)
أَنتَ (anta) – “you” masc.فَعَلتَ (faʿalta)لَم تَفعَل (lam tafʿal)
أنتِ (anti) – “you” fem.فَعَلت (ifaʿalta)لَم تَفعَلي (lam tafʿalī)
هُوَ (huwa) – “he”فَعَلَ (faʿala)لَم يَفعَل (lam yafʿal)
هِيَ (hiya) – “she”(faʿalat) فَعَلَتلَم تَفعَل (lam tafʿal)
نَحنُ (naḥnu) – “we”فَعَلنا (faʿalna)لَم نَفعَل (lam nafʿal)
أَنتُم (ʾantum) – “you” pl. masc.فَعَلتُما (faʿaltuma)لَم تَفعَلوا (lam tafʿalū)
أَنتُما (ʾantuma) – “you” dual masc.فَعَلتُم (faʿaltum)لَم تَفعَلا (lam tafʿalā)
– (ʾantunna) أَنتُنَّ”you” pl. fem.فَعَلتُنَّ (faʿaltunna)لَم تَفعَلن (lam tafʿaln)
هُم (hum) – “they”فَعَلوا (faʿalu)لَم يَفعَلوا (lam yafʿalū)
هُما (huma) – “them”dualفَعَلا (faʿala)لَم يَفعَلا (lam yafʿalā)

4. Arabic Verbs: A Summary

As you’ve seen, learning how to use verbs and verb tenses in Arabic can be quite tricky, but it’s certainly one of the most important aspects of learning this beautiful and interesting language

We hope that with this short guide to Arabic verb tenses, you were able to gain some insight into how the root system works in Arabic as well as how to form and use the four main verb tenses. 

If you want to learn more about grammar, conjugations, and more while having access to some great Arabic learning material and info, visit ArabicPod101.com. Here you’ll find lessons for learners at all levels, podcasts, grammar material, word lists, dictionaries, and all the right tools you need to learn Arabic—whether you’re a beginner who wants a full course or an advanced learner who just needs to refine your skills

So what are you waiting for? Start learning and practicing Arabic with us every day, and you’ll be able to master the use of Arabic verbs in no time at all! 

Before you go, don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions about this, or if something in the article wasn’t clear. We look forward to hearing from you!

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How Long Does it Take to Learn Arabic?

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Everyone agrees: Learning a foreign language is an amazing (if hard) and fulfilling process. By learning to speak, understand others, and think in a language different from our own, not only do we add a new skill to our repertoire, but we can also change the way we see the outside world and our relationship to it.

Now for the question at hand: How long does it take to learn Arabic, and is it worth it?

Well, consider the fact that there are more than ten words for “love” in Arabic—and over 100 words for “camel”! I mean, these facts will certainly have an impact on the way you think about your love life…and about those amazing desert creatures!

A Caravan Traveling by Camel in the Desert

Learners of Arabic would all love to dedicate endless hours to studying the language and all its nuances. But, in our society, time is money and reality can be quite different.

Due to these time constraints, it makes sense to look for the fastest and easiest ways to learn a language so that we can start using it as soon as possible…maybe to find a better job, to travel, or to speak with a loved one.  

We would all like to know exactly what time commitment we’re looking at, so that we can make plans and have expectations… 

The truth is, however, that there’s no one best way to learn Arabic—and above all, there’s no set timetable for it! 

Everyone learns in a different way, and how quickly you can learn depends on a wide range of factors.

An Hourglass against a Dark Background

In this article, we’ll look at some of the factors that will affect your learning and how to learn Arabic efficiently to reach your goals as fast as possible.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Experience
  2. Learning Style
  3. Approach
  4. How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?
  5. How Our Website Can Help

Experience

One of the most important factors that governs how long it takes to learn Arabic (or any language) is your personal experience with languages. 

The Language(s) You Speak

What is your native language? And what other foreign languages do you speak? 

Yes, this will actually make a difference in how fast you learn Arabic. If, for example, you already speak Hebrew or Amharic (which are Semitic languages, like Arabic), you’ll learn much faster than you would as a native English speaker. Also, if you speak French, it will be easier to learn Arabic dialects that borrow heavily from French, such as Moroccan Arabic and Algerian Arabic.

If, however, you’re a native speaker of any Indo-European language, you’re in no luck… Arabic is considered one of the most challenging languages to learn.

Don’t worry, though. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just that it’s a good challenge.

So get down to it! 

A Woman Holding Flowers in Front of Her Eyes

Your Previous Language Learning Experience

Another essential aspect to take into consideration is your previous experience in language learning. 

Have you ever studied another language before?

If you already speak a foreign language fluently, or were raised bilingual, it will probably be easier and faster for you to learn Arabic. Several studies have shown that bilinguals are able to learn a third language with more ease because they’re naturally more used to being exposed to a new language. 

Even if you’re not bilingual, having studied and learned another language might help, even if we’re just talking about high school French. Being accustomed to memorizing words and looking at different letters and symbols is a good skill that your language-learning mind will remember.  

So, the skills that you develop in one language will actually help you gain fluency in another, even if the two are completely unrelated!  

Your Previous Grammar Knowledge

One of the first steps you should take is to find out how the language works. This means knowing and understanding its structure and grammar. 

If you already have experience studying syntax and grammar, even if it was only in your native language, it will make it easier and quicker for you to study the grammar and syntax of another language. 

So, it’s always a good idea to gain some grammar foundations if you plan to start learning Arabic (or any other language).

A Woman Studying with Her Laptop and a Book in the Grass

Learning Style

The way you learn and study is another essential factor in determining how long it will take you to become fluent in Arabic. 

Your Methods

If you limit your learning and studying to a classroom setting, even if you attend every day, it will probably take you longer to feel confident using your language skills. 

Try to expose yourself to Arabic outside the classroom and you’ll substantially reduce the time you need to learn it! 

Try reading the news, watching movies and series in Arabic, or listening to Arabic podcasts about topics that interest you. Of course, finding a language-exchange partner to practice your conversation skills with will also be very useful and make you fluent faster! 

Your Time

There’s another aspect we haven’t yet mentioned, but it’s the most important one when determining how long it takes to learn Arabic: the time you spend studying it!

If you want to learn fast, it goes without saying that you’ll need to dedicate as much time as you can to studying.

Daily practice is an ideal setup, and research has proven that learners who can dedicate an hour a day to learning—whether memorizing new words, studying grammar rules, or watching a series on Netflix—learn significantly faster than those who only attend classes.

A Woman Watching a Funny Movie on Netflix

And of course, if it’s an option for you, full immersion is best. If you can travel to an Arabic-speaking country and live there for a short (or long) period of time, that will make a big difference!

Approach

Another key factor that will determine how fast you learn Arabic is your approach. It can really make a huge difference!  

Your Motivation

It’s no secret that staying motivated is essential for learning any new skills, and this is all the more true for foreign languages.

Why do you want to learn Arabic?

Try to have this clear in your mind and, for maximum efficiency, set weekly (or even daily) goals that remind you of it. This will help you stay motivated so that your interest in learning does not fade. 

Your Attitude

Keeping your motivation up will help you feel like you’re learning more easily and quickly, and it will be essential for maintaining a positive attitude during your language learning journey! 

To see learning as a fun and interesting activity that you’re choosing to do, rather than a chore you’re forced to do, is key. 

Remember: Learning a foreign language will open your mind and your horizons, and give you a great set of skills you’ll be able to use in your day-to-day life. 

When you think about it this way, the process will be more enjoyable and much quicker! 

How Long Does it Take to Achieve Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced Level?

So, let’s get to the point. 

Even if it’s hard to say for sure, we’ve tried to make an estimate as to how long it might take you to reach different levels of Arabic (beginner, intermediate, and advanced).

For English speakers, Arabic may be one of the most difficult languages to learn, but that makes it all the more exciting and rewarding!

A Man Studying Late at Night

Beginner

A beginner speaker of a language will be able to introduce themselves, understand simple sentences when spoken slowly and carefully, and ask basic questions (probably making some mistakes along the way). 

If you just want to be able to greet people and order a meal, you can get by with the basic reading and speaking skills you gained achieving this level. 

FSI learning timeline findings estimate that, to achieve the beginner level in Arabic, you’ll need approximately 700 hours of study. This means that if you dedicate about 15-20 hours a week to learning Arabic, you’ll achieve this level in about 8 months.

Intermediate

At the intermediate level, you’ll be able to engage in most everyday conversations (if spoken slowly) and ask questions as needed to make sure you understand. This level will also allow you to read the news and watch videos in Arabic without major problems. If you’re traveling, you’ll be able to have interactions with the locals about familiar subjects, as well as ask for and follow directions.

To reach an intermediate level, it’s estimated you’ll need 1000-1200 hours of study time (including classes, homework, and practice time). 

If you’re serious about learning Arabic fast and are motivated, you can do this in about a year by dedicating at least 20 hours a week to studying.

Advanced

If you want to achieve fluency, this is what you’re aiming for. With advanced language skills, you’ll be able to navigate any kind of situation that may arise in your daily life and have complex conversations with native speakers

You’ll be able to watch films without subtitles and read all kinds of books in Arabic. You’ll basically be fluent (even if there will always be something more to learn about this intricate and beautifully complex language).

It’s estimated that for an English speaker to learn Arabic properly, at least 2200 hours of Arabic classes are required. This means that, if you want to speak Arabic fluently in a year, you’ll need to study it full-time.

If you’re not in a rush, you can learn the language in about two years with around 20 hours a week dedicated to studying and practicing.

That said, all these timeframes are estimates and one’s language learning progress really depends on many different factors.

How Our Website Can Help

What are you waiting for? The best time to start learning a new language is now! 

The sooner you start learning, the faster you’ll start speaking Arabic and achieve your language goals!

On ArabicPod101.com, you’ll find all kinds of language learning content to make your journey smooth and easy to navigate: lessons for all levels, vocabulary lists, a dictionary, blog posts, etc.

ArabicPod101 Image

How long it takes to learn Arabic mainly depends on how much time you’re willing to dedicate to it. 

Our Arabic courses and resources are specifically designed to offer you all the right tools to learn the language as quickly and easily as possible, so you can know that you’re spending your precious time well!

Whether you’re a beginner looking for a full-immersion approach or an advanced speaker who just wants to refine your skills, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for here.

Before you go, let us know in the comments if this article helped you. Do you feel more prepared now to take on the challenge of learning Arabic? We look forward to hearing your thoughts! 

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Impress Native Speakers With These Arabic Proverbs

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Proverbs are popular sayings that provide a little dose of wisdom, a truth that is sometimes so obvious that it’s overlooked. 

Can you think of a proverb in your native language that touched you in an important moment of your life?

The Arabic language is so rich and so widely used that it offers countless idiomatic sayings and expressions. If you want to sound like a native speaker, you’d better learn some of these Arabic proverbs yourself! Doing so is a great way to let your language skills shine, and it will help you better understand the culture so you can fit right in!

Egyptian Flag in a Speech Bubble

As they say, “There is no time like the present”! Learn the thirty most used Arabic proverbs now and you’ll be certain to leave a good impression! 

Keep in mind that most of the entries on our list are Egyptian Arabic and Levantine Arabic proverbs. 

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. Bedouins, Belly Dancers, and Dogs: Egyptian Arabic Proverbs
  2. Bald Men, Roosters, and Paradise: Levantine Arabic Proverbs
  3. Bonus: A Modern Standard Arabic Proverb
  4. Conclusion

1. Bedouins, Belly Dancers, and Dogs: Egyptian Arabic Proverbs

There are some truths in life that are best expressed through vivid imagery. Let’s start our list with several unique Egyptian Arabic proverbs about life, friendship, and more. 

القِرد في عين أُمُّه غَزال

el-ʾerd fī ʿen ʾommoh ġazal
Literal translation: The monkey is a gazelle in the eyes of his mother.
English equivalent: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Meaning: This classic proverb means that the perception of beauty is subjective.

A Mother Cradling Her Baby

أَدعي عَلى وَلَدي وأَكرَه مِن يِقول آمين

ʾadʿī ʿalā waladī wʾakrah men yeʾūl ʾāmīn
Literal translation: I curse my own child, but I hate whoever says “amen.”
Meaning: This proverb is about having the right to criticize those closest to you…but then jumping to their defense if someone else criticizes them. We all know the feeling!

آخرِةْ المَعروف الضَرب بِالكُفوف

ʾāḫret el-maʿrūf el-ḍarb belkofūf
Literal translation: The end result of a good deed is a slap with the palms.
English equivalent: No good deed goes unpunished.
Meaning: This is usually said when your kindness backfires on you. For example, when you do a good deed but get nothing in return—or worse, you get a “slap” (hopefully in a metaphorical sense!).

إللي إيدُه في المَيَّة مِش زَيّ إللي إيدُه في النار

ʾellī ʾeīdoh fī el-mayyah meš zayy ʾellī ʾīdoh fī el-nār
Literal translation: The one whose hand is in fire is not like the one whose hand is in water.
English equivalent: Easier said than done.
Meaning: You can’t really compare the actions (or reactions) of those personally involved in a difficult matter (with a hand in the fire!) to those who are not directly affected and just commenting on it (with their hand in water).

لَمّا اِتفَرَّقِت العُقول كُلّ وَاحِد عَجَبُه عَقلُه، ولَمّا اِتفَرَّقِت الأَرزاق ماحَدِّش عَجَبُه رِزقُه

lammā etfarraʾet el-ʿoʾūl koll wāḥed ʿagaboh ʿaʾloh, w lammā etfarraʾet el-ʾarzāʾ māḥaddeš ʿagaboh rezʾoh
Literal translation: When brains were passed out, everyone was pleased with their brain; but when fortunes were given out, no one was satisfied with their fortune.
Meaning: This means that people are often dissatisfied with their lot in life, but they rarely question their way of thinking.

إللي يِتلِسِع مِن الشوربَة يِنفُخ في الزَبادي

ʾellī yetleseʿ men el-šūrbah yenfoḫ fī el-zabādī
Literal translation: Whoever gets burned by soup blows on yogurt.
English equivalent: Once bitten, twice shy.
Meaning: This refers to the fact that an unpleasant experience induces caution.

إمشي في جَنازَة، وَلا تِمشي في جَوَازَة

ʾemšī fī ganāzah, walā temšī fī gawāzah
Literal translation: It’s better to arrange a funeral than a marriage.
Meaning: This saying is used to dissuade people from playing the match-maker. If you arrange a marriage and it doesn’t work out, you’ll get blamed for it. In that context, attending a funeral would be much easier!

الدُنيا زَيّ الغازِيَّة، تِرقُص لِكُلّ وَاحِد شِوَيَّة

el-donyā zayy el-ġāzeyyah, terʾoṣ lekoll wāḥed šewayyah
Literal translation: The world is like a belly-dancer: it dances a little while for everyone.
English equivalent: Every dog has its day.
Meaning: Let’s admit it, the Arabic version is a bit more poetic! The proverb means that everyone is successful at some point in life.

A Belly-Dancer

إللي عَلى راسُه بَطحَة يِحَسِّس عَليها

ʾellī ʿalā rāsoh baṭḥah yeḥasses ʿalīhā
Literal translation: Whoever has a head-wound keeps feeling it.
English equivalent: The tongue ever turns to the aching tooth.
Meaning: As the tongue turns to the aching tooth or a wounded person keeps checking their wound, our thoughts keep returning to those things that worry us most.

نِقول تور يِقولو اِحلِبوه

neʾūl tor yeʾūlū eḥlebūh
Literal translation: I say to him, “It’s a bull,” and he responds “Milk it.”
Meaning: This hilarious saying makes a good point. It refers to a situation where someone goes on and on with the same argument, even though he has already been contradicted repeatedly.

إذا كان حَبيبَك عَسَل ما تِلحَسوش كُلُّه

ʾezā kān ḥabībak ʿasal mā telḥasūš kolloh
Literal translation: Even if a friend is honey, don’t lick them all up.
Meaning: We all know how important friends are in life. But, even if they’re as sweet as honey, we shouldn’t abuse their kindness.

كُلُّه عَند العَرب صابون

kolloh ʿand el-ʿarb ṣābūn
Literal translation: For the Bedouin, it’s all soap.
Meaning: People without taste (poor Bedouins, in this case…) can’t really distinguish if something is of good quality or not.

Bedouins Riding on Camels

إللي ما يِعرَفش، يِقول عَدس

ʾellī mā yeʿrafš, yeʾūl ʿads
Literal translation: He who doesn’t know, says “lentils.”
Meaning: Those who don’t know what really happened will just say anything as an explanation (“lentils” is probably just the first thing that came to mind!).

بَعد ما شاب وَدّوه الكُتّاب

baʿd mā šāb waddūh el-kottāb
Literal translation: After his hair went gray, they took him to school.
English equivalent: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
Meaning: This means that it is often hard to teach older people new ways and habits, and that it might be too late.

صاحِب بالين كَدّاب وصاحِب تَلاتَة مُنافِق

ṣāḥeb bel-īn kaddāb ūṣāḥeb talātah monāfeʾ
Literal translation: ِA person of two minds is a liar, and a person of three minds is a hypocrite.
Meaning: According to this saying, a person who tries to do two things at a time is fooling himself, and a person who tries to do three things at once is even more self-deceived.

2. Bald Men, Roosters, and Paradise: Levantine Arabic Proverbs

In case you were wondering, this creative use of language is quite prominent in Levantine Arabic proverbs, too. Let’s dive in! 

البَحصَة بِتِسنِد خابيَة

el-baḥṣah betesned ḫābyah
Literal translation: A pebble can support a barrel.
Meaning: This proverb expresses that even a little effort can go a long way.

الديك بِيْموت وعينو بِالمَزبَلَة

el-dīk beymūt wʿīnū belmazbalah
Literal translation: The rooster dies with his eye still on the dunghill.
English equivalent: A leopard can’t change its spots.
Meaning: This proverb conveys the idea that no one can change their nature. It’s most often used to describe negative qualities and behaviors.

الحَرَكَة بَرَكَة

el-ḥarakah barakah
Literal translation: Movement is a blessing.
Meaning: If you want to get things done, you need to act!

كُل ديك عَ مَزبَلتُه صَيّاح

kol dīk ʿa mazbaltoh ṣayyāḥ
Literal translation: Every rooster crows on its own dunghill.
Meaning: Roosters again. This time, though, the proverb is about how it’s easy to feel confident on your home turf. Everyone does.

A Rooster

إللي بياكُل العُصيّ مِش مِتل إللي بِيعِدّها

ʾellī byākol el-ʿuṣeī meš metl ʾellī beīʿeddhā
Literal translation: Receiving (blows from) a stick is not the same as counting them.
Meaning: This is similar to the “hand in fire, hand in water” we saw earlier on. Definitely not the same. So do not comment on someone’s actions (or reactions) when you’re not the one going through a hard time.

الدَم ما بِيصير مَي

el-dam mā beyṣīr maī
Literal translation: Blood does not become water.
English equivalent: Blood is thicker than water.
Meaning: This proverb means that family bonds are always stronger than love or friendships.

التِلم الأَعوَج مِن التور الكبير

el-telm el-ʾaʿwag men el-tūr el-kbīr
Literal translation: The crooked furrow is caused by the big bull.
English equivalent: A fish rots from the head down.
Meaning: This one means that leadership is always the root cause of an organization’s failure.

ما تقول فول لَيْصير بِالمَكيُول

mā tʾūl fūl layṣīr belmakyūl
Literal translation: Don’t say “beans” until they are on the measuring scale.
English equivalent: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Meaning: Don’t count on something before you’re certain it’s going to happen.

الإسكافي حافي والحايِك عِريان

el-ʾeskāfī ḥāfī welḥāyek ʿeryān
Literal translation: The shoemaker is barefoot and the weaver is naked.
nglish equivalent: The shoemaker’s children always go barefoot.
Meaning: This saying describes how we tend to neglect the things closest to us, or fail to apply the advice we give others to our own lives.

اِحتَرنا يَا قَرعَة مِن وين بِدنا نبوسِك

eḥtarnā yā ʾarʿah men weīn bednā nbūsek
Literal translation: Oh bald man, we’re confused about where to kiss you.
Meaning: This funny proverb describes someone who’s hard to please. It’s like saying, in English: “There’s no pleasing you.” The strange (and quite humorous) assumption here is that a bald person has more kissable spots on his head to choose from, hence the confusion!

A Bald Man Thinking about Something

ابنَك هُوَّ وِزغير رَبّيه وهُوَّ وِكبير خاوِيه

ebnak howwa wezġīr rabbīh w howwa wekbīr ḫāwīh
Literal translation: Discipline your son when he’s young, and be his friend when he grows up.
Meaning: This is pretty straight-forward, but still good parenting advice!

إللي بِدّو يِلعَب مَع القُط بِدّو يِلقى خَرامِيشُه

ʾellī beddū yelʿab maʿ el-ʾoṭ beddū yelʾā ḫarāmīšoh
Literal translation: Whoever plays with a cat will find his claws.
English equivalent: If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.
Meaning: As we all know, this is a warning that dangerous or risky actions often lead to injury.

الحَكي مِش مِتل الشوفَة

el-ḥakī meš metl el-šūfah
Literal translation: Speaking is not like seeing.
English equivalent: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Meaning: Like its English counterpart, this saying stresses the fact that complex situations and ideas are sometimes best conveyed through sight rather than words.

الجَنَّة بِدون ناس ما تِنداس

el-gannah bedūn nās mā tendās
Literal translation: A paradise without people is not worth stepping foot in.
Meaning: This proverb reminds us to be kind and understanding toward each other, and that misanthropic conduct may lead to misery! What kind of paradise would it be without anyone to share it with?

Sun Setting Against a Snowy Landscape

3. Bonus: A Modern Standard Arabic Proverb 

There are also proverbs in Modern Standard Arabic, but dialect proverbs are used more often. An example of a Modern Standard Arabic proverb is:

لَوْلا اِختِلاف الأَذواق، لَبارَت السِلَع

lawlā iḫtelāf ul-ʾazwaq, labārat al-selaʿ
iteral translation: Were it not for differences of taste, goods would go unsold.
English equivalent: Variety is the spice of life.
Meaning: Different tastes and perspectives give things more value.

4. Conclusion

“All good things must come to an end…”

But it’s not really the end, is it? There’s so much more to learn about the Arabic language! 

“Practice makes perfect,” so keep practicing your Arabic skills on ArabicPod101.com. Using all the features we offer (audio podcasts, videos with transcriptions, word lists, a dictionary, and more), you’ll pick up this beautiful and interesting language in no time. 

And remember: A pebble can support a barrel, and even a little effort goes a long way. So start practicing

Before you go: Which Arabic proverb was your favorite, and why?

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A Magnificent Chaos: Cairo Travel Guide

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Cairo (القاهرة‎) is the chaotic capital of Egypt, a city that feels like it’s built on contradictions and stuck between timelines.

With a population of 22 million living in its metropolitan area, Cairo is the biggest African city and the sixteenth-largest metropolis.

Buildings in Cairo, Egypt

But the capital of Egypt is not only vast and chaotic. It’s also one of the richest cities in world history, a place where the past intertwines with the present and where many different cultures mix like nowhere else in the world. In this Cairo travel guide, we’ll show you the best way to navigate this beautiful mix! 

In the words of Aldous Huxley: “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

So, ignore everyone’s opinion about the city, and discover it your way! 

In this guide, we’ll give you some tips on the ten best places to visit in Cairo, so that you have the foundation you need to go out there and discover this magnificent (and sometimes infuriating) city for yourself!

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Table of Contents
  1. Tips Before You Go
  2. Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip
  3. Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)
  4. Arabic Survival Phrases for Travelers
  5. Conclusion

Tips Before You Go

A key step in planning a visit to Cairo is to become familiar with the city, know what to expect while there, and prepare accordingly. Here are some useful tips to give you a head start. 

When

The best time to visit Cairo, and Egypt in general, is between October and April. The temperatures are cooler during this period, but still pleasantly warm!

If you want to avoid the crowds, visit at the end of March or in October/November. This is the quietest time of the year, and even the prices are lower.

Remember: The workweek in Cairo is Sunday through Thursday, so Fridays are relatively quiet in the afternoon but very busy in the evening. The Egyptian weekend is Friday and Saturday.

Visa

In order to visit Egypt, you will need a visa. Tourists from most Western countries are able to fill out an application before their trip to receive a visa once they arrive. 

For more info about your visa, check out this website.

Tips

  • Egypt uses the Egyptian pound (LE or EGP) for currency.
  • Egypt is a Muslim country, and the vast majority of restaurants do not serve alcohol. Sometimes, they’ll let you bring your own. Call in advance to find out. 
  •  Consuming or possessing drugs, including marijuana, is illegal in Egypt.

Must-See Places for a 1-3 Day Trip

Chances are, your stay in Cairo will be short. After all, there are so many other places to explore in Egypt! 

To give you a hand putting your itinerary together, we’ve compiled a list of the best places to visit in Cairo for a shorter trip. Backpackers and resort tourists alike will find something here they’ll love! 

Giza Pyramids and Sphinx (مجمع أهرامات الجيزة)

The Sphinx

One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, this is probably the first thing you think about when planning a trip to Egypt. 

These astonishing structures were completed over 4,500 years ago and are testament to the power, organization, and engineering genius of Ancient Egypt. 

The Giza Pyramids, each named after the Pharaoh who ordered its construction, stand on the Giza necropolis together with the famous Sphinx. 

You can easily enjoy spending an entire day here, and it’s worth staying for the evening sound and light show. During the show, you’ll learn about the history of the Sphinx and pyramids while taking in the magnificent view of the monuments lit up with bright lights.

The surrounding desert plateau is home to other pyramids that are also open to the public, like those in the Saqqara necropolis, which are considered to be the oldest pyramids. 

The Egyptian Museum (المتحف المصري)

This is another unmissable stop for your visit to Cairo. Also called the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, it’s home to the largest collection of Ancient Egyptian artifacts, including the famous Tutankhamun collection with its beautiful gold death mask and sarcophagus, and the royal Mummy room. 

The opening of an even more stunning collection—the Grand Egyptian Museum—is planned for 2021. 

The Citadel

Also known as the Saladin Citadel of Cairo (قلعة صلاح الدين), this is a medieval complex full of architectural wonders that dates back to the twelfth century. Today, it is also an UNESCO World Heritage site. 

If you’re interested in the Islamic past of Cairo, this is the place to visit. Here, you’ll find the stunning Mosque of Muhammad Ali, also known as the Alabaste Mosque. 

Take your time to visit the interior and the terrace, which is one of the best viewpoints over Cairo. 

Another must-see inside the citadel is the Al-Nasir Muhammad Mosque, built in the fourteenth century. This mosque is quite unique, with two ornate minarets and mosaic decorations, which do not appear in any other mosque in Cairo. 

Khan el-Khalili (خان الخليلي‎)

Khan el-Khalili

This bustling market district, or souq, is located in the heart of Old Cairo and won’t be hard to find. 

Its narrow, cobblestone streets and labyrinth-like alleyways create a magical atmosphere in which the past gets intertwined with the present, the old with the new. 

Here, you’ll have the most adventurous shopping experience you’ve ever had (or even imagined!). 

You’ll also find a wide range of restaurants and cafés serving authentic Egyptian food, so choose one and go try new flavors to take a break from the busy streets. Or better yet, ask a trusted local for recommendations.

Highly Recommended Places for a 4-7 Day Trip (or Longer)

Once you start to feel the slightly overwhelming charm of Cairo, you may decide to stay a little longer. Here are our recommendations for where to visit in Cairo when you have a little more time. 

Al-Azhar Park (حديقة الأزهر‎)

This park is literally an urban oasis. Built on what was dust and rubble for over two centuries, it now offers a much-needed 30-hectare expanse of greenery. 

Take a break from the city and explore its gardens, pavilions, and alleys. There’s even a small lake to sit by and relax. The views over the city are fantastic at sunset.

Mosques Next to Citadel

Sultan Hassan Mosque (مسجد ومدرسة السلطان حسن‎) is one of the finest examples of Mamluk architecture in the world. With its abundance of stalactite detailing and intricate arabesque features, it’s Arabic artistry at its best.

Directly opposite the Sultan Hassan Mosque, you’ll find the El-Rifai Mosque (مسجد الرفاعى). It was built in 1912 to house the tomb of Khedive Ismail and constructed to replicate its older neighbor. 

Alexandria (اسكندرية‎)

A Castle in Alexandria, Egypt

This is a wonderful day trip from Cairo, during which you’ll learn more about the history of Egypt and its conquest by Alexander the Great. This is also where the famous Cleopatra lived. 

Alexandria served as the capital of Egypt until Roman conquest, and it’s home to the remains of the world-famous library of Alexandria. You could also visit the new Bibliotheca Alexandrina built in 2002 to commemorate the old one—and while you’re at it, you could visit the nearby Citadel of Qaitbay, a fifteenth-century fortress that has stood the test of time.

The Hanging Church (الكنيسة المعلقة‎)

This is an interesting sight for its cultural significance. Did you know that more than ten percent of Egyptians are actually Christian? 

Egypt has its own church (the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria), of which the hanging church—so called because of its nave suspended over a passage—is probably one of the oldest places of worship. It was built in the late seventh century and is home to over a hundred icons. 

Boat ride down the Nile (النيل)

Downtown Cairo

Gliding on the Nile’s waters is a beautiful way to spend an afternoon in Cairo. If you’re tired of the city and want some rest with splendid views, hop on one of the cruises. 

You can choose between many options, one of which includes riding on a traditional felucca boat. You might even get to see some wildlife (maybe a crocodile!) while on the water. 

Zamalek (Gezira Island)

Gezira (الجزيرة) actually means “island” in Arabic, and it’s the Nile’s main island in central Cairo, home to the district of Zamalek (الزمالك‎).

Zamalek is Cairo’s top dining destination, and it features art boutiques and fancy shops. At the southern tip of Gezira, you’ll also find some art galleries to explore, as well as the Cairo Tower where you can enjoy an amazing view of the Nile River from the top floor. 

Arabic Survival Phrases for Travelers

In the more touristy areas, you’re likely to find locals who speak some English. That said, you’ll have a much better trip and smoother communication if you learn some Arabic

Here, we’ve put together some easy-to-learn words and sentences that will help you make the most of your trip. 

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes while there; locals always appreciate foreigners who make an effort to speak with them in their native language! Here are some helpful Egyptian Arabic phrases:

salāmo ʿalīkom!سَلامُ عَليكُم!Hello!
ʾezzayyak?إزَّيَّك؟How are you? (speaking to a man)
ʾezzayyek?إزَّيِّك؟How are you? (speaking to a woman)
wenta?وإنتَ؟And you? (speaking to a man)
wenty?وإنتِ؟And you? (speaking to a woman)
ʾenta mnīn?إنتَ منين؟Where are you from? (speaking to a man)
ʾente mnīn?إنتِ منين؟Where are you from? (speaking to a woman)
ʾanā men ʾamrīkā.أنا مِن أمريكا.I’m from America.
šokran!شُكراً!Thank you!
šokran gazīlan!شُكراً جَزيلاً!Thank you very much!
ʿafwan!عَفواً!You’re welcome!
momken tesāʿednī?مُمكِن تِساعِدني؟Can you help me? (speaking to a man)
momken tesāʿdīnī?مُمكِن تِساعديني؟Can you help me? (speaking to a woman)
ʾanā tāyeh.أَنا تايِه.I’m lost.
el-ḥammām fīn?الحَمّام فين؟Where is the bathroom?
bekām dah?بِكام دَه؟How much is this?
law samaḥt.لَو سَمَحت.Excuse me.

Conclusion

We’ve now introduced you to the best places to visit around Cairo, no matter how long your trip will be. So, are you ready to go out there and make up your mind about Egypt and its chaotic capital, Cairo? 

Travelingit leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller. (Ibn Battuta)

And I’m sure that after visiting Cairo, you’ll have countless stories to tell—especially if you’re able to communicate with the locals during your stay! 

What are you waiting for? Start learning Arabic now on ArabicPod101.com

Here, with the help of highly qualified teachers, audio podcasts, word lists, and more, you’ll be able to start adding another language to your repertoire. And not just any language, but one that will make your experience in Egypt even more unforgettable. 

Learning a language changes the way you think, it opens your mind, and it’s certainly the best starting point for understanding a country, its culture, and its people.

Start now, and you’ll realize that picking up Arabic is easier than you think!

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Everything You Should Know About English Words in Arabic

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You’re studying English, right? Or was it Arabic?

When you look at certain types of Arabic words, it can be hard to notice the difference. 

The English language has left its permanent mark on Arabic, just as it has on many other languages around the world. In every Arabic-speaking country, people at all levels of society mix English with Arabic from time to time. Even people not fluent in English do some mixing now and then.

How exactly does this mixing work? What’s involved, and what should an Arabic learner look out for? That’s exactly what you’ll find out in our guide to English words in Arabic!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Arabic Table of Contents
  1. The Basics of English Words Used in Arabic
  2. Arablish Examples
  3. English Loanwords in Arabic
  4. How to Pronounce Brand Names in Arabic
  5. Arabic Words in English
  6. Outro

The Basics of English Words Used in Arabic

A Bookshelf Holding Many Books

As in many societies the world over, English is considered a prestigious language in Arabic-speaking countries. It outpaces French as the most-learned foreign language by a significant margin, and a foreign traveler to the capital cities anywhere between Morocco and Iraq can expect to get around pretty well using English.

Part of this popularity is because of the perceived economic or cultural benefits that come with speaking English as a second language, though necessity also plays a huge role here.

English speakers are spoiled when it comes to global communication. The English language has always been a primary language of software development, and as such, electronic devices tend to support English first and foremost. Arabic has sadly been left far behind in this area. It took a while for popular operating systems to start supporting Arabic, and even in 2020 there are significantly fewer fonts, programs, and websites with Arabic display options.

Therefore, computer usage in Arabic is intrinsically linked with English. Not just in the typing of Romanized Arabic words using the Latin alphabet, but also in the vocabulary of computers, software, and the internet.

In a similar sense, the language of business is also linked with English. With the rise of globalization and internationalization, many firms based in Arabic-speaking countries are used to using English as a common language when dealing with other companies.

And, following the natural progression of the two points mentioned above, prestige and internet culture have led to “new” and “cool” companies readily adopting marketing and business terms from English wholesale—and expecting to be understood.

Naturally, when a word is adopted into another language, there’s not always a perfect equivalent of the original meaning.

Let’s look at a few examples of English words in Arabic whose meanings have shifted slightly along the journey.

Arablish Examples

Someone about to Click

There are a few domains of language, such as business and technology, where English loanwords have been adopted into Arabic with slightly different meanings. Here are some of the common ones you’ll hear:

1. “Message” / مِسِج 

When you use the word “message” in English, you might mean any number of things: a short note left on someone’s desk, a popup box on a computer program, a voice message on an answering machine, or of course a text message. The Arabic word refers specifically to phones and internet messages. Because the meaning is preserved in these contexts, it would be easy to assume that all the senses of the loanword have been carried over to English, when this is not the case.

2. “Goal” / جول

In a similar way, the word “goal” in English as spoken by Arabs only refers to a sports goal. Since there are other words in the business sphere, like “creative,” that have been totally adopted into modern marketing Arabic, it’s reasonable to assume that a phrase like “meet your quarterly goal” could be used directly in Arabic as well as in English.

How do you learn something like this in depth? Well, you pick it up through immersion. Articles like this are only going to have a couple of examples of these at a time, and the meanings of loanwords change fast in today’s world. There is nothing better than firsthand experience to help you get the hang of how to use something as complex as ‘Arablish.’

English Loanwords in Arabic

A Vlogger Editing Videos for YouTube

Now let’s flip the script a bit. Here are some words that either roughly match the Arabic sound system already, or that have been modified slightly for easier pronunciation.

These pronunciation features allow English words to enter the Arabic language more naturally than if they stood out as “foreign words.” Gulf Arabic speakers, in particular, feel quite at home using the following words.

  • شَيِّك (chayek) – “review” 

Note that this first one does not mean “check a box.” It only means to look something over for mistakes or suggestions.

  • أَكَنسِل (akansal) – “cancel” 

It’s possible to use this word as an equivalent to the English “to close a program.”

  • أَفَرمَت (afarmat) – “format” 
  • أَدَلِّت (adallet) – “delete” 

Next, the words “creative,” “confirm,” and “focus” are frequently used in business Arabic—to such an extent that foreign learners can become frustrated at the lack of pure Arabic they get to hear! Here are two example phrases:

First is an example of how “creative” would be used in Egyptian Arabic.

الديزاينَر الجِديد كِريِيتيف أَوِي.
el-dīzāynar el-gedīd keryeītīv ʾawī.
The new designer is so creative.

Here is an example of what would be said in a small conversation in an office in Gulf Arabic:

رَح نِنشُر التَحديث بَعدما يِشَيِّكو المُدير.
raḥ nenšor el-taḥdīs baʿdmā yešayyeko el-modīr.
We will publish the update after the manager checks it.

How to Pronounce Brand Names in Arabic

A Sketch of the Facebook Logo

In addition to loanwords, branding often undergoes serious translation and localization as well. Localization as a trend—and even as an academic field—has never been more popular than it is today. More and more brands want to connect with the world on the other side of language barriers.

Many brands have been localized into Arabic with expert logo designers creating great-looking Arabic versions of well-loved logos. Naturally, when people read these words aloud, they’re going to pronounce them in Arabic, which may be odd to hear if you’re only used to the originals.

One of the classic examples of this is “Pepsi.” The Arabic language doesn’t have an aspirated P sound like English does, so this is actually pronounced bebsi in Arabic. If you’re speaking fluent Arabic and you pronounce this word with the original English pronunciation in the middle of a sentence, it may be a bit jarring or sound like you’re being overly correct!

Here are some other examples of Arabic pronunciations of foreign brand names:

McDonald’s
ماكدونالدز
makdonaldz

Olympics
الأولِمبياد
al-olimbiyyad

Facebook
فيسبوك
feisbuk

iPhone
آيفون
ʾāyfūn

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was pretty rare in big metropolitan areas to see an Arabic name for a new and “modern” business, but now there’s a trend toward Arabization of business names. Picking a business name in Arabic is a big deal for companies that want to go global but still want to retain something that speaks to their mother tongue. As Arabic popular culture takes greater hold on the world, the Arabic language is becoming more accessible and will hopefully be even trendier in the future.

Arabic Words in English

Complicated Algebra Equations Written in Blue Pen

Loanwords don’t only flow one direction, you know. And Arabic has had a huge start on English in that regard.

Most Arabic loanwords in English are totally integrated into the language, since they were adopted many centuries ago and have undergone the same vowel shifts and usage changes as native English words have.

One such word is “cotton,” originally from the Arabic word qutun, which was brought to England around the time of the Crusades. Later on, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the words “algebra” and “algorithm” entered the English language. Their al­- prefix gives them away as Arabic words at first sight. Another example is “elixir,” from the Arabic word al-iksir, which has undergone one of those vowel changes we mentioned.

Words related to Islam and food are among the most common Arabic words used in English today. These include hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), fatwa (religious decree), Fattoush (Levantine salad), and falafel (balls made of chickpeas).

Outro  

When it comes to something as slippery as loanwords, it’s hard to really sit down and study vocabulary.

Sure, you can read articles like this one to get an overview, but it mostly has to come with time. After all, what’s in vogue now may not be nearly as popular in the future.

For that reason, the best way to pick up natural use of English loanwords in Arabic is to have a good understanding of standard Arabic first. Only then should you branch out into consuming more songs, TV, and movies that have more colloquial Arabic in them (complete with loanwords).

And the best way to get this solid knowledge base is to use ArabicPod101, the world-famous podcast-based Arabic course! We’ll lead you step by step from basic to advanced Arabic with vocab lists, flashcards, video lessons, and more, including interesting cultural articles like this one. Sign up now and see just how natural your Arabic can get with ArabicPod101!

Which of these English words in Arabic were you the most surprised to find out about? Are there any we didn’t mention that you think your fellow learners should know about? Let us know in the comments!

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