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Your Ultimate Language Guide to Arabic Conjunctions

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

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

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

  1. What Do Conjunctions Do?
  2. Conclusion


1. What Do Conjunctions Do?

Sentence Patterns

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Studying Vocabulary

Giving Extra Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showing Cause and Effect

Improve Listening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman Asleep on Study Materials

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

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

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

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

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

Boat in Harbor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some More Notes on Wa

Improve Listening Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

Man Lighting Cigarette with Burning Money


2. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Guide to Arabic Customs and Etiquette

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

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


1. Arabic Greeting Etiquette

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

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

For now, just one extra point:

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

Shaking Hands

Very nice to meet you.
tašarraftu bimaʿrifatik
تَشَرَّفتُ بِمَعرِفَتِك


2. Arab Business Etiquette

Business

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

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

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

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

Exchanging Business Card

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

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

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

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

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


3. Arabic Table Etiquette

Hygiene

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

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

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

Man Who Ate Too Much

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

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


4. Arab Etiquette for Sightseeing

Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boy Looking at Painting in Museum

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

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


5. Arab Etiquette When Visiting Others

Bad Phrases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


6. Arabic Customs and Etiquette for Public Transportation

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

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

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

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

Two Women On a Bus

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

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

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

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

Pay attention to signs or announcements such as these:

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

Don’t risk the fine!


7. How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic Etiquette

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

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

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

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

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

Reading, Writing and Understanding Arabic Dates and Years

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Everybody knows that numbers are just no fun to learn in other languages.

I’ve had plenty of language teachers—fluent, expressive users of English—fall back on their native tongues when quickly counting out handouts.

Boy Frustrated with Homework

Sorry to tell you, but the numbers are easy. It’s dates you have to worry about. Especially Arabic dates.

Ever read through an article in a foreign language, and just mentally read the dates out in your head in English because you didn’t want to figure out how to really say them? Everybody has.

If you’re not used to reading numerals aloud in Arabic, check out our article on numbers in Arabic for a little bit of practice. It’s good to have a strong foundation in number-reading before you tackle date-reading; this way, dates in Arabic numbers will be much easier to pick up.

Table of Contents

  1. Reading and Writing Dates in Arabic
  2. Reading Years Aloud
  3. Reading Months Aloud
  4. The Week in Arabic
  5. Reading Days Aloud
  6. Putting it All Together
  7. Phrases You Need to Talk about Dates in Arabic
  8. Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic

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1. Reading and Writing Dates in Arabic

Weekdays

First, the easy part. How are dates written in Arabic?

We’ll start with just the numbers as they appear on paper. Don’t worry about how to actually read them out yet. Baby steps here.

Like most of the world, dates in Arabic format look like this: day/month/year. February 15, 2019, appears as 15/2/2019.

You’re likely already at least passingly familiar with the Arabic alphabet, and when you learned that, you might have learned about the numerals used by many Arabic speakers. In Eastern Arabic numerals (as opposed to the Western Arabic ones that we, confusingly, call “Arabic numerals” in English), that particular date in Arabic would appear like so: ٢٠١٩/٢/١٥/ (15/2/2019).

As you’ll recall, the Western Arabic numerals are widely used in the Arab world, but when the Eastern ones are used, they’re written left-to-right in running text.

All right, so far so good for how to write dates in Arabic. Let’s move on to reading things out loud.


2. Reading Years Aloud

Numbers

Okay, reading dates in Arabic.

Fortunately, as long as you can read numbers, you can read years.

Arabic numbers are read out with lots of “and”s, because as you’ll recall, numbers above twenty are read out with the tens place and the ones place, as follows:

خمسة وعشرون
ḫamsah wa ʿišrūn
twenty-five
five and twenty

تسعة وتسعون
tisʿah wa tisʿūn
ninety-nine
nine and ninety

Years in Arabic are read as if they were long numbers—so 1925 is “one-thousand nine-hundred and five and twenty”:

ألف وتسعمائة وخمسة وعشرون
ʾalf wa tisʿumiʾah wa ḫamsah wa ʿišrūn
one-thousand nine-hundred and five and twenty

Let’s try reading out two more dates for practice.

1956 (the year Morocco gained formal independence from France):

ألف وتسعمائة وست وخمسون
ʾalf wa tisʿumiʾah wa sitt wa ḫamsūn
one-thousand and nine-hundred and two and twenty

2022 (the date the World Cup will be held in Qatar):

ألفان واثنان وعشرون
ʾalfān wa iṯnān wa ʿišrūn
two-thousand two and twenty

By the way, things have been happening in the Arab world for a long time. How do we say BC and AD?

If you’re using the Gregorian calendar (more on that very soon), it’s not difficult at all. After the date, we simply add ق.م for BC and ميلادي (miladi) for AD. Of course, this is only for when you specifically need to distinguish between the two dating systems.


3. Reading Months Aloud

Months

When it comes to months in Arabic, it’s time to relax and savor one of the vanishingly few times that you can transfer your knowledge directly from English. Well, for now.

Take a look at this table and see how you like it:

English           Arabic (Gregorian Names) Arabic Pronunciation
January            يناير yanayer
February           فبراير febrayer
March           مارس mares
April           أبريل ebril
May           مايو mayo
June           يونيو yonyo
July           يوليو yolyo
August           أغسطس ʾuġusṭus
September           سبتمبر septamber
October           أكتوبر oنtober
November           نوفمبر novamber
December           ديسمبر desamber

These are so friendly and familiar because all Arab countries use the Gregorian calendar for official governmental business. When using this calendar system, how to pronounce dates in Arabic is so simple.

Where’s the catch? Well, you’ll still find other calendars (or the same calendar with different etymology) in other countries.

In the Levant, it’s still quite common for people to refer to the months by their Aramaic-derived names instead of the Latin ones. Here’s what those look like.

English           Arabic (Aramaic Names) Arabic Pronunciation
January           كانون الثاني kānūn al-ṯānī
February           شباط šubāṭ
March           آذار ʾāḏār
April           نيسان nīsān
May           أيار ʾyār
June           حزيران ḥazīrān
July           تموز tamūz
August           آب ʾāb
September           أيلول ʾaylūl
October           تشرين الأول tišrīn al-ʾawwal
November           تشرين الثاني tišrīn al-ṯānī
December           كانون الأول kānūn al-ʾawwal

You’ll also find the Islamic calendar in wide use in religious contexts, as well as more secular contexts in Saudi Arabia. It’s a lunar calendar, starting from 622 CE, so both the month and the year are quite different from the solar calendar. For most of 2019, it’s the year 1440 according to this calendar.

You probably already know the holy month of Ramadan—now it’s time for the rest.

Approximate English Meaning Arabic           Arabic Pronunciation
Forbidden محرم           muḥarram
Void سفر           safar
The First Spring ربيع الأول           rabīʿ al-ʾawwal
The Second Spring ربيع الثاني           rabīʿ al-ṯānī
The First of Parched Land جمادي الأول           ǧamādī al-awwal
The Last of Parched Land جمادى الثاني           ǧamādī al-ṯānī
Respect رجب           raǧab
Scattered شعبان           šaʿbān
Burning Heat رمضان           ramaḍān
Raised شوال           šawwal
The One of Truce ذو القعدة           ḏū al-qiʿdah
The One of Pilgrimage ذو الحجة           ḏū al-ḥiǧǧah

That’s a lot of months to keep straight! Don’t stress about memorizing them all right now—just be aware that they’re likely to come up at some point during your Arabic studies, and it’ll be good to understand them when they do.


4. The Week in Arabic

After all those months, you really can breathe a sigh of relief when you turn to the days of the week. The “first day” is Sunday, and the next four follow a simple numbering pattern.

Friday and Saturday get special names, but one might not be too unfamiliar to you.

English      Arabic      Arabic Pronunciation
Sunday      الأحد      al-ʾaḥad
Monday      الإثنين      al-ʾiṯnayn
Tuesday      الثلاثاء      al-ṯulāṯāʾ
Wednesday      الأربعاء      al-ʾarbaʿāʾ
Thursday      الخميس      al-ḫamīs
Friday      الجمعة      al-ǧumʿah
Saturday      السبت      al-sabt

You may have caught it – the word for “Saturday” is quite close to the English “sabbath,” as they both mean “day of rest.”

Man Relaxing

Speaking of rest, when’s the “نهاية الأسبوع” (nihāyatu al-ʾusbūʿ) or “weekend?”

Usually, Friday. In the Middle East, Friday and Saturday (or Thursday and Friday) are the official weekends when schools and offices are generally closed.

In other Muslim-majority countries, Saturday and Sunday are used as the official weekend, while there’s a long break at midday on Friday to allow everyone time to worship. This is the case in Turkey and Indonesia, for example.


5. Reading Days Aloud

If you’re a native English speaker, you might not have ever stopped to think about how we actually say the dates. And if you’ve ever taught English, you know how strange and arbitrary it can be. May 17? The first of August? September third?

Fortunately, saying dates in Arabic is super easy. Take a look at these three examples to see that as long as you know the numbers, you can say the dates too.

الأول من أبريل
al-ʾawwalu min ʾebrīl
April first

التاسع والعشرون من فبراير
al-tāsiʿ walʿišrūn min febrāyer
February twenty-ninth

الأول من فبراير
al-ʾawwalu min febrāyer
The first of October

As you can see, no matter how we write it in English, it’s the same pattern every time in Arabic! Number + “min” + month name. Simple!


6. Putting it All Together

Let’s take what we’ve learned so far and practice reading out the names of dates in Arabic.

When talking about today’s date, you’d use the phrase …اليوم هو (al-yawmu huwa) meaning “Today is…”

اليوم هو الثالث والعشرون من فبراير
al-yawmu hūwa al-ṯaliṯ walʿšrūn min febrāyer
Today is February 23.

Otherwise, you’d say …اليوم كان (al-yawmu kān) meaning “Today was…”

اليوم كان الثالث من أكتوبر
al-yawmu kāna al-ṯaliṯ min oktobar
Today was October 3.

Next, you say the day of the week (optional, naturally), the number, and the month.

اليوم كان الثلاثاء, الثامن عشر من أبريل
al-yawmu kāna al-ṯulāṯāʾ, al-ṯāmin ʿašr min ʾebrīl
Today was Tuesday, the 18th of April.

Next comes the phrase من العام (min al-ʿām) which means “in the year.” And finally, the year.

اليوم هو السبت, الثالث والعشرون من فبراير من العام ألفين وتسعة عشر
al-yawmu hūwa al-sabt, al-ṯaliṯ walʿišrūn min febrāyer min al-ʿām ʾalfayn watsiʿat ʿašar
Today is Saturday, February 23, 2019.


7. Phrases You Need to Talk about Dates in Arabic

Now, how do people actually talk about dates in real life? Let’s look at a couple of phrases to answer that very question.

First, how do we handle concepts such as “next” and “last” when talking about dates?

هل يمكننا اللقاء يوم الثلاثاء المقبل؟
hal yumkinunā al-liqāʾ yawm al-ṯulāṯāʾ al-muqbil?
Can we meet next Tuesday?

ذهبت إلى روما الشهر الماضي
ḏahabtu ʾilā romā al-šahr al-māḍī
I went to Rome last month.

And of course, no matter how often you check your phone for the date and time, you’ll always need to be able to talk to somebody else about the date.

أي يوم هو الغد؟
ʾayyu yawm hūwa al-ġad?
What day is it tomorrow?

في أي يوم يبدأ رمضان هذه السنة؟
fī ʾay yawm yabdaʾ ramaḍān haḏihi al-sanah?
What day does Ramadan start this year?

يبدأ رمضان يوم الأحد في الخامس من مايو.
yabdaʾ ramaḍān yawm al-ʾaḥad fī al-ḫāms min māyo.
Ramadan starts on Sunday, May 5.


8. Conclusion: How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic

Woman with Glasses Reading a Book

Did you find our Arabic dates article useful? Do you feel more confident about dates in Arabic writing and speech? Why not practice by dropping us a comment below with today’s date in Arabic? We look forward to hearing from you.

Like any other challenging aspect of language learning, it really just takes practice to get past obstacles like dates in Arabic.

That means when you see dates written down in the text, make a conscious effort to read them aloud instead of skipping over them (or reading them in your head in English). Seriously, put in the work just a handful of times, and it’ll become much easier immediately.

One other good trick is to turn whatever numbers you see into dates. What about car license plates? How many of those do you see on your daily commute? Even if there are only three spaces for digits, just pretend it’s ancient history.

The better your Arabic vocabulary in general, the better your command of dates. This minimal active study combined with your other regular Arabic studies really goes a long way toward building that sort of automatic feeling in your head with Arabic. And it doesn’t matter what day it is—that feeling is a good feeling any time.

In short, with enough hard work and practice, even the toughest aspects of the Arabic language will become second-nature to you. And ArabicPod101.com is here to help you every step of your language-learning journey! If you want to learn Arabic from a native speaker, you can upgrade your account and take advantage of our MyTeacher program for an even more accelerated approach to learning.

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The Most Essential Arabic Travel Phrases

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Isn’t it exciting to imagine?

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

And you’re there. Speaking in Arabic.

Or rather, that’s the plan, right?

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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1. Using Modern Standard Arabic vs. Using Dialects

World Map

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Survival Phrases

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

1- Basic Expressions

Cartoon Waving Goodbye

What types of things do tourists usually say?

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

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

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

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

2- Greetings and Goodbyes

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

  • “Hello!”
    Ahlan!
    أَهلاً

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

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

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

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

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

  • Goodbye!
    ʾilā al-liqāʾ
    إلى اللِقاء

3- Manners

Business Associates Shaking Hands

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

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

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

  • “Go ahead.”
    tafaḍḍal.
    .تَفَضَّل

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

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

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

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

  • “No problem!”
    lā muškilah
    لا مُشكِلَة

4- Compliments

Family Eating Dinner

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

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

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

For referring to food you just had:

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

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

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

5- Transportation

Preparing to Travel

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

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

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

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

It never hurts to double-check:

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

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

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

6- Shopping

Produce Displayed at Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7- Restaurants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8- Directions

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

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

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

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

9- Emergencies

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

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

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

10- Language Troubles and Triumphs

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

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

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


3. Conclusion: ArabicPod101 is Your Guide to Arabic Mastery

Basic Questions

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

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

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

Hit the Ground Running with Arabic Numbers

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So, what are Arabic numbers?

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

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

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

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

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

Table of Contents

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

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1. Just How Arabic are these Numerals?

Arabic Numbers

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

Perhaps the only exception is where they speak Arabic.

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

So what are Arabic numerals?

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

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


2. Cardinal Numbers Zero to Ten

The Number Zero

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

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

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

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

Now onward to 100!

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

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

  • أربعة عشر
    ʾarbaʿaẗu ʿašar
    Four ten (fourteen)

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

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

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

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

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

1- Counting Things Part 1: Counting to Two

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

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

  • كتاب
    kitab
    One book
  • كتابان
    kitaban
    Two books

A Book with Flipping Pages

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

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

2- Counting Things Part 2: Universal Reverse Agreement

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

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

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

Annoyed Woman with Ruler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • ثلاث مدرسات
    ṯalāṯu mudarrisāt
    Three of-female-teachers

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

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


3. A Taste of Numbers in Colloquial Arabic

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

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

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

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

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

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


4. Ordinal Numbers

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

The masculine form of the numbers is presented here.

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

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

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


5. Some Very Easy Math

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

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

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

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

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

  • عشرون بالمائة
    ʿišrūn bilmiʾah
    twenty percent


6. Lemme Get Your Number

Man Asking for Woman’s Phone Number

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


7.Checking the Time

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

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

In MSA, though, you need the ordinal numbers.

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

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

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


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

Woman Napping with Book on Face

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1. What is an Apology?

3 Ways to Say Sorry

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

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

But many times, it’s not so simple.

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

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

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

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


2. Basic Phrases for Apologizing

Say Sorry

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

  • آسِف
    ʾāsif
    Sorry

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

  • أنا اسفة / أنا آسِف
    ana ʾāsif / ana ʾāsifa

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

  • أنا أعتذر
    ʾanā ʾaʿtaḏir
    I apologize.

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

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


3. Asking for Forgiveness

Asking for Forgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


4. Four Different Approaches to Apologizing

Woman Covering Her Mouth

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

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

1- Trying to Right the Wrong

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

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

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

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

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

2- Accepting Responsibility

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

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

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

3- Not Doing it Again

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

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

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

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

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

4- Explaining Your Actions

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

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

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

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

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


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

Woman Apologizing for Bumping Someone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


6. Learning to Apologize Like a Native

Woman Gesturing

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

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

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

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

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


7. Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Say I Love You in Arabic - Romantic Word List

Do you often feel lonely and sad? Do you long for romance and are willing to do whatever it takes to meet that special person? Speaking another language could revolutionize your love life! So, why wait? Learning how to say ‘love’ in Arabic could be just what you need to find it.

Or perhaps you were lucky, and have found your Arabic partner already. Fantastic! Yet, a cross-cultural relationship comes with unique challenges. Learning how to speak your lover’s language will greatly improve your communication and enhance the relationship. At ArabicPod101, our team will teach you all the words, quotes and phrases you need to woo your Arabic lover with excellence! Our tutors provide personal assistance, with plenty of extra material available to make Arabic dating easy for you.

Table of Contents

  1. Common Phrases You’ll Need for a Date
  2. The Most Romantic Ideas for a Date
  3. Must-know Valentine’s Day Vocabulary
  4. Arabic Love Phrases for Valentine’s Day
  5. Arabic Quotes about Love
  6. Marriage Proposal Lines
  7. 15 Most Common Break-Up Lines
  8. Will Falling in Love Help You Learn Arabic Faster?

Start with a bonus, and download the ‘How To be a Good Lover Cheat Sheet’ for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

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1. Common Phrases You’ll Need for a Date

So, you have met your Arabic love interest. Congratulations! Who knows where this could take you…?! However, the two of you have just met and you’re not ready to say the Arabic word for love just yet. Great, it is better to get to know him/her first. Wow your prospective love by using these Arabic date phrases to set up a spectacular first date.

Arabic Date Phrases

Would you like to go out to dinner with me?

  • تخرجي تتعشي معايا؟
  • toḫrogī tetʿaššī maʿāyā?

The important question! In most cultures, this phrase indicates: ‘I’m romantically interested in you’. Flirting in Arabic is no different, so don’t take your date to Mcdonald’s!

Are you free this weekend?

  • عندك وقت في أجازة نهاية الأُسبوع؟
  • ʿandek waʾt fī ʾagāzeẗ nehāyeẗ el-ʾosbūʿ?

This is a preamble to asking your love interest on a date. If you get an immediate ‘Yes’, that’s good news!

Would you like to hang out with me?

  • عاوز نخرج سوا؟
  • ʿāwez noḫrog sawā?

You like her/him, but you’re not sure if there’s chemistry. Ask them to hang out first to see if a dinner date is next.

What time shall we meet tomorrow?

  • هنتقابل بكرة إمتى؟
  • hanetʾābel bokrah ʾemtā?

Set a time, and be sure to arrive early! Nothing spoils a potential relationship more than a tardy date.

Where shall we meet?

  • هنتقابل فين؟
  • hanetʾābel feīn?

You can ask this, but also suggest a place.

You look great.

  • شكلك رائع.
  • šaklek rāʾeʿ.

A wonderful ice breaker! This phrase will help them relax a bit - they probably took great care to look their best just for you.

You are so cute.

  • أنت جميلة جداً.
  • ʾanti ǧamīlaẗun ǧidan.

If the two of you are getting on really well, this is a fun, flirtatious phrase to use.

What do you think of this place?

  • رأيك إية في المكان ده؟
  • raʾyak ʾeīh fī el-makān dah?

This another good conversation starter. Show off your Arabic language skills!

Can I see you again?

  • ممكن أشوفك تاني؟
  • momken ʾašūfek tānī?

So the date went really well - don’t waste time! Make sure you will see each other again.

Shall we go somewhere else?

  • نروح مكان تاني؟
  • nerūḥ makān tānī?

If the place you meet at is not great, you can suggest going elsewhere. It is also a good question to follow the previous one. Variety is the spice of life!

I know a good place.

  • أنا عارف مكان لطيف.
  • ʾanā ʿāref makān laṭīf.

Use this with the previous question. However, don’t say if you don’t know a good place!

I will drive you home.

  • هوصلك بيتك.
  • hawaṣṣalek beītek.

If your date doesn’t have transport, this is a polite, considerate offer. However, don’t be offended if she/he turns you down on the first date. Especially a woman might not feel comfortable letting you drive her home when the two of you are still basically strangers.

That was a great evening.

  • كانت ليلة رائعة.
  • kānat laylaẗan rāʾiʿah.

This is a good phrase to end the evening with.

When can I see you again?

  • أشوفك تاني إمتى؟
  • ʾašūfek tānī ʾemtā?

If he/she replied ‘Yes’ to ‘Can I see you again?’, this is the next important question.

I’ll call you.

  • هتصل بيك.
  • hatteṣel bīk.

Say this only if you really mean to do it. In many cultures, this could imply that you’re keeping the proverbial backdoor open.

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2. The Most Romantic Ideas for a Date

You learned all the Arabic phrases to make a date - congratulations! Now you have to decide where to meet, which can be tricky. Discuss these options with your lover to gauge whether you like the same things. Check out romantic date ideas in Arabic below!

Date Ideas in Arabic

museum

  • متحف
  • mutḥaf

If you’re looking for unique date ideas that are fun but won’t break the bank, museums are the perfect spot! You won’t be running out of things to say in the conversations.

candlelit dinner

  • عشاء على ضوء الشموع
  • ʿašāʾ ʿalā ḍawʾ al-šumūʿ

A candlelit dinner is perhaps best to reserve for when the relationship is getting serious. It’s very intimate, and says: “Romance!” It’s a fantastic choice if you’re sure you and your date are in love with each other!

go to the zoo

  • رحلة إلى حديقة الحيوان
  • riḥlah ʾilā ḥadīqah al-ḥayawān

This is a good choice for shy lovers who want to get the conversation going. Just make sure your date likes zoos, as some people dislike them. Maybe not for the first date, but this is also a great choice if your lover has children - you’ll win his/her adoration for inviting them along!

go for a long walk

  • الذهاب في نزهة طويلة
  • al-ḏahāb fī nuzhaẗin ṭawīlah

Need to talk about serious stuff, or just want to relax with your date? Walking together is soothing, and a habit you can keep up together always! Just make sure it’s a beautiful walk that’s not too strenuous.

go to the opera

  • الذهاب إلى الأوبرا
  • al-ḏahābu ʾilā al-ʾūbirā

This type of date should only be attempted if both of you love the opera. It can be a special treat, followed by a candlelit dinner!

go to the aquarium

  • الذهاب إلى حديقة الأسماك
  • al-ḏahābu ʾilā ḥadīqaẗi al-ʾasmāk

Going to the aquarium is another good idea if you need topics for conversation, or if you need to impress your lover’s kids! Make sure your date doesn’t have a problem with aquariums.

walk on the beach

  • السير على الشاطئ
  • al-sayr ʿalā al-šāṭiʾ

This can be a very romantic stroll, especially at night! The sea is often associated with romance and beauty.

have a picnic

  • القيام بنزهة
  • al-qiyām binuzhah

If you and your date need to get more comfortable together, this can be a fantastic date. Spending time in nature is soothing and calms the nerves.

cook a meal together

  • طهي وجبة معا
  • ṭahī waǧbah maʿan

If you want to get an idea of your date’s true character in one go, this is an excellent date! You will quickly see if the two of you can work together in a confined space. If it works, it will be fantastic for the relationship and create a sense of intimacy. If not, you will probably part ways!

have dinner and see a movie

  • تناول العشاء ومشاهدة فيلم
  • tanāwul al-ʿašāʾ ūmušāhadah fīlm

This is traditional date choice works perfectly well. Just make sure you and your date like the same kind of movies!

3. Must-know Valentine’s Day Vocabulary

Valentine's Day Words in Arabic

Expressing your feelings honestly is very important in any relationship all year round. Yet, on Valentine’s Day you really want to shine. Impress your lover this Valentine’s with your excellent vocabulary, and make his/her day! We teach you, in fun, effective ways, the meanings of the words and how to pronounce them. You can also copy the characters and learn how to write ‘I love you’ in Arabic - think how impressed your date will be!

4. Arabic Love Phrases for Valentine’s Day

So, you now have the basic Valentine’s Day vocabulary under your belt. Well done! But, do you know how to say ‘I love you’ in Arabic yet? Or perhaps you are still only friends. So, do you know how to say ‘I like you’ or ‘I have a crush on you’ in Arabic? No? Don’t worry, here are all the love phrases you need to bowl over your Arabic love on this special day!

Valentine's Day Words in Arabic

I love you.

  • أنا أحبك.
  • ʾanā ʾuḥibbuka.

Saying ‘I love you’ in Arabic carries the same weight as in all languages. Use this only if you’re sure and sincere about your feelings for your partner/friend.

You mean so much to me.

  • أنت تعني الكثير بالنسبة لي.
  • ʾanta taʿnī al-kaṯiīra bilnisbaẗi liī.

This is a beautiful expression of gratitude that will enhance any relationship! It makes the receiver feel appreciated and their efforts recognized.

Will you be my Valentine?

  • هل يمكنك أن تكون رفيقي في عيد الحب؟
  • hal yumkinuka an takuna rafiqi fiī ʿiīdi al-ḥubb?

With these words, you are taking your relationship to the next level! Or, if you have been a couple for a while, it shows that you still feel the romance. So, go for it!

You’re so beautiful.

  • أنت جميلة جداً.
  • ʾanti ǧamīlah ǧiddan.

If you don’t know how to say ‘You’re pretty’ in Arabic, this is a good substitute, gentlemen!

I think of you as more than a friend.

  • أعتبرك أكثر من صديق.
  • ʾaʿtabiruki ʾakṯar min ṣadiīq.

Say this if you are not yet sure that your romantic feelings are reciprocated. It is also a safe go-to if you’re unsure about the Arabic dating culture.

A hundred hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.

  • مئة قلب لن يكونوا كافيين لحمل حبي لكي.
  • miʾaẗu qalbin lan yakūnūā kaāfiīīn liḥamli ḥubī lakī.

You romantic you…! When your heart overflows with love, this would be the best phrase to use.

Love is just love. It can never be explained.

  • الحب هو الحب. لا يمكن أبدا تفسيره.
  • al-ḥubbu huwa al-ḥubbu. laā yumkinu ʾabadan tafsiīruhu.

If you fell in love unexpectedly or inexplicably, this one’s for you.

You’re so handsome.

  • أنت وسيم جداً.
  • ʾanta wasīmun ǧiddan.

Ladies, this phrase lets your Arabic love know how much you appreciate his looks! Don’t be shy to use it; men like compliments too.

I’ve got a crush on you.

  • أنا معجب بك.
  • ʾanā muʿǧabun biki.

If you like someone, but you’re unsure about starting a relationship, it would be prudent to say this. It simply means that you like someone very, very much and think they’re amazing.

You make me want to be a better man.

  • أنت تجعليني أريد أن أكون رجلا أفضل.
  • ʾanti taǧʿaliīnī ʾurīdu ʾan ʾakūna raǧulan ʾafḍal.

Gentlemen, don’t claim this phrase as your own! It hails from the movie ‘As Good as it Gets’, but it is sure to make your Arabic girlfriend feel very special. Let her know that she inspires you!

Let all that you do be done in love.

  • إجعل كل شيئ تفعله مفعماً بالحب.
  • ʾiǧʿal kulla šaīʾin tafʿaluhu mufʿaman bilḥubbi.

We hope.

You are my sunshine, my love.

  • أنت لي شروق الشمس، يا حبي.
  • ʾanti lī šurūqa al-ššamsi, yaā ḥubbī.

A compliment that lets your lover know they bring a special quality to your life. Really nice!

Words can’t describe my love for you.

  • لا يمكن الكلمات أن تصف حبي لك.
  • laā yumkinu lilkalimāti ʾan taṣifa ḥubbī laki.

Better say this when you’re feeling serious about the relationship! It means that your feelings are very intense.

We were meant to be together.

  • كان مقدراً لنا أن نكون معاً.
  • kāna muqaddaran lanā ʾan nakūna maʿan.

This is a loving affirmation that shows you see a future together, and that you feel a special bond with your partner.

If you were thinking about someone while reading this, you’re definitely in love.

  • إذا كنت تفكر بشخص ما في أثناء قراءة هذا، فأنت بالتأكيد واقع في الحب.
  • ʾiḏā kunta tufakkiru bišaḫṣin maā fiī ʾaṯnāʾi qarāʾaẗi haḏā, faʾnta bal-ttaʾkiīd waāqiʿun fiī al-ḥunb.

Here’s something fun to tease your lover with. And hope he/she was thinking of you!

5. Arabic Quotes about Love

Arabic Love Quotes

You’re a love champ! You and your Arabic lover are getting along fantastically, your dates are awesome, your Valentine’s Day together was spectacular, and you’re very much in love. Good for you! Here are some beautiful phrases of endearment in Arabic that will remind him/her who is in your thoughts all the time.

6. Marriage Proposal Lines

Arabic Marriage Proposal Lines

Wow. Your Arabic lover is indeed the love of your life - congratulations! And may only happiness follow the two of you! In most traditions, the man asks the woman to marry; this is also the Arabic custom. Here are a few sincere and romantic lines that will help you to ask your lady-love for her hand in marriage.

7. 15 Most Common Break-Up Lines

Arabic Break-Up Lines

Instead of moving towards marriage or a long-term relationship, you find that the spark is not there for you. That is a pity! But even though breaking up is never easy, continuing a bad or unfulfilling relationship would be even harder. Remember to be kind to the person you are going to say goodbye to; respect and sensitivity cost nothing. Here are some phrases to help you break up gently.

  • We need to talk.
    • نحتاج إلى أن نتحدث
    • naḥtāǧu ʾilā ʾan nataḥaddaṯ

    This is not really a break-up line, but it is a good conversation opener with a serious tone.

    It’s not you. It’s me.

    • السبب ليس أنت, إنه أنا.
    • al-ssababu laīsa ʾanta, ʾinnahu ʾanā.

    As long as you mean it, this can be a kind thing to say. It means that there’s nothing wrong with your Arabic lover as a person, but that you need something different from a relationship.

    I’m just not ready for this kind of relationship.

    • أنا فقط لست جاهزاً لأن أكون في هذا النوع من العلاقة.
    • ʾanā faqaṭ lastu ǧāhizan laʾan ʾakūna fiī haḏā al-nnaūʿi mina al-ʿalāqah.

    Things moved a bit fast and got too intense, too soon? Painful as it is, honesty is often the best way to break up with somebody.

    Let’s just be friends.

    • دعنا نكون مجرد أصدقاء.
    • daʿnā nakūnu muǧarrada ʾaṣdiqāʾ.

    If the relationship was very intense, and you have sent many ‘i love u’ texts in Arabic, this would not be a good breakup line. Feelings need to calm down before you can be friends, if ever. If the relationship has not really developed yet, a friendship would be possible.

    I think we need a break.

    • أعتقد أننا بحاجة إلى إستراحة.
    • ʾaʿtaqidu ʾannanā biḥāǧah ʾilā ʾistirāḥah.

    This is again honest, and to the point. No need to play with someone’s emotions by not letting them know how you feel. However, this could imply that you may fall in love with him/her again after a period of time, so use with discretion.

    You deserve better.

    • أنت تستحق أفضل من ذلك.
    • ʾanta tastaḥiqu ʾafḍala min ḏalik.

    Yes, he/she probably deserves a better relationship if your own feelings have cooled down.

    We should start seeing other people.

    • علينا أن نبدأ رؤية أشخاص آخرين.
    • ʿalaīnā ʾan nabdaʾ biruʾuyaẗi ʾašḫāṣin ʾāḫariīn.

    This is probably the least gentle break-up phrase, so reserve it for a lover that doesn’t get the message!

    I need my space.

    • أحتاج مساحتي الخاصة.
    • ʾaḥtāǧu masāḥatiī al-ḫāṣah.

    When a person is too clingy or demanding, this would be an suitable break-up phrase. It is another good go-to for that lover who doesn’t get the message!

    I think we’re moving too fast.

    • أعتقد أن علاقتنا تتطور بسرعة كبيرة.
    • ʾaʿtaqdu ʾanna ʿalāqatanā tataṭawwaru bisurʿah kabīrah.

    Say this if you want to keep the relationship, but need to slow down its progress a bit. It is also good if you feel things are getting too intense for your liking. However, it is not really a break-up line, so be careful not to mislead.

    I need to focus on my career.

    • أحتاج أن أركز على حياتي المهنية.
    • ʾaḥtāǧu ʾann ʾurakkiza ʿlaā ḥayaātī al-mihaniyyah.

    If you feel that you will not be able to give 100% in a relationship due to career demands, this is the phrase to use. It’s also good if you are unwilling to give up your career for a relationship.

    I’m not good enough for you.

    • أنا لست جيداً بما يكفي بالنسبة لك.
    • ʾanā lastu ǧaīdan bimā yakfiī bilnnisbaẗi laki.

    Say this only if you really believe it, or you’ll end up sounding false. Break-ups are usually hard for the receiving party, so don’t insult him/her with an insincere comment.

    I just don’t love you anymore.

    • أنا لم أعد أحبك.
    • ʾanā lam ʾaʿud ʾuḥibuka.

    This harsh line is sometimes the best one to use if you are struggling to get through to a stubborn, clingy lover who won’t accept your break up. Use it as a last resort. Then switch your phone off and block their emails!

    We’re just not right for each other.

    • نحن لسنا مناسبان لبعضنا.
    • naḥnu lasnā munāsibān libaʿḍinā.

    If this is how you truly feel, you need to say it. Be kind, gentle and polite.

    It’s for the best.

    • إنه للأفضل.
    • ʾinnahu lilʾafḍal.

    This phrase is called for if circumstances are difficult and the relationship is not progressing well. Love should enhance one’s life, not burden it!

    We’ve grown apart.

    • لم نعد نستطيع التفاهم.
    • lam naʿad nastaṭiīʿ al-ttafāhum.

    Cross-cultural relationships are often long-distance ones, and it is easy to grow apart over time.

  • 8. Will Falling in Love help you Learn Arabic faster?

    Most people will agree that the above statement is a no-brainer - of course it will! Your body will be flooded with feel-good hormones, which are superb motivators for anything. ArabicPod101 is one of the best portals to help help make this a reality, so don’t hesitate to enroll now! Let’s quickly look at the reasons why falling in love will speed up your learning of the Arabic language.

    Three Reasons Why Having a Lover will Help you Learn Arabic Faster!

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    1- Being in a love relationship with your Arabic speaking partner will immerse you in the culture
    ArabicPod101 uses immersive methods and tools to teach you Arabic, but having a relationship with a native speaker will be a very valuable addition to your learning experience! You will gain exposure to their world, realtime and vividly, which will make the language come alive even more for you. The experience is likely to expand your world-view, which should motivate you to learn Arabic even faster.

    2- Having your Arabic romantic partner will mean more opportunity to practice speaking
    Nothing beats continuous practice when learning a new language. Your partner will probably be very willing to assist you in this, as your enhanced Arabic language skills will enhance the relationship. Communication is, after all, one of the most important pillars of a good partnership. Also, you will get to impress your lover with the knowledge gained through your studies - a win/win situation!

    3- A supportive Arabic lover is likely to make a gentle, patient teacher and study aid!
    With his/her heart filled with love and goodwill for you, your Arabic partner is likely to patiently and gently correct your mistakes when you speak. This goes not only for grammar, but also for accent and meaning. With his/her help, you could sound like a native in no time!

    Three Reasons Why ArabicPod101 helps you learn Arabic Even Faster when you’re In Love

    Start with a bonus, and download the ‘How To be a Good Lover Cheat Sheet’ for FREE! (Logged-In Member Only)

    Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - How to be a Good Lover in Arabic

    1- All the Resources and Materials Will Help Both of You
    Falling in love with a man or woman speaking Arabic is an opportunity for both of you to learn a new language! For this reason, every lesson, transcript, vocabulary list, and resource at ArabicPod101 is translated into both English and Arabic. So, while your partner can help you learn Arabic faster, you can potentially also help him/her learn and master English!

    2- Lessons Are Designed to Help You Understand and Engage with Arabic Culture
    At ArabicPod101, our focus is to help our students learn practical vocabulary and phrases used by everyday people in Arabic speaking country. This means that, from your very first lesson, you can apply what you learn immediately! So, when your Arabic partner wants to go out to a restaurant, play Pokemon Go, or attend just about any social function, you have the vocabulary and phrases necessary to have a great time!

    3- Access to Special Resources Dedicated to Romantic Arabic Phrases
    You now have access to ArabicPod101’s specially-developed sections and tools to teach you love words, phrases, and cultural insights to help you find and attract your Arabic soul mate. A personal tutor will assist you to master these brilliantly - remember to invite him/her to your wedding!

    Saying Hello in Arabic: What You Need to Know

    How to Say Hello in Arabic
    What word passes between native speakers a dozen times a day without a second thought, but leaves a learner tongue-tied, terrified of making a faux pas?
    It’s “hello”—but it’s also all the cultural knowledge that comes with it. Saying hello in Modern Standard Arabic is no picnic if you don’t know the cultural context! Keep reading if you’ve ever wondered “How do Arabs say hello?”

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    Every Arabic phrasebook or guidebook has an entry for “hello,” but I’ll bet that they didn’t tell you how to use it. No matter how good your grammar is, slapping Arabic words into English cultural contexts will leave anybody confused.

    Fortunately, you’ve got this guide to keep you on the right path. Arabs are legendary for their hospitality, and putting a little bit of work into the language will turn whatever goodwill they have for you up to eleven.

    Plus, it’s just plain respectful to learn about other people’s cultures.

    So with these advantages firmly in mind, let’s take a look right now at the beautiful and varied ways of using Standard Arabic to say hello.

    1. Peace Be Upon You

    • السلام عليكم (as-salām ʿalaykum) — “Peace be upon you!”

    This greeting gets its own special section right at the top. It’s used literally all over the world by Muslims of every country as a respectful greeting. If you’re not Muslim, don’t worry about offending anybody by using it—on the contrary, they’ll take it very well. This may just be the best way to say hello in Arabic.

    What’s going on grammatically here? You may be spooked by the idea that “hello” is six syllables long. It turns out it’s pretty simple!

    السلام (salām) means “peace” and عليكم is “upon you”—a combination of the preposition على (ʿala) meaning “on” and ـكم (kum), the suffix meaning “you (plural).”

    If someone says this to you (or an audience you’re in) there is exactly one possible response:

    • وعليكم السلام (wa ʿalaykum as-salām) — “And peace be upon you.”

    Same idea, same meaning, slightly different structure to shake things up.
    This time, we’re going to add a cute little و (wa) to the front here, adding the meaning “and” to the base structure.

    2. Hi! Hey! Hello!

    Hello

    As you’re no doubt aware, Modern Standard Arabic isn’t really used casually among people in their day-to-day life—so there aren’t a zillion slangy ways of greeting as there are in other languages.

    But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to excessively formal ways to say hello. Take a look at these phrases in the Arabic language of how to say hello:

    • مرحبا (marḥaban) — “Hello”
    • أهلا – (ʿahlan) — “Hi”
    • أهلا وسهلا (ʿahlan wa-sahlan) — “Welcome / How do you do?”

    These three are less official-sounding than “Peace be upon you.”
    Fun fact: ahlan wa-sahlan literally means “Family and easy circumstances.” It’s a shortened version of an old Classical Arabic welcoming expression and has survived until today as a set phrase—much like “how do you do” doesn’t really sound like a greeting when you deconstruct it.

    Arabic Greetings

    3. As the Day Goes On

    Arabic has time-oriented greetings just like many other languages. When learning how to say hello in Arabic, phrases like the ones below will definitely come in handy.
    If it’s before noon, you’ll want to greet people with:

    • صباح الخير (ṣabāḥ ul-ḫayr) — Good morning!

    To which you will very often hear the response:

    • صباح النور (ṣabāḥ an-nūr) — Good morning!

    The key words here are:

    • صباح (sabaah) — morning
    • خير (ḫayr) — good
    • نور (nūr) — light

    So in a way you’re saying “A good morning!” and hearing “A light morning!” And I think that’s beautiful.

    MSA, and thus Arabic culture, doesn’t really have a word for “good afternoon.” In fact in some phrasebooks you’ll see an entry for “good afternoon,” but in fact it’s the same as “good evening.”

    Any time after noon, you’ll use this phrase:

    • مساء الخير (masāʾ ul-ḫayr) — Good evening!

    The structure is the same as the phrase for “good morning,” just as the pattern goes in English.
    In fact, the structure for the response is, too:

    • مساء النور (masāʾ un-nūr) — Good morning!

    Perhaps you’ve already guessed the new word here:

    • مساء (masā) — evening

    If these new words are making you feel in over your head, don’t worry. You can actually skip the un-nūr bit and just reply masāʾ ul-ḫayr or ṣabāḥ ul-ḫayr directly.

    These two phrases are a perfect level of formality for the workplace. If you work with Arabic speakers, greet them in the morning or afternoon in Arabic and watch the smiles appear all around.

    4. And How are You?

    Now that you’ve learned some common ways to say hello in Arabic, we can focus on how to develop a short conversation.

    • كيف الحال؟ (kayfal-ḥāl?) — How is everything?

    In English we’d say “How are things?” but you’ll note in a moment that the word al-haal is singular, not plural in Arabic.

    In fact, you can make it slightly more personal and add the -uk suffix (when speaking to a man) or the -ik suffix (when speaking to a woman): kayfa ḥāluki?

    Responses here can vary a lot.

    One option is very familiar for English speakers:

    • بخير، شكرا (biḫayr, šukran) — Fine, thanks

    These words translate literally, so I won’t put them down below in the vocab section. Culturally, it’s not as strange to actually reply with “how are you doing,” when you speak Arabic.
    Let’s say you actually don’t have a lot of time to chat, or you’ve got a lot of things on your mind. You could say:

    • مشغول (mašġūl) — Busy

    Remember that this is the masculine form. A woman would say مشغولة (mašġūla) instead, with the same meaning.

    Let’s have a look again at that question. The more we break down these everyday greetings, the clearer it becomes that Arabic really isn’t too difficult at all.

    • كيف (kayfa) — How
    • حال (ḥāl) — Situation; circumstance

    The polite response to “how are you” in many cultures is something like “And yourself?”
    So we can add this in Arabic too. To a man, you’d say:

    • و أنت؟ (wa anta?) — And you? [masculine]

    The question as posed to a woman is written identically, but pronounced:

    • و أنت؟ (wa anti?) — And you? [feminine]

    And it can’t hurt to keep saying شكرا (šukran), meaning “thank you,” after you offer your answer.

    Also keep in mind that you’ll very likely hear this phrase in the context of saying good things:

    • الحمد لله (al-ḥamdu lillah) — Praise be to God!

    Culturally, this is used much more commonly than “thank God” is in the West. Any time you mention something good that happened to you or someone you know, it’s perfectly fine to say this phrase.

    5. Phone’s for You

    Holding A Phone

    It’s an interesting fact of our modern interconnected world that the English word “hello” is so widely known and understood.

    Even though it’s a little too formal for people in everyday life to actually say “hello” to one another, it’s the standard and automatic greeting we use whenever we pick up the phone.

    And in Standard Arabic, it turns out it’s the same!

    • آلو (‘alo) — Hello?

    In other Arabic dialects, locals may have their own way of answering the phone. Nevertheless, ‘aaloo is both so common and so simple for English speakers, that you’re not likely to forget it.

    6. Small Talk is No Big Deal

    Suppose you’re in a situation where there’s nothing to do but fill an awkward silence.

    One of the best small talk topics is to ask about someone’s family.

    But don’t say anything that might come off as too forward. That means no direct questions about a man’s wife, especially asking her name or age.

    He might get the wrong impression and resent you for asking.

    So it’s better to literally inquire politely about his “family” instead.

    • كيف حال عائلتك ؟ (kayfa ḥalu ʿāʾilatuk?) — How is your family?

    Now, he’s almost definitely going to tell you about his wife, but that’s no problem. Just as long as you weren’t the first to bring her up.

    Another great and safe topic is the weather.

    • الجو جميل اليوم (al-ǧawwu ǧamīl al-yawm) — The weather’s nice today.
    • هل تظن أنها ستمطر؟ (hal taẓunnu ʾannahā satumṭir?) — Do you think it will rain?

    Don’t complain too much, but once you’re on a bit of an even social footing you can shake your head in exasperation and say:

    • الجو حار (al-ǧawwu ḥār) — It’s hot!

    Have a look—you can still see the word جو (ǧaw), meaning “weather,” in that last sentence. In English, we can say “It’s hot,” but in Arabic we have to say “the weather is hot.”

    7. You’ve Mastered the Language — Now What Else?

    It’s still pretty rare for foreigners to know or even attempt any Arabic when visiting an Arab country.

    More than likely, you’ll receive smiles and praise for saying hello or anything else in Arabic.

    But what comes with that hello? Etiquette, culture, and tradition.

    Don’t be frightened. You’ve got a lot of leeway as a visitor or foreigner, so don’t feel under a ton of pressure to perform exactly as a local. (Though it’s always good to make an effort to sound polite.)
    For example, in many Arab countries people do an “air-kiss” on the cheeks to say hello.

    The procedure and number of kisses varies from country to country, so there’s no one-size-fits-all guide out there.

    In fact, it’s a source of lighthearted frustration for Arabs themselves at times!
    Three basic tips, though:

    • Look before you kiss: Going in blind is a recipe for disaster
    • Go for the right side first: Most of the time, the other person will too
    • Don’t actually touch the cheek: It’s just an air kiss, not a peck

    These ought to get you far enough to pick up the rest when it’s time.

    In general, when men meet women in a formal setting for the first time, they should avoid initiating an air-kiss or any other gesture of friendly intimacy like a handshake or hug. Hang back and watch what others do, or simply give a verbal greeting first.

    It’s okay to ask your hosts discreetly (and politely!) “Hey, do I have to kiss these people?” Remember, you’re not expected to know everything about how to behave.

    It turns out, though, that often the answer is yes. It’s not uncommon for groups of upwards of twenty to spend several minutes just on the kissing!

    8. Come Bearing Gifts

    Giving Gift

    Gift-giving is a much more important part of Arabic culture than it is in the West.

    It’s actually linked quite closely with greetings, and so the same general principles apply. Don’t be too forward and don’t offer gifts that are too personal.

    For instance, it’s probably best to avoid fragrances or clothing unless you know the person well.

    Food is a fantastic choice. Everyone appreciates a gift of dates or nuts. They can be stored or eaten right away—in fact, you may get to share as well!

    Always give the gift with your right hand or both hands at once. The left hand is usually considered unclean in traditional Arab cultures.

    9. Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

    No guide on saying hello would be complete without tips on saying goodbye.

    Culturally, saying goodbye in Arabic takes a lot longer than its equivalent in the West. It’s considered quite rude in the Arab world to leave abruptly without paying respect to those whom you were visiting.

    Just like saying “Hello” on the phone, the English word “Bye” has crept into everyday Arabic too. Here’s how it’s written out:

    • باي (bāi) — Bye

    The most polite and formal phrase is:

    • مَع السَلامة (maʿ al-salāmah) — With (the) peace

    If this is said to you, you can repeat the same thing. “With peace!” “With peace!”

    Another excellent option is to use this slightly less formal phrase:

    • إلى اللِقاء (ʾilā al-liqāʾ) — Until we meet again!

    This literally means, “To the encounter,” which happens to translate perfectly to the French au revoir.

    Conclusion

    Who would have thought that the language used in a quick chat would have so many intricate facets?

    If it seems like this is part of some “mysterious Arab culture” then think again. I could write a guide twice as long in Arabic about the particulars of saying hello in American or British culture.

    No culture or language is inherently more complex than another. It’s all based on what you’re used to.

    So now that you have a solid grounding in what’s involved in Arabic greetings, why not explore even more about the language and culture on ArabicPod101.com? We have all the resources you need to become a pro in the language, from vocabulary lists on a range of topics, to our MyTeacher app which offers one-on-one guidance as you learn Arabic.

    We wish you the best on your Arabic-learning journey!

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

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    Customer Service in UAE: How to Handle Your UAE Customer

    Customer Service in UAE

    The UAE is not a big place.

    Its geographical area fits neatly between Austria and Ireland on a list of countries.

    And yet, it has some staggering numbers attached to it. One of the most interesting is that expats vastly outnumber locals—in some places, by a factor of nine to one.

    That means that any customer-facing business venture in the UAE has to take into account not just the local culture, but a mix of cultures from all around the world.

    As someone in charge of that customer service, you’ll be faced with an unenviable task.

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    How is it that some businesses thrive in such an environment, while others fade away into the dust?

    It’s simple, really, and it’s a lesson that can be applied to all aspects of expat life:

    The flexible survive. The stubborn fail.

    In today’s article, you’ll learn how you can best apply that flexibility to your advantage—in other words, how you can master customer service culture in the UAE.

    First, you’ve got to learn about the people. Who is your consumer?

    Expat Environment

    1. Understanding the Expat Environment

    It can be incredibly difficult to comprehend the kind of growth and population explosion that the UAE has seen in the last twenty years.

    If you go back to your hometown after being away for five years, it’s likely to look about the same.

    But just try and imagine that every single year for the last twenty years, your hometown has boomed in popularity. People have started moving in from every corner of the globe.

    The familiar streets and familiar environment have all changed before your eyes, as businesses opened and closed, new houses and apartments went up, and whole new roads were built where before there was just empty space.

    In 2005, the ratio of expats to locals in the UAE was already more than 3 to 1.

    By 2015, the local population stayed almost the same—but the expat population nearly tripled.

    According to the latest statistics, native-born Emiratis make up just 20% of the national population. They mainly live in rural areas, while the proportion of expats in the largest cities can reach almost 90 percent.

    Who are these expats and what do they want?

    Well, if you’re reading this article, you might be one of them. And what about the others?

    Virtually every nationality has some expats living in the UAE.

    The largest population group is from India, making up 25% of the expat population, and that group is closely followed by Pakistanis with 12%. Sri Lankans and Afghans together number more than 800,000.

    People from countries across the Arab world such as Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq form another sizeable expat group with more than a million people coming from these countries alone.

    Another six hundred thousand are from just two countries in Southeast Asia, namely Indonesia and the Philippines. As Muslim-majority countries, these countries have close ties to the Middle East.

    Comparatively few expats are from East Asia, African countries, Europe, or the Americas. The notable exceptions are China, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, which together contribute roughly five hundred thousand expats to the UAE. Let’s not forget—this number is roughly half of the entire native Emirati population!

    Now, why are so many people attracted to living in the UAE?

    Very broadly speaking, expats from South and Southeast Asia tend to work in construction, transport, or as domestic helpers. That said, it’s important to remember that some of the largest and most successful national brands in the UAE were founded by Indian entrepreneurs.

    That includes supermarket chains, pharmacies, cosmetics, and even healthcare. Indian expats in the UAE enjoy a strong and well-established social network with roots stretching back centuries.

    In contrast, although the population of expats from East Asia and countries in Europe and North America is relatively low, it may appear disproportionately high in the business world as most of these expats have high positions in international companies.

    Virtually all of the Koreans, for instance, as well as the English-speaking South Africans, have positions in companies registered to their country of origin.

    Lastly, finding the culture and language barrier far lower than in other places, many Arabs from neighboring countries choose to study abroad at the well-known universities in the UAE. It may come as no surprise, then, that a majority of them major in business.

    2. Understanding the Locals

    Something that might strike you about these demographic figures is that the native Emiratis seem like they have no sector left to dominate.

    The fact is, most locals aspire to jobs in the government or military, as these are seen as much more respectable than the private sector. Some attitudes are changing, particularly with regard to the food and beverage industry as more local Emiratis want to present an authentic view of their home cuisine to the world.

    Now, if you want to sell products in the UAE, you need to understand their culture.

    Religion

    Religion

    One of the first things when looking at an Arab consumer market is religion.

    It’s no secret that the United Arab Emirates is a Muslim country. Islam is the state religion, and almost all Emirati citizens follow it—let alone the vast numbers of expats from Muslim countries worldwide.

    What does that mean for local consumer culture in particular?

    You’ve almost certainly heard before how Muslims avoid certain products because of religious restrictions. You’re not going to make much progress with the locals if you advertise pulled pork and beer on tap.

    Less well-known, though, is what Muslims do tend to buy.

    Ramadan

    What Ramadan Can Mean for Business

    A study came out recently showing that in London—a city with a sizeable Muslim minority—most Muslims feel that the holy month of Ramadan is largely ignored by retailers.

    Anybody who’s spent time in a Muslim-majority country during Ramadan knows that the streets light up with activity as soon as the sun sets. People can’t wait to treat each other to meals and buy each other gifts.

    Cafés, too, become vibrant hubs of conversation late into the night. Some café owners report as much as a one-hundred percent increase in activity during the month of Ramadan—which, keep in mind, prohibits eating and drinking throughout the day!

    And all through the year, Muslims are becoming more and more interested in consumer trends such as halal travel packages and modest fashion.

    Being informed about and taking advantage of these consumer demands is key to creating a powerful brand that people can rely on.

    Trust and Relationship

    Culture of Trust and Relationship

    Nobody can comment on Arab culture without mentioning how incredibly open, sociable, and hospitable it is.

    Governments have even built tourism brands on the strength of Arab hospitality.

    Part of that openness means that Arab consumers want trust at all levels.

    Sometimes consumers can be apathetic about their purchasing habits at times and shop on impulse. Those traits aren’t absent from Arab cultures, but in general they’re a lot more rare.

    Therefore, your UAE customer is likely going to take the advice of people they trust before they make major purchasing decisions.

    That might take the form of a family discussion, a chat with a close friend, or a quick group text.

    They’ll also want to know a lot about the product or service itself. If you’re in the auto business, for instance, you’re going to have to be prepared for your Arab consumers to ask a lot of questions about the particulars of the car and the financing.

    Once you build up that trust, that personal relationship, you’re likely to keep that customer for a long, long time. They’ll recommend you to their own social networks as well—all because you took the time to listen to what they wanted.

    Solving Customer Problems

    3. Solving Customer Problems on a Global Scale

    No matter where you are, your customer is expecting good service.

    But what does that mean, exactly? It means that when the customer has any interaction at all with your business, what they expect is strongly related to their culture.

    And not only their home culture; if they’re the international sort, they’ve built up an idea of what to expect outside of their home country, as well.

    Let’s look at two industries—retail and hospitality—that live and die on customer experience.

    Retail

    Retail and Hospitality: Arab Culture

    Arabs are used to a wide variety of choices when it comes to retail. Even in traditional bazaars, you can see the same types of goods on display from many different people.

    For that reason, Arab consumers tend to be less loyal to one particular store if they can get similar goods in other places.

    And because of a combination of the punishing desert heat and the Arab penchant for hospitality, the retail spaces themselves have to be welcoming.

    The big cities of the UAE are famous for enormous and richly decorated malls already. Inside, you’ll find large open spaces for relaxation and socialization.

    Customers from Arab countries are going to expect service that helps them out while they’re browsing and makes them feel welcome to stay as long as they’d like in the store.

    Retail and Hospitality: Shoppers from Abroad

    International customers from Europe and North America, by contrast, don’t quite have the same needs.

    First of all, in some countries, particularly the United States, consumers are becoming more disappointed by retail all the time. It’s common to hear about American malls closing or selling off space.

    To appeal to these shoppers, the retail space has to offer something that can’t be found online. Part of that is the welcoming, attractive venue, but another part is the service.

    Such shoppers also expect that the service staff at any retail location will be open, friendly, and knowledgeable without being pushy. Attempts to make a sale by promoting another product with anything more than a slight suggestion come off as aggressive.

    At the same time, these customers expect that any questions they have about products or promotions can be answered immediately—either by a clerk or a manager.

    Now, when it comes to vacations, a lot of tourists love the idea of being in an unknown part of the world.

    Even if the place they’re visiting is clearly a developed cosmopolitan city, they’ll be more likely to spend money on things they judge to be “authentic.”

    They’ll love it if the hotel staff recommends a “local restaurant” for them to try, and they likely expect to be able to explore the area at their own speed.

    Retail and Hospitality: East Asian Culture

    Tourists from East Asia, however, tend to enjoy a more curated travel experience. They’re more likely to take package travel deals, and many who don’t speak any foreign languages are happy to remain with a tour group for their entire stay.

    What This Means

    And back to well-traveled expats—what they’re looking for is something that ticks the boxes of their home culture and fits with the surrounding environment. That means if you can find a way to present a pleasing “slice of home” that’s already integrated to the local environment, you’ve got it made.

    Negative customer experiences happen when the customer is expecting a certain level of service and in reality, it just doesn’t live up to what they wanted.

    People are different, and everybody makes mistakes. So this happens all around the world—and when it does, how are you going to react?

    Language Is Key

    4. Language is Key

    If you’re not already one, imagine yourself for a moment in the role of an expat manager in the UAE.

    Your company has brought you to a new country to make sure that things run smoothly and in line with the owners’ vision.

    If there’s some miscommunication or lack of cohesion between the upper management, your workers, and your customers, you might be asked to lead a training session to help solve these problems.

    Don’t do it in English.

    If you really want to reach the people you’re working with and really understand what’s going on, you’ve got to let them communicate with you in their own language.

    When your company is experiencing problems because of cultural miscommunications—and this is almost guaranteed to happen to every company with operations abroad—language and cultural competence is everything.

    Whether you’re doing market research, employee training, or simple everyday customer service, knowledge of more languages will help every step of the way.

    Even in highly multilingual environments such as the UAE, people still feel more comfortable speaking about complicated or personal matters in their mother tongue.

    That could be one of the many varieties of Arabic such as Gulf Arabic, Levantine Arabic, or even Egyptian Arabic. By the way, you won’t find anybody who’d prefer to talk to you in the literary register of Modern Standard Arabic.

    It could also mean one of the other widely-spoken languages of the UAE such as Hindi, French, or Tagalog. Remember, the service industry is overwhelmingly comprised of expats, and not just from Arab countries.

    Seriously—people on every level of your organization will warm up to you more if you make an effort to speak and understand their native language. If someone has a problem with another worker or even management, they’ll hesitate to cross language and cultural barriers to communicate it.

    That knowledge paints you as a savvy, experienced leader who has the brains and the dedication to really listen to what other people say.

    And if you don’t personally have this language and cultural competence, find someone who does.

    Multilingual facilitators and intercultural communications coaches can help resolve conflicts faster than you ever thought possible.

    Open Eyes

    5. Open Eyes, Open Ears

    Here’s a tip that comes from marketing, but is equally applicable to any consumer-facing part of a business. In fact, it’s applicable to every part of life in general!

    And the advice is this: You’ve got to listen to the people around you and be ready to adjust to what they say.

    In marketing, this is obvious. Market research is a multimillion-dollar industry focused on just that.

    But when was the last time a manager listened to their employees and their customers with equal attention?

    Everyone’s got a story about a manager who barely lifted a finger to hear what the employees had to say.

    They should know that that inaction is hurting everyone—because the consumer-facing employees often develop an intuitive sense for how to handle different types of customers. It’s a terrible mistake for someone removed from all of the local cultures to be setting the rules for employee-customer interactions.

    People who have worked customer service for years on end can usually tell what someone’s complaint is without thinking.

    That information is just as valuable to the company as a million-dollar consumer trend study. Making use of it is not only going to have a good impact on your company’s internal affairs, but it’s also going to increase customer satisfaction if you don’t force your employees to adhere to your own notions of customer service.

    How can you apply this to your business in the UAE, and to the challenges of a diverse expat consumer group?

    Understand that your employees may come from a culture that is similar to that of many of their customers. That gives them an inherent advantage in making those customers happy.

    They should know how to quickly and easily handle customer interactions with polite, attentive professionalism—and as a part of that, they should be flexible about what they consider polite or rude behavior from customers. That’s where your cultural training sessions come into play.

    If your employees can pass on customer wants and needs to the upper management and take direction from both sides, the company will understand the customers better and everyone will have a better experience.

    In other words: If you can manage to instill a habit of cultural sensitivity and flexibility in your business from the top down, you’re guaranteed to do well with customers from the UAE, the Arab world, and beyond.

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

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    How to Celebrate April Fools’ Day in Arabic

    How to Celebrate April Fools' Day in Arabic!

    Most everyone is familiar with this day, as it is celebrated nearly everywhere the world. Yet, when exactly is April Fools’ Day? And where did April Fools come from? April Fools’ Day is observed on April 1st every year. This day of jokes and pranks is believed to have stemmed from the 16th-century calendar change in France, when New Year’s Day was moved from April 1 to January 1. This action was taken due to the adoption of the Gregorian calendar.

    However, a few people were resistant to the calendar change, so they continued to observe New Year’s Day on April 1st, rather than the new date. They were referred to as the “April Fools”, and others started playing mocking tricks on them. This custom endured, and is practiced to this day around the world!

    Table of Contents

    1. Top One Million Words You Need to Know for April Fools’ Day
    2. Arabic Phrases You Can Use on April Fools’ Day
    3. Some of the Coolest April Fools’ Pranks To Play on Anybody
    4. How Can ArabicPod101 Make Your April Fools’ Day Special?
    5. Top 1000 Most Useful Phrases in Arabic - Testing New Technology

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    1. Top One Million Words You Need to Know for April Fools’ Day

    Do you want to know how to say April Fools’ Day in Arabic? Well, there are millions of ways and words, but here are the top one million Arabic words you really need to know! Simply click this link. Here are some of them you will find useful:

    1. funny - مضحك - muḍḥik
    2. joke - مزحة - mazaḥah
    3. surprise - مفاجأة - mufāǧaah
    4. prank - خدعة - ḫudʿah
    5. lie - يكذب - yakḏib
    6. humor - دعابة - duʿābah
    7. fool - أحمق - ʾaḥmaq
    8. deceptive - زائف - zaāʾif
    9. April 1st - الأول من إبريل - al-ʾwwal min ʾibrīl
    10. play a joke - يضحك (على أحد) - yaḍḥak (ʿalā ʾḥad)
    11. prankster - عابث - ʿaābiṯ
    12. sneaky - متسلل - mutasallil

    2. Arabic Phrases You Can Use on April Fools’ Day

    Arabic Phrases for April Fools' Day

    Don’t limit yourself to practical jokes - use these April Fools’ phrases in Arabic to prank your favorite Arabic speaking friend or colleague!

    1. I learned Arabic in 1 month.
      • تعلمت اللغة العربية في شهر واحد.
      • taʿallamtu al-luġaẗa al-ʿarabiyyaẗa fiī šahrin waāḥid.
    2. All classes for today got canceled.
      • جميع صفوف اليوم ألغيت
      • gamee sofoof elyoom olgheyat
    3. I’m sorry, but I’ve just broken your favorite pair of glasses.
      • أنا آسف، ولكني كسرت زوج نظاراتك المفضلة.
      • ʾanā ʾāsif, walakinnatī kasartu zaūǧa naẓāraātika al-mufaḍḍalah.
    4. Someone has just hit your car.
      • شخص ما قد ضرب سيارتك.
      • šaḫṣun maā qad ḍaraba sayyārataka.
    5. I’m getting married.
      • أنا سوف أتزوج.
      • ʾanā saūfa ʾatazawwaǧ.
    6. You won a free ticket.
      • ربحت تذكرة مجانية.
      • rabiḥta taḏkarah maǧāniyyah.
    7. I saw your car being towed.
      • رأيت سيارتك تسحب.
      • raʾaītu sayyārataka tusḥab.
    8. They’re giving away free gift cards in front of the building.
      • إنهم يوزعون بطاقات هدايا بالمجان أمام المبنى.
      • ʾinnahum yuwazziʿūna biṭāqāta hadāyaā bilmaǧǧaān ʾamāma al-mabnā.
    9. A handsome guy is waiting for you outside.
      • هناك رجل وسيم في انتظارك في الخارج.
      • hunāka raǧulun wasīmun fiī ʾintiẓāriki fiī al-ḫaāriǧ.
    10. A beautiful lady asked me to give this phone number to you.
      • سيدة جميلة طلبت مني إعطاء رقم الهاتف هذا لك.
      • sayyidaẗun ǧamiīlah ṭalabat minnī ʾiʿṭaāʾa raqami al-hātifi haḏā laka.
    11. Can you come downstairs? I have something special for you.
      • هل يمكنك أن تأتي إلى أسفل البناء؟ أملك شيئاً مميز أريد أن أعطيك إياه.
      • hall yumkinuka ʾan taʾtī ʾilā ʾasfali al-bināʾ? ʾamliku šaīʾan mumayyaz ʾurīdu ʾan ʾuʿṭiīka yaāh.
    12. Thank you for your love letter this morning. I never could have guessed your feelings.
      • شكراً لك على رسالة الحب هذا الصباح, ما كنت لأحزر كيف تشعرين.
      • šukran laki ʿalā risal-aẗi al-ḥubbu haḏā al-ṣṣabāḥ. maā kuntu liʾaḥzira kaīfa tašʿurīn.

    Choose your victims carefully, though; the idea is to get them to laugh with you, not to hurt their feelings or humiliate them in front of others. Be extra careful if you choose to play a prank on your boss - you don’t want to antagonize them with an inappropriate joke.

    3. Some of the Coolest April Fools’ Pranks To Play on Anybody

    Choose Bad or Good

    Right, now that you know the top million April Fools’ words in Arabic, let’s look at some super pranks and tricks to play on friends, colleagues and family. Some April Fools ideas never grow old, while new ones are born every year.

    Never joke in such a way that it hurts anyone, or humiliates them badly in front of others - the idea is for everybody to laugh and enjoy the fun! Respect is still key, no matter what day of the year it is.

    Cockroach prank

    1- Infestation

    This trick is so simple, yet so creepy, it’s almost unbelievable. Take black paper, cut out the silhouette of a giant cockroach, a spider or another insect, and stick it inside the lampshade of a table lamp. When the lamp is switched on, it will look like a monstrous insect is sitting inside the lampshade. Or, get a whole lot of realistic-looking plastic insects, and spread them over a colleague’s desk and chair, or, at home, over the kids’ beds etc. Creep-factor: stellar.

    2- Which One Doesn’t Fit?

    Put the photo of a celebrity or a notorious politician in a frame, and take it to work on April Fools’ Day. Hang the photo on the staff picture wall, and wait. You’ll be surprised how long it can take for people to notice that one picture doesn’t fit.

    3- Something Weird in the Restroom

    At work, replace the air freshener in the restroom with something noxious like insect killer, oven cleaner or your own odious mixture in a spray bottle. Be sure to cover the bottle’s body so no one suspects a swap.

    Or paint a bar of soap with clear nail polish, and leave it at the hand wash basin. It will not lather.

    Or, if your workplace’s restroom has partitioned toilets with short doors, arrange jeans or trousers and shoes on all but one of the toilet covers, so it looks like every stall is occupied. Now wait for complaints, and see how long it takes for someone to figure out the April Fools’ Day prank. You’ll probably wish you had a camera inside the restroom. But, unless you don’t mind getting fired, don’t put your own recording device in there!

    Funny Face

    4- Call Me Funny

    Prepare and print out a few posters with the following instructions: Lion Roar Challenge! Call this number - 123-456-7890 - and leave your best lion’s roar as voicemail! Best roarer will be announced April 10 in the cafeteria. Prize: $100. (Lion’s roar is just an example; you can use any animal call, or even a movie character’s unique sound, such as Chewbacca from Star Wars. The weirder, the funnier. Obviously!) Put the posters up in the office where most of the staff is likely to see them. Now wait for the owner of the number to visit you with murderous intent. Have a conciliatory gift ready that’s not a prank.

    5- Minty Cookies

    This is another simple but hugely effective prank - simply separate iced cookies, scrape off the icing, and replace it with toothpaste. Serve during lunch or tea break at work, or put in your family’s lunch boxes. Be sure to take photos of your victim’s faces when they first bite into your April Fools’ cookies.

    6- Wild Shopping

    At your local grocer, place a realistic-looking plastic snake or spider among the fresh vegetables. Now wait around the corner for the first yell.

    7- The Oldest Trick in the Book

    Don’t forget probably the oldest, yet very effective April Fools’ joke in the book - smearing hand cream or Vaseline on a door handle that most staff, family or friends are likely to use. Yuck to the max!

    8- Sneeze On Me

    Another golden oldie is also gross, yet harmless and utterly satisfying as a prank. Fill a small spray bottle that you can easily conceal with water. Walk past a friend, colleague or one of your kids, and fake a sneeze while simultaneously spraying them with a bit of water. Expect to be called a totally disgusting person. Add a drop of lovely smelling essential oil to the water for extra confusion.

    9- Word Play Repairs

    Put a fresh leek in the hand wash basin at home or work, and then tell your housemates or colleagues this: “There’s a huge leak in the restroom/bathroom basin, it’s really serious. Please can someone go have a look?!” Expect exasperation and smiles all around. Note that this prank is only likely to work where people understand English well.

    10- Scary Face

    Print out a very scary face on an A4 sheet of paper, and place it in a colleague’s, or one of your kid’s drawers, so it’s the first thing they see when they open the drawer. You may not be very popular for a while.

    11- Wake Up To Madness

    Put foamy shaving cream, or real whipped cream on your hand, and wake your kid up by tickling their nose with it. As long as they get the joke, this could be a wonderful and fun way to start April Fools’ Day.

    Computer Prank

    12- Computer Prank

    This one’s fabulous, if you have a bit of time to fiddle with a colleague, friend or your kid’s computer. It is most effective on a computer where most of the icons they use are on the desktop background itself (as opposed to on the bottom task bar).

    Take and save a screenshot of their desktop with the icons. Set this screenshot as their background image. Now delete all the working icons. When they return to their computer, wait for the curses when no amount of clicking on the icons works.

    13- Monster Under the Cup

    This one will also work well anywhere people meet. Take a paper cup, and write the following on it in black pen: “Danger! Don’t lift, big spider underneath.” Place it upside-down on prominent flat surface, such as a kitchen counter, a colleague’s desk or a restaurant table. Expect some truly interesting responses.

    Door Prank

    14- Prank Door

    Write in large letters on a large and noticeable piece of paper: PUSH. Tape this notice on a door that should be pulled to open, and watch the hilarious struggle of those clever souls who actually read signs.

    4. How Can ArabicPod101 Make Your April Fools’ Day Special?

    If you happen to visit Arabic speaking countries like Arabic speaking country, or if you work for any Arabic speaking company, knowing the above Arabic prankster phrases can really lighten up your day. Showing you have a sense of humor can go a long way to cement good relationships in any situation. These phrases are at your disposal for free, as well as are these 100 core Arabic words, which you will learn how to pronounce perfectly.

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    Also, don’t stop at learning April Fools’ phrases in Arabic - bone up your Arabic language skills with these FREE key phrases. Yes, ArabicPod101 doesn’t joke when it comes to effective, fun and easy learning.

    Now, as a bonus, test our super-learning technology, and learn the Top 1000 most useful phrases in Arabic below! But that’s not all. Read on to learn how you can be eligible for large enrollment discounts at ArabicPod101.

    5. Top 1000 Most Useful Phrases in Arabic - testing new technology

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