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100 Arabic Nouns You Can’t Live Without



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

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

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

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

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


1. A Few Quick Notes on Arabic Nouns



Nouns 1

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

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

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

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

2. List of Basic Arabic Nouns by Category



Nouns 2

1- Time



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

اليَوْم (al-yawm) — today


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

غَداً (ġadan) — tomorrow


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

أَمس (ʾams) — yesterday


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

يَوْم (yawm) — day


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

أُسبوع (ʾusbū) — weekʿ


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

شَهر (šahr) — month


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

عام (ʿām) — year


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

رَمَضان (ramaḍān) — Ramadan


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

2- The Body



woman Meditating

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

قَدَم (qadam) — foot


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

ساق (sāq) — leg


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

رَأس (raʾs) — head


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

ذِراع (ḏirāʿ) — arm


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

يَد (yad) — hand


يَداي كَبيرَتان.
yadāī kabīratān.
My hands are big.

مَعِدَة (maʿidah) — stomach


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

ظَهر (ẓahr) — back


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

صَدر (ṣadr) — chest


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

خَصر (ḫaṣr) — waist


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

3- The Family



Nouns 3

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

عائِلَة (ʿāʾilah) — family


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

أُم (ʾum) — mother


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

أَب (ʾab) — father


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

وَالِد (walid) — parent


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

طِفل (ṭifl) — child


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

اِبنَة (ibnah) — daughter


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

إبن (ʾibn) — son


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

عَمَّة (ʿammah) — aunt


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

عَم (ʿam) — uncle


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

زَوْج (zawǧ) — husband


هَذا زَوْجي.
haḏā zawǧī.
This is my husband.

زَوْجَة (zawǧah) — wife


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

4- Working Life



Man Working at Laptop with Coffee in Hand

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

بائِع (bāʾiʿ) — salesman


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

بائِعَة (bāʾiʿah) — saleswoman


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

أُستاذ (ʾustāḏ) — teacher [male]


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

أُستاذَة ʾ(ustāḏah) — teacher [female]


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

مُدير (mudīr) — manager [male]


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

مُديرَة (mudīrah) — manager [female]


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

طَبيب (ṭabīb) — doctor [male]


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

طَبيبَة (ṭabībah) — doctor [female]


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

طَبّاخ (ṭabbāḫ) — cook [male]


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

طَبّاخَة (ṭabbāḫah) — cook [female]


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

مُوَظَّف (muwaẓẓaf) — employee [male]


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

مُوَظَّفَة (muwaẓẓafah) — employee [female]


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

5- School Days



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

كِتاب (kitāb) — book


اَعطِني كِتابَك.
aʿṭinī kitābak.
Give me your book.

قلم (qalam) — pen


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

قَلَم رُصاص (qalam ruṣāṣ) — pencil


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

جامِعَة (ǧāmiʿah) — university


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

دَفتَر (daftar) — notebook


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

مَدرَسَة (madrasah) — school


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

طالِب (ṭalib) — student


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

وَاجِب (waǧib) — homework


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

اِمتِحان (imtiḥān) — exam


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

مَقَص (maqaṣ) — scissors


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

6- At the Restaurant



Artfully Set Table

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

طَبَق (ṭabaq) — plate


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

وِعاء (wiʿāʾ) — bowl


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

سِكّين (sikkīn) — knife


أسقَطتُ سِكّيني.
ʾasqaṭtu sikkīnī.
I dropped my knife.

شَوكَة (šawkah) — fork


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

ملعقة (haḏihi al-šawkāt ṯaqīlah.) — spoon


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

فِنجان (finǧān) — cup


اَعطِني فِنجانُك.
aʿṭinī finǧānuk.
Give me your cup.

إبريق الشاي (ʾibrīq al-šāī) — teapot


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

نادِل (nādil) — waiter


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

نادِلَة (nādilah) — waitress


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

فاتورَة (fātūrah) — bill


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

7- Food and Drink



Nouns 4

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

ماء (māʾ) — water


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

قَهوَة (qahwah) — coffee


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

شاي (šāī) — tea


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

لَحْم بَقَرِي (laḥm baqarī) — beef


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

دَجَاج (daǧāǧ) — chicken


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

لَحم الخَروف (laḥm al-ḫarūf) — lamb


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

سَمَك (samak) — fish


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

عَصير فَوَاكِه (ʿaṣīr fawakih) — fruit juice


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

مَشروب غازي (mašrūb ġāzī) — soda


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

حَليب (ḥalīb) — milk


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

8- Mealtimes



Bean and Lentil Soup

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

فُطور (fuṭūr) — breakfast


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

غَداء (ġadāʾ) — lunch


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

عَشاء (ʿašāʾ) — dinner


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

وَجبَة خَفيفَة (waǧbah ḫafīfah) — snack


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

وَليمَة (walīmah) — feast


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

9- Transportation



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

شارِع (šāriʿ) — street


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

سَيّارَة (sayyārah) — car


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

باص (bāṣ) — bus


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

مَحَطَّةُ الباص (maḥaṭṭaẗu al-bāṣ) — bus station


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

طَيَّارَة (ṭayyārah) — plane


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

دَرّاجَة هَوَائِيَّة (darrāǧah hawaʾiyyah) — bicycle


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

دَرّاجَة نارِيَّة (darrāǧah nāriyyah) — motorcycle


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

تاكسي (taksi) — taxi


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

قِطار (qiṭār) — train


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

مَحَطَّةُ القِطار (maḥaṭṭaẗu al-qiṭār) — train station


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

10- Technology



Phones, Tablet, and Laptop

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

تلفاز (tilfaz) — television [device]


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

حاسوب مَحمول (ḥāsūb maḥmūl) — laptop


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

واي فاي (wai fai) — wifi


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

كَلِمَةُ السِر (kalimaẗu al-sir) — password


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

فيسبوك (feisbuk) — Facebook


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

إنستاجرام (ʾinstāgrām) — Instagram


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

هاتِف (hātif) — phone


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

كاميرا (kāmerā) — camera


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

لَوْح (lawḥ) — tablet


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

11- Around the Home



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

ثَلّاجَة (ṯallāǧah) — refrigerator


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

غَسّالَة (ġassalah) — washing machine


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

مايْكرووِيف (māykrūwev) — microwave


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

مَروَحَة (marwaḥah) — fan


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

مُكَيِّف الهَوَاء (mukayyif al-hawaʾ) — air conditioner


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

فُرن (forn) — stove


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

طاوِلَة (ṭāwilah) — table


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

كُرسي (kursī) — chair


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

كَنَبَة (kanabah) — sofa


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

باب (bab) — door


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

نافِذَة (nāfiḏah) — window


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

Conclusion



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

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

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

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

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Open Ears and Minds with a Great Compliment in Arabic

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Have you gotten a nice compliment recently?

The right compliment, delivered genuinely, can make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

That’s exactly the feeling you want to be giving locals when you’re speaking to them in Arabic. A polite and well-placed compliment in Arabic is going to be an absolute hit anywhere, from the boardroom to the hotel lounge. So why is a word of praise in Arabic so highly valued?

First, Arab culture values expansive and literary-sounding compliments. If you can take care of the language side, you’ll come across as very well-read and educated.

Second, a foreigner who can speak good Arabic is still a rarity in today’s world. You’ll very much stand out from the crowd and make yourself remembered.

So how do you go about actually giving compliments in Arabic?

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Table of Contents

  1. What to Say and What not to Say When Complimenting Appearance
  2. What to Say Back
  3. Compliments are Business as Usual
  4. Complimenting the Family
  5. Complimenting People on What They’ve Done
  6. Conclusion

1. What to Say and What not to Say When Complimenting Appearance

Woman Smiling

Something interesting about Arabic culture is that you should try not to compliment others’ possessions.

That’s because it may cause the person receiving the compliment to feel as though you’d really like to have what they have (i.e. that you’re envious). It puts them in an awkward place where it’s not quite polite to just accept the compliment; it’s better for them to either downplay it or laugh it off.

Close friends and family members, though, may compliment each other on clothing or accessories. The reason is simply that with more context between the two people, there’s no risk of misunderstanding.

Suppose someone has a new dress. Her sister might say:

“It looks like the moon.”

.شَكلُهُ مِثلَ القَمَر

šakluhu miṯla al-qamar.

“How nice is it!”

ما أروعه!

mā ʾarwaʿuh!

How about smell? In English, it’s acceptable to say that someone “smells good.” But in Arabic, this can be taken in very much the wrong way.

Saying the equivalent in Arabic can only be used for complimenting someone’s perfume, and if they aren’t actually wearing perfume, the phrase is going to be taken very sarcastically.

“What a lovely smell!”

يَالَها مِن رائِحَةٍ جَميلَة.

yalahā min rāʾiḥaẗin ǧamīlah.

There are also some Arabic compliment categories that don’t really exist in English. Think about it: In English, we might compliment someone’s clothing, their hair, their makeup, or perhaps even their physical features if we’re being flirty.

Speaking of flirty, strangers of the opposite sex should, as a rule, avoid paying each other compliments like these about their appearances. The bar for what’s considered flirting is much, much lower in Arab culture.

In Arabic, though, the concept of cleanliness is considered very important and worthy of respect. That’s why there’s a separate compliment specifically for someone who’s gotten a nice haircut!

“Nice haircut!”

نَعيماً!

naʿīman!

2. What to Say Back

Compliments

When you learn a language, you’ve really got to fix it in your mind, imagining yourself in the position of the people in the sample dialogues.

And how can you imagine taking compliments if you don’t know how to respond?

There are generally three ways that people in the Arab world respond to compliments, and each has its own connotations.

First, you can simply accept the compliment graciously with a simple “Thank you.” This is probably the most common response in the Western world.

Thank you.”

شُكراً

šukran

Perhaps even more common, though, is deferring or deflecting the compliment. This shows your humility, and doing it skillfully is a major way to win points in a conversation.

“Oh, it’s nothing really.”

أوه، هَذا لا شَيْء حَقاً.

ʾūh, haḏā lā šayʾ ḥaqan.

And one last thing to keep in mind: Be specific, and be sincere.

Anyone can tell when you’re just fishing for words, though of course, you’ll get a little leeway as a foreign speaker of Arabic. Save your compliments until you’re ready to speak from the heart, and you know they’ll be treasured.

The best way to do this is to be specific about what you’re complimenting, so that the person you’re talking to understands that you’re paying attention to them. Check out these compliments, tailor-made for these different situations!

3. Compliments are Business as Usual

Business Professionals Complimenting Each Other

In Arab business culture, as in the West, it can be seen as “trying too hard” for someone to compliment their superior. Compliments and gifts should generally flow downwards.

In addition, Arab business culture is generally more conservative than Western business culture. Therefore, when the compliments do come, it usually means much more than it does in English-speaking countries.

Let’s take an example of a boss who’s asked a new employee to work overtime.

“You put in such long hours!”

لَقَد عَمِلتَ لِساعاتٍ طَوِيلَة!

laqad ʿamilta lisāʿātin ṭawilah!

The employee might then respond politely with:

“It’s nothing, don’t bother to mention it!”

هَذا لا شَيْء, لا تُكَلِّف نَفسَكَ عَناء ذِكرِ ذَلِك!

haḏā lā šayʾ, lā tukallif nafsaka ʿanāʾ ḏikri ḏalik!

The business world is a good place to mention compliments for specific things that employees might create, such as a resume, a project, or an award.

“Your resume is impressive.”

سيرَتُك الذاتِيَّة مُدهِشَة.

sīratuka al-ḏātiyyah mudhišah.

“Congratulations on winning ‘Employee of the Month!’”

تَهانينا بِالفَوْزِ بـ”مُوَظَّفِ الشَهر”.

tahānīnā bilfawzi bـ”muwaẓẓafi al-šahr”.

If you happen to be in charge of several Arabic-speaking employees, you can pay them a very deep compliment by humbling yourself in your praise of them.

You shouldn’t ignore the hierarchy that you belong to, so don’t directly put yourself in their places, but do show that you’re impressed. Doing this, especially as a foreigner, means a lot.

“You have all done great work for this quarter, and I am proud to have worked with you.”

لَقَد أَنجَزتُم جَميعاً عَمَلاً رائعاً في هَذا الرُبع، و أَنا فَخورٌ بِالعَمَلِ مَعَكُم

laqad ʾanǧaztum ǧamīʿan ʿamalan rāʾʿan fī haḏā al-rubʿ, wa ʾanā faḫūrun bilʿamali maʿakum.

4. Complimenting the Family

Positive Feelings

In Arab culture, family is something to be very proud of. It’s always a good idea to find something nice to say about someone’s family or children.

Note that “spouse” was not mentioned! As in English, saying nice things about another man’s wife or another woman’s husband is a recipe for disaster.

The typical Arabic compliment when someone shows you a picture of their kids is just one word:

“God has willed it.”

ما شاء الله

mā šāʾ al-llah

This has a sense of “Look at this beautiful thing in the world, isn’t God’s will grand?” It’s very much a set phrase, so you’d do well to learn it by heart.

You can also use these Arabic compliments that sound more like what you’d say in English:

“You must be proud of your children.”

لا بُدَّ أَن تَكونَ فَخوراً بِأبنائِك.

lā budda ʾan takūna faḫūran biʾbnāʾik.

“Your children look healthy and strong!”

أَطفالُكَ يَبدونَ بِصِحَّةٍ و قُوَّةٍ جَيِّدَتَيْن!

ʾaṭfaluka yabdūna biṣiḥḥaẗin wa quwwaẗin ǧayyidatayn!

“May your children be successful!”

أَتَمَنّى أَن يَكونَ أَطفالُكَ ناجِحين!

ʾatamannā ʾan yakūna ʾaṭfal-uka nāǧiḥīn!

With the right compliments here, you may find yourself invited to an Arab wedding!

5. Complimenting People on What They’ve Done

Friends

If you get invited over to someone’s home for dinner, it’s the perfect chance to compliment their cooking. In fact, it’s expected that you’ll praise the food from your host. Remember to take your shoes off after entering!

Naturally, there’s one catch-all word for “tasty” that you can use, and you should.

“Delicious!”

لَذيذ!

laḏīḏ!

Remember, you should be specific about what you’re complimenting. Do you remember your food vocabulary?

“This is fantastic rice.”

هَذا أَرُزٌّ رائِع!

haḏā ʾaruzzun rāʾiʿ!

“The flavors all come together beautifully.”

النَكَهات كُلَّها مُجتَمِعَة بِشَكلٍ جَميل

al-nakahāt kullahā muǧtamiʿah bišaklin ǧamīl.

One classic Arabic format for complimenting something that someone else has done is to compare it to your own abilities, painting your own efforts as hopelessly inadequate.

“You make soup so well, it’s far better than my own soup.”

أَنتَ تُعِدُّ حَساءاً جَيِّداً، إنَّهُ أَفضَل بِكَثير مِن حَسائي

ʾanta tuʿiddu ḥasāʾan ǧayyidan, ʾinnahu ʾafḍal bikaṯīr min ḥasāʾī.

We can practice this same sentence pattern with other skills and hobbies that people like to do.

“Your penmanship is beautiful! My own is just scribbles.”

خَطُّكَ جَميل! خَطّي هُوَ مُجَرَّدُ خَربَشات

ḫaṭṭuka ǧamīl! ḫaṭṭī huwa muǧarradu ḫarbašāt.

6. Conclusion

There are endless situations in addition to these in which a compliment in Arabic might be warranted. And as we’ve shown, there are situations where compliments from some people (such as close friends) are welcome, but from others (strangers of the opposite sex) are far from it.

This kind of thing simply can’t be studied.

No matter how many articles you read about etiquette and communication, they’re all poor substitutes for real experience with the language.

And that’s what you get here with ArabicPod101.com. You get real cultural notes, targeted vocabulary lists, and engaging native-speaker audio content with our podcast.

Why wait? Try out our sample lessons today in the links above, and sign up for a free lifetime account now!

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments section with any questions you may have, or compliment phrases you still want to know!

Happy Arabic learning!

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Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Word Gender in Arabic

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

And many others have spoken “broken” Arabic.

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

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

1. What is Grammatical Gender?

Gender Signs on Chalkboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman Deep in Thought

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

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

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

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

president (male)
رَئيس
raʾīs

president (female)
رَئيسَة
raʾīsah

scientist (male)
عالِم
ʿalim

scientist (female)
عالِمَة
ʿal-imah

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

desert
صَحراء
Ṣaḥrāʾ

hospital
مُستَشفى
mustašfā

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

road
طَريق
ṭarīq

souq
سوق
sūq

knife
سِكّين
sikkīn

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Gender in Arabic Pronouns and Verbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am helping her.
أَنا أُساعِدُها.
ʾanā ʾusāʿiduhā.

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

4. Plural Nouns

Many Dishes and Glasses

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

Take a look at the following sentences.

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

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

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

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

5. Noun Gender Plus Adjectives

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

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

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

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

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

Brown Mouse

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

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

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

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

Same sentence structure, different adjective forms.

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

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

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

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

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

6. Memorizing Gender from the Beginning

Woman Trying to Memorize Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Conclusion

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

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments how comfortable you feel about Arabic word gender so far. Practice will help you get better, but feel free to let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Make Your Point Crystal-Clear with Angry Arabic Phrases

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A lot of people stereotype Arabic as an “angry language.” What does that even mean?

They’re only talking about how it sounds. Anybody who knows any Arabic understands that it’s a language famous for its poetry and scripture, with elegant, untranslatable words for love and beauty.

But Arabs get angry too.

And in this article, we’ll guide you through the process of using the Arabic language to talk about frustration and anger, and even share with you some juicy insults. You won’t find any vulgar curse words here—those are members-only at ArabicPod101.com. This is just a list of angry Arabic phrases to get you started.

Since this topic is personal and emotional, we’re using a lot of colloquial Arabic phrases. It may not all be perfect MSA, but it’s certainly something that communicates straight to the heart.

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Table of Contents

  1. Talking About Your Anger
  2. Talk to the Hand
  3. This is Your Last Warning
  4. Ordering People Around
  5. Blame it All on Them
  6. De-Escalate the Situation
  7. Re-Escalate the Situation
  8. Apologizing
  9. Calming Down
  10. Conclusion

1. Talking About Your Anger

Couple Conversing

Your emotions are important. Most people don’t like to talk about their feelings, so when you come out and directly state how you feel, you might be taken seriously. Here are different ways you can say “I am angry” in Arabic, or describe other negative emotions to those around you.

  • I’m angry.
    أَنا غاضِب.
    ʾanā ġāḍib.
  • That’s annoying.
    هَذا مُزعِج.
    haḏā muzʿiǧ.

Looking for more words about feelings in Arabic? Look no further—they’re right here.

  • What you said made me angry.
    ما قُلتَهُ أَغضَبَني.
    mā qultahu ʾaġḍabanī.
  • I don’t feel good when you do that.
    أنزَعِجُ عِندَما تَفعَلُ ذَلِك.
    ʾnzaʿiǧu ʿindamā tafʿalu ḏalik.
  • It makes me frustrated when we disagree.
    أُحِسُّ بِالإحباط عِندَما لا نَتَّفِق.
    ʾuḥissu bilʾiḥbāṭ ʿindamā lā nattafiq.

2. Talk to the Hand

Talk to the Hand

Is somebody bugging you and not getting the hint? You’ve got permission to be direct. In many cultures, including Arab cultures, these phrases for directly saying that you don’t want to talk to someone are taken rather seriously. Many people aren’t used to communicating in this way. Here are some perfect angry Arabic phrases for communicating this feeling to people.

  • I don’t want to talk to you.
    لا أُريدُ التَكَلُّمَ مَعَك.
    lā ʾurīdu al-takalluma maʿak.
  • It’s none of your business.
    هَذا لَيْسَ مِن شَأنِك.
    haḏā laysa min šaʾnik.
  • This doesn’t concern you.
    هَذا لا يَخُصُّك.
    haḏā lā yaḫuṣṣuk.
  • What are you looking at?
    إلى ما تَنظُر؟
    ʾilā mā tanẓur?
  • Whatever.
    مَهما يَكُن.
    mahmā yakun.

3. This is Your Last Warning

Negative Verbs

Are things heating up in your conversation? You can use these angry phrases in Arabic to get across the idea that if the other person doesn’t stop while they’re ahead, things might get bad.

  • Don’t start anything.
    لا تَبدَأ أَيَّ شَيْء.
    lā tabdaʾ ʾayya šayʾ.
  • You’re in trouble now.
    أَنتَ في مُشكِلَةٍ الآن.
    ʾanta fī muškilaẗin al-ʾān.
  • I’m not going to take that from you.
    لَن أَتَقَبَّل ذَلِكَ مِنك.
    lan ʾataqabbal ḏalika mink.
  • I won’t tell you again.
    لَن أُخبِرُكَ نَفس الشَيْء مُجَدَّداً.
    lan ʾuḫbiruka nafs al-šayʾ muǧaddadan.
  • That’s enough.
    هَذا يَكفي.
    haḏā yakfī.
  • Watch your mouth.
    اِنتَبِه لِكلامِك.
    intabih liklāmik.
  • Back off.
    اِبتَعِد
    ibtaʿid
  • What did you say to me?
    ماذا قُلت لي؟
    māḏā qult lī?

There’s one more phrase that’s particularly hard to translate. Tayyeb is a word with many meanings. Usually, it’s fairly positive or noncommittal, like “fine” or “not bad.” However, it’s very easy to use in a sarcastic or even threatening way. It can mean “Yeah, so what?” and in an annoyed tone, “Watch it.”

4. Ordering People Around

Woman Screaming into Megaphone

Nobody likes to be ordered around, but sometimes when people are pushing your buttons, you just have to snap.

Here we’ve got three great phrases for telling people to just be quiet. First, an all-purpose one:

  • Shut up!
    اِخرَس!
    iḫras!

These next two come from Levantine Arabic, and they’re quite similar on the surface. We’ve translated them both here as “shut your face” because what you’re supposed to shut is actually not the mouth.

Nee’ak refers to the entire cheek, jaw, and mouth area, while boozak is quite similar to “beak” or “snout” in English—thus, the animal connotations make it harsher.

  • Shut your mouth.
    اَغلِق فَمَك.
    aġliq famak.
  • Get out of my face.
    اُغرُب عَن وَجهي.
    uġrub ʿan waǧhī.
  • Get out of my sight.
    اِبتَعِد عَن أَنظاري.
    ibtaʿid ʿan ʾanẓārī.

Here’s a particularly Arab variant of the last two phrases we just heard. This one pops up on lists of “untranslatable words” a lot, but in this context, the message is clear.

  • Go tile the ocean. (Lebanese Arabic)
    روح بَلَّط البَحر.
    rūḥ ballaṭ al-baḥr.
  • Get out and never come back! (Maghrebi Arabic)
    روح بَلا رَجعَة.
    rūḥ balā raǧʿah.

Here’s one last variant, this time from Morocco. Many people say that the Moroccan dialect is the hardest to learn, but one look at your face and everybody will understand what you mean with this phrase:

  • Go away!
    سير بحالَك.
    sīr bḥalak.

5. Blame it All on Them

Complaints

Something’s gone wrong in your life, and you’re not to blame. When another person’s bad decisions have really let you down, you can use these phrases to tell them how much they’ve messed up.

First, we’ll start off with a great pair of lines from Levantine Arabic. Even if you’re not very comfortable with the Arabic language yet, hopefully you can see the difference here and internalize it, because the meaning is quite important!

  • May God forgive you (for what you’ve done).
    الله يِسامحَك.
    Allah yisāmḥak.
  • May God NOT forgive you (for what you’ve done).
    الله لا يِسامحَك.
    Allah la yisāmḥak.

See the difference? One thing was acceptable enough for my prayer, and the other thing? Definitely not, and in fact, I hope it comes back to bite you!

Now for some more all-purpose phrases. First, some declarations of surprise at the sheer audacity of the action.

  • I can’t believe you did that.
    لا أَستَطيعُ أَن أُصَدِّق أَنَّكَ فَعَلتَ ذَلِك.
    lā ʾastaṭīʿu ʾan ʾuṣaddiq ʾannaka faʿalta ḏalik.
  • This is your fault.
    هَذا خَطَؤُك.
    haḏā ḫaṭaʾuk.
  • How could you do this?
    كَيْفَ لَك أَن تَفعَل ذَلِك؟
    kayfa lak ʾan tafʿal ḏalik?
  • I’m disappointed in you.
    أَشعُرُ بِخَيْبَةِ أَمَلٍّ مِنك.
    ʾašʿuru biḫaybaẗi ʾamallin mink.
  • What were you thinking?
    ماذا كُنتَ تَظُن؟
    māḏā kunta taẓun?

These next two phrases sound like a parent chiding their kid in Western culture, but in Arab culture, the concept of shame and dignity is quite different than you may be used to.

  • You should be ashamed of yourself.
    يَجِبُ أَن تَستَحي مِن نَفسِك.
    yaǧibu ʾan tastaḥī min nafsik.
  • You shouldn’t have done that.
    لَم يَكُن عَلَيْكَ القِيَام بِهَذا.
    lam yakun ʿalayka al-qiyam bihaḏā.

6. De-Escalate the Situation

Woman Meditating

Alright, take a deep breath here. I know you’re angry, but violence isn’t the answer. Here are some things you can try saying or doing to calm down and make up.

  • I don’t want any trouble.
    لا أُريدُ أَيَّ مَشاكِل.
    lā ʾurīdu ʾayya mašākil.
  • You’re right, I’m sorry.
    أَنتَ عَلى حَق، أَعتَذِر.
    ʾanta ʿalā ḥaq, ʾaʿtaḏir.
  • Tell me how you feel about it.
    قُل لي كَيْفَ تَشعُرُ حِيَال ذَلِك.
    qul lī kayfa tašʿuru ḥiyal ḏalik.
  • We don’t have to fight about this.
    لَيْسَ عَلَيْنا المُشاجَرَة حَوْلَ هَذا.
    laysa ʿalaynā al-mušāǧarah ḥawla haḏā.
  • I shouldn’t have said that.
    لَم يَكُن عَلَيَّ قَوْلُ ذَلِك.
    lam yakun ʿalayya qawlu ḏalik.
  • Let’s agree to disagree.
    فَلنَتَّفِق عَلى أَنَّنا لَم نَتَّفِق.
    falnattafiq ʿalā ʾannanā lam nattafiq.
  • This isn’t worth fighting over.
    هَذا لا يَستَحِق المُشاجَرَة.
    haḏā lā yastaḥiq al-mušāǧarah.
  • Calm down.
    إهدَأ.
    ʾihdaʾ.

Note: Most people hate being told to calm down in any language! If you don’t use this one at the right moment, it might really wind someone up. Speaking of which…

7. Re-Escalate the Situation

Kid Threatening Another Kid

Couldn’t de-escalate? Whatever. Now it’s time for some words and phrases designed to provoke—so you’d better be ready to back them up with action if need be.

  • Idiot!
    !غَبي
    ġabī!
  • Ugly moron!
    يَالَكَ مِن قَبيح مَعتوه!
    yalaka min qabīḥ maʿtūh!
  • Are you ugly AND stupid?
    هَل أَنتَ قَبيح وغَبِيّ؟
    hal ʾanta qabīḥ ūġabiyy?
  • You are a shoe! (Egyptian Arabic)
    إنتَ جَزمَة!
    ʾinta ǧazmah!

Thrown off by that one? Shoes and feet are considered particularly unclean in Arab culture, and so this insult is pretty low-down.

  • You are a donkey!
    إنتَ حمار.
    ʾinta ḥmār.

From Egypt, here’s a phrase that can come off as quite threatening in some contexts.

  • May your house be destroyed!
    يِخرِب بيتَك.
    yiḫrib bītak.

You should know that there are lots of things that don’t translate well between cultures. In Arab culture, calling somebody a liar or crazy is considered a big deal. You might think you’re just joking around, but these feelings go very deep into the culture.

In fact, a lot of these insults might sound pretty silly in English! But that doesn’t mean you can use them freely. Many people have lost friends over arguments stemming from “I didn’t mean it!” / “Then why did you say it?!”

So although some of these might seem fun to say, remember that as an outsider, you’ll never really grasp what it’s like to be on the receiving end of these.

8. Apologizing

So in that case, you should also be well-equipped with some apology words. We have a couple of different lessons on apologies in Arabic, so don’t forget to check those out. This section is just to cool you off after reading the rest of the article!

Did you go too far with your insults? Try these phrases.

  • I don’t know what came over me.
    لا أَعرِف ما حَدَث بي.
    lā ʾaʿrif mā ḥadaṯ bī.
  • I know that I hurt you.
    أَعرِفُ أَنَّني قَد آذَيْتُك.
    ʾaʿrifu ʾannanī qad ʾāḏaytuk.
  • I’m sorry.
    عُذراً.
    ʿuḏran.
  • Words can’t express how much I regret what I said.
    الكَلِمات لا تَستَطيعُ أَن تُعَبِّرَ عَن نَدَمي عَلى ما قُلتَه.
    al-kalimāt lā tastaṭīʿu ʾan tuʿabbira ʿan nadamī ʿalā mā qultah.
  • Will you forgive me?
    هَل يُمكِنُكَ أَن تُسامِحَني.
    hal yumkinuka ʾan tusāmiḥanī.

None of these is guaranteed to work, but if you’re lucky, you might just hear:

  • It’s no problem at all.
    لا مُشكِلَة عَلى الإطلاق.
    lā muškilah ʿalā al-ʾiṭlāq.
  • Forget it.
    إنسى الأَمر.
    ʾinsā al-ʾamr.

9. Calming Down

Getting Over a Fight

Everybody pretty much agrees that it’s not good to fight with others. If you’re angry, there are lots of things you can do to calm down instead. You can use these phrases to either invite others to calm down, or simply do them yourself.

  • I’m gonna go take a little walk.
    سَأَخرُج لِأَتَمَشّى قَليلاً.
    saʾaḫruǧ liʾatamaššā qalīlan.
  • Take some deep breaths.
    خُذ بَعض الأَنفاس الطَوِيلَة.
    ḫuḏ baʿḍ al-ʾanfās al-ṭawilah.
  • Try to see it from my point of view.
    حاوِل أَن تَرى ذَلِك مِن وِجهَةِ نَظَري.
    ḥāwil ʾan tarā ḏalik min wiǧhaẗi naẓarī.
  • Let’s come back to this in a few minutes.
    فَلنَعُد إلى هَذا بَعد بِضع دَقائِق.
    falnaʿud ʾilā haḏā baʿd biḍʿ daqāʾiq.
  • Let me try to forget about this.
    دَعني أُحاوِل أَن أَنسى الأَمر.
    daʿnī ʾuḥāwil ʾan ʾansā al-ʾamr.

You’ll note that a lot of these phrases can be applied in many situations, from the boardroom to your personal life. That’s because the sentiments of tolerance and understanding are recognized anywhere.

Last, here’s an Arabic idiom that means “You have no bad feelings inside of you.” Say this to remind people that it’s true.

  • Your heart is white.
    قَلبُكَ أَبيَض.
    qalbuka ʾabyaḍ.

10. Conclusion

You may be wondering, “Is that it?”

Arabic is ancient, Arabic is poetic, Arabic is beautiful, but doesn’t it have anything stronger than that?

Yes. Very much yes. But we didn’t want to print it here.

Members of ArabicPod101 enjoy many benefits—fantastic grammar explanations, vocabulary exercises, and a world-class podcast course.

And a bunch of dirty words.

Arabic curse words are vibrant and full of life, and if you really want to understand Arab culture like a local, you’ve got to know some of them.

Plus, after you sign up on our website and access the word list, you’ll be able to keep learning Arabic with the other materials, in the best way possible!

What’s your favorite angry Arabic phrase on this list? Feel ready to use them when the time comes, or to let someone know you’re angry in Arabic? Let us know in the comments.

Just remember to use your new powers of language responsibly. We’re not liable for any trouble you get into—and we hope that you use your fluent Arabic to navigate any tricky situation respectfully.

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Life Event Messages: Happy Birthday in Arabic & Beyond

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Language is really about making connections.

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

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

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

1. Birthdays

Happy Birthday

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

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

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

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

    عيد ميلاد سعيد
    ʿīdu mīlādin saʿīd
    Happy birthday!

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

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

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

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

2. Holidays

Basic Questions

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

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

    رَمَضان مُبارَك
    ramaḍān mubārak
    Happy Ramadan!

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

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

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

    عيد هانوكة سعيد
    ʿiīdu hānūkkah saʿīd
    Happy Hanukkah!

3. Weddings and Anniversaries

Marriage Proposal

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

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

ما شاء الله!
mā šāʾ allah!
Praise Allah!

سُبحان الله!
subḥān allah!
Thanks to Allah!

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

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

زَوَاج مُبارَك!
zawaǧ mubārak!
Happy wedding!

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

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

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

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

عيدُ ميلادٍ سَعيد!
ʿīdu mīlādin saʿīd!
Happy anniversary!

4. Babies

Talking about Age

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Graduation and Academic Success

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Workplace Success

Man Calculating Numbers at Work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Bad News in General

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

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

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

Funerals

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

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

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

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

Poor Health

Little Girl Sick in Bed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Good News in General

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

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

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

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

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

ألف مَبْرُوك
alf mabrūk
A thousand blessings!

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

Silhouette of Man Against Sunset

9. Conclusion

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

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

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

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Discussing the Weather in Arabic Like a Pro

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Socially, weather can bring us together.

I mean that quite literally, actually—if you’re caught in the rain, you can share an umbrella or duck under an awning with a stranger (while expressing that you’re cold in Arabic!). Or perhaps if it’s a beautiful day, you call up a friend for a bike ride and talk about the nice weather in Arabic.

Or maybe you just need to learn weather terms in Arabic so you can understand the Arab weather forecast!

Roman Riding Bicycle on Nice Day

Have you thought about how you might discuss the weather in Arabic? For example, the weather Dubai United Arab Emirates experiences, or the Arabic weather report you just heard?

Even though the weather is one of the first topics in any language class, most people never realize how rich language can be when you want to describe the natural world.

When learning weather vocab in Arabic, most people get to “It is raining,” and “It is cold,” and stop there. But not you.

Because right here, you’ll learn a ton of different phrases and sentence patterns for talking about weather in Arabic. These will help you swiftly and confidently speak in Arabic about any kind of weather event.

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Table of Contents

  1. Start with Some Questions
  2. What to Expect Weather-Wise in Different Arab Countries
  3. Complaining about the Weather
  4. First Hot, Then Cold
  5. Weather-Related Natural Events
  6. Idioms about Weather in Arabic
  7. How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic Conversation

1. Start with Some Questions

Weather

It’s pretty logical to begin learning here with some questions. After all, questions and answers form the backbone of any conversation. To start practicing Arabic, all you need to do is ask a question about something nearby, and you’re off and running!

It would be a little weird to ask whether it’s raining or not right now (just open a window or watch an Arabic weather report), so here the most logical way to ask is with the future tense.

  • هَل تَظُن أَنَّها سَتُمطِر اليَوْم؟
    hal taẓun ʾannahā satumṭir al-yawm?
    Do you think it’ll rain today?
  • هَل سَتَكونُ الحَرارَة عالِيَة اليَوْم؟
    hal satakūnu al-ḥarārah ʿaliyah al-yawm?
    Is it going to be hot today?
  • لا, لا أَظُن أَنَّها سَتَكون كَذَلِك.
    lā, lā ʾaẓun ʾannahā satakūn kaḏalik.
    No, I don’t think it will.

Another really common thing that you should get used to is answering questions about your own background. And since the weather is something that everybody experiences, it’s a common starting point to learn more about somebody else.

  • هَل تَسقُط الثُلوج في المَكان الَّذي تَعيشُ فيه؟
    hal tasquṭ al-ṯulūǧ fī al-makān allaḏī taʿīšu fīh?
    Does it snow where you live?
  • هَل الجَوْ حار أَم بارِد في المَكان الَّذي تَعيشُ فيه؟
    hal al-ǧaw ḥār ʾam bārid fī al-makān allaḏī taʿīšu fīh?
    Is it hot or cold where you live?

Personally, I can never be satisfied by giving a simplified answer. Countries are big! So I always say:

  • بَعض الأَماكِن ساخِنَة و بَعض الأَماكِن بارِدَة. لَكِنّي أُحِبُّ الطَقسَ هُنا!
    baʿḍ al-ʾamākin sāḫinah wa baʿḍ al-ʾamākin bāridah. lakinnī ʾuḥibbu al-ṭaqsa hunā!
    Some places are hot and some places are cold. But I like the weather here!

The above response is also a good way to compliment the nice weather in Arabic.

2. What to Expect Weather-Wise in Different Arab Countries

Next up, it’s essential to know the general weather conditions in Arabic. So, what types of weather in Arabic-speaking countries should you expect?

Well, the seasons vary from place to place, and depending on the time of year. That said, talking about the weather and seasons in Arabic is a great way to keep a conversation going (and stay relevant).

Let’s take a quick look at three different Arabic-speaking countries in terms of the weather they usually experience. Consider this a rough, preliminary Arabic weather report! 😉 We’ll also include some Arabic phrases for you to get a head start on your geography!

1- Qatar

Qatar, for starters, has a pretty regular climate across the whole country—which isn’t surprising, as it’s not a huge place.

There are two main seasons: a hot season from April to October (and I mean really hot), and a cooler season from November to March. Most foreign tourists who aren’t acclimated to the heat arrive in January or February to avoid any surprise rainfall that might appear at the end of the year.

Visitors usually head to the long stretches of sandy beaches and coastal resorts during that time. Of course, if you head away from the coast and into the desert, you’ll notice the extreme ranges in temperature that can occur in a single day. All this said, you should definitely know how to talk about hot weather in Arabic.

  • قَطَر غالِباً ما تَكونُ حارَّة و جافَّة طول السَنَة
    qaṭar ġaliban mā takūnu ḥārrah wa ǧāffah ṭūl al-sanah
    Qatar is mostly hot and dry all year.

Dry and Cracked Earth

2- Morocco

When talking about seasons in Arabic-speaking Morocco, it’s generally Mediterranean in climate throughout the year. Cool breezes from the sea do a great job at keeping down summer heat in the coastal cities. There are forests in the mountains and deserts in the lowlands.

  • الجَوُّ في المَغرِب رَطِب و مُمطِر قُرب الساحِل.
    al-ǧawwu fī al-maġrib raṭib wa mumṭir qurb al-sāḥil.
    The weather in Morocco is cool and wet near the coast.

3- Egypt

Egypt shares some features with both Morocco and Qatar, though because of its wider range in geography, there’s a little more variety. The cities on the northern coast are definitely cooler and milder than the rest of the country. In the desert areas to the south, there’s virtually no rainfall; that’s why some of the ancient ruins are so well-preserved. About once every hundred years, there’s even a cold snap and some cities can experience snowfall. Head up into the mountains in Sinai, and you can expect some snow every winter.

  • في مِصر, الشَمال رَطِب و الجَنوب حار.
    fī miṣr, al-šamal raṭib wa al-ǧanūb ḥār.
    In Egypt, the north is cool and the south is hot.

All three of these countries have the mild danger of dusty winds that can come blowing in from the desert regions, making life unpleasant in late spring or summer for anyone caught in a sandstorm. Each country has its own name for this wind, too. In Egypt, this word is خَماسين‎ (ḫamāsīn‎), and in Morocco, it’s عجاج (Aajaj).

Just recently, the spring of 2019 brought surprisingly cold and wet weather to cities across the Middle East. There was flooding in Tunisia and snow in Saudi Arabia. It just goes to show that you’ve got to be prepared for any kind of conditions!

3. Complaining about the Weather

Complaints

Want to express dislike for a season in Arabic? When it’s really hot (hot weather in Arabic-speaking countries is unavoidable), really rainy, or really cold, you can often break the ice with a stranger by griping about whatever’s going on meteorologically.

To talk about what you don’t like about a season in Arabic, here’s a set phrase you can use anytime you like:

  • أَكرَهُ الذَهاب خارِجاً عِندَما يَكونُ الجَوْ هَكَذا
    ʾakrahu al-ḏahāb ḫāriǧan ʿindamā yakūnu al-ǧaw hakaḏā
    I really hate going outside when the weather is like this.

In the summer months, you may experience brief, but intense thunderstorms and cloudbursts. Did you remember to bring your umbrella?

  • آه, لا! لَقَد نَسيتُ مِظَلَّتي. هَل يُمكِنُني اِقتِراض مِظَلَّتِك؟
    ʾāh, lā! laqad nasītu miẓallatī. hal yumkinunī iqtirāḍ miẓallatik?
    Oh no, I forgot my umbrella! Can I borrow yours?

Person Struggling to Walk in Heavy Rain

Arab culture is very concerned with cleanliness, which can offer you some unique ways of describing the weather in Arabic. In Islam, for instance, you have to wash your feet and perform wodo’ before praying at a mosque. Therefore, in the hot and dusty season in Arabic countries, you’ll definitely be able to complain that you desperately need a shower.

  • يُوجَدُ الكَثيرُ مِن الغُبار هُنا! يَجِب عَلَيَّ الذَهابُ إلى المَنزِل لِلاِستِحمام.
    yūǧadu al-kaṯīru min al-ġubār hunā! yaǧib ʿalayya al-ḏahābu ʾilā al-manzil lilistiḥmām.
    There is so much dust here! I need to go home and shower.

And lastly, it’s important to learn to express yourself when the weather is just too much for your taste. When it’s time to head back to your room and give up for the rest of the day, use this:

  • إنَّ الجَوَّ حارٌّ جِدّاً بِالنِسبَةِ لي, لا يُمكِنُني أَن أَتَحَمَّل!
    ʾinna al-ǧawwa ḥārrun ǧiddan bilnisbaẗi lī, lā yumkinunī ʾan ʾataḥammal!
    It’s too hot for me! I can’t stand it!

4. First Hot, Then Cold

Autumn

You might think that you won’t need to learn to describe cold weather. But then you’ll be wrong and cold when you get there. Hot weather in Arabic-speaking countries isn’t the only thing you’ll experience. Thus, you should be able to talk about the cold in Arabic.

In order to really help you remember the variety of weather conditions that can appear no matter where you go in the MENA region, here’s a short (and a little sad) story made up of common phrases you can use in your day-to-day life. These should make talking about the weather in Arabic a breeze.

  • الجَوُّ رائِع اليَوْم!
    al-ǧawwu rāʾiʿ al-yawm!
    The weather’s great today!
  • السَماء صافِيَة و الشَمسُ قَوِيَّة.
    al-samāʾ ṣāfiyah wa al-šamsu qawiّah.
    The sky is clear and the sun is strong.
  • هُناكَ بَعض الغُيُوم في السَماء.
    hunāka baʿḍ al-ġuyuūm fī al-samāʾ.
    There are some clouds in the sky.
  • السَماء بَدَأَت تُمطِر, لَكِنَّني لَيسَت لَدَيَّ مِظَلَّة.
    al-samāʾ badaʾat tumṭir, lakinnanī laīsat ladayya miẓallah.
    It’s starting to rain, but I don’t have an umbrella.
  • إنَّ الجَوَّ بارِد, أُريدُ الذَهاب إلى المَنزِل.
    ʾinna al-ǧawwa bārid, ʾurīdu al-ḏahāb ʾilā al-manzil.
    It’s cold and I want to go home!

Woman Uncomfortably Cold in Snow

When you learn these, think about how these patterns can be changed to express whatever is actually happening to you. Maybe the weather is actually كارثي (karithi) meaning “terrible” or the sky is ضبابي (dababi) meaning “hazy.”

Now that you have a good idea of how to express that you’re cold in Arabic, let’s move on to natural events!

5. Weather-Related Natural Events

Spring

Words for weather in Arabic don’t stop after “hot” and “too hot.” Here are three other types of major weather occurrences that you may end up hearing about or running into, because there can be severe weather in Arabic-speaking countries from time to time.

Flooding

Periods of drought followed by sudden rain can be disastrous. Oftentimes, cities aren’t equipped to deal with particularly heavy rainfall, and the streets fill with water in the blink of an eye. In more rural areas, this can even cause mudslides.

However, it’s the locals who will know for sure. With a lifetime of seeing rains and floods, both serious and mild, they’ll be able to give you a clear answer to this question:

  • إنَّها تُمطِر بِشِدَّة, هَل تَظُنُّ أَنَّ هَذا سَيُسَبِّبُ فَيَضاناً؟
    ʾinnahā tumṭir bišiddah, hal taẓunnu ʾanna haḏā sayusabbibu fayaḍānan?
    It’s raining really hard. Do you think this will create a flood?

Earthquake

Earthquakes are probably the most common natural disaster that happens in Arabic-speaking regions. Fortunately, they’re only rarely serious.

Thanks to a couple of tough lessons learned in the past, new building codes make it totally safe to be in a city during a minor earthquake.

  • الزِلزال البارِحَة لَم يَكُن خَطيراً.
    al-zilzal- al-bāriḥah lam yakun ḫaṭīran.
    The earthquake yesterday wasn’t serious.

Drought

Of course, when you have hot and dry winds and huge swaths of desert in your country, you need to be prepared to combat the occasional drought.

  • هَل إنتَهى الجَفاف؟
    hal ʾintahā al-ǧafāf?
    Has the drought ended yet?

6. Idioms about Weather in Arabic

Since weather is something that’s existed in every culture throughout history, it makes sense that this unifying theme would carry through into idioms. Most people know the English idiom “raining cats and dogs,” but have you ever heard these Arabic ones? You probably won’t hear these on the Arabic weather forecast!

  • كُل شِدَّة سَتَهون، الصَبر مُفتاح الفَرَج
    kul šiddah satahūn, al-ṣabr muftāḥ al-faraǧ
    Every intensity will loosen up; patience is the key to relief.

Woman Looking Ahead to Something

Another great thing is that weather tends to be relatively predictable the world over, so people often use the same metaphors with the same meanings. It’s not hard to understand why this idiom means “good things will come after hardship.”

  • إذا هَبَّتْ رِيَاحُك فاغتَنِمها!
    ʾiḏā habaّt riyaḥuk fāġtanimhā!
    If a wind blows, ride it!

And when that good thing finally does come, you need to seize the opportunity! However, it’s never good to stake all your fortune on circumstance. Remember…

  • تَجري الرِيَاح بِما لا تَشتَهي السُفُن
    taǧrī al-riyaḥ bimā lā taštahī al-sufun
    Winds blow counter to what ships desire.

In other words, we are always at the mercy of fate.

Now let me put a caveat here. Foreign learners of pretty much every language run the risk of misusing idioms. I don’t mean saying “raining cats and dogs” during a light drizzle, either. What I mean is simply not knowing the context in which different turns of phrase are frequently used.

This is especially true with learning Arabic because the Modern Standard Arabic variant that most foreigners learn already sounds quite literary. So if you end up rattling off one of these phrases when it doesn’t quite fit, chances are you’ll sound like an old book. Smile at the laughter, shrug it off, and make a note for later.

7. How ArabicPod101 Can Help You Master Arabic Conversation

We hope you enjoyed learning about describing weather in Arabic with us!

One of the best ways to actually remember this information for later is to review it in a natural context.

This can be as simple as having a look at an Arab weather forecast once every few days, or by watching a documentary about geography in the Arab world.

And of course, there’s no better supplement to that study than a great audio course—just like the one right here at ArabicPod101.com. We provide an array of practical learning tools for every learner, so that anyone can master Arabic!

Before you go, let us know if our lesson was helpful to you! Do you feel more confident talking about nice weather in Arabic? Is there anything you’re still unsure about? Let us know in the comments!

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100+ All-Purpose Arabic Adjectives

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Psst. Hey.

Wanna buy an adjective?

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

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

1. A Quick Overview of Arabic Adjectives

Improve Pronunciation

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

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

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

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

2. List of the 100+ Best Arabic Adjectives

Most Common Adjectives

1- Describing Colors

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

  • أسود
    ʾaswad
    black

قَميصُهُ أَسوَد.
qamīṣuhu ʾaswad.
His shirt is black.

  • أبيض
    ʾabyaḍ
    white

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

  • أَخضَر
    ʾaḫḍar
    green

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

  • رَمادي
    ramādī
    gray

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

  • أَزرَق
    ʾazraq
    blue

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

  • بُنّي
    bunnī
    brown

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

  • أَحمَر
    ʾaḥmar
    red

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

  • أَصفَر
    ʾaṣfar
    yellow

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

  • بُرتُقالي
    burtuqalī
    orange

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

2- Describing Food and Taste

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

  • حار
    ḥār
    spicy

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

  • نَيِئ
    nayiʾ
    raw

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

  • مر
    mur
    bitter

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

  • حامِض
    ḥāmiḍ
    sour

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

  • مَقلي
    maqlī
    fried

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

  • حُلو
    ḥulū
    sweet

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

  • مَطبوخ
    maṭbūḫ
    cooked

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

  • مالِح
    maliḥ
    salty

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

  • طازَج
    ṭāzaǧ
    fresh

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

  • لَذيذ
    laḏīḏ
    delicious

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

3- Describing Personality

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

  • مُهَذَّب
    muhaḏḏab
    polite

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

  • شرير
    širrīr
    wicked; malicious

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

  • صادِق
    ṣādiq
    honest

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

  • ظَريف
    ẓarīf
    nice; likable

إنَّها ظَريفَة.
ʾinnahā ẓarīfah.
She’s likable.

  • هادئ
    hādi
    calm

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

  • خَجول
    ḫaǧūl
    shy

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

  • مُنفَتِح
    munfatiḥ
    extroverted

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

  • ذَكي
    ḏakī
    clever

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

  • جَدير بِالثِقَة
    ǧadīr bilṯiqah
    dependable; trustworthy

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

  • مُشاغِب
    mušāġib
    naughty; badly behaved

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

4- Describing Feelings

Woman Crying

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

  • سَعيد
    saʿīd
    happy

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

  • حَزين
    ḥazīn
    sad

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

  • قَلِق
    qaliq
    nervous

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

  • غاضِب
    ġāḍib
    angry

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

  • خائِف
    ḫāʾif
    frightened

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

  • فَخور
    faḫūr
    proud

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

  • مُنزَعِج
    munzaʿiǧ
    annoyed; upset

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

  • راضي
    rāḍī
    content; satisfied

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

  • نادِم
    nādim
    regretful

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

  • حائِر
    ḥāʾir
    confused

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

  • في حالَةِ تَأَهُّب.
    fī ḥalaẗi taʾahhub
    alert

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

5- Describing Appearance (People)

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

  • شاب
    šāb
    young

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

  • عَجوز
    ʿaǧūz
    old; elderly

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

  • قَصير
    qaṣīr
    short

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

  • طَوِيل
    ṭawil
    tall

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

  • قَوِي
    qawi
    strong

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

  • مُلتَحي
    multaḥī
    bearded

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

  • أَصلَع
    ʾaṣlaʿ
    bald

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

  • جَميل
    ǧamīl
    beautiful; handsome

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

  • بَشِع
    bašiʿ
    ugly

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

  • سَمين
    samīn
    fat

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

  • نَحيف
    naḥīf
    skinny

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

  • نَشيط
    našīṭ
    athletic; lively

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

6- Describing Nationality

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

  • مَغْرِبِيّ
    maġribiyy
    Moroccan

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

  • كَنَدِيّ
    kanadiyy
    Canadian

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

  • فَرَنْسِي
    faransiī
    French

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

  • إِنْدُونِيْسِيّ
    ʾiinduūniysiyy
    Indonesian

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

  • صيْنِيّ
    ṣiniyy
    Chinese

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

  • أَمْرِيْكِيّ
    ʾamriykiyy
    American

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

  • مِصْرِيّ
    miṣriyy
    Egyptian

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

  • تُوْنِسِيّ
    tunisiyy
    Tunisian

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

  • إِمَارَاتِيّ
    ʾimārātiyy
    Emirati

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

7- Describing Appearance (Things)

Arc of Pebbles

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

  • جَيِّد
    ǧayyid
    good

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

  • عَظيم
    ʿaẓīm
    great

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

  • سَيِّء
    sayyiʾ
    bad

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

  • رَهيب
    rahīb
    terrible

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

  • ضَخم
    ḍaḫm
    huge

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

  • كَبير
    kabīr

    big

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

  • صَغير
    ṣaġīr
    small

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

  • طَوِيل
    ṭawil
    long

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

  • شاسِع
    šāsiʿ
    vast; wide

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

  • جَديد
    ǧadīd
    new

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

  • قَديم
    qadīm
    old

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

  • ثَقيل
    ṯaqīl
    heavy

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

8- Describing Weather

Family Ralking in Rain

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

  • حار
    ḥār
    hot

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

  • بارِد
    bārid
    cold

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

  • غائِم
    ġāʾim
    cloudy

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

  • مُشمِس
    mušmis
    sunny

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

  • عاصِف
    ʿāṣif
    windy

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

  • مُمطِر
    mumṭir
    rainy

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

  • رَطِب
    raṭib
    humid

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

9- Describing Touch

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

  • أَملَس
    ʾamlas
    smooth

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

  • خَشِن
    ḫašin
    rough

جِلدُهُ خَشِن.
ǧilduhu ḫašin.
His skin is rough.

  • مُتَشَقِّق
    mutašaqqiq
    cracked

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

  • لامِع
    lāmiʿ
    shiny

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

  • زَلِق
    zaliq
    slippery

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

  • مُبَلَّل
    muballal
    wet

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

  • جاف
    ǧāf
    dry

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

  • لَزِج
    laziǧ
    sticky

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

  • هَش
    haš
    fragile

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

  • ناعِم
    nāʿim
    soft

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

10- Describing Concepts

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

  • صَعب
    ṣaʿb
    difficult

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

  • هام
    hām
    important

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

  • خاص
    ḫāṣ
    private; special

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

  • عام
    ʿām
    public

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

  • مُعَقَّد
    muʿaqqad
    complex

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

  • بَسيط
    basīṭ
    simple

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

  • خاطِئ
    ḫāṭiʾ
    wrong

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

  • صَحيح
    ṣaḥīḥ
    true; correct

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

  • مُمِل
    mumil
    boring

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

  • وَاضِح
    waḍiḥ
    clear; obvious

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

3. Conclusion

Reading

Finished reading through the list?

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

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

Before you go, let us know in the comments what new adjectives you learned today. Are there are any adjectives you still want to learn? We look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you have!
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Outstanding Arabic Shows on Netflix to Learn Arabic

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

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

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

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

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

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Table of Contents

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

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

Improve Pronunciation

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

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

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

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

2. The Ten Best Arabic Netflix Offerings

1- The Writer (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

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

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

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

2- al Hayba (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

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

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

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

3- The Secret of the Nile (Egyptian Arabic)

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

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

4- I Have a Script (Kuwaiti Arabic)

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

5- Black Crows (Various Dialects)

This one is intense.

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

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

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

6- Justice (Emirati Arabic, MSA)

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

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

7- What If? (Kuwaiti Arabic)

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

8- Jinn (Multiple Dialects)

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

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

9- Hidden Worlds (Egyptian Arabic)

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

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

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

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

3. Hey, All of These are TV Shows!

Best Ways to Learn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another cool thing about Netflix?

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

This is extremely useful for language learners.

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

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

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

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

6. Conclusion

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

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

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

That’s when the learning happens.

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

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

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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 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.