Newbie Season 1
Through short daily interactions you'll learn the basics of spoken Arabic.
Absolute Beginner


Newbie Season 1

In this 12-lesson series, you'll follow our cast of characters through short daily interactions and situations in the Arabic speaking world. Throughout this series, you will learn how to introduce yourself, talk about nationality, talk about the present, past, and future in detail, and much more. You'll hear Arabic spoken in a variety of situations.

Lesson # Title Topic Function Conversation in target language Cultural Insight Vocabulary Expressions Grammar
1 Hello. How Are You? Self-introduction Introducing أمينة: مرحبا
مريم: مرحبا، كيف حالك؟
أمينة: بخير الحمد لله، و أنت؟
مريم: بخير، الحمد لله.
Referring to God, "Allah", in conversations and language is pretty common in Arabic. Since Islam is the dominant religion in Arab countries, people always use expressions such as "In the name of God" (bismi llaah) or "Thanks be to God" ('al-Hamdu lillah). In our dialog today, we used the expression "bikhayr, 'al-Hamdu lillaah" (I'm fine, thanks be to God) as a typical response to "How are you?" In this case, the speaker is thanking God for good health and well being. People in Arabic-speaking countries also use this expression in various other contexts, like after finishing a meal. Typically, one would say "'al-Hamdu lillaah", and in this case, it means "Thanks be to God" for the good food. بِخَيْر
كَيْفَ حالُكِ؟
الْحَمْدُ لله
كَيْفَ حَالُكَ؟
مرحبا، كيف حالك؟ The usage of the question "kayfa Haaluki?" (How are you?)
2 Good Morning, How Are You All? Saying hello Saying hello السيد و السيدة قيس: صباح الخير
ليلى: صباح الخير، كيف حالكما؟
السيدة قيس: نحن بخير، وأنت كيف حالك؟
ليلى: كل شيء بخير، شكرا
Greetings and farewells are two important aspects of Arab countries. Greetings are not to be compared with the quick American "hi." It takes time for two people to exchange different questions and answers which interest them about each other. Greetings are usually followed by: shaking hands, kissing cheeks or hands, or putting one's hand over one's heart after shaking hands. In today's lesson, we wanted to show that even when you come across somebody in the elevator (as is the case for Layla and her neighbors), you still manage to ask them quickly how they're doing and take the time to hear their answer. صَبَاح الْخَير
نَحْنُ بِخَيْر.
كُلٌ شَيء بِخَيْر.
كَيْفَ حَالُكُم؟
كَيْفَ حَالُكُما؟
مَسَاء الْخَيْر.
كَيْفَ حالُكِ؟
صباح الخير، كيف حالكما؟ Common Egyptian greetings.
3 What's Your Name? Introducing Asking someone's name ليلى: مرحبا، أنا ليلى. ما اسمك؟
علي: مرحبا، إسمي علي. أنا طالب.
ليلى: حقا؟ أنا أيضا!
Arabic is based upon a very strict grammar, in which nearly all nouns and verbs are built from a stem of 3 consonants. From these 3 consonants, a large range of words are derived. As an example, s-l-m is the root of the words Islam, muslim, salaam (peace), and as-salaama (safety), in addition to many others. أَيْضاً
أَنَا طَالِب.
مَا إسْمُكَ؟
مَا إسْمُكَ؟
أَنَا طَالِبَة
مرحبا، أنا ليلى. ما اسمك؟ The ways to say 'Hello' such as مرحبا (marHaban) and السلام عليكم (as-salaamu calaykum)
4 Who Are You All? Finding someone Asking to find someone بوب: عفوا، نحن نبحث عن علي.
ليلى: إنه هناك! من أنتم؟
بوب: نحن أصدقائه من نيويورك.
Arabic culture emphasizes the importance of honoring guests and pampering them. Hosts will try their best to insure that their guests are very comfortable. They will serve food in excessive quantities to insure that every guest will be fully satisfied. Another custom is that the hosts should be the last ones to finish eating as a sign of honoring their guests. In fact, even if the host has actually finished, he/she will continue to act as if he/she is still eating until everyone else has finished eating. In this way, he/she will insure that the guests are not rushed into finishing. أَصْدِقائُه
نَبْحًثُ عَنِ المَحَطٌة.
نَبْحَثُ عَن علي.
أبْحَثُ عَنْ حَقيبَتي.
مَنْ أنْتُم؟
من أنتم؟ The usuage of the word cafwan (عفوا), meaning "excuse me" and "sorry."
5 Where Is He From? Where Is She From? Asking nationality Asking nationality امينة: من أي بلد هي؟
هند: هي من إيطاليا.
أمينة: من أي بلد هو؟
هند: هو من إنجلترا.
Tourism is booming in the Middle East region thanks to the bargain hotels and the construction of fabulous new hotels. A country that readily comes to mind is the United Arab Emirates, and more specifically Dubai. In fact, the hotel industry is the fastest growing industry in this region. Dubai, namely continues to attract millions of visitors looking for unlimited sunshine and luxury accommodation at a bargain. Dubai plans to increase even more its reputation as a world-class tourist heaven with the future opening of Dubailand theme park, the Middle East answer to Disneyland Florida. مِنْ
من أي بلد هي؟ The usage of " هو من إنجلترا" (huwa min 'inglaterra) to talk about nationality.
6 What Do You Do Here? Jobs Asking current jobs نور: أهلا، مذا تفعلين هنا؟
سو: أنا طالبة.
نور: مذا تدرسين؟
سو: أدرس الكيمياء.
The word "chemistry" comes from the Arabic word "kiimiyaa' " ( الكيمياء). In fact, there are many Arabic loanwords in English. For example, "zero" comes from "Sifr" (صفر) and "algebra" comes from 'al-jabr (الجبر). The word "al-jabr" is from the book of the famous Arab mathematician Al-khawaarizmi in the 9th century.This shows the influence of Arabic culture on Middle-age Europe. Other Arabic loanwords are: - "giraffe" from "zaraafa" (زرافة) - "cotton" from "qutn" (قطن) - "safari" from "safar" (سفر) which means "travel" or "trip." تَفْعَل
أعْمَلُ هُنا.
مَذا تَفْعَليينَ هُنا؟
أهلا، مذا تفعلين هنا؟
How to say what you do and your jobs in Arabic.
7 I'm Hungry / I'm Thirsty Feeling Expressing feeling ليلى: أنا عطشانة .
منى: وانا جائعة.
ليلى: لنبحث عن مقهى!
When you get hungry, the choices or food you have are mouth-watering. Each country in the Middle East and North Africa has its own specialties and I highly recommend you to try as many as you can. Here are some of the most popular ones: Falafel: fried balls made from spiced chickpeas, found in Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan. Kebab: Barbecued/grilled meat dishes, usually lamb or beef. Kofta: balls of ground meat cooked in tomato sauce, onions and spices. Couscous: Granules of wheat steamed and served with a vegetable stew and meat, found in Morocco and Tunisia. أنا مُتْعَبَة
لِنَبْحَث عَنْ مَقْعَد.
لِنَبْحَثْ عَنْ مَقْهى.
أنا نَعْسان
أنا نَعْسانَة
أنا مُتْعَب
أنا عَطْشانَة
أنا عَطْشانْ
أنا جَائِع
أنا جَائِع
وانا جائعة
The masculine and feminine forms of an adjective.
8 What's The Matter? Feeling Asking someone's feeling نادية: تبدين حزينة، ما الأمر؟
هند: فقدت ساعتي.
نادية: لنبحث عنها!
People in the Arab world tend to express their emotions easily, if not a bit excessively sometimes... In Morocco for example, it's common to see in the streets angry taxi drivers shouting at the traffic lights, friends hugging and kissing cheeks, shop assistants standing outside their shops laughing out loud, etc. It's almost theatrical sometimes when both parties in a discussion get excited, you can guess what's going on by looking at their facial expressions and body language. And the workplace is no exception! سَعيد
ما الأمْر؟
تَبْدينَ حَزينَة
تَبْدو حَزيناََ
جَواز سَفَري
تبدين حزينة، ما الأمر؟ The expression about feeling such as "tabdiina Haziina تبدين حزينة" (you look sad).
9 Who's In The Picture? (1) Family Talking about family هند: من في الصورة؟
ليلى: هذا أبي، عمي، و عمتي.
هند: ومن هذه؟
ليلى: إبنة عمتي.
The family, 'al-caa'ila, and family values are very important in Arab culture. By the word 'al-caa'ila we refer here to the extended family, the uncles, the counsins, the aunts, and not just the 'usra, or the nuclear family. In general, the extended family plays a somewhat bigger role in Arab society than in Western societies. Family members visit each other very often, in many cases at least once a week. Family values consist of a faithful marriage and a focus on raising happy and healthy children. And Arabs expect that these values are shared among all members of society. أَب
هَذا عَمٌي
إبْنَة عَمٌ
إبْن عَمٌ
هَذِه عَمٌَتي
هذا أبي، عمي، و عمتي Specific terms to refer to members of the family in Arabic
10 Who's In The Picture? (2) Family Talking about family عمر: من في الصورة؟
ليلى: إنها عائلة أمي. هذا خالي، إبن خالي، وخالتي.
عمر: ومن هذا؟
ليلى: إنه جدي.
With the vocabulary in today's dialog added to the one from last week, you can now name all your family members and relatives in Arabic! It's interesting to note how Arabic language takes great care of specifying the exact nature of blood relationships. However, the cultural usage of these words is more inclusive of non-blood-related people. A stepmother for example can be called "khaalati" (my aunt). And this difference between the real meaning of words and their cultural usage is an important one to keep in mind when learning Arabic. خالَة
مَنْ هَذا؟
إبْنَة خال
إبْنْ خال
عائِلَة أُمٌي
مَنْ هَذِه؟
إنها عائلة أمي. هذا خالي، إبن خالي، وخالتي The construct phrase or 'al-iDaafa (الإضافة) in Arabic.
11 I Want Tea Please! Foods Ordering foods النادل: ماذا تريدين أن تشربي؟
ليلى: أريد شاي من فضلك.
النادل: هل ترغبين بشيء آخر؟
ليلى: لا شكرا.
هَلْ تَرْغَب بِشَيْء آخَر؟
هَلْ تَرْغَبين بِشَيْء آخَر؟
نُريدُ شايْ
أُريدُ قَهْوَة مِنْ فَضْلَك
أُريدُ شايْ مِنْ فَضْلَك
ماذا تُريدُ أَنْ تَشْرَب؟
ماذا تُريدينْ أَنْ تَشْرَبي؟
ماذا تريدين أن تشربي؟
أريد شاي من فضلك.
The phrases about foods such as "what would you like to drink?".
12 I Can't Remember All The Names! Remembering Expressing what you cannot remember امين: مادا ستفعلين هدا المساء؟
نور: سادهب الى المسرح مع خالد و...
امين: لبنى؟
نور: اه، لا اتذكر كل الأسماء!
اه، لا اتذكر كل الأسماء