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Lesson Transcript

Marḥaban ǧamīʿan, ʾanā Carole! Hi everybody! I’m Carole.
Welcome to ArabicPod101.com’s Al-ʿarabiyyah fi ṯalāṯi daqāʾiq. The fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Arabic.
In the last lesson, we learned how to use the verb ʾ atā.
In this lesson, we will jump into our lesson series dedicated to interrogative words in Arabic. Our first word will be the one that is most commonly used to ask a question, and that is the word used to say "What." We have seen it in previous lessons, and you’ll see that there is more than one way to translate it in Arabic.
So imagine you want to ask your friend what he is doing. How will you do it?
You will ask: Māḏā tafʿalu?
[slowly] Māḏā tafʿalu?
So let’s break down this answer-
māḏā is the ready-made formula to say "What" in Arabic.
tafʿalu is the the 2nd person form of the verb faʿala, which we already studied.
So, all together it is Māḏā tafʿalu?
What are you doing?
As you can see, in Arabic, "What" is mainly translated as māḏā, and when used before a verb, it is invariable.
The answer will be formed by the repetition of the verb in the convenient tense, followed by a noun.
In the case of the verb faʿala or “to do”, the verb you answer with will depend on the action you are doing.
So the answer could be, for example-
(ʾanā) ʾadrusu al-dars.
“I am studying the lesson.”
The rule is simple- each time you want to ask a question starting with "What" and followed by a verb you have to use māḏā in Arabic.
On the other hand, when used before a noun it becomes mā, as in mā ʾismuka? for a man and mā ʾismuki? for a woman.
The answer would start using with the same word-
mā ʾismuki?
ʾismī Suhā or “My name is Suha”
In other cases, the answer to a question would sound more natural using a verb, as in-
mā ṭalabuka? is “what is your request?”, as compared to māḏā turīdu? “what do you want?”
Just as in English when someone asks you “what is your request”, it is more natural to say “I would like...” or “I want...” than “My request is...”, in Arabic the answer would be ʾurīdu tuffāḥah or “I want an apple”
The word ṭalab means “request”, so “is your request?” in the sentence “what is your request?” are all combined in one word ṭalabuka. For the feminine, the ending should be changed into ṭalabuki.
Now it’s time for Carole’s tips.
Another difficulty in Arabic is when you ask a question that uses “what” in English but doesn’t use “what” in Arabic.
For example, in “What time is it?” instead of using mā we should use the quantity word “kam”, that we learned in lesson 8.
In this lesson, we learned how to translate the word "What" depending on the grammatical situation.
I know it is not always simple but I am sure you will remember these short rules!
Next lesson, we will talk about the Arabic for the interrogative word "Where".
Do you know it already? I can promise it’s easier than "what"!
I’ll be waiting for you in the next Al-ʿarabiyyah fi ṯalāṯi daqāʾiq.
ʾarākum fi al-marrati al-muqbilah!
See you next time!