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Lesson Transcript

Marḥaban, 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 ask "When" questions in Arabic.
This time, we are going to ask questions with the interrogative word "Who?"
Imagine you want to ask your friend who the attractive girl just behind him is.
Here, the question you can ask Man hiya hāḏihi al-fatātu warāʾaka?
[slowly] Man hiya hāḏihi al-fatātu warāʾaka?
So let’s break down this answer.
First we had-
Man which is the basic translation of "Who" in Arabic.
hiya is not a verb but it means “is”.
hāḏihi al-fatātu means "this girl".
And finally warāʾaka which is "behind you" if you are talking to a man. warāʾa is “behind”, by adding ka or ki it becomes “the” in 2nd person singular.
All together it is Man hiya hāḏihi al-fatātu warāʾaka?
So in Arabic, "Who" is mainly translated as man to ask about someone's identity.
For example, if you want to ask "Who are these people?" You will say Man hum hāʾulāʾ al-nās? when talking about a group of unknown persons.
Again, as in English, the interrogative word Who is here placed in the 1st position.
It is followed by the word hum which is not a verb but can be translated as “are”.
hāʾulāʾ means “these” and is followed by the noun al-nās or “people”.
Man only works for people, so you can't use it to ask information about things or places. As an interrogative word, man can also be used to ask who did something, for example.
If you are in a museum for instance, you can ask man rasama hāḏihi al-lawḥah? This means "Who painted this painting?"
Another interrogative formula with man that is used a lot, is liman. In this case, the meaning is different because it can be translated as "Whose."
So if you want to ask "Whose pencil is it?" you will have to say liman huwa hāḏā al-qalam?
If we break down this question, it is-
liman which is "whose" or literally “to who”?
huwa which is the masculine form of hiya and the singular of hum can be translated as “is” but is not a verb.
hāḏā is the masculine of hāḏihi and the singular of the masculine plural form of hāʾulāʾ, meaning “this.
And finally, al-qalam, which means "this pencil."
If you are talking on the phone or calling someone, you can use “who...to?” in the sentence “who are you talking to” by saying maʿa man tatakallamu?
maʿa is literally “with”, so in this case maʿa man means “who...to”. In order to say “who will you go with” for example, you can use the same formula by saying maʿa man sataḏhabu?
Now it’s time for Carole’s Tips.
If someone that you didn't expect is knocking at your door, the common question you can ask is man hāḏā? before opening the door.
This literally means "Who is this?" in a really polite way.
The very casual way to ask it is man? which is much more informal but can be used, but only if your tone is cheerful, otherwise it will sound a bit rude!
Before ending this lesson, Let’s go back and look at all the ways to translate "Who" in Arabic:
- man is the basic "Who" as in Man hiya hāḏihi al-fatātu? “who is this girl?”
- Liman is insisting on the ownership, it is the equivalent of "Whose" or “for which person?”, as in liman huwa hāḏā al-qalam?
- maʿa man is “with who?” as in maʿa man tatakallamu? or “who are you talking to?”
In this lesson, we learned how to correctly use the interrogative word for "Who" which is man in Arabic, but also its variations.
Now you can easily know who is who!
The next lesson will be our last of this absolute beginner video series.
We will deal with the last but not least common interrogative word limāḏā?. Do you know what it means? I’ll be waiting for you with the answer in the next Al-ʿarabiyyah fi ṯalāṯi daqāʾiq!
ʾilā al-liqāʾi qarīban!