Sunday, June 27

Dialogue 2: Where are you from?

For a grammatical explanation of the concepts used in this lesson, please read this lesson.

Samy: enta mnein?
John: ana men kanada
Samy: ya3ny enta kanady?
John: aywa, ana kanady.
Samy: wenty mnein?
Kate: ana men 2amreeka.
Samy: ya3ny enty 2amreekeyya?
Kate: aywa Sa77, ana 2amreekeyya.

Samy: enta mnein ya samya?
Samya: ana men maSr.
Samy: wenty kamaan men maSr ya maha?
Maha: aywa, ana kamaan men maSr.
Samy: ya3ny ento letnein men maSr?
Samya: aywa Sa77, e7na letnein men maSr. e7na maSreyeen.

Mirvat: dol mnein ya samy?
Samy: dol Talaba engeleez
Mirvat: esmohom eih?
Samy: da esmo Mike, w di esmaha Janet.
Mirvat: ya tara homma mnein?
Samy: men durham w men manchester

Samya: afandem? ma-fhemtish! homma mnein?
Samy: homma ltnein men maSr.
Samya: w dol? dol mnein?
Samy: dol mesh men maSr, dol agaaneb.
Samya: ya tara homma kwayyeseen fel3araby?
Samy: kwayyeseen w shaTreen 2awy.

سامي: انت منين؟
جون: انا من كندا
سامي: يعني انت كندي؟
جون: ايوه, انا كندي
سامي: و انتي منين؟
كيت: انا من أمريكا
سامي: يعني انتي أمريكية؟
ايوه صح, انا أمريكية

سامي: انت منين يا سمية؟
سمية: انا من مصر
سامي: و انتي كمان من مصر يا مها؟
مها: ايوه, انا كمان من مصر
سامي: يعني انتو لتنين من مصر؟
سنية: ايوه صح, احنا لتنين من مصر. احنا

سامي: دول منين يا سامي؟
سامي: دول طلبا انجليز
ميرفت: اسمهم ايه؟
سامي: ده اسمه مايك و دي اسمها جانت
ميرفت: يا طره هم منين؟
سامي: من درهام و من مانشستير

سمية: افندم؟ مافهمتش! هم منين؟
سامي: هم لتنين من مصر
سمية: و دول؟ دول منين؟
سامي: دول مش من مصر, دول اجانب
سمية: يا طرة, هم كويسين في العربي
سامي: كويسين و شطرين قوي
I'll include the translation at the end of the post, because I feel that trying to understand first with the given vocabulary is a better exercise.


افندم afandem pardon
اجنبي agaaneb foreigner; foreign
اجانب agaaneb foreigners
قهوه 2ahwa coffee
امريكا amreeka America
امريكي amreeky American
قوي 2awy very
بكلم bekallem I speak
بيكلم beyekallem he speaks
دول dol those
جميل gameel beautiful, pretty
جبنه gebna cheese
هم homma they
احنا e7na we
انجليز engeleez English people
انتو ento you (plural)
كندا kanada Canada
كندي kanady Canadian
كويس kwayyes good
لتنين letnein both
لغة lugha language
مافهمتش ma-fahemtesh I didn't understand
مصر maSr Egypt; Cairo
مصري maSry Egyptian
مع ma3a with
من men from
منين mnein where from?
صح sa77 right
شاطر shaaTer clever
ترابيزة ~ تربيزات tarabeza ~ tarabeezat (pl.) table ~ tables
تلفون ~ تلفونات telefon ~ telefonaat (pl.) telephone ~ telephones
طلبا Talaba students (irregular plural)
يا تره ya tara I wonder
يعني ya3ny that means
عربي 3araby Arabic


Samy: Where are you from?
John: I'm from Canada
Samy: That means you're Canadian?
John: Yeah, I'm Canadian
Samy: And where are you from?
Kate: I'm from America.
Samy: That means you're American?
Kate: Yes that's right. I'm American.

Samy: Where are you from Samya?
Samya: I'm from Egypt 
Samy: And are you also from Egypt Maha?
Maha: Yes, I'm also from Egypt.
Samy: That means you are both from Egypt?
Samya: Yes that's right. We're both from Egypt, we're Egyptians.

Mirvat: Where are they from Samy?
Samy: They're English students.
Mirvat: What are their names?
Samy: His name is Mike and her name is Janet
Mirvat: I wonder where they're from?
Samy: From Durham and Manchester.

Samya: Pardon? I didn't understand! Where are they from?
Samy: They're both from Egypt.
Samya: And them? Where are they from?
Samy: They're not from Egypt. They're foreigners.
Samya: I wonder if they are good at Arabic?
Samy: They're good and very smart.

Saturday, June 26

Personal and Possessive Pronouns

Independent Personal Pronouns

In Arabic, there are two types of personal pronouns. There are independent pronouns, that can stand alone, for example as the subject of a sentence:

أنا مدرس  ana mudarris - "I'm a teacher"

Below are the list of all independent personal pronouns:

أنا ana I
احنا e7na we
انت enta you (masculine)
انتي enty you (feminine)
انتو ento you all (plural)
هو howwa he
هي heyya she
هم homma they

Dependent Personal Pronouns

Dependent personal pronouns consist of a suffix added to the end of nouns, prepositions and verbs. When added to a noun, it acts like a possessive adjective in English (my, his, her). The suffix is a couple of letters joined the end of the noun which changes depending on how many consonants the noun ends in.

  • If the noun ends in TWO consonants "-CC", (for example اسم esm = "name") the dependent personal pronouns are as follows:

انا ana ي- -y
esmy my name
احنا e7na نا- -ena
esmena our name
انت enta ك- -ak
esmak your name (masculine)
انتي enty ك- -ek
esmek your name (feminine)
انتو ento كم- -uku(m)*
esmuku your name (plural)
هو howwa ه- -o
esmo his name
هي heyya ها- -aha
esmaha her name
هم homma هم- -ohom
esmohom their name

* You can use -ukum instead of -uku but the ending -ohom never changes.


اسمك ايه؟  - esmak eih? - what's your name? (to a male)
اسمها ايه؟  - esmaha eih? - what's her name? (to a female)

ينت - bent - girl/daughter
ينتي - benty - my girl/my daughter

اخت  - ukht -  sister
اختك فين؟  - ukhtak fein? - where's your sister? (to a male)

  •  If the noun ends in just ONE consonant  "-C", (example بيت beit = "house") the dependent personal pronouns are as follows:

انا ana ي- -y بيتي beity my house
احنا e7na نا- -na بيتنا betna* our house
انت enta ك- -ak بيتك beitak your house (masculine)
انتي enty ك- -ek بيتك beitek your house (feminine)
انتو ento كم- -kum بيتكم betkum* your house (plural)
هو howwa ه- -o بيته beito his house
هي heyya ها- -ha بيتها betha* her house
هم homma هم- -hom بيتهم bethom* their house

بيتنا كبير  -  betna kbeer -  our house is big
بيتها فين   -  betha fein?  -   where is her house?

* In Egyptian Arabic, as a rule, there is never a long vowel before 2 consonants "-CC" so the "ei/ي" sound in beit becomes a short 'e' sound. 

  • If the noun ends in a VOWEL, "-V", the dependent personal pronouns are as follows.

*Note: the words abb اب "father" and akh اخ "brother" take the form abo and akho when they are used with suffixes. The final vowel is lengthened, as is the rule with all words which end in a vowel when used with suffixes. 

انا ana ي- -ya
akhoya my brother
احنا e7na نا- -na
akhona our brother
انت enta ك- -k
akhok your brother (masculine)
انتي enty ك- -ky
akhoky your brother (feminine)
انتو ento كم- -kum
akhokom your brother (plural)
هو howwa ه- -o
akho his brother
هي heyya ها- -ha
akhoha her brother
هم homma هم- -hom
akhohom their brother

اخوك طويل  -  akhok Taweel  -  your brother is tall (to a male)
اخوكي فين؟  -  akhoky feen?   -  where is your brother? (to a female)

Friday, June 25

The Feminine Ending

To make a noun, adjective or participle feminine in Arabic we add the letter ة on the end which is called ta marbuta. Ta marbuta means 'tied-up t' because it resembles a ت (t) with it's two dots. It is the shape of ه (h) and it is pronounced as (ah) or just (a) on it's own or at the end of a word.

A male teacher is مدرس  (mudarris).
So a female teacher is مدرسة (mudarrisa).

A male engineer is مهندس (mohandis).
So a female engineer is مهندسة (mohandisa).

It's really as simple as that, just add an 'a'!

The same goes for adjectives.

For example:
كويس (kwayyes) is an adjective that means 'good'. We can use it to describe a male person:

مدرس كويس  (mudarris kwayyes)  -- a good (male) teacher.

The adjective agrees with the noun. The teacher is male, so the adjective is male. So what if there is a female teacher? We say:

مدرسة كريسة (mudarrisa kwayyesa) --- a good (female) teacher.

We just add an 'a' on the end of the adjective too!

Remember that arabic doesn't have words for 'a' or 'is'. They're just left out.

This, That and These

da, di & dol

In Arabic there are three words meaning this, that and these.

da - this, that (masculine)
di - this, that (feminine)
dol - these, those (plural)

For example:

طالب - Taleb - Student (male)
ده طالب - da Taleb - That's a (male) student

طالية - Taleba - Student (female)
دي طالبة - di Taleba - That's a (female) student

طلبا - Talaba - Students (plural)
دول طلبا - dol Talaba - Those are students

ده حسن - da 7assan - That's Hassan
دي مها - di maha - That's Maha

If you want to use da, di and dol as demonstratives (i.e. this thing. Referring to a particular thing) there are two rules you must follow:

1) The noun it is referring to must be defined (i.e. el 'the' must be attached to the noun)
2) da, di and dol come after the noun

الراجل ده - er-raagel da - This man
الكلمة دي - ek-kilma di - This word
المدرسين دول - el-mudarriseen dol - These teachers
البنت دي - el-bent di - This girl

Did you remember that the plural of objects are in the feminine plural and are treated as feminine singular words? The adjective comes after the noun, and di, da, dol. For example:

المطرات  دي  كويسة  - el-motoraat di kwayyisa - These engines are good
السعات دي جميلة - es-sa3aat di gameela - These watches are beautiful.

Aho, Ahe, Ahom

There are three words used to point something out with emphasis.

aho - Masculine
ahe - Feminine
ahom - Plural

If you say aho, ahe or ahum before a word, you should stress the first vowel (a) in the sentence. If you use it after a word, you should stress the last vowel (o, e or um).

For example:

أهو جي - aho gayy - here he comes!
أهي جية - ahe gayya - here she comes!
أهم جيين - ahom gayyeen - here they come!

المدرس أهو - el-mudarris aho - the (male) teacher is over there
المدرسة أهي - el-mudarrisa ahe - the (female) teacher is over there
المدرسين أهم - el-mudarriseen ahom - the teachers are over there

ماشي - maashy.
Egyptians use maashy to mean 'okay' very often. You can say أهو ماشي (aho maashy) to reply to the question ازي الحال؟  ezzay el-7aal (how are you?). 

Tuesday, June 15

'The', Sun & Moon Letters

The, El-

In Arabic, there is one word for 'the', the definite article. This word is ال 'el-' and is used in front of both male and female words. It is attached at the beginning of the word and forms one word. For example:

مدرس — mudarris — teacher
المدرس — el-mudarris — the teacher*
بنت — bent - girl
البنت — el-bent — the girl

Sun Letters

If a word begins with a Sun Letter, then the 'l' of the 'el-' assimilates to that letter. For example, if a word begins with ش 'sh', then the ال 'el-' will be pronounced like 'esh-', like in the word الشمس  'esh-shams' meaning the Sun, which this concept is named after. Remember, that even though it is pronounced differently, it is still spelled with ال in Arabic.

There are two ways to easily remember the Sun Letters, or 'el-7orouf el-shamseyya'   الحروف الشمسية  as they are called in Arabic.:

1) Memorize. The 14 Sun Letters are;

ﻥ ,ﻝ ,ﻅ ,ﻁ ,ﺽ ,ﺹ ,ﺵ ,ﺱ ,ﺯ ,ﺭ ,ﺫ ,ﺩ ,ﺙ ,ﺕ

n, l, Z, T, D, S, sh, s, z, r, z, d, s, t

In Egyptian Arabic, ج (g) and ك (k) also act the same as Sun Letters.

2) Think about how you are pronouncing the letters. If you pronounce it with the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth, then it's a sun letter. The letters ج and ك do not follow this rule, but in Egyptian Arabic treat them as sun letters.

All other letters are called Moon Letters, or 'el-7orouf el 2amareyya'  الحروف القمرية


الناس — el-naas — the people
الطفل — eT-Tifl - the children
 الكلمة — ek-kelma — the word
الزيت — ez-zeit - the oil
الضهر — eD-Duhr - the noon
اللون — el-loun — the colour
الكرسي — ek-kursi — the chair 

* I write the el with a hyphen '-' attached to the word in the Latin alphabet just to avoid confusion and emphasise that we are using the definite article, rather than writing a word beginning with the letters 'el'. It would be just as correct to omit the hyphen and write simply 'elmudarris'. Either way, it is pronounced as one word.

I have written all letters with an Egyptian accent. In formal Arabic, ث is pronounced as a soft 'th' as in think. ذ is prounced similarly to a hard 'th' as in 'this' and is often transcribed as 'dh'. In Egypt, they are pronounced 's' and 'z' respectively.

Monday, June 14

Regular Plurals (Masculine & Feminine)

The masculine plural is: ين -een
The feminine plural is:  ات - aat

The Masculine Plural

The masculine plural is added to the end of singular words and is used for people, NOT objects. For example:

مدرس - mudarris - teacher
مدرسين - mudarriseen - teachers

مهندس - mohandis - engineer
مهندسين - mohandiseen - engineers*

This plural is used for a group of people who are a) all males or b) a mix of males and females. Even if there are 20 women and 1 man, we would use the masculine plural here.

It is also used for adjectives when referring to more than one person, whether those people are all male, mixed, or all female. For example:

كويس - kwayyes - good
صغير - Sughayyar - small, young
هم كويسين - humma kwayyeseen - they are good (people)
دول مش صغيرين - dol mesh Sughayyareen - these (people) are not young
ندى و سامية دول مش صغيرين - nada we samya, dol mesh Sughayyareen - Nada and Samya are not young.

The Feminine Plural

The feminine plural is used for people when referring to a group of FEMALES ONLY. For example:

مدرسات - mudarrisaat - Female Teachers
طلبات - Talebaat - Female Students

The feminine plural is NEVER used with adjectives, even if the group is female only. The masculine plural is used in this case. See the example above (Nada we Samya dol mesh sughayyereen).

The feminine plural is used for the object nouns of any gender (inanimate objects). For example:

متور - motour - engine
متورات - motoraat - engines

ساع - saa3a - hour
ساعات - sa3aat - hours

The plural of objects are feminine, and are treated as singular feminine words grammatically. So, we use a feminine single adjective to describe it.

جميل - beautiful
سعات جمبلة - sa3aat gameela - pretty watches

* Extra Info: There is a well known area of Cairo called Mohandiseen, meaning engineers. Parts of Cairo were traditionally built for people of different professions and the engineers lived in Mohandiseen. Nowadays areas with names like this are inhabited by a range of different people of many professions.

Friday, June 11

Word of the Day

Today's words are tab3an and akeed. akeed means 'surely' and Tab3an means 'of course'. So basically the same thing. You can use them together, so if you strongly agree with something you can reply, "akeed Tab3an!"
أكيد - akeed
طبعا - tab3an