3 Important Features to Know about بدي (want) in Order to Use it Flawlessly

We know around these parts how much I love the N2O comedy series on Youtube.

So this morning, while searching for inspiration to strike, I happened to come across an amusing clip from the irreverent comedy channel about the trouble with coffee shops in Amman.

Here’s the scene in particular, which is basically about how some unreasonable customers treat the waitstaff like dirt.

What she says:

مش ئلت لك بدون تلج؟ انا ئلت لك بدون تلج / mish 2lt lak biduun talj? ana 2lt lak biduun talj!

Did I not tell you without ice? I told you without ice!


صح؟ صح ولا لا؟ حيوان. حقد / SaH? SaH walla la? Haiwan. Ha2d.

Right? Right or no? Animal. *insult*


ما اخباط ما اخباط! انا ئلت لك بدون تلج / ma akhbaT ma akhbaT! Ana 2lt lak biduun talj!

How frustrating (or literally What frustration), how frustrating! I said to you without ice!


شو هاد؟ ما اخباط باحكي ما بدون تلج / shu had? ma akhbaT baHki biduun talj!

What is this? How frustrating I’m saying without ice!


انا بدش تلج! ما بدي تلج / ana biddish talj! ma biddi talj!

I don’t want ice. I don’t want ice.


What he responds:

تلج مش في تلج بدك تشربيها سامعة؟ / talj mish fe talj biddik tashrabeeha, sama’a?

Ice or no ice, you’ll want to drink it, understand?

(Here, سامعة literally means ‘the female one who is listening’ but in this context is more like understand??)

By this point I hope you’re smart enough to realise that تلج / talj means ice. =D

But what I want to teach you today is by far one of the most valuable, useful words in not just Levantine Arabic, but any language in the world. In fact, I listed it as one of the verbs under my post entitled 21 Verbs that will Completely Revolutionise Your Levantine Arabic.
which is the verb بدي or I want.

Let’s dive right in shall we? Like I promised, here are the 3 simple things that you need to know in order to use the word بدي like a pro.


1. Interestingly, it conjugates like a noun instead of a verb.

You probably know that in Fus-ha, the word يريد conjugates like a typical verb, meaning the front (and sometimes back) of the verb is changed to reflect who is the one that wants something. For example,

you (masculine) want is تريد and

all of you want is تريدون and so on.


In Levantine Arabic, however, the word بدي is actually conjugated more like a noun.

Take a look at the tables below to see what I mean. The first table show you the conjugations for all the pronouns for the word بدي .

Pronoun Conjugation Meaning Pronunciation
هو بده he wants biddoh
هي بدها she wants biddha
هم بدهم they want biddhom
انت بدكَ you (mas) want biddak
انتي بدكِ you (fem) want biddik
انتو بدكم all of you want biddkom
انا بدي I want biddi
احنا بدنا we want biddna


Now let’s compare the conjugation table above to how we conjugate for the word كتاب / kitab (book).

Pronoun ‘to want’ Pronunciation  ‘book’ Pronuncation
هو بده bidd-oh كتابه kitab-oh
هي بدها bidd-ha كتابها kitab-ha
هم بدهم bidd-hom كتابهم kitab-hom
انت بدكَ bidd-ak كتابكَ kitab-ak
انتي بدكِ bidd-ik كتابكِ kitab-ik
انتو بدكم bidd-kom كتابكم kitab-kom
انا بدي bidd-i كتابي kitab-i
احنا بدنا bidd-na كتابنا kitab-na

Can you see that they share similar endings? Like -oh and -i and -hom? This is what I mean when I say it conjugates like a noun rather than a verb.


2. Lucky us, it doesn’t conjugate for the past tense.

This is one of the ways in which Levantine Arabic is easier then Fus-ha. Unlike the word يريد in Fus-ha (which conjugates for both past and present) the word بدي doesn’t have to go through the same wringer.

If you would like to put بدي in the past tense, all you have to do is to put كان / kaana (was) ahead of the word. So for example, if I wanted to say ‘I wanted’, it would be

كان بدي / kaan biddi.

Literally, it means ‘I was wanting’.

If I wanted to say ‘they wanted,’ it would be

كان بدهم / kan biddhom, or they were wanting.

Notice that you don’t have to conjugate كان for the pronoun, meaning you don’t have to say كنت بدي to say I wanted or كانو بدهم to say they wanted. I don’t think it would be wrong, but it would be unnecessary.

Thank goodness for small mercies!


3. It can take a direct object, but in a slightly jazzed up way.

Do you remember how to say ‘I want it’ in Fusha?

It would be: اريده / ureeduhu or اريدها / ureeduha.

In Levantine Arabic, however, the direct object can’t simple be tacked on to the end of بد . Instead, you’re going to have to use this mysterious new word ايا .

But don’t get intimidated or scared, it’s actually really simple.

See instead of tacking on the direct object at the end of the word like you would do in يريد , you would instead stick it at the end of the word ايا . So if I wanted to say:

‘I want it/he/she’,

It would be:

انا بدي اياه / ana biddi iyyah or انا بدي اياها / ana biddi iyyaha .

For your easy reference, yours truly is going to give you a conjugation chart to make this clearer for you, using بدي / I want.

If direct object is Conjugation Meaning Pronunciation
هو انا بدي اياه I want him / it ana biddi iyyah
هي انا بدي اباها I want her / it ana biddi iyyaha
هم انا بدي اياهم I want them ana biddi iyyahom
انت انا بدي اياك I want you (mas) ana biddi iyyak
انتي انا بدي اياكي I want you (fem) ana biddi iyyaki
انتو انا بدي اياكم I want all of you ana biddi iyyakom
احنا انا بدي ايانا I want us ana biddi iyyana

Now obviously you can switch out بدي for any other conjugation that’s available in the first table above, depending on who’s doing the wanting. So for example, if you wanted to say

‘He wants me to write this letter’

It would be

هو بده اياني اكتب هاي الرسالة / huwe biddoh iyyani aktob hai arrisaleh.


Can you understand better how to use بدي in its past, present and conjugated forms? What are some examples of how you can put it in a sentence? Write to us in the comments below and we’ll tell you what we think! Or even better, share it with friends whom you think could benefit from this information.

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