Oct 13

What Do Roundabouts and Your Average Self-Help Guru Have In Common?


If you’ve ever been to Amman, you’ll realize quickly that the entire city is pretty much built around 7 roundabouts (or دوار /diwar), kinda like the legendary circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

I kid, I kid.

Amman is worse than Dante’s inferno.

Now before you get all riled up about how dare I have the gall to criticise Amman, rest assured that I do actually love it. In fact some days when I was there it warmed the cockles of my bitter, cynical heart to such a degree that I thought it would explode and I would have a heart attack.

Now in order to get from place to place, chances are you’re going to have to pass through at least one of these roundabouts. It’s the aorta of the city, pumping massive volumes of honking traffic to and from one end to the other, tirelessly from day to night.

And more often than not, since road names and addresses aren’t used in Amman, at least one of these circles is going to be a major landmark on your journey. The problem is that most of the major roundabouts don’t have actual names, and they just go by First Circle, Second Circle, Seventh Circle – you get the idea.

So you can imagine how important it was to know how to express which circle you wanted to get to, lest you said it wrong and the driver ended up dropping you off at الدوار السابع / addiwaar assabi’ (Seventh Circle) when you really meant Sixth.

In linguistic lingo, first, second, and third and so on are called ordinal numbers. That’s what you’re going to learn today. And what does it have to do with your typical motivational guru? You’ll find out below.


The فاعل of Numbers

I’ve posted about before on how to use the فاعل for verbs in Levantine and Fusha.

Interestingly, what I’ve found is that you can actually use the same strategy in order to create the ordinal numbers if you already know the numbers themselves.


Here what you need to know in order to arrive at the ordinal numbers:

1. Separate the roots of the word. For example, the root letters of ثلاثة are ث, ل, ث.

2. Place the root letters into the فاعل template, which means to insert an ا between the 1st and 2nd root letters. So continuing with the same example, the ordinal form of ثلاثة (three) would be ثالث (third).

3. Add a taa marbuuta if required if the noun that comes before the ordinal number is a feminine noun, (as in, ends with a taa marbuuta)

Then you have to similarly add a taa marbuuta to the end of the ordinal number in order to make it feminine as well. For example, the third car would be السيارة الثالثة / assayara athaalitha while the third book would be الكتاب الثالث / alkitab athaalith.

Think of it the ordinal number as the annoying but lovable little sibling– whatever the bigger sibling (ie the preceding noun) wants to become, the little one wants as well.

And voila, here is the ordinal table for the numbers from 1 – 10.

Number Arabic Ordinal Form mas/fem Meaning
1 واحد الاول\الاولى the first
2 اثنين الثاني\الثانية the second
3 ثلاثة الثالث\الثالثة the third
4 اربعة الرابع\الرابعة the fourth
5 خمسة الخامس\الخامسة the fifth
6 ستة السادس\السادسة the sixth
7 سبعة السابع\السابعة the seventh
8 ثمانبة الثامن\الثامنة the eighth
9 تسعة التاسع\التاسعة the ninth
10 عشرة العاشر\العاشرة the tenth

Now you might realise at this point that though most of the letters fit the فاعل template, not all of them necessarily do. Six, for example, doesn’t and neither does One. But those are pretty much the only two that you need to look out for.


The Difference between Fusha and Levantine

The great thing about ordinal numbers in Fus-ha and Levantine Arabic is that the words themselves are the same in both languages.

Where they  part ways, however, is in terms of pronunciation.

For example, as you will see from the table below,

1. the ث will be changed to a ت

2. and the taa marbuuta ة at the end for the feminine form will be pronounced -ey in Levantine Arabic and ah- in Fus-ha.

Number Arabic mas/fem Fusha mas/fem Levantine mas/fem
First اول\اولى awwal/uula awwal/uula
Second ثاني\ثانية thaani/thaaniya taani/taaniyeh
Third ثالث\ثالثة thaalith/thaalitha taalit/taaliteh
Fourth رابع\رابعة raabi’/raabi’a raabi’3/raabi’a
Fifth خامس\خامسة khaamis/khaamisa khaamis/khaamseh
Sixth سادس\سادسة saadis/saadisa saadis/saadiseh
Seventh سابع\ سابعة saabi’/saabi3a saabi’/saabi’a
Eighth ثامن\ثامنة thaamin/thaaminah taamin/taamneh
Ninth تاسع\تاسعة taasi’/taasi’a taasi’/taasi’eh
Tenth عاشر\عاشرة ‘aashir/’aashira ‘aashir/’aashireh


As Promised – Ordinal Numbers and Your Typical Self-Help Guru

So I’ve taken this video from the Jordanian comedy series N2O Comedy on Youtube called نيكولاس خوري في دع الفشل / nikolas khoury fi da’ alfashl or Nikolas Khoury in Leaving Failure Behind.

To give you some context, the clip is set up as a satirical personal help video, where the comedian, Nikolas Khoury, is acting as a self-help guru dispensing advice on how to be a successful employee.

And so he proceeds to outline individual steps to achieve said success, which more often than not includes brown-nosing the boss, pretending to work late, scheduling email replies at 2 in the morning and all manner of other hijinks and shenanigans.

I personally thought this clip was great because, aside from its utter hilarity (let’s face it, we all know that one person in the office), you can hear exactly how the ordinal numbers are pronounced so that you can say them like a pro next time when you need to.


Step #1

الخطوة الاولى. صاحب المدير / alkhuTwa aluula. SaHib almudeer.

The first step. Friend of the boss.

اعمل البحث. اعرف مديرك ايش بيحب. اعرف هواياته / i’mal albaHth. i’raf mudeerak esh biHibb. i’raf hiwaayatoh.

Do the research. Know your boss, what he likes. Know his hobbies.


Step #2

الحطوة الثانية. كن الرجل المناسب في الوقت المناسب/ alkhotwah attaniyeh. kun alrajul almunasib fi alwaqt almunasib

The second step. Be the right guy at the right time.


Step #3

الخطوة الثالثة. الوقت و الجودة / alkhotwah altaliteh. alwaqt wa aljoodeh

The third step. The time and the quality.


Step #4

الخطوة الرابعة. كن ثعلبا / alkhotwah arrabi’a. kun tha’laban.

The fourth step. Be a fox.

مش بس لازم تخفي فشلك قدام مديرك / mish bas lazim takhfi fashalak gudam mudeerak

You don’t just need to hide your failure in front of your boss.

لازم تخفي فشلك قدام الموظفين / lazim takhfi fashalak gudam almuwaDhafeen

You must hide your failure in front of the employees.


Step #5

الخكوة الخامسة. عليك بالمظهر / alkhotwah alkhaamseh. ‘leik bilmaTh-har.

The fifth step. The appearance is on you.

دائما لازم بتكون لابس بذلة و حامل شنطة سمسونايت / da2man lazim bitkuun labis badleh wa Hamil shanTa samsonite.

Always you must be wearing a suit and carrying a Samsonite bag.


Step #6

الخطوة السادسة. الايميلات ثم الايميلات ثم الايميلات / alkhotwah assadiseh. alemeilaat thumma alemeilaat thumma alemeilaat.

The sixth step. The emails, then the emails, then the emails.


Step #7

تلجا على الخطوة السابعة / tilja2 ‘ala alkhotwa alsabi’a.

You resort to the seventh step.


Step #8

بما ان استقلت و صرت فاضي رح على الخطوة التامنة / bima inna istaqalet wa Surt faDi, roH ‘ala alkhotwa attamneh

SInce you have resigned and have become free, go to the eighth step.

Step #9 and #10 don’t exist for this video, but never fear, you can refer to the table above to find out how they should be pronounced and you’ll be in good hands.

(Hint: Step #9 would be alkhotwah attaasi’a and Step #10 would be alkhotwa al’aashira).

Now not only can you travel to any of the roundabouts in Amman without a problem, you can list and rank anything and everything to your heart’s content.


Which of the circles in Amman have you travelled to? Are there any topics in particular that you would like to request to see written here? If you found this post useful, share it with anyone whom you think would help them out!

Oct 13

3 Cardinal Rules of Using the فاعل in Levantine Arabic (with 8 Bonus Videos Included)

For those of you who have some background in Fus-ha, you’ve probably learnt that you use the فاعل form of the verb when you want to describe the state of someone or thing currently performing an action, like going, coming, sleeping and so on.

For example, هو نائم/huwa na2im means ‘he is sleeping’, هي لابسة / hiya labisa means ‘she is wearing’ and so on.

Of course, you could just as easily say هو ينام / huwa yanaam and هي تلبس / hiya talbas respectively and it would mean exactly the same thing.

It’s more of an artistic or linguistic difference rather than a difference that has to do with meaning.


Fusha vs Levantine Arabic

The difference between using فاعل in Fus-ha and Levantine Arabic is that you will probably hear the فاعل form more often in Levantine Arabic than Fus-ha.

Also, the فاعل form in Levantine is used for verbs that don’t exist in Fus-ha, and so a lot of them might come across as foreign at first. For example, verbs like يروح /yaruuH (to go) and يطلع / yiTla’ (to go out or go up)

I say at first because, as with everything, you will get used to hearing them over and over again with time.

Here’s what you need to know to start using فاعل for Levantine Arabic.


Your 3 Cardinal Rules

1. You need to first isolate the 3-letter جذر / jadhr or root and then fit into the فاعل template. This means to say, separate the 3 letters, and then insert the alif after the first letter.

Ta-da! You’ve got your فاعل sorted out.

However what you need to know is that not all 3-letter verbs will have a فاعل form.

Think of it as a size 2 dress- some women can fit into it, and others can’t. Some women can fit into it but don’t like it and therefore never use it. And some women just can’t fit into it at all.

Similarly, some 3-letter verbs can fit into the فاعل dress, other 3-letter verbs can fit but may not like the fit (and therefore never use it), and other 4,5 and 6-letter verbs just can’t fit into it at all and need to find another dress.

Here are the verbs that do fit into that dress. There are probably hundreds of them, but here are the ones that you will most commonly find being used in Levantine Arabic.


Levantine Verb Pronunciation Meaning فاعل Pronunciation
راح ra-Ha to go راي raa-y
طلع Tala’a to leave طالع Ta-li’
جاء jaa2a to come جاي jaa-y
شاف shaafa to see شايف shaa-yif
لبس labisa to wear لابس laa-bis
حاب Haaba to like حاب Haab
سمع sama’a to hear سامع saa-mi’
فات faa-ta to enter فايت faa-yyit
نجح najaHa to succeed ناجح naa-jiH
فشل fashila to fail فاشل faa-shil
قدر qadara to be able قادر 2adir/ghaadir
نزل nazala to descend نازل naazil


2. To change the فاعل from masculine to feminine, you need to add a ة / taa marbuta at the end, just like in Fus-ha.

3. The فاعل form is usually (but not always) used to refer to human objects. And therefore to change the فاعل to plural, you need to add يين- at the end of the word, because the plural -ون ending is hardly ever used in Levantine Arabic.


Seeing it in Action

I’ve gleaned some of these from the episode entitled رجائي قواس في الشتاء / raja2i Qawwas fi shiTaa2 (Rajae Qawwas in Winter)  from the N2O channel on Youtube, which is a Jordanian comedy series.

To give you some context the main comedian Rajae is talking about the lengths people go to just to keep warm in the freezing Jordanian winters, and some of the hijinks that occur as a result, from arguing over the Soba (or gas heater) and wearing your entire wardrobe just to get comfortable.

The rest of the clips I gleaned from other videos on Youtube for your learning pleasure!

Example #1: حاب / Hab (someone who is liking/loving)

المجتمع كله معي حاب يدفع / almojtama’ kolloh ma’i Hab yidfa’

All of the society that’s with me, love getting warm.


Example #2 and #3: طالع / Tali’ (someone/thing that is going out) and فايت / fayyit (someone who is entering)

Person #1: وين طالع؟ ألوفت متاخر / wein Tali’? alwa2t mitt-akhir!

Where are you going out? It’s late! (literally the hour is late)

Person #2:  لا طالع ولا اشي الله يسامحك يا بابا فايت انام

la Tali’ wella ishy allah yusamiHak ya baba, fayyit anaam!

I’m not going out or anything, God forgive you Dad, I’m going in to sleep.


يالله صباح الخير. اطفو الصوبة اه؟ / yallah SabaH alkheir. iTfu aSSoba ah?

Alright, good morning. All of you turn off the soba, yeah?


Example #4: لابس / la-bis (someone who is wearing)

حاجتك مس لابس تدافع حالك في الحياة / Haa-jatak mish labis, tudafi’ Halak fi alHayaa

Your need is not to wear the clothes (or literally not to be the wearer), (it is to) defend yourself in life.


Example #5: ناجح / na-jiH (someone who is succeeding)

بس تحمل البرد بشكل عام لا يعكس الرجولة / bas taHammol albard bishakl ‘aam la ya’kis arrujuuleh.

But bearing the cold generally does not reflect masculinity!

بالعبارة عن في كتير ناس بريدة بس مشاء الله عنهم ناجحين في حياتهم. و مدراء البنوك / bil ‘ibarah ‘an fe kteer nas bareedeh bas ma sha2 allah ‘anhom, najiHeen fi Hayaathom. wa mudara2 albunuuk

In the sense that there are a lot of people who are cold, but God has willed it, successful in their lives. And they are bank managers.


Example #6: فاشل / fa-shil (someone who is failing)

اذا عملت كل ما سبق و ما زلت فاشل. / iza ‘amalet kol ma sabaq wa ma zaalat faashil.

If you did everything previously, and you still fail.

يعني ما زالو ناس بيعتبروك فاشل / ya’ni ma zaalu nas bi’tabiruuk faashil

Meaning people still consider you a failure.


Example #7: قادر / ghadir or 2adir (someone who can)

Person #1: تعبان تعبان تعبان / ta’baan ta’baan ta’baan

Tired, tired, tired

Person #2: ايش في يا زلمة / esh fe ya zalameh

What is it man?

Person #1:لو تعرف شو بدي احكي لاكي شو بدي احكي لاحكي يا زلمة

Lau ta’rif, sho biddi aHki li aHki, sho biddi aHki li aHki ya zalameh

If you only know, what can I tell you, what can I tell you man?


شغل شغل كله! كل الشركة فوق ظهري فوق ظهري / shogl shogl kolloh! kol shogl alshirkeh fough thahri fough thahri

Work, work all of it! All the work of the company is on my back, on my back!


مش قادر مش فادر. بس لازم. لازم اضل متحمل /mish ghadir mish ghadir. bas lazim. lazim aDill mittHamal.

I’m not able, I’m not able. But I must. Must. I have to keep bearing it.

(Note here that the letter ق has been changed to a غ in pronunciation because he says it that way, as many people, specifically men, in the Levant tend to do.)


Example #8: shaayef (someone who is seeing)

Person #1: اثبت لي! / ithbit li!

Prove it to me!

Person #2: كيف اثبت لك؟ / Keif athbit lak?

How do I prove it to you?

Person #1: شايف؟ شايف؟ شايف؟ / shaayef? shaayef? shaayef?

See? See? See? (Literally, a person who is seeing).


What other verbs can you think of in Levantine Arabic that fit the فاعل dress? Did we miss any out? Try putting these verbs in a sentence in the comments below and we’ll tell you if it’s right or could be improved on!

Oct 13

How To Use اله in Levantine Arabic (And What Not to Confuse It With)

I often browse through videos on Youtube racking my brain for inspiration on what to post that will help you guys more in Levantine Arabic (you’re welcome).

So today I was reviewing the video اللبس في الجامعة / allibs fi aljami’ah (Attire in the University) by a Jordanian series called كلمة واحدة / Kilmeh WaHidah (One Word) which I’ve posted about before, on how to use the word يكون / yikuun.

And one thing happened to stick out at me.

The number of times the hostess used the word اله / iloh in her opening lines.

I swear she must have used it 4 times at the very least.

So I thought to myself, what better opportunity than the present to teach you guys how to use اله?


What’s it mean?

If you’re familiar with Fusha, the word Levantine word اله / iloh is the equivalent of the Fus-ha word له / lahu.

To break it down even further, it stems from the letter لِ / li, which means ‘for’. Now in both Fus-ha and Levantine, لِ can be used in 2 ways:

1. To denote reason.

Another meaning for لِ would be ‘to’, but in the sense of to do something, like to study, to eat, to have fun, and so on. In this case لِ would be followed by a masdar verb, as you can see in the example below.

انا رحت على المدرسة لدراسة / ana ruHet ‘ala almadraseh lidiraseh

I went to school to study.


2. To denote possession

In which case, لِ would be conjugated like a noun. For example, لي means ‘for me’, لها means ‘for her’ and so on and so forth.

(Don’t worry the conjuggle table is coming up soon if you need it).

Therefore, له means ‘for him/it’ and it’s equivalent in Levantine is اله.

The difference is that in Levantine Arabic the word takes on an additional meaning, which is ‘he has’ or ‘there is’, while in Fus-ha you would most likely use something like هناك or يوجد instead.

For the purposes of this post though, I’m going to be focusing more about how اله is used in the second meaning, that is in terms of possession.


Examples please?

I thought you’d never ask.

Example #1:

What she said:

لاكن كل مكان اله لبس معين و احترام معين / lakin kol makan iloh libs mu’ayyin wa iloh iHtiram  mu’ayyin

But for every place, there is/it has a specific attire and a specific respect.

Here اله refers back to the مكان, which is a singular male noun, which explains why it’s اله and not الهم for example.


Example #2:

What she said:

اذن لكل مكان اله لبس مناسب / idhan, lakol makan iloh libs munasib

Therefore, for every place, there is an appropriate attire.

Again, same usage as in Example #1 above.


فالجامعة الها لبسها مناسب / fa aljami’3ah, ilha libs munasib

So the university, it has appropriate attire.

But in this case, she used الها , because she’s referring to the university, which is a singular feminine noun.


Conjuggling All Them Pronouns

Now the conjugation for both Levantine and Fus-ha are pretty much the same, however the pronuncation of the verbs is where the difference really kicks in. If you pronounce them the Fus-ha way, native speakers will immediately be able to pick out that you’re not speaking Levantine Arabic.

So here’s your conjugation table for both Levantine and Fusha, because we’re just servicey that way. And take particular notice of how the pronunciation difference occurs.

Pronoun Fus-ha Pronunciation Meaning
هو له lahu for him
هي لها laha for her
هم لهم lahum for them
انت لكَ laka for you (mas)
انتي لكِ laki for you (fem)
انتم لكم lakum for all of you
انا لي li for me
احنا لنا lana for us


Pronoun Levantine Pronunciation Meaning
هو اله iloh for him / he has
هي الها ilha for her / she has
هم الهم ilkom for all of you/ all of you have
انت الَك ilak for you (mas)/ you have
انتي الِك ilik for you (fem)/ you have
انا الي ili for me / I have
احنا النا ilna for us / we have


Also this point you might realize that the conjugations are similar to how you conjugate a noun, instead of a verb.

What do I mean by that?

I mean you conjugate them by changing the ends of the words only instead of at the beginning, for example how you would say my book is كتابي . Similarly, ‘for me’ is الي.


One word of caution!

Do not mix up الي (for me) with الي which means ‘that which’ or ‘the one that’.

I know they sound exactly the same (ili), but you need to examine the context in which the word appears to determine which of the two is being used.

I’ve written about the usage of الي  here and here, if you’d like to understand how to use it accurately.


What else does Nur have to say?

Let’s find out:

What she said:

يعني ما بتئدر تروح على المسجد او الكنيسة و انت لابس لبس مش مناسب / ya’ni ma bta2dar truH ‘ala almasjid aw alkaneeseh wa inta laabis libs mish munasib

Meaning, you cannot go to the mosque or the church and wear attire that is not appropriate.

(Also note here that  تئدر is actually the Fus-ha word تفدر , which means to be able to. It’s changed to تئدر here because often times in Levantine Arabic the ق is changed to a ء or غ )


لانه لكل مكان اله حرمته / lianno lakol makan iloh Hirmitoh

Because for each place, it has sanctity.


بردو ما بتئدر تروح على الحفلة و انت لابس بجاما لانه ناس رح تنتقدك / bardo, ma bta2dar truH ‘ala alHifleh wa inta labis bajama lianno annas raH tantaqdak.

Also, you cannot go to a party and wear pajamas because people will criticise you.


لانه هاد الابس مش لهاد المكان / lianno had allibs mish lihad almakan

Because this attire is not for this place.


Did this post help you to understand how to use اله ? Do you agree with what Nur says about there being proper attire for a university? What other examples can you think of using the word اله? Let us know in the comments, we love hearing from you!

Oct 13

The Verb I Wish Someone Had Taught Me From Day 1

To be or not to be, that is the question.

So echoes the timeless words of Shakespeare till today.

(Sidenote, does anyone actually understand what that line even means? I took literature as a college entrance exam, studied Othello, English is my native language and till today I’m still not 100% certain I know what the Bard was talking about.To be or not to be what?)

(But maybe that’s just me being a ignorant, uneducated, shallow plebe.)

(Yeah. Most definitely the plebe argument.)

So if you haven’t guessed already, the verb that I mean is the verb بكون or ‘to be’ or ‘is’.

Now firstly, let me tell you: don’t underestimate the implications of being familiar with this verb. Think about how often you use the word ‘to be’ in English or your native language.

The truth is, tens, possibly even hundreds of times a day.

Similarly, when you get used to hearing the sound of this precious verb in Levantine Arabic, you’ll be able to see for yourself how much your understanding improves and increases.

For that reason I think of بكون as the one of those nifty little verbs that hit the proverbial sweet spot. The one thing you can work on to improve your understanding and command multiple-fold.

But hey, don’t take my word for it.

Let me show you.


Your Basic Conjugation Package

For your easy reference, as we’re wont to do on this site to facilitate your learning, here is the conjugation table for بكون .

Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation Meaning
هو بكون bi-kuun he is
هي بتكون bit-kuun she is
هم بكونو bi-kuunu all of them are
انت بتكون bit-kuun you (mas) are
انتي بتكوني bit-kuuni you (fem) are
انتو بتكونو bit-kuunu all of you are
انا باكون ba-kuun/bi-kuun I am
احنا منكون min-kuun we are


When do you not use it?

No, that wasn’t an error.

I feel a little dumb trying to explain how to use the word ‘to be’ because, well, it’s ‘to be.’ That’s the irony sometimes with teaching language – the easiest concepts are often the hardest to explain.

Now in English we’re often taught that the word ‘to be’ or ‘is’ is used after the object of the sentence and before the predicate. For example:

The house is red.

In Arabic, however, it’s sufficient to say:

البيت احمر / albeit aHmar.

Which literally means ‘the house red.’

In Arabic (both Fusha and Levantine dialect in general), the ‘is’ is already implied because the definite article of the house (البيت) is followed by the non-definite predicate احمر . So it’s not necessary to use the word بكون in this sentence.

Similarly with sentences like:

The taxi is coming / التكسي جاي

altaksi jaii.

The movie is bad / الفيلم سيئ

alfilem sayyi2.

She is beautful / هي حلوة

hiye Helwe.

As you can see, none of the above sentences require the use of بكون .


Soooo…when do I use it then?

The word بكون in Levantine Arabic (and Fusha) is more prevalent in instances when you would use the actual words ‘to be’ in English instead of ‘is’.

For example:

It has to be beautiful. /هو لازم يكون حلو

huwe lazim ya-kuun Helu.

The party will be at 10 pm. / الحفلة رح تكون في ساعة عشرة

alHifleh raH ta-kuun fe sa’ah ‘ashara

Why can’t all of you be patient? / ليه كلكم ما تقدرو تكونو صابرين؟

Leh kollokom ma ta2dir takuunu Sabireen?
Can you see the difference? It’s almost like the usage leans towards instances when you use the verb ‘to become’ rather than ‘to be’.
If this is still unclear, don’t worry, things will BE (see what I did there?) clearer by the end of the post.

The Secret is in the Sound

Now by all appearances, the word بكون is exactly the word يكون in Fusha. And aside from the regular differences in conjugation between Fus-ha and Levantine Arabic, the all-important distinction you should take note of is how the word is pronounced in the Levant.

While in Fusha تكون would be pronounced ta-kuun, in Levantine dialect it would be بتكون / BIT-kuun, and NOT bi-ta-kuun. I think you’d get some really odd looks saying bi-ta-kuun.

But wait, I hear you say, could you give me some real life examples?


Challenge Accepted

So this series I came across on Youtube is called كامة واحدة / kilmeh wa7deh or One Word, and is a Jordanian series focusing on youth topics and issues and this episode is called اللبس في الجامعة / allibs fil jami’eh (Attire in the University).

At the time I’m writing this, it only has 4 videos, but I like it because it’s short, sweet, easy to digest, and it has interviews with Jordanian twenty-somethings that throw up some interesting facets of youth culture.

For example, did you know that sometimes girls in hijab would put yoghurt cups underneath their scarves on the top of their heads?

It doesn’t say in the video why, but I think it has something to do with giving more height to their hijabs and giving the impression of more voluminous hair.

Who would’ve thought?

Here the word بكون appears at least 4 times in a 5-minute stretch, which tells you a ton about how often it’s used in Levantine Arabic. That’s an average of one a minute. The great thing is that I managed to pull 3 of them that used بكون in 3 different conjugations, to let you hear what it should sound like. For the conjugations that are not included in these videos, you can see them in the table above.

Example #1:

What she said:

كيف نكون مرتبين و انيقين؟/ keef nakuun mratibeen wu anyaQeen?

How do we become neat/organised and fashionable?

Note: Now I realise that in this sentence she said  نكون instead of منكون but the م prefix is not always used, depending on the person. Either way it would still be right.


Example #2:

What she said:

دائما البنت بتحاول بتكون الاجمل/ daiman albenet bitHawil bitkuun al-ajmal.

Always, the girl tries to be the most beautiful.


Example #3:

What she said:

مثلا الشاب كشاب لازم يكون شوي رجولة. و بردو اناقة / mathalan alshaab, ka shaab, lazim yakuun shwai rujuuleh. wu bardo anaqah

For example, the guy, being a guy, has to be a little masculine. Also, fashionable.

Note: Similar to Example #1, she uses يكون instead of بكون but that’s because of the verb لازم appears before it, which eliminates the need for the ب prefix.


So I hope this has helped you to understand a little better when to use بكون. If I could distill this post into one line, it would be to use بكون only when you would use the words ‘to be’ in English and not when you need to use ‘is’.


Can you think of more examples of using بكون? Are there any changes or additions that you think should be made to the rules above? What do you think Shakespeare meant when he wrote that famous quote? I’d love to get some enlightenment, after all it’s only taken me about 27 years.

Oct 13

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.

Sep 13

How to Ask Any Question in Levantine Arabic (and 24 examples for your extra clarity)

How do you ask a question in English?

Any reporter worth his salt will tell you that the six most important words to him are what we call the 5Ws and 1H.

1. What

2. Why

3. Who

4. Where

5. When

6. How / How much

Similarly, it is equally important to you to know how to go about asking a question in Fus-ha and Levantine Arabic, which is hopefully what you’re going to learn by the end of this post.

In general, here’s a table for the difference between question particles between Fus-ha and Levantine Arabic.

Particle Levantine Arabic Pronunciation Fus-ha Pronunciation
What? ايش / شو shu / esh ما / ماذا madha / ma
Where? وين wayn اين ayna
When? امتى imta متى mata
Who? مين meen من man
Why? ليه / ليش leh / lesh لماذا limadha
How? كيف keef كيف keifa
How much? اديه / اديش adesh / adeh بكم bikam

ِAt this point, we’ll go through each particle and examine how it’s used in a sentence. I’ve provided 4 examples for each particle to provide you with context and more clarity. As a general rule, if you already know how to construct questions in Fus-ha, you can easily switch out the fus-ha question particles for Levantine ones without any change to the meaning.

1. What? / شو؟ / ايش؟

While Fus-ha Arabic differentiates between usage of  ماذا and ما, Levantine Arabic makes no such distinction and the two particles can be used interchangeably. Examples of sentences include:

شو عم بتحكي؟ / shu ‘am btHki?

What are you (mas/fem) talking about?

شو صار معك؟/ shu Sar ma’k?

What happened to you (mas)? صار or يصير / yaSeer is a word that is more commonly used in Levantine Arabic than in Fus-ha and it’s used to convey the meaning of to happen or to become. We’ll explain in another post how to use the word صار correctly.

ايش بتعملو؟/ esh bta’malu?

What are all of you doing?

ايش بتقراي؟/ esh btiqra2i?

What are you (fem) reading?

2. Where? / وين؟

As I mentioned above, the usage of وين is quite straightforward and simple – you can just replace the word اين with it and it’s pretty much the same thing. Some examples include:

وين المكتب؟/ wayn almaktab?

Where is the office?

وينك؟/ wayn-ak?

Where are you (mas)?

When وين is followed by a pronoun, you can either attach it to the pronoun after وين, like the example above, so that it becomes  وينِك /waynik (where are you feminine), وينكم/ waynkum (where are all of you) etc. It is equally possible to keep them separate as well, and just say وين انت؟ or  وين انتو؟

وين التخت؟/ wayn altakht?

Where is the bed?

تخت is the word for ‘bed’ in Levantine Arabic, not the سرير / sareer that you learn in Fusha.

وين كان الزلمة؟/ wayn kan alzalameh?

Where was the guy?

زلمة is the word for ‘guy’ or ‘man’ in Levantine Arabic, not the Fus-ha رجل / rajul. Even though the word for ‘guy’ has a taa marbuuta at the end, it’s definitely regarded as a masculine word, therefore explaining the كان before that.

3. When? / امتى؟

Again, simple replacement of the word متى with امتى will retain its same meaning. Examples of this in action include:

امتى الموعد؟/ imta almaw’id?

When is the meeting?

امتى ترجع على البيت؟/ imta trja’ ‘al beit?

When are you (mas) returning to the house?

You will find as well in Levantine Arabic that prepositions are used differently than they are used in Fus-ha. على and ب are used far more frequently than الى, for example. In a lot of cases, على is used instead of where الى usually goes, like in the example above. We’ll go into more detail about that in a following post regarding prepositions.

امتى صار حادث السيارة؟/ imta Sar Hadith alsayyara?

When did the car accident happen?

امتى لازم تروح؟/ imta lazim troH?

When do you (mas) have to go?

راح / يروح is a word that is highly used in Levantine Arabic. Meaning to go, it is used instead of the Fus-ha word ذهب / يذهب . I’ve identified these as one of the words in the post 21 Verbs that will Completely Revolutionise your Levantine Arabic.

4. Who? / مين؟

Once more, simple replacement of من with مين will yield the same meaning of the question. Examples include:

مين عند الباب؟/ meen ‘and albab?

Who is at the door?

مين هو؟/ meen huwe?

Who is he?

مين البنت بجنبك؟/ meen albinet bijanbik?

Who is the girl beside you (fem)?

مين صاحب البيت؟/ meen SaHib albeit?

Who is the owner of the house?

5. Why? / ليش؟

You might occasionally hear the word ليه/ leh instead of the word ليش , but they both mean exactly the same thing as لماذا. Examples include:

ليش ما بتشتغل اليوم؟/ lesh ma btashtaghil alyom?

Why are you not working today? In Levantine Arabic, ما is used more to negate both present and past tense verbs compared to لا and لم in Fusha. بتشتغل is the Levantine Arabic word for ‘to work’. It’s also a Fus-ha word, but it’s used more than the Fusha equivalent تعمل .

ليش سحران؟/ lesh saHran?

Why are you (mas) staying up late?

ليش تاخرت؟/ lesh ta-2kharret?

Why were you late?

ليش بتعمل هيك؟/ lesh bta’mal heik?

Why are you doing that?

6. How? / كيف؟

كيفكم؟/ keefkum?

How are all of you?

كيف كان الشغل؟/ keef kan alshogl?

How was work today?

كيف الجو؟/ keef aljaww?

How is the weather?

كيف دبرت الموضوع؟/ keef dabarret almawDuu’?

How did you settle the issue?

7. How much? / اديش؟ / اديه؟

Similar to the question particle why, you might hear either اديش or  اديه / adeh depending on the region and person, but both carry the same meaning as بكم . In Jordan, for example, men tend to say غديش / gdesh because they substitute the ق for a غ . We’ll go through the letter substitutions in a different post, but for now some examples include:

اديش كل واحد؟/ adesh kol waHid?

How much is each one?

اديش نص كيلو خبز؟/ adesh nos kilo khubz?

How much is half a kilo of bread?

اديش الساعة؟/ adesh assa’ah?

What time is it? (Literally how much is the time?)

اديش الرسوم؟/ adesh arrusuum?

How much are the fees?

To reinforce these for you a little more, I came across a great video by the channel Shami Couch on Question Words in Arabic. She talks about how certain letters change in dialect in the first half of the video, so you can ignore that part of the video for now and focus on 2:55 onwards instead.

I hope this post helped all of you to clarify how to go about asking questions in Levantine Arabic. If anything is unclear at all, please drop me a note in the comments and I’ll try my best to explain it. Or if I’ve made a mistake anywhere above, don’t be afraid to let me know! I appreciate any and all feedback to make this site as useful and open as possible for you guys.

Sep 13

‘My Cousin is a Pregnant but She’s Still a Virgin’ – How to Use لسا in Levantine Arabic

I bet that grabbed your attention!

I actually got a hold of that headline by Googling the word لِسّا / lissa and one of the results was a forum topic with the above headline.

But there’s a good reason why I chose it, and that has to do with the fact that it’s a great example of how to use the word لِسّا in Amiyyah.

What It Means

Quite simply, the Amiyyah word لِسّا means ‘still’, as in ‘still in the process of doing something‘ and is the Amiyyah equivalent to the Fus-ha word ما  زال / ma zala or لا  يزال/ la yazaal.

However, the difference between them is that while in Fusha  لا  يزال / ما  زال needs to be conjugated according to the pronoun it is referring to, لِسّا does not necessarily need to be conjugated for the pronoun.

Let’s take a look at the example below to see how this works in practice:

Amiyyah Pronunciation Meaning Fus-ha Pronunciation
 هو لسا بالمدرسة huwe lissa bil-madraseh He is still in school   هو لا يزال في المدرسة huwa la ya-zaal fi almadrasah
 هي لسا بالمدرسة hiye lissa bil-madraseh She is still in school  هي لا تزال في المدرسة hiya la ta-tazaal fi almadrasah
 هم لسا بالمدرسة hume lissa bil-madraseh They are still in school  هم لا يزالون في المدرسة hum la ya-zaalu fi almadrasah
 اِنتَ لسا بالمدرسة inta lissa bil-madraseh You (masculine) are still in school  انت لا تزال في المدرسة anta la ta-zaal fi almadrasah
 اِنتِ لسا بالمدرسة inti lissa bil-madraseh You (feminine) are still in school  انت لا تزالين في المدرسة anti la ta-zaaleen fi almadrasah
 انتو لسا بالمدرسة intu lissa bil-madraseh All of you are still in school  انتم لا تزالون في المدرسة antum la ta-zaaluun fi almadrasah
انا لسا بالمدرسة ana lissa bil-madraseh I am still in school  انا لا ازال في المدرسة ana la a-zaal fi almadrasah
 احنا لسا بالمدرسة iHna lissa bil-madraseh We are still in school  نحن لا نزال في المدرسة  naHnu la na-zaal fi almadrasah

So you can see that in Amiyyah, all you need to do is insert لسا after the pronoun to convey the meaning of still in the process of doing something.

How is it used in the past tense?

In ماضي / maDi, you can do this in two ways:

1. The easier option would be to simply add كان before the pronoun, so it becomes

كان هولسا بالمدرسة

كان هي لسا بالمدرسة

And so on and so forth.

2. Or conjugate كان to fit the pronoun you are using, as seen in the table below:

Amiyyah Pronunciation Meaning Fus-ha Pronunciation
كان لسا بالمدرسة kan lissa bil-madraseh He was still in school  كان لا يزال في المدرسة kan la ya-zaal fi almadrasah
كانت لسا بالمدرسة kanet lissa bil-madraseh She was still in school  كانت لا تزال في المدرسة kanat la ta-tazaal fi almadrasah
كانو لسا بالمدرسة kanu lissa bil-madraseh They were still in school  كانو لا يزالون في المدرسة kanu la ya-zaalu fi almadrasah
كنت لسا بالمدرسة kunt lissa bil-madraseh You (mas) were still in school  كُنتَ لا تزال في المدرسة kunta la ta-zaal fi almadrasah
كنت لسا بالمدرسة kunti lissa bil-madraseh You (fem) were still in school كُنتِ لا تزالين في المدرسة kunti la ta-zaaleen fi almadrasah
كنتولسا بالمدرسة kuntu lissa bil-madraseh All of you were still in school  كنتوا لا تزالون في المدرسة kuntu la ta-zaaluun fi almadrasah
كنت لسا بالمدرسة kunt lissa bil-madraseh I was still in school  كُنتُ لا ازال في المدرسة kunt la a-zaal fi almadrasah
كنت لسا بالمدرسة kunna iHna lissa bil-madraseh We were still in school  كنا لا نزال في المدرسة kunna la na-zaal fi almadrasah

You’d probably agree with me for simplicity’s sake that it’s easier to just add the كان in front and the pronoun after it, as seen in method 1.

More Examples to Chew On

So let’s take another look at the headline above:

Example #1:بنت عمي متزوجة و حامل بس هي لسا عذراء / bint ‘ammi mittzawijeh oo Hamil bs hiye lissa ‘dhra2.

This means ‘my cousin (daughter of my paternal uncle) is married and pregnant, but she’s still a virgin’.

Example #2: لسا في امل / lissa fe amal

So this means ‘there is still hope’.

Example #3: كان احنا لسا صغار / kan iHna lissa Sighar

Since كان throws everything into the past tense, this means ‘when we were still small’.

Example #4:

This last example is one of how لسا can be used a response:

Person 1: اختك تخرجت؟ / okhtak takharajet?

Has your sister graduated?

Person 2: لا لسا / la, lissa.

No, not yet.

Sep 13

21 Verbs that will Completely Revolutionise Your Levantine Arabic (Using the Pareto Method)

I first came across the 80/20 rule when I was reading lifestyle design guru Tim Ferriss‘ book The Four Hour Work Week. Also termed the Pareto Principle, it originated from Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and examines the unequal relationship between input and output.

Pare- what?

Simply put, the theory postulates the 20% of the input will result in 80% of the output.

Now this can be applied to a range of different contexts – for example, Pareto realised that 80% of the usable land in Italy was distributed among 20% of the population. In business, evidence has shown that 80% of sales result from 20% of clients and that 80% of revenues are generated from 20% of the sales team.

What Does this Mean for You?

The implications for this research are astounding – in other words, you don’t have to put in 100% of the effort to get 100% of the results. Instead, in the real-world context of time pressure, resource scarcity and diminishing returns, you need only focus on the 20% most crucial pieces of the puzzle that will give you 80% of the return.

Call it Return on Investment (ROI) or bang-for-your-buck – the bottom line is, cut out the unnecessary fluff and focus on what gives you the most mileage.

In other words, what the Pareto principle debunks is the false notion that you need to know everything about everything before beginning.

And haven’t we all fallen into that trap before, where you tell yourself ‘Well I’m not an expert in (insert skill as necessary) just yet, so I’m just going to read these 500 books on the topic and the corresponding 100 websites and then I can start.

Except (a), you never do end up finishing those 500 books and 100 websites and (b) even if you do, you still find a reason not to start. So obviously, this approach needs to be chucked out with the trash.

Applying this to Language Learning

The good news is, you can.

Benny of Fluent in 3 Months explains how the Pareto concept plays an important role in re-engineering our approach to language learning and overcoming the fear of starting.

Furthermore, the evidence of the Pareto principle in language learning is backed up by this article in the Harvard Business Review that quotes Sir Isaac Pitman as an example. He invented shorthand by discovering that merely 700 words make up 2/3rds of the English language. Tim Ferriss’ post on How to Learn Any Language in Three Months lists the 100 most common words in the English language and says that:

‘The first 25 of the above words make up about 1/3 of all printed material in English. The first 100 comprise 1/2 of all written material, and the first 300 make up about 65% percent of all written material in English.’

Putting this into Practice

In line with this philosophy, let’s extrapolate this to Amiyyah Arabic. And so I’m going to give you the 21 most valuable verbs that you will need in order to multiply your understanding of Amiyyah tenfold (or more).

Are you ready? Here they are:

Verb Amiyyah Pronunciation Fus-ha Pronunciation
to go يروح  yi-ruH  يذهب yadh-habu
to speak يحكي  yiH-ki  يتكلم yatakallamu
to come ييخي  yee-ji  يجيئ yajee2u
to bring يجيب  yi-jeeb  يحضر yuH-Diru
to go in يفوت  yi-fuut  يدخل yad-khulu
to go out يطلع  yiT-la’  يخرخ yakhruju
to go ahead تفضل  taf-fa-Dal  تفضل tafaDal
to eat يوكل  yu-kul  يأكل ya2-kulu
to drink يشرب  yish-rab  يشرب yashrabu
to take يوخد  yu-khud  يأخذ ya2-khudhu
to arrive يصل  ya-Sil  يصل yaSilu
to leave / go up يطلع  yiT-la’  يصعد / يغادر yu-ghadiru / yaS-3’du
to go down ينزل  yin-zil  يذهب الى اسفل yadh-hab ila asfal
to give يعطي  yu’-Ti  يعطي yu’Ti
to leave يترك  yit-ruk  يترك yat-ruku
to start يبلش  yi-ballesh  يبدأ yab-da2u
to finish يخلص  yi-khallaS  ينتهي yan-tahi
to sit يقعد  yuq-‘ud  يجلس / يقعد yaj-lisu
to stand يوقف  yi-waQif  يقف ya-Qifu
to want بده  bidduh  يريد yu-reedu
to put يحط  yi-HuT  يضع yaDa3u

I will go into further detail on how to use these verbs and their conjugations in a following post. But all you need to know for now is just being comfortable and familiar with these verbs alone will go a long way towards improving your command of Amiyyah.

Responding to Naysayers

At this juncture, some of you might say that the Pareto principle doesn’t always work, because it ignores the remaining 80% of the work that needs to be done.

To this I say, that depends on what your objectives are for learning a foreign a language in the first place. If your objective at the end of the day is to achieve total mastery of the language, with deep philosophical discussions then the Pareto principle will get you a good distance, but you will have to continue refining and honing your command of the language from that point.

If that’s you’re after, that’s absolutely fine.

But I’m not personally interested in mastery. Mastery takes years and years of effort, energy and time, which unfortunately most of us don’t have. What I am interested in is getting people to overcome their fear and self-consciousness of using a language by showing them that it doesn’t have to be difficult, overwhelming or scary. All you need are a few crucial words and these will give you the ability to communicate with people with reasonable depth and over a reasonable range of topics.

And wasn’t that why you started in the first place? 😉

Sep 13

Want to Tell the Future? Here’s how – Using رح in Levantine Arabic

All you need is one letter.

As with any other language, Amiyyah in the Levant does have a future tense, however it differs slightly from that of Fus-ha.

While Fus-ha uses س / sa or سوف / sawfa to indicate something that will happen in the future, Amiyyah uses the word رح / raH. The usage is really straightforward – any time you would use س / سوف in Fus-ha, you can easily switch it out to رح and the meaning will be perfectly preserved.

Let’s look at some examples to make this perfectly clear:

Amiyyah Fus-ha
Sentence أنا رح اشتري خبز من المحل بعدين أنا ساشتري خبز من المحل بعد قليل
Pronunciation ana raH ashtari khubz min almaHal b’3dein ana sa-ashtari khubz min almaHal ba’d qaleel.
Meaning I will buy bread from the shop later.

And just like س / سوف , there is no need to conjugate رح according to the ضمير / Dameer (pronoun).  Have a look at the table below using the word يشرب / yashrab (to drink).

Pronoun Amiyyah Pronunciation Fus-ha Pronunciation Meaning
He هو رح يشرب huwe rH yishrab هو سيشرب huwa sa-yashrab He will drink
She هي رح تشرب hiye rH tishrab هي ستشرب hiya sa-tashrab She will drink
They هم رح يشربو hume rH yishrabu هم سيشربون huma sa-yashrabun They will drink
You (masculine) إنت رح تشرب inta rH tishrab أنت ستشرب anta sa-tashrab You will drink
You (feminine) إنت رح تشربي inti rH tishrabi إنت ستشربين anti sa-tashrabeena You will drink
All of you انتو رح تشربو intu rH tishrabu أنتم ستشربون antum sa-tashrabuuna All of you will drink
I أنا رح اشرب ana rH ashrab أنا ساشرب ana sa-ashrab I will drink
We احنا رح نشرب iHna rH nishrab نحن سنشرب nHnu sa-nashrab We will drink


The only difference I would proffer at this point would be that while Classical Arabic texts draw the (slight) distinction between س and سوف as the former being closer in the future compared to the latter, modern MSA texts barely make that distinction. Likewise, there is no such distinction in Amiyyah either.

It might be interesting to note as well that because the verb is preceded by a future tense رح , the  ب prefix that is usually placed in front of the verb (such as بشرب، بكتب، بحضر) and that is so synonymous with Amiyyah, is not used here.

We will explore in a later post why the ب prefix is used in some cases and not others, but for now all you need to know is that it is not used while using the future tense.

Was this post useful for you? Leave me a comment if there are particular Amiyyah topics or rules that you would like to know more about!

Sep 13

2 Simple Steps to Getting Anywhere You Want in the Levant

One of the most basic survival skills that you will need in the Levant is how to get around on public transport.

Unless you are willing to fork money out on a car and are comfortable driving around on the roads in Jordan or Palestine, taxis and buses remain the cheapest option for getting around and exploring the city.

This is where this post comes in useful for you – in fact I wish someone had taught me this earlier on before arriving in Amman and thereby saving myself a ton of trouble and stress in the process. This might come as a surprise to some of you, but no one in Jordan actually uses street names. Nope. Zero. Zilch. Sfr. Even if you have a street address (unless it’s on a major road or highway) chances are the driver won’t have heard of it in his life.

Instead people get by based on landmarks. Instead of saying 23 Mohammed Abdullah Street, you would have to say the North Gate of Jordan University, drive past the traffic intersection, then make the first right turn, the third house on the left.

It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it works most of the time. The only time where this becomes a problem is when you haven’t been to the area or place before, in which case I always resort to getting the other party on the phone and getting them to speak directly to the driver and it’s all good.

With that, I present to you the list of directions that will come in incredibly handy in getting from Point Alif to Point Baa. I’ve divided them into two steps, Step One that deals with the directions themselves, and Step Two that will give you important landmarks that might crop up on your journey.

Step One:

Direction Amiyyah Pronunciation Fus-ha Pronunciation
Go straight رح دغري  ruH dughri  إذهب على طول  idhhab ‘ala Tuul
Turn left لف شمال  lef shimal  –
Turn right لف يمين  lef yameen  –  –
I am going to… أنا بروح إلى  ana baruH ila…  أنا اذهب إلى  ana adhhab ila
Take me to…  وصلني / خدني إلى  khudni ila…/ waSSilni ila…  خذني إلى  khudhni ila
Here is fine. هون كويس  huun kuwayyis  هنا جيد  huna jayyed
Above فوق  fouq  –  –
Below تحت  taHt  –  –
Beside بجنب  bijanb  –  –
On the right على اليمين  ‘la alyameen  –  –
On the left على الشمال  ‘la alshimaal  –  –
Across / Opposite  مقابل  muqabil  –  –
Are you departing? إنت طالع؟ inta Tali3? أنت تغادر؟ anta tughadir?
Keep on your right خليك على اليمين khalleik ‘la alyameen ضل على اليمين Dil ‘ala alyameen
Keep on your left خليك على الشمال khalleik ‘la alshimaal ضل على الشمال Dil ‘ala alshimaal
At the عند ال ‘and al… في ال fi al..
In front of إدام ال idaam al… أمام ال amaam al…
Before غبل / أبل  ghabl / abl قبل  Qabl
After  بعد  b3’d  –
Go uphill اطلع iTla’! إصعد  iS’ad!
Go downhill إنزل inzil!  إذهب إلى أسفل  idhhab ila asfal!

Step Two: Here is a list of possible landmarks that you may encounter. I’m giving these so that you can mix and match them with the directions above.

Landmark Amiyyah Pronunciation
Mosque مسجد  masjid
Building عمارة  ‘imaara
Library مكتبة maktaba
Police station مخفر الشرطة  makhfar alshorTa
Pharmacy صيدلية  Saidaliyyeh
Market سوق  suuq
Intersection تقاطع  taQaTu’
Roundabout دوار  diwar
Supermarket سوبرماركت  suber market
Shop محل  maHal
Bridge جسر  jisr
Traffic Light  إشارة المرور  isharit almuruur
Ministry وزارة  wizara
Office مكتب  maktab
Restaurant مطعم  maT’am
Downtown وسط البلد  wast albalad
Cafe مقهى  maQha
Street شارع  shari’
Way طريق  TareeQ

All of these words are the same in Fus-ha, which is why I didn’t provide the equivalents. Feel free to combine these two lists together as appropriate. I’ve provided some examples below, to give you a clearer picture.

1. Take me to Jabal Alwebdeih, turn right at the street after the supermarket.

خدني على جبل اللويبده و لف يمين عند الشارع بجنب السوبرماركت

Khudni ‘ala jabal alwebdeh, oo lef yameen ‘and alshari3 bijanb alsubermarket.

2. Keep straight towards the hospital.

خليك دغري إلى المستشفى

Khalleik dughri ila almustashfa.

3. In front of the mosque, turn left and after that left again.

ادام المسجد، لف شمال و بعدين شمال كمان

Idam almasjid, lef shimal oo ba’dein shimal kaman.

4. Send me to the building after the mall.

وصلني إلى العمارة بعد المول

waSSilni ila al’imarah ba’d almaul.

5. Please go over the bridge and drop me at the intersection.

رح فوق الجسر لو سمحت و وصلني عند التقاطع

rH fawq aljisr law samaHt oo waSSalni ‘and altaQaTa’.

Did I miss anything out? If you have any questions, drop me a comment in the space below!