Oct 13

The Case of the Mysteriously Appearing ي – How to Conjugate يجيء in Levantine Arabic

So my lovely friend Gioia Forster (aspiring journalist, history enthusiast, world travellor extraodinaire and ardent Arabic learner) has been asking me to write a post on how to conjugate the word the Fus-ha word يجيء / yajee2 or to come, in Levantine Arabic.

It’s been stumping her for a while because she couldn’t understand how to conjugate it right and when she found out I was writing about verb conjugations and asked me to write about this particularly tricky verb.

And in all honesty, I can understand where all the confusion comes from – in fact I had the exact same problem when I tried to get used to using and hearing the word for the first time. And it’s so often used that it’s one of the verbs I shortlisted in 21 Verbs that Will Completely Revolutionise Your Levantine Arabic.

يجيء is simple enough to conjugate in Fus-ha, but somehow it gets tricky in Levantine Arabic. And so after doing some detective work, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s all because of the Case of the Mysteriously Appearing ي.


Conjuggling يجيء

So to begin, I’ve conjuggled the يجيء in Fus-ha below and you’ll see that it pretty much follows the standard Fus-ha rules of conjugation.

Pronoun Fus-ha Pronunciation Meaning
هو يجيء yajee2 he comes
هي تجيء tajee2 she comes
هم يجيئون yajee2un all of them come
انتَ تجيء tajee2 you (mas) come
انتِ تجيئين tajee2eena you (fem) come
انتو تجيئون tajee2uun all of you come
انا اجيء ajee2 I come
احنا نجيء najee2 we come

Nothing very revolutionary there.

When we conjugate يجيء  in Levantine Arabic, however, something really curious happens.

A second ي will miraculously appear after the first ي .

Take a look at the table below if you want to know what I mean and compare it to the table above.

Pronoun Levantine Conjugation Pronunciation Meaning
هو ييجيء yeejee he comes
هي تيجيء teejee she comes
هم ييجوء yeejuu all of them come
انتَ تيجيء teejee you (mas) come
انتِ تيجيء teejee you (fem) come
انتو تيجوء teejuu all of you come
انا اجيء aajee I come
احنا نيجيء neejee we come

You can see the the additioned ي appears after the initial ي , which results in an elongated -ee sound at the beginning of the verb.

I also can’t really explain why the ي is doubled at the beginning of يجيء in Levantine Arabic (which is probably why I called it the mysteriously appearing ي ). It might simply be a case of fluidity and ease on the tongue in pronouncing it like that instead of the regular Fus-ha method.


Want More Tips?

Aside from the appearing ي :

1. Because the ء is never quite pronounced in Levantine Arabic, it usually gets changed into a ي sound, which is why نيجيء for example is pronounced neejee and not neejee2, with a sharp ending.

2. The -ون Fus-ha ending for انتو and هم is also hardly used in Levantine Arabic – instead the ن is usually dropped, leaving just the و behind.

This is the reason why ‘all of them come’ is  يجيئون in Fus-ha but just ييجوء in Levantine Arabic.


Ready to See it in Action? Here we go.

As usual, on this site we don’t really think anything becomes crystal clear until you have a great example to go along with it, especially when it comes to language learning.

So I’ve culled this video from an interview segment on Youtube from the Jordanian channel Ro2ya entitled سؤال: شو رأيكم لو البنت تصير تطلب الشب ؟ / su2al: sho ra’yokom lau albinet tiSeer tiTlub ashab?

In other words, Question: What is your opinion if a girl goes and asks for a man (in marriage)?

Basically the interview goes around on the streets of Amman and interviews regular people to get their responses on the question, and the answers give you some really valuable and interesting insight into the Jordanian psyche.

Here, the word تيجيء and ييجيء are used a lot, to mean ‘the guy comes to…’ or ‘the girl comes to…’.

Example #1:

هلا انه ييجيء الشاب يخطب البنت هاد اشي عادي و طبيعي بس انه البنت تروح تخطب الشاب انه كتير عيب

halla2 ino yeejee alshaab yukhTob albinet had ishy ‘aadi wa Tabee’i bs ino albinet troH tokhTob alshaab ino kteer ‘aib.

Now the guy comes and proposes engagement to the girl this thing is normal and natural but the girl goes and proposes engagement to the guy that is really embarrassing/ shameful.

Example #2:

لانه ما بعرف هلا البنت لازم تكون بانوثتها تستنى هي الشاب الي ييجيء عندها

lianno, ma b’arif, halla2 albinet lazim takuun bi-unthiyatha tastanna hiya ashaab ili yeejee ‘indha.

Because, I don’t know, now the girl has to be with her femininity and wait for the guy that comes to her.

Notice that she says ‘ييجيء عندها ‘ to mean ‘come to her’. Unlike in Fus-ha where you would use يجيء اليها , in Levantine arabic they use the word عند instead. Similarly, if you wanted to say ‘she comes to me’, it would be تجيء الي / tajee2 ilaii in Fus-ha and تيجيء عندي / teejee ‘indi in Levantine.

We will examine more later on how prepositions are used in Levantine Arabic – you’ll see that while the prepositions themselves are the same as in Fusha, they are used a little differently in Levantine dialect.


Example #3:

Now this clip I gathered from كلمة واحدة , another Jordanian series on Youtube that talks about issues concerning Jordanian youth.

In this segment, the issue was what was considered appropriate attire in the university, and one of the students interviewed said that sometimes girls come dressed like they’re going from /coming to a party.

لانه في كتير بنات بيجوء والله العظيم فكرهم جايات لسا من حفلة

lianno fe kteer banaat beejuu wallahi al’aTheem fakkirhom jai-aat lissa min Hifleh

Because there are a lot of girls that come, I swear by God, their thinking is that they are coming from a party.


Do you understand better now how to conjugate يجيء in both Fus-ha and Levantine Arabic? Since it’s stumping us so much, do you have a theory or solution for the Case of the Mysteriously Appearing ي ?. Let us know in the comments as well as any other verbs that you want to see conjuggled! I’m also going to share this post with Gioia, why don’t you do the same with a friend of yours?

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.

Oct 13

Want to Call Someone Out on Their Bulls***? Here are the 2 words you need.

We’ve all been there at one point or another, where you get the vague yet distinct feeling that someone is blowing hot smoke up your butt.

It might be a sales guy, it might be a shopkeeper or as it happens way often in Amman, it might be your taxi driver.

These are all actual incidents that have actually happened to yours truly:

1. Drivers asking for more money because 3 of us had to go to 3 locations, never mind that all 3 places were in the exact same neighbourhood and walking distance apart.

2. Drivers who asked for more because of the traffic jam.

3. Drivers who took the 15-minute route instead of the 5-minute one.

4. Drivers who thought it perfectly alright to pop in at the local deli to breakfast on their way to your destination, despite the fact that you woke up thirty minutes late and need to be in school liketwentyminutesagodammit.

5. Drivers who decide to give perfect strangers/friends lifts on the way, never mind that ‘on the way’ means a trip to the other side of town, as you realise later on.

You get the idea.

We’ve used a clip called The Taxi from N2O Comedy (which we also used here to talk about How to Use دير بالك ), to highlight another brilliantly local Levantine expression.

Here’s the part in the video that I’m talking about specifically, where ابو نظارة / abu naTharah (or father of the spectacles), is talking about what some taxi drivers try to do.


What he says:

حسى شوفير التكسي لما بكون بعرض عليك / Hassa shufeer attaksi lamma bikuun bi’ruD ‘aleik

Now, the driver of the taxi, when he is bullshitting you,

هو بكون عارف ان انت تعرف ان هو بعرض / huwe bikuun ‘aarif ino inta ta’rif ino huwe bi’ruD.

He knows that you know that he is bullshitting.


What does it mean?

Firstly, the Fus-ha definition of  عرض or بعرض is to display/ exhibit/ present/ offer/ put forward something and the preposition على usually comes after it. It’s kinda like a set meal, so to speak. So a perfectly legitimate Fus-ha sentence would be something like (taken from a real headline):

أوباما يعرض على رئيس كينيا المساعدة في التعامل مع هجوم مركز التسوق بنيروبي

ubama ya’ruD ‘ala ra2ees kiiniyya musa’adah fi ta’aamul ma’a hujuum markaz attasawwuq binairobi

Obama Offers to President of Kenya Assistance in Dealing with Shopping Centre Attacks in Nairobi.

So remember that in contexts like these,  على always follows the verb يعرض .


But What About in Levantine Arabic?

Now in Levantine Arabic, the meaning changes drastically. As you can see (or at least guess from context) in the video clip above, the phrase بعرض عليك basically means to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. Here, بعرض takes on the meaning of display more in a condemning way, like pomp and pageantry with no real substance behind it.

Or basically, in less polite terms, to bullshit. =D


How Do I Conjugate it?

If you’re familiar with the conjugation for Levantine Arabic then this part should be easy- peasy, but for those who are still unfamiliar, here’s the conjugation table for your reference:

Pronoun Conjugations Pronunciation Meaning
هو يِعْرُض yi’ruD he cheats / bullshits
هي تِعْرُض ti’ruD she cheats / bullshits
هم يِعْرُضو yi’ruDu all of them cheat / bullshit
اِنتَ تِعْرُض ti’ruD you (mas) cheat / bullshit
اِنتِ تِعْرُضي ti’ruDi you (fem) cheat / bullshit
انتو تِعْرُضو ti’ruDu all of you cheat / bullshit
انا اعْرُض a’ruD I cheat / bullshit
احنا نِعْرُض ni’ruD We cheat / bullshit


Of course, the conjugation of the preposition على that comes after يِعْرُض will depend on who is being bullshitted to. For example, if he is being bullshitted to, it would be عليه while if she were the one being bullshitted to, it would be عليها , if it were me it would be علي and so on and so forth.

Also I don’t think I’ve ever typed out the word bullshit so many times in my life ever.


What Else Does He Say?

Just for kicks, let’s see what else Abu NaTharah has to say about taxi drivers. One of the hardest things to do is to translate humour between languages, and I can’t promise that I managed to achieve that in my translations.

But! All is not lost. The important thing is that I’m hoping the transcriptions will help you in understanding what he’s saying, especially when it’s laid out verbatim and that it will bring you closer towards getting a handle on Levantine Arabic.

What he says:

اذا طلب منك ليرة زيادة خلص! اعطيه / idha Tlb minnak lira ziyadeh khalas! a’Teeh!

If he demanded from you an extra lira, fine! Give it to him!

هو مش طماع,هو مش طماع. بس انت مغفر / huwe mush Tamaa’, huwe mush Tamaa’. Bas inta mughaffar.

He’s not greedy, he’s not greedy. But you are forgiving!


What he says:

بس هو بكل بساطة يعني عم بتسلي عليك / bas huwe bikul basaTa ya’ni ‘am bitsalli ‘aleik.

But he, in all simplicity, is entertaining you.

و برجع و بحكي لها ان انت مغفر / oo birja’ w baHki laha ino inta mughaffar.

And go back and tell him that you are forgiving.

I’m not sure why exactly he uses لها here, especially when it means to her. I’m not sure what exactly he’s referring to, because it can’t be the driver since it’s never a lady.

*Disclaimer: This post by no means reflects the reality of all taxi drivers in Amman, lest you think this is the case. I’ve met some really lovely ones who have brightened up my day and restored my faith and hope in humanity, for which I will always be grateful. There are bad apples in every city, big or small, but I can honestly say that 95% of the drivers that I met were genuinely honest and helpful human beings. =)


Can you think of other examples in your life where you could have used the phrase بعرض علي ? Or can you think of more phrases that communicate the same idea? Share them in the comments section below! We always love hearing from our readers.

Sep 13

What Mohammad Assaf (Arab Idol Hero) Had to Teach about the Word ‘Give’

I remember the night when the finals of Arab Idol were airing in Jordan and the rest of the Middle East.

It was a warm night in June of 2013.

The streets were empty. Where there were usually the steady hum of traffic and pedestrians resonating from downtown, the sidewalks and roads were eerily quiet. Above the hills of Jabal Luwebdeh and Jabal Amman, you could almost hear the static of television screens across the country, each one tuned in to see who would be take home the title of Arab Idol.

Mohammed Assaf, from the State of Palestine and all of 24 years, stood on stage, waiting alongside fellow finalist Ahmed Gamal from Egypt for the voter results.

When the news announced that he had won by a landslide, all of Amman (and without a doubt the rest of the Arab world), erupted in celebration, cheers and wept with joy. Cars and people started pouring out into the Jordanian streets, honking their horns and waving Palestinian flags. News of his win spread like wildfire across the interwebs, reaching as far as East Asia and the US. His win was their win.

Mohammed Assaf had united the Arab world in a way that politicians and governments had failed to do. Starting off simply as a wedding singer in Gaza, he overcome numerous obstacles to even get access to the auditions, from having to beg Hamas to leave the Gaza Strip to finding out that he had missed the deadline for registration. (Upon hearing him sing, another contestant sacrificed his number for the youth, saying that he had a far better chance of winning.)

I have no doubt one of the reasons Assaf was not only because of the sheer talent he embodied, but because he kept repeating that his participation was about more than just him.

It was about the Palestinian people, about their struggle and their dreams, and he had come to represent them, to tell the world about them and to make them proud.

One of my absolute favourite songs Assaf sang on his way to the top was, ياريت فيي خبيها / ya reit fiyye khabbeiha (I Wish I Could Hide Her.

Here are the lyrics to the song, courtesy of this great website Arabic Music Translations that provides the song lyrics in Arabic and their translations into English.

ياريت فيي خبيها وما خلي حدى يحاكيها
بسقيها دموع عيني وقدم لها قلبي بايديه
وباخد من عمري وبعطيها بعطيها بعطيها

ياريت بتعرف شو بحبها وشو عم اتعدب بحبها
ياقلبي روح جبلي قلبها راح دوب وانا فكر فيها
وباخد من عمري وبعطيها بعطيها بعطيها

Why Am I Giving This To You?

Perhaps it’s only appropriate considering Assaf’s love, patriotism and open-heartedness that we learn about the verb ‘to give’ in Fusha and Levantine Arabic.

What I want to draw your attention to is the line وباخد من عمري وبعطيها / w bakhod min ‘umri wa ba’Teeha (I take from my life and give to her) for the first time at 1:27 to 1:33.

I’ve mentioned before that يعطي / yu3Ti (to give) is one of the most important words in both Fus-ha and Levantine Arabic that you need to know, and we’ll examine that further here. At this juncture you’ll be glad to know that both of them have the same meaning and usage as the other.

Here is the conjugation for يعطي in its present tense. As I’ve mentioned before, present tense in Levantine Arabic tend to take a ب prefix, which does not exist in Fus-ha.

Pronoun Levantine Arabic Pronunciation Meaning Fus-ha Pronunciation
هو هو بعطي huwe bi’Ti He gives يعطي yu’Ti
هي هي بتعطي hiye bti’Ti She gives تعطي tu’Ti
هم هم بعطو hume bi’Tu They give يعطون yu’Tuuna
انتَ انت بتعطي inta bti’Ti You (mas) give تعطي tu’Ti
انتِ انت بتعطي inti bti’Ti You (fem) give تعطين tu’Teena
انتو انتو بتعطو intu bti’Tu All of you give تعطون tu’Tuuna
انا انا بعطي ana ba’Ti I give اعطي a’Ti
احنا احنا منعطي iHna mni’Ti We give نعطي nu’Ti

And here is the conjugation table for the past tense:

Pronoun Levant Arabic Pronunciation Meaning Fus-ha Pronunciation
هو اعطى a’Ta He gave اعطى a’Ta
هي اعطت a’Tat She gave اعطت a’Tat
هم اعطو a’Tu They gave اعطوا a’Tu
انتَ اعطيتْ a’Teit You (mas) gave اعطيت a’Taita
انتِ اعطيتِ a’Teiti You (fem) gave اعطيت a’Taiti
انتو اعطيتو a’Teitu All of you gave اعطيتوا a’Teituu
ان اعطيتْ a’Teit I gave اعطيت a’Taitu
احنا اعطينا a’Teina We gave اعطينا a’Taina


What if a direct object comes into the picture?

Since يعطي is rarely used on its own, as in we rarely just say ‘he gives’ and stop there. بعطي is almost always used with a direct object after that, like ‘he gives her’ or ‘I give them’ and so on and so forth. At this point you will need to grasp how conjugation works when a pronoun takes the direct object, as I’ve listed out in the table below:

Pronoun(as direct object) Then Suffix Example using ‘I give’ Pronunciation Meaning
هو Verb + ه بعطيه ba’Teeh I give him
هي Verb + ها بعطيها ba’Teeha I give her
هم Verb + هم بعطيهم ba’Teehum I give them
انت Verb + ك بعطيك ba’Teek I give you (mas)
انت Verb + كي بعطيكي ba’Teeki I give you (fem)
انتو Verb + كو بعطيكو ba’Teeku I give all of you
انا Verb + ني بعطيني ba’Teeni I give myself
احنا Verb + نا بعطينا ba’Teena I give us


Like in the lines of the song, وباخد من عمري وبعطيها . He doesn’t say و بعطي هي .

Similarly, if I wanted to say, ‘she gave you (fem) ‘, it would be بتعطيكي / bti’Teeki and not بتعطي انت / bti’teek inti.

We’ll go into more detail in another post about the song lyrics themselves, but I hope at this point it’s a little clearer how to use the verb يعطي .

Was this post useful and clear? If not, drop me a note in the comments below to tell me what you would like to have explained. If you would like to read more about Mohammad Assaf’s story, click here to read in the Guardian about how his performances have made him a symbol of hope and unity in the West Bank and Gaza.

Sep 13

‘The Speech of a Sultan but the Actions of a Devil’ – How to Use يحكي in Levantine Arabic

A while ago I wrote a post on the 21 Verbs that Will Revolutionise Your Levantine Arabic to list down the most popular verbs that you will come across.

One of the very first few words I spoke about was the verb يحكي / yiHki (to speak).

The equivalent in Fus-ha would be يتكلم / yatakallam.

You’ll be glad to know that you can quite easily switch out the fus-ha word for the diaect word in whatever sentence you choose.

How to Use it for the فعل مضارع / present tense.

Let’s look at this with an example of the sentence ‘I speak quickly.’

Note that with most present tense verbs in Levantine Arabic, it is preceded by the prefix ‘ب ‘, except for احنا , which is prefixed by ‘م’.

Pronoun Levant Arabic Pronunciation Meaning Fusha Pronunciation
He هو بِحكي بسرعة huwe biHki bisur’ah He speaks quickly هو يتكلم بسرعة huwa yatakallam bisur’ah
She هي بتحكي بسرعة hiye btiHki bisur’ah She speaks quickly هي تتكلم بسرعة hiya takallam bisur’ah
All of them هم بحكو بسرعة hume biHku bisur’ah They speak quickly هم يتكلمون بسرعة hum yatakallamuuna bisur’ah
You (mas) انتَ بتحكي بسرعة inta btiHki bisur’ah You (mas) speak quickly اَنتَ تتكلم بسرعة anta tatakallam bisur’ah
You (fem) انتِ بتحكي بسرعة inti btiHki bi sur’ah You (fem) speak quickly اَنتِ تتكلمين بسرعة anti tatakallameena bisur’ah
All of you انتو بتحكو بسرعة intu btiHku bi sur’ah All of you speak quickly انتم تتكلمون بسرعة antum tatkallamuuna bisur’ah
I انا بَحكي بسرعة ana baHki bi sur’ah I speak quickly انا اتكلم بسرعة ana atakallam bisur’ah
We احنا منحكي بسرعة iHna mniHki bisur’ah We speak quickly نحن نتكلم بسرعة naHnu natakallam bisur’ah

How to Conjugate it for the فعل ماضي / past tense

Pronoun Levant Arabic Pronunciation Meaning Fusha Pronunciation
He هو حكى بسرعة huwe Haka bisur’ah He spoke quickly هو تكلم بسرعة huwa takallama bisur’ah
She هي حكتْ بسرعة hiye Haket bisur’ah She spoke quickly هي تكلمتْ بسرعة hiya takallamat bisur’ah
They هم حكو بسرعة hum Haku bisur’ah They spoke quickly هم تكلموا بسرعة hum takallamu bisur’ah
You (mas) انت حكيت بسرعة inta Hakeit bisur’ah You (mas) spoke quickly انتَ تكلمتَ بسرعة anta takallamta bisur’ah
You (fem) انتِ حكيتِ بسرعة inti Hakeiti bisur’ah You (fem) spoke quickly انتِ تكلمتِ بسرعة anti takallamti bisur’ah
All of you انتو حكيتو بسرعة intu Hakeitu bisur’ah All of you spoke quickly انتم تكلمتوا بسرعة antum takallamtu bisur’ah
I انا حكيت بسرعة ana Hakeit bisur’ah I spoke quickly انا تكلمتُ بسرعة ana takallamti bisur’ah
We احنا حكينا بسرعة iHna Hakeina bisur’ah We spoke quickly نحن تكلمنا بسرعة naHna takallamna bisur’ah

Putting it into Practice

Example #1:

An expression that you will come across in Levantine Arabic is ‘الحكي حكي سلطان الفعل فعل شيطان ‘ / alHaki Haki sulTan alfi’l fi’l shaiTan.

حكي is the مصدر / maSdar (gerund) of the verb يحكي . You can think of it as how ‘speaking’ is the gerund of ‘to speak’.

Quite literally, the expression means ‘The speech is the speech of a king (سلطان), the action (الفعل)is action of a devil (شيطان)’.

It means to refer to someone’s hypocritical nature, one who says beautiful, noble things but behaves in the exact opposite manner.

Example #2

Another popular expression in Levantine Arabic is the phrase ‘ حكي فاضي ‘ / Haki faDi, which literally means ’empty talk’.

Again, here we use the gerund form حكي and فاضي is the Levantine Arabic word for empty or free (of something).

Similar to the English expression ‘lip service’, حكي فاضي is used to refer to speech that doesn’t mean anything, it’s just said to satisfy someone without the intention of actually following up on it.

Example #3:

One of the most common questions you will hear while out in the Levant will be:

Person 1: ? انت بتحكي عربية / inta btHki ‘arabiyyeh?

Do you speak Arabic?

Person 2: نعم , انا بحكي اللغة العربية / n’am, ana baHki alloghah al’arabiyyeh.

Yes, I speak the Arabic language.

Sep 13

How to Conjugate for Levantine Arabic Verbs in Present Tense

I’m not sure about you, but one of my major challenges while learning Arabic was always (and still is some days!) remembering the different conjugations for different pronouns. And no wonder, with 14 different pronouns, I used to dread having to use some of the less common ones, like huma and antunna. Combine that with the grammar rules, and it’s no surprise that all of us struggle with it some days!

The good news about conjugating for Ammiyah is that it’s much easier than for Fus-ha.

For example, let’s take a simple verb like يكتب / yaktubu,  which means to write. If you were to conjugate the word for the different pronouns for Fus-ha, the conjugation table would look like the table below.

(Please note that all the conjugations have been done in مرفوع  / marfoo’ form. If you’re not sure what مرفوع / منصوب/ مجرور (marfoo’ / manSuub / majroor) means, please click here.)

Conjugation Table for Present Tense – Fusha

ضمير Pronunciation Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation
أنت Anta You (masculine) تكتب taktub
أنت Anti You (feminine) تكتبين taktubeena

أنتما – مذكر

Antuma Two of you (masculine) تكتبان taktubani
أنتما – مؤنث Antuma Two of you (feminine) تكتبان taktubani
أنتم Antum All of you (masculine) تكتبون taktubuuna
أنتن Antunna All of you (feminine) تكتبن taktubna
هو Huwa He يكتب yaktub
هي Hiya She تكتب taktub
هما – مذكر Huma Two of them (masculine) يكتبان yaktubani
هما – مؤنث Huma Two of them (feminine) تكتبان taktubani
هم Hum All of them (masculine) يكتبون yaktubuuna
هن Hunna All of them (feminine) تكتبن yaktubna
أنا Ana I اكتب aktub
نحن NaHnu We / Us نكتب naktub

In Amiyyah, however, things get far simpler.

First of all, it does away with a bunch of pronouns altogether, meaning they are not used at all. You’ll be glad to know these are the more tricky ones, namely:

أنتما – مذكر Two of you (masculine)
أنتما – مؤنث Two of you (feminine)
أنتن All of you (feminine)
هما – مذكر Two of them (masculine)
هما – مؤنث Two of them (feminine)
هن All of them (feminine)

What’s the difference?

1. Firstly, anything more than one person is simply considered plural, so dual forms do not exist.

For example, two of you would simply be considered إنتو / intu while two of them would simply be هم / hume.

2. Secondly, there is no distinction made between plural masculine and plural feminine.

So all of you (feminine) and all of you (masculine) would just be إنتو / intu.  Similarly, all of them (masculine) and all of them (feminine) would just be هم / hume.

Therefore, the conjugation table for Amiyyah looks like this for the word يكتب / yaktub (to write).

Conjugation Table for Present Tense – Amiyyah

ضمير Pronunciation Pronoun Conjugation Pronunciation
إنت Inta You (masculine)  بتكتب btiktub
إنت Inti You (feminine)  بتكتبي btiktubi
إنتو Intu Both/ All of you (masculine and feminine)  بتكتبو btiktubu
هو Huwe He  بكتب biktub
هي Hiye She  بتكتب btiktub
هم Hume Both / All of them (masculine and feminine)  بكتبو biktubu
أنا Ana I  بكتب baktub
احنا NiHna / iHna We / Us  منكتب mniktub