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Egyptian Arabic phrasebook

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Egyptian Arabic (`àràbi màSri عربى مصرى) is the modern Egyptian vernacular and the most widely spoken and understood colloquial variety of Arabic. It is spoken by more than 90 million people, mainly in Egypt. It is used in everyday speech, comics, advertising, song lyrics, teen magazines, plays, and TV shows, but rarely in novels, newspapers, and never in news reporting, which use Modern Standard Arabic instead.

The phrasebook is based on the metropolitan Egyptian Arabic based on the pronunciation of urban Egyptians in Cairo.

Pronunciation[edit]

Arabic alphabet in general differ in shape slightly, depending on their position in the word.

Vowels[edit]

Egyptian Arabic has more vowels (Hàràkât حركات) than the three of Classical Arabic, and it differentiates between short and long vowels. Long vowels are shown in this phrasebook with a macron or a circumflex above the vowel.

The stress falls on the syllable with a long vowel and/or the next-to-last syllable. Stress isn't marked in words without a long vowel for simplification. Words can't have more than one long vowel. Long vowels can't occur before two consonants.

Main Egyptian vowels

Arabic Vowel-letters:

  • alef; ا: [æ, ɑ] ("a" as in cat or father)
  • wâw; و: [o, u]
  • ye; ي: [e, i]

They may act as semi-vowels:

  • wâw; و: [w]
  • ye; ي: [j] ("y" as in the English word yes)
like ā but shorter. (IPA: [æ])
ā ا (alef)
as in "hand" (long). (IPA: [æː])
à 
like â but shorter. (IPA: [ɑ])
â ا (alef)
as in "bar". (IPA: [ɑː])
as in "more". (IPA: [o])
ō و (wâw)
similar to "float". (IPA: [oː])
ū و (wâw)
as in "shoe" (long). (IPA: [uː])
similar to "fate" (short). (IPA: [e])
ē ي (ye)
similar to "fate" (long). (IPA: [eː])
ī ي (ye)
as in "sheet" (long). (IPA: [iː])

Consonants[edit]

Most Arabic consonants (Sàwâet صوائت) are not too difficult:

You should notice, also, that in Egyptian Arabic, consonants can be geminated (doubled).
b ب (be)
as in English.
d د (dāl)
as in English.
f ف (fe)
as in English.
g ج (gīm)
as in English, go.
h هـ (he)
as in English, but occurs in unfamiliar positions; may also be pronounced word-finally as a or u, and rarely à. It is often substituted for the following letter for the a / à pronunciation.
-a / -et / -à / -at   ة (te màrbūTà)
only appears word-finally; either a or et, depending on the context, and rarely à or at.
k ك (kāf)
as in English.
l ل (lām)
similar to English l.
m م (mīm)
as in English.
n ن (nūn)
as in English.
r ر (re)
similar to English r, pronounced trilled (as in Spanish and Italian).
s س (sīn)
as in English.
s ث (se)
as in English, see.
sh ش (shīn)
as the English sh in she. (IPA: [ʃ])
t ت (te)
as in English.
w و (wâw)
as in English.
y ي (ye)
as in English.
z ز (zēn)
as in English.
z ذ (zāl)
as in English, zero.
j چ  
as s in the English word pleasure (only found in loanwords). (IPA: [ʒ]). Its counterpart ج may be used instead, in transliterations.
p پ  
as in English (only found in loanwords). Its counterpart ب may be used instead, in transliterations.
v ڤ  
as in English (only found in loanwords). Its counterpart ف may be used instead, in transliterations.

The following are a little more unusual:

D ض (Dâd)
emphatic d (IPA: /dˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Most Egyptians don't distinguish its pronunciation from د (IPA: [d]).
gh غ (ghēn)
a voiced-kh like a French "r". (IPA: [ɣ])
H ح (Hà)
a hard h made in the pharynx. (IPA: [ħ])
S ص (Sâd)
emphatic s (IPA: /sˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Not pronounced in all positions.
T ط (Tà)
emphatic t (IPA: /tˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Not pronounced in all positions.
kh خ (khà)
a harsh sound found in rare English words like loch and Bach. (IPA: [x])
Z ظ (Zà)
emphatic z (IPA: /zˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Not pronounced in all positions.
q ق (qâf)
a hard k pronounced in the back of the mouth (IPA: /q/). In Egyptian Arabic it is usually a glottal stop (IPA: [ʔ]).

The last two are hard for non-native speakers, so try to get a native speaker to demonstrate. That said, most beginners tend to opt for the simple approach of ignoring those pesky apostrophes entirely, but it's worth it to make the effort.

  ء أ إ آ ؤ ئ (hamza)
a glottal stop (IPA: [ʔ]), or the constriction of the throat as between the syllables uh-oh, but in Arabic this is often found in strange places such as the end of a word.
`  ع (`ēn)
a voiced-H (IPA: [ʕ]), famously equated to the sound of someone being strangled.

Phrase list[edit]

lestet el `ebàrât ليستة العبارات

Basics[edit]

asaseyyāt أساسيات

Many Arabic expressions are slightly different for men and women, depending both on the gender of the person talking (you) and the person being addressed.

Hello: es-salāmu `alēku السلام عليكو
Hello (informal): ahlan أهلاً
Good morning: SàbâH el khēr صباح الخير
Good evening: masā el khēr مساء الخير

Good night (to sleep
teSbàH `ala khēr تصبح على خير (to a male)
teSbàHi `ala khēr تصبحى على خير (to a female)
teSbàHu `ala khēr تصبحو على خير (to a group)
How are you? 
ezzayyak? إزيك (to a male)
ezzayyek? إزيك (to a female)
ezzayyoku? إزيكو (to a group)
ezzayye Hàdretàk? إزى حدرتك (to an elder; Hàdretek: female)
Fine, thank you. 
kowayyes shokràn كويس شكرا (male)
kowayyesa shokràn كويسة شكرا (female)
kowayyesīn shokràn كويسين شكراً (group)
A far more common response to the question "how are you" is simply to thank God - el Hamde  lellā الحمد لله
What is your name? 
esmak ēh? إسمك ايه؟ (to a male)
esmek ēh? إسمك ايه؟ (to a female)


My name is ______ : esmi ______ إسمى

Please. 
men fàDlàk من فضلك (to a male)
men fàDlek من فضلك (to a female)
men fàDloku من فضلكو (to a group)


Thank you: shokràn شكراً
You're welcome: el `afw العفو
Yes: aywa أيوا
No: la  لا

Excuse me. (getting attention
men fàdlàk من فضلك (to a male)
men fàdlek من فضلك (to a female)
men fàdloku من فضلكو (to a group)
Excuse me. (avoiding offence
ba`de  eznak بعد إذنك (to a male)
ba`de  eznek بعد إذنك (to a female)
ba`de  eznoku بعد إذنكو (to a group)


Excuse me. (begging pardon): la muakhza لا مؤاخذة

I'm sorry 
ana āsef أنا آسف (male)
ana asfa أنا أسفة (female)


Goodbye: ma`as-salāma مع السلامة
Goodbye (informal): salām سلام
I can't speak Arabic well: mesh batkallem `arabi kwayyes مش بتكلم عربى كويس

Do you speak English? 
betetkallem engelīzi? بتتكلم إنجليزي؟ (male)
betetkallemi engelīzi? بتتكلمى إنجليزى؟ (female)


Is there someone here who speaks English?: fī Hadde  hena beyetkallem engelīzi? فيه حد هنا بيتكلم إنجليزى؟
Help!: elHaūni! إلحقوني

Look out! 
Hāseb حاسب (to a male)
Hasbi حاسبى (to a female)
Hasbu حاسبو (to a group)
I don't understand. 
ana mesh fāhem أنا مش فاهم (male)
ana mesh fahma أنا مش فاهمة (female)

Where is the toilet?: fēn el Hammām? فين الحمام؟

Problems[edit]

mashākel مشاكل
Leave me alone. 
sebni! سيبنى (to a male),
sebīni! سيبينى ( to a female)
sebūni! سيبونى (to a group)
Go away! 
emshi! إمشى (to a male or a female)
emshu! إمشو (to a group)
Don't touch me! 
matelmesnīsh! ما تلمسنيش (to a male)
matelmesenīsh! ما تلمسينيش (to a female)


I'll call the police: ana hakallem el bulīs أنا هكلم البوليس
Police!: bulīs! بوليس
Thief!: Hàrâmi! حرامى

I need help. 
ana meHtāg mosa`da أنا محتاج مساعدة (male speaking)
ana meHtāga mosa`da أنا محتاجة مساعدة (female)


It's an emergency: Hāla Tàrà حالة طارئة

I'm lost. 
ana tāyeh أنا تايه (male speaking)
ana tayha أنا تايهة (female)


My purse/handbag was lost: shànTeti Dâ`et شنطيتى ضاعت
My wallet was lost: màHfàZti Dâ`et محفظتى ضاعت

I'm sick. 
ana màrīD أنا مريض (male speaking)
ana màrīDà أنا مريضة (female)
I'm injured. 
ana magrūH أنا مجروح (male speaking)
ana magrūHa أنا مجروحة (female)
I need a doctor. 
ana meHtāg doktōr أنا محتاج دكتور (male speaking)
ana meHtāga doktōr أنا محتاجة دكتور (female)
Can I use your phone? 
momken atkallem men telefōnak? ممكن أتكلم من تيلفونك؟ (to a male)
momken atkallem men telefōnek? ممكن أتكلم من تيلفونك؟ (to a female)
mumken atkallem men telefonku? ممكن أتكلم من تيلفونكو؟ (to a group)
May I use your cell phone? 
momken atkallem men mobàylàk? ممكن أتكلم من موبايلك؟ (to a male)
momken atkallem men mobàylek? ممكن أتكلم من موبايلك؟ (to a female)
momken atkallem men mobàyloku? ممكن أتكلم من موبايلكو؟ (to a group)

Numbers[edit]

àrqâm أرقام   /   nemar نمر
Arabic Numerals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Eastern Arabic numerals ٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩
backup image if numerals don't display

Formally called "Eastern Arabic Numerals". In Arabic, known as "Indian numbers" (أرقام هندية àrqâm hendeyya). Be careful that the zero is represented as a dot (٠) while five (٥) looks like the familiar zero. Furthermore, numbers are read left-to-right and not right-to-left as for Arabic text. Decimals are separated by the Latin-based comma, as the case with central European languages, not with a dot as the case for English language. The Latin-based comma looks different from the Arabic comma (،) or a similar mark which divides long numbers.

Also note that the numeral three (٣) in req`a handwriting (with a single wide hook) may appear like the numeral two (٢) in print (with a single narrow hook).

0 (٠): Sefr صفر   /   zīru زيرو
1 (١): wāHed واحد   —   first: awwal أول   —   the first (definitive f.): el ūla الأولى
2 (٢): etnēn إتنين   —   second: tāni تانى   —   second (definitive f.): et-tanya التانية
3 (٣): talāta تلاتة   —   third: tālet تالت   —   third (definitive f.): et-talta التالتة
4 (٤): àrbà`à أربعة   —   fourth: râbe`  رابع   —   fourth (definitive f.): er-ràb`à الرابعة
5 (٥): khamsa خمسة   —   fifth: khāmes خامس   —   fifth (definitive f.): el khamsa الخامسة
6 (٦): setta ستة   —   sixth: sādes سادس   —   sixth (definitive f.): es-sadsa السادسة
7 (٧): sab`a سبعة   —   seventh: sābe`  سابع   —   seventh (definitive f.): es-sab`a السابعة
8 (٨): tamanya تمانية   —   eighth: tāmen تامن   —   eighth (definitive f.): et-tamna التامنة
9 (٩): tes`a تسعة   —   ninth: tāse`  تاسع   —   ninth (definitive f.): et-tas`a التاسعة
10 (١٠):  `àshrà عشرة   —   tenth:  `āsher عاشر   —   tenth (definitive f.): el `ashra العاشرة
11 (١١): Hedâshàr حداشر
12 (١٢): etnâshàr إتناشر
13 (١٣): tàlàttâshàr تلاتاشر
14 (١٤): àrbà`tâshàr أربعتاشر
15 (١٥): khàmàstâshàr خمستاشر
16 (١٦): settâshàr ستاشر
17 (١٧): sàbà`tâshàr سبعتاشر
18 (١٨): tàmàntâshàr تمنتاشر
19 (١٩): tesà`tâshàr تسعتاشر
20 (٢٠):  `eshrīn عشرين
21 (٢١): wāHed we-`eshrīn واحد و عشرين
22 (٢٢): etnēn we-`eshrīn إتنين و عشرين
23 (٢٣): talāta we-`eshrīn تلاتة و عشرين
30 (٣٠): talatīn تلاتين
40 (٤٠): arbe`īn أربعين
50 (٥٠): khamsīn خمسين
60 (٦٠): settīn ستين
70 (٧٠): sab`īn سبعين
80 (٨٠): tamanīn تمانين
90 (٩٠): tes`īn تسعين
100 (١٠٠): meyya مية
200 (٢٠٠): metēn متين
300 (٣٠٠): toltomeyya تلتمية
400 (٤٠٠): rob`omeyya ربعميه
500 (٥٠٠): khomsomeyya خمسميه
600 (٦٠٠): sottomeyya ستميه
700 (٧٠٠): sob`omeyya سبعميه
800 (٨٠٠): tomnomeyya تمنميه
900 (٩٠٠): tos`omeyya تسعميه
1,000 (١،٠٠٠ ): alf ألف
2,000 (٢،٠٠٠): alfēn ألفين
3,000 (٣،٠٠٠): talattalāf تلاتلاف
4,000 (٤،٠٠٠): àrbà`talāf أربعتلاف
5,000 (٥،٠٠٠): khamastalāf خمستلاف
6,000 (٦،٠٠٠): settalāf ستلاف
7,000 (٧،٠٠٠): saba`talāf سبعتلاف
8,000 (٨،٠٠٠): tamantalāf تمنتلاف
9,000 (٩،٠٠٠): tesa`talāf تسعتلاف
10,000 (١٠،٠٠٠):  `àshàrtalāf عشرتلاف
11,000 (١١،٠٠٠): Hedâshàr alf حداشر ألف
100,000 (١٠٠،٠٠٠): mīt alf ميت ألف
200,000 (٢٠٠،٠٠٠): metēn alf ميتين ألف
300,000 (٣٠٠،٠٠٠): toltomīt alf تلتميت ألف
400,000 (٤٠٠،٠٠٠): rob`omīt alf ربعميت ألف
1,000,000 (١،٠٠٠،٠٠٠): melyōn مليون
2,000,000 (٢،٠٠٠،٠٠٠): etnēn melyōn إتنين مليون
1,000,000,000 (١،٠٠٠،٠٠٠،٠٠٠): melyâr مليار   /   belyōn بليون
2,000,000,000 (٢،٠٠٠،٠٠٠،٠٠٠): etnēn melyâr إتنين مليار   /   etnēn belyōn إتنين بليون
100.6 (١٠٠,٦): meyya fàSlà setta مية فصلة ستة
1,000.63 (١،٠٠٠,٦٣): alfe fâSel setta talāta ألف فاصل ستة تلاتة
number: nemra نمرة   /   ràqàm رقم
half: noSS نص
less: aall أقل
more: àktàr أكتر

Ordinal examples:
1) First man, first woman. أول راجل, أول ست awwal rāgel, awwal sett
The first man, the first woman. الراجل الأول الست الأولى er-rāgel el awwal, es-sett el ūla
2) Second man, second woman. تانى راجل, تانى ست tāni rāgel, tāni sett
The second man, the second woman. الراجل التانى, الست التانية er-rāgel et-tāni, es-sett et-tanya
3) Third man, third woman. تالت راجل, تالت ست tālet rāgel, tālet sett
The third man, the third woman. الراجل التالت, الست التالتة er-rāgel et-tālet, es-sett et-talta

Time[edit]

wat وقت


now: delwati دلوقتى
later: ba`dēn بعدين
before: abl قبل
after: ba`d بعد
sunrise: esh-shorū  الشروق
morning: SobH صبح
in the morning: es-SobH الصبح
noon: ed-dohr الضهر
in the noon: fed-dohr فى الضهر
afternoon: el `àSr العصر
in the afternoon: fel `àSr فى العصر
sunset: el ghorūb الغروب
evening: mesa مسا  or  masā  مساء
in the evening:  `al mesa ع المسا
night: lēla ليلة
in the night: bel-lēl بلليل
dawn: fagr فجر
in the dawn: fel fagr فى الفجر


Clock time[edit]

wat el sā`a وقت الساعة


what time is it?: es-sā`a kām? الساعة كام؟
it is ___ : es-sā`a ___ الساعة...‏
it is 3 o'clock: es-sā`a talāta (bezZàbt) الساعة تلاتة (بالظبط)‏
quarter past: we rob`  و ربع
quarter to: ella rob`  إلا ربع
half past: we noSS و نص
it is half past 3: es-sā`a talāta w-noSS الساعة تلاتة و نص

Duration[edit]

el modda المدة

Days[edit]

el ayyām الأيام


Monday: yōm letnēn يوم الإتنين
Tuesday: yōm et-talāt يوم التلات
Wednesday: yōm làrbà`  يوم الأربع
Thursday: yōm el khamīs يوم الخميس
Friday: yōm el gom`a يوم الجمعة
Saturday: yōm es-sabt يوم السبت
Sunday: yōm el Hadd يوم الحد

Months[edit]

esh-shohūr الشهور


January: yanāyer يناير
February: febrâyer فبراير
March: māres مارس
April: ebrīl ابريل
May: māyu مايو
June: yonya يونيه
July: yolya يوليه
August: aghosTos اغسطس
September: sebtamber سبتمبر
October: oktōbàr اُكتوبر
November: nofamber نوفمبر
December: desamber ديسمبر

Writing time and date[edit]

ketābet el wate wet-tarīkh كتابة الوقت و التاريخ

Colors[edit]

alwān ألوان

white: àbyàD أبيض
black: eswed إسود
gray: ràmâdi رمادى
silver: faDDi فضى
golden: dahabi دهبى
red: àHmàr أحمر
green: àkhDàr أخضر
blue: azra  أزرق
yellow: àSfàr أصفر
orange: bortoâni برتقانى
pink: bambi بمبى
brown: bonni بنى
violet: banafsegi بنفسجى
turquoise: terkewāz تركواز
honey:  `asali عسلى

Examples:
Bluish green is turquoise: أخضر مزرق يبقى تركوازى akhDar mezre  yeba terkewāz
A turquoise dress: فستان تركوازى fostān terkewāzi
A brown bag: شنطة بنى shànTà bonni
A silver watch: ساعة فضى sā`a faDDi
A golden ring: خاتم دهبى khātem dahabi
Black hair: شعر إسود shà`r eswed
Brown hair: شعر بنى shà`re bonni
Brown eyes: عيون بنى  `eyūn bonni
Honey eyes: عيون عسلى  `eyūn  `asali
Yellow hair: شعر أصفر shà`r àSfàr
White hair: شعر أبيض shà`r àbyaD
Orange hair: شعر برتقانى shà`re bortoâni
Green eyes: عيون خضرة  `eyūn khàDrà   /   عيون خضر  `eyūn khoDr
Blue eyes: عيون زرقا  `eyūn zara   /   عيون زرق  `eyūn zor 

Places[edit]

amāken أماكن


Airport: màTâr مطار
Train station: màHàTtet el àTr محطة القطر
Metro station: màHàTtet el metro محطة المترو
Bus station: màHàTtet el otobis محطة الاوتوبيس
Library: maktaba مكتبة
School: madrasa مدرسة

Transportation[edit]

el mowaSlât المواصلات

Bus and train[edit]

el otobīs wel àTr الاوتوبيس و القطر


Can I buy a ticket?: momken ashteri tàzkàrà? ممكن أشترى تذكرة

I will step down in (Heliopolis) 
ana nāzel fe (màSr el gedīda) أنا نازل فى (مصر الجديدة)‏ (male speaking)
ana nazla fe (màSr el gedīda) أنا نازلة فى (مصر الجديدة)‏ (female)

Directions[edit]

ettegahāt إتجاهات


front: oddām قدام
back: wàrà ورا
up: fō  فوق
down: taHt تحت
right: yemīn يمين
left: shemāl شمال

north: shamāl شمال
south: ganūb جنوب
east: shar  شرق
west: ghàrb غرب

compass: boSlà بوصلة

Taxi[edit]

taksi تاكسى
Can you drive me to (the hospital)? 
momken tewàSSàlni (el mostashfa)? ممكن توصلنى (المستشفى)؟
This Egyptian Arabic phrasebook is a usable article. It explains pronunciation and the bare essentials of travel communication. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.