- Pronunciation guide
- [+] Phrase list
Arabic is the fourth most widely-spoken language in the world and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
It is spoken in many popular destinations in North Africa and the Middle East. There are many regional dialects, but a standard Arabic language is maintained due to religious needs and region-wide media.
Arabic is written from right to left. It has its own alphabet, different from the Roman alphabet used for English.
For communication purposes while travelling and using this guide, it is very important to note that Arabic is divided into Classical Arabic (mostly used in print) and Colloquial Arabic. Colloquial Arabic is further subdivided into regional colloquial dialects. The main regions being the Persian Gulf, and North Africa. These regional, colloquial dialects sometimes differ enough to be mutually incomprehensible. Nevertheless, standard Arabic is taught in all schools in Arabic-speaking countries so, even if you do not speak the local dialect, everyone who has been to school will be able to communicate in standard Arabic if needed.
Vowels and diphthongs
- ā (ا): (long) as a general rule, when a or ā appear around the consonants (ص ض ط ظ ق) s d t z q, a or ā are pronounced as in the English word father (IPA: /ɑ ɑː/)
. This rule may apply to some other consonants with regional variations, but with many exceptions.
- i: (may be pronounced as (IPA: [e])
- ī (ي): (long).
- u: (may be pronounced as (IPA: [o])
- ū (و): (long).
- aw (و): sometimes pronounced as a long vowel, ō (IPA: [oː])
, in those cases it would be written in the article as au.
- ay (ي): sometimes pronounced as a long vowel, ē (IPA: [eː])
, in those cases it would be written in the article as ai.
- ē (ي): appears in loanwords.
- ō (و): appears in loanwords.
Consonants with great regional pronunciation difference
- j (ج): written consistently (with exceptions) in the article as j, even though you should be careful if you intended to pronounce as Egyptians, you must pronounce it as g.
- z (ظ): is pronounced closer to z (IPA: [zˤ])
, in Egypt, Sudan and the Levant, while elsewhere pronounced closer to dh (IPA: [ðˤ~ðˠ]) .
- q (ق): colloquially, but with some exceptions, it's pronounced as ' in Egypt and the Levant, while g in Arabia and (IPA: /q/)
, in most of north Africa.
Arabic pronunciation varies widely from place to place, almost to the extent of making it unintelligible even for native Arabic speakers.
Standard Arabic will be understood by most educated people, as it is what they hear frequently in news casts.
As a general rule:
- a like hat and sometimes father (IPA: /a/)
- ā (ا) is a longer version of a (IPA: /aː/)
- b (ب) as in English
- t (ت) as in English
- th (ث) as in English thin (IPA: /θ/)
- j (ج) as in jam (IPA: /dʒ/)
- h (ح) is a pharyngeal fricative sound at the back of the throat (IPA: /ħ/)
. It sounds like you are about to whisper the word hello.
- kh (خ) as in Scots loch or German Bach (IPA: /x/)
- d (د) as in English
- dh (ذ) as in English them (IPA: /ð/)
- r (ر) rolled like Italian or Spanish pero or perro.
- z (ز) as in English
- s (س) as in English
- sh (ش) as in English (IPA: /ʃ/)
- s (ص) like s but with the back of the throat constricted (IPA: /sˤ/)
- d (ض) like d but with the back of the throat constricted (IPA: /dˤ/)
- t (ط) like t but with the back of the throat constricted (IPA: /tˤ/)
- z (ظ) varies: like dh or z but with the back of the throat constricted. (IPA: /ðˤ~zˤ)
- ` (ع) A voiced version of h. (IPA: /ʕ/)
- gh (غ) a fricative sound at the back of the throat (IPA: /ɣ/)
, or kh while using the voice box.
- f (ف) as in English
- q (ق) like k but further back in the throat (IPA: /q/)
, and is often pronounced like a glottal stop (IPA: /ʔ/) , or g.
- k (ك) as in English
- l (ل) as in English
- m (م) as in English
- n (ن) as in English
- h (ه) as in English
- w (و) as English we; as a vowel ū: as English boot.
- y (ي) as English yes; as a vowel ī: as English bee.
- ' (ء أ آ ئ ؤ) as in Cockney bottle. A glottal stop (IPA: /ʔ/)
ProblemsLeave me alone. Leave me alone. (اتركني (M) or اتركيني (F))
utrukni (M)- utrukīni (F)Don't touch me! لا تلمسني (lā tilmisni) I'll call the police. سأتصل بالشرطة. (sa attasil bil-shurta) Police! shurta, bulīs! (شرطة, بوليس); راح اتصل بالشرطة (rāh attasil bil-shurta) (Levantine); هتصل بالبوليس (hattasil bel-bulīs) (Egyptian) Stop! Thief! اوقف! حرامي! (ūw'af, o'af harāmi!) I need your help. محتاج مساعدة لو سمحت (mihtāj musā`da law samaht) Medical emergency إسعاف (is`āf); other emergencies: طوارئ (tawāre' ) I'm lost. أنا تايه (tāyeh) (M); أنا تايهة (ana tāyha) (F) I lost my bag. I lost my bag. (لقد فقدت حقيبتى)
Laqad faqadtu haqībatiI lost my wallet. I lost my wallet. (لقد فقدت محفظتى)
Laqad faqadtu mahafazatiI'm sick. I'm sick. (انا مريض (M) OR انا مريضة (F))
Ana marīd (m) Or Ana marīda (f)I've been injured. I've been injured. إنني مصاب(Innani Musabun) I need a doctor. I need a doctor. (أحتاج دكتور)
ahtāj doktōr.Can I use your phone? Can I use your phone? (هل ممكن أستخدم التلفون؟)
hal mumkin astakhdim at-telefōn?
TransportationDirections Go ذهب dhahaba Stop وقف Waqif Turn left لف يسار Lif Yassar Turn right لف يمين Lif Yameen straight ahead إلى الامام il al-amām; على طول `ala tūl (Egyptian); dughri (Jordan/Egyptian) slowly ببطء bi-but'; شوي شوي shway shway (Levantine) Wait or stay انتظر (intadhir) Show me. أرني (arini); وريني warrīni (Egyptian) here هنا huna there هناك hunāk before قبل qabl after بعد ba`d now الأن al'ān from من min to or at (a place) إلى ilā Wait one minute. إنتظر دقيقه واحده intadhir daqīqa wāhida.
PronounsI انا ana you (m) أنتَ anta; enta~inta (colloquial) you (f) أنتِ anti; enti~inti, init (colloquial) he هو huwa; huwwa~huwwe, hū (colloquial) she هي hiya; hiyya~hiyye, hī (colloquial) we نحن nahnu; احنا, نحنا (ehna, nihna) (colloquial) you (two people) أنتما antumā (rarely used out of the most formal Literary Arabic) you (m/mixed) أنتم antum; intu(m) (colloquial) you (f) : انتن antunna (rarely used out of the most formal Literary Arabic) they (two people) : هما huma (rarely used out of the most formal Literary Arabic) they (m/mixed) هم hum, humma they (f) هن hunna (rarely used out of the most formal Literary Arabic)
Asking questionsWho? من man What? ما/ماذا mā/mādha When? متى mata Where? اين ayn Why? لماذا limādha How much? بكم bi-kam How much is this? بكم هذا bi-kam hādha Where are you from? من أين أنت min ayn anta Understand? مفهوم؟ mafhūm Do you speak English? هل تتكلم الإنجليزية؟ hal tatakallam el-ingliziyya? What is this? ما هذا؟ mā hādha?
Useful "I"sI want urīd أريد I don't want Lā urīd لا أريد I have لي lī / laday لدي / `andi عندي I don't have lays `andi ليس عندي I don't understand أنا لا أفهم ana lā afham / أنا مش فاهم ana mesh fāhem (Egyptian) I work at the _____. a`mal fi _____ _____أعمل في / ana bashtaghel fi _____أنا باشتغل في (Egyptian) I don't speak Arabic لا أتكلم العربية lā atakallam el-`arabiyya / mā bihki `arabi ما باحكي عربي (Levantine) / ma batkallemsh `arabi مابتكلمش عربي (Egyptian)
Thingsmoney مال, فلوس māl, fulūs coffee قهوة qahwa sugar سكر sukkar salt ملح malh car سيارة sayyāra hotel فندق funduq / اوتيل otēl water ماء mā' tea شاي shay milk حليب halīb work شغل shughl airplane طائرة tā'ira street شارع shāri`
Timenow الآن (al'ān) later لاحقاً (Lāhgan) before قبل (qabla) morning صباح (sabāh) afternoon بعد ظهر (ba`ada zuhur) evening مساء (masā') night ليلة (layla) Clock time one o'clock AM one o'clock AM (sa'ati wahad) two o'clock AM two o'clock AM (sa'ati ithnayn) noon noon (zuhr) one o'clock PM one o'clock PM (...) two o'clock PM two o'clock PM (...) midnight متصف الليلة, نص الليل (muntasf el-laila, noss el-lēl) Duration _____ minute(s) _____ دقيقة (دقائق) (daqīqa (daqā'iq)) _____ hour(s) _____ ساعة (ساعات) (sā`a (sā`āt)) _____ day(s) _____ يوم (أيام) (yom (ayyām)) _____ week(s) _____ أسبوع (أسابيع) (usbū` (asābī`)) _____ month(s) _____ month(s) (shahr (shuhūr)) _____ year(s) _____ سنة (سنوات) (sana (sanawāt)) Days today البوم (el-yaum) yesterday أمس (ams) tomorrow غداً (ghadan) this week الاسبوع (el-'usbu` ) last week الأسبوع الماضي (el-'usbu` el-mādi ) next week الأسبوع القادم (el-'usbu` el-qādim) Days of the week Sunday يوم الأحد ((yaum) el'ahad) Monday يوم الاثنين ((yaum) el-ithnayn) Tuesday يوم الثلاثاء ((yaum) eth-thulātha) Wednesday يوم الأربعاء ((yaum) el'arbi`a') Thursday يوم الخميس ((yaum) el-khamīs) Friday يوم الجمعة ((yaum) el-jum`a) Saturday يوم السبت ((yaum) es-sabt) Months January كانون الثاني, يناير (kānūn eth-thāni, yanāyir) February شباط, فبراير (shbat, fibrāyir) March آذار, مارس (ādhār, māris) April نيسان, ابريل (nīsan, abrīl) May أيار, مايو (ayār, māyu) June حزيران, يونيو (hzayrān, yunyu) July تموز, يوليو (tammūz, yulyu) August آب, أغسطس (āb, oghostos) September أيلول, سبتمبر (aylūl, sebtambir) October تشرن الأول, أكتوبر (tishrīn el-awwal, oktōbar) November تشرن الثاني, نوفمبر (tishrīn eth-thani, novambir) December كانون الأول, ديسمبر (kānūn el-awwal, dīsambir) Writing time and date
Even though Arabic is written from Right to Left, numbers in Arabic are written from Left to Right. Dates are written in an Arabic sentence from Left to Right as in English
Colorsblack أسود (aswad) white أبيض (abyad) gray رمادي (ramādi ) red أحمر (ahmar) blue أزرق (azraq) yellow أصفر (asfar) green أخضر (akhdar) orange برتقالي (burtuqāli ) purple بنفسجي (banafsaji) brown بني (bunni )
TransportationBus and train How much is a ticket to _____? adash tazkara ila ____? Bekam tazkara ila......? One ticket to _____, please. tazkara wahida ila ___ law samaht Where does this train/bus go? el-qitār/bās hādha biyruh ilā wain? ila ayn yadhhab hādha el-qitār/otobīs? Where is the train/bus to _____? wein el-qitar/el-bus ila ___? Does this train/bus stop in _____? hal biwa'ef hazal qitar/bus fi__ ? When does the train/bus for _____ leave? emta btatla el-qitar/el-bus ila ___? When will this train/bus arrive in _____? 'emta byusil hazal qitar/bus fi___? Directions How do I get to _____ ? How do I get to _____ ? (kayf bawsal la __) ...the train station? ...the train station? (mahatet il qitar?) ...the bus station? ...the bus station? (mawqif il bassat?) ...the airport? ...المطار (el-matar?) ...downtown? ...downtown? (west il balad?) ...the youth hostel? ...the youth hostel? (bayt ash-shabab) ...the _____ hotel? ...the _____ hotel? (otel?/ Al Fonduk) ...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? ...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? (sefara Al Amrikia, Canadeia, ostralia, beritania) Where are there a lot of... Where are there a lot of... (Wein fi kteer...) ...hotels? ...hotels? (otelat/ Fanadek) ...restaurants? ...restaurants? (mata'em) ...bars? ...bars? (bars) ...sites to see? ...sites to see? (amaken seyaheyeh?) Can you show me on the map? Can you show me on the map? (momken tfarjeeni ala al khareeta?) street شارع (shari`) Turn left. لف يسار (lif yasār) Turn right. لف يمين (lif yamīn) left يسار (yasār) right يمين (yameen) straight ahead على طول (`ala tūl) towards the _____ towards the _____ (bijehet il) past the _____ past the _____ (baed il) before the _____ before the _____ (abel il) Watch for the _____. Watch for the _____. (intibeh la) intersection intersection (taqato) north شمال (shamāl) south جنوب (janūb) east شرق (sharq) west غرب (gharb) uphill uphill (talā) downhill downhill (nazleh) Taxi Taxi! تاكسي! (taxi!) sayyāra Take me to _____, please. Take me to _____, please. (khudni li-....., law samaht) How much does it cost to get to _____? How much does it cost to
get to _____? (adeish?/ bekam azdhhab ila......)Take me there, please. Take me there, please. (khudni `ala __, law samaht)