Arabic Words: The Basics of the Arabic Language

KibeThe Arabic language is a lot like a falafel.  Its round shape symbolizes its encompassing nature as the language most commonly used by countries in the Middle East.  It is different, because: fried chickpeas?  Who would’ve thought?  Their green speckled insides are different, just as Arabic script can often times look intimidating and foreign to most people just starting off with the language.  However, once you take a proverbial bite into it, you will come to see how colorful, vibrant, and sacred the Arabic language is.  Just like the Arabic falāfil, which is enticing and deliciously crunchy and oily once its flavor hits your taste buds.  If you are looking to sink your teeth into the Arabic language, we are going to go over some basic words that can be helpful to you in the process.  Let’s start cooking up some basic Arabic words!

Things to Consider

Before we get into the basic words, let’s go over the initial learning process to help you prepare for your usage of the Arabic language.

  1. Purpose:  Determine where you are going to use your words of Arabic.  For instance, are you looking to travel to the Middle East?  Do you want to ultimately learn how to converse with someone?  Are you going to engage in Business?  Or, do you simply want to learn more about the Arabic culture?  Find the purpose of your words.
  2. Resources:  In addition to the words that we are going to provide you with, you are going to want to look for some other resources to practice your speaking.  Consider going to the library, enrolling in a community college course, or taking some online courses to further your vocabulary.
  3. Effort:  Learning any type of second language is going to take time, effort, and patience.  Know that you are going to have to give all of these when you are learning Arabic.  Consider finding someone who speaks Arabic to practice with, or pair up with an Arabic pen pal overseas and try Skype.  Make the learning process fun and creative!

Arabic Greetings and Courtesy Words

Before you begin to start carrying a conversation, and even when you are simply meeting people or introducing yourself, it is important to be polite.  Here are some words and phrases to help you out!

ahlan (hello)

marHaban (hello; greetings)

ahlan wa sahlan (welcome)

na’am (yes)

min faDlik (please)

tafaDDal (go ahead, be my guest)

shukran. (Thank you.)

shukran jaziilan. (Thank you very much.)

‘afwan (You’re welcome.)

aasif (Sorry.)

‘afwan (Excuse me.)

mara thaaniya, min faDlik? (Please repeat.)

laa (no)


With your greetings, you are going to want to know gender and formality, as this ties into the courtesy factor.  Let’s take a look at some pronouns you will need to keep in mind while addressing people and making references.

anaa (I)

huwa (he)

hiya (she)

naHnu (we)

anta/anti (you) [male/female]

antum (you) [plural]

hum (they)

Arabic Words for Travel

arabicwordsIf you are thinking of learning Arabic, there is a good chance that you want to use it for travel — if not now — in the near future.  Let’s take a look at some helpful words that you can use while traveling in Middle Eastern countries.

Hajz (reservation)

riHla (flight, trip)

Haqiiba, Haqaa’ib (suitcase(s))

jawaaz safar (passport)

ta’shiira (visa)

dukhuul (entry)

khuruuj (exit)

maTaar (airport)

baab (gate)

al-jumruk (customs)

istilaam al-amti’a (baggage claim)

Saalat al-wusuul (arrivals area)

Saalat al-intiDHaar (waiting [departure] area)

Haafila (bus)

funduq (hotel)

ghurfa (room)

HawD as-sibaaHa (pool)

Taabiq (floor)

mukayyifa al-hawaa’ (air conditioning)

balkuun (balcony)

sariirayn (two beds)

Hammaam (bathroom)

haatif (phone)

tilfaaz (television)

Arabic Words Used for Shopping

If you are traveling, here are some key words that you should be aware of.  You will definitely want to find the “tanziilaat” that are available!

baa’i’ (salesperson)

thaman, si’r (price)

ghaalii (expensive)

rakhiiS (cheap)

maqbuul (acceptable)

ghayr maqbuul (unacceptable)

tanziilaat (sale [discount])

sajjaada (rug)

nuHaas (brass)

Sunduuq (box)

ibriiq (coffee urn)

finjaan (cup)

‘iTr (perfume)

Hariir (silk)

jild (leather)

Additionally, here are some useful phrases and questions that can come in handy while you are in a store:

bikam? (How much?)

haadhaa ghaalii. (That is expensive.)

haadhaa thaman jayyid. (That is a good price.)

uriid haadhaa. (I want this (one).)

uriid an ashtarii . . . (I want to buy . . .)

uriid an adfa’ bishiik. (I want to pay by check.)

hal yumkinnii an ashtarii . . . hunaa? (May I buy . . . here?)

hal anta tabii’ . . . ? (Do you sell . . . ?)

uriid shay’an arkhaS, min faDlik. (I want something less expensive, please.)

ufaDDil haadhaa. (I prefer this [one].)

haadhaa si’r maqbuul. (That price is acceptable.)

sa’dfa’ . . . (I will pay . . .)

laa uriid an adfa’ akthar min . . . (I don’t want to pay more than . . .)

Arabic Words to Express Feelings

Chances are, when you are speaking in Arabic, you are going to express how you are feeling to someone else.  Here are some adjectives that can help you do that:

Haziin/Haziina (sad)

ta’baan/ta’baana (tired)

ghaDbaan/ghaDbaa (angry)

‘aTshaan/’aTshaa (thirsty)

jaw’aan/jaw’aa (hungry)

bardaan/bardaana (cold)

Harraan/Harraa (hot)

mashghuul/mashghuula (busy)

mariiD/mariiDa (sick)

muta’akhkhir/muta’akhkhira (late)

Arabic Words Used For Questions

If you plan on conversing with anyone or striking up a conversation, you are going to want to know how to phrase your words into the form of a question.  Here are some examples to follow:

man? (Who?)

maa? (What?) [without a verb]

maadhaa? (What) [with a verb]

mataa? (When?)

ayna? (Where?)

limaadhaa? (Why?)

kayfa? (How?)

kam? (How many?)

bikam (How much?)

ayy/ayya? (Which?)

hal hunaaka (Is there?) (Are there?)

kayf Haalak? (How are you?)

maa ismuka? (What is your name?)

maa waDHiifatuka? (What is your profession?)

ayna al-mustashfaa? (Where is the hospital?)

mataa taSil aT-Taa’ira? (When does the plane arrive?)

hal hunaaka markaz bariid qariib min hunaa? (Is there a post office nearby?)

Coming Full Circle

With these helpful Arabic words, you will be able to start applying your words into more conversational phrases and sentences, and your Arabic will start to come full circle!  (Remember the falafel!)  Remember that provides some wonderful easily accessible and informative online courses taught by professionals in the language to help you perfect your speaking.  HaZZ sa3īd!