Egyptian Arabic is a spoken language that is highly interactive, and the best way to master it is by actually interacting with people. This course aims to give you key expressions and phrases that you can use to immediately begin communicating. You will learn how to engage in simple, friendly conversations that signal respect for the person and the culture, and an eagerness to learn.
Start learning Egyptian Arabic by mastering the interactive, relational building blocks given in this course.
Communicate from Day 1 to accelerate your learning of Egyptian Arabic
This course will focus on giving you initial tools that you can use to interact, right away. These are not randomly chosen vocabulary items. They are foundational words and expressions that will allow you to begin to interact in Egyptian Arabic. You will learn the initial Arabic you need to start connecting relationally with Egyptians.
The vocabulary that you will use, once you have completed the course, will immediately signal to the people with whom you are speaking that you appreciate and respect them, you enjoy their language and culture, and that you want to learn more. It will position you to take advantage of the friendliness and outgoingness of most Egyptians, as you interact with them in an open, friendly, interested way.
Welcome to the Egyptian Arabic Absolute Beginner's Workshop! Here I introduce myself to you, tell you a bit about the course, and launch us into our journey together.
Summary of the lecture
Our focus is on building relational connections.
The vocabulary in this course will focus on interaction and communication.
Using the vocabulary taught will:
I (Andrew) have lived in Egypt 25 years, and am functionally fluent in Egyptian Arabic.
A non-native speaker teaching Arabic works because:
This lecture covers the overall goals of the course, the specific objectives and learning outcomes, and the format we'll follow for each lesson.
Don’t be passive. What you get out of the workshop will be what you put into it.
In this lesson, we look at greetings to use in the morning and evening. Each greeting consists of an initial word spoken, and a correct response.
Different contexts call for different expressions when greeting people.
In Egyptian Arabic, greetings usually have a formulaic response. The person greeting says the first part of the greeting formula, and the person being greeted responds with a different but related response.
Time of Day: Morning
Greeting: SabaaH il-kheer صَبَاح الخِير
Response: SabaaH in-nour صَبَاح النُور
Time of Day: Evening
Greeting: mesaa’ il-kheer مَسَاء الخِير
Response: mesaa’ in-nour مَسَاء النُور
Following on the previous lesson, we look at two other contexts in which we might use an Islamic greeting, and a casual greeting.
Greeting: is-salaamu 3alaykum السَلاَمُ عَلَيْكُم
Response: w’3alaykum is-salaam وَ عَلَيْكُم السَلاَم
Context: Casual, between friends
Greeting: sa3eeda سَعِيدَة
Response: sa3eeda سَعِيدَة
Your mindset makes all the difference in whether or not you successfully learn Arabic. Many Arabic learners approach the language with a secret feeling that they will never be able to really use the language effectively, that it's too difficult of a language. Here, we dispel that myth!
Focus + interaction + enjoyment = a mindset to learn Arabic
Mindset, motivation, “unstoppableness”, persistence make the difference.
It's important that we approach Egyptian Arabic the way that it's actually used and not the way that we or other people think that it should be used. Arabic has traditionally been taught with a focus on using the "proper" language, but in this workshop we will focus instead on what most Egyptians say on a day to day basis.
Prescriptive approach to language: How a language “should” be spoken
Descriptive approach: How a language is actually spoken
In this workshop we will take a descriptive approach. We will look at how the language is actually used, as well as what the typical contexts are.
We will also look at pronunciation, meaning, and context of words.
Another myth about learning Arabic is that the sounds are impossible for non-native speakers to make. This lesson dispels that myth, as it goes through the sounds of Egyptian Arabic.
Great news for English speakers learning Arabic
1. There are no new vowels to learn
a i u aa ii uu ei
2. 16 consonant sounds are the same as in English
b t g d z s sh f k l m n h w y r
3. No big consonant clusters
No more than 2 consonants side by side in native Arabic words
4. 4 consonants are almost the same
S D T Z (dark consonants produced farther back in your mouth than in English)
5. 2 sounds in Egyptian Arabic are well known in French and German
6. Only 4 sounds are really new
3 (ain) H ‘ q
This short lesson will show you the Egyptian Arabic alphabet, written both in transliteration (Latin letters), as well as in Arabic script.
This quiz will check that you have mastered the key concepts of the Foundations section, before moving on to actually begin speaking Egyptian Arabic.
This lesson covers how to say goodbye, and which form to use when addressing a male or a female.
Just like with greetings, different good-byes are used for different contexts (normal, religious, casual). Also like with greetings, there is usually a specific formulaic response to each good-bye.
Context: Normal (any time of day)
Good-bye: Ma3a is-salaama مَعَ السَلَامَة
Response: Allah yisallimak الله يِسَلِّمَك (if speaking to a male)
Response: Allah yisallimik الله يِسَلِّمِك (if speaking to a female)
The suffix at the end of the word changes, depending on whether you are speaking to a male or a female.
-ak (ـَك) = male
-ik (ـِك) = female
yisallim + ak = speaking to a male (يِسَلِّمَك)
yisallim + ik = speaking to a female(يِسَلِّمِك)
This lesson follows up on the previous one by adding a religious goodbye, and a casual goodbye.
Good-bye: is-salaamu 3alaykum السَلَامُ عَلَيْكُم
Response (typical): ma3a is-salaama مَعَ السَلَامَة
Response (formal): w’3alaykum is-salaam وَ عَلَيْكُمْ السَلَام
Context: Casual, between friends
Good-bye: baay بَاي
Response: baay بَاي
This quiz is to be completed after you have worked through the material presented in the Greetings lessons.
By the end of this lesson, you will know how to ask the question "How are you?" to a male, a female, or a group. You will understand the context in which to use a more formal/respectful version of the question, and when to use the informal.
In this lesson, we learn two different ways in which we can talk to someone: informal, and respectful. In Egyptian Arabic, it is important to use a respectful tone when the situation or relationship calls for it.
We also will learn the different form that many words take when you are addressing a male, a female, or a group.
Male: -ak ـَك
Female: -ik ـِك
Group: -uuku ـُوكُو
Informal: How are you?
Addressing a male: izzaayak? إِزَّايَك؟
Addressing a female: izzaayik? إِزَّايِك؟
Addressing a group: izzaayuuku? إِزَّايُوكُو؟
Respectful: How are you?
Addressing a male: izzaay HaDritak? إِزَّاي حَضْرِتَك؟
Addressing a female: izzaay HaDritik? إِزَّاي حَضْرِتِك؟
Having learned in the previous lesson how to ask "How are you?", this lesson will enable you to respond to the question with culturally appropriate responses.
Like in English or many other languages, the question ‘How are you’ is often answered with a standard answer that is not necessarily reflective of the actual state of the person answering.
A standard answer to ‘How are you’ is:
al-Hamdu li-lleh الحَمْدُ لله
It means “Praise God”. It can be used for religious contexts, but is also a standard answer used in non-religious contexts. It always takes this form, whether spoken by males, females, or groups.
The word for good is:
Male: kwaayyis كوَايِّس
Female: kwaayyesa كوَايِّسَة
Group: kwayyiseen كوَايِّسِين
Kwayyis كوَايِّس can be combined with al-Hamdu li-lleh الحَمْدُ لله to give the rough equivalent of “Fine, praise God”.
In this lesson you will learn how to use "please" and "thank you", as well as make polite requests. You will be able to apologize, ask someone their name in a polite or casual way, and tell people what your name is.
The goal of learning key polite expressions is to be able to, with a few words, communicate a readiness to interact with the Egyptian Arabic speaker with whom you are speaking. This is normally received in a very positive, friendly way.
Speaking to a male: min faDlak مِنْ فَضْلَك
Speaking to a female: min faDlik مِنْ فَضْلِك
Speaking to a group: min faDluuku مِنْ فَضْلُكُو
A male speaking: ana aasif أَنَا آسِف
A female speaking: ana asfa أَنَا آسْفَة
What is your name?
Speaking to a male, informal: ismak eeh? اِسْمَك إِيهْ؟
Speaking to a female, informal: ismik eeh? اِسْمِك إِيهْ؟
Speaking to a male, respectful: ism HaDritak eeh? اِسْم حَضْرِتَك إِيهْ؟
Speaking to a female, respectful: ism HaDritik eeh? اِسْم حَضْرِتِك إِيهْ؟
My name is…
This quiz is to be completed after you have worked through the material presented in the Engaging in small conversations lessons.
This lesson is packed with useful vocabulary, including "yes" and "no, and the question words "who?", "what?", "when?", "where?", "why?", and "how?". It explains the well-known Egyptian Arabic expressions "In shaa' Allah" (God willing), and "ya3ni", as well as expanding your understanding of the many possible shades of meaning of "al-Hamdu li-lleh".
This lesson lays the foundation for asking and answering questions by giving 6 question words and 5 answer expressions.
in shaa’ Allah إِنْ شَاء الله
al-Hamdu lilleh الحَمْدُ لله
By the end of this lesson, you will be able to refer to people and things using correct pronouns (him, her, it, you, this, that, etc.)
In this lesson we learn the pronouns that are used for people and things.
You (singular, male)
You (singular, female)
Same as ‘him’ or ‘her’, depending on whether object is masculine or feminine
dah / dii / dool دَهْ / دِي / دُول
Ready to expand your Egyptian Arabic by 100 new words? This lesson will teach you to count to from one to ten, as the foundation for our next lesson where we will learn 11-100.
1. waaHid وَاحِد
2. itneen إتْنِين
3. talaata تَلَاتَة
4. arba3a أَرْبَعَة
5. khamsa خَمْسَة
6. sitta سِتَّة
7. sab3a سَبْعَة
8. tamania تَمَنْيَة
9. tis3a تِسْعَة
10. 3ashara عَشَرَة
In this lesson we will learn to count from 11-20, using the numbers 1-10 as building blocks. We will then add the numbers 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, and then learn patterns that allow us to combine our numbers to create any number between 21 and 99.
11. Hedashar حَدَشَر
12. itnashar إِتْنَشَر
13. talatashar تَلَتَشَر
14. arba3tashar أَرْبَعْتَشَر
15. khamastashar خَمَسْتَشَر
16. sittashar سِتَّشَر
17. sab3atashar سَبْعَتَشَر
18. tamantashar تَمَنْتَشَر
19. tis3atashar تِسْعَتَشَر
20. 3ashriin عَشْرِين
21. waaHid wi 3ashriin وَاحِد وِ عَشْرِين
22. itneen wi 3ashriin إِتْنِين وِ عَشْرِين
23. talaata wi 3ashriin تَلَاتَة وِ عَشْرِين
24. arba3a wi 3ashriin أَرْبَعَة وِ عَشْرِين
25. khamsa wi 3ashriin خَمْسَة وِ عَشْرِين
26. sitta wi 3ashriin سِتَّة وِ عَشْرِين
27. sab3a wi 3ashriin سَبْعَة وِ عَشْرِين
28. tamania wi 3ashriin تَمَنْيَة وِ عَشْرِين
29. tis3a wi 3ashriin تِسْعَة وِ عَشْرِين
30. talatiin تَلَاتِين
40. arba3iin أَرْبَعِين
50. khamsiin خَمْسِين
60. sittiin سِتِّين
70. sab3iin سَبْعِين
80. tamaniin تَمَنِين
90. tis3iin تِسْعِين
100. miyya مِيَّه
Language learning experts agree that learning cognates (words whose origins are in other languages, making them familiar to people who know those languages) is a helpful way to increase your vocabulary. In this lesson we will look at 10 cognates related to interactions, financial transactions, technology, and more.
Egyptian pound (guinea):
fees buuk فِيس بُوك
This quiz will test you on the vocabulary from Section 5.
Congratulations! You have completed the workshop! What are some next steps that you can take as you move toward your goal of mastering Egyptian Arabic?
1. Keep your positive mindset and momentum
2. Use the Egyptian Arabic that you already have
3. Consider taking another course (egyptianarabic.com)
4. Subscribe to my Egyptian Arabic email list, or send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I teach writing at the American University in Cairo and design software in my own private company. I am an Arabic learner and teacher. I have lived in Egypt for 25 years, and use Arabic as a part of my everyday life. I love enabling people to interact with the Arab world. I am originally from Canada!