Learn Arabic

The first words to learn in any language:

Yes = Aywa (eye-wa)

No = La or La-a (there is a hard stop at the end of the La, so it is La’ not Lah)

Common and useful words you are sure to hear, and will like to use:

Mumkin (moom-kin) = Maybe/possibly/Can I/Can you…

Insha-alla = God willing. Used whenever referring to something that has not happened yet. Get used to it, it is probably the most common word in the language.

Humdulilah (hum-doo-lih-lah, the hum is pronounced slowly and the rest quickly)= Thank God. A close second in usage to Insha-alla. Used whenever referring to things that have already happened.

Ma-alish = forget about it/don’t worry about it/it does not matter. Usually said after something goes wrong, in order to smooth things over.


“Mumkin shisha toofah?” (Can I have an apple shisha?)

“Insha-alla” (yes, god willing)

after a minute…

“mafeesh toofah” (there is no apple)

“Ma-alish. Fee nanaea?” (Oh well. Is there mint?)

“Aywa, fee” (yes, there is)

“Humdulilah” (thank goodness)


Salaam Aleykum= basic greeting, literally means peace be with you

(response)= Aleykum es-Salaam

Good morning= Sabah il-kher

(response)= Sabah il-noor (lit. morning of light)

Good evening= Masa il-kher

(response)= Masa il-noor (evening of light)

Welcome= Ahlan

(response) Ahlan beek

Good bye= Ma-salaama


Egyptian numbers are written using a different set of numeric representation that comes from Hindi numbers. Ironically the numeric representation that we use is known as Arabic numerals! Bold is where the emphasis goes

1- - wahid

2- - itneen

3- -talata

4- -arba

5- -khamsa

6- -sita

7- -seba

8- -tamania

9- -tisa

10- -ashra

100- -meea/ meet

1000- -alf

Basic Phrases

Who= meen

What= eh

When= imtah

Where= feen

Why= leh (lay)

Is there/there is = fee

In = Fee

How much?= bee kam?

Enter, turn= Khush

Straight/forward= ala it-tool

Want= Ayz (pronounced like ‘eyes’) for males, Aeyza for females

Thank you= Shukran

Your welcome = Afwan

Here= hina

This= dee/da

Another= tany

I don’t speak Arabic= Mish bakalum arabee

I don’t understand= Mish fahim/fahma

Useful words

Good= kweiss

Tea= Shy. Tea is ubiquitous in Egypt, every one drinks it all the time, and you will probably be offered tea

Market= souq (Soo-‘ or Sooq)

Money- faloose

Pound ($)= guineh. The pound, or guineh, is the basic unit of Egyptian currency

Right= yemeen

Left= shamal. This is an interesting word because shamal means north in Standard Arabic, but probably became used for left since if you are facing east toward Mecca to pray north is on your left!

Water buffalo= gamoosa, you might see one or eat one, and it is also used as a derogatory term

Pyramid= harum

Picture= Soora

Airport= matar

Museum= mut-huf

Put it together

-The is “il” but when it is next to certain letters it is absorbed into those letters, so you might not hear it.

-Arabic has feminine and masculine in verbs, adjectives and nouns. The feminine usually ends in an “a or ah” sound.

Do you want tea? Ayz shy?

Where is the pyramid? Feen il-harum?

Can I buy one water buffalo? Mumkin Ishteeree wahid gamoosa?

Can I take a picture? Mumkin Soora?

Is there beer? Fee Beera?

Can I have another beer? Mumkin beera tany?

Where is the museum? Feen il-mathuf?

“bee kam dee?” (How much is this?)

“dee meet guineh” (This is 100 pounds)

“ la-a, mish mumkin!” (No, that’s not possible!)

“ayz tidfa kam?” (How much do you want to pay?)

“ashra guineh, insha-alla” (Ten pounds god willing)

“la-a, mish mumkin” (No that’s not possible)

“ma-alish” (Oh well/forget about it)

Classic shaped coke bottle with arabic writing
Brick wall with arabic writing in the brick
Close up of face of a waterbuffalo looking at the camera