What do you know about Arabic?
Are you considering starting to learn Arabic? Great idea! As you probably know, Arabic (or al-ʿArabiyyah) is the lingua franca of the Arab world. There are around 400 million speakers of the Arabic language if we take into consideration all of its varieties. It makes it the fifth most spoken language in the whole world! While learning Arabic you may encounter various obstacles, but finding a person to talk to surely won’t be one of them 😉
The majority of these people speak Standard Arabic, which is the modern form of Classical Arabic. Learning Standard Arabic is a good starting point to get to know the diverse Arab culture. Of course, considering the great number of Arabic speakers, you have to be aware that the colloquial language may vary from one region to another. Indeed, there are three major dialect groups: Western, Northern and Southern. But regardless of the region, Standard Arabic is the language that will allow you to communicate with the native community without mishap.
What to start with?
Earlier on we mentioned that finding someone to speak with in Arabic shouldn’t cause you any trouble. But there’s one big obstacle that probably gives you the heebie-jeebies. It’s the Arabic alphabet, isn’t it? Yes, it is written from right to left. Yes, it is completely different than the Latin alphabet. But let’s not panic, shall we?
First thing: there are only 28 Arabic letters. Seems acceptable, right? Having in mind the multitude of Chinese characters, for example, we are not in such a bad position. Of course, writing the Arabic letters in the correct way will take you some time, but let’s not forget that we tend to write manually less and less. You can start by writing them down on your laptop or mobile phone in order to familiarise yourself with the new sign system. Reading basic Arabic words and sentences will also help you differentiate respective letters so that you distinguish them easily with time. Taking a look at what we prepared for you is a good outbreak.
Sure, the Arabic pronunciation isn’t the easiest one either. But you have to acquaint yourself with it from day 1 if you take learning the Arabic language seriously. Don’t worry though – there are lots of learning aids on the Internet that will facilitate building up your pronunciation skills. Take VocApp courses as an example – you can learn by both reading and listening to the example words and sentences in Arabic. You even have the possibility to dictate the answer and check the correctness of your pronunciation! Also, when you reach the communicative level of Arabic, you can try finding a language partner to enhance your speaking techniques with. Nowadays, there are lots of possibilities, you just have to make an effort to find the perfect solution for you.
Top 10 Basic Arabic Expressions
Yes, having mentioned some general information about the Arabic language, we’ve finally reached the most interesting part – the list of the Top 10 Basic Arabic Expressions! Most of them are Arabic greetings because that’s the type of sentence that usually comes handy at the beginning of our journey with a foreign language. These Arabic words and sentences will allow you to get a preview of the fifth most spoken language in the world. Do they encourage you to follow your dream of learning Arabic? Look at the end of the article to find a link with all the expressions listed below.
It seems appropriate to get to know how to say “Arabic” in Arabic before we proceed, right? It’s one of our personal favourites in this list. One cannot deny that this Arabic word is just insanely beautiful with all its calligraphic minuteness and complexity. It would be transcribed into the Latin alphabet as alearabia. Great, you already know one word in Arabic! Carry on.
Of course, we start with the basics. مرحبا (marhba) means “hello” and is one of the Arabic greetings we want to introduce to you. It’s derived from the verb رَحِبَ which means “to be open, to welcome”. It’s a religiously neutral Arabic greeting. It’s not used in colloquial Arabic in Egypt, though. Another similar greeting would be أهلاً (ahlaan) which also means “hi”, “welcome”. The well-known السلام (alsalam, as an individual word) is more usually used to say “bye”. On the other hand, السلام عليكم (alsalam ealaykum) is used between Muslim people to say “hello” and means “peace”. You can use any of these greetings and be understood, but make sure you opt for the one appropriate for your social situation.
Another handy greeting in Arabic. صباح الخير (sabah alkheyr), which is “good morning”, but literally means “morning of good”. You can respond to it by saying: صباح النور (sabah annuur – a bright morning to you). There is also a very charming variation of this greeting (used for very close friends or family), namely صباح الورد والياسمين (sabah al ward wal yasmeen) which could be translated as “a morning of roses and jasmine to you”. Very nice, isn’t it? We would all wish to hear these words from time to time. Especially in wintertime.
Basics of basics. You have to know how to respond to Arabic questions, don’t you? At least to the simple ones. نعم means “yes” in Arabic, and what’s tricky, is that it’s actually pronounced na’em, which may sound more like “no”. Be careful with that! Arabic “no”, in turn, is لا (la) and it’s likely the easiest word for us to pronounce so far 😉 La La Land sounds even sadder now than it did before (dad joke alert).
Another Arabic useful phrase! it’s high time to get to know the expression عفوا (‘afuan). It means either “you’re welcome” or “excuse me”. We love that kind of economy of language, don’t we? Don’t hesitate to use عفوا as a polite response to someone’s word of thanks. You may also find it useful on a busy road in one of the Arab cities, trying to pass someone without being viewed as rude! These little gestures of trying to fit in are always welcome by native speakers.
Another two useful Arabic sentences that come together very often. If you want to ask for something, try to work من فضلك (min fadhlik) into your request to sound more good-mannered and knowledgeable. On the other hand, if someone does something nice for you, express your gratitude with شكرا جزيلا (shukraan jazilaan): “thank you so much”. If you’re already more advanced in Arabic greetings, you can try out the expression انا اقدر مساعدتك (ana aqdr musa’eidatak) which means “I appreciate your help” or أنت لطيف جدا (‘ant latif jiddaan) – “you’re very kind”.
What to say if the conversation is coming to its end? It would be nice to bid your interlocutor farewell in their mother tongue. First, you may say سررت بمقابلتك (sararat bimuqabalatik) to emphasise that it was really great to make their acquaintance. When the chat is really over, take your leave by saying مع السلامة (ma’a ssalama) or وداعا (wadaa’an) which both mean “goodbye”. If you know the person well and the conversation was rather informal, you can also say “see you” with the words إلى اللقاء (ila lliqa). Don’t forget about the word السلام (assalam) that we’ve already mentioned above, which meant “bye”. If you want to wish someone a nice day, simply say يوم جيد لك (yawm jayid lak) – “good day to you”.
Ultimate List of the Top 10 Basic Expressions in Arabic
Did you like our list? We hope it will serve you well in your first attempt to learn the Arabic language. Although these are only 10 basic expressions, they may be difficult to memorise all at once. Don’t worry! The words and sentences listed above are mostly taken from our course Everyday phrases in Arabic that will be published soon on the VocApp website. You will be able to start the trial version of the course completely for free. Don’t forget about the course Arabic in 1 day in which you can learn more basic vocabulary with VocApp. Guess what? It’s also 100% free 🙂
We hope these sets of vocabulary will motivate you to kick-start your adventure with the Arabic language!