ArabicPod101’s video “Greeting People”

“Greeting People” is a video in ArabicPod101’s “Arabic in 3 Minutes” series. In it, presenter Carole introduces several phrases you can use to use to greet people. Here is the video:

Let’s pick this video apart so that you can get the most benefit out of it. I’ll take you through all of the Arabic she uses, starting with the introductory phrases at the beginning, before she gets to the phrases concerning greeting people.

“Are you ready? Then let’s start!”

First, Carole introduces herself:

مَرْحًَا. أَنا كارول.
marḥaban. ’anaa karool.
‘Hi. I’m Carole.’

She asks if you are all ready, using this phrase:

هَلْ أَنْتُم جاهِزون؟
hal ’antum jaahizuun?
‘Are you ready?’

Assuming that you answered yes to this question, Carole continues by saying this:

fa l-nabda’!
‘Then let’s start!’

I give more information on these last two phrases in my post about ArabicPod101’s video “Thank you & you’re welcome in Arabic”, so I won’t repeat that here.

Saying hello


The second greeting she used is this well-known Islamic phrase:

الْسَّلامُ عَلَيْكُم.
’as-salaamu ʕalaykum.
more informal:’as-salaam ʕalaykum.
‘Peace be on you.’

You may have learned this phrase without the nominative suffix -u on the end of ’as-salaam, and that is also okay, albeit less formal. While informal Arabic often omits this sort of case ending, in this set phrase it is often still pronounced even informally.

Note that this phrase can be used both as hello and goodbye. A particular situation in which this phrase is used is when you walk in on a whole group of people. Say you go to the doctor’s office and walk into the waiting room where other patients are waiting. Here it would be quite appropriate to use this phrase when you walk into the room. It is a polite way of acknowledging the presence of others in the room.

The standard response to this phrase is inverted:

وَعَلَيْكُمُ الْسَّلام.
wa ʕalaykumu s-salaam.
‘And on you be peace.’

Asking “How are you?”

Carole introduces the phrase meaning ‘how are you?’ in both the masculine and feminine forms, using the formal pronunciation:

كَيْفَ حالُكَ؟ / كَيْفَ حالُكِ؟
kayfa ḥaalu-ka? / kayfa ḥaalu-ki?
‘How are you?’

In this expression, the word كَيْفَ kayfa means ‘how’ and حال ḥaal means ‘condition’. So, together the phrase literally means ‘How is your condition?’. The u in the word ḥaalu-ka is the nominative case ending. In informal Arabic we can drop this, giving us the following pronunciation:

كَيْفَ حالَك؟ / كَيْفَ حالِك؟
kayfa ḥaal-ak? / kayfa ḥaal-ik?
‘How are you?’

Saying goodbye

The first expression Carole introduces to say goodbye is this one:


This particular expression sounds rather bookish to me. I would recommend using one of the following two expressions she introduces instead. The first is:

مَعَ الْسَّلامة.
maʕa s-salaama.
‘Goodbye.’ (lit. ‘(go) with safety’)

Note the difference between the words سلامة salaama, meaning ‘safety’, and the word سلام salaam meaning ‘peace’.

And the second common phrase is this one:

إِلى الْلِّقاء.
’ilaa l-liqaa’
‘See you.’ (lit. ‘until the meeting’)

And to this she also adds the adverb قريبًا qariiban, meaning ‘soon’:

إِلى الْلِّقاء قَرِيبًا.
’ilaa l-liqaa’ qariiban
‘See you soon.’ (lit. ‘until the meeting’)

The adverb قريبًا qariiban ‘soon’ comes from the adjective قريب qariib ‘near, close’, which is used in combination with the preposition من min:

الْسُّوق قَرِيب مِن الْبَيْت.
’as-suuq qariib min il-bayt.
more formal:’as-suuqu qariibun mina l-bayt.
‘The market is near the office.’

Why not try out some of these greetings with Arabic-speaking friends?


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