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Learn colors in Arabic with a children’s song

Would you like to learn or practice some basic words for colors in Arabic? In this post I’ll guide you through a very simple children’s song that presents the basic (masculine singular) form of eight different colors, plus words for 16 different basic objects that exemplify these colors. Here is the video:

The most basic color terms in Arabic all follow the same pattern. Observe how each word starts with ’a, followed by two consonants, followed by a, and ending in a third consonant.

أَحْمَر أَبْيَض أََسْوَد
’aḥmar ’abyaḍ ’aswad
‘red’ ‘white’ ‘black’
أَخْضَر أَصْفَر أَزْرَق
’akhḍar ’aṣfar ’azraq
‘green’ ‘yellow’ ‘blue’

Other colors are “nisba adjectives”, that is, adjectives ending in the suffix iyy (informally pronounced ii). Here are the two color terms of this type used in this song, along with the nouns they are derived from:

بُنّ بُنِّيّ
bunn bunniyy/bunnii
‘coffee beans’ ‘brown’
وَرْد وَرْدِيّ
ward wardiyy/wardii
‘roses’ ‘pink’

In the song, each color is associated with two objects:

توت تُفّاح أَحْمَر
tuut tuffaaḥ ’aḥmar
‘berries; mulberries’ ‘apples’ ‘red’
شَجَر عَشْب أَخْضَر
shajar ʕashb ’akhḍar
‘trees’ ‘grass’ ‘green’
مَوْز شَمْس أَصْفَر
mawz shams ’aṣfar
‘bananas’ ‘sun’ ‘yellow’
سَماء بَحْر أَزْرَق
samaa’ baḥr ’azraq
‘sky’ ‘sea’ ‘blue’
شوكولا خَشَب بُنِّيّ
shukulaa khashab bunniyy/bunnii
‘chocolate’ ‘wood’ ‘brown’
حَلْوى زَهْر وَرْدِيّ
ḥalwaa zahr wardiyy/wardii
‘candy’ ‘flowers’ ‘pink’
لَيْل فَحْم أَسْوَد
layg faḥm ’aswad
‘night’ ‘coal’ ‘black’
ثَلْج بَيْض أَبْيَض
thalj bayḍ ’abyaḍ
‘snow; ice’ ‘eggs’ ‘white’

You will need just a couple additional words to understand the entire song:

أَلْوان لَوْن
’alwaan lawn
‘colors’ ‘color’
مَوْجود
mawjuud
‘present (adj.)’

The song begins with just this, over and over:

أَلْوان، أَلْوان، أَلْوان!
’alwaan, ’alwaan, ’alwaan!
‘present (adj.)’

Then the first verse goes like this:

‘Red, red, red!’ ’aḥmar, ’aḥmar, ’aḥmar! أَحْمَر، أَحْمَر، أَحْمَر!
‘I’m present in (the) apples.’ ’anaa mawjuud fii t-tuffaaḥ. أَنا مَوْجود في الْتُّفّاح.
‘I’m present in (the) berries.’ ’anaa mawjuud fii t-tuuti. أَنا مَوْجود في الْتّوتِ.

The remaining verses follow exactly the same pattern, simply substituting a different color and two different objects. Note that to make the text fit the music better, sometimes the genitive ending i is added to the word for the object. We see this in the third line of the first verse, where في التوت ‘in the berries’ is pronounced as fii t-tuuti rather than the more informal fii t-tuut.

Now listen to the whole song a couple of times, following along while reading the list of colors and objects. Then try just watching the video and listening. Can you understand it now?

If you found this article useful, why not check out some other topics on this site. If you are looking for an easy way to learn to read Arabic, check out my textbook Bite-Size Arabic: Learn to Read and Write Arabic Using the Tiniest Bit of Vocabulary and Grammar.



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