beginning, intermediate

Shaykh Munaf’s Arabic conversations: Episode 3

In this article I’ll be guiding you through the third episode in Shaykh Munaf’s series of Arabic conversations. This episode starts with Shaykh Munaf (مناف munaaf) running into Abdur Rahmaan (عبد الرحمان ʕabd ir-raḥmaan), who, again, is dragging a suitcase. Here’s the video:

Munaf asks Abdur Rahman where he is coming from, using this phrase:

مِنْ أَيْنَ أَنْتَ قادِم؟
min ’ayna ’anta qaadim?
‘Where are you coming from?’

قادم qaadim ‘coming’ is a participle, which is a kind of adjective, so the feminine form would be قادمة qaadima.

Abdur Rahman replies that he has been in Saudi Arabia, which in Arabic is literally ‘the Saudi Arabian Kingdom’:

ذَهَبْتُ إلى الْمَمْلَكَة العَرَبِيّة الْسُّعُودِىّة.
dhahabtu ’ilaa l-mamlaka l-ʕarabiyya s-suʕuudiyya.
more formal: dhahabtu ’ilaa l-mamlakati l-ʕarabiyyati s-suʕuudiyya.
‘I went to Saudi Arabia.’

The word for ‘when’, which is used here, is this:


The phrase Abdur Rahman uses for ‘a month ago’ is this:

قَبْل شَهْر
qabl shahr
more formal: qabla shahr
‘a month ago’

Alternatively, he could have said منذ شهر mundhu shahr.

Munaf asks Abdur Rahman whether he went alone. ‘Alone’ is expressed by phrases that might by more literally be translated as ‘by himself’, ‘by herself’, and so forth:

‘by himself’ waḥd-uh
more formal: waḥda-hu
‘by herself’ waḥd-ahaa وَحْدَها
‘by yourself (masc.)’ waḥd-ak
more formal: waḥda-ka
‘by yourself (fem.)’ waḥd-ik
more formal: waḥda-ki
‘by myself’ waḥd-ii وَحْدي

But as it turns out, Abdur Rahman went with his family:

مَعَ عائِلَتي
maʕa ʕaa’ilat-ii
‘with my family’

Inquisitive as he his, Munaf asked what the purpose of the trip was:

لِماذا ذَهَبْتُمْ إِلى…؟
li maadhaa dhahabtum ’ilaa … ?
‘What did you go to…?’

And as one might guess by the overall tone of these videos, the purpose was of a religious nature:

ذَهَبْنا لِلْحَجّ.
dhahabnaa li l-ḥajj.
‘We went for the pilgrimage.’

Munaf asks a question about ‘all of you’. ‘All of us/you/them’ is expressed by tacking a pronominal suffix onto the word كلّ kull ‘all’ (forms given here are informal, without the case vowel):

‘all of them (masc. pl.)’ kull-uhum كُلُّهُم
‘all of them (fem. pl.)’ kull-uhunna كُلُّهُنَّ
‘all of you (masc. pl.)’ kull-ukum كُلُّكُمْ
‘all of you (fem. pl.)’ kull-ukunna كُلُّكُنَّ
‘all of us’ kull-inaa كُلِّنا

There are two ways of expressing the negative past tense. Abdur Rahman says ‘we didn’t go’ using the form on the right.

لَمْ نَذْهَب ما ذَهَبْنا
lam nadhhab maa dhahabnaa
‘we didn’t go’

It is customary to bring back local dates when going on pilgrimage. Here is the word for that:

تُمُور تَمْر
tumuur tamr
‘dates’ ‘date’

The phrase used to express the city Medina is this:

الْمَدينة الْمُنَوَّرة
’al-madiina l-munawwara
more formal: ’al-madiinatu l-munawwara
‘Medina (lit. the Enlightened City)’

Perhaps you know the word نور nuur ‘light’, to which the word منوّر munawwar ‘enlightened’ is derived.

Munaaf asks for another date, saying the following. Here the word واحد waaḥid ‘one’ is in the accusative form واحدًا waaḥidan because it is the direct object of the verb ‘give’.

أَعْطِني واحِدًا، مِنْ فَضْلك.
’aʕṭi-nii waaḥidan, min faḍl-ak.
more formal: ’aʕṭi-nii waaḥidan, min faḍl-ak.
‘Give me one, please.’

The dates are sweet, which is expressed with this word:


In Egyptian Arabic, this word (pronounced ḥilw) also means ‘pretty’ or ‘nice (said of a thing)’.

The word used to refer to the Prophet Muhammad here is this one:

‘the Messenger’

When mentioning the Prophet, it is customary to follow that immediately with a blessing:

الْرَّسُول، صَلّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّم
’ar-rasuul, ṣallaa l-laahu ʕalay-hi wa sallam
‘All God’s prayers and blessings be upon him’

Abdur Rahman uses the following phrases to say ‘the best dates’:

أَحْسَن الْتُّمُور
’aḥsan it-tumuur
more formal: ’aḥsanu t-tumuur
‘the best dates’

Munaf asks for another date. He departs from his customary formal Arabic here, almost using the colloquial word تاني taanii for ‘other’. He catches himself, but still fails to put the proper accusative ending on واحد waaḥid. Here is the correct phrase:

أَعْطِنِي واحِدًا آخَر.
’aʕṭi-nii waaḥidan ’aakhar.
‘Give me another.’

The imperative form in that phrase is based on this verb:

أَعْطَى يُعْطِي
’aʕṭaa yuʕṭii
‘he gave’ ‘he gives’

Here is another imperative used here, based on the verb يأخذ ya’khudh ‘to take’. Here the imperative is given in the both the masculine and feminine forms:

خُذِي خُذ
khudhii khudh
‘give (fem.)’ ‘give (masc.)’

Munaf uses the following phrases to describe dates as ‘food of the Arabs’.

طَعام العَرَب
ṭaʕaam il-ʕarab
more formal: ṭaʕaamu l-ʕarab
‘food of the Arabs’

Munaf has finally left, and Abdur Rahman breathes a sigh of relief:


That Shaykh Munaf sure asks a lot of questions:

أَسْئِلة كَثيرة
’as’ila kathiira
more formal: ’as’ilatun kathiira
‘many questions’

Note how the feminine singular form of the adjective كثير kathiir is used here. This is because ‘questions’, while plural, does not refer to people. Agreement with non-human plural is always feminine singular.

Here are the singular and plural forms of ‘question’:

أَسْئِلة سُؤال
’as’ila su’aal
‘questions’ ‘question’

I hope you found this explanation useful. Be sure to check out the other videos in in this series.


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