Egyptian Arabic phrasebook

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Egyptian Arabic (maSri مصري) is the modern Egyptian vernacular and the most widely spoken and understood colloquial variety of Arabic. It is spoken by more than 90 million people, mainly in Egypt. It is used in everyday speech, comics, advertising, song lyrics, teen magazines, plays, and TV shows, but rarely in novels, newspapers, and never in news reporting, which use Modern Standard Arabic instead.



Egyptian Arabic has many more vowels (Hàràkât حركات) than the three of Classical Arabic, and it differentiates between short and long vowels. Long vowels are shown in this phrasebook with a macron above the vowel. The stress falls on the long vowels. Long vowels can be shortened when not stressed.

Main Egyptian vowels
Arabic Vowel-letters may act as semi-vowels. Acting as vowels at the middle & end of words, they are pronounced as:

  • alef; ا: /æ, ɑ/ ("a" as in cat or father)
  • wâw; و: /o, u/
  • ye; ي: /e, i/

Acting as semi-vowels, mainly pronounced as:

  • wâw; و: /w/
  • ye; ي: /j/ ("y" as in the English word yes)

like ā but shorter. (IPA: [æ])
as in "hand" (long). (IPA: [æː])
like â but shorter. (IPA: [ɑ])
as in "bar". (IPA: [ɑː])
o ~ o 
similar to "put" (short). Tends to be merged into short /o/, or in between /u/ & /o/ (IPA: /ɵ/)
similar to "float". (IPA: /oː/)
as in "shoe" (long). (IPA: /uː/)
e ~ ı 
as in "fig" (short). Tends to be merged into short /e/, or in between /i/ & /e/ (IPA: /ɪ/)
similar to "fate" (long). (IPA: /eː/)
as in "sheet" (long). (IPA: /iː/)


Most Arabic consonants (Sàwâet صوائت) are not too difficult:

You should notice, also, that in Egyptian Arabic, consonants can be geminated (doubled). Arabic alphabet in general differ in shape slightly, depending on their position in words.
b ب (be)
as in English.
d د (dāl)
as in English, pronounced more forward in the mouth.
f ف (fe)
as in English.
g ج (gīm)
as in English, not "j" (IPA: /dʒ/) as in Modern Standard Arabic.
h هـ (he)
as in English, but occurs in unfamiliar positions.
k ك (kāf)
as in English.
l ل (lām)
as in English, pronounced more forward in the mouth.
m م (mīm)
as in English.
n ن (nūn)
as in English.
r ر (re)
as in English, pronounced trilled (as in Spanish).
s س (sīn)
as in English.
s ث (se)
as in English, not "th" (IPA: [θ]) as in Modern Standard Arabic.
t ت (te)
as in English, pronounced more forward in the mouth.
w و (wâw)
as in English.
y ي (ye)
as in English.
z ز (zēn)
as in English.
z ذ (zāl)
as in English, not (IPA: [ð]) as in Modern Standard Arabic.
š ش (šīn)
as "sh" in the English word "she". (IPA: [ʃ])
j چ  
as "s" in the English word "pleasure" (only found in loanwords). (IPA: [ʒ]). Its counterpart ج may be used instead, in transliterations.
p پ  
as in English (only found in loanwords). Its counterpart ب may be used instead, in transliterations.
v ڤ  
as in English (only found in loanwords). Its counterpart ف may be used instead, in transliterations.

The following are a little more unusual:

D ض (Dâd)
emphatic d (IPA: /dˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Most Egyptians don't distinguish its pronunciation from د (IPA: [d])
ğ غ (ğēn)
a voiced x like a French "r". (IPA: [ɣ])
H ح (Hà)
a hard h made in the pharynx. (IPA: [ħ])
S ص (Sâd)
emphatic s (IPA: /sˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Not pronounced in all positions.
T ط (Tà)
emphatic t (IPA: /tˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Not pronounced in all positions.
x خ (xà)
a harsh sound found in some English words like bach and loch. (IPA: [x])
Z ظ (Zà)
emphatic z (IPA: /zˤ/) pronounced with the tongue raised and mouth tensed. Not pronounced in all positions.
q ق (qâf)
a hard k pronounced in the back of the mouth (IPA: /q/). In Egyptian Arabic it is usually a glottal stop (IPA: [ʔ]).

And the last two are very hard for non-native speakers, so try to get a native speaker to demonstrate. That said, most beginners tend to opt for the simple approach of ignoring those pesky apostrophes entirely, but it's worth it to make the effort.

a glottal stop (IPA: [ʔ]), or the constriction of the throat as between the syllables uh-oh, but in Arabic this is often found in strange places such as the beginning of a word. Known in Arabic as hamza ء
a voiced H (IPA: [ʕ]), famously equated to the sound of someone being strangled. Known in Arabic as `ayn ع or `ēn.

Phrase list

lestet el `ebàrât ليستة العبارات


asaseyyāt أساسيات

Many Arabic expressions are different for men and women, depending both on the gender of the person talking (you) and the person being addressed.

es-salāmu-`alēku السلام عليكو
Hello (informal
ahlan أهلاً
Good morning. 
SàbâH el-xēr صباح الخير
Good evening. 
masā el-xēr مساء الخير
Good night (to sleep
teSbàH `ala xēr تصبح على خير (to a male)
teSbàHi `ala xēr تصبحي على خير (to a female)
teSbàHu `ala xēr تصبحو على خير (to a group)
How are you? 
ezzayyak? إزيك (to a male)
ezzayyek? إزيك (to a female)
ezzayyoku? إزيكو (to a group)
Fine, thank you. 
kowayyes šokràn كويس شكرا (male)
kowayyesa šokràn كويسة شكرا (female)
kowayyısīn šokràn كويسين شكراً (group)
A far more common response to the question "how are you" is simply to thank God - el-Hamde  lellah الحمد لله
What is your name? 
esmak ēh? إسمك ايه؟ (to a male)
esmik ēh? إسمك ايه؟ (to a female)
My name is ______ . 
ana esmi ______ أنا إسمي
men fàDlàk من فضلك (to a male)
men fàDlek من فضلك (to a female)
men fàDloku من فضلكو (to a group)
Thank you. 
šokràn شكراً
You're welcome. 
el `afw العفو
aywa أيوا
la  لأ
Excuse me. (getting attention
law samaHt لو سمحت (to a male)
law samaHti لو سمحتي (to a female)
law samaHtu لو سمحتو (to a group)
Excuse me. (avoiding offence
ba`de  eznak بعد إذنك (to a male)
ba`de  eznek بعد إذنك (to a female)
ba`de  eznoku بعد إذنكو (to a group)
Excuse me. (begging pardon
la muaxza لا مؤاخذة
I'm sorry 
ana āsef أنا آسف (male)
ana asfa أنا آسفة (female)
ma`as-salāma مع السلامة
Goodbye (informal
salām سلام
I can't speak Arabic well. 
mabatkallemš `arabi kwayyes ما بتكلمش عربي كويس
Do you speak English? 
betekkallem ıngılīzi? بتتكلم إنجليزي؟ (male)
betekkallemi ıngılīzi? بتتكلمي إنجليزي؟ (female)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
fī Hadde  hena beyekkallem ıngılīzi? فيه حد هنا بيتكلم إنجليزي؟
elHaūni! إلحقوني
Look out! 
Hāseb حاسب (to a male)
Hasbi حاسبي (to a female)
Hasbu حاسبو (to a group)
I don't understand. 
ana meš fāhem أنا مش فاهم (male)
ana meš fahma أنا مش فاهمة (female)
Where is the toilet? 
fēn el-Hammām? فين الحمام؟


mašākel مشاكل
Leave me alone. 
sıbni! سيبني (to a male),
sıbīni! سيبيني ( to a female)

sıbūni! سيبوني (to a group)

Go away! 
emši! إمشي (to a male or a female)
emšu! إمشو (to a group)
Don't touch me! 
matelmesnīš! ما تلمسنيش (to a male)
matelmısınīš! ما تلمسينيش (to a female)
I'll call the police. 
ana hakallem el-bulīs أنا هكلم البوليس
bulīs! بوليس
Hàrâmi! حرامي
I need help. 
ana meHtāg mosa`da أنا محتاج مساعدة (male speaking)
ana meHtāga mosa`da أنا محتاجة مساعدة (female)
It's an emergency. 
Hāla Târà حالة طارئة
I'm lost. 
ana tāyeh أنا تايه (male speaking)
ana tayha أنا تايهة (female)
I lost my purse/handbag. 
ana Dàyyà`te  šànTeti أنا ضيعت شنطيتي
I lost my wallet. 
ana Dàyyà`te  màHfàZti أنا ضيعت محفظتي
I'm sick. 
ana `ayyān أنا عيان (male speaking)
ana `ayyāna أنا عيانة (female)
I'm injured. 
ana met`àwwàr أنا متعور (male speaking)
ana met`àwwàra أنا متعورة (female)
I need a doctor. 
ana meHtāg doktōr أنا محتاج دكتور (male speaking)
ana meHtāga doktōr أنا محتاجة دكتور (female)
Can I use your phone? 
momken asta`mel telefōnak? ممكن أستعمل تيلفونك؟ (to a male)
momken asta`mel telefōnek? ممكن أستعمل تيلفونك؟ (to a female)
mumken asta`mel telefonku? ممكن أستعمل تيلفونكو؟ (to a group)
Can I use your cell phone? 
momken asta`mel mobàylàk? ممكن أستعمل موبايلك؟ (to a male)
momken asta`mel mobàylek? ممكن أستعمل موبايلك؟ (to a female)
momken asta`mel mobàyloku? ممكن أستعمل موبايلكو؟ (to a group)


`àrqâm أرقام

It is not uncommon to see what is formally called "Eastern Arabic Numerals", in Arabic known as "Indian numbers" (أرقام هندية arqām hendeyyah). Be careful in that zero is represented as a dot (٠) while five (٥) looks like the zero with which we're familiar. Furthermore, numbers are read left-to-right and not right-to-left as is text.

0 (٠)
Sefr صفر
1 (١)
wāHed واحد
2 (٢)
etnēn إتنين
3 (٣)
talāta تلاتة
4 (٤)
àrbà`à أربعة
5 (٥)
xamsa خمسة
6 (٦)
setta ستة
7 (٧)
sab`a سبعة
8 (٨)
tamanya تمانية
9 (٩)
tes`a تسعة
10 (١٠)
`àšàrà عشرة
11 (١١)
Hedâšàr حداشر
12 (١٢)
etnâšàr إتناشر
13 (١٣)
tàlàttâšàr تلاتاشر
14 (١٤)
àrbà`tâšàr أربعتاشر
15 (١٥)
xàmàstâšàr خمستاشر
16 (١٦)
settâšàr ستاشر
17 (١٧)
sàbà`tâšàr سبعتاشر
18 (١٨)
tàmàntâšàr تمنتاشر
19 (١٩)
tesà`tâšàr تسعتاشر
20 (٢٠)
`ešrīn عشرين
21 (٢١)
wāHed we-`ıšrīn واحد و عشرين
22 (٢٢)
etnēn we-`ıšrīn إتنين و عشرين
23 (٢٣)
talāta we-`ıšrīn تلاتة و عشرين
30 (٣٠)
talatīn تلاتين
40 (٤٠)
àrbı`īn أربعين
50 (٥٠)
xamsīn خمسين
60 (٦٠)
sıttīn ستين
70 (٧٠)
sab`īn سبعين
80 (٨٠)
tamanīn تمانين
90 (٩٠)
tıs`īn تسعين
100 (١٠٠)
meyya مية
200 (٢٠٠)
metēn متين
300 (٣٠٠)
toltomeyya تلتمية
400 (٤٠٠)
rob`omeyya ربعميه
1000 (١٬٠٠٠ )
alf ألف
2000 (٢٬٠٠٠)
alfēn ألفين
1,000,000 (١٬٠٠٠٬٠٠٠)
melyōn مليون
nemra نمرة or ràqàm رقم
noSS نص
aall أقل
àktàr أكتر


wat وقت
delwati دلوقتي
ba`dēn بعدين
abl قبل
ba`d بعد
SàbâH صباح
in the morning 
eS-SobH الصبح
ba`de  ed-dohr بعد الضهر
in the afternoon 
ed-dohr الضهر
mesa مسا or masā مساء
in the evening 
`el mesa ع المسا
lēla ليلة
in the night 
bel-lēl بلليل

Clock time

wat el sā`a وقت الساعة
what time is it? 
es-sā`a kām? الساعة كام؟
it is ___  
es-sā`a ___ الساعة...‏
it is 3 o'clock 
es-sā`a talāta (beZZàbT) الساعة تلاتة (بالظبط)‏
quarter past 
we rob` و ربع
quarter to 
ella rob` إلا ربع
half past 
we noSS و نص
it is half past 3 
es-sā`a talāta w-noSS الساعة تلاتة و نص


el modda المدة


el ayyām الأيام
yōm el-etnēn يوم الإتنين
yōm el-talāt يوم التلات
yōm el-arba` يوم الأربع
yōm el-xamīs يوم الخميس
yōm el-gom`a يوم الجمعة
yōm es-sabt يوم السبت
yōm el-Hadd يوم الحد


eš-šohūr الشهور
yanāyer يناير
febrâyer فبراير
māres مارس
ebrīl ابريل
māyu مايو
yonya يونيه
yolya يوليه
ağosTos اغسطس
sebtamber سبتمبر
oktōbàr اُكتوبر
nofamber نوفمبر
dısamber ديسمبر

Writing time and date

ketabet el wat wet-tarīx كتابة الوقت و التاريخ


alwān ألوان
àbyàD أبيض
eswed إسود
àHmàr أحمر
àxDàr أخضر
azra أزرق
àSfàr أصفر
bortoâni برتقاني
bambi بمبي
banafsegi بنفسجي


el mowaSlât المواصلات

Bus and train

el otobīs wel-àTr الاوتوبيس و القطر
Can I buy a ticket? 
momken Ašteri tàzkàrà? ممكن أشتري تذكرة
I will step down in (Heliopolis) 
Ana nāzel fe (màSr el-gıdīda) أنا نازل في (مصر الجديدة)‏ (male speaking)
Ana nazla fe (màSr el-gıdīda) أنا نازلة في (مصر الجديدة)‏ (female)


ettegahāt إتجاهات

oddām قدام
wàrà ورا
yemīn يمين
šemāl شمال
taHt تحت


taksi تاكسي

Can you drive me to (the hospital)? 
momken tewaSSàlni (elmostašfa)? ممكن توصلني (المستشفى)؟
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