The Lebanese dialect of
Arabic is similar to that spoken in Syria, Jordan and Palestine, somewhat different to that spoken in Egypt, and very different to other forms of Arabic. As with all dialects of Arabic, the dialect is a spoken language only; the written language always conforms to standard Arabic. (This guide will use the word "Lebanese" to refer to "the Lebanese dialect of Arabic".)
Arabic is significantly different to English: different forms are used when addressing males, females and groups; plurals and verb conjugations are highly irregular and difficult to figure out from their roots; and the pronunciation includes some very difficult sounds. Lebanese, luckily, is a much-simplified from standard Arabic, and should not be overly difficult for the traveler.
Learning some basic Lebanese expressions could always come in handy; however, knowing either English or French should be enough for a tourist visiting
Lebanon, since many Lebanese (especially in the youth, and particularly in Beirut) are trilingual.
For some Arabic sounds, there is no easy transliteration (and no single agreed transliteration). The pronunciation guide shown below is case sensitive; for example, 'th' is a different sound to 'Th' and 'TH'. Note that there is no such things as a diphthong in Arabic; instead, some consonants map to English diphthongs.
a like 'a' in "apple"
i like 'ee' in "cheese"
u like 'oo' in "too"
o like 'o' in "dore"
e like 'e' in "bed"
é like 'ai' in "claire"
b like 'b' in "bed"
t like 't' in "top"
j like 's' in "pleasure"
kh like 'ch' in Scottish "loch" (or German "nach")
d like 'd' in "mad"
r like 'r' in "row"
z like 'z' in "haze"
s like 's' in "sing"
sh like 'sh' in "sheep"
f like 'f' in "fun"
k like 'k' in "kitten"
l like 'l' in "love"
m like 'm' in "mother"
n like 'n' in "nice"
h like 'h' in "help"
w like 'w' in "weight"
y like 'y' in "yes"
The following 3 consonants are pronounced by rounding the mouth as you say them. You can get an approximate effect by accentuating them in the following pronunciations.
S like 's' in "sorry"
D like 'd' in "dot"
T like 't' in "taught"
The following consonant is almost never pronounced in lebanese dialect, but replaced with a glottal stop which can also be represented by an apostrophe.
q in regular arabic : like 'c' in "call" (with the back of the throat)
gh like a French or German letter "r"
The following consonant (called "ha", which will be represented by the number 7), is similar to English "h", but stronger. It's pronounced deep in the throat.
7 like a mixture of "h" and "kh"
2 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
The following consonant (called "ayn", which we will be represented by the number 3), is very difficult to say. In English, the only time you will use the throat muscles used to say this letter is when you are throwing up; if that's how it feels, you're probably doing it right.
3 like the sound represented by "aargh"
Some commonly understood Lebanese phrases use either French or English words; these have been shown in quotes below to avoid confusion.
Basics (Kalimét Asesiyé)
Welcome! ahla w sahla (lebanese also use the french (de rien) or English terms) or they just say ahlan
How are you? kifak (male), kifik (female)
Fine, thank you. l 7amdella (literally: "thank God") they also say méshé l 7al
Thank you. Shookran (they also use the french term(merci) and the english term)
(I'm) fine. Mni7 (Male) - Mni7a (Female)
Well (health) bikher
Good mni7(m) mni7a(f)
And you? w enta (male), w enté (female)
Blessed l 7amdella
What is your name? shoo esmak? (m), shoo esmik? (f)
My name is ______ . esmé ______ .
Nice to meet you. Tsharrafna
How old are you? addé 3omrak? (m) addé 3omrik? (f)
Please. men fadlak (male), men fadlik (female) (lebanese also use the english term)
Thank you. shookran(arabic) yeslamo(arabic) merci(french)they also use "thank you"
You're welcome tekram (male) tekramé (female)
Welcome (welcoming someone). ahla w sahla (it will be enough to just say ahla)
If God wills (or used as 'hopefully') eza alla rad
Really? Walla or 3anjad
Yes. eh or na3am
Excuse me. ( getting attention) 3afwan (egyptian)
Excuse me. ( begging pardon) "pardon" (French is used here)
I'm sorry. "sorry" (English is used here)
Goodbye (Go with peace) (formal) Ma3el salémé
Goodbye ( informal) "bye" (English is used here)
I can't speak Arabic [well]. ma be7ké 3arabé [mni7]
Do you speak English? bte7ké english? or you can just say it in english
Is there someone here who speaks English? 7ada menkoon bye7ké english?
Okay tayib or okay
Look out! oo3a or ntebih (male) ntebhé (female)
For sure/Of course! akeed!
Good morning. Saba7 l kher - bonjour (french)
Good evening. masa l kher - bonsoir (french)
Good night. "bonne nuit" (french) - tesba7 3ala kher (male) tesba7é 3ala kher (female)
I don't know. ma ba3rif
Where is the toilet (bathroom)? wen l "toilette?" (French is used here)
Where is the restroom (in a restaurant)? wen l 7emmém?
You enta(m), enté(f)
I understand ana befham
I do not understand ana ma befham
Sweetheart 7abibé(m) 7abibté(f) 7abibé can be used for a female also
You're the prettiest possible enta ajmal men l kell (male) enté ajmal men l kell (female)
Where are you from? men wen enta? (male) men wen enté (female)
Leave me alone. 7el 3anné or Trekné
Don't touch me! ma tde2 fiyyé
I'll call the police. ra7 de2 lal darak
Police! "Police!" (French)
Stop! Thief! wa22if! 7aramé!
I need your help. baddé moosé3adé
It's an emergency. 7alé tar2a
I'm lost. do3ot
I lost my bag. dayya3et jezdéné
I lost my wallet. dayya3et l "porte-monnée" taba3é (french)
I'm sick. marid or sakhin
I've been injured. mensab
I need a doctor. baddé 7akim
Can I use your phone? fiyyé esta3mil telephonak?(male) fiyyé esta3mil telephonik? (female)
21 wa7da w 3eshreen
22 tnén w 3eshreen
23 tléta w 3eshreen
300 tlet miyyé
1,000,000,000,000 alf melyar
number _____ ( train, bus, etc.) nomra _____ (train, bus)
more ba3ed, 2aktar
afternoon ba3d l dohor
evening masa, 3ashiyé
Clock time (Wa2et)
What hour is it? addé l sé3a
one o'clock AM sé3a we7dé l sobo7 or you c say 3abukra instead of sobo7
two o'clock AM sé3a tentén sobo7 / 3abukra
noon se3a tna3sh l dohor
one o'clock PM se3a we7dé ba3d l dohor
two o'clock PM se3a tentén ba3d l dohor
midnight noss léil
Rules for durations are peculiar: singular is used for one but for 11 or more as well, "double" is used for 2, and plural is used from 3 to 10
_____ minute(s) d2i2a (one minute), d2i2ten (2 min), _____ d2eyi2 (____ min for 3 to 10) ____ di2a (____ min for 11 and above)
_____ hour(s) se3a (one hour), se3ten (2 hrs), _____ se3at (____ hrs for 3 to 10) ____ se3a(____ hrs for 11 and above)
_____ day(s) nhar (one day), nharén (2 days), _____ tiyyem (____ days for 3 to 10) ____ yom (____ days for 11 and above)
_____ week(s) jem3a (one week), jeme3ten (2 weeks), _____ jmé3 (____ weeks for 3 to 10) ____ jem3a (____ weeks for 11 and above)
_____ month(s) shaher(one month), shahren(2 months), _____ tesh-hor(____ months for 3 to 10) ____ shaher (____ months for 11 and above)
_____ year(s) sené (one yr), sentéin(2 yrs), _____ snin (____ yrs for 3 to 10) ____ sené (____ yrs for 11 and above)
this week hal jem3a
last week jem3it l madyé
next week jem3it l jé
January kénoon l téné
October teshrin l awwal
November teshrin l téné
December kénoon l awwal
Writing time and date (Ktaba wakit wa toarik)
Give some examples how to write clock times and dates if it differs from English.
black aswad (male) sawda (female)
white abyad(male) bayda (female)
gray rmédé (male) rmediyyé (female)
red a7mar (male) 7amra (female)
blue azra2 (male) zar2a (female)
yellow asfar (male) safra (female)
green akhdar (male) khadra (female)
purple "mauve" (french)
brown benné (male) benniyyé (female)
Bus and train
How much is a ticket to _____? b2addésh l tiket 3a ...
One ticket to _____, please. tiket we7dé,______ please ...
Where does this train/bus go? la wen bi rou7 l train/buss? ...
Where is the train/bus to _____? wayno l train/buss? ...
Does this train/bus stop in _____? biwa22if l train bi_____ shi?
When does the train/bus for _____ leave? Aymata l train/l buss byemshé 3a ....?
When will this train/bus arrive in _____? Aymata ra7 yousal l train/l buss 3a _____?
Where are you going? la wen rayi7 enta? (male) la wen ray7a enté? (female)
How do I get to _____ ? keef boosal 3ala _____ ?
...the train station? ...m7atet l train?
...the bus station? ...m7atet l bus?
...the airport? ...l matar?
...downtown? ...downtown(English used)?
...the youth hostel? ...the youth hostel? ( ...)
...the _____ hotel? ...l _____ hotel?
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? safara amerkiyyé/canadiyyé/australiyyé/britaniyyé
Where are there a lot of... wen fi ktir...
...places to see? ...ma7allét ta shoufa?
...sites to see? ...ma7allét siyé7iyyé?
Can you show me on the map? feek tfarjiné l kharita
Where is the airport? wen l matar?
street taree2 or shéri3
Turn left. khod shmél
Turn right. khod yameen
straight ahead deghré eddém
towards the _____ sob l _____
past the _____ ba3d l _____
before the _____ abel l _____
Watch for the _____. ntebih (male) ntebhé (female) la l _____.
Car rental agency Sherkit te2jir siyarat
passport jawéz safar
Taxi! "Taxi!" (english)
Take me to _____, please. khedne 3ala ____, "please" (english)
How much does it cost to get to _____? adde l towsile 3a ____?
Take me there, please. khedne la honik, "please" (english)
Do you have any rooms available? fi oowad fadyé?
How much is a room for one person/two people? addé l ooda la shakhs/la shaksein?
Does the room come with... btejé l ooda ma3...
...a bathroom? ...7emmém
...a telephone? ... telephone?
...a TV? ... Television?
May I see the room first? finé shoof l ooda bel awal?
Do you have anything quieter? fi 3endkoon shi arwa2?
OK, I'll take it. OK, ra7 ékheda
I will stay for _____ night(s). ra7 eb2a_____ layélé.
Can you suggest another hotel? btonsa7ne bi hotel téné?
Do you have a safe? 3endkoon khazné?
What time is breakfast/supper? ayya se3a l terwi2a/l 3asha?
Please clean my room. please naddeflé l ooda.
Can you wake me at _____? | fik (male) fiké (female) twa3iné 3al_____?
I want to check out. baddé a3mol check out.
Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars? bte2balo bi american/australian/canadian dollars?
Do you accept British pounds? bte2balo bel pound l britane?
Do you accept credit cards? bte2balo credit card?
Can you change money for me? fik tsarrefle masare?
Where can I get money changed? wen fine sarrif masare?
Can you change a traveler's check for me? fik tsarrefle traveler's check?
Where can I get a traveler's check changed? wen fine sarrif traveler's check?
What is the exchange rate? What is the exchange rate? ( ...)
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? wen fi ATM?
A table for one person/two people, please. tawlé la shakhes/shakhsen please
Can I look at the menu, please? finé shoof l menu please?'
Can I look in the kitchen? fine shoof bel matbakh?
Is there a house specialty? Is there a house specialty? ( ...)
Is there a local specialty? Is there a local specialty? ( ...)
I'm a vegetarian. ana nabété (male) ana nabétiyyé (female)
I don't eat pork. ma bekool khanzeer
I don't eat beef. ma bekool la7em ba2er
I only eat kosher food. bekool akel kosher w bas (Halal)
Can you make it "lite", please? ( less oil/butter/lard) fik ta3mela "lite" please? zet/zebde/lard alil
fixed-price meal fixed-price meal ( ...)
à la carte à la carte ( ...)
tea ( meal) shay
I want _____. baddé
I want a dish containing _____. baddé sa7en fiyo ....
(fresh) vegetables khodra (taza)
(fresh) fruit fweke (taza)
May I have a glass of _____? please baddé kebbeyit ...
May I have a cup of _____? please baddé fenjen ...
May I have a bottle of _____? please baddé anninit ...
tea ( drink) shay
(bubbly) water may (ghaziyyé)
red/white wine nbeed a7mar/abyad
May I have some _____? please finé ekhood ...
black pepper bhar aswad
Excuse me, waiter? ( getting attention of server) law sama7t
I'm finished. khallaset
It was delicious. kenit taybé
Please clear the plates. Please clear the plates. ( ...)
The check, please. l 7seb please
Do you serve alcohol? 3endak alcohol?
Is there table service? fi khedmit tawlet?
A beer/two beers, please. we7dé bira/tnen bira,iza btrid
A glass of red/white wine, please. Kes nbeed a7mar/abyad please
A pint, please. A pint, please. ( ...)
A bottle, please. anniné please
_____ ( hard liquor) and _____ ( mixer), please. _____ and _____, please. ( ...)
club soda club soda
tonic water tonic water ( ...)
orange juice 3asir laymoon
Coke ( soda) coke
Do you have any bar snacks? 3endkoon bar snacks?
One more, please. wa7ad téné please
Another round, please. round tényé please
When is closing time? ayya se3a betsakro?
Do you have this in my size? fi menna 3a 2yesé?
How much is this? bi addé hay?
That's too expensive. hayda kteer ghalé
Would you take _____? btekhdo ....
expensive ghalé (male) ghalyé (female)
cheap rkhees (male) rkheesa (female)
I can't afford it. ma ma3e 7a22a
I don't want it. Ma baddé yéha
You're cheating me. 3am testelemné (male) 3am testelminé (female)
I'm not interested. manné mehtamm (male) manné mehtammé (female)
OK, I'll take it. tayeb ra7 2ekheda
Can I have a bag? finé ekhood kees?
Do you ship (overseas)? btesh7ano douwalé?
I need... 3ayiz (male) 3ayzé (female)
...toothpaste. m3ajoon snen
...a toothbrush. fersheyit snen
...tampons. ...tampons. ( it is recommended to say the brand...)
...pain reliever. ( e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen) dawa lal waj3a.
...cold medicine. dawa lal rashe7
...stomach medicine. dawa lal me3dé
...a razor. shafrit 7le2a
...an umbrella. shamsiyyé
...sunblock lotion. creme lal shames
...a postcard. bita2a baridiyyé
...postage stamps. tawabi3 barid
...writing paper. wara2 mketib
...a pen. alam
...English-language books. kteb english
...English-language magazines. majallét english
...an English-language newspaper. jareedé english
...an English-English dictionary. amoos english
I want to rent a car. baddé esta2jir siyyara
Can I get insurance? finé ekhood assurance?
stop ( on a street sign) w2af
one way sens unique (french)
yield yield ( ...)
no parking mamnoo3 l woo2oof
speed limit speed limit ( ...)
gas ( petrol) station m7attit benzeen
I haven't done anything wrong. ma 3melet shi ghalat
It was a misunderstanding. ken sou2 taféhoom
Where are you taking me? wen ékhdinné
Am I under arrest? ana maw2oof? (male) ana maw2oofé (female)
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. ana moowatin (male) moowatné (female) amerkené/australé/britané/canadé
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. baddé e7ké ma3 l safara/l2onsliye l amerkiyyé/l australiyyé/l britaniyyé/l canadiyyé/... )
I want to talk to a lawyer. baddé e7ké moo7amé
Can I just pay a fine now? fiyyé bass edfa3 gharamé/zabet halla2?
Asking about language
How do you say _____ ? Keef bet ool ...?
What is this/that called? Shoo hayda?/shoo esmo hayda?