The uses of قعد/يقعد/قاعد in Levantine/Jordanian Arabic

For those who are studying Arabic or traveling in Jordan, be sure to keep an ear out for the permutations of قعد/يقعد/قاعد (ga3ad/yug3od/gaa3ed) being used in everyday life. Though in Modern Standard Arabic, you’ll see it used frequently as “to sit”, in Levantine colloquial, and more specifically the Jordanian dialect, you’ll see other definitions attached to the word. To begin, you can find the verb conjugations for the present and past tense of قعد/يقعد below.

أنا أقعد/قعدت (ana ag3od/ga3dit)

أنت تقعد/قعدت (inta tug3od/ga3dit)

إنتي تقعدي/قعدتي (inti tug3odi/ga3diti)

هو يقعد/قعد (huwa yug3od/ga3ad)

هي تقعد/قعدت (heya tug3od/ga3adat)

إحنا نقعد/قعدنا (iHna nug3od/ga3dna)

إنتو تقعدو/قعدتو (intu tug3odu/ga3ditu)

هم يقعدو/قعدو (hum yug3odu/ga3du)

In terms of the usage of قعد/يقعد, its primary definition is “to sit/sit down”.

فات على غرفته و قعد على التخت (faat 3la ghurftu woo ga3ad 3la at-takht) translates to “he entered his room and sat on the bed”.

لما فتت، كان قاعد على التخت (lamma futit, kaan gaa3ed 3la at-takht) translates to “when I entered, he was sitting on the bed”. Note that the term قاعد is the active participle of قعد. Later on in this section, I’ll explain an important secondary meaning for the word قاعد.

بدك تقعدي؟ (biddeck tug3odi?) translates to “would you like to sit?” when asking a female. If you are speaking to a male, you would instead ask بدك تقعد؟ (bidduck tug3od?) If you were to say أقعد/اقعدي (ug3od/ug3odi), it would be telling him or her to sit.

خليك قاعد/خليكي قاعدي (khaleek gaa3ed/khaleeki gaa3edi) translates to “please stay seated” or “don’t get up”.

هو قاعد على نار (huwa gaa3ed 3la naar) is an expression that translates to “he’s really antsy or impatient”. The literal translation is “he is sitting on fire”, which as one might imagine, would probably cause someone to be a little antsy!

قعد/يقعد can also mean to stay or remain, as noted in the following example:

قعد خاطب تقريبا سنتين (ga3ad khaaTib tagreeban sanateen) which translates to “he remained engaged for two years”.

The verb can also mean to start or begin an action. For example, if you were to say قعدت تحكي معي (ga3adat tiHky ma3y), it would translate to “she started talking with me”.

The active participle قاعد (gaa3ed) is frequently used in Jordan and Palestine as a means to  signify an action that’s taking place at this very moment (e.g. I am reading, he is eating, they are talking).

أنا قاعد أحكي معهم (ana gaa3ed aHky ma3hum) translates to “I am talking with them”.

الطلاب قاعدين بستنونا (it-Tulaab gaa3edeen bistanunaa) translates to “The students are waiting for us”.

شو قاعد تاكل؟ (shu gaa3ed takl?) translates to “what are you eating?”

Some of you may be wondering “how do I know when to follow قاعد with a verb that begins with “ب” rather than the regular present tense form of the verb?” The truth of the matter is, there isn’t really a set rule concerning this. I’ve seen it used both ways (e.g. أنا قاعد أحكي/أنا قاعد بحكي). That’s one of the fun things about colloquial Arabic — there really isn’t that many stringent grammatical rules.

And I also forgot to mention that different countries use different words in lieu of قاعد. For example, in Syria you’ll find the عم used. So if you were to ask someone in Syria what they were saying, you would ask “شو عم تحكي؟” Since I resided in Jordan for a short period, that’s the dialect that I decided to focus on for this particular lesson.

The noun بال

Levantine Arabic contains many different expressions using the word بال, which means “mind”. As you will notice in the examples that below, there will be times when speakers of Levantine Arabic use “أجى عبالي” (aja 3abaaly) to signify “I think” when the phrase literally translates to “it came to my mind”. So if you were to say “أجى عبالي أكل” (aja 3abaaly akul), it would translate to “I think I’ll eat.”

دير بالك/ديري بالك (deer baaluk/deeri baalik) is a phrase that you’ll often hear used in Jordan and Palestine and it translates to “be careful” or “watch out” with the literal translation being “direct your mind”.

طول بالك/طولي بالك (Tawwel baaluk/Tawweli baalik) is also a phrase that you’ll hear used pretty frequently, with the meaning of the phrase being “be patient”. The literal translation is “lengthen/extend your mind”.

شو جابه عبالك؟ (shu jaabu 3abaaluk?) translates to “what gave you that idea?” or “what made you think of that?” The literal translation would be “what brought it to your mind?”

بيجيش عبالي أكل منه (beejeesh 3abaaly akl minnu) translates to “I don’t want to eat it” or “I don’t feel like eating it”. Notice how rather than saying ما بدي/ما بديش to signify “not wanting”, the phrase بيجيش عبالي is utilized instead. The literal translation of the sentence would be “it does not come to my mind [that] I eat from it.” Also note that this is in line with “أجى عبالي”, which was mentioned above.

اسم الشارع راح من بالي (ism as-shaar3 raa7 min baaly) is another example of using the noun “بال” to signify an action. The sentence translates to “I forgot the street name” or “the street name slipped my mind” with the literal translation being “the name of the street went from my mind.”

إذا بده هيك، أنت شو عبالك؟ (iza biddu heyk, enta shu 3abaaluk?) translates to “if he wants that, then what do you care?” This once again highlights the flexibility of بال and more specifically “شو عبالك”.  The literal translation would be “if he wants that, you, what’s on your mind?”

ولا عبالك (wala 3abaaluk) translates to “not at all” or “far from it”, with the literal translation being “and not on your mind!” An example of a conversation in which this is used would be something along the lines of one friend saying to the other “يا رجل، صرت كسلان” (ya rajul, Sert kaslaan), which translates to “man, you got lazy!” In response, the other friend might reply with “لا كسلان ولا عبالك” (la kaslaan wala 3abaaluk), which means “I’m not lazy in the least!”. The literal translation of لا كسلان ولا عبالك would be “[I’m] not lazy and [don’t have that] on your mind!”

The noun سوء/أسواء

I wanted to mention the noun سوء/أسواء (soo’/aswaa’), meaning badness or evil, because in colloquial Arabic, you’ll come across it pretty often, most notably in the word “unfortunately”.

لسوء  الحظ، هو مات شهيد (lisoo’ ilHazz huwwe maat shaheed) translates to “Unfortunately, he died a martyr”. The Arabic word for “unfortunately”, literally means “to the badness of [the] luck” with الحظ translating to “luck”.

Other words or expressions that you might find سوء in are:

سوء النية (soo’ in-niyye), which translates to “bad intent”, with the literal meaning being “badness of the intent”

سوء تفاهم (soo’ tifaahum) translates to a “misunderstanding”, and if you want to say there was a misunderstanding, you can add صار or كان هناك before the noun. Therefore, صار سوء تفاهم (Saar soo’ tifaahum) and كان هناك سوء تفاهم (kaan hunaak soo’ tifaahum) both translate to “there was a misunderstanding”.

هاي نتيجة سوء الإدارة (haay neteejet soo’ il-idaara) translates to “this is the result of poor management). Be mindful that since the noun نتيجة is feminine, you can use هاي (haay) or هادي (haadi) to mean “this”. If the noun is masculine, you would typically find هادا (haada) used.

The uses of ما

This section is going to be a bit long, but it may be used as a helpful guide for those seeking to learn colloquial Arabic. For this section, I’ll just go over what I believe to be 3 common definitions for the word  ما (ma). The word is used frequently in both Modern Standard Arabic as well as Levantine Arabic and so it is important to familiarize oneself the various usages.

1st meaning: Negation of verbs

Probably the most common use of ما in spoken Arabic is to negate verbs. It may be placed before both past and present verbs as in the examples below.

ما راح/ما راحش (ma ra7/ma ra7sh) both have the same meaning, “he didn’t go”. Note the negation of the past tense.

ما بكتب/ما بكتبش (ma bakteb/ma baktebsh) would both mean “I do not write”, which is the negation of the present tense.

If you use ما with a present tense verb without the “ب”, then it can denote the negation of a command or an imperative. For instance:

ما تنسى/ما تنساش (ma tinsa/ma tinsaash) would be telling someone “don’t forget!”

ما تكتب/ما تكتبش (ma takteb/ma taktebsh) translates to “don’t write!”

2nd meaning: An expression of being surprised with something

This particular use of ما may be found in MSA as well and means “How [adjective] such-and-such is!”

ما أشطر بنته (ma ashTar bintu!) translates to “how smart his daughter is!” Note that the adjective used would be شاطر/شاطرة (shaaTir/shaaTira), meaning bright, smart, or clever.

3rd meaning: Word used to connect a conjunction and a verb

زي ما بدك (zay ma bidduk) is a phrase that many Jordanians use, translating to “whatever you want” or “whatever you like”. As a side note, when Jordanians speak English, you’ll also hear them say “as you like” as opposed to “whatever you like,” which native English speakers are more accustomed to hearing.

بعد ما رحت على المكتب (ba3d-ma ra7it 3la il-maktub) translates to “after I went to the office…”

You may also find the 3rd form of ما used with conjunctions like قبل ,بدون, and مثل.

As an aside, I’ll begin posting more updates now that I’ve returned from vacation. Hope this section helps you guys in your colloquial Arabic studies!

The difference between فراطة and باقي when dealing with money

I wanted to give a brief explanation about the difference between the words فراطة (fraaTa) and باقي (boggy) when dealing with everyday monetary transactions.

فراطة (fraaTa) refers to spare change or any small change that one might have while digging through their pocket/wallet. It can also have the secondary definition of being unimportant or worthless.

معك فراطة؟ (ma3ik fraaTa?) translates to “do you have any change on you?” Notice how the word “معك” is used as opposed to “عندك”. While “عندك فراطة” will still be universally understood in the Arab world, you’ll find that “معك فراطة” will be predominantly used.

ما معيش فراطة (ma m3eesh fraaTa) translates to “I don’t have any change on me”.

حكي فراطة (Haaky fraaTa) translates to “idle chit-chat” or “idle talk”.

ناس فراطة (naas fraaTa) translates to undesirable people or basically people who you’d want to avoid.

باقي (boggy) in the context of money refers to the change that one would receive after paying for something, however its primary definition would be the remainder or the rest of something.

الباقي إلك (il-boggy iluk/ilik) translates to “keep the change” after making a payment. Note how “إلك” is used as opposed to “معك”.

وين يحط الباقي؟ (wayn ya7uT ilboggy?) translates to “where should he put the rest [of the things]?”

أنت عملت إللي عليك و الباقي على الله (inta a3milit illy 3layk wa il-boggy 3la allah) translates to “you’ve done what you could and the rest is up to God”. The literal translation will be “you did what was on you and the rest is on God.” Remember that عليك or عليكي or عليكم/عليكو means that “you need to…”

باقي الناس أكلو بالمطعم (boggy in-naas akaloo bil-maT3am) translates to “the rest of the people ate at the restaurant.”

The noun ضو/أضوا

For those who want to use colloquial Arabic for more practical uses (perhaps around the house), it’s important to be familiar with the word ضو/أضوا, which is “light/lights”. In Modern Standard Arabic, you’ll find that there is a hamza following the singular and plural form of the noun, however you’ll rarely hear the hamza pronounced out on the streets.

اضوي الضو (iDwee id-Daww) translates to “turn on the light”, which should not be too difficult to remember since both words stem from the root “ض-و-ى”.

اطفي الضو (iTfee id-Daww) translates to “turn off the light”, and these two phrases are two of the most common phrases you’ll encounter around the house.

قطعت و الضو أحمر (gat3at wid-Daww a7mar) translates to “I ran the red light” while literally translating to “I crossed and the light [was] red”.

The noun قلب/قلوب

In this post, I wanted to go over the Arabic word قلب/قلوب (galb/guloob) and all the expressions that are attached with the noun. قلب, meaning “heart”, is very frequently used and you’ll notice that the Arabic expressions are much in line with expressions that we use in English as well.

قلبه طيب (galbu Tayyib) translates to “he’s got a good heart”; a common English phrase.

ماليش قلب أذبح الحيوان (maleesh galb adhba7 il7ayawaan) translates to “I don’t have to heart to kill the animal.

قلبي انحرق (galby in7araq) translates to “my heart bled”. Note that the word انحرق literally means “to be burned”.

قلبها مليان عليه (galb-ha malyaan 3laayh) translates to “she’s upset with him” although the literal translation would be “her heart is full on him”.

اليوم القلوب تغيرت (ilyom il-quloob taghayyarat) translates to “people feel differently these days” while the literal translation is “today the hearts have changed”.