The verb خربط/يخربط

The verb خربط/يخربط (kharbaT/ikharbeT) is one of those rare verbs that you’ll find that is comprised of a 4 letter root as opposed to the typical 3. According to Hans Wehr dictionary, the verb means “to throw into disorder, to disarrange, to confuse” and that’s similar to the Levantine colloquial meaning, though in colloquial you’ll also hear it used to mean “to talk in a confused manner or to ramble on about something”. You’ll find the verb conjugations below:

أنا اخربط/خربطت (ana akharbeT/kharbaTit)

أنت تخربط/خربطت (inta tikharbeT/kharbaTit)

إنتي تخربطي/خربطتي (inti tikharbeTy/kharbaTiti)

هو يخربط/خربط (huwa ikharbeT/kharbaT)

هي تخربط/خربطت (heya tikharbeT/kharbaTat)

إحنا نخربط/خربطنا (i7na nikharbeT/kharbaTnaa)

إنتوتخربطو/خربطتو (intu tikharbeTu/kharbaTetu)

هم يخربطو/خربطو (hum ikharbeTu/kharbaTu)

A few examples of how the verb can be used:

هادا بخربطني (haada bikharbeTni) translates to “that confuses me” or “I’m befuddled by this”. The explanation for this is pretty simple: هادا is the colloquial term for “that” and then it’s followed by the verb itself (with the ب prefix)

هي مخربطة (heya mikharbeTeh) translates to “she’s confused”. With verbs such as خربط or ترجم (to translate), the active participle is achieved by just adding the letter م. Thus مخربط will translate to “confused” and مترجم will translate to “translator”.

!منشان الله! خربطت الأوراق (minshaan Allah! kharbaTit il-awraaq) translates to “Oh for God’s sake! I mixed up the papers!” The expression منشان الله is similar to how you would use “for God’s sake” in English and in this instance, the verb خربطت refers to throwing the papers into a state of disorder — basically mixing them up.


The adjective فاضي

The adjective فاضي (faaDy) can have various meanings depending on the context. It’s also a verb that is used both in Levantine Arabic as well as Modern Standard Arabic. Its definitions include being empty, vacant, unoccupied, not busy, or unoccupied.

المدرسة فاضية اليوم (il-madrasa faaDiya il-yom) translates to “the school is empty today”. Since the noun, المدرسة, is feminine, then you change the gender of the adjective as well. Don’t forget that in Levantine Arabic you would pronounce the ta marbuta as “eh” rather than “ah”, which is how you would pronounce it in MSA.

هات لي قنينة فاضية (haat li ganiina faaDiya) translates to “bring me an empty bottle”.  هات is a command to bring or to fetch and لي reflects who to bring it to, who in this instance is oneself. قنينة can be pronounced with a “g” replacing the ق, which is how men typically pronounce it. Alternatively, it can be pronounced as “aniina” with a hamza replacing the ق, which is how women typically pronounce the ق. As an aside, I’ve heard men pronounce their ق as a hamza, but I’ve never heard a woman pronounce the ق as a “g”.

هسا أنا مش فاضي لك (hessa ana mish faaDy lek) translates to “I don’t have time for you right now”. You can use هسا or هلق (hella) to denote “now” and by adding the لك at the end, it changes the meaning of the sentence from “I don’t have time now” to “I don’t have time for you now”.

هو بيحكي كلام فاضي (huwa bi7ky kalaam faaDy) translates to “he talks a lot of nonsense”. The literal translation is “he speaks empty words”, however the figurative meaning of كلام فاضي is “nonsense” or “rubbish”.

ليش بتحكي عالفاضي؟ (leysh bti7ky 3alfaaDy) translates to “why are you talking without any thought?” In this instance, عالفاضي refers to speaking off the top of one’s head or without much thought.

أنا رحت لهناك عالفاضي (ana ru7it li-hunaak 3afaaDy) translates to “I went there for nothing”.  In this instance, عالفاضي connotes a waste of time.

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 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 (lisoo’ ilHazz huwwe maat) translates to “Unfortunately, he died.” 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 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”.

Grammar: الأوزان

Arabic Awzaan Conjugations

I’m deviating from the usual Levantine Arabic lesson with a grammar lesson which might be very useful for those who are starting to learn Arabic. The list above is a list of the most frequent وزن/أوزان (wazan/awzaan) that you will encounter when studying Modern Standard Arabic. It was actually provided to me a couple years ago by Nathan Miller, a terrific Arabic teacher who I had the pleasure of learning from when I had studied in Chicago.

So, what exactly is a wazan? Well, most Arabic words are derived from three root letters. For example, مكتب (office), كتب (he wrote), مكتبة (library), كاتب (writer), كتاب (book) are all derived from the root كتب, comprising of the kaaf, taa, and baa. Every 3 letter root can be transformed into one of up to fifteen different forms or ‘wazan’s though forms 1-8 and 10 are the ones that you’ll be exposed to most frequently.

If you’re taking MSA classes then this is something that you will have already learned (or will learn in due time). This list is more of a guideline to help those with spelling or pronunciation. I used to refer to this all the time, especially if I wasn’t sure about where a short vowel was supposed to be when pronouncing a certain word. I hope you guys might find this helpful as well!

The verb هم/يهم

If you plan on learning Arabic, especially colloquial, then it’s important to know the verb هم/يهم (hemm/ihemm) as you’ll be hearing it pretty frequently. Among its many definitions are to worry, to concern, to matter, to interest. In terms of the verb conjugations, you can note the present and past tenses below

أنا أهم/هميت (ahemm/hemeyt)

أنت تهم/هميت (inta tehemm/hemeyt)

إنتي تهمي/ هميتي (inti tehemmi/hemeyti)

هو يهم/هم (huwa ihemm/hemm)

هي تهم/همت (heya tehemm/hemmat)

إحنا نهم/همينا (i7na nehemm/hemeynaa)

إنتو تهمو/ هميتو (intu tehemmu/hemmeytu)

هم يهمو/همو (hum yehemmu/hemmu)

One phrase that you’ll certainly here in any Arabic speaking country will be:

ولا يهمك (wala ihemmuk), meaning “don’t worry”. It is the colloquial equivalent of MSA’s “لا تقلق”. Also note that you would say the word as if the “ي” was silent (ihemmuk rather than yihemmuk).

هادا إللي بهمنا (haada illy behemmnaa) translates to “that’s what worries us”. The sentence is pretty straight forward; don’t forget that إللي is the colloquial equivalent to الذي or التي.

المبارات ما بتهمني (il-mubaaraat ma bet-hemmni) translates to “the sports games don’t really interest me”. Again, pretty straight forward. Alternatively, you could also say “المبارات ما بتهمنيش”, which would have the same meaning, only adding a “ش” at the end.

بهمش (bihemmish) translates to simply “it’s not important” or “it doesn’t matter”. You can use it with a sentence such as بهمش أتدخل؟ (bihemmish atadakhul) which is asking “may I get a word in?” Note that the literal translation is “it doesn’t matter [if] I interfere?”

Now you’ll rarely see the verb used in the past tense, which pretty much negates the “past” conjugations above (but it’s still nice to know!). When you’re speaking about the past, then you should preface the verb with whatever derivative of “كان” that’s grammatically correct.

كان يهمني (kaan ihemmny) translates to “it used to interest me” or “it used to worry me”.

كان الوضع يهمها (kaan ilwaD3a yehemmha) translates to “the situation used to worry her”.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

The verb إكتفى/يكتفي

The verb إكتفى/يكتفي (iktafa/yiktafi) means to be content with or to find sufficient and it’s a word that you’ll find in both Modern Standard Arabic as well as colloquial Arabic. You will find it used with the preposition “ب”, which indicates the noun that one is content with. For example:

“أنا اكتفيت بوعده” (ana iktfeyt bi-wa3do) means that “I was content with his promise”. Remember that you must conjugate each past tense of the verb to correspond with the pronoun, so thus:

اكتفيت (iktfeyt) is used for I and you (masculine)

اكتفيتي (iktfeyty) is used for you (feminine)

إكتفى (iktafa) is used for he

اكتفت (iktafat) is used for she

اكتفينا (iktafeyna) is used for we

اكتفيتو (iktafeytu) is used for you (plural)

اكتفو (iktafu) is used for they

بكتفي باللي عندي (biktafi bi-illy 3andi) translates to “I’m content with what I have.” Note that the colloquial word اللي is the equivalent of the MSA الذي or التي.

هو قنوع، بيكتفي بالقليل (huwa ganoo3a byiktifi bil-galeel) translates to “he’s content with what he has and gets by with little”. The word قنوع can have many meanings, among them “frugal”, “modest”, or “satisfied”.

The word قد ايش

A distinct characteristic of the Levantine dialect is the use of the phrase قد ايش (gaddeysh) when asking for the time or inquiring about the price of an item. In some areas of the Levant, you might hear the word being pronounced as “gaddeysh” and in other parts, you’ll hear it as “a’ddeysh,” with the letter ق being replaced by a أ. Regardless of how one pronounces the word, it’s something that you’ll hear very frequently. For instance, in the market, you’ll come across the phrase:

قد ايش هاي؟ (gaddeysh haay?), with the word هاي referring to “this [item]. Therefore, the meaning of the phrase is “how much is this?”

قد ايش الساعة؟ (gaddeysh is-saa3a?) would be asking for the time (literal translation: how much is the hour?)

قد ايش عمرك؟ (gaddeysh 3omruk/3omrik?) would be asking an individual for his or her age. (literal translation: how much is your age?)

كل قد أيش فيه باص؟ (kul gaddeysh fi baaS?) would be inquiring how often a bus would come around? (literal translation: every how much there’s a bus?)

قد أيش اليوم في الشهر؟ (gaddeysh ilyom fi is-shahr?) would be asking someone what day of the year it is. (literal translation: how much is the day in the month?)

As you might notice, قد ايش can be used in a plethora of sentences. In addition to the context of “how much”, you can also utilize it to indicate “what a lot of…”.

قد أيش هو مبسوط (gaddeysh huwa mabsooT) translates to “he’s very happy” or “how very happy he is!”

!قد أيش صرفت المصاري عليها (gaddeysh Sarafit il-muSaary 3layha) translates to “I spent a lot of money on it!”. Note that rather than the word فلوس, Levantine Arabic instead uses the word مصاري. Furthermore, the عليها can also be altered to عليه, depending on the gender of the item that was purchased.

The noun جدية/جد

You’ll  hear the word “جد” spoken in Levantine Arabic pretty frequently, most notably in the phrase “عن جد” (a3n jadd), meaning “seriously!” or “really!” Alternatively, it can be used in the form of a question. For example, if your friend just informed you of something that seemed improbable, you could respond with, “عن جد؟” or “بتحكي جد؟” (bti7ki jadd?), both of which mean “are you serious?”

The term جدية (jiddiye or jaddiye), like جد, means “seriousness”. You may use the word with “ب” to denote that a particular task needs to be done with a sense of seriousness. For example:

“لازم تدرس بجدية” (laazim tudros bi-jiddiye) translates to “you need to really study!” or “you need to seriously study!”

“أخذت الفكرة بجدية” (akhadt il-fikra bi-jiddiye) translates to “I took the idea seriously”.

If you want to say that something needs to be taken seriously, you can use the verb “بد”, which means to want. For example:

“هدا ألسؤال بده جدية” (haada as-suwaal biddoo jiddiye), meaning “this question needs to be taken seriously”. Note that while in Modern Standard Arabic, “this” would be the word هذا, in Levantine Arabic you will find people pronouncing it as هدا. Please note that the word هدا is just one of the ways that someone might say “this” in colloquial. The Levant is a rather large area comprising of a handful of countries and so there are different variations of the same word.