Egyptian Arabic Grammar


A determiner introduces a noun. There are four types of determiner:

TypeEnglish Examples
articlethe, and
demonstrativethis, that
quantifiersome, any
possessivemy, his


In English, there are two articles. The definite article the indicates that we are referring to something we have already mentioned, or the listener will understand which one we are talking about. The indefinite article a/an indicates that we are not talking about any particular instance of something. In Egyptian, there is a definite article il-iil_ ا ِلـ but no indefinite article.

To talk about a particular man- the listener is expected to know which man we are referring to- we say 'the man' in English. In arabic, we attach il-iil_ ا ِلـ to the front of the noun.

the man is reading his book
ilraagil biyi'r'a kitaabuhiil-raagil biyiqraac kitaab-uh
ا ِلرا َجـِل بـِيـِقرأ كـِتا َبـُه

Note that adding il-iil_ ا ِلـ to a word affects the pronunciation if it begins with a sun letter.

For compound nouns, where we use a noun to describe another noun, the is used before the compound noun. In Egyptian, it is used before each word in the compound noun:

the plastic bag
ilkees ilblastik[iil]-kys [iil]-blaastik
ا ِلكيس ا ِلبلا َستـِك

Note that, in Egyptian, il-iil_ ا ِلـ is used before nouns expressing abstract concepts. In English, it is not unless you are referring to a particular kind of whatever the noun relates to.

love is all you needilhubb huwwa kull illi 'inta mahtalKaiil-Hubb huwwa kull iil-ly iicnta maHtalKao
ا ِلحـُبّ هـُوّ َ كـُلّ ا ِلّي إنت َ مـَحتـَلخـَة
the love of God'allah ilhubbaacllah iil-Hubb
ألّـَه ا ِلحـُبّ
give peace a chance'iddi ilsalaam furSaiicddy iil-salaam furSao
إدّي ا ِلسـَلا َم فـُرصـَة
movement is blessedilharaka barakaiil-Harakao barakao
ا ِلحـَر َكـَة بـَر َكـَة


Demonstratives are words that you generally use when you are pointing at something. In English, there are four demonstratives- this and that (singular) and these and those (plural). You generally use this/these to refer to something nearer to you, and that/those for something further away. They can be used either as pronouns (on their own) or as determiners (introducing a noun). In Arabic, there is just one demonstrative, but there are three forms- masculine, feminine and plural. It is used either as a pronoun (on its own) or as a demonstrative adjective (after a noun). Let's see how that works:

pronounI like this (m)'ana baahibb dahaacnaa baaHibb dah
أنا َ با َحـِبّ د َه
pronounI like this (f)'ana baahibb dihaacnaa baaHibb dih
أنا َ با َحـِبّ د ِه
pronounI like these (pl)'ana baahibb dulaacnaa baaHibb dul
أنا َ با َحـِبّ د ُل
determiner/adjectiveI like this book(m)'ana bahibb ilkitab dahaacnaa baHibb iil-kitab dah
أنا َ بـَحـِبّ ا ِلكـِتـَب د َه
determiner/adjectiveI like this garden(m)'ana bahibb ilgineena dihaacnaa baHibb iil-ginynao dih
أنا َ بـَحـِبّ ا ِلجـِنينـَة د ِه
determiner/adjectiveI like these book(m)'ana bahibb ilkutub dulaacnaa baHibb iil-kutub dul
أنا َ بـَحـِبّ ا ِلكـُتـُب د ُل

Note that, when this is used as a demonstrative determiner, dahdah د َه is used as a demonstrative adjective: it goes after the noun, and il-iil_ ا ِلـ is used as a determiner before then noun.


Quantifiers specify how much or how many of something we are talking about. Numbers give exact information, whereas quantifying determiners give an approximate idea. English examples are some, enough, any, many, few. Most English quantifiers do not have an equivalent in Egyptian: instead, quantifying adjectives (which follow the noun) are used. any does not have an equivalent: it is simply omitted.

determinerI want some milk Aaayiz shuwayit labanAaayiz shuwayio laban
عا َيـِز شـُو َيـِة لـَبـَن
adjectiveI don't have enough money maAandeesh filoos kifaayamaAandysh filws kifaayao
مـَعـَنديش فـِلوس كـِفا َيـَة
-he has any money maAanduhsh filoosma-Aanduh-sh filws
مـَعـَند ُهش فـِلوس
adjectiveyou have many friends
Aandak 'aShaab kiteerAandak aacSHaab kityr
عـَند َك أصحا َب كـِتير
adjectiveyou have a lot of friends
Aandak 'aShaab yaamaAandak aacSHaab yaamaa
عـَند َك أصحا َب يا َما َ
determinerI am tired of too much talk 'ana zahQaaen min kutr ilkalaemaacnaa zahQaaen min kutr iil-kalaem
أنا َ ز َهقا َ ۤن مـِن كـُتر ا ِلكـَلا َم

Possessive suffixes

Possessives indicate who owns something- in English, they are words like my, his and their. In both English and Egyptian, they are similar to the corresponding possessive pronouns (mine, his, theirs), but they introduce a noun rather than being used on their own. In Egyptian, they are suffixes attached to the noun that they relate to, or to the ownership word bitaAbitaA بـِتـَع the latter is used for most imported words.

what (is) your name?

'ismak 'ieeh?iicsm-ak iicyh?
إسم َك إيه؟

The posessive suffixes themselves are pretty easy to learn, but when they are attached to nouns, the vowels do a little dance to make sure that you don't get three consonants in a row. Here are examples for nouns that end with one or two consonants:

Nouns ending in two consonants
Englishafter -Cafter -CC
suffix SaahibSaaHib
صا َحـِب suffix kalbkalb
my -i_y
ـي SahbiSaaHib-y
صا َحـِبي -i_y
ـي kalbikalb-y
our -na_naa
ـناَ SaahibnaSaaHib-naa
صا َحـِبناَ -ina_inaa
ــِناَ kalbinakalb-inaa
your(m) -ak_ak
ــَك SahbakSaaHib-ak
صا َحـِبـَك -ak_ak
ــَك kalbakkalb-ak
your(f) -ik_ik
ــِك SahbikSaaHib-ik
صا َحـِبـِك -ik_ik
ــِك kalbikkalb-ik
ـكـُم SaahibkumSaaHib-kum
صا َحـِبكـُم -ukum_ukum
ــُكـُم kalbukumkalb-ukum
his/its(m) -uh_uh
ــُه SahbuhSaaHib-uh
صا َحـِبـُه -uh_uh
ــُه kalbuhkalb-uh
her/its(f) -ha_haa
ـهاَ SaahibhaSaaHib-haa
صا َحـِبهاَ -aha_ahaa
ــَهاَ kalbahakalb-ahaa
their -hum_hum
ـهـُم SaahibhumSaaHib-hum
صا َحـِبهـُم -uhum_uhum
ــُهـُم kalbuhumkalb-uhum

For nouns ending in -a_ao ــَة, the -a_ao ــَة is replaced by -t_t ـت or -it_it ــِت and then the ending is added.

Nouns ending in -a_ao ــَة
English after -Cafter -CC
suffix koorakwrao
كور َةsuffixshanTashanTao
my -ti_ty
ـتي koortikwr-ty
كورتي -iti_ity
ــِتي shanTitishanT-ity
our -itna_itnaa
ــِتناَ kooritnakwr-itnaa
كور ِتناَ -itna_itnaa
ــِتناَ shanTitnashanT-itnaa
your(m) -tak_tak
ـتـَك koortakkwr-tak
كورتـَك -itak_itak
ــِتـَك shanTitakshanT-itak
your(f) -tik_tik
ـتـِك koortikkwr-tik
كورتـِك -itik_itik
ــِتـِك shanTitikshanT-itik
ــِتكـُم kooritkumkwr-itkum
كور ِتكـُم -itkum_itkum
ــِتكـُم shanTitkumshanT-itkum
his/its(m) -tuh_tuh
ـتـُه koortuhkwr-tuh
كورتـُه -ituh_ituh
ــِتـُه shanTituhshanT-ituh
her/its(f) -itha_it-haa
ــِتهاَ koorithakwrit-haa
كور ِتهاَ -itha_it-haa
ــِتهاَ shanTithashanTit-haa
their -ithum_it-hum
ــِتهـُم koorithumkwr-it-hum
كور ِتهـُم -ithum_it-hum
ــِتهـُم shanTithumshanT-it-hum

Nouns that end in alif -a_aa ـاَ are treated almost like feminine nouns, ie the alif is replaced by -it_iit ـا ِت and then the ending is added.

Nouns ending in -i_y ـي or -w_w ـو are listed below.

Note that for most words ending in -w_w ـو, for example baltwbaltw بـَلتو, one would normally use bitaAbitaA بـِتـَع rather than a posessive suffix.

Nouns ending in a vowel
English -a_aa
ـاَ -i_y
ـي -w_w
suffix veelavylaa
ڤيلاَ koorsikwrsy
كورسي AadwAadw
my -ya_ya
ـيَ veelitivyliit-y
ڤيلا ِتي koorsyakwrsy-aa
كورسياَ AadwiAadw-y
our -na_naa
ـناَ veelitnavyliit-naa
ڤيلا ِتناَ koorseenakwrsy-naa
كورسيناَ AadoonaAadw-naa
your(m) -k_k
ـك veelitakvyliit-ak
ڤيلا ِتـَك koorseekkwrsy-k
كورسيك AadookAadw-k
your(f) -ki_ki
ـكِ veelitikvyliit-ik
ڤيلا ِتـِك koorseekikwrsy-ky
كورسيكي AadwikAadw-ik
عـَدو ِك
ـكـُم veelitkumvyliit-kum
ڤيلا ِتكـُم koorseekumkwrsy-kum
كورسيكـُم AadookumAadw-kum
his/its(m) -h_h
ـه veelituhvyliit-uh
ڤيلا ِتـُه koorseehkwrsy-h
كورسيه AadoohAadw-h
her/its(f) -ha_haa
ـهاَ veelithavyliit-haa
ڤيلا ِتهاَ koorseehakwrsy-haa
كورسيهاَ AadoohaAadw-haa
their -hum_hum
ـهـُم veelithumvyliit-hum
ڤيلا ِتهـُم koorseehumkwrsy-hum
كورسيهـُم AadoohumAadw-hum

Father and brother 'abbaacbb أبّ and brother 'aKKaacKK أخّ become 'abw-aacbw_ أبوـ and brother 'aKw-aacKw_ أخوـ when a possessive is added.

English fatherbrother
my 'abwyaaacbwyaa
أبوياَ 'aKwyaaacKwyaa
our 'aboonaaacbwnaa
أبوناَ 'aKoonaaacKwnaa
your(m) 'abookaacbwk
أبوك 'aKookaacKwk
your(f) 'abookiaacbwky
أبوكي 'aKookiaacKwky
أبوكـُم 'aKookumaacKwkum
his/its(m) 'aboohaacbwh
أبوه 'aKoohaacKwh
her/its(f) 'aboohaaacbwhaa
أبوهاَ 'aKoohaaacKwhaa
their 'aboohumaacbwhum
أبوهـُم 'aKoohumaacKwhum

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