“Are you a liver in Dokki?” – The Joys of Ism Fa3l

أنتي ساكنة في الدقي؟ 

Enty sakina fil do2i?

Smoother translation: Do you live in Dokki?

In Egyptian colloquial Arabic, verbs are often replaced with a structure called the ‘Ism Fa3l,’ a concept that I like to call a ‘Verbal Noun.’ For example, when we want to ask the question ‘do you understand?’ instead of using a verb as you would in MSA (هل تفهم؟), it’s more common in Egyptian colloquial to employ the ism fa3l (فاهم؟ – Are you an understander?) and drop the هل because هل is for squares.

Since the ism fa3l forms a mysterious noun-adjective entity (trying not to get too grammar-heavy here), the gender of the ism fa3l must match the subject. Thus since the question inspiring this post was posed to a woman, we get ساكنة instead of ساكن. This is only used to replace certain verbs, though, so don’t go too crazy changing random verbs into ism fa3l before you hear them used that way by a native speaker. Be on the look-out for this structure in future posts–you will encounter this structure a LOT in both Egyptian and Levantine dialects.

1 comment

  1. I´m pretty sure verbal noun is the term generally used to refer to المصدر and active participle is the translation for اسم فاعل . anyway thanks for your great blog , it´s been more & more useful to me lately

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