FuSHa to Shami 22: Compound prepositions

This ~bonus post~ is for common prepositions that are (etymologically) nouns. This is a much more distinct category in fuSHa than it is in 3aammiyye, but to keep the lists manageably short I decided to do it this way.

قدام 2éddaam

Literally ‘in front of’:

قدام البيت ‭2éddaam élbeet – in front of the house

لا تفضحونا قدام الاجانب laa téfDa7uuna 2éddaam él2ajaaneb – don’t make us look bad in front of the foreigners!

Can be used with la- indicating motion:

لقدام شوي la2éddaam shwayy – a bit further on (keep going)

Can be used independently meaning approximately ‘in front’:

انا قاعد قدام وهي قاعدة ورا ana 2aa3ed 2éddaam w-hiyye 2aa3de wara – I’m sitting in the front and she’s sitting in the back [of a car]

قد ‭2add

2add essentially means ‘the size of’ or ‘the extent of’, and has a number of idiomatic uses:

مين بحبك قدي؟ miin bi7ébbak 2addi? – who loves you as much as me?

ما في كرسي قدي maa fii kérsi 2addi – there’s no chair big enough for me

انت قدها؟ énte 2addha? – are you up to the task?

انا قد كلامي ana 2add kalaami – I keep my word

بحبك قد الدنيا b7ébbak 2add éddinye – I love you to the moon and back [= as much as the world]

على قد or ع قد has its own idiomatic uses:

الكراسي على قدنا؟  élkaraasi 3ala 2addna – there are enough chairs for us [the chairs are on our number]

احلامنا على قدنا a7laamna 3ala 2addna – our dreams are appropriate to our standing

بيت صغير على قدي وقدك beet @zghiir 3ala 2addi w-2addek – a little house just right for me and you

قبل ‭2ab@l ‘before’

قبل الحرب ‭2abl él7arb – before the war

Can be used independently in the meaning ‘the time before’:

كل هادا كان قبل kéll haada kaan 2ab@l – all that was before

برا barra

برا البيت barra lbeet – outside the house

barra has an iDaafe form, barraat, which is used with pronouns and optionally with nouns:

برات البيت barraat élbeet – not at home [= outside the house]

It can be used with la- indicating motion:

طلاع لبرا! Tlaa3 la-barra! – get out!

It can be used independently meaning ‘outside’:

القعدة احلى برا él2a3de 2a7la barra – the atmosphere’s nicer outside [= the sitting]

بقلب b2alb ‘inside’

Generally used for confined spaces:

بقلب الظرف b2alb éZZar@f – in the envelope

Literally ‘in the heart of’, and sometimes can translate that way in English too:

نحنا بقلب السفارة هلق né7na b2alb éssafaara halla2 – we’re in the heart of the embassy now! (or perhaps, ‘we’re well inside the embassy!’)

بعد ba3@d ‘after’

بعد الحادث ba3d él7aades – after the accident

بين been ‘among, between’

بين البيوت been lébyuut – among the houses, between the houses

When pronouns are added, been usually takes the form beenaat:

ولله يا معلم انا بيناتون waLLa yaa m3allem 2ana beenaaton – and I swear, boss, I’m one of them! [= among them]


بنص bnéSS ‘in the middle of’

Perhaps not really worth analysing as a preposition per se since néSS in itself means ‘middle’ (ركز بالنص rakkez bé-nnéSS ‘concentrate on the middle’) but worth considering for completeness’ sake:

بنص الطريق bnéSS éTTarii2 – in the middle of the road

Has an independent form بالنص bé-nnéSS ‘in the middle’:

انا بالنص ana bé-nnéSS – I’m [the one] in the middle (of the picture)

داير ‭daayer

Used in the sense of ‘around the border of’ and also ‘around’ a defined mass (a pole, tree etc):

بنو حيط داير لجنينة banu 7eeT daayer léjneene – they built a wall around the garden

ربطو داير حوالي الشجرة rabaTu 7ab@l daayer shshajara – they tied a rope around the tree

رح تشوف اضاءة مشعشعة ع داير مندارك ليل نهار ra7 @tshuuf 2iDaa2a msha3@sh3a 3a-daayer méndaarak leel @nhaar – you’ll see shining lights all around you day and night

These two forms of ‘around’ are used markedly less than their English equivalent however since the sense is often included in the meaning of specific verbs:

لف الدوار léff édduwaar – go around the roundabout

لفو الحبل على رقبتو laffu l7abel 3ala ra2ebto – they put the rope around his neck

ضد Dédd ‘against’

انا اكيد ضد هالفكرة ana akiid Dédd hal-fukra – of course, I’m against this idea

فوق foo2 ‘above’

Usually means above, but can also mean ‘up in’ or ‘on top of’:

اللي ساكن فوقنا élli saaken foo2na – the guy living above us

الطناجر معلقة فوق الشجرة éTTanaajer m3alla2a foo2 éshshajara – the pots are hanging up in the tree

لا تستحي حط المعلقة فوق السكر laa tésté7i 7étt élma3la2a foo2 éssékkar – don’t worry, leave the spoon in the sugar [after using it to put sugar in your tea]

Can be used with la- to indicate motion:

طلع لفوق Talle3 la-foo2 – look up

Can be used independently, usually meaning ‘upstairs’ (or ‘further up’, ‘above’ etc depending on context):

الاستاذ فوق él2éstaaz foo2 – the gentleman is upstairs



جنب janb, jamb ‘next to’

تعال عود جنبي ta3aal 3ood jambi – come and sit next to me

جوا juwwa ‘inside’

جوا البيت juwwa lbeet – inside the house

juwwa has an iDaafe form, juwwaat, which is used with pronouns and optionally with nouns:

جوات البلد juwwaat élbalad – inside the country

جواتو juwwaato – inside it

Can be used with la- indicating motion:

فوت لجوا fuut la-juwwa – go inwards, further in

Can be used independently meaning ‘inside’:

مرتي جوا marti juwwa – my wife’s inside

مواجه, مواجيه mwaajeh, mwaajiih ‘opposite’

These are synonymous variants and mean ‘opposite’:

ساكن مواجيه بيتون بنفس الحارة saaken mwaajiih beeton bnafs él7aara – he lived opposite their house in the same neighbourhood

تحت ta7@t

Usually means ‘below’ or ‘underneath’:

تحت الطاولة ta7t éTTaawle – under the table

Can be used with la- to indicate motion:

نزيل لتحت nzeel la-ta7@t – go downstairs

Can be used independently, usually meaning ‘downstairs’ (but also ‘further down’ etc depending on context):

انا تحت ana ta7@t – I’m downstairs

طول Tool

Clearly derived from ‘length’, this is used for both physical description in the meaning of ‘along the length of, all along’ and time in the meaning of ‘throughout, all… long’.

وضلوا يلحقوني طول الليل w-Dallu yél7a2uuni Tool élleel – they kept chasing me all night long

It often appears with 3ala:

قاعد يفلح فينا على طول الجمعة ‭‭2aa3ed yéfla7 fiina 3ala Tool éjjém3a – they sit there going on at us, all week long [= sitting ploughing in us]

مش بس هاي الرسمة. في غيرها على طول الشارع mish bass haay irrasme. fii gheerha 3ala Tool ishshaare3 – not just this painting, there are others all along the street

With على as you are probably aware it has an adverbial meaning ‘straight on’:

روح على طول ruu7 3ala Tool – go straight on

وسط wasT بوسط bwasT ‘in the middle of’

بوسط البلد bwasT élbalad – downtown [= in the city centre]

وسط هالتخاذل كلو wasT ha-ttakhaazul kéllo – in the midst of all this disappointment

ورا wara 

Literally ‘behind’ or ‘beyond’:

ورا البيت wara lbeet – behind, beyond the house

Can be used with la- to indicate motion:

رجاع لورا rjaa3 la-wara – go backwards

Can be used independently with the approximate meaning ‘behind’:

انا قاعد قدام وهي قاعدة ورا ana 2aa3ed 2éddaam w-hiyye 2aa3de wara – I’m sitting in the front and she’s sitting in the back [of a car]

حوالي ‭7awaali, 7awaalee- ‘around’

Used in all the senses of English ‘around’ and the fuSHa sense of ‘approximately [a number]’:

صرت شوف كل يلي حواليي بوضوح وعلى حقيقتهم Sér@t shuuf kéll yalli 7awaaleyyi b-wuDuu7 w-3ala 7aqiiqathum – I started to see all those around me clearly and as they were [= on their truth]

بنو حيط حوالي لجنينة banu 7eeT 7awaali léjneene – they built a wall around the garden

ربطو حبل حوالي الشجرة rabaTu 7ab@l 7awaali shshajara – they tied a rope around the tree

The fuSHa form حول ‭7awl is occasionally used in the sense of ‘on the subject of’ (e.g. ktaab 7awl élmawDuu3).

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