The صار post

Saar-ySiir is another one of those very, very common verbs that appear all the time but that are rarely treated in detail. I said ages ago I was going to write a post about صار, and now seems like a good time to put it out. So here goes!


One of the core meanings of صار is ‘to happen’. Although حصل and the fuSHa حدث (pronounced 7adas) are also occasionally used, صار is by far the most common verb to appear with this meaning:

شو صار؟
shu Saar?
what happened?

The participle has resultative meaning:

شو صاير؟
shu Saayer?
what’s happened?

بدك تفهم شو اللي صاير بسوريا؟
béddak téfham shu 2élli Saayer bsuurya?
do you want to understand what’s happened in Syria?

The expression ‘it happens’, where ‘it’ refers to a situation or an occurrence, is translated with the feminine:

هي هيك بتصير
hiyye heek bétSiir
it happens like that, that’s how it happens

بتصير بحسن العائلات
bétSiir b2a7san él3aa2elaat
it happens to the best of us [= in the best of families]

For ‘happen to’, both -la- and 3ala are used:

شو صارلك؟
shu Saarlak?
what’s happened to you?

خايف يصير عليه شي
khaayef ySiir 3alee shi
I’m scared that something will happen to him

مع also occurs in a sense similar to the one we see in طلع مع and sometimes can be translated with ‘to’:

شو صار معك؟
shu Saar ma3ak?
 so what happened [with you/to you]?

صار معي كذا مرة
Saar ma3i keza marra
 it’s happened to me (I’ve seen it happen, etc) several times


صار is also the most common verb used in the meaning of ‘become’.

قال ما تضحك على حدا احسن ما تصير متلو ‪
2aal maa téD7ak 3ala 7ada a7san ma tSiir métlo
he said don’t laugh at anyone, in case you end up like them [= become like them]

مبارح حلمت انو شجر التوت صار كتير عالي
mbaare7 7alamt énno shajar éttuut Saar @ktiir 3aali
yesterday I dreamt that the berry tree’d become really tall

Of course Arabic has a huge class of verbs which include the meaning ‘become’ or ‘get’ (مرض ‘become ill’, طول ‘become long(er)’, etc etc), which are very common and are often a more idiomatic choice than صار. But صار makes up for this by being used in lots of contexts where in English ‘become’ would be unidiomatic but where a change of state is implied:

وين صرت؟
ween Sér@t?
where’ve you got to? where are you?

صار عمرا تلت سنين اليوم
Saar 3émra tlét @sniin élyoom
she turned three today [= her age became]

صارت احسن الحمد لله
Saaret a7san él7amdulilla
she’s better [now], thank God

قديش صارت الساعة؟
2addeesh Saaret éssaa3a?
what time is it?

صار سمعت عن كذا حالة من السوريين يلي حصلوا عالجنسية التركية
Saar @smé3@t 3an keza 7aale mn éssuuriyyiin yalli 7aSalu 3a jjinsiyye ttérkiyye
I’ve heard of a few cases now of Syrians who’ve managed to get Turkish citizenship

It very commonly appears with verbs (usually subjunctive) expressing this same change of state. Depending on context it might be nicely translated as ‘these days’:

صار كلو بدو يتجوز
Saar kéllo béddo yétjawwaz
(nowadays, all of a sudden, these days etc) everyone wants to get married

صار عم يبكي كتير بالليل
Saar 3am yébki ktiir billeel
(nowadays) he’s crying a lot at night

صار الواحد اذا بدو يسلم ع ابوه يعمل فيديو ويشهر حاله ع الفيسبوك
 Saar élwaa7ed iza béddo ysallem 3ala abuu ya3mel fiidyo w yshahher 7aalo 3alfeesbuuk
– nowadays when people [=one] are gonna say hi to their dad they make a video (of it) and make themselves famous on Facebook

In some cases though it expresses a much more sudden change, in which case it is often best translated as ‘begin’ or ‘start’:

محشش مات أبو وهو بالعزا رن تلفونو وبعد ماخلص حكي صار يبكي
m7ashshesh maat abuu, bél3aza rann telefoono w ba3@d ma khallaS 7aki Saar yébki
once there was a stoner whose dad died. At the wake his phone rang and after he finished talking he started crying

صار سنو يوجعو
Saar sénno yuuja3o
his tooth started to hurt

There is a related usage with participles which have resultative meaning:

كام مرة صرت قايللك؟
kam marra Sér@t 2aayéllak?!
how many times have I told you?!

هلق صرت دافع تلت مرات
halla2 sér@t daafe3 tlét marraat
now I’ve paid three times

صرلي etc

Saar is also used with -la- pronouns in the sense of ‘have been Xing’, etc (literally ‘it has become X time to me that…). This is a variant of an equivalent construction with الـ (e.g. الي سنتين هون ‘I’ve been two years’). Normally the r assimilates to l.

قديش صرلك هون؟
2addeesh Sallak hoon?
how long have you been here?

صرلي سنة ماني شايفو؟
Salli séne maani shaayfo
It’s been a year since I last saw him, I haven’t seen him in a year

صرلي ساعة عم دقلو بس ما عم يرد
Salli saa3a 3am dé22éllo bass maa 3am yrédd
 I’ve been ringing him (repeatedly) for an hour but he’s not answering

In the above examples (which show off the different kinds of sentences that can be combined with Salli) the structure is Salli [X amount of time] + a verbal or nominal sentence. Rather than a noun expressing duration, you can also use a similar structure with من:

صرلي بالشركة من 2003
Salli bishshérke mn élalfeen w@tlaate
I’ve been at the company since 2003

This example also shows the occasional reordering of the constituent parts of the sentence, though the Salli + time ordering is much more common.

Sometimes it may lend itself to being translated as something like ‘it’s been (X amount of time) since’ or something along these lines depending on the stress of the sentence:

قديش صرلك؟
2addeesh Sallak?
how long’s it been? [since something]

قديش صرلك ما اكلت
2addeesh Sallak maa 2akal@t?

how long has it been since you last ate?

بصير biSiir

This means ‘it is permissible (right, etc)’ or ‘it is possible’. It can be combined with a subjunctive verb:

ما بصير تحكي هيك قدام الضيوف
maa biSiir té7ki heek 2éddaam léDyuuf
it’s not right for you to talk like that in front of the guests

بصير الواحد يزعل على رفيقو؟
biSiir élwaa7ed yéz3al 3ala rfii2o?
is it allowed for someone to be upset for his friend?

It can also be used with noun subjects:

التنتين بصيرو
étténteen biSiiru
both [sentences, ideas] work

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