Fusha to Shami 33: taba3

Apart from the iDaafe the main way of expressing possession is the particle تبع taba3 (or تع ta3), the equivalent of Egyptian bita3. This appears between the noun and its possessor. As with the iDaafe it can express various different types of relationship.

حط الستاتوس تبع الواتس بكومنت
7étt lé-status taba3 élwat@s bkooment
Put [your] Whatsapp status in a comment

اللون تبع جراباتك اللي انت لابسو حاليا هو لون قلبك
élloon taba3 jraabaatak élli inte laabso 7aaliyyan huwwe loon 2albak
The colour of the socks you’re wearing now is the colour of your heart

بيقولك راح ناس تبع جمعيات خيرية يشوفو اللاجئين
bi2éllak raa7 naas taba3 jam3iyyaat kheeriyye yshuufu llaaji2iin…
They say that people from charity organisations went to see the refugees…

What triggers use of تبع as opposed to the iDaafe is not always clear. It’s common with compounds and with loanwords (like the first example here). But it is also often used in contexts where the iDaafe would also be fine.

For some speakers تبع agrees with the possessed noun. In Syrian this is optional, but in Palestinian for example it is compulsory. The feminine is تبعت taba3et. The plural has various different forms, including تبعون tab3uun and تبعوت tab3uut.

Taba3 differs from the iDaafe in that it can be used independently, providing the only easy way to translate expressions like ‘Ahmad’s’  or ‘mine’ where the possessed noun is dropped. As with its normal use, taba3 here can express all sorts of relationships:

كسرت تبعتو
kassar@t taba3to
I broke his [one]

بدكن لايف متل تبع امبارح
béddkon laayv mét@l taba3 @mbaare7?
You want a Live (video) like yesterday’s?

بس تبع اللون الاخضر وبنات العمارة شغلة
bass taba3 élloon él2akhDar, wbanaat él3emaara shéghle
Only the green one, [because] the architecture girls are something else [in response to a question about which university canteen students prefer]

طلع تبع الضابط
Téle3 taba3 éDDaabeT
It turned out to belong to the officer/be the officer’s!

وينهم تبعون الإنجلش؟
weenhom tab3uun élinglish?
Where are the English crew?

You have to be careful with this usage, however, because تبع is also a euphemism for genitalia.


  1. Could you put an example sentence for when تبع is used as a euphemism for genitalia? I really don’t want to get this one confused…

    1. I don’t think you need to worry too much – just bear it in mind in contexts where it might cause people to snigger.

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