تاني taani

taani is one of the first words you’re introduced to in a colloquial course, and I think is pretty much omnipresent in dialects in the meaning ‘other’ alongside its original meaning ‘second’. It often appears with indefinites in the meaning ‘else’:

مو محتاج كون واحد تاني وانا معها ولا محتاج حدا تاني وهي معي
muu mé7taaj kuun waa7ed taani w-2ana ma3a wala mé7taaj 7ada taani w-hiyye ma3i
I don’t have to be someone else when I’m with her and I don’t need anyone else when she’s with me

اني زعلان منك شي وانا ما بحبك شي تاني تماما
2énni za3laan ménnek shi w2énni maa b7ébbek shi taani tamaaman
Me being upset with you is one thing, me not loving you is something else entirely

ليش عندك حل تاني يعني؟
leesh 3éndak 7all taani ya3ni?
Why, do you have another solution

ما ضروري إذا الطرف التاني ساكت يكون هو مبسوط بكلامك
maa Daruuri iza TTaraf éttaani saaket ykuun huwwe mabsuuT bkalaamak
Just because [= it’s not necessary that…] the other person [= side] is quiet doesn’t mean he’s happy with what you said [= your speech]

It is very common as a definite stand-alone adjective:

مين فينا رح يركد ويهرب قبل التاني؟
miin fiina ra7 yérgod wyéhrob 2abl éttaani?
Which of us will run away [= run and run away] first [before the other one]?

بدي التاني
béddi ttaani
I want the other one

غير gheer

You will probably be familiar with gheer from fuSHa. Perhaps its most common fuSHa usage, as an equivalent to the English prefixes ‘non-‘, ‘un-‘ etc, also crops up in 3aamiyye:

انو يعيشو طول عمرون غير مؤمنين
énno y3iishu Tool 3émron gheer mu2miniin
That they live their whole lives as unbelievers

In colloquial, however, it is far more common. It replaces الا as the most common way of saying ‘except, other than’ etc. In this function it’s pretty free to appear in front of almost anything, including prepositions (unlike in fuSHa):

ما بخاف غير من ربي
maa bkhaaf gheer mén rabbi
I’m not afraid of anyone but God!

ما بيتقاوى غير ع المعترين
maa byét2aawa gheer 3a lém3attariin
He can only overpower pitiable sorts [= he doesn’t overpower… except]

 As in fuSHa with 2illa the nicest English translation of combinations of a negative plus gheer is ‘only’ or some similar expression:

ما بتشوفون غير لما تحتاجون
maa bétshuufon gheer lamma té7taajon
You only see them when you need them [= you don’t… except when…]

مالي غيرك
maali gheerak
You’re all I’ve got [= I haven’t got except you]

It also frequently appears with pronoun endings or a following noun. The exact translation of this varies based on context, of course. غيري or sometimes حدا غيري is usually the most idiomatic way of translating ‘someone else’ (i.e. ‘someone other than me’:

يا سيدي لو واحد غيرو لرجعو بلا فكاكو
yaa siidi law waa7ed gheero la-rajj3o bala fkaako
Mate, if it was anyone else [someone other than him] I’d give it back without a ransom

حبيبي ما بحب غيري
7abiibi maa bi7ébb gheeri
My love doesn’t love anyone else/loves no-one but me

Appearing with an indefinite noun in iDaafe, it produces the meaning ‘another X’. This usage is not found in fuSHa (where ghayr marra actually means ‘several times’, not ‘a different time’):

لغير مرة ان شاء الله
lagheer marra @nshaLLa
[We’ll come round] another time, hopefully

حشيشنا غير شكل
7ashiishna gheer shek@l
Our weed is something else [= another shape/form]!

بتمنى لو في غير حل
bétmanna law fii gheer 7all
I wish there was another solution

It can also appear on its own meaning ‘different’/’something else’:

صباحنا غير
Sabaa7na gheer
Our morning is different/something else

كمان kamaan

kamaan is typically introduced to learners as meaning ‘as well’ or ‘also’, which is certainly one of its most common meanings. In certain contexts, however, it is most nicely translated as ‘else’:

في شي كمان؟
fii shi kamaan?
is there anything else?

كمان مرة
kamaan marra
again, once more

حط كمان
7étt kamaan
give me some more

This one is quite straightforward. ‘Anymore’ (in one of its senses anyway) expresses that there has been a change from something happening to it no longer happening: I don’t go there anymore.

ما عاد maa3aad مابقى maaba2a

There are two direct equivalents to ‘anymore’/’no longer’, both of them derived from verbs: ما بقى maa ba2a and ما عاد maa 3aad (this one is used in a fuSHa-y form in MSA too). Although they look pretty straightforwardly like negated past tense verbs, they don’t behave much like verbs – for a start, they’re usually invariable, not conjugating for person or number or gender:

ما عاد فيني اتحمل
maa 3aad fiini ét7ammal
I can’t cope anymore/any longer

ما عاد اعرف مثل دور المجامله
maa3aad a3ref massel door lémjaamle
I can’t flatter people anymore [= I no longer know how to act the role of flatterer]

مابقى اعرف شو بدي احكي
maaba2a a3ref shu béddi é7ki
I don’t know what to say anymore/I no longer know what to say

There are exceptions to this, though. Sometimes they do take normal verbal suffixes. Cowell suggests it’s particularly common for this to happen in the third person feminine singular, as in this example:

بحس انو اوجاعي ما عادت تنحمل
b7éss énno 2awjaa3i maa 3aadet tén7amel
I feel that my pain [= pains] is no longer bearable

Despite looking like pasts, they can also appear with negative imperatives:

ما بقى تحكي معي
maaba2a té7ki ma3i
never talk to me again/don’t talk to me anymore

It can also be used in sentences like the following where the reference is to the future. Although English ‘anymore’ can no longer be used here, if my Sunday School acquaintance with Biblical English is anything to go by it used to be possible to, and the meaning is fundamentally very similar even if we have to use a different English phrasing:

معقول ما عاد نرجع؟
ma32uul maa 3aad nérja3?
Can it be true that we’ll never go back [= we’ll not return anymore?]

بطل baTTal

This one literally means ‘stop’ or ‘stop being’. It can be used with either a subjunctive verb or with a noun/adjective, and sometimes can be translated nicely with ‘anymore’:

بطلنا نكيف
baTTalna nkayyef
We’re not having fun anymore [= we’ve stopped having fun]

طيب… رح يصنعو أدوية ويوزعوها ع الجوعانين يسفوها وتسد نفسهن ويبطلو جوعانين؟Tayyib… ra7 yiS@n3u ad@wye w ywazz3uwwa 3a ljoo3aaniin ysiffuwwa w tsidd nafson w ybaTTlu joo3aaniin?
OK… they’re going to produce medicines and hand them out to the starving that they can down and they’ll lose their appetites and won’t be hungry anymore?

Thanks to Aaron for reminding me of this one!

صار Saar

Another less explicit option that you often have is to use صار Saar which we’ve previously written about here and which often expresses a change of state in much the same way that ‘anymore’ does. See that post for more examples, but here’s one:

الواحد صار ما الو خاطر يبتسم من كتر ما قلبو عم يحترق
élwaa7ed Saar maa 2élo khaaTer yébtésem mén két@r ma 2albo 3am yé7tére2
You don’t [= one doesn’t] feel like smiling anymore because of how bad you feel inside [= from how much his heart is burning]

I somehow managed to forget about حالs when writing this series, which considering how many interminable hours you have to spend learning to identify them when studying fuSHa (and how many ‘underline the 7aal‘ exercises I must have done) is quite some feat. To be fair to both me (for forgetting) and your teachers (for harping on about it for so long), 7aals are so omnipresent and so useful in both speech and writing that they’re almost hiding in plain sight. Hopefully this post will clarify some of the ~mysteries~ of the 7aal in spoken Levantine.

Unmarked 7aal

The main difference between the 7aal in fuSHa and its equivalent in 3aammiyye is that, like the related construction tamyiiz, the total disappearance of case marking from the spoken language means there is no accusative ending or other suffix marking the vast majority of 7aals in colloquial (although the old waaw of 7aal often does appear, for which see below).

The exact semantics of 7aals are actually a bit tricky to pin down or describe pithily, and I’m mainly preceding on the assumption you’re familiar with the construction from fuSHa to save me the trouble of doing a decent summary. Usually they’re adverbs of manner, which is to say that a 7aal construction (whether a verb, adjective, noun or participle) expresses an action or state taking place at the same time as the main verb and which gives us more detail about the action. 7aals usually answer, more or less, the question ‘how’.

A lot of these examples overlap with what we discussed in the tamyiiz post, possibly because these phenomena aren’t that distinct to start with and possibly because I’m just not very good at distinguishing them, but as long as you can do them both I don’t think it’s particularly important to be able to separate them analytically.

Verbs and participles generally must agree with the subject, just like elsewhere:

اجو من بعيد عم يركضو حاملين كيسا
éju mén ba3iid 3am yér@gDu 7aamliin kiisa
They came from afar, running, carrying her bag

راح راكب رجع ماشي
raa7 raakeb réje3 maashi
He went riding, he came back walking

جيت مبكر اليوم
jiit @mbakker élyoom
You’ve come early today

قعدت قريبة مني
2é3det 2ariibe ménni
She sat down near to me

واو الحال waaw él7aal 

Probably slightly more common than unmarked 7aals are 7aals formed with the conjunction w- ‘and’. This is always followed directly by a pronoun or a noun, and the sentence always has to be present in structure. If the subject of the 7aal clause is the same as that in the main clause, an appropriate pronoun must be used:

كأنها ميتة وهي عم تمشي بالشوارع
ka2énna mayyte w hiyye 3am témshi béshshawaare3
It’s as if she’s died while walking around in the street[s]

It can also have a different subject, in which case it is almost inevitably translated with ‘when’:

المكياج بدو ساعتين والكهربا قاطعة
élmékyaaj béddo saa3teen w élkahraba 2aaT3a
Makeup takes two hours when the power’s out [= cut]

Sometimes this weird English ‘with’ is a better translation as in the second 7aal here:

كنا نروح عالمدرسة مشي والشتي نازلة ونرجع وجواربنا مي ومبسوطين
kénna @nruu7 3a lmadrase mashi w éshshéte naazle w nérja3 w jawaarébna moyy w mabsuuTiin
We used to go to school on foot during the winter [= when winter had come down] and come back with our socks [soaked with] water, happy

Although the following sentence keeps to our rule by being present in structure, it shows how the use of resultative participles (which express a present state which is the result of an action in the past) can give a sort-of past meaning:

رجع وهو فاتح محاماة
réje3 w huwwe faate7 mu7aamaah
He came back having opened a lawyer’s practice

Alongside this general waaw 7aal there is another, much more specific kind of waaw which is less common and has freer syntax whilst looking at first glance fairly similar. This one can be followed by a sentence in any tense, and means ‘when’ in a way that suggests incompatibility between the action described by the main verb and the action described in the 7aal-like clause. I discussed this in the conjunctions post, but here’s the example sentence given there just for contrast:

كيف بدي ادفع عنك وراتبي خلص من يومين؟
kiif béddi édfa3 3annak w-raatbi khéleS mén yoomeen?
 how am I supposed to pay for you when I used up my salary [= my salary finished] two days ago?

This typically appears in a rhetorical question where the answer is expected to be in the negative (‘you can’t’ here). A similar construction like رجع من برطانيا وراتبو خلص where there is no rhetorical meaning of this kind is wrong – you’d need a participle here (وراتبو خالص).


I said above that case marking was not used in 7aals in spoken Levantine Arabic, and that is mainly true. There are however a huge number of adverbs (or rather a very productive adverb-forming suffix -an) which look like fuSHa 7aals and would probably be interpreted as one in fuSHa because of their function and accusative ending. This is particularly common with, but not exclusive to, nisbe endings.


No direct equivalent to ‘already’ exists in Arabic, which is probably why a growing number of speakers familiar with English (and even some who aren’t!) use the borrowed form orredi (or older speakers in Lebanon deeja). This is not yet widespread enough or unstigmatised enough to recommend using, though, so for the moment let’s have a look at some of the partial equivalents you might want to familiarise yourself with instead. Each of these can be used in some of the circumstances ‘already’ can be used in.

من هلق mén halla2 

Literally ‘from now’. Often used to mean ‘from now on’, this is also used to translate a specific, present sense of ‘already’ which expresses surprise at or the unlikeliness of what you’re discussing. This is perhaps not a particularly helpful description, so here’s a couple of examples:

من هلق جعت وعطشت وبلشت نق, عن جد الصيام متعب كتير
mén halla2 jé3@t w 3aTash@t w ballash@t né22, 3anjadd éSSiyaam mét3ib @ktiir
I’m already hungry and thirsty [= got hungry and thirsty] and [I’ve already] started complaining, fasting really is very tiring!

 خلص المسلسل, مين راح يشتاق؟ انا من هلق اشتقت
khéleS élmusalsal, miin ra7 yéshtaa2? ana mén halla2 @shta2@t
The series is over – who’s going to miss it? I miss it already 

The meaning of ‘already’ comes pretty straightforwardly from its literal meaning of ‘from now’, and like the translations of ‘just’ we discussed last time prevents it from being used in non-present contexts.

سبق و saba2 w

One option quite commonly used in Syrian is the fuSHa-esque (but Shami-pronounced) saba2 w-. This literally means something like ‘it previously happened that’, and so can be used in circumstances where ‘already’ can be replaced with ‘previously’ or ‘formerly’:

في داعي روح شخصيا علما انو انا سبق ورحت مرتين واخدو بصمات الاصابع؟
fii daa3i ruu7 shakhSiyyan 3ilman énno ana saba2 w ré7@t marrteen w akhadu baSamaat él2aSaabe3?
Do I need to go in person, given that I’ve already been twice and they’ve taken my fingerprints?

سبق وقلتلك انو كتير صعب قراءة الفيديو بهادا اللون
saba2 w 2éltéllak énno ktiir Sa3b qiraa2t élviidyo bhaada lloon
I’ve already told you (I told you before) that it’s very difficult to read the video in this colour

صرت + resultative participle

An active participle with resultative meaning (e.g. كاتب  ‘having written’) can sometimes be used in conjunction with the verb صار ‘to become’ with a meaning similar to a certain use of ‘already’. It is much less common than ‘already’ in English, however, at least in Syrian – although it seems to be used more in Palestinian. It usually gives a connotation of weariness or frequency, comes along with a number (usually of times) and from personal experience it occurs most frequently by a long way with قال (but perhaps people have to repeat themselves at me more than the average person):

انا كم مرة صرت قايتلك ومفهمتك هي الحركات الولدنة بلاها
ana kam marra Sér@t 2aayéltak w @mfahhémtak hayy 7arakaat élwaldane balaaha!
How many times have I told you – stop it with this childish nonsense [= movements of childishness, without them!]

صرت شايف نفس الصورة شي عشر مرات
sér@t shaayef nafs éSSuura shi 3ashar marraat
I’ve seen the same photo about ten times already…

من الاصل, بالاصل bil2aS@l, mn él2aS@l

This one literally means something like ‘to start with’, but in some specific contexts it can translate ‘already’:

لا يلي بالاصل حلو ومو عامل تجميل بيبقا حلو
la2 yalli bil2aS@l 7élu w muu 3aamel tajmiil byéb2a 7élu
No, the ones who are already pretty [= pretty to start with] without getting surgery are still pretty

In English ‘just’ can be used to indicate something happened very recently (‘just now’). In Arabic the idiomatic equivalent is by using ‘now’ with the simple past. The most neutral dialect word for ‘now’ is halla2 :

هلق فقت
halla2 fé2@t
I’ve just (now) woken up

انا هلق خلصت جلي
ana halla2 khallaS@t jaly
I’ve just finished washing up [jaly is the maSdar of jala yejli ‘wash up’]

In the present, ‘just about to…’ has a similar effect but in reverse: it expresses that the action is in the very near future. هلق works here too, usually with béddi (which itself often expresses a ‘near future’):

انا هلأ بدي اخلص بكالوريا
ana halla2 béddi khalleS bakoloorya
I’m just about to finish undergrad

You can push this construction into the past with kaan, meaning ‘was just about to…’, as in this common barefaced lie:

كنت هلق بدي دقلك
ként halla2 béddi dé22éllak
I was just (now) about to call you [= tap to you]

Note however that these only work when the reference is approximately to the current time. It’s possible in English to say ‘in those days I was just about to start school’ or ‘at the end of the month I’ll be just about to finish my job’. Intuitively, using halla2 this way in Arabic is incorrect. Our only possibility then is with béddi or ra7, which means we can’t distinguish ‘I was just about to start school’ and ‘I was going to start school’ in this context.

Expressions of desire:

بدي روح
béddi ruu7
I want to go

بدي ياك تروح معي
béddi yaak @truu7 ma3i
I want you to go with me

حابب امشي
7aabeb émshi
I’d like to leave

يا ريت تعرفلي وقت الموعد
yaa reet ta3réf-li wa2t él-moo3ed
I’d really like you to find out the time of the appointment for me

Fear, expectation and anticipation:

خايف تروح عليي الفرصة
khaayef @truu7 3aleyyi élférSa
I’m scared I’ll miss/to miss the opportunity [= that the opportunity will go on me]

كان متوقع يصير كلشي الا هاللحظة
kaan métwaqqe3 ySiir kéll shi élla hal-la7Za
He had anticipated anything but this [expected everything to happen except this moment]

اذا دخلت ع جهنم مين اول حدا بتتوقع تشوفو؟
iza dakhal@t 3a jahannam miin 2awwal 7ada btétwaqqa3 @tshuufo?
If you end up going to [= enter] Hell, who’s the first person you expect to see [there]?

انا ماني مصدق ايمت يجي يوم وارجع على سوريا
ana maani msadde2 eemat yéji yoom w-érja3 3ala suurya
I can’t wait for the day to come when I go back to Syria [= I don’t believe when will come the day and I go back…]

Ability and inability:

ماني قدران نام تعبان مابعرف شبني
maani 2édraan naam ta3baan maa ba3ref shébani
I can’t sleep, I’m worn out, I don’t know what’s wrong with me

معي وقت اتمشى شوي
ma3i wa2@t étmashsha shweyy
I’ve got time to walk around for a bit

ما عم اعرف افتح الباب
maa 3am a3ref éfta7 élbaab
I can’t work out [I’m not knowing] how to open the door

Compulsion, necessity:

لازم تنساني
laazem ténsaani
you have to forget me

اضتريت انو ارجع ع البيت
@DTarreet énno érja3 3albeet 
I was forced to go back home

جبرني روح جبلو الكتب
jabarni ruu7 jéblo élkétob
He forced me to go and get him the books

Commands, permission etc:

قالتلي انسى عنك
2aalétli énsa 3annek
She told me to forget about you

شو يلي بيمنعك تكون من أوائل الدفعة تبعتك
shuu yalli byémna3ak @tkuun mén 2awaa2el éddéf3a tab3etak?
What’s stopping you from being one of the top students in the class?

ما بسمحلك تحكيلي على شهري الجميل اللي بحبو
maa bésma7lak té7kiili 3ala shahri ljamiil élli b7ébbo
I won’t let you talk [that way] about my beautiful month that I love so much!

شو هو هالموضوع الخطير اللي مخليك تأجل الصلاة؟
shuu huwwe halmawDuu3 élkhaTer élli mhalliik @t2ajjel éSSalaat?
What is it that’s so urgent it made you delay your prayers? [= this urgent issue that’s made you…]

Starting and stopping:

بلش يضيق خلقي من تمثيلك
ballash ydii2 khél2i mén tamsiilek
Your acting has started getting on my nerves [my temper started to narrow]

ما عاد اعرف مثل دور المجامله
maa3aad a3ref massel door lémjaamle
I can’t flatter people anymore [= I no longer know how to act the role of flatterer]

حاج تكشر
7aaj @tkashsher
Stop frowning

نص شباب الحارة تابت وقتها وبطلت تدخن من الخوف
néSS shabaab él7aara taabet wa2ta w baTTalet tdakhkhen mn élkhoof
Half the kids of the neighbourhood repented that moment and stopped smoking out of fear

Expressions of opinion about (e.g.) activities:

بحب اتماشى بالشوارع
b7ébb étmaasha bishshawaare3
I like walking around in the streets

ما بحب حدا يضحك علي
maa b7ébb 7ada yéD7ak 3aleyyi
I don’t like anyone taking advantage of me

With verbs of motion, expressing purpose

The subjunctive often appears after certain verbs – particularly verbs of motion – to express purpose. A similar construction exists in fuSHa with the jussive.

بدي روح شوف الدكتور
béddi ruu7 shuuf éddoktuur
I want to go and see/to see the doctor

انا فايت نام
ana faayet naam
I’m going to bed [= going in to sleep]

انا جايه قللك شغلة
ana jaaye 2él-lak shéghle
I’ve come to tell you something

Purpose more broadly

More broadly, it is triggered by the various conjunctions expressing purpose:

منعني من الروحة ع بيروت مشان ما شوفك
mana3ni mén érroo7a 3a beeruut méshaan maa shuufak
he forbade me/stopped me from going to Beirut so I wouldn’t/couldn’t see you

جاي عبالي اركض بهالشوارع ل دوّر عليك
jaay 3abaali érkoD bi-hash-shawaare3 la-dawwer 3aleek
I feel like running in the streets to look for you

Conjunctions with -ma

It is also used very commonly with expressions combining a preposition with ma and meaning for example ‘without’, ‘instead of’, ‘before’, ‘after’, ‘until’ etc (the equivalent of fuSHa من دون أن and other expressions). For more of these see the conjunctions section:

بلا ما يفوت ع البيت
bala ma yfuut 3a-lbeet
without coming inside

بعد ما ينام
ba3@d ma ynaam
after he goes to sleep

In the past

It is used with كان to form a past habitual, as in fuSHa:

كان يروح كل يوم
kaan yruu7 kéll yoom
he used to go every day

In a possibly related usage, it commonly appears in past narratives (without kaan) expressing repeated action. In this sentence we could insert Saar but not kaan:

قعدت ورا الشوفر, كل شوي تمد ايدا وتعطيه حبة فستق
2é3det wara shshoofeer, kéll @shweyy tmédd iida w ta3Tii 7abbet fésto2
She sat behind the driver – every little while, she stretched out her hand and gave him a peanut

Wishes and prayers, suggestions

It is used without any triggering word commonly in prayers (‘may/let X happen’). This is the only construction in colloquial (other than the negative imperative) which is normally negated by laa (as in MSA) rather than maa:[6]

يعطيك العافية
ya3Tiik él3aafye
[God] give you health

لا تكون راجع لهون
laa tkuun raaje3 lahoon
(I hope) you’re not coming back here

A relatively common use related to this which is not easy to directly translate is approximately similar to the biblical English ‘let him’ (not in the sense of ‘allow’ but as a kind of third person imperative) suggesting a course of action:

اذا ضاع منو المفتاح يفوت من الباب التاني
iza Daa3 ménno lméftaa7 yfuut mn élbaab éttaani
If he’s lost the key, he can [= let him] get in through the other door

انا هيك اللي عاجبو عاجبو واللي ما عاجبو ينساني
ana heek. élli 3aajbo 3aajbo wélli muu 3aajbo yénsaani
this is how I am – those who it pleases it pleases and those who it doesn’t please should forget me


This form is also used for suggestions for first-person action similar to English ‘shall’:

سمعك الغنية؟
samm3ak élghénniyye?
shall I play you the song?

بلش من اول وجديد؟
ballesh mén awwal w @jdiid?
Shall I start again from the beginning [= from first and new]?

In Lebanese however the b- form is used for suggestions where the question does not have a yes or no answer but has a question word or presents answers, as in the second example above (where Lebanese speakers would say شو بعملك  shu ba3mél-lak).

In Pal/Jor, the subjunctive form is also used in suggestions to another person. In Syr/Leb, the b-present is used here:

تشرب شاي؟ tishrab shaay? – (would you like to) drink some tea?

Since I promised some better content, here is some Top Quality breakup music from Syria’s biggest troll (or just worst musician?) Firas Hamzawi, described by Sawt Dimashq as ‘a new kind of shabbii7 and a new model of musical poor quality‘. The song – la-Tiizi ‘screw it’ (literally ‘to my arse’) – is directed at Hamzawi’s ex, who I’m sure was brought to tears by his touching lyrical style.

ما بدي ياكي معي
maa baddi yaaki ma3i
I don’t want you with me

baddi – Mr Hamzawi is from the Syrian coast (saa7el) where they use baddi instead of béddi~biddi.

يلا من راسي طلاعي
yaLLa mén raasi Tlaa3i
Come on, get out of my face

طلاع من راسي  – go away, get out of my face (apparently very Syrian)

ما عاد رح فكر فيكي
maa 3aad ra7 fakker fiiki
I’m not going to think about you anymore

ما عاد – no longer

ما عاد رح فكر فيكي
maa 3aad ra7 fakker fiiki
I’m not going to think about you anymore

لطيزي لطيزي لا ترجعي
laTiizi laTiizi laTiizi laa térja3i
Screw it, screw it, don’t come back

لطيزي – there are a few variants on this which for politeness’s sake I won’t mention, but this is literally ‘to my arse’ and in terms of actual meaning is approximately equivalent to ‘screw it’, ‘forget it’

عطيتك فرصة استينيتك
3aTeetek férSa stanneetek
I gave you an opportunity, I’ve waited for you

من لما تركتي بيتي
mén lamma tarakti beeti
Since you left my house

من لما – literally ‘from when’, used for ‘since’

عم ادعيلك يا ريتك
3am éd3iilek yaa reetek
I’m praying for you, I hope that you

بنارك انتي تولعي
bnaarek énti twalle3i
Burn up in your own fires

عم ادعيلك يا ريتك تولعي بنارك – this is all one sentence. yaa reetek (‘I wish you’d…’) triggers the subjunctive of twalle3i.

لطيزي لطيزي لا ترجعي
laTiizi laTiizi laTiizi laa térja3i
Screw it, screw it, don’t come back

عملتلك احلى اغاني
3méltéllek a7la aghaani
I made great songs for you

احلى اغاني – ‘the finest songs’. We’ve seen this a7la before – which is often idiomatically translated not with a superlative but with ‘really good’, or something.

عن جرحي وعن احزاني
3an jér7i w 3an a7zaani
About my pain and my sadnesses

وما حسيتي بحناني
w maa 7asseeti b7anaani
You didn’t feel my softness

ولا صوتي عم تسمعي
wala Sooti 3am tésma3i
Nor are you hearing what I’m saying

ولا here coordinates with ما – ‘you’ve neither… nor have you’.

لطيزي لطيزي لطيزي لا ترجعي
laTiizi laTiizi laTiizi laa térja3i
Screw it, screw it, don’t come back

ولك حلي عني حلي
wlek 7élli 3anni 7élli
Go away, go away

7éll 3an – go away from X, get out of X’s face

بسرعة من قلبي فلي
bsér3a mén 2albi falli
Get out of my heart, and quickly

فل – fall/yfall is ‘to leave’. It’s not used in Damascene but it does exist in Lebanese and the coastal areas

ما بدي ياكي تضلي
maa béddi yaaki @tDélli
I don’t want you to stay

لو جيتي عم تركعي
law jiiti 3am térka3i
Even if you kneel down to me

لو جيتي – this is the law of ‘even if’

ركع يركع – to prostrate yourself – what you do in prayer

لطيزي لطيزي لطيزي لا ترجعي
laTiizi laTiizi laTiizi laa térja3i
Screw it, screw it, don’t come back

وحياتك عقلك صغير
w@7yaaték 3a2lek @zghiir
Honestly, your mind is small

وحياتك – the w- of oaths

ما جبلك الا التعكير
maa jablak élla tta3kiir
It’s brought you nothing but trouble

ما جبلك الا – ‘it’s only brought you’

حواليي بنات كتير
7awaaleyyi banaat @ktiir
There are girls all around me

وانتي ما عاد تنفعي
wénti maa 3aad ténfa3i
And you’re no use anymore

ما عاد triggering subjunctive here

لطيزي لطيزي لطيزي لا ترجعي
laTiizi laTiizi laTiizi laa térja3i
Screw it, screw it, don’t come back

كتار اللي بدون يحكولي
ktaar élli béddon yé7kuuli
There are lots who want to talk to me

كتار – ktaar (plural of ktiir) is actually relatively unusual because ktiir is generally invariable. This is an inverted structure (common in 3aammiyye) where the adjective is placed before the noun in a nominal sentence: many [are] those who want to talk to me

وبدون نظرة من عيوني
w béddon naZra mén 3ayuuni
Who want to get a look from me

Literally ‘they want a glance/look from my eyes’

دموعك ما بهموني
@dmuu3ek maa bihémmuuni
Your tears don’t bother me

ما بهموني – are not important to, do not interest me

وعمري ما بقلك تعي
w3émri maa b2éllek ta3i
I’ll never tell you to come back

عمري ما – I’ll never (‘my life I won’t…’) – a very common structure

تعي – an alternative to تعالي the imperative of ‘to come’.

لطيزي لطيزي لطيزي لا ترجعي
laTiizi laTiizi laTiizi laa térja3i
Screw it, screw it, don’t come back


Even in fuSHa ما is one of those tricky multifunctional particles that can be used in a large number of different ways – relatively (ما الموصولة), negatively (ما النافية), interrogatively (ما الاستفهامية), surprisingly (ما التعجبية) or even pointlessly (ما الزائدة). In (Levantine) 3aammiye most of these uses have been supplanted. As elsewhere, however, what seems like a standard case of ‘whoa man amiye has no grammar, it’s so much easier than fuSHa’ is unfortunately just a matter of 3aamiyye having a different, but also broad, set of uses for ما. We’ve covered most of its uses elsewhere, so this is more of an index than anything, but I hope it will be helpful.

ما of negation

This one is pronounced maa (with a long aa), and is the only one pronounced as such – the others are all short. As you probably know by now, ما is the most common 3aammiyye negator for verbs and verb-like expressions, as well as in a few strange cases where مو or مش would seem more likely (ما هيك maa heek ‘isn’t it?’ for example). For some speakers ما؟ maa? is their general tag question, without anything else.

In some regional dialects it is used as a general negator for nouns as well.

In Southern Levantine (and regionally in Syria + Lebanon) this maa alternates with the prefix-suffix combination (circumflex in linguistics jargon) ma-sh (with a short vowel) and in some areas with simple -sh: ما بقدرش maba2darsh.

This maa is probably also the source (combined with انو énno) of the Syrian and Lebanese negative ‘to be’: maani, maanak, maanek, maano, maana, maanna, maankon, maanon in Syria (or maali, maalak etc) and manni, mannak, mannek, mannu, manna, manna, mannkon, mannon in Lebanon.

I don’t know how much more information on this maa is needed, but for a couple of examples see here and here, as well as basically any video transcription we’ve ever done.

Connecting ما (independent)

This independent ma (short vowel) was discussed already in the conjunction post but we’ll

‘On its own, ma is used to link together two sentences with a kind of causal relationship (this should not be mistaken for the occasional use of maa, with a long vowel, in various negative meanings). It is always followed by a noun or a pronoun:

ناميين فوق. ما هنن ما نامو من امبارح naaymiin foo2 – ma hénnen maa naamu mén @mbaare7 – they’re asleep upstairs. I mean, they haven’t slept since yesterday

Here ma adds the nuance that the listener and the speaker both understand the obvious intuitive causal connection between what was said before and the sentence prefixed with ma. The same applies in the following sentence although here it can be translated with ‘but’:

مو صايم؟ ما الدنيا رمضان muu Saayem? ma éddénye ramaDaan – you’re not fasting? but it’s Ramadan!’

ما المصدرية (suffix)

This one is basically an extended version of the old ما المصدرية you see in fuSHa, which is added to prepositions to make them into conjunctions (i.e. to make it possible for a preposition to be followed by a whole sentence, not just a noun). A list with examples is included in the conjunctions post but here is a quick reference of prepositions followed by ma:

بعد ما ba3@d ma ‘after’

قبل ما ‪2ab@l ma ‘before’ (followed by subjunctive)

قد ما ‪2add ma ‘as much as, however much as’

لبين ما labeen ma ‘until’ or ‘by the time’

 لحد ما la7add ma ‘until’

حسب ما ‪7asab ma ‘according to how’, ‘depending on’, ‘as’

فوق ما foo2 ma ‘on top of’

متل ما mét@l ma ‘like, as’ (in Jor/Pal زي ما zayy ma)

بلا ما bala ma, بدون ما biduun ma, من دون ما mén duun ma ‘without’

بدال ما, عواض ما badaal ma, 3awaaD ma ‘instead of’

الا ما élla ma ‘certainly’, ‘it is always the case that’

طول ما Tool ma ‘as long as, while’

Not only prepositions can take this suffix. In an extension of the meaning, it is also possible for normal nouns to take it to produce conjunctions expressing location or time. These are also discussed in the conjunctions post:

مكان ما makaan ma, محل ما ma7all ma, مطرح ما maTra7 ma, قرنة ما ‪2érnet ma ‘(in, from etc) the place that’

لحظة ما la7Zet ma ‘the moment that’

مجرد ما mjarrad ma ‘as soon as’, ‘the very moment that’

وقت ما wa2@t ma ‘(at) the time when’, ‘when’

ساعة ما saa2et ma ‘(at) the time when’, ‘when’

يوم ما yoom ma ‘(on) the day when’, ‘when’

There are at least two other conjunction with -ma that are neither prepositions nor normal nouns:

احسن ما a7san ma ‘lest, in case’

لما lamma ‘when’ (although presumably originally from la- + ma)

Comparative ma (suffix)

This is quite a specific Syrian regionalism. For some speakers, -ma can be suffixed to (at least) a7san and aktar with the meaning ‘than’ in comparisons. This should not be mistaken either for the negative maa (a7san maa ‘it’s better for X not to…’) or the set phrase a7san ma ‘lest, in case’.

Subordinator ما (independent)

You’re relatively unlikely to come across this particular ma, and almost certainly will never have to use it, since it tends to be replaceable with other more common particles in similar functions (or just dropped entirely). It is probably an extension, originally, of the ما المصدرية uses given above – but rather than being a suffix it stands alone:

خايف ما khaayef ma ‘I’m worried that…’

بالنادر ما binnaader ma ‘it’s rare that…’

كل مالو ما kéll maalo ma… ‘he keeps on…’ ‘all the time…’

These are probably related to the ما in e.g. fuSHa سرعان ما. In the first construction it can be dropped entirely, and in the second two it can be replaced with la-.

ما التعجبية (prefix)

This is the old ma of exclamation, still used in colloquial. This is generally prefixed in the form of m(a)- to a superlative:

ماحلاه ma7laa ‘how nice it/he is’

Arguably, the ما in ياما yaama ‘how many…’ is also a ما تعجبية, at least in the sense that it is used in exclamations:

ياما في ناس هيك yaama fii naas heek ‘how many people there are like that!’

Superlative ma (suffix)

Also covered in the conjunctions post – this one attaches to superlatives like a7san and makes them into ‘the Xest possible’ or ‘as X as possible’: احسن ما يمكن ‘the best possible’, for example.

ما الشرطية (suffix)

Just as in fuSHa, ma can be suffixed to question words to produce conditionals with the meaning ‘-ever’. This should be a familiar usage from MSA and is also discussed in the conjunctions post. In Syria, this ma sometimes appears as man, not as ma (but has the same meaning).

ايمتى ما eemta ma, eemat ma ‘whenever’

وين ما ween ma ‘wherever’

شو ما shu ma ايش ما eesh ma ‘whatever’

شلون ما shloon ma, كيف ما kiif ma ‘however’

Also included under this are some of the uses of 2add ma, which stands in for the nonexistent 2addeesh ma in ‘however much’ sentences. Not all 2add ma sentences are ‘conditional’, though.