You are probably familiar with the fun (or not-so-fun) phenomenon of so-called tamyiiz (تمييز, sometimes translated into English as ‘specification’). In fuSHa, tamyiiz is one of the many uses of the accusative – you take a noun, stick it in the accusative, and it turns into something that can be (often clunkily) translated as ‘in terms of’ or ‘by way of’. This handy PDF gives some nice examples: يزداد ايمانًا ‘increase in belief’, يختلف علوًا ‘differ in height’, اجمل اسلوبًا ‘more pleasant with regard to style’. You’re probably most familiar with it from the last usage, with superlatives and comparatives.

Some arguable examples of the fuSHa forms are occasionally used in speech too (كتابةً kitaabatan ‘in writing’ for example) especially in higher registers, but productively tamyiiz constructions are formed in 3aammiyye without any case ending. This makes them more difficult to spot, but lots of examples of similar constructions do occur – and it’s important to understanding that you can recognise them.

Modifying verbs:

Tamyiiz constructions often appear modifying verbs in an adverbial sense. They can frequently but not always be translated with English ‘as’:

بشتغل مهندس béshtéghel muhandes – I work as an engineer (كـ here sounds funny and is a common non-native mistake)

جيت لجوء jiit lujuu2 – I came as a refugee [= I came refuge]

المصاري بجو شيكات élmaSaari biju sheekaat – the money comes in cheques

Sometimes they modify not the verb itself, but the object:

عطاني ياه هدية ‭3aTaani yaa hdiyye – he gave me it as a present

انت زودت الطين بلة اه inte zawwadt éTTiin bille aah – you’ve made the situation worse [increased the clay in terms of wetness]

They can modify participles, too – as in the following:

الكاس مليان مي élkaas mélyaan moyy – the glass is full of water

مبلول مي mabluul moyy – wet (with water)


عبيتو مي ‘I filled it with water’

انبليت مي ‘I got wet’

They can also modify the subject:

انقسمو قسمين n2asamu 2ésmeen – they were divided (into) two groups

I’m not sure my divisions into modifying the subject, object and verb are particularly scientific, but hopefully these examples give a decent impression of the breadth of possible semantics.

With question words

With questions with 2addeesh (‘how much’) and shu (‘what’), there is often a tamyiiz which narrows the specification of the question word. Unlike in English (‘what houses’, ‘how much change’), the tamyiiz typically appears later on:

قديش معك فراطة؟ 2addeesh ma3ak @fraaTa? – how much change do you have? [how much do you have (by way of) change?]

شو عندك افكار لتطوير البلد shu 3éndak 2afkaar la-taTwiir élbalad? – what ideas do you have for developing the country

They don’t necessarily have to be actual questions, either:

الله وحدو بيعلم شو ممكن تجيني أحاسيس و مشاعير aLLa wa7do bya3lem shu mémken tijiini a7aasiis w mashaa3iir – only God knows what feelings I might have [= what can come to me (by way of) feelings and feelings]

These are of course a subset of the versions above with subjects and objects.

Other uses in fuSHa

In fuSHa tamyiiz is also used for expressions of quantity (‘a glass of water’, ‘a kilo of sugar’) and for superlatives/comparatives where an afDal noun cannot be readily used (اكثر تعقيدًا ‘more complicated’ for example). In 3aammiyye the former is usually expressed with an iDaafe (kaasét moyy, kaast élmoyy) and the latter with a combination of a normal adjective and an afDal (معقد اكتر mu3aqqad 2aktar).

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

One point we didn’t cover in any of the previous posts is the very basic issue of how to express doing something to yourself (reflexives) and doing something to one another (reciprocals). Both of these are quite important and differ (to some extent) from fuSHa, so let’s cover them here!


The reflexive pronoun

In English we have the reflexive pronouns formed with possessives and ‘self’, and in fuSHa we have basically the same system with نفس ‘spirit’. Whilst there are contexts in which you might hear نفس with reflexive meaning in colloquial, far and away the most common reflexive pronoun in Shami is not formed with نفس but with حالـ plus possessive pronouns:

احكي عن حالك é7ki 3an 7aalak – speak for yourself!

ليش عم تجاكر حالك؟ leesh 3am @tjaaker 7aalak? – why are you spiting yourself?

مفكر حالو شي خرية كبيرة mfakker 7aalo shi kharye kbiire – he thinks he’s the shit [some big shit]

With plural pronouns 7aal remains the same and does not pluralise like English ‘self’:

شايفين حالون shaayfiin 7aalon – they’re arrogant [they’ve seen themselves]

Reflexives without 7aal

In some limited situations normal pronouns are used with a reflexive meaning:

غصبن عنك ghaSbin 3annakin spite of yourself

Reflexive-style verbs

There are some verbs which in and of themselves are often best translated as reflexive despite the absence of a reflexive pronoun:

احترقت  ‪7tara2@t – I burnt myself

انتحر nta7ar – he killed himself (نحر ‘to slaughter)


These are expressions like ‘they hit one another’ where the action is being carried out by two parties on one another at the same time.

The reciprocal pronoun

Lining up with English ‘one another’ or ‘each other’, fuSHa has various expressions formed with بعض, probably originally in the sense of ‘some’ (like the long fuSHa structure, ضرب بعضُهم البعضَ, which probably originally meant ‘some of them hit some [others]’ or ‘one of them hit the [other]’). In Syrian the most common way of phrasing it is just to use بعض ba3@D on its own as a catchall ‘one another’ or ‘each other’:

ضربو بعض Darabu ba3@D – they hit one another

متل بعض mét@l ba3@D – like one another, similar

نفس بعض naf@s ba3@D – the same thing, the same as one another

طلعو ببعض TTalla3u bba3@D – they looked at one another

Reciprocal verbs

As in fuSHa, some verbs are inherently reciprocal, typically form V or form VI:

تصالحو tSaala7u – they made up (with one another – compare صالحو Saala7o  ‘he made up with him’)

تحاكو t7aaku – they spoke (with one another compare حاكاه ‘he spoke to him’)

When they are really reciprocal the subject is usually plural. However, there are lots of cases where these reciprocals actually may appear with a singular subject and an object expressed with مع. Here, of course, ‘one another’ is not an appropriate translation.

تصالحت معو tSaala7@t ma3o – I made up with him (functionally a synonym of صالحتو)

This transcription is of a scene from حلاوة الروح (‘sweetness/beauty of the soul’, though a literal translation doesn’t quite cover the meaning), which if I remember correctly came out a couple of years ago during peak musalsal season. In it our two heroes, Sara and Isma’il, meet in a Beirut bar by chance. Isma’il is the brother of a childhood friend of Sara’s, Nisreen. Sara, an aspiring filmmaker, has just got back to Beirut after months staying at her father’s house in Dubai. She has left without telling her father, who runs a TV station there and had promised her a job, after months of disappointment in which she has not even seen him once. She tells her Lebanese friend (whose name I have forgotten) about her plans, and halfway through the conversation Isma’il comes over to introduce himself.


وحياة الله انتي مجنونة. حدا بصيرلو يعيش بدبي بجي بهالوضع ع لبنان؟
wé7yaat aLLa énti majnuune. 7ada biSérlo y3iish b-dubayy biji b-ha-lwaD@3 3a lébnaan?
I swear to God, you’re mad. What kind of a person who’s able to live in Dubai comes to Lebanon with the way the situation is now?

وحياة الله – ‘by God’s life’ (w of oaths again). You might notice the e-like aa that this character has. This is because she’s Lebanese – one of the most marked features of the Lebanese dialect is this high aa sound.

حدا بصيرلو يعيش… بجي… this sentence is literally ‘would someone for whom it is possible (بصيرلو) to live in Dubai come to Lebanon in this situation?’ بصرلو يعيش بدبي is a relative clause attached to 7ada. As you can see, the long vowel in biSiir is shortened to biSér-lo when -lo is attached (as discussed here). Rhetorical questions using this structure are very common – في حدا بينسى لغتو الام؟ ‘what kind of a person forgets their native language?’

Someone like me.

Literally ‘yes’ (in answer to the rhetorical question in the sentence before, but translated liberally by me so that the English makes sense).

لإنك حمارة
la2énnek @7maara
Because you’re an idiot.

حمارة – both 7maar and ja7@sh (literally ‘donkey’) are used liberally to mean ‘idiot’, as in that Lindsay Lohan post.

لك لأ ولي. بس ناوية اعمل فيلمي الاول وشارك فيه بمهرجان المحطة اللي بديرها سيد الوالد واخد الجائزة الدهبية
lak la2 wlee. bass naawye a3mel filmi l2awwal w shaarek fii bmahrajaan élma7aTTa lli bidiira sayyed élwaaled w 2aakhod éjjaa2ize ddahabiyye.
Mate, no. But I’m planning on making my first film, entering it in the competition that father dearest’s TV channel is putting on, and winning gold.

ولي – the feminine equivalent of ولو, which is a familiar term of address similar here to saying ‘no, man’ (though obviously gendered).

ناوية اعمل… شارك… واخد – naawi and its feminine and plural variants are used in the meaning of ‘intending, planning to’, and of course are followed by subjunctive like other expressions of desire and intention. Here there are three verbs, all in firstp person singular: a3mel ‘(I) make’, shaarek ‘(I) participate’ and aakhod ‘(I) take’.

شارك فيه بمهرجان المحطة اللي بديرا سيد الوالد – ‘participate with it in the [film] festival of the [TV] station which sayyed élwaaled runs’. fii is ‘with it’, referring to the film. élli bidiira is ‘that (he) runs’ or ‘that he manages’ (he’s the مدير) – the -a, of course, refers back to the ma7aTTa.

سيد الوالد – a polite, Syrian way of referring to a father (feminine ست الوالدة). Here Sara is presumably using it to emphasise the distant relationship she has with her dad.

ليش نكاية يعني؟
leesh, nkaaye ya3ni?
What, to get back at him?

نكاية nkaaye (pronounced by Sara nikaaye) is literally an act of defiance or spite. In fuSHa the expression نكايةً فيه means ‘to spite him’.

اي نكاية
ee nikaaye.
Yeah, to get back at him.

ومعك تدفعي حقا لهلنكاية؟
w ma3ek tédfa3i 7a22a la-ha-lénkaaye?
And have you got enough money to get back at him?

معك تدفعي – ma3i, ma3ek etc followed by a subjunctive means ‘to have enough (money) to…’

حقها لهالنكاية – ‘the price of this act of defiance’? حق often appears in iDaafa meaning ‘the price of’ (presumably originally ‘the right [price] of’, ‘the [fair] cost of’). The -a la- construction is the same one mentioned here.

جمعت شوي من المصاري اللي اغدقها عليي سيد الوالد تعويضا عن اني ما شفتو بدبي ورح اشتري كامريا وقولي يا معين
jama3@t shwayy mn élmaSaari élli aghdaqa 3aleyyi sayyed élwaaled, ta3wiiDan 3an énni maa shéfto bdubayy, w ra7 éshteri kaamera w 2uuli yaa mu3iin.
I saved up some of the money that father dearest rained down on me to make up for the fact that I didn’t see him in Dubai, and I’m going to buy a camera, and… say good luck!

المصاري اللي اغدقها عليي سيد الوالد – the money that sayyed élwaaled poured [it] down on me. The -a here refers to مصاري, which can be plural or singular feminine depending on the context. اغدق is a fuSHa word – form IV – and Sara pronounces it with a qaaf although a colloquial form ghada2 from the same root also exists.

تعويضا عن اني ما شفتو – ta3wiiDan is a مفعول لأجله, a distinctly fuSHa construction that we see most commonly in speech in a few set phrases (محبةً بـ ‘out of love for’, خوفًا من ‘for fear that’ etc), especially when somebody is trying to be a bit more eloquent than usual. This whole sentence is a bit fuSHa-y, probably again to emphasise how distant her dad was being. تعويضا عن انو is literally ‘to make up for/as compensation for [the fact] that’.

قولي يا معين – literally ‘say O Helper’, literally a request for help from God – in usage something like ‘wish me luck’.

موفقة اي
mwaffa2a ee
Yeah, good luck.

He’s coming.

Literally ‘he’s come’.

معناتا هو كمان بيعرفك
ma3naata huwwe kamaan bya3rfek
Then he must recognise you too…

معناتا – literally ‘its meaning’.

بيعرفك – as we’ll see below 3éref is often better translated with ‘recognise’ than ‘know’.

مسا الخير
masa lkheer
Good evening.

مسا النور
masa nnuur

عفوا بس… سارا مو؟
3afwan bass saara muu?
Sorry, but… it’s Sara, right?

عفوا – pardon, excuse me, sorry.


Do you remember me?

Like lots of other verbs mentioned in this post, tzakkar is often used in the past when in English a present would be used – literally ‘have you remembered me?’

بصراحة طول الوقت كنت عم شبه عليك بس لأ ما تذكرت
bSiraa7a Tool élwa2@t ként 3am shabbeh 3aleek bass la2a maa tzakkar@t
To be honest, I’ve been trying to work out where I know you from this whole time, but no, I don’t remember.

شبه عليك – literally something like ‘making similar with someone’, i.e. trying to work out who it is you look like, comparing you with other people in my mind

اسماعيل اسماعيل اخوها لنسرين الاحمد
smaa3iil, smaa3iil, akhuwwa la-nisriin él2a7mad
Isma’il – Nisreen al-Ahmad’s brother.

اه اهلين اهلين اسماعيل كيفك؟ لك متغير كتير عن جد ما عرفتك. كيفا نسرين, وين صارت, شو الاخبار؟
aah 2ahleen 2ahleen smaa3iil! kiifak? lak métghayyer @ktiir, 3an jadd maa 3réftak! kiifa nisriin, ween Saaret, shu l2akhbaar?
Right! Hi, hi – how are you doing? You’ve changed so much – I honestly didn’t recognise you! How’s Nisreen? Where is she these days, what’s she up to?

متغير – ‘having changed’. This is a participle with resultative meaning.

عن جد – seriously, honestly.

ما عرفتك – the word عرف here is in the meaning of ‘come to know’ or ‘recognise’ and not ‘to know’. ما عرفتك can mean both ‘I don’t recognise you’ (with 3éref here working like tzakkar above) or ‘I didn’t recognise you’.

نسرين… عطتك عمرا.
nisriin… 3aTétek 3émra.
Nisreen… passed away.

عطتك عمرا – a euphemism for ‘died’, literally ‘gave you her life’. The etymological logic here is similar to the one you get in the expression العمر الك when somebody dies.

شو؟ كيف يعني, بالاحداث؟
shu? kiif ya3ni… bil2a7daas?
What? How? In the ‘situation’?

الاحداث – a euphemism you will hear all the time if you talk to Syrians. Literally ‘the events’ (plural of حدث), referring to the situation in Syria.

هي اي بالاحداث. من شي سنة تقريبا. انا اسف, ما كان بدي ديقك بهيك موضوع. قوليلي انتي كيفك؟
ان شاء الله تمام؟ مستقرة هون ببيروت؟
hiyye… ee, bil2a7daas. mén shi séne ta2riiban. 2ana 2aasef, maa kaan béddi dayy2ék bheek mawDuu3. 2uuliili énti kiifek? nshaLLa tamaam? méstaqérra hoon bbeeruut?
Uhh… yeah, in the situation. About a year ago. I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bother you with something like that. Tell me, how are you – good I hope? Are you living here in Beirut?

شي سنة – shi often appears with singular nouns meaning ‘some’ or acting like an indefinite article. With expressions of time it usually means ‘about’.

بهيك موضوع – ‘with that sort of subject’

مستقرة – literally ‘settled’

اي. من وقت طلعنا من الشام  اجينا لهون على بيروت. بعد فترة رحت لعند ماما على مصر وبعدين رحت لعند ابي بدبي. قعدت شي تلت تشر واليوم اجيت اليوم وصلت.
ee… mén wa2t @Tlé3na mn éshshaam éjiina lahoon 3ala beeruut. Ba3@d fatra ré7@t la3énd maama 3ala maS@r w ba3deen ré7@t la3énd 2abi 3ala dubayy. 23édt shi tlét téshor w élyoom éjiit, élyoom wSél@t.
Yeah… When we left Damascus, we came here to Beirut. After a while I went to stay with Mum in Egypt, and afterwards I went to stay with my father in Dubai. I was there about three months and I came back today, I arrived today.

لهون على بيروت, لعند ماما على مصر, لعند ابي على دبي – all of these are examples of two directional phrases appearing together in a way that cannot be literally translated into English since we would prefer ‘in’ for the second one: (‘to here to Beirut’, ‘to by mum to Egypt’, ‘to by my father to Dubai’). Another example is فات لعندي ع الغرفة ‘he came into my room’ or اجى لعنا ع البيت ‘they came to see us at home’.

قعدت شي تلت تشر – the verb 2é3ed is literally ‘to sit’ but is used to mean ‘stay’ (usually temporarily) – وين قاعدة؟ ‘where are you staying?’ shi tlét téshor shows off the special plural used with numbers in téshor ‘months’, and has another shi (here we can say ‘some three months’ in English).

حمد لله ع السلامة
7amdélla 3assalaame.
I’m glad you arrived safely.

Maybe a more natural equivalent might be ‘welcome back’. A polite thing to say to someone who’s just got back off a journey – ‘thanks be to God for your safety’.

طب يلا تفضل عود معنا
Tabb yaLLa tfaDDal 3ood ma3na.
OK, well – sit down, come and sit with us!

تفضل عود معنا – go ahead, sit with us. 3ood is the irregular imperative of قعد.

لأ معليشي انا بس حبيت هيك… شفتك وقلت بسلم عليكي
la2 ma3leeshi. 2ana bass 7abbeet heek… shéftek w2él@t bsallem 3aleeki
Ah, don’t worry about it, uhh… I just wanted to… I saw you and I thought I’d say hi.

معليشي – a variant of the more common ma3leesh, used for various purposes including ‘don’t worry about it’, ‘pardon’, ‘never mind’ and here a (semi-sincere?) refusal of the invitation.

حبيت هيك – an incomplete sentence. ‘I wanted to… you know…’ heek is a filler, ‘that sort of thing’.

قلت بسلم عليكي – ‘I said’ (قلت) is used with a subjunctive or a b-present to mean idiomatically ‘I thought I would’. sallam 3ala – originally ‘say salaam to’ – now means ‘say hi to’, or by extension ‘shake hands with’. When someone leaves you can say سلملي على… ‘say hi to… for me’.

اذا كان عندك وقت خلينا نشرب شي شغلة
iza kaan 3éndak wa2@t khalliina néshrab shi shéghle
If you’ve got time why don’t we have a drink?

اذا كان عندك وقت – the kaan here arguably adds an element of reasonable doubt here for Isma’il to back out (rather than just saying iza 3éndak, which is equally grammatical). ‘If you happen to have the time…’

خلينا نشرب شي شغلة – let’s drink something. shi shéghle is that shi yet again (‘some’) plus ‘thingy’ or ‘thing’, shéghle.

Go ahead.

He gets the literal go-ahead from her friend.

طيب اوكي. لو سمحت
Tayyeb oke. law sama7@t!
OK then. Excuse me!

طيب – OK then.

اوكي – used mainly in the sense of ‘agreed’, indicating acceptance.

لو سمحت – the usual way to say ‘excuse me’ to waiters, for example.

This should probably have come much earlier, but better late than never!


ممكن mumken/mémken

This one literally means ‘is possible’ and is usually best translated as ‘can’, ‘could’ or ‘might’ depending on context. As an auxiliary, it is followed by a subjunctive verb:

ممكن تروح معنا اذا بدك mémken @truu7 ma3na iza béddak – you can go with us if you want

بتعرف انه الواحد احيانا ممكن يطلع خلقه bta3ref énno ilwaa7ed a7yaanan mumken yéTla3 khél2oyou know that sometimes, a person can lose their temper… [= that one sometimes their temper can rise]

الله وحدو بيعلم شو ممكن تجيني أحاسيس و مشاعير aLLa wa7do bya3lem shu mémken tijiini a7aasiis w mashaa3iir – only God knows what feelings I might have [= what feelings and feelings might come to me]

For the past, we have to use كان as an auxiliary. This gives a counterfactual meaning (could have, but didn’t).

كان ممكن يعمل فتنة بيني وبين امي kaan mémken ya3mel fitne beeni wbeen émmi – it could’ve caused real trouble between me and my mum

كان ممكن يعمل اي شي بدو ياه kaan mumken ya3mel eyy shi béddo yaa – he could have done anything he wanted

It can also be used with subjunctive kaan plus a past verb:

ممكن يكون راح يجيب بيكيت دخان mémken ykuun raa7 yjiib baakeet dékhkhaan – he might have gone to get a packet of cigarettes

It can be used in requests as well, like English ‘could’:

لو سمحت ممكن تسكر الشباك؟ law sama7@t mumken tsakker éshshébbaak? excuse me, could you close the window?

In this sense it can appear without a verb:

ممكن قلم؟ mumken 2alam? – could I have a pen?

It appears on its own as well:

ولا ممكن! wala mumken! – it’s just not possible (anymore!)

اي ممكن ee mumken – yeah, possibly (or yes, I can/could, yes it can/could etc)

كل شي ممكن kéll shi mémken – anything’s possible

اذا ممكن iza mumken – if that’s possible (if you can, etc etc)

يمكن yémken

Yémken is a frozen verbal form without a b- prefix. It is an adverbial form and often means ‘perhaps’ or ‘possibly’. In this sense it is much freer in terms of where it can go in the sentence than mémken is:

يمكن اكتريت المشاكل اللي بتصير بالحياة سببها انو… yémken aktariit élmashaakel élli bétSiir bi-l7ayaat sababa énno… – perhaps the reason for most of the problems that happen in life is…

لحتا تترجمها بدك يمكن تكتب هامش صفحتين شرح لالها حتا يفهمها القارئ la7atta ttarjémha béddak yémken téktob haamesh Séf@7teen shar@7 la2ilha 7atta yéfhamha lqaare2 – in order to translate it you’d need to write maybe a two-page long footnote explaining it for the reader to understand…

مو مكتوبة بصيغة صح يمكن muu maktuube bSiigha Sa77 yémken – it might not be written right

يمكن عمر بن الخطاب كان ناجح نوعا ما yémken 3omar bin al-khaTTaab kaan naaje7 naw3an ma – I guess/maybe (the TV series) Umar bin al-Khattab was sort of good

You can use it with the past too:

يمكن راح يمكن ما راح yémken raa7 yémken maa raa7 – maybe he went, maybe he didn’t

It is also used like mémken as an auxiliary with a subjunctive:

يمكن ما يتوفر معي yémken maa yétwaffar 3éndi – I might not be able to get it (= the money) [= it might not become available with me]

It occasionally acts like a proper verb meaning ‘be possible’:

اكتر ما يمكن aktar ma yémken – as much as possible

بصير biSiir

This is typically an auxiliary and means approximately ‘is it possible/acceptable?’ It appears with subjunctive verbs:

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 احكيلك اشتقتلك ولا الجديدة للي عندك بتغار؟ biSiir é7kiilak @shta2téllak wélla léjdiide lli 3éndak bétghaar? – am I allowed to tell you I missed you or is your new (girlfriend) the jealous type?

بصير احول خطي من اجتماعي لخط زين الجديد؟ biSiir a7awwel khaTTi min ijtimaa3i la-khaTT zeen lijdiid? – is it possible to change my (phone) contract from the ‘sociable’ one to Zain‘s new contract? [‘sociable’ was the name of one of Zain’s phone contracts]

Like mémken it can be used with nouns too:

بصير سؤال صغير؟ biSiir su2aal @zghiir? – can I just ask one question? [= a small question]

Generally this form is invariable (and should not be confused with other uses of Saar like ‘become’ and ‘happen’ which conjugate normally) but some Syrians accept the plural form with nouns like in the following sentence:

التنين بصيرو létneen biSiiru – both are possible, both work

بجوز bijuuz

بجوز is another frozen verbal form used similar to يمكن, meaning ‘possibly’ or ‘might’:

في منن بجوز اصلن من السويدا fii ménnon bijuuz aSlon mn éssweeda – there are some of them who might be originally from Sweida [= that their origin might be from Sweeda]

بجوز قلون رح يشتكي عليون bijuuz 2éllon ra7 yéshtéki 3aleyyon – maybe he told them he was going to make a complaint about them

It can appear with normal b-presents like this – if the verb refers to something general or actually present (as opposed to future):

بجوز بيرمز لشي او لشخص bijuuz byérmoz la-shi aw la-shakh@S – it might be a reference to a thing or a person

It can also appear in counterfactuals meaning ‘might have’ or ‘perhaps’ (depending on context):

لو هربو بجوز كانو نفدو law hérbu bijuuz kaanu nafadu – if they’d run away perhaps they’d have escaped/they might have escaped

Or it can act like mémken with future reference:

كمان في كلمة بجوز تفكرها مشابهة… kamaan fii kélme bijuuz tfakkérha mushaabiha – there’s another word you might think is similar…

بجوز احتاج مساعدتك bijuuz é7taaj musaa3adtak – I might need your help

بركي, بلكي bérki, belki

This one is a loanword from Turkish belki. In Damascus bérki (presumably a corruption) is more common but you will hear both. Belki is the normal form in Jordan and Palestine, I think. It is used almost exclusively with future reference, most commonly with b-present verbs:

بركي جبلك كل يوم بيتزا  bérki jéblak kéll yoom biitza – maybe I’ll bring you pizza every day

بركي منشوفك عن قريب bérki ménshuufak 3an 2ariib – maybe (hopefully) we’ll see you sometime soon

It is sometimes used with a past tense verb, but this also has future reference and carries a very specific meaning which is something like ‘but what if…’:

بركي انمسكت؟ bérki nmasak@t? – what if you get caught?!

وبركي ما قدرت ترجع؟ w-bérki maa 2dér@t térja3 – and what if you can’t come back?!

It is also used to connect two clauses with a sense that is sort of difficult to translate concisely into English. Usually the format is like this: ‘do X, bérki you’ll do Y’ and it means something like ‘so that you might’ in archaic English:

احكيلو بركي بزورنا é7kiilo bérki bizuurna – talk to him and maybe he’ll visit us

This joke illustrates this use well even if it doesn’t say much about marital life:

وحدة قالت لزوجها : حلمت انك علمتني السواقة و جبتلي سيارة كمان ، قلها زوجها ؛ كملي نومك بركي بتعملي حادث والله بياخدك wa7de 2aalet la-zoojha: 7alam@t énnak 3allamtni léswaa2a w-jébtélli siyyaara kamaan! 2éllha zoojha kammli noomek bérki bta3mli 7aades w-aLLa yaakhdik! – a woman said to her husband: ‘I dreamt you’d bought me a car and taught me to drive too!’ Her husband said: ‘go back to sleep and maybe (hopefully) you’ll have an accident!’ [= that you might have an accident, and God take you!]

مستحيل musta7iil

‘Impossible’, ‘it’s impossible’. Used with a subjunctive verb:

مستحيل انساكي musta7iil énsaaki – it would be impossible for me to forget you

The passive

The passive is often used to express general possibility/ability:

الزلمة ما بينمشى معو ézzalame maa byénmasha ma3o – you can’t get along with the guy [= he is not walked with]

ما بينهرب من هالسجن maa byénhareb mén has-séj@n – you can’t escape from this prison


اكيد akiid,  ع الاكيد ‪3al2akiid

Certainly, definitely, surely.

انتي اكيد مالك مقتنعة بيلي عم تقوليه inti akiid maalek méqtan3a byalli 3am t2uulii – you definitely/surely don’t believe what you’re saying

بيجي ع الاكيد خلال اسبوع byiji 3al2akiid khilaal ésbuu3 – it’ll definitely come within a week

ع الاغلب 3al2aghlab

Probably, most likely.

ع الاغلب ما في دوام لاول الشهر ‪3al2aghlab maa fii dawaam la-2awwal éshshah@r – most likely there’ll be no work ’til the beginning of next month

بكون bikuun

Bikuun is often used to express judgements about likelihood in a way similar to ‘must be’.

بدو يكون béddo ykuun

This construction is used to express judgements about likelihood in a way similar to ‘he must be’:

هلق بدو يكون مشي halla2 béddo ykuun méshi – by now he’ll have left

اجباري ijbaari

Literally ‘compulsory’, but used to mean ‘certainly’, ‘definitely’.


قدر / بيقدر ‪2éder/byé2der

This is the normal equivalent to ‘can’, but typically expresses ability of a person rather than possibility. It uses subjunctive:

بتقدر تقول مثلا بطلت من الشغل bté2der @t2uul masalan baTTal@t mn éshshégh@l – you can say for example ‘I stopped working…’

It can be used in the past to mean ‘couldn’t’, if it refers to one specific time:

بس ولله ما قدرت اعمل شي bass waLLa maa 2dér@t a3mel shi – but I swear, I couldn’t do anything

It can also be used in participle form (2édraan) referring to a specific time-delimited period:

متل اللي تعبان ومو قدران يمشي mét@l élli ta3baan w-muu 2édraan yémshi – like someone who’s worn out and can’t walk (normally)

With the preposition على it can also be used with nouns and pronouns:

اللي بتقدر عليه élli bté2der 3alee – what you can do, what you’re capable of

احسن بيحسن a7san byé7sen

Sometimes 7asan instead of a7san. In fuSHa this means ‘to do well’ or ‘do properly’ but in Syrian it’s used for simple ‘be able to’ or ‘can’ as a slightly less common synonym of 2éder:

ما احسنت نام maa a7san@t naam – I couldn’t sleep

Its participle is حسنان ‪7asnaan:

مو حسنان نام  muu 7asnaan naam – I can’t sleep

عرف / بيعرف ‪3éref bya3ref

Literally ‘to know’. Used with a subjunctive verb to indicate ‘know how to’:

انا بعرف سوق ana ba3ref suu2 – I know how to drive

Its semantics however often cover things we use ‘can’ for in English:

ما عم اعرف افتح الباب maa 3am a3ref éfta7 élbaab – I can’t work out how to open the door

لو سمحت وطي صوتك شوي! خليني اعرف كمل شغلي law sama7@t waTTi Sootak shweyy, khalliini a3ref kammel shéghli – please lower your voice and let me do my job [= know how to finish my work]

فيـ fii-

The pronominal forms of the preposition b- or a slightly different variation with an n added (fiini, fiik/fiinak, fiiki/fiinek, fii/fiino, fiyya/fiina, fiina, fiikon, fiyyon/fiinon) can be used with a subjunctive verb to express ability:

فينك تقول انو fiinak @t2uul énno – you could say that…

ما فيني امشي maa fiini émshi – I can’t walk

For the past, it requires kaan:

ما كان فيني اعمل شي maa kaan fiini a3mel shi – I wasn’t able to do anything


لازم laazem

‘Must’, ‘have to’, ‘should’. Used with a subjunctive verb:

لازم تروح laazem @truu7 – you have to go, you should go

With a negative (either muu or maa works, though maa is more common) it usually means ‘you shouldn’t/mustn’t’ etc and not ‘you don’t have to’:

ما لازم تروح maa laazem @truu7 – you shouldn’t go

It can be used in the past, but then its meaning is almost always counterfactual ‘should have (but didn’t)’. In order to say ‘I had to’ or ‘I was forced to’ you have to make use of other verbs (e.g. njabar@t). Laazem can either be placed into the past with كان or have a past verb used directly after it:

كان لازم تروح kaan laazem @truu7 – you should have gone

لازم رحت laazem ré7@t – you should have gone

لازم can also be used as a normal adjective meaning ‘necessary’:

هي الورقة مو لازمة hayy élwara2a muu laazme – this one’s not necessary

In this sense it can take a direct pronominal object:

المصاري لازمينني élmaSaari laazmiinni – I need the money [note maSaari is plural]

Often laazem + object suffix is used almost like a verb meaning ‘to need’ which then takes direct objects normally and uses yaa- with pronoun objects:

لازمني ياهون laazémni yaahon – I need it (the money) [= I need them]

ضروري Daruuri

Usually ‘urgent’ or ‘absolutely necessary’, used with a subjunctive verb:

ضروري تضوج هيك دغري؟ Daruuri TDuuj heek déghri? – do you have to get upset like that straight away??

اضطر مضطر DTarr méDTarr

Stronger than laazem. Often appears with انو:

اضطريت اني اشتري واحد جديد DTarreet énni éshtéri waa7ed @jdiid – I had to buy a new one

It can take a nominal object with على:

ماني مضطر عليون maani méDTarr 3aleyyon – I don’t need them urgently

انجبر مجبور majbuur njabar

‘Obligated’, ‘forced’. Majbuur is the participle, انجبر is the verb.

مجبور سافر majbuur saafer – I have to/I’m obliged to go abroad

كانت الطريق مسدودة فانجبرت ارجع kaant éTTarii2a masduude fa-njabar@t érja3 – the road was blocked so I had to come back

Quadriliteral verbs are those verbs with roots consisting of four consonants. Although these verbs are less common than their triliteral equivalents, there are a lot of them in both fuSHa and colloquial.

‘Quadriliteral’ is not a pattern per se like form V or form VI. Some quadriliteral verbs are derived from nouns or adjectives with four consonants, typically although not exclusively loanwords (تلفن talfan ‘telephone’ < telefoon). Some are derived from native words with triliteral roots but incorporate part of the original pattern of that word (تمركز tmarkaz ‘centre on’ < markaz ‘centre’). Some of them are onomatopoeia (زقزق za2za2 ‘squeak’, فرفر farfar ‘flutter’). Some of them are modified forms of triliteral verbs with an additional sound added, adding an additional nuance to the verb (ترقوص tra2waS ‘dance about, dance around’ < ra2aS ‘dance’). Finally, some of them belong to less common derivational patterns like tfa3lan ‘act like’ (تحيون t7eewan ‘act like a moron’ < 7eewaan, تزلمن tzalman ‘act like a man’ < zalame) or fa3la (طعمى Ta3ma ‘feed’ < Ta3m, فرجى farja ‘show’ < tfarraj 3ala).

Regardless of the underlying pattern they belong to, however, all quadriliteral verbs fall under a small number of conjugation patterns. These are similar (but not identical) to form II and form V sound verbs. All transitive quadriliterals form their passive using the equivalent t- form (fa3fa3 > tfa3fa3, fa3fa > tfa3fa etc).

Fa3fa3, yfa3fe3

زقزق za2za2
Active Participle Passive Participle
مزقزق mza2ze2 N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
زقزقة za2za2a N/A
زقزق زقزقي زقزقو

za2ze2 za2@z2i za2@z2u

Present Past
Ana za2ze2 bza2ze2 زقزق بزقزق za2za2@t زقزقت
Inte tza2ze2 bétza2ze2 تزقزق بتزقزق za2za2@t زقزقت
Inti tza2@z2i bétza2@z2i تزقزقي بتزقزقي za2za2Ti زقزقتي
Huwwe yza2ze2 biza2ze2 يزقزق بزقزق za2za2 زقزق
Hiyye tza2ze2 bétza2ze2 تزقزق بتزقزق za2za2et زقزقت
Né7na nza2ze2 ménza2ze2 نزقزق منزقزق za2za2na زقزقنا
Intu tza2@z2u bétza2@z2u تزقزقو بتزقزقو za2za2Tu زقزقنا
Hénnen yza2@z2u biza2@z2u يزقزقو بزقزقو za2za2u زقزقو


Tfa3lal yétfa3lal

تدحرج tda7raj
Active Participle Passive Participle
متدحرج métda7rej N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
دحرجة da7raje N/A
تدحرج تدحرجي تدحرجو

tda7raj tda7raji tda7raju

Present Past
Ana étda7raj bétda7raj تدحرج بتدحرج tda7raj@t تدحرجت
Inte tétda7raj btétda7raj تتدحرج بتتدحرج tda7raj@t تدحرجت
Inti tétda7raji btétda7raji تتدحرجي بتتدحرجي tda7rajTi تدحرجتي
Huwwe yétda7raj byétda7raj يتدحرج بتدحرج tda7raj تدحرج
Hiyye tétda7raj btétda7raj تتدحرج بتتدحرج tda7rajet تدحرجت
Né7na nétda7raj mnétda7raj نتدحرج منتدحرج tda7rajna تدحرجنا
Intu tétda7raju btétda7raju تتدحرجو بتتدحرجو tda7rajTu تدحرجنا
Hénnen yétda7raju byétda7raju يتدحرجو بتدحرجو tda7raju تدحرجو


Fa33a, yfa33i

Active Participle Passive Participle
مطعمي mTa3mi مطعمى mTa3ma
MaSdar Noun of Instance
طعمي طعمي طعمو

Ta3mi Ta3mi Ta3mu

Present Past
Ana Ta3mi bTa3mi طعمي بطعمي Ta3meet طعميت
Inte tTa3mi bétTa3mi تطعمي بتطعمي Ta3meet طعميت
Inti tTa3mi bétTa3mi تطعمي بتطعمي Ta3meeti طعميتي
Huwwe yTa3mi biTa3mi يطعمي بطعمي Ta3ma طعمى
Hiyye tTa3mi bétTa3mi تطعمي بتطعمي Ta3met طعمت
Né7na nTa3mi ménTa3mi نطعمي منطعمي Ta3meena طعمينا
Intu tTa3mu bétTa3mu تطعمو بتطعمو Ta3meetu طعميتو
Hénnen yTa3mu biTa3mu يطعمو بطعمو Ta3mu طعمو


Tfa3la yétfa3la

تفرشى tfarsha

‘be brushed’

Active Participle Passive Participle
متفرشي métfarshi N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تفرشى تفرشي تفرشو

tfarsha tfarshi tfarshu

Present Past
Ana étfarsha bétfarsha اتفرشى بتفرشى tfarsheet تفرشيت
Inte tétfarsha btétfarsha تتفرشى بتتفرشى tfarsheet تفرشيت
Inti tétfarshi btétfarshi تتفرشي بتتفرشي tfarsheeti تفرشيتي
Huwwe yétfarsha byétfarsha يتفرشى بيتفرشى tfarsha تفرشى
Hiyye tétfarsha btétfarsha تتفرشى بتتفرشى tfarshet تفرشت
Né7na nétfarsha mnétfarsha نتفرشى منتفرشى tfarsheena تفرشينا
Intu tétfarshu btétfarshu تتفرشو بتتفرشو tfarsheetu تفرشيتو
Hénnen yétfarshu byétfarshu يتفرشو بيتفرشو tfarshu تفرشو


Foo3an, yfoo3en

Some verbs have ee instead of oo, like نيشن neeshan ‘aim at’ or Lebanese طيلع Teela3.

دوزن doozan
Active Participle Passive Participle
مدوزن mdoozen N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
دوزنة doozane N/A
دوزن دوزني دوزنو

doozen doozni dooznu

Present Past
Ana doozen bdoozen دوزن بدوزن doozan@t دوزنت
Inte tdoozen bétdoozen تدوزن بتدوزن doozan@t دوزنت
Inti tdoozni bétdoozni تدوزني بتدوزني doozanti دوزنتي
Huwwe ydoozen bidoozen يدوزن بدوزن doozan دوزن
Hiyye tdoozen bétdoozen تدوزن بتدوزن doozanet دوزنت
Né7na ndoozen méndoozen ندوزن مندوزن doozanna دوزننا
Intu tdooznu bétdooznu تدوزنو بتدوزنو doozantu دوزننا
Hénnen ydooznu bidooznu يدوزنو بدوزنو doozanu دوزنو


Tfoo3an, yétfoo3an

Some verbs have ee instead of oo, like تحيون t7eewan ‘act like a moron’.


تدوزن tdoozan
‘be tuned’
Active Participle Passive Participle
متدوزن métdoozen N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
دوزنة doozane N/A
تدوزن تدوزني تدوزنو

tdoozan tdoozani tdoozanu

Present Past
Ana étdoozan bétdoozan تدوزن بتدوزن tdoozan@t تدوزنت
Inte tétdoozan btétdoozan تتدوزن بتتدوزن tdoozan@t تدوزنت
Inti tétdoozani btétdoozani تتدوزني بتتدوزني tdoozanti تدوزنتي
Huwwe yétdoozan byétdoozan يتدوزن بتدوزن tdoozan تدوزن
Hiyye tétdoozan btétdoozan تتدوزن بتتدوزن tdoozanet تدوزنت
Né7na nétdoozan mnétdoozan نتدوزن منتدوزن tdoozanna تدوزننا
Intu tétdoozanu btétdoozanu تتدوزنو بتتدوزنو tdoozantu تدوزننا
Hénnen yétdoozanu byétdoozanu يتدوزنو بتدوزنو tdoozanu تدوزنو


Foo3a, yfoo3i

This is a very rare pattern. Booya, the only example I can think of, is derived from the noun بويا ‘polish’ (also pronounced booya), a loan from Turkish boya.

بويى booya
Active Participle Passive Participle
مبويي mbooyi مبويى mbooya
MaSdar Noun of Instance
بويي بويي بويو

booyi booyi booyu

Present Past
Ana booyi bbooyi بويي ببويي booyeet بوييت
Inte tbooyi bétbooyi تبويي بتبويي booyeet بوييت
Inti tbooyi bétbooyi تبويي بتبويي booyeeti بوييتي
Huwwe ybooyi bibooyi يبوي ببوي booya بويى
Hiyye tbooyi bétbooyi تبويي بتبويي booyet بويت
Né7na nbooyi ménbooyi نبويي منبويي booyeena بويينا
Intu tbooyu bétbooyu تبويو بتبويو booyeetu بوييتو
Hénnen ybooyu bibooyu يبويو ببويو booyu بويو



tfoo3a, yétfoo3i


تبويى tbooya

‘be polished’

Active Participle Passive Participle
متبويي métbooyi N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تبويي takhabbi N/A
تبويى تبويي تبويو

tbooya tbooyi tbooyu

Present Past
Ana étbooya bétbooya اتبويى بتبويى tbooyeet تبوييت
Inte tétbooya btétbooya تتبويى بتتبويى tbooyeet تبوييت
Inti tétbooyi btétbooyi تتبويي بتتبويي tbooyeeti تبوييتي
Huwwe yétbooya byétbooya يتبويى بيتبويى tbooya تبويى
Hiyye tétbooya btétbooya تتبويى بتتبويى tbooyet تبويت
Né7na nétbooya mnétbooya نتبويى منتبويى tbooyeena تبويينا
Intu tétbooyu btétbooyu تتبويو بتتبويو tbooyeetu تبوييتو
Hénnen yétbooyu byétbooyu يتبويو بيتبويو tbooyu تبويو

Rounding out the triliteral verbs, this post is dedicated to verb tables for forms IX and X. Form Xes (sta- verbs) are very common in colloquial as in fuSHa, and have a range of different meanings (I have problems with the old ‘seek X’ trick that people use to work out their meaning but it gets the job done a lot of the time). Form IXes (colour verbs) on the other hand are pretty rare and often have non-form IX equivalents, but I’ve included them here for the sake of completeness. Note that their shape, stress, and suffixes are identical to form VIII doubled verbs although the pattern is different.

These verbs are all predictably vowelled. Most (all?) form Xes have no direct passive equivalent.


اسود swadd

‘turn black’

  Active Participle Passive Participle
مسود méswadd N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
اسود اسودي اسودو
swadd swaddi swaddu
Present Past
Ana éSwadd béSwadd اسود بسود swaddeet اسوديت
Inte téSwadd btéSwadd تسود بتسود swaddeet اسوديت
Inti téSwadd btéSwadd تسود بتسود swaddeeti اسوديتي
Huwwe yéSwadd byéSwadd يسود بيسود swadd اسود
Hiyye téSwadd btéSwadd تسود بتسود swaddet اسودت
Né7na néSwadd mnéSwadd نسود منسود swaddeena اسودينا
Intu btéSwaddu btéSwaddu تسودو بتسودو swaddeetu اسوديتو
Hénnen yéSwaddu byéSwaddu يسودو بيسودو swaddu اسودو


staf3al; yéstaf3el


استغرب staghrab
‘find strange, be surprised’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مستغرب méstaghreb N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
استغراب istighraab N/A
استغرب استغربي استغربو
staghreb stagh@rbi stagh@rbu
Present Past
Ana éStaghreb béStaghreb استغرب بستغرب staghrab@t استغربت
Inte téStaghreb btéStaghreb تستغرب بتستغرب staghrab@t استغربت
Inti téStagh@rbi btéStagh@rbi تستغرب بتستغرب staghrabti استغربتي
Huwwe yéStaghreb byéStaghreb يستغرب بيستغرب staghrab استغرب
Hiyye téStaghreb btéStaghreb تستغرب بتستغرب staghrabet استغربت
Né7na néStaghreb mnéStaghreb نستغرب منستغرب staghrabna استغربنا
Intu btéStagh@rbu btéStagh@rbu تستغربو بتستغربو staghrabtu استغربتو
Hénnen yéStagh@rbu byéStagh@rbu يستغربو بيستغربو staghrabu استغربو


Stafaal; yéstafiil


استقال staqaal
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مستقيل méstaqiil N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
استقالة istiqaale N/A
استقيل استقيلي استقيلو
staqiil staqiili staqiilu
Present Past
Ana éStaqiiil béStaqiiil استقيل بستقيل staqélt استقلت
Inte téStaqiiil btéStaqiiil تستقيل بتستقيل staqélt استقلت
Inti téStaqiiil btéStaqiiil تستقيل بتستقيل staqélti استقلتي
Huwwe yéStaqiiil byéStaqiiil يستقيل بيستقيل staqaal استقال
Hiyye téStaqiiil btéStaqiiil تستقيل بتستقيل staqaalet استقالت
Né7na néStaqiiil mnéStaqiiil نستقيل منستقيل staqélna استقلنا
Intu btéStaqiiilu btéStaqiiilu تستقيلو بتستقيلو staqéltu اضطريتو
Hénnen yéStaqiiilu byéStaqiiilu يستقيلو بيستقيلو staqaalu اضطرو


stawla; yéstawli

استولى stawla
‘take over’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مستولي méstawli N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
استيلاء istiilaa2 N/A
استولي استولي استلولو
stawli stawli stawlu
Present Past
Ana éstawli béstawli استولي بستولي stawleet استوليت
Inte téstawli btéstawli تستولي بتستولي stawleet استوليت
Inti téstawli btéstawli تستولييبتستولي stawleeti استوليتي
Huwwe yéstawli byéstawli يستولي بيستولي stawla استولى
Hiyye téstawli btéstawli تستولي بتستولي stawlet استولت
Né7na néstawli mnéstawli نستولي منستولي stawleena استولينا
Intu téstawlu btéstawlu تستولو بتستولو stawleetu استوليتو
Hénnen yéstawlu byéstawlu يستولو بيستولو stawlu استولو


staghall; yéstaghell

استغل staghall
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مستغل méstaghéll N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
استغلال istighlaal N/A
استغل استغلي استغلو
staghéll staghéllu staghéllu
Present Past
Ana éstaghéll béstaghéll استغل بستغل staghalleet استغليت
Inte téstaghéll btéstaghéll تستغل بتستغل staghalleet استغليت
Inti téstaghélli btéstaghélli تستغلي بتستغلي staghalleeti استغليتي
Huwwe yéstaghéll byéstaghéll يستغل بيستغل staghall استغل
Hiyye téstaghéll btéstaghéll تستغل بتستغل staghallet استغلت
Né7na néstaghéll mnéstaghéll نستغل منستغل staghalleena استغلينا
Intu téstaghéllu btéstaghéllu تستغلو بتستغلو staghalleetu استغليتو
Hénnen yéstaghéllu byéstaghéllu يستغلو بيستغلو staghallu استغلو


The non-simple (i.e. form II+) verbs have far less variation in their possible vowels. This post presents form II, III, V and VI (fa33al, faa3al, tfa33al, tfaa3al). Many form IIs are causative, whilst forms V and VII are often passives of form II and form III respectively. The only variations on these four patterns are for defective verbs (i.e. verbs whose final root letter is a semivowel). Although hollow roots, assimilating roots etc can form verbs on these patterns, they appear with semivowels patterning as normal consonants: walla3, twalla3, shaawar, tshaawar etc.

You will probably have noticed the absence of form IV (2af3al) here. 2af3al is a rare form in Syrian. The majority of fuSHa 2af3als have fa33al equivalents (if they are normal causatives). Some common ones with non-causative meanings have been reanalysed as belonging to other classes: 2aslam ‘convert to Islam’ conjugates like a quadriliteral verb (y2aslem not yuslim); 2aaman ‘believe’ conjugates like a form III (y2aamen); 2a3lan ‘announce’ has been restructured into 3alan-yé3len. A small number of fuSHa form IVs do appear in colloquial with a droppable 2a-, but their conjugation is predictable (2aSarr ySerr ‘insist’).

Note that the participles of these forms are all produced with m(é)– attached to the present stem for active and the past stem for passive. Their maSdars are generally formed the same as fuSHa.

Fa33al; yfa33el

زبّط zabbaT
‘sort out’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مزبط mzabbeT مزبط mzabbaT
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تزبيط tazbiiT N/A
زبط زبطي زبطو

zabbeT zabbTi zabbTu

Present Past
Ana zabbeT bzabbeT زبط بزبط zabbaT@t زبطت
Inte tzabbeT bétzabbeT تزبط بتزبط zabbaT@t زبطت
Inti tzabbTi bétzabbTi تزبطي بتزبطي zabbaTTi زبطتي
Huwwe yzabbeT bizabbeT يزبط بزبط zabbaT زبط
Hiyye tzabbeT bétzabbeT تزبط بتزبط zabbaTet زبطت
Né7na nzabbeT ménzabbeT نزبط منزبط zabbaTna زبطنا
Intu tzabbTu bétzabbTu تزبطو بتزبطو zabbaTTu زبطنا
Hénnen yzabbTu bizabbTu يزبطو بزبطو zabbaTu زبطو


Fa33a, yfa33i

These forms have a regular maSdar in téf3aaye (fuSHa equivalent taf3iya, cf تعبئة ta3bi2a).

  Active Participle Passive Participle
معبي m3abbi معبى m3abba

معباية m3abbaaye (f)

MaSdar Noun of Instance
تعباية té3baaye N/A
عبي عبي عبو

3abbi 3abbi 3abbu

Present Past
Ana 3abbi b3abbi عبي بعبي 3abbeet عبيت
Inte t3abbi bét3abbi تعبي بتعبي 3abbeet عبيت
Inti t3abbi bét3abbi تعبي بتعبي 3abbeeti عبيتي
Huwwe y3abbi bi3abbi يعبو بعبو 3abba عبى
Hiyye t3abbi bét3abbi تعبي بتعبي 3abbet عبت
Né7na n3abbi mén3abbi نعبي منعبي 3abbeena عبينا
Intu t3abbu bét3abbu تعبو بتعبو 3abbeetu عبيتو
Hénnen y3abbu bi3abbu يعبو بعبو 3abbu عبو


Faa3al, yfaa3el

جاكر jaakar
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مجاكر mjaaker مجاكر mjaakar
MaSdar Noun of Instance
مجاكرة mujaakara N/A
جاكر جاكري جاكرو

jaaker jaakri jaakru

Present Past
Ana jaaker bjaaker جاكر بجاكر jaakar@t جاكرت
Inte tjaaker bétjaaker تجاكر بتجاكر jaakar@t جاكرت
Inti tjaakri bétjaakri تجاكري بتجاكري jaakarti جاكرتي
Huwwe yjaaker bijaaker يجاكر بجاكر jaakar جاكر
Hiyye tjaaker bétjaaker تجاكر بتجاكر jaakaret جاكرت
Né7na njaaker ménjaaker نجاكر منجاكر jaakarna جاكرنا
Intu tjaakru bétjaakru تجاكرو بتجاكرو jaakartu جاكرتو
Hénnen yjaakru bijaakru يجاكرو بجاكرو jaakaru جاكرو


Faa3a yfaa3i

‘talk to’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
محاكي m7aaki محاكى m7aaka
MaSdar Noun of Instance
حاكي حاكي حاكو

7aaki 7aaki 7aaku

Present Past
Ana 7aaki b7aaki حاكي بحاكي 7aakeet حاكيت
Inte t7aaki bét7aaki تحاكي بتحاكي 7aakeet حاكيت
Inti t7aaki bét7aaki تحاكي بتحاكي 7aakeeti حاكيتي
Huwwe y7aaki bi7aaki يحاكي بحاكي 7aaka حاكى
Hiyye t7aaki bét7aaki تحاكي بتحاكي 7aaket حاكت
Né7na n7aaki mén7aaki نحاكي منحاكي 7aakeena حاكينا
Intu t7aaku bét7aaku تحاكو بتحاكو 7aakeetu حاكيتو
Hénnen y7aaku bi7aaku يحاكي بحاكو 7aaku حاكو


Tfa33al yétfa33al

تعلم t3allam
  Active Participle Passive Participle
متعلم mét3allem متعلم mét3allam
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تعلم ta3allum N/A
تعلم تعلمي تعلمو

t3allam t3allami t3allamu

Present Past
Ana ét3allam bét3allam اتعلم بتعلم t3allam@t تعلمت
Inte tét3allam btét3allam تتعلم بتتعلم t3allam@t تعلمت
Inti tét3allami btét3allami تتعلمي بتتعلمي t3allamti تعلمتي
Huwwe yét3allam byét3allam يتعلم بيتعلم t3allam تعلم
Hiyye tét3allam btét3allam تتعلم بتتعلم t3allamet تعلمت
Né7na nét3allam mnét3allam نتعلم منتعلم t3allamna تعلمنا
Intu tét3allamu btét3allamu تتعلمو بتتعلمو t3allamtu تعلمتو
Hénnen yét3allamu byét3allamu يتعلمو بيتعلمو t3allamu تعلمو


Tfa33a yétfa33a

تخبى tkhabba

‘hide, be hidden’

  Active Participle Passive Participle
متخبي métkhabbi N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تخبي takhabbi N/A
تخبى تخبي تخبو

tkhabba tkhabbi tkhabbu

Present Past
Ana étkhabba bétkhabba اتخبى بتخبى tkhabbeet تخبيت
Inte tétkhabba btétkhabba تتخبى بتتخبى tkhabbeet تخبيت
Inti tétkhabbi btétkhabbi تتخبي بتتخبي tkhabbeeti تخبيتي
Huwwe yétkhabba byétkhabba يتخبى بيتخبى tkhabba تخبى
Hiyye tétkhabba btétkhabba تتخبى بتتخبى tkhabbet تخبت
Né7na nétkhabba mnétkhabba نتخبى منتخبى tkhabbeena تخبينا
Intu tétkhabbu btétkhabbu تتخبو بتتخبو tkhabbeetu تخبيتو
Hénnen yétkhabbu byétkhabbu يتخبو بيتخبو tkhabbu تخبو


Tfaa3al yétfaa3al

تجاوب tjaawab
  Active Participle Passive Participle
متجاوب métjaaweb N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تجاوب tajaawub N/A
تجاوب تجاوبي تجاوبو

tjaawab tjaawabi tjaawabu

Present Past
Ana étjaawab bétjaawab اتجاوب بتجاوب tjaawab@t تجاوبت
Inte tétjaawab btétjaawab تتجاوب بتتجاوب tjaawab@t تجاوبت
Inti tétjaawabi btétjaawabi تتجاوبي بتتجاوبي tjaawabti تجاوبتي
Huwwe yétjaawab byétjaawab يتجاوب بيتجاوب tjaawab تجاوب
Hiyye tétjaawab btétjaawab تتجاوب بتتجاوب tjaawabet تجاوبت
Né7na nétjaawab mnétjaawab نتجاوب منتجاوب tjaawabna تجاوبنا
Intu tétjaawabu btétjaawabu تتجاوبو بتتجاوبو tjaawabtu تجاوبتو
Hénnen yétjaawabu byétjaawabu يتجاوبو بيتجاوبو tjaawabu تجاوبو


Tfaa3a yétfaa3a

تحاكى t7aaka
‘be spoken to’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
متحاكي mét7aaki N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تحاكي ta7aaki N/A
تحاكى تحاكي تحاكو

t7aaka t7aaki t7aaku

Present Past
Ana ét7aaka bét7aaka اتحاكى بتحاكى t7aakeet تحاكيت
Inte tét7aaka btét7aaka تتحاكى بتتحاكى t7aakeet تحاكيت
Inti tét7aaki btét7aaki تتحاكي بتتحاكي t7aakeeti تحاكيتي
Huwwe yét7aaka byét7aaka يتحاكى بيتحاكى t7aaka تحاكى
Hiyye tét7aaka btét7aaka تتحاكى بتتحاكى t7aaket تحاكت
Né7na nét7aaka mnét7aaka نتحاكى منتحاكى t7aakeena تحاكينا
Intu tét7aaku btét7aaku تتحاكو بتتحاكو t7aakeetu تحاكيتو
Hénnen yét7aaku byét7aaku يتحاكو بيتحاكو t7aaku تحاكو

This ~bonus bonus bonus~ post is pretty self-explanatory, I think. All forms given here are Syrian – minor variations occur in other dialects.

This is not a comprehensive list of all of the possible conjugation patterns of Syrian. Every Arabic verb has a present vowelling (e.g. yéf3al) and a past vowelling (e.g. fé3el). Most verbs pair a present vowelling with a past vowelling according to predictable patterns – most fé3el verbs are yéf3al verbs in the present, for example, and most fa3al verbs are either yéf3el or yéf3ol verbs in the present. There are a not-insignificant number of verbs, however, which have unpredictable or unusual pairings of a present and a past vowelling. Only a dictionary or native speakers can provide this information. Nonetheless, any verb which has fa3al vowelling in the past will conjugate in the past like katab here. Likewise, any verb which has yéf3al vowelling in the present will conjugate like yét3ab here.

Although a lot of these patterns have obvious correspondences to fuSHa patterns and are probably related to them (fa3ila > fé3el), fuSHa verbs do not necessarily have the corresponding vowelling in colloquial. The colloquial form can only be learnt from a dictionary or from natives.

Fa3al fé3el; yéf3el yéf3ol yéf3al

These are the two ‘sound’ past vowellings and three ‘sound’ present vowellings. Probably the most common pattern is fa3alyéf3el or fa3al-yéf3ol, followed by fé3el-yéf3al. The only pattern in meaning you can generally observe  is that the majority of form I verbs of becoming are fé3el-yéf3al, as té3eb is (‘get tired’). However, far from all fé3el verbs are verbs of becoming, as you can see from the second example, mések.

كتب  katab
‘to write’
Active Participle Passive Participle
كاتب  kaateb مكتوب maktuub
MaSdar Noun of Instance
كتابة  kitaabe N/A
كتوب كتبي كتبو
ktoob ktébi ktébu
Present Past
Ana éktob béktob اكتب بكتب katab@t كتبت
Inte téktob btéktob تكتب بتكتب katab@t كتبت
Inti ték@tbi bték@tbi تكتبي بتكتبي katabti كتبتي
Huwwe yéktob byéktob يكتب بيكتب katab كتب
Hiyye téktob btéktob تكتب بتكتب katbet كتبت
Né7na néktob mnéktob نكتب منكتب katabna كتبنا
Intu ték@tbu bték@tbu تكتبو بتكتبو katabtu كتبتو
Hénnen yék@tbu byék@tbu يكتبو بيكتبو katabu كتبو



مسك mések
‘to hold, catch’
Active Participle Passive Participle
ماسك  maasek ممسوك  mamsuuk
MaSdar Noun of Instance
مسك  mas@k مسكة  maske
مسيك مسكي مسكو
mseek mséki mséku
Present Past
Ana émsek bémsek امسك بمسك msék@t مسكت
Inte témsek btémsek تمسك بتمسك msék@t مسكت
Inti tém@ski btém@ski تمسكي بتمسكي msékti مسكتي
Huwwe yémsek byémsek يمسك بيمسك mések مسك
Hiyye témsek btémsek تمسك بتمسك mésket مسكت
Né7na némsek mnémsek نمسك منمسك msékna مسكنا
Intu tém@sku btém@sku تمسكو بتمسكو mséktu مسكتو
Hénnen yém@sku byém@sku يمسكو بيمسكو mésku مسكو


تعب  té3eb
‘get tired’
Active Participle Passive Participle
تعبان  ta3baan
MaSdar Noun of Instance
تعب  ta3@b N/A
تعاب تعبي تعبو
t3aab t3abi t3abu
Present Past
Ana ét3ab bét3ab اتعب بتعب t3éb@t تعبت
Inte tét3ab btét3ab تتعب بتتعب t3éb@t تعبت
Inti tét3abi btét3abi تتعبي بتتعبي t3ébti تعبتي
Huwwe yét3ab byét3ab يتعب بيتعب t3éb@t تعب
Hiyye tét3ab btét3ab تتعب بتتعب té3bet تعبت
Né7na nét3ab mnét3ab نتعب منتعب t3ébna تعبنا
Intu tét3abu btét3abu تتعبو بتتعبو t3ébtu تعبتو
Hénnen yét3abu byét3abu يتعبو بيتعبو té3bu تعبو


a3al; yaa3ol

This pattern only exists with two ‘hamzated’ verbs, akal  ‘eat’ and akhad  ‘take’.

اخد akhad
‘to take’
Active Participle Passive Participle
آخد aakhed مأخود ma2khuud
MaSdar Noun of Instance
اخد akh@d اخدة akhde
خود خدي خدو khood khédi khédu
Present Past
Ana aakhod baakhod آخد باخد akhad@t اخدت
Inte taakhod btaakhod تاخد بتاخد akhad@t اخدت
Inti taakhdi btaakhdi تاخدي بتاخدي akhatti اخدتي
Huwwe yaakhod byaakhod ياخد بياخد akhad اخد
Hiyye taakhod btaakhod تاخد بتاخد akhdet اخدت
Né7na naakhod mnaakhod ناخد مناخد akhadna اخدنا
Intu taakhdu btaakhdu تاخدو بتاخدو akhattu اخدتو
Hénnen yaakhdu byaakhdu ياخدو بياخدو akhadu اخدو


wé3el wa3al; yuu3al yuu3el

These are the patterns used by weak-initial verbs (‘assimilating verbs’ I seem to remember they’re called in fuSHa teaching materials). They are variations on the sound forms and act generally predictably apart from the treatment of the first consonant in the present, so we’ll only include one example here, wéSel. Note that for some speakers, at least some of these verbs act like they do in fuSHa, dropping their initial consonant entirely – so you will hear for example téSel ‘you arrive’ as well as tuuSal.

وصل wéSel


Active Participle Passive Participle
واصل وصلان waaSel waSlaan N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
وصول wSuul N/A
وصال وصلي وصلو
wSaal wSali wSalu
Present Past
Ana uuSel buuSel اوصل بوصل wSél@t وصلت
Inte tuuSel btuuSel توصل بتوصل wSél@t وصلت
Inti tuuSli btuuSli توصلي بتوصلي wSélti وصلتي
Huwwe yuuSel byuuSel يوصل بيوصل wéSel وصل
Hiyye tuuSel btuuSel توصل بتوصل wéSlet وصلنا
Né7na nuuSel mnuuSel نوصل منوصل wSélna وصلنا
Intu tuuSel btuuSli توصلو بتوصلو wSéltu وصلتو
Hénnen yuuSlu byuuSlu يوصلو بيوصلو wéSlu وصلو


faal (fél@t); yfiil yfuul yfaal

These are the so-called hollow verbs with a semivowel (w, y) as their middle root letter. There is only one possible past vowelling in Syrian – down from one in fuSHa – because of the merger of i u to é in stressed syllables, but there are three possible present vowellings. The rarest, as in fuSHa, is yfaal. The other two are both quite common. Note the regularised passive participle.

جاب  jaab
‘to bring’
Active Participle Passive Participle
جايب  jaayeb مجيوب  majyuub
MaSdar Noun of Instance
جيب جيبي جيبو
jiib jiibi jiibu
Present Past
Ana jiib bjiib جيب بجيب jéb@t جبت
Inte tjiib bétjiib تجيب بتجيب jéb@t جبت
Inti tjiibi bétjiibi تجيبي بتجيبي jébti جبتي
Huwwe yjiib bijiib يجيب بجيب jaab جاب
Hiyye tjiib bétjiib تجيب بتجيب jaabet جابت
Né7na njiib ménjiib نجيب منجيب jébna جبنا
Intu tjiibu bétjiibu تجيبو بتجيبو jébtu جبتو
Hénnen yjiibu bijiibu يجيبو بجيبو jaabu جابو


داق  daa2

‘to taste’

Active Participle Passive Participle
دايق  daaye2 مديوق  madyuu2
MaSdar Noun of Instance
دوق  doo2 N/A
دوق دوقي دوقو
duu2 duu2i duu2u
Present Past
Ana duu2 bduu2 دوق بدوق dé2@t دقت
Inte tduu2 bétduu2 تدوق بتدوق dé2@t دقت
Inti tduu2i bétduu2i تدوقي بتدوقي dé2ti دقتي
Huwwe yduu2 biduu2 يدوق بدوق daa2 داق
Hiyye tduu2 bétduu2 تدوق بتدوق daa2et داقت
Né7na nduu2 ménduu2 ندوق مندوق dé2na دقنا
Intu tduu2u bétduu2u تدوقو بتدوقو dé2tu دقتو
Hénnen yduu2u biduu2u يدوقو بدوقو daa2u داقو



نام  naam

‘to sleep’

Active Participle Passive Participle
نايم  naayem N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
نوم  noom نومة  noome
نام نامي نامو
naam naami naamu
Present Past
Ana naam bnaam نام بنام ném@t نمت
Inte tnaam bétnaam تنام بتنام ném@t نمت
Inti tnaami bétnaami تنامي بتنامي némti نمتي
Huwwe ynaam binaam ينام بنام naam نام
Hiyye tnaam bétnaam تنام بتنام naamet نامت
Né7na nnaam bénnaam ننام مننام némna نمنا
Intu tnaamu bétnaamu تنامو بتنامو némtu نمتو
Hénnen ynaamu binaamu ينامو بنامو naamu نامو


fa3a fé3i; yéf3i yéf3a

These are the ‘defective verbs’ with a semivowel as their final consonant. They generally pattern, like their sound verb equivalents, as fa3a-yéf3i and fé3i-yéf3a, although there are exceptions. Many of the second class are verbs of becoming. The other possible vowelling in fuSHa, yaf3u, does not typically appear in 3aammiyye except in classicisms like yabdu ‘it seems’. A few verbs from fuSHa with this vowelling also exist in 3aammiyye as yéf3i verbs, e.g. سطى saTa (yéSTi) ‘rob’.

طفى Tafa

‘turn off’

Active Participle Passive Participle
طافي Taafi مطفي méTfi
MaSdar Noun of Instance
طفي Tafy N/A
اطفي اطفي اطفو

éTfi éTfi éTfu

Present Past
Ana éTfi béTfi اطفي بطفي Tafeet طفيت
Inte téTfi btéTfi تطفي بتطفي Tafeet طفيت
Inti téTfi btéTfi تطفي بتطفي Tafeeti طفيتي
Huwwe yéTfi يطفي بيطفي Tafa طفى
Hiyye téTfi btéTfi تطفي بتطفي Tafet طفت
Né7na néTfi mnéTfi نطفي منطفي Tafeena طفينا
Intu téTfu btéTfu تطفو بتطفو Tafeetu طفيتو
Hénnen yéTfu byéTfu يطفو بيطفو Tafu طفو



نسي nési


Active Participle Passive Participle
نسيان nésyaan منسي ménsi
MaSdar Noun of Instance
نسي nasy N/A
انسى انسي انسو

énsa énsi énsu

Present Past
Ana énsa bénsa انسى بنسى nsiit نسيت
Inte ténsa bténsa تنسى بتنسى nsiit نسيت
Inti ténsi bténsi تنسي بنتسي nsiiti نسيتي
Huwwe yénsa byénsa ينسى بينسى nési نسي
Hiyye ténsa bténsa تنسى بتنسى nésyet نسيت
Né7na nénsa mnénsa ننسى مننسى nsiina نسينا
Intu ténsu bténsu تنسو بتنسو nsiitu نسيتو
Hénnen yénsu byénsu ينسو بينسو nésyu نسيو


Fa33; yfé33

There is only one common pattern for doubled verbs, fa33-yfé33, although there may be some with yfa33. Doubled verbs are the class which differ most radically from fuSHa in their conjugation. Their active participles are regularised (daa2e2), and their past conjugation has been radically remodelled along the lines of weak verbs. Instead of splitting the consonants apart, in colloquial -ee- is inserted between the end of the stem and the suffix.


دق da22

‘hit, tap’

Active Participle Passive Participle
داقق daa2e2 مدقوق mad2uu2
MaSdar Noun of Instance
دق da22 دقة da22a
دق دقي دقو
dé22 dé22i dé22u
Present Past
Ana dé22 bdé22 دق بدق da22eet دقيت
Inte tdé22 bétdé22 تدق بتدق da22eet دقيت
Inti tdé22i bétde22i تدقي بتدقي da22eeti دقيتي
Huwwe ydé22 bidé22 يدق بدق da22 دق
Hiyye tdé22 bétdé22 تدق بتدق da22et دقت
Né7na ndé22 méndé22 ندق مندق da22eena دقينا
Intu tdé22u bétdé22u تدقو بتدقو da22eetu دقيتو
Hénnen ydé22 ydé22u يدقو بدقو da22u دقو

هلأ بدي اسألك سؤال. مين اكتر, نحنا ولا هنن؟
halla2 béddi és2alak su2aal. miin aktar, né7na wélla hénnen?
I want to ask you a question. Are there more of us or more of them?

miin aktar?  – Unlike in (at least my) English, you say straightforwardly in Arabic ‘we are [X number]’, ‘we are many’, as opposed to ‘there are X of us, there are a lot of us.

wélla – ‘or’, used commonly in questions where there are two mutually exclusive options.

حسب. شو قصدك بنحنا ؟
7asab. shu 2aSdak b-né7na?

It depends. What do you mean by ‘us’?

7asab – a preposition meaning ‘according to’, ‘depending on’, here used on its own to mean ‘it depends’.

2aSd – meaning, intention.

بشكل عام
bi-shek@l 3aamm.
In general.

w hénnen?
And them?

كمان بشكل عام
kamaan bi-shek@l 3aamm.
In general too.

ولله اذا بشكل عام نحنا اكتر منهن بكتير
waLLa iza bi-shek@l 3aamm, né7na aktar ménnon b@ktiir.
Well, if we’re talking generally – there’s a lot more of us than there are of them.

طيب ليش هنن دائما بيربحونا؟
Tayyib leesh hénnen daa2iman byerba7uuna?
OK, so why are they always beating us?

ايوا. يا سيدي هنن بيربحونا لإنهن عم يطبقو علينا خطة
eewa. yaa siidi, hénnen byerba7uuna la2énnon 3am yTabbe2u khéTTa.
I see. Well, they beat us because they’re carrying out a plan against us.

eewa – in Syrian means ‘I see’ and not usually ‘yes’ (as it does in Egyptian).

yaa siidi – ‘sir’. A common term of address between friends, especially used to begin philosophising.

Tabba2 khéTTa – this is actually a slightly tricky one to translate, although the meaning is clear – Tabba2 means to apply (a law) or put (a plan) into action.

شو هالخطة دخلك؟
shu ha-lkhéTTa dakhlak?
What plan is that then?

dakhlak – this probably originally meant something like ‘under your protection’, and is synonymous with dakhiilak and a range of other words which mean something like ‘if you please’.

خطة فرق تسد
khéTTet farriq tasud.
Divide and conquer.

farriq tasud – divide and conquer, in MSA. Farriq is an imperative ‘divide’ and tasud is a jussive form of tasuudu ‘to rule’. You can put a jussive verb Y after another verb X to mean do X so that you Y.

ايوا… طيب, ليش ما منطبق معهن شي خطة؟
aywa… Tayyib, leesh maa ménTabbe2 ma3on shi khéTTa?
I see… OK, so why don’t we put in place a plan for them?

shi – an optional indefinite article here, like ‘a’.

عم منطبق. مين اللي قللك انو ما عم منطبق؟
3am ménTabbe2. miin élli 2al-lak énno maa 3am
We are. Who told you we weren’t?

‘Who is it that told you that we aren’t putting in place [a plan]?’

انو خطة؟
anu khéTTa?
What plan?

anu – anu/ani mean ‘which’, and in interrogative sentences are synonymous with ayy, the more familiar form from fuSHaa. Some speakers use anu for masculine and ani for feminine, but lots of speakers use either anu or ani generally for both.

نفس الخطة
nafs él-khéTTa.
The same plan.

هاي تبع فرق تسد؟
haay taba3 farriq tasud?
The divide and conquer one?

Taba3, the Levantine bitaa3. It can agree – here it would be tab3et – but often it doesn’t.

The very same.

bi7azaafiira is a fuSHa expression meaning something like ‘lock, stock and barrel’, ‘in its totality’.

وليش هنن عم يربحونا؟
w leesh hénnen 3am yérba7uuna?
But why are they beating us?

لإنو عم نطبق معهن نفس الخطة
la2énno 3am @nTabbe2 ma3on nafs él-khéTTa.
Because we’re putting in place the same plan for them.

ما فهمت عليك
maa fhémt 3aleek.
I don’t understand.

لك قلتلك. عم نطبق معهن نفس الخطة
lak 2élt-éllak. 3am @nTabbe2 ma3on nafs él-khéTTa.
I told you. We’re putting in place the same plan for them.

lak – the old attention grabber again.

مبلا مبلا, هاي فهمتها
mbala mbala, haay fhémta.
No, no – I get that.

mbala is like ‘si’ in French here – it’s a negative response to a negative (in this case the implied ‘you haven’t understood). In fuSHaa this is bala بلى.

haay – when ‘this’ refers to a situation or something abstract, it is usually feminine. Literally he says ‘this, I’ve understood it.’

لا هاي بالذات ما فهمتها
la2 haay bizzaat maa fhémta.
No, this is exactly what you don’t get.

bizzaat – precisely, in itself.

لأ فهمتها, عم منطبق معهن نفس الخطة. بس ليش هنن دائما بيربحونا؟
la2 fhémta. 3am ménTabbe2 ma3on nafs él-khéTTa. bass leesh hénnen daa2iman byérba7uuna?!
No, I get it. We’re putting the same plan in place for them. But why do they always beat us?

لك لإنو عم نطبق معهن نفس الخطة. يعني معهن مو عليهن, فهام!
lak la2énno 3am @nTabbe2 ma3hon nafs él-khéTTa! ya3ni ma3hon, muu 3aleyhon! fhaam!
Because we’re putting in place the plan for them! For them, not against them! Understand!

The punchline here rests on the multiple meanings of ma3, which do not translate perfectly into English. Whilst 3ala can only have a meaning of action which is against or to the detriment of what follows it, ma3 has a broader use than English with which it is a bit difficult to explain – na3mel ma3on nafs il7arakaat ‘let’s do the same things to them’. It also, of course, means ‘with’ in the sense of ‘in conjunction with’.

ايوا… ايوا… هلأ فهمت عليك. بتفرق.. بتفرق
eewa… eewa, eewa. halla2 fhémt 3aleek. btéfre2. btéfre2.
Huh. I see. Now I understand. That is different…

btéfre2 (3an) – be different (from), or make a difference. muu faar2a ma3i (maa btéfre2 ma3i, muu far2aane ma3i etc) means ‘it makes no difference to me’.

بتفرق لكان ما بتفرق؟
btéfre2 lakaan maa btéfre2?
Of course it’s different!

lakaan maa btéfre2? – This is yet another use of lakaan. Here it’s a rhetorical question immediately following the statement. ‘Of course it makes a difference – how could it not?’


منيح اللي فهمت عليي
mnii7 élli fhémt 3aleek.
It’s good you understood.

You might expect énno in this sense of ‘that’, and énno would also work here. For unfathomable reasons, though, élli also works with a small set of adjectives which largely seem to express value judgements about a situation.

مو عليون
muu 3aleyyon.
Not against them.

شغلة واضحة متل عين الشمس بدو تلت ساعات ليفهمها
shéghle waaD7a mét@l 3een ésh-shams béddo tlétt saa3aat la-yéfhama.
There as clear as day and it takes him three hours to understand it.

shéghle – thingy, thing.

waaD7a mét@l 3een ésh-shams – ‘clear like the sun’s eye’ (i.e. disc). This is quite a common collocation.

béddo tlétt… – literally the whole structure is ‘a thing that is as clear as the sun’s eye, he needs three hours to understand it’. Béddi is often used in time expressions like this: béddi kham@s da2aaye2 la-2uuSal ‘I’ll be there in five minutes’, ‘it’ll take me five minutes’.