This clip is from بقعة ضوء buq3et Daw2 (spotlight), a sketch show which has been airing for quite a long time now and has featured at one time or another basically every Syrian actor. It is the first scene of the episode حمام السلام ‭‭7amaam éssalaam ‘the dove of peace’.

The entire episode is an allegorical tale about destroying what you have by fighting with your friends and neighbours over political differences. The two main characters, Wa7iid and Sherko, are pigeon-fanciers (كشاشة kashshaashe or حميماتي  ‭‭7amiimaati). This hobby (or sometimes profession) is provided with the following saucy definition by one internet site discussing a decision to impose government licensing laws on people who want to keep pigeons:

الكشاشون فئة لم تكتف بتربية الحمام لرقته وجماله وحنين هديله بل تعلقوا بالحمام تعلق العاشق بالمعشوقة وبذلوا في سبيله المطال والوقت حتى قيل إن الكشاش <سلبة>, هي نفسها الاستلاب في لغة الفصحاء>

Romantic attachment to birds aside, a kashshaash is somebody who catches pigeons, doves etc by maintaining a flock of birds (كشة kashshe) who from time to time they send flying off into the sky. Other birds (probably belonging to another kashshaash) will mingle into the flock and then when it lands the kashshaash grabs them and sticks them away in a cage. Profit can then be made out of selling them, if you’re that way inclined. This activity (known as كش kashsh, the maSdar of the verb kashsh ykéshsh) has something of a bad reputation and the kashshaashe are known for stealing from one another and for lying, which is referenced by popular proverbs and slang (لا تكش laa tkéshsh ‘don’t lie’).

A story of this kind forms the basis for the allegory. Wa7iid steals a bird belonging to Sheeko’s flock, a طاير حر Taayer 7érr (‘free bird’). In return, Sherko steals one of Wa7iid’s, nicknamed البغدادي élbaghdaadi. Their quarrel, which is rooted in their ‘political differences’ (the names of the birds are allusions to the Free Syrian Army and ISIS, of course), escalates despite the warnings of their wiser, older mutual friend, and in the end results in the destruction of both their flocks and the loss of everything and the ‘intervention’ of outsiders.

This transcription is of the first scene. Although it includes a lot of very fast shouting and some avian vocabulary, the entire episode is worth watching.

حيو الطير الكشميييييري
7ayyo TTeer élkashmiiri
Hooray for the Kashmiri bird!

حيو is a difficult one to translate. ‘hooray’ sounds much stupider in English than حيو does, but it covers a vaguely similar semantic territory.

 شفلي هالكشة شفلي… شي رفع
shéfli halkashshe shéfli… shi rafi3.
Just take a look at that flock, eh? Glorious.

شفلي shuuf + li with shortening of the long vowel. شاف is typically glossed as ‘see’, but can also have the meaning of ‘look at’ (i.e. seeing deliberately).

شي رفع shi rafi3 – شي often appears before adjectives like this as a kind of dummy noun for the adjective to modify: shi ghaali ktiir ‘wow, that’s pretty expensive’, shi 2akiid ‘of course’, etc.

تعال تعال تعال هاتو هاتو
ta3aal ta3aal ta3aal… haato haato
Come over here, come on, give it here.

طيرو طيرو ليكو مبين فريخ يعني بعدو
Tayyro Tayyro. Leeko mbayyen @freekh ya3ni ba3do
Come on, let it go. It’s obviously just a chick still.

طيّر is obviously the causative of Taar ‘fly’. Here it means ‘let it fly away’, ‘send it flying away’ – i.e. release the bird that they’ve caught with the كشة.

ليكو – literally ‘there it is’.

مبين ‘clearly’.

بعدو – ba3d plus personal pronouns can mean ‘still’ in the same meaning as لسا.

شو هادا معلمي سيكي ما؟
shu haada m3allmi, siiki maa?
What’s this, boss? A siiki, right?

ما – one of various different ways to do tag questions, alongside مو, صح, مو هيك, ما هيك etc.

سيكي؟ لك تعلم. هادا اسمو طير حر
siiki? lak @t3allam. haada ésmo Teer 7érr
Siiki? Listen up and learn something. This is called a ‘free bird’.

لك is a difficult particle to define. It often emphasises or gets someone’s attention. It is invariant.

I have no idea what a سيكي is (or if I’ve even heard it right), but a طير حر is actually a real bird, apparently called a Lanner falcon.

يعني… اصطفل؟
ya3ni… éSTéfel?
So… do whatever you want?

اصطفل is an impolite way to say ‘do whatever you want’, ‘get lost’, ‘whatever’. It literally means ‘act freely’, but is usually a rude thing you say to someone who insists on doing something different from what you think is the best thing to do. I’m not sure whether this is supposed to be a pun on طير حر (perhaps in the meaning ‘fly free’), a reference to حر, or if he’s just saying ‘so, uhh… I should just piss off then’ or what. Regardless, it’s not that important.

You got it!

ايوا with a certain intonation is used to mean ‘yes, exactly!’ in response to guesses at the answers to questions.

لك يا وحيد يا وحيد انت ما عندك منو. يعني مالك علاقة فيه
lak yaa wa7iid yaa wa7iid maa 3éndak ménno. ya3ni maalak 3alaa2a fii
Come on, Wa7iid. You haven’t got any of these, the bird’s nothing to do with you!

ما عندك منو – literally ‘you don’t have of it’. The -o here refers to the طير حر.

مالك علاقة فيه – in Damascene مالـ can be one of two things – either a negative of الـ él- in the sense of ‘to have’, or a variant of مانـ (the negative particle). Here it’s the former. مالك علاقة فيه obviously literally means ‘you have nothing to do with it’ (‘you have no connection with it’) but this translation in English gives a different meaning from the intention here, which is not literal.

رزقة من عندو لله معلم
réz2a mén 3éndo la2aLLa m3allem
A gift from God, mate.

من عندو لله – you might mistake this for ‘from him, to God’ but in fact this is an example of the construction mentioned here with direct objects. Any attached pronoun – whatever it’s attached to – can be made explicit by following it up with la- plus what it refers to (here -o = الله).

بس هادا اكيد لحدا معلمي
bass haada 2akiid la7ada m3allmi
But this surely belongs to someone already, boss…

لـ la- is probably the most common way of expressing possession.

معلم m3allem is literally ‘teacher’ and commonly used to mean ‘boss’, but it’s also one of the most common informal styles of address between men, as used above. معلمي on the other hand is what you call your boss and is more unambiguously respectful.

مزبوط عم يحكي هادا الوزوز. لإنو الطير الي
maZbuut 3am yé7ki haada lwazwaz! la2énno éTTeer 2éli!
The little gosling’s right. The bird belongs to me!

مزبوط عم يحكي – exact/precise(ly), he’s talking.

مزبوط هادا الحكي! هادا الحر النا! رجعو!
maZbuut haada l7aki! haada l7érr 2élna! rajj3uu!
It’s true! The free bird’s ours! Give it back!

رجع is obviously the causative of réje3 ‘to return’ and means ‘put back’, ‘give back’, etc etc…

اي لا يا سيدي مو الك. شو اذا حر صار الك يعني؟
ee la2 siidi muu 2élak. shu iza 7érr Saar 2élak ya3ni?
Nah mate, it doesn’t belong to you. What, does every ‘free bird’ belong to you?

سيدي – literally ‘sir’, and what you call superiors in the army for example. It’s also used in informal conversations (along with its feminine equivalent ستي) as a normal term of address, often when laying down the law or giving advice.

اذا حر صار الك –  literally if (it’s) a free bird, then it’s (become) yours?

وحيد؟ رجعو احسنلك اه؟ رجعو لا تزيدا!
wa7iid! rajj3o a7sallak aah! rajj3o, laa tziida!
Wa7iid! Give it back or it’ll go badly for you, huh? Don’t make it worse!

رجعو احسنلك – literally ‘give it back, it’d be better for you’. the n of a7san assimilates to the next letter. احسنلك is a good word to use to be aggressive.

لا تزيدا – zaad is literally ‘increase’ (‘don’t increase it’). The ـا here doesn’t really refer to anything specific – usually these dummy pronouns are feminine in Arabic.

لا يا سيدي بدي زيدا لإنو هادا الطير اساسا مو لالك
laa yaa siidi béddi ziida. la2énno haada TTeer 2asaasan muu la2élak.
No, mate, I’m gonna make it worse. Because this bird isn’t yours to start with.

لك شو هالحكي شو هالحكي رج تجنني رح تجنني! عم نقللك الي هادا الله وكيلك الي
lak shu hal7aki shu hal7aki! ra7 @tjannénni ra7 @tjannénni! 3am @n2éllak 2éli haada, aLLa wakiilak éli!
What the hell are you saying? You’re going to make me go mad! We’re telling you that it belongs to me, I swear to God, it belongs to me!

شو هالحكي – ‘what’s this talk’, very common expression for surprise.

جنن – ‘drive mad’. The causative of jann yjénn ‘go mad’. Whilst بجنن bijannen is often a positive description of something nice, the verb can be used in a sense similar to English too.

الله وكيلك – something like ‘as God as my witness’.

اي وبدي فكاكو
ee w béddi fkaako.
OK. Then I want a ransom.

لك يا جبيبي يا عيني يا روحي انت الطير شك لعندك هيك بالغلط يعني مو بشطارتك سحبتو لك رح تجنني
lak yaa 7abiibi, yaa 3eeni, yaa roo7i inte. éTTeer shakk la3éndak heek bélghalaT, ya3ni muu bshaTaartak sa7abto! Lak ra7 tjannénni!
Look, pal, listen to me. The bird came down on your side by accident. It wasn’t your cleverness that brought it down there. You’re going to make me go mad!

يا حبيبي يا عيني يا روحي – my love, my eye, my soul. All terms of affection, although their use here isn’t very affectionate.

شك لعندك – this use of shakk apparently literally means ‘swoop down (on prey)’ and is presumably unrelated to the ‘doubt’ meaning. لعندك is ‘down to (where you are)’, probably naturally translated by something like ‘on your side’ or just ‘to you’ in English.

بالغلط – by accident, by mistake (literally ‘in error’, I guess – the article is generic).

مو بشطارتك سحبتو – you didn’t bring it down (سحب, literally ‘pull’) by (b-) your cleverness (شطارة).

لك مزبوط هادا الحكي رجعلنا الحر احسن ما اجي عدللو شاربو لهاني
lak mazbuuT haada l7aki! rajj3élna l7érr a7san ma éji 3addéllo shaarbo lahaani
Yeah, it’s true! Give us the bird back or else I’ll come over there and rearrange Hany’s moustache!

احسن ما – often ‘in case’ or, to rely a bit on archaism, ‘lest’. It’s the latter meaning here.

عدللو شاربو – the first word is a verb 3addal ‘rearrange, set right’, in the first person subjunctive (so it has no prefix at all). In other dialects it would be 2a3addel. The –lo on the end is one of the -l- suffixes discussed here. Taken together as a unit, it means ‘I’ll rearrange (for) him his moustache!’ The la-haani bit is another one of these additional la- objects we’ve seen, here connecting Hany with the -lo. As you can see, this construction is very common.

خراس انت خراس حاج… متل الفرخ
khraas inte khraas 7aaj twazwez métl élfar@kh
Shut your mouth, you. Stop squeaking like a chicklet.

حاج – literally ‘stop’, followed by a subjunctive. We’ve seen this before elsewhere.

يا سيدي نزل لعندي بالغلط وما بدي فكاكو وما بدي رجعو منيح هيك؟
yaa siidi nézel la3éndi bélghalaT w maa béddi fkaako w maa béddi rajj3o. mnii7 heek?
OK, pal. It came down on this side by accident, and I don’t want a ransom and I’m not going to give it back. How’s that for you?

منيح هيك؟ literally ‘good like that?’

شو هاد؟ اي, ماشي يا وحيد. ماشي. انا بورجيك انا اللي لورجيك!
shu haad!? ee, maashi yaa wa7iid. maashi. 2ana bwarjiik. 2ana élli la-warjiik.
Whaaaaaat?! Right, okay then Wa7iid. OK. I’ll show you. I’ll show you all right!

شو هاد – literally ‘what’s this?!’ but very common as an expression of surprise

ماشي – used far less in Syrian than in some other dialects, means ‘fine then’ or ‘all right’, literally ‘it is walking’

انا اللي لورجيك – the verb here is warja/ywarji ‘to show’. The prefix la- is probably future. The اللي makes it literally ‘I’m the one who is going to show you’. انا اللي is often used in a way which is not best translated into English with a relative clause, as in for example انا اللي بعرف ‘of course I know’.

لك روح يا
lak ruu7 yaa!
Get out of here!

خلصنا لك وحيد بلا مشاكل رجعلو الطير مبين نزل لعندك بالغلط
khalléSna lak wa7iid bala mashaakel. rajjé3lo TTeer, mbayyen nézel la3éndak bilghalaT.
Come on, Wa7iid, don’t make problems. Give him back the bird, it obviously landed over here by accident.

خلصنا – come on, leave it out, etc etc.

بلا مشاكل – literally ‘without problems’, but بلا is used a lot on its own like this in a kind of imperative sense.

يا سيدي لو واحد غيرو لرجعو بلا فكاكو بس هادا السل المسوس لأ.
yaa siidi law waa7ed gheero la-rajj3o bala fkaako bass haada sséll lémsawwes la2.
Mate, if it was anyone else I’d give it back without a ransom. But this rotten sneak, no way.

لو واحد غيرو – we discussed the basic syntax of conditionals here. This is a nominal sentence, so it needs no verb – the conditional is law waa7ed gheero ‘if it was someone else’, and the main verb is لرجعو ‘I would (be going to) give it back’, with what looks like a future marker on it.

غيرو – ‘other than him’, ‘different from him’, etc etc.

السل المسوس – séll is, I think, someone sneaky. مسوس msawwes is literally something like ‘rotten’ or ‘decayed’ – it refers to crops infested with سوس suus, a type of insect, or to teeth which have rotted because of plaque (also called سوس).

هادا بالذات انا صدتو معلم.
haada bizzaat 2ana séDto m3allem.
I caught it myself, boss.

صاد Saad – literally ‘to hunt’ or ‘to fish’ (same verb).

صرت تعرف تصيد ولا؟ روح كش روح روح
Sér@t ta3ref tSiid wla? ruu7 késhsh ruu7 késhsh.
Oh, all of a sudden you know how to catch birds? Go and kish.

صرت تعرف تصيد؟ – literally ‘you’ve become knowing how to hunt’? صار typically expresses changes of state and has a much broader use than English ‘become’. It is usually followed by a subjunctive verb, as is عرف in the meaning of ‘know how to’

ولا – an aggressive term of address

هلق بس فهمني انت الله يرضى عليك شو قصتك انت وشيركو على نقار ونقير
halla2 bass fahhémni énte, aLLa yérDa 3aleek, shu 2éSStak énte wsheerko 3ala n2aar w@n2iir?
Just explain to me, please – what’s wrong with you and Sheerko, always at one another’s throats?

فهمني – causative of féhem, literally to ‘make understand’.

الله يرضى عليك – ‘may God be pleased with you’. Often used to say thankyou, or – as here – attached to requests in the meaning of ‘please’, often in an exasperated way.

شو قصتك – literally ‘what’s your story’. Typically means ‘what’s wrong with you’, ‘what’s up with you’.

على نقار ونقير – at each other’s throats, always fighting, etc.

بدك ياه من الاخر؟
béddak yaa mn él2aakher?
You want the truth?

من الاخر – literally ‘from the end’.


انا واياه ما منتفق بالآراء السياسية
2ana wéyyaa maa mnéttafe2 bil2araa2 éssiyaasiyye.
Me and him disagree on politics.

انا وياه – me and him. Coordinated pronouns (‘me and him‘, ‘me and her‘ etc) always appear on the yaa- carrier.

ما منتفق بالآراء السياسية – we don’t agree in (our) political opinions

On what?!

انا وياه مالنا طيبات يعني مالنا ز… شرحلو ياها
2ana wéyyaa maalna Tayybaat… ya3ni maalna za… shra7lo yaaha.
Me and him, we don’t have… I mean, we’re not… go on, explain.

مالنا طيبات – not entirely sure why طيبات appears in the feminine plural here, but this is a set expression meaning we’re not friends, we’re not good, etc. The word he cuts off is probably زابطين zaabTiin, with a similar meaning (not suited to each other, don’t work for each other’).

شرحلو ياها – -ha again referring to something general – the situation etc.

يعني قصدو معلمي انو هي هداك شو اسمو عرفت شلون يعني هي هيك بتصير
ya3ni 2aSdo m3allmi énno hiyye hadaak, shu ésmo, 3réft @shloon, ya3ni hiyye heek béTSiir.
Well, what my boss means is, it’s like, so, that guy, what’s-his-name, you know what I mean? So, like, that’s how it happens.

شو اسمو – what’s-his-name. A common filler word. This whole sentence is fillers.

بتصير – in the feminine بتصير usually means ‘it happens’. Again the feminine here doesn’t really refer to anything. بصير on the other hand tends to mean ‘is possible’ (though this can sometimes take feminine agreement).

خلص روح كش روح
khalaS ruu7 késhsh ruu7 késhsh
Forget about it. Go and kish.

I see.

This is the other common use of ايوا, with a distinctly different intonation from the other one. This one means ‘I see’ or ‘OK, I understood’.

شفلي هي الكشة وحياة اختي وقت شوفا طايرة كإني شربان ليترين عرق صك
shéfli hayy élkashshe… wé7yaat ékhti wa2@t shuufa Taayra ka2énni shérbaan litreen 3ara2 Sékk.
Look at that flock! I swear to you, when I see them up there, it’s as if I’ve drunk two litres of araq straight.

وحيات اختي – this is the waaw of swearing oaths (the same one we all know from ولله). But of course we don’t say ‘on my sister’s life’ in English that much.

وقت شوفا – wa2@t can be used as a conjunction meaning ‘when’, literally (the) time (that). I’m pretty sure وقت بشوفا would also be acceptable here, but often these sorts of time expressions trigger subjunctive. The -a of course refers to the كشة.

كإني – (it’s) as though I…

شربان – the participle (in Syrian) of shéreb yéshrab ‘to drink’ and means ‘(in the state of) having drunk’, i.e. it has a resultative meaning. Araq is of course the famous cloudy white Levantine variant of the traditional Mediterranean way to get completely off your face, aniseed-based alcohol.

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


Forms VII and VIII complete the set used for passive verbs. Almost all form VII verbs (nfa3als) are passive, whilst only some form VIIIs (fta3als) are. Form VIII, in fact, is famously difficult to pin down to specific meanings and is used to derive several different types of verbs. But a number of common form I verbs have form VIII passives.

As with forms II to V, forms VII and VIII generally have very little variation in vowelling – that is, almost all form VII verbs derived from the same sort of root will have the same structure and vowelling. There is slightly more variation here however, with e.g. yélta2a and yélta2i both existing. Sometimes the differences imply a difference in meaning.

Form VIIIs are famously tricky because of the assimilation of normal t to emphatic T and various other associated changes. This also happens in spoken Arabic (although in fact most of these assimilations are only strange because they are indicated in writing – in terms of actual sounds they are typical in all sorts of contexts). Since these rules are covered in fuSHa we won’t discuss them here.


انمسك nmasak
‘be held, caught’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
منمسك ménmasek N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
انمسك انمسكي انمسكو

nmasek nmaski nmasku

Present Past
Ana énmasek bénmasek انمسك بنمسك nmasak@t انمسكت
Inte ténmasek bténmasek تنمسك بتنمسك nmasak@t انمسكت
Inti ténmaski bténmaski تنمسكي بتنمسكي nmasakti انمسكتي
Huwwe yénmasek byénmasek ينمسك بينمسك nmasak انمسك
Hiyye ténmasek bténmasek تنمسك بتنمسك nmasket انمسكت
Né7na nénmasek mnénmasek ننمسك مننمسك nmasakna انمسكنا
Intu ténmasku bténmasku تنمسكو بتنمسكو nmasaktu انمسكتو
Hénnen yénmasku byénmasku ينمسكو بينمسكو nmasaku انمسكو



انشاف nshaaf
‘be seen
  Active Participle Passive Participle
منشاف ménshaaf N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
انشاف انشافي انشافو

nshaaf nshaafi nshaafu

Present Past
Ana énshaaf bénshaaf انشاف بنشاف nshéf@t انشفت
Inte ténshaaf bténshaaf تنشاف بتنشاف nshéf@t انشفت
Inti ténshaafi bténshaafi تنشافي بنتشافي nshéfti انشفتي
Huwwe yénshaaf byénshaaf ينشاف بينشاف nshaaf انشاف
Hiyye ténshaaf bténshaaf تنشاف بتنشاف nshaafet انشافت
Né7na nénshaaf mnénshaaf ننشاف مننشاف nshéfna انشفنا
Intu ténshaafu bténshaafu تنشافو بتنشافو nshéftu انشفتو
Hénnen yénshaafu byénshaafu ينشافو بينشافو nshaafu انشافو



انعطى n3aTa
‘be given’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
منعطي mén3aTi N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
انعطى انعطي انعطو
n3aTa n3aTi n3aTu
Present Past
Ana én3aTa bén3aTa انعطى بنعطى n3aTeet انعطيت
Inte tén3aTa btén3aTa تنعطى بتنعطى n3aTeet انعطيت
Inti tén3aTi btén3aTi تنعطي بتنعطي n3aTeeti انعطيتي
Huwwe yén3aTa byén3aTa ينعطى بينعطى n3aTa انعطى
Hiyye tén3aTa btén3aTa تنعطى بتنعطى n3aTet انعطت
Né7na nén3aTa mnén3aTa ننعطى مننعطى n3aTeena انعطنا
Intu tén3aTu btén3aTu تنعطو بتنعطو n3aTeetu انعطيتو
Hénnen yén3aTu byén3aTu ينعطو بينعطو n3aTu انعطو



انكب nkabb
‘be thrown away’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
منكب  ménkabb N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
انكب انكبي انكبو
nkabb nkabbi nkabbu
Present Past
Ana énkabb bénkabb انكب بنكب nkabbeet انكبيت
Inte ténkabb bténkabb تنكب بتنكب nkabbeet انكبيت
Inti ténkabbi bténkabbi تنكبي بتنكبي nkabbeeti انكبيتي
Huwwe yénkabb byénkabb ينكب بينكب nkabb انكب
Hiyye ténkabb bténkabb تنكب بتنكب nkabbet انكبت
Né7na nénkabb mnénkabb ننكب مننكب nkabbeena انكبينا
Intu ténkabbu bténkabbu تنكبو بتنكبو nkabbeetu انكبيتو
Hénnen yénkabbu byénkabbu ينكبو بينكبو nkabbu انكبو



This pattern is one of the rare exceptions to Syrian stress, which is typically very predictable. The stress always falls on the first syllable of the stem (i.e. –shtégh-) in the present.

اشتغل shtaghal
  Active Participle Passive Participle
MaSdar Noun of Instance
شغل shégh@l N/A
اشتغل اشتغلي اشتغلو
sht@ghel shtéghli sht@ghlu
Present Past
Ana éshtéghel béshtéghel اشتغل بشتغل shtaghal@t اشتغلت
Inte téshtéghel btéshtéghel تشتغل بتشتغل shtaghal@t اشتغلت
Inti téshtéghli btéshtéghli تشتغلي بتشتغلي shtaghalti اشتغلتي
Huwwe yéshtéghel byéshtéghel يشتغل بيشتغل shtaghal اشتغل
Hiyye téshtéghel btéshtéghel تشتغل بتشتغل shtaghlet اشتغلت
Né7na néshtéghel mnéshtéghel نشتغل منشتغل shtaghalna اشتغلنا
Intu téshtéghlu btéshtéghlu تشتغلو بتشتغلو shtaghaltu اشتغلتو
Hénnen yéshtéghlu byéshtéghlu يشتغلو بيشتغلو shtaghalu اشتغلو



ارتاح rtaa7
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مرتاح mértaa7 N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
ارتياح irtiyaa7 N/A
ارتاح ارتاحي ارتاحو
rtaa7 rtaa7i rtaa7u
Present Past
Ana értaa7 bértaa7 ارتاح برتاح rté7@t ارتحت
Inte tértaa7 btértaa7 ترتاح بترتاح rté7@t ارتحت
Inti tértaa7i btértaa7i ترتاحي بترتاحي rté7ti ارتحتي
Huwwe yértaa7 byértaa7 يرتاح بيرتاح rtaa7 ارتاح
Hiyye tértaa7 btértaa7 ترتاح بترتاح rtaa7et ارتاحت
Né7na nértaa7 mnértaa7 نرتاح منرتاح rté7na ارتحنا
Intu tértaa7u btértaa7u ترتاحو بترتاحو rté7tu ارتحتو
Hénnen yértaa7u byértaa7u يرتاحو بيرتاحو rtaa7u ارتاحو



Some defective verbs have -a in the present instead of -i. The exact distribution varies between speaker and from region to region, but form VIIIs with passive meaning typically have -a. The verb التقى for example can mean ‘be found’ or ‘meet’, but whilst يلتقى can be the present of either, يلتقي typically only means ‘meet’ and not ‘be found’.

This pattern is one of the rare exceptions to Syrian stress, which is typically very predictable. The stress always falls on the first syllable of the stem (i.e. –lta2) in the present.

التقى lta2a
  Active Participle Passive Participle
ملتقي mélta2i N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
التقاء iltiqaa2 N/A
التقي التقي التقو
lta2i lta2i lta2u
Present Past
Ana élta2i bélta2i التقي بلتقي lta2eet التقيت
Inte télta2i btélta2i تلتقي بتلتقي lta2eet التقيت
Inti télta2i btélta2i تلتقي بتلتقي lta2eeti التقيتي
Huwwe yélta2i byélta2i يلتقي بيلتقي lta2a التقى
Hiyye télta2i btélta2i تلتقي بتلتقي lta2et التقت
Né7na nélta2i mnélta2i نلتقي منلتقي lta2eena التقينا
Intu télta2u btélta2u تلتقو بتلتقو lta2eetu التقيتو
Hénnen yélta2u byélta2u يلتقو بيلتقو lta2u التقو




اضطر DTarr
‘be obliged to’
  Active Participle Passive Participle
مضطر méDTarr N/A
MaSdar Noun of Instance
اضطر اضطري اضطرو
DTarr DTarri DTarru
Present Past
Ana éDTarr béDTarr اضطر بضطر DTarreet اضطريت
Inte téDTarr btéDTarr تضطر بتضطر DTarreet اضطريت
Inti téDTarr btéDTarr تضطر بتضطر DTarreeti اضطريتي
Huwwe yéDTarr byéDTarr يضطر بيضطر DTarr اضطر
Hiyye téDTarr btéDTarr تضطر بتضطر DTarret اضطرت
Né7na néDTarr mnéDTarr نضطر منضطر DTarreena اضطرينا
Intu btéDTarru btéDTarru تضطرو بتضطرو DTarreetu اضطريتو
Hénnen yéDTarru byéDTarru يضطرو بيضطرو DTarru اضطرو

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’.


7abiibi ana shaakke énnak 3am t7aaki banaat gheeri
Babe I’m worried you’ve been talking to other girls…

shaakke is the feminine active participle of shakk yshékk, which you probably originally learnt as ‘doubt’. It doesn’t quite line up with ‘doubt’, though, since you can say (as here) shaakek énnak 3am @tkhuunni (for example) – ‘I’m suspicious that you’re cheating on me’, which has the opposite meaning to ‘I doubt you’re cheating on me’.

7aaka y7aaki – ‘to speak to/with’. This is a use of form III that is not hugely common, especially in colloquial. Some form I verbs combined with prepositions (e.g. 7aka ma3) can be transformed into form III verbs which take normal direct objects. There are quite a lot of fuSHaa examples, e.g. jaalasa ‘sit with’ or kaataba ‘write to, correspond with’.

gheeri – ‘other than me’.

2anaaaa? laa waLLa 7atta khédi hayy mobaayli fattshii
Me?! No way, look, you can even take my mobile, go through it!

laa waLLa – no, by God! Normally ‘no’ is la2, but laa also exists for emphasis or in some other restricted contexts.

hayy – ‘here’s’, ‘here you go’.

7atta khédi hayy… there’s no nice idiomatic way of including both an ‘even’ and an imperative in an English translation. Literally this is ‘even take here is’, which are impossible to combine in English.

fattshii – the verb fattash yfattesh is ‘to search’. This is the imperative feminine form (fattshi) with the masculine pronoun -o, which attached to a final vowel appears as vowel lengthening.

maashi haat
OK, give it here.

maashi – ‘it’s walking’, ‘it walks’. You’ve probably encountered maashi before. It is not as wide in meaning as ‘OK’ and simply indicates agreement or acceptance.

haat – ‘give X here’. haat éjjihaaz ‘give me the remote’.

@TTammanTi halla2?
Feeling better?

We’ve seen TTamman and Tamman, its transitive equivalent, before in Egyptian. It’s probably derived from the fuSHaa اطمئنّ, and means (in this case) ‘feel relieved’, ‘be relieved’ – ‘have you become relieved?’.

ee tamaam… bass 2ana béddi 2éllak énno jaayyni 3ariis ghani w né7na laazem nétrok
Yeah, fine. But I have to tell you that I’ve got a rich groom and we have to split up.

jaayiini – the participle of éja ‘to come’, plus -ni. Here this means ‘has come to me’, or ‘I’ve got’ (we’ve talked before about how participles can have both resultative and present meanings). éja is used a lot in contexts like اجتني فرصة ‘I’ve got an opportunity’ (= an opportunity has come to me). This participle is sort of weird and irregular and difficult to form; generally in Damascene the feminine jaayye جاية is used for the masculine as well: jaayiitak ‘I’m coming!’

nétrok – you might expect nétrok ba3D ‘leave one another’, but tarak on its own is used for ‘split up’.

The point here is that the girlfriend has had someone wealthy come and (probably) propose marriage to her father. This echoes the plot point in al Kitaab book 1 where we discover Khaled’s (or in the Syrian version… actually what even was his name? eminently forgettable guy) loneliness can be traced to the fact that he had that girlfriend who had to leave because a Saudi engineer came and proposed to her or whatever. It’s quite common for people to have long-term romantic flings which are then cut off by the prospect of a husband who – even if he’s not that romantic – can ensure your future financially.

na3am! waLLa béfDa7ek w bfarji l3ariis kéll mo7aadasaatna w Suwarek
I see! Well, I’ll go public, I’ll show the groom all our conversations and pictures of you.

na3am! – in Syrian an emphatic ‘oh, really!’

faDa7 yéfDa7 – generally used in the sense ‘uncover X’s secret’ or ‘reveal X’s bad behaviour in public’.

farja yfarji – ‘show’. Variants include warja and 2arja.

Suwarek – Suwar is obviously the plural of Suura. When possessed, the meaning is often ‘a picture of X’.

haad iza la2eet shi 2aSlan…
Good luck finding them!

Literally, ‘this is if you find anything to start with’. The punchline IF IT NEEDS EXPLAINING is that through her tricksy womanly wiles, she got the phone off him and deleted all evidence of their relationship from his phone!!! 😮 😮

iza la2eet shi – the past tense after iza here may imply that it is very unlikely he will find anything.

2aSlan – a tricky one to pin down, but often can be translated with ‘to start with’.