Egyptian Arabic Grammar


Conjunctions are the useful little words that join clauses together to make more complex sentences.

I want to make bread but I don't have enough flour
Aaayiz 'aAamil Aiysh laakin maAandeesh di'ee' kifaayaAaayiz aacAamil Aiysh laakin maAandysh diqyq kifaayao
عا َيـِز أعـَمـِل عـِيش لا َكـِن مـَعـَنديش د ِقيق كـِفا َيـَة
Part English Egyptian
Main clause I want to make bread Aaayiz 'aAamil AiyshAaayiz aacAamil Aiysh
عا َيـِز أعـَمـِل عـِيش
Conjunction but laakinlaakin
لا َكـِن
Subordinate clause
I don't have enough flour maAandeesh di'ee' kifaayamaAandysh diqyq kifaayao
مـَعـَنديش د ِقيق كـِفا َيـَة

If you just want to attach a noun, you should use a preposition, but if you want to attach a clause (ie, there is a verb in bit that you want to attach), then a conjunction is required. In English, the same word is often used for both preposition and conjunction, but there are differences in Egyptian: see prepositions and conjunctions for more details.

In both English and Egyptian, you can put the subordinate clause either before or after the main clause. This doesn't change the meaning at all, just the emphasis.

You can go out when you have finished your homework
mumkin tuKrug lamma hatiKlis ilwaegibmumkin tuKrug lammaa hatiKlis iil-waegib
مـُمكـِن تـُخر ُج لـَمّا َ هـَتـِخلـِس ا ِلوا َجـِب

When you have finished your homework, you can go out.
lamma hatiKlis ilwaegib, mumkin tuKruglammaa hatiKlis iil-waegib, mumkin tuKrug
لـَمّا َ هـَتـِخلـِس ا ِلوا َجـِب، مـُمكـِن تـُخر ُج

If there is a subject pronoun in the second clause, it becomes a pronoun suffix attached to the conjunction. For example:

I feared that she was lost
aana Kuft innaha tikoon taahitaanaa Kuft iinnahaa tikwn taahit
ا َنا َ خـُفت ا ِنّ َها َ تـِكون تا َهـِت

The following table lists most of the common conjunctions, and gives examples how they can be used.

English Egyptian Example
that 'inniicnn
إنّ I feared that she was lost
aana Kuft 'innaha tikoon taahitaanaa Kuft iicnn-ahaa tikwn taahit
ا َنا َ خـُفت إنّ َها َ تـِكون تا َهـِت
as long as Tool maTwl maa
طول ماَ as long as you water the garden, the plants will grow
Tool ma bitis'i ilgineena, ilzaraA hayikbarTwl maa bitisqy iil-ginynao, iil-zaraA Hayikbar
طول ما َ بـِتـِسقي ا ِلجـِنينـَة، ا ِلز َر َع حـَيـِكبـَر
because AalashaanAalashaan
عـَلـَشا َن
pronounced Aashaen
I don't have a car because there is not enough money
maAndeesh Aarabiya Aalashaan mafiysh filoos kifaayamaAndysh Aarabiyao Aalashaan mafiysh filws kifaayao
مـَعنديش عـَر َبـِيـَة عـَلـَشا َن مـَفـِيش فـِلوس كـِفا َيـَة
in order to AalashaanAalashaan
عـَلـَشا َن
I need money in order to buy food
mihtaag filoos Aalashaan 'ashtiri 'aklmiHtaag filws Aalashaan aacshtiry aackl
مـِحتا َج فـِلوس عـَلـَشا َن أشتـِري أكل
after baAd mabaAd maa
بـَعد ماَ we will leave after the movie has finished
hanimshi bAad ma ilfeelm yiKlaSHanimshy bAad maa iil-fylm yiKlaS
حـَنـِمشي بعـَد ما َ ا ِلفيلم يـِخلـَص
and wiwi
وِ I went to the bank and it was closed
raht ilbank wi kaan ma'foolraHt iil-bank wi kaan maqfwl
ر َحت ا ِلبـَنك و ِ كا َن مـَقفول
as if Aala 'innAalY iicnn
عـَلى إنّ
as if ka'innkaa-iicnn
كا َإنّ he spends money as if he is rich
biyuSrif filoos ka'innuh GanibiyuSrif filws kaa-iicn-nuh Gany
بـِيـُصر ِف فـِلوس كا َإننـُه غـَني
as if zayi mazayy maa
ز َيي ماَ he spends money as if he is rich
biyuSrif filoos zayi ma yikoon GanibiyuSrif filws zayy maa yikwn Gany
بـِيـُصر ِف فـِلوس ز َيي ما َ يـِكون غـَني
before 'abl maqabl maa
قـَبل ماَ
but bassbass
بـَسّ I would like to go but I don't have time
nifsi arooh bass maAandeesh wa'tnifsy aarwH bass maAandysh waqt
نـِفسي ا َروح بـَسّ مـَعـَنديش و َقت
but lakinlakin
لـَكـِن ditto
if 'iniicn
إن If you go, you will get into a fight
'inn rooht hinaak, haatit Kaani'iicnn rwHt hinaak, Haatit Kaaniq
إنّ روحت هـِنا َك، حا َتـِت خا َنـِق
if 'izaiicdhaa
إذاَ if you have some money, lend me fifty pounds
'iza kaan maAaak filoos, salifni Kamseen ginyaiicdhaa kaan maAaak filws, salifny Kamsyn ginyao
إذا َ كا َن مـَعا َك فـِلوس، سـَلـِفني خـَمسين جـِنيـَة
instead of badal mabadal maa
بـَد َل ماَ instead of going, call them
badal ma matrooh, kalimhumbadal maa matrwH, kalimhum
بـَد َل ما َ مـَتروح، كـَلـِمهـُم
like zai mazay maa
ز َي ماَ as you did for him, he will do for you
zayi ma Aamalt feeh hayitAamil feekzayy maa Aamalt fy-h hayitAamil fy-k
ز َيي ما َ عـَمـَلت فيه هـَيـِتعـَمـِل فيك
neither.. nor..laa... walaah..laa... walaah..
لا َ٫٫٫ و َلا َه٫٫ neither this is working nor is this working
la dah naafaA walaah dah biyinfaAlaa dah naafaA walaah dah biyinfaA
لا َ د َه نا َفـَع و َلا َه د َه بـِيـِنفـَع
or 'awaacw
أو we can eat fish or chicken
>mumkin naakul samak 'aw firaaKmumkin naakul samak aacw firaaK
مـُمكـِن نا َكـُل سـَمـَك أو فـِرا َخ
or (in question)walawalaa
و َلاَ would you like fish or chicken?
Aaawiz taakul samak wala firaaK?Aaawiz taakul samak walaa firaaK?
عا َو ِز تا َكـُل سـَمـَك و َلا َ فـِرا َخ؟
rather than 'ahsanaacHsan
أحسـَن I would prefer to eat fish rather than chicken
'akul ilsamak 'ahsan min ilfiraaKaackul iil-samak aacHsan min iil-firaaK
أكـُل ا ِلسـَمـَك أحسـَن مـِن ا ِلفـِرا َخ
otherwise wa 'illawa iicllaa
و َ إلّاَ shut up otherwise we go home!
'iKrassi wa 'illa haarawahikiicKrassy wa iicllaa haarawaHik
إخر َسّي و َ إلّا َ ها َر َو َحـِك
unless 'ila 'izaiiclaa iicdhaa
إلا َ إذاَ don't give him any money unless I allow you to
matideehoosh filoos 'ila 'iza 'ana samahteelakmatidyhwsh filws iiclaa iicdhaa aacnaa samaHtylak
مـَتـِديهوش فـِلوس إلا َ إذا َ أنا َ سـَمـَحتيلـَك

Note that and wawa وَ is used a lot in narrative to replace conjunctions like next and then. It is also often used in place of but.


Verbs that deal with communication, opinion or emotions can be followed by a that-clause, which specifies what you said or thought or felt. Note that, in English, the that is sometimes omitted, but it's still a that-clause.

I think that you are wrong
I think you are wrong

In Egyptian, this is expressed using 'inniicnn إنّ. Note that the subject pronoun of the that-clause can be attached to 'inniicnn إنّ as a suffix.

I said that I was busy
'ana 'ultiluh 'inni kunt mashGoolaacnaa qult-il-uh iicnn-y kunt mashGwl
أنا َ قـُلتـِلـُه إنّي كـُنت مـَشغول

I think that you are wrong
'aftikir 'innak Galtanaacftikir iicnn-ak GaltaaN
أفتـِكـِر إنّ َك غـَلتاً

I know that he is lying
'ana Aaarif 'innuh biyikdibaacnaa Aaarif iicnn-uh biyikdib
أنا َ عا َر ِف إنّ ُه بـِيـِكد ِب

I feared that she was lost
aana Kuft 'innaha tikoon taahitaanaa Kuft iicnn-ahaa tikwn taahit
ا َنا َ خـُفت إنّ َها َ تـِكون تا َهـِت

I think that we are ready
'aftikir 'inn 'ihna gahzeenaacftikir iicnn iicHnaa gaahizyn
أفتـِكـِر إنّ إحنا َ جا َهـِزين

Conditional clauses (if.. then...)

There are two words meaning if: they are 'izaiicdhaa إذاَ and lawlaw لـَو. 'izaiicdhaa إذاَ can be used under all circumstances: lawlaw لـَو cannot be used with the imperfect form of a verb or a preposition.

In English, the word then is occasionally used to complement if. In Egyptian, there is no equivalent word.

If I were rich...

If an event or situation is improbable or impossible, in English we use modals like 'would' and 'were', or backshift the tense of the verb (for example, present becomes past). In Egyptian, the word kaankaan كا َن is used after lawlaw لـَو. Compare these two sentences:

if I have time, I will read the book
'iza Aandi wa't, ha'r'a ilkitaabiicdhaa Aandy waqt, haaqraac iil-kitaab
إذا َ عـَندي و َقت، ها َقرأ ا ِلكـِتا َب

if I had time, I would read the book
law kaan Aandi wa't, kunt 'areet ilkitaablaw kaan Aandy waqt, kunt qaryt iil-kitaab
لـَو كا َن عـَندي و َقت، كـُنت قـَريت ا ِلكـِتا َب

if I had money, I would buy a car
law maaya filoos, kunt 'ashtireet Aarabiyalaw maayaa filws, kunt aacshtiryt Aarabiyao
لـَو ما َيا َ فـِلوس، كـُنت أشتـِريت عـَر َبـِيـَة

When conditional clause
past 'iza kaaniicdhaa kaan إذا َ كا َن + perfect
present 'iza kaaniicdhaa kaan إذا َ كا َن + imperfect
future 'iza kaaniicdhaa kaan إذا َ كا َن + imperfect

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