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 aacAamil Aiysh lakin maAandysh diqyq kifaayao
Part English Egyptian
Main clause I want to make bread Aaayiz 'aAamil AiyshAaayiz aacAamil Aiysh
عا َيـِز أعـَمـِل عـِيش
Conjunction but lakinlakin
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 on both sides), 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 homeword
mumkin tuKrug lammaa/b> hatiKlis iil-waegib
When you have finished your homework, you can go out.
lammaa hatiKlis iil-waegib, mumkin tuKrug

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

I feared that she was lost
aanaa Kuft iinnahaa tikwn taahit

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

English Egyptian English ExampleEgyptian Example
that 'inniicnn
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
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 kaa'innkaa-iicnn
كا َإنّ
he spends money as if he is rich biyuSrif filoos kaa'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
I would like to go but I don't have timenifsi arooh bass maAandeesh wa'tnifsy aarwH bass maAandysh waqt
نـِفسي ا َروح بـَسّ مـَعـَنديش و َقت
but lakinlakin
if 'iniicn
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
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 thembadal 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 fyh hayitAamil fykzayy 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 workingla dah naafaA walaah dah biyinfaAlaa dah naafaA walaah dah biyinfaA
لا َ د َه نا َفـَع و َلا َه د َه بـِيـِنفـَع
or 'awaacw
we can eat fish or chickenmumkin 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
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 tomatideehoosh filoos 'ila 'iza 'ana samahteelakmatidyhwsh filws iiclaa iicdhaa aacnaa samaHtylak
مـَتـِديهوش فـِلوس إلا َ إذا َ أنا َ سـَمـَحتيلـَك

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'. 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
iicdhaa Aandy waqt, haaqraac iil-kitaab

if I had time, I would read the book
law kaan Aandy waqt, kunt qaryt iil-kitaab

if I had money, I would buy a car
law maayaa filws, kunt aacshtiryt Aarabiyao

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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