Want to learn how to say “hello” in Arabic? You’ve landed on the right page.
Arabic is a language spoken in nearly every corner of the world. What is particularly unique about it is that there are so many variations and dialects that make it a diverse language. In fact, it can be tricky to learn Arabic because many people today don’t speak the standard form, known as ‘fushah’. Instead, they feel more comfortable using everyday language and cultural terms.
This isn’t to say that learning Arabic is impossible. If we’re being honest, Arabic is definitely one language that can help you expand your connections and introduce you to a massive community. It can also come in handy if you’re visiting the Middle East or North Africa, especially if you want to bargain for better prices. So, if you’re looking to get familiar with a few terms in various dialects, here is how to say “hello” in Arabic and more.
1. “Hello” in Arabic
It is very important to greet others before you make any conversation in the Arab world. Regardless of whether you simply have to ask a question or make a comment, you must greet the person first. Luckily, there isn’t much hassle with the word ‘hello’ in Arabic as any variation is understood. Here are some greetings in Arabic you can use:
“Assalamualaikum” is a common greeting used by many Arab Muslims. However, this phrase originates from the teachings of Islam and is thus open for anybody to use. Arab Muslims typically greet each other using this phrase. This is especially critical in several Arab cultures if you’re greeting an adult, as “hi” or “what’s up?” isn’t considered respectful. The response to “Assalamualaikum” is Wa Alaikum Salam” – “وعليكم السلام, which translates to, “and peace be upon you too”.
“Marhaba” is another common phrase used to greet people. Many people who learn Arabic are first introduced to this term. This is because it is fairly easy, and is used and understood in every Arab country. In fact, this is probably your safest word because there are no rules nor is it restricted to a certain group.
While this is aother phrase used to greet people, it is mostly used by the host for greeting guests. This is because “Ahlan wa Sahlan” translates to “welcome”. You can even use the shortened version “Ahlan” which serves for the same purpose. If you’re a tourist visiting an Arab country, you will often find people greeting you with this term because they appreciate you visiting their country.
Perhaps “hello” is the universal way to greet people on the phone. Well, this is the Arab way to greet a person if you’re speaking to them on the phone. This term is not a product of fushah yet is applicable in every Arabic dialect. Of course, you can use the proper terms to greet a person, but only after “alo” from both ends have been established.
In many Arab cultures, men shake hands when they greet each other, whereas women hug. The actions differ amongst cultures; for example, men in the Gulf touch noses and different Arab women vary in the number of kisses. However, bear in mind that men and women do not shake hands, much less touch when greeting. If you would like to decline a handshake, simply place your hand on your heart. In fact, it is better to not make the first move unless the woman attempts to first.
2. “How are you?” in Arabic
In the Arab culture, it is extremely important to ask someone how they are before initiating a conversation. This applies to any dialect or Arab country, and is irrespective of who the person is, be it a family member, a waiter, or even a stranger. For many Arabs, this can take up a good half an hour because they want to ensure the wellbeing of the other person’s entire family, sometimes even extended!
Whatever you decide to do, you must greet the person and ask them how they are before getting to the point of the conversation. Here are a few ways to do so:
This phrase translates to “how are you doing” which comes from standard Arabic, fushah. It can be used in any Arab country and anybody will understand you. However, like many terms in Arabic, some words are changed based on the gender you are addressing. For example, “haluk” – “حالك” would be used for men, whereas “haluki” – “حالكِ” is used for women. Otherwise, this is a safe phrase to use if you’re not ready to try out the other dialects. But if you are, then take a look at the following.
This is the Palestinian, Jordanian, Lebanese, and Syrian way to ask someone how they are. Judging by the length of the phrase, it is evidently short and direct. Also, don’t forget the difference in masculine and feminine terms! “Keefak” – “كيفك” is masculine, and “Keefik” – “كيفيك” is feminine.
If you’re willing to show off your Egyptian skills, then be sure to use this phrase around Egyptian company. Just be sure to use the right terms: “Izzeyak” – إزيَك” is masculine، and “Izzeyek” – “إزيِك” is feminine. If you want to take a step further, throw in an a’mil aih? – عامل ايه, which is a casual way to ask someone what they are up to. The feminine form would be a’mlah aih? – عاملة ايه؟.
One thing to note, however, is that the Egyptian dialect is widely different than Arabic. You can use most Arabic dialects around Egyptians, but using Egyptian dialect around other Arabs won’t always make sense to them.
The Gulf way to ask someone how they are literally translates to, “what news do you bring?”. Once more, “baarak” – “بارَك” is masculine, and “baarik” – “بارِك” is feminine. In fact, the typical Gulf way to say it is to turn the ‘K’ of Barak to ‘ch’, so that it becomes “barach“ – “barich”.
Another Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian way to ask how some is doing. This phrase translates to “hopefully you are doing well” and is usually said right after “Keefak/ Keefik”, because you want to assume that the person is well, and that you wish them well.
3. “I am well” in Arabic
There are a few ways to respond to “how are you?” You can choose to play safe and use the standard version, but it is more fun to use a phrase from a different dialect around people.
“Ana Bikhair” is the fushah way of responding to “how are you?” which translates to “I am well”. If that seems long, you can shorten it to “Bikhair”, which means “I’m well”. Since this term is from fushah, anybody in the Arab world will understand you.
Another product of the Egyptian dialect. “Ana Kawayes”, meaning “I am good”.
Imneeh is the Syrian response to “how are you?”, and like “Kawayes”, it translates to “I am good”.
A lot of Arab muslims use this phrase to respond to “how are you?” because they “thank God” for everything that is happening. While you can add an “Imneeh” or “Kwayes” after, many people usually stop at “Alhamdulilah”.
Whichever you response you decide to use, be sure to ask the person how they are doing too. Remember, asking about a person’s wellbeing is a crucial aspect of Arab culture!
3. “I missed you” in Arabic
This is one is a bit tricky. It is actually one word, but there are so many variations based on who is speaking and who is being addressed. In addition, there are differences in the dialect. Below is the Levantine form.
Here is a tip: while the words have a ‘k’, the Levantine way to pronounce it is to keep it silent. For example, for female to female, you would say “mishtaa’tilik”.
Mushtaklak – مشتقلَك: male to male
Mushtaklik- مشتقلِك: male to female
4. Welcoming the guest in Arabic
Arabs take their guests very seriously. The hosts will make sure that they enjoy their stay, whether it is by pampering them or showering them with compliments. If you’re a guest, or are willing to show off your hospitality skills, then here are some phrases you should get familiar with:
This is the Jordanian/ Palestinian way to welcome a guest. It translates to “the house has become brighter because of you” and is bound to bring a smile on the guest’s face.
The Syrian way to say welcome to a guest literally means a “hundred welcomes”. However, the written form and pronunciation are different. While it is written as “Mi’at al Salama” – “مئة السلامة”, Syrians pronounce it as “Meet al Salama” – “ميت السلامة”. So if you choose to use a Syrian greeting, you might as well pronounce it their way too. You could also add an “ahlan wa sahlan” after.
It seems as though Syrians are filled with love for their guests. “Aanastuna” – “آنستونا” is another way to tell your guests that “their visit made the hosts happy”.
“Sharaftuna” is a common phrase used for the guest in the Arab world because it means “they have honored the hosts with their presence.”
Upon your guests’s departure, you could use this phrase to send them off. Note that it is similar to the phrase above, except it means to “honor us again”. In other words, “come again”.
Consider Nawartuna as a shortened version of the first phrase, translated to “you have brought light” or “you have brightened this place”.
The Arabic language has remarkable variety in the phrases used to welcome guests. In fact, you can even combine some of the terms too. For example:
5. “Enjoy your meal” in Arabic
When it comes to food, Arabs do not play around. Whether you are serving the food or see someone eating, it is important to wish them well. Think of it as a more sincere way of saying “bon appetite”. This is because “enjoy your meal” isn’t a common phrase. Instead, we hope that “the meal is good for you”. There is no official phrase in fushah as it is more of a cultural aspect, but here some phrases you can use:
If you’re looking for the Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian way to say “enjoy your meal”, well, there isn’t much to it. “Saha” is as simple as it get. Though don’t try to make sense of it in English as it literally translates to “health”, but trust us, it sounds right in Arabic!
If you want to take a step further, then use this other Levantine phrase. Like its origin however, its literal translation may spark some confusion in English because it means “two healths”. Realistically speaking, “two healths” are better than one!
“Bil Afiyah” is a common phrase used in the Gulf. It means to enjoy your meal “in good health”.
“Health and happiness”, and if you’re feeling even more loved, you can add “meet hana” – “مئة هنا”. In doing so, you have just wished “a hundred more happiness” to the person. In many cultures, “afia” is switched with “hana”, but generally has the same meaning.
6. “Thank you” for if you have received something – in Arabic
While these terms appear as another form for “thank you”, they differ such that they acknowledge the efforts of the giver, and send blessings their way. For example, you could use these terms to thank the person who made your food.
When the waiter brings your food, they might say something along the lines of “bil afiyah”, to which you can reply “ya’a teek al afia”, meaning “God give you health”. It really is a warm-heartened interaction.
“T’slem yadaik” is the Jordanian/ Palestinian way to say “bless your hands”. The word for hands however is modified based on the gender. “yadaik”- “يديك” is masculine, and “yadaiki” – “يديكِ” is feminine.
This is the shortened form of the phrase above and is of Syrian dialect. Likewise, it means “bless”, but requires modification based on who you are addressing. “t’slam” – “تسلم” is masculine, and “t’slameen” – “تسلمين” is feminine.
7. “Thank you” in Arabic
Now for “thank you”. The general term is used pretty commonly in every Arab country because it comes from fushah. While there are slight modifications of the general word, there isn’t anything extremely different.
“Shukran” – “شكرا” is the standard form of thank you. You might recognize this phrase on souvenirs or signboards, but you will definitely hear it frequently in your encounter with Arabs.
If you’re in the Gulf, then “mashkoor” is the ticket to blend in. This means “I am grateful”, with variations based on gender. Men use “mashkoor”, and women use “mashkoora”.
Another phrase from the Syrian dialect but we’re not complaining! It simply translates to “thank you very much”. Other Arabic dialects might instead say “jazeelan” in place of “ikteer”. This would become Shukran Jazeelan – شكرا جزيلا.
All in all, don’t be stingy with your thank you’s. It may seem as common ettiequte but Arabs really do appreciate it.
8. “You’re welcome” in Arabic
The Arabic term for “you’re welcome” is afwan – عفوا. Seems pretty straightforward given it’s applicable in every Arab country. However, if you’re new to Arabic, then this may be a bit tricky to pronounce!
9. “Good morning” in Arabic
Arabs frequently wish each other a “good morning”, particularly Arab women. Although there are different phrases in Arabic, they are mostly variations of the same word. Plus, you can use these Arabic greetings in any setting.
The fushah word for good morning is “Sabah al Khair” – “صباح الخير”. This greeting is commonly used around the Arab world and also works as a great substitution for “hello”.
If you would like a different form of “good morning”, then you can say “may you have a happy morning” or in Arabic “Yis’ad Sabahak” – “يسعد صباحك”. But don’t forget, “Sabahak” is masculine, and “Sabahik” is feminine.
The Syrian version of good morning. You will often find people singing this word out, and who can blame them? It is a pretty fun word to say. You can respond to “Sabaho” by saying “Sabah al Khair”.
10. “Good evening” in Arabic
If you would like to wish someone a good evening, you should say masaa’ al khair – مساء الخير. There isn’t much to this word, and there aren’t many variations to good evening in Arabic unlike “Sabah Al Khair”. This is a fushah word and really the only one used amongst Arabs.
11. “Please” in Arabic
If you would like to sharpen your manners in Arabic, then ensure that “please” is in your dictionary. Min fadlek – من فضلك respectfully recognizes the person you are trying to get the attention of. In fact, this word is also used if you want to gesture to someone.
For instance, it is pretty rude to say “take” or “here you go” in Arabic without saying “please” first. You can even use this as another form of “excuse me” because it translates to “if you please”.
Some dialects also say arjouk – أرجوك (masculine) or “arjouki” – “أرجوكِ” (feminine), but “min fadlek” is deemed more courteous.
12. “Congratulations” in Arabic
Arabs love to find ways to celebrate an event. In fact, there seems to be all sorts of reasons to say “congratulations” in Arabic. If you want to get an idea of how serious Arabs are with their celebrations, perhaps visit a local gift shop to see all sorts of occasions worth celebrating. But if you don’t have the time, then you should probably get equipped with the following terms.
A common way to say congratulations in Arabic is “Mabrook”. However, many Arab linguists argue that the correct way to say congratulations is actually “Mubarak” as in “Ramadan Mubarak” or “Eid Mubarak”. Over time, the original word went under modifications until it became a slang. Thus, “mabrook”, although morphologically incorrect, is used more frequently.
“Alf Mabrook” on the other hand takes one step further, well a thousand steps actually. This phrase translates to “a thousand congratulations”. You can also add the occasion too, such as:
- A Graduation: “Al Takharuj” – “التخرج”
- A wedding: “Al Zawaaj” – “الزواج”
- An engagement: “Al Khotooba” – “الخطوبة”
- A new born: “Al Mawlood” – “المولود” (masculine) / “Al Mawlooda” – “المولودة” (feminine)
- Success in general: “Al Najah” – “النجاح”
However, you’re set on using “mubarak”, then simply replace it with “mabrook” for any of the phrases above.
13. “Get well soon” in Arabic
Although there are a few ways to say “get well soon”, below are the common two. If you take a closer look, you can see the beauty of Arabic because each term works under a certain level of illness rather than a vague “get well soon”.
Upon hearing that someone is unwell, you would say “salamtak” – “سلامتَك” masculine, “salamtik” – “سلامتِك” feminine. You could also say Allah Yashfeek – الله يشفيك masculine, or “Yashfeeki” – “يشفيكِ”, feminine. In other words, “may God heal you”.
Muslims Arabs might even say, alhamdulilah ala al salama – الحمد للله على السلامة, which means “thank God for your safety”. However, you would normally say this to someone who has come out of a surgery, or returned from a long journey, or came back from something generally tough.
Unsurprisingly, the term “Sahha” can also be used as a get well soon, because after all, it does translate to “health”. For sort of minor instances, such as a hearing someone cough or choke, you say “sahha, sahha” – “صحة صحة”. Though it does sound a bit weird when translated because you are literally saying “health, health” to someone trying to clear the airway.
14. “Excuse me” in Arabic
Both of these terms stem from fushah and are understood in every Arab country. In fact, this is definitely one term you should learn as you will often be excusing yourself in tough crowds or from aggressive sellers.
The standard way to say “excuse me” is “law samaht”.
The term “afwan” – “عفوا” serves for more than one purpose. You might remember it as “you’re welcome” from earlier, but it can also be considered as “pardon”. If you catch what a person was saying or you want to retract your statement, then “afwan” is your better option.
15. “OK” in Arabic
There really isn’t much science behind the word “ok” in Arabic. You can use any of the following terms in any country. In fact, Arabic has also made room in its language for the literal word “ok”. But if want to practice the common Arabic words, then you should probably go for the first three.
You must now conclude your learning Arabic journey with mastering the “goodbyes”. There a few words that can be used to sign off, but these are typically reserved for people you know. In Arabic, you wouldn’t end a conversation with a stranger by wishing them well. A simple thank you is sufficient. Nonetheless, here are a few ways to say “goodbye”:
By using this phrase, you are telling the person to “go with peace”. This is typically used to end a conversation amongst friends or people you generally know. If you want to truly act as a local, you could use incorporate a slang into your sign off. The phrase for example could be “yallah ma’a Al Salama” – “يلا مع السلامة”.
Another way to say “goodbye” is “wada’an” – “وداعا”. To make things easy, consider this word as the parallel of “marhaba” because it contains no rules.
You probably recall the phrase “Assalamualaikum” from way earlier. Well, even though it works as a greeting, it can also work for ending a conversation. Arab muslims, typically adults end the conversation by saying “peace be upon you”.
Besides the phrases we have covered, you should also get familiar with common words and some non-fushah terms to help you get around.
“Bas” works as both “but” and “enough”. While not a product of fushah, it can help you navigate around Arabs and understand them better.
Many tourists who visit Arab countries, particularly the Gulf, always come back having learnt one word, “yallah”. “Yallah” is the Arabic equivalent of “Vámonos” or “Haydi” as it also translates to “let’s go” or “come on”. A very handy word and bound to come in use in your new Arab circle!
You simply cannot learn Arabic without learning how to say “yes” and “no”. Luckily, they’re both very easy terms to learn. Perhaps the “a” in “na’am”, which is “yes”, may be tricky to pronounce, but you can always substitute it with any other Arabic word for “ok”.
As for “la”, or “no”, well it’s undoubtedly a breeze.
In all honesty, you should get creative with this one. “What” in Arabic is used frequently, even in the place of “afwan” or “pardon” amongst youngsters. The various terms for “what” will truly make you stand out as an Arab. Here are some phrases you should try.
- Sho – شو: Of Gulf and Levantine dialect, commonly used and understood by all Arabs.
- Aesh – إيش: The Levantine way to say “what?”
- Matha – ماذا: For those of you that want to stay safe and use a fushah term, “matha” is the way to go.
That concludes your guide to learning how to say “hello” in Arabic and other Arabic greetings. Adopting these terms will surely help you expand your circle and navigate your way around cities like a local. Simply bear in mind of who you are addressing, take into account of masculine and feminine terms, know which are respectful and slang phrases, and you’re all set! You might even impress a few Arabs and score some extra goodies!