Hi in Arabic

As in any language, in Arabic there are many different ways to greet someone. A lot more time is spent on greetings in Arabic than is spent in English. I knew some Arabs just learning English and they were amazed at how quickly we greet each other and then move on. They thought it was kind of rude and thoughtless to give such a small amount of time to greetings. To me the length of Arabic greetings seems strange, but I accept the fact that we both have different cultures and place importance on different things.

1. السلام عليكم (assalaamu 'aleykum)
This literally means "peace be upon you". It is probably the most formal greeting in Arabic. The response is و عليكم السلام (wa 'aleykum assalaam). You hear this a lot more often during Ramadan because everyone feels more religious during that month. Also, after saying السلام عليكم you can add و رحمة الله و بركاته (wa rahmat allahi wa barakaatu). This means "and the mercy of God and his blessings", saying may those be upon you as well. This last part was very hard for me to say when I was starting Arabic.

2. اهلاً و سهلاً (ahlan wa sahlan)
This is translated as "hello and welcome". It's less formal than "peace be upon you" and used in less formal situations. You can respond to this greeting with اهلَين (ahlain) which means "two ahlans". However, that response is really only used in the Levantine region (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine).

3. مرحباً (marhaban)
This is the closest thing to "hi" that they have in Arabic. With this you can reply with مرحبتين (marhabtain) "two marhabans". People will understand everywhere, but it's only used commonly in the Levant.

4. صباح الخير (sabaah alkhair)
We translate this as "good morning". If you want to take it literally then it means "morning of the good". The response is صباح النور (sabah annour) which means "morning of the light". It doesn't make a lot of sense if you take it literally like that, so it's always just translated as "good morning".

5. مساء الخير (masaa alkhair)
Means "good evening". Like with "good morning", the response is مساء النور (masaa annour), "evening of the light".

6. تحية لك (tahia leka)
This actually means "greetings to you". It's not very common to greet someone with this just as it wouldn't be common to say "greetings to you" in English.


makkay said...

نطقك للحرفين حاء وعين مذهل ..

فقط ملاحظة بسيطة لنطقك لكلمة تحية .. هناك شدة على الياء تحيَّة لك

في هذا الرابط يمكنك الإستماع للنطق الصحيح لكلمة تحية
ملاحظة في الرابط هناك تنوين في نهاية الكلمة (كما تعلم التنوين يعتمد على موضع الكلمة الإعرابي في الجملة)

إذا نطقتها من دون الشدة (كما نطقتها أنت في الفيديو) تصبح تحيى بمعنى she lives أو ربما معنى مختلف (لست جيداً في الترجمة)
عموماً هذه التحية لم أسمعها في حياتي إطلاقاً :)


لا أعرف إذا كنت تعلم عن هذا الموقع أو لا .. هذا أحد مواقع قناة mbc الرسمية يمكنك مشاهدة أغلب (أو ربما جميع) برامج القناة كاملة .. في أسفل الصفحة توجد تصنيفات وأسماء البرامج

mbc shahed

بالتوفيق (:

The Arabic Student said...

I've been to the MBC site before and it makes me wonder why I pay for Arabic channels on the TV when I can just watch them online :P. Thanks for the info.

SodaJerk said...

Some More Greetings in Colloquial Arabic and Sundry Expressions
These are all very colloquial (which means they’re used all the time).

1. SHLONAK?..... How are you? (Literally: What’s your color?)

2. SHLON?..... What? (Litrerally: What color?)

3. WEISH?..... What?

4. SHNO9..... What?
(literally: What kind?)

5. EYSH?..... What? (In Egyptian, this would be EIH?)

6. EZZAY?..... What? (Egyptian)

7. AHLAN, AHLAN, AHLAN..... Hello, hello, hello.

Of course, you can say the formal Ahlan wa Sahlan, but in fact, you’ll hear the triple AHLAN just as frequently, particularly on TV. Arabic is known for its “exaggeration” (MUBALAGHA) in it’s discourse in Arabic literary studies.


8. KAYF AL UMOOR MASHIYYA?..... How are things going? (Not all that common)

9. EZZAYYAK?..... How are you? (Almost exclusively Egyptian but understood everywhere)

10. SHAKHBARAK?..... What’s new?

11. KAYFAK?..... How’s it going?

12. ANTA KAYF?..... Hi

13. YA HAALA..... Hello (Very “Saudi”)

14. HAYAAK ALLAH..... Hello (Very Saudi)

--------------------Some Common Colloquialisms---------

AKEED?..... Are you sure?

WEYNAK?..... Where have you been?

GUL MARRA TAANI..... Say it again.

LAW SAMAHT..... Kindly, please

ISMAHLEE..... Excuse me

SHFEEK?..... What’s your problem?

ITLA9 BARRA..... Get out of here (stress on the first I)

SHEELO..... Grab it or Hold on to it

WAAKHER..... Get out of my way!

WADEENEE –li..... Take me to the….

WAREENEE..... Show me.

HANSHOOFAK BA9DAYN..... See you later!


A famous and extremely controversial essay on the Arabic language (written in 1951 !!) by a Lebanese intellectual. It caused a furor in its day and is still cursed when it is mentioned. Basically, he says Arabic is not just a reflection of the backwardness of the Arab world but it's cause !!!!

Read it at:


Anonymous said...

Really appreciated the link to Shouby's article. He was able to express (much more eloquently!!) some of the linguistic and cultural disjunctures between my Arab husband and my(non-Arab)self. We often have conversations (in English and his English is very good)where he's obviously translating thoughts/feelings from Arabic and I struggle to find meaning in them. Not in a 'problematic literal translation sense' but in the sense of conceptual opaqueness. Needless to say he continually repeats himself, thus illustrating Shouby's point of overassertion and the attempt to provide clarity for himself, and is unable to modify the content of what he's saying in order to convey meaning. Alas, it's form over function and his emphasis is on expressing himself rather than communicating with me (who appreciates neither the vagueness nor the linguistic flights - hence I'm at this site trying to learn Arabic!!). Great article...

Bundu said...

Excellent site! Great info! I first heard "Marhabtayn" in Al-Ain, UAE, and have been looking for its translation for a while. I should have worked it out marahaba + itnayn.

(sorry if my phonetics are bad!)