Asking Key Questions in Arabic


Asking Key Questions in Arabic
One of the best ways to start a conversation is to ask a su’aal (soo-aahl; question).
To get you started, here are some key question words in Arabic:
 man? (meh-n; Who?)
 ‘ayna? (eh-yeh-nah; Where?)
 mataa? (mah-taah; When?)
 maa? (maah; What?)
 maadhaa? (maah-zaah; What?) (used with verbs)
 lii maadhaa? (lee maah-zaah; Why?)
 kayfa? (keh-yeh-fah; How?)
 bikam? (bee-kah-m; How much?)
 kam min? (kam meen; How many?)
You may use these question words to ask more elaborate and detailed questions.
Here are some examples:
 maa ‘ismuka? (maah ees-moo-kah; What’s your name?) (MS)
 maa ‘ismuki? (maah ees-moo-kee; What’s your name?) (FS)
 maa mihnatuka? (maah meeh-nah-too-kah; What do you do?; literally
“What is your job?”) (MS)
 maa mihnatuki? (maah meeh-nah-too-kee; What do you do?; literally
“What is your job?”) (FS)
 maadha taf’al? (maah-zaah tah-feh-al; What are you doing?) (MS)
 maadha taf’aliina? (maah-zaah tah-feh-alee-nah; What are you doing?) (FS)
 min ‘ayna ‘anta? (meh-n eh-yeh-nah ahn-tah; Where are you from?) (MS)
 min ‘ayna ‘anti? (meh-n eh-yeh-nah ahn-tee; Where are you from?) (FS)
 maadha yaktubu? (maah-zaah yah-keh-too-boo; What is he writing?)
 hal tuHibbu al-qiraa’a? (hal too-hee-buh al-kee-raa-ah; Do you like to
read?) (MS)
 hal haadhaa kitaabuka? (hal hah-zah kee-tah-boo-kah; Is this your book?)
 ‘ayna maHaTTatu al-qiTaar? (eh-yeh-nah mah-hah-tah-too al-kee-taar;
Where is the train station?)
 mataa satadhhab ‘ilaa al-maTaar? (mah-taah sa-taz-hab ee-laah al-mah-taar;
When did she go to the airport?)
 ‘ayna ‘aHsan maT’am? (eh-yeh-nah ah-sah-n mah-tam; Where is the best
 lii maadhaa dhahabta ‘ilaa as-suuq? (lee maah-zaah za-hab-tah ee-laah
ass-sook; Why did you go to the market?) (MS)
Notice that some of the questions above refer to either masculine or feminine
subjects. When you ask a question in Arabic, you choose the gender of the
subject by modifying the gender suffix of the noun in question. For example,
kitaab (kee-tab) means “book,” but kitaabuka (kee-tah-boo-kah) means “your
book” (M), and kitaabuki (kee-tah-boo-kee) means “your book” (F). So if you
want to ask a man for his book, you use kitaabuka.