Which one?

This section explains how to specify which of several things we are interested in, or talking about.

Definite article

To talk about a particular man, we say 'the man' in English. In arabic, we attach il-iil_ ا ِلـ to the front of the noun.

the man is reading his book
iil-raagil biyiqraac kitaab-uh

See articles for more information.

Indefinite article

If we don't want to refer to any man in particular, we say 'a man' in English. There is no equivalent of a in arabic, you just use the noun on its own.

I want a dog
aacnaa Aaayiz kalb

If you want to make it clear that you are talking about just one, you can use the word waaHid- one. When used for emphasis like this, you place it after the noun.

I want (just) one dog

aacnaa Aaayiz kalb waaHid

You also use it with nationalities to indicate that you are talking about a person, rather than (for example) the language.

an English man (or woman)
waaHid iingilyzy
waaHdao iingilyziyao


In both English an Egyptian, you can use an adjective to specify which one you are interested in: you simply put the - il-iil_ ا ِلـ in front of the adjective. Note that, in Egyptian, the noun still retains its il-iil_ ا ِلـ prefix.

English Egyptian
describeI want a red ballAaayiz koora hamraAaayiz kwrao Hamrao
عا َيـِز كور َة حـَمر َة
specifyI want the red ballAaayiz ilkoora ilhamraAaayiz iil-kwrao iil-Hamrao
عا َيـِز ا ِلكور َة ا ِلحـَمر َة
specifyI have read the big book'ara't ilkitab ilkibeerqaraaCt iil-kitab iil-kibyr
قـَرا َءت ا ِلكـِتـَب ا ِلكـِبير

Demonstrative adjectives

One particular type of adjective is a demonstrative adjective. These are almost the same as the demonstrative pronouns.

this man

iil-raagil dah

The demonstrative adjectives are:

English Arabic
this (man) ilraagil dahiil-raagil dah
ا ِلرا َجـِل د َه
this (thing, m)ilkitaab dahiil-kitaab dah
ا ِلكـِتا َب د َه
this (thing, f)ilhaga dahiil-hagao dah
ا ِلهـَجـَة د َه
this (woman)ilsitt diiil-sitt dy
ا ِلسـِتّ دي
these (men)ilragaala dooliil-ragaalaa dwl
ا ِلر َجا َلا َ دول
these (men) nearerilragaala diiil-ragaalaa dy
ا ِلر َجا َلا َ دي
these (women)ilsittaat dooliil-sittaat dwl
ا ِلسـِتّا َت دول
these (things,m)ilkutoob diiil-kutwb dy
ا ِلكـُتوب دي
these (things,f)ilhagaat diiil-hagaat dy
ا ِلهـَجا َت دي
over there (m) 'ahwaachw!
over there [f]'ahiaachy!
over there (pl)'ahoomaachwm!


You can use a comparative in the same was as an adjective to specify which one you mean:

mohammed is the tallest student muhammad 'aTwal TaalibmuHammad aacTwal Taalib
مـُحـَمّـَد أطو َل طا َلـِب
he is the youngest boy huwwa 'aSGar waladhuwwa aacSGar walad
هـُوّ َ أصغـَر و َلـَد
the tallest student is 1m90 ilTaalib il'aTwal Toolooh mitr 1 wa 90 santiiil-Taalib iil-aacTwal Twlwh mitr 1 wa 90 santy
ا ِلطا َلـِب ا ِلأطو َل طولوه مـِتر ١ و َ ٩٠ سـَنتي
the most expensive drink is 20 pounds ilmashrab il'aGla 20 gineehiil-mashrab iil-aacGlY 20 ginyh
ا ِلمـَشر َب ا ِلأغلى ٢٠ جـِنيه
this is the prettiest dress in the shop dih 'ahla fustaan fi ilmahaldih aacHlY fustaan fy iil-maHal
د ِه أحلى فـُستا َن في ا ِلمـَحـَل
it was the best day in my life kaan 'ahsan yoom fi hayaatikaan aacHsan ywm fy Hayaaty
كا َن أحسـَن يوم في حـَيا َتي