10 Arabic words you need to know

So, you’ve acquired tickets for your first trip to an Arabic-speaking country. Maybe you’re going to explore on your own, and maybe you’re going to be part of a guided tour. Either way, your trip is going to be just that much more enjoyable when you can communicate – even a little – in Arabic with the people you meet.

Of course, technically speaking, there are hundreds of thousands of words in the language. Where would you even start?

Which phrases are going to be the most useful?

Which Arabic words do you absolutely need to know before you arrive at your destination?

Let’s keep it simple and start with the 10 words and phrases that you’re likely to use almost every day.

Friendly Greetings

We’re going to start with the simple things, like a friendly hello and goodbye.

Hello marḥaba مرحبا
Bye maʿa s-salamah مع السلامة


Being Polite

A simple “please” and “thank you” can mean a lot. Whether you’re speaking to someone you just met or someone you see regularly, they’ll appreciate you being as polite as possible.

Please rajaa’ رجاء
Thank you šukran شكرا


Agree or Disagree

“No” and “Yes” are very nearly universal, and anyone you meet will likely understand if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with them. Still, when you can answer “yes” or “no” in Arabic, it shows you’re really trying to jump into the language and culture.

Yes naʿam نعم
No لا


Finding Someone Who Can Help

Whether you need directions, suggestions, or just want to have a nice conversation, sometimes you need to know if they can keep the conversation going in your own language. So, to find out if they speak your language, you can say:

Do you speak…? (English) hal tatakallam…?   (al-ʾinğlīziyyah) هل تتكلم….؟  


It’s Okay to Not be Fluent

It can be frustrating when someone asks you a question and you don’t understand what they want. So, to clear things up quickly, let them know where you’re at in your Arabic studies.

If, for example, you just need them so say something again, you could say:

Could you please repeat that? min faḍlik, karrir hāḏā من فضلك, كرر هذا!

On the other hand, if you just didn’t catch what they said, it’s best to just let them know by saying:

I don’t understand that. ʾanā lā ʾafhamu hāḏā أنا لا أفهم هذا


The Costs

When we travel, it’s hard to pass up all the great souvenirs, great food, and historical sites. Unfortunately, those things aren’t exactly free, so you need to know what it costs. It’s just a simple question:

How much is this? kam yukalif hdha?   كم يكلف هذا؟


Building Your Vocabulary

Of course, all of these words and phrases have been presented assuming you have not yet taken any Arabic classes and that this will be your first exposure to a new language.

This are simple and effective words that you can use in daily conversations as you experience a trip to Egypt or other countries in the area.

If you’d like to really get into the language or would like to enhance your travel experience, be sure to check out our classes and consider signing up. We’ll make sure you have many more than ten words and phrases at your command for your journey to an Arabic-speaking country.