About

Damascus Gate Arabic is the place to learn Arabic in Jerusalem. Currently group classes are held every Monday between 6-7:30 and are pay whatever you can/want style. During this course students learn ‘amiyya, colloquial Arabic, and in particular the dialect spoken on the streets in Jerusalem.

For more information, join our facebook group.

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I feel like it

To say you feel like or fancy something in Arabic, you say:
جاي ع بالي = jāi ʿa bāli
which literally means “coming to my mind”.

Breaking it down:
جاي (jāi) = اسم الفاعِل of إجا = coming
ع (ʿa) = to
بالي (bāli) = my mind

To say “he feels like it” you say:
جاي ع باله = jāi ʿa bālo = coming to his mind
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To say you don’t feel like, or fancy something, just add the negator مش (you can pronounce it either as mīš or mūš) at the beginning of the phrase.
I don’t feel like it:
مش جاي ع بالي (miš jāi ʿa bāli)

Here are a couple sentances:
جاي ع بالي اروح ع الحفلة (jāi ʿa bāli arūḥ ʿal-ḥafle) – I feel like going to the party.
الفلافل مش جاي ع بالي (il-felāfel (miš jāi ʿa bāli) – I don’t feel like felafel.

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Honey day, Onion day

Today’s lesson will be a really short one and it will teach you one of the most well known Levantine Arabic proverbs that goes a little something like this:
الدنيا هيك، يوم عسل، يوم بصل  id-dinya hēk, yōm ʿasal, yōm baṣal

This literally means, “the world is thus, honey day, onion day” but is like saying in English “that’s life. some days are good, some days are bad”. As you can probably guess, the honey day is the good one, and the onion day is the bad one.
الدنيا (dinya) = world
هيك (hēk) = thus
يوم (yōm) = day
عسل (ʿasal) = honey
بصل (baṣal) = onion

Sometimes people will just cut out the second half of the proverb and say only الدنيا هيك (id-dinya hēk) which as stated above is pretty much equivalent to the English expression “that’s life” or “such is life”.

This proverb is usually said when someone has suffered some sort of setback, usually minor in nature such as doing poorly on a test, or missing the bus.

Here is a song of that name. Note that instead of dinya, they say dunya which is the same word but more the Egyptian pronunciation:

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Israel or Palestine?

If you’re studying Arabic, it’s safe to assume that you’re into Middle East politics. Since the focus of Middle East politics is the Arab-Israeli conflict, this lesson will teach you how to at least refer to the places concerned.

To the right is a map of the country called Israel. In Arabic it can be called several different names depending on your political standpoint. The most common of these are:

إسرائيل (isra’īl) = Israel
فلسطين (filisṭīn) = Palestine
فلسطين المحتلة (filisṭīn al-muḥtala) = Occupied Palestine

If you watch the Arabic media (particularly channels associated with Hamas or Hezbollah),  more extreme terms you will likely encounter are:

الكيان الصهيوني (al-kiyān iṣ-ṣayouni) = The Zionist Entity
الكيان (al-kiyān) = The Entity
العدو (al-ʿadu) = The Enemy

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When talking about the Arab-Israeli Conflict, which is called:
الصراع العربي الاسرائيلي (aṣ-ṣirāʿ al-ʿarabi al-isra’īli)

The places most often discussed are:
الضفة الغربية (aḍ-ḍaffa al-ġarbiyya) – The West Bank
غزة (ġazza) – Gaza
القدس (al-quds) – Jerusalem

In case you are curious why the word for Jerusalem is completely different, its because it is. In Arabic القدس (al-quds) literally means “The holiness” so while their name is different, it still reflects the holiness of the city.

Now you’re ready to start talking about Middle East politics like a pro.

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Negativing verbs using lam and lan (لم ولن)

One of the defining features of Modern Standard Arabic (فصحى) that is not used in any dialects is the negation of verbs using لم and لن. Being able to use these words properly and effectively will bring your language to a higher level.

Just to know quickly what we’re dealing with:
لم is a word added before a present tense verb for past tense negation, and 
لَن is a word added before a present tense verb for future negation.

How to use lam لَم

In a previous lesson you learned that you can negate verbs in the past using the word ما :
ما ذهبتُ = I didn’t go

While this method of negation is completely correct, a different method, using the word لم, is considered the more educated way. The strange part about لم is that it is used to negate in the past using a present tense verb:
لم اذهبْ
 = I didn’t go

Note that لم makes the verb ending change from a damma (u case) to a sukuun (silent).
Here are some more examples:

He didn’t eat لم يأكلْ
They (pl) didn’t see لم يشاهدوا
She didn’t drink لم تشربْ
You (pl.) didn’t sit لم تجلسوا
I didn’t sleep ْلم انام
 You (m) didn’t write لم تكتبْ

You probably see that for the plural verbs the nun has been cut off the end and an alif has been added. This is because there is already a sukkun over the long vowel, and 2 sukkuns can’t come in a row. Thus the last letter is chopped off and replaced with an alif becuase as a rule in فصحى, a written word cannot end in a waw, so an alif that is not pronounced is added in its place.

As you may have noticed, negating the past using لم + a present verb is a little bit strange for those unaccustomed and will take a while to get used to.

How to use lan لَن

Just as لم is written before a present tense verb to negate the past, لن is written before a present tense verb to negate the future. The only difference is that now, the verb needs to end with a fatha on the last letter. Using the same examples as before

لم اذهبْ
 = I didn’t go
لن اذهبَ
 = I will not go

Here is a list of examples:

He will not eat لن يأكلَ
They (pl) will not see لن يشاهدونَ
She will not drink لن تشربَ
You (pl.) will not sit لن تجلسونَ
I will not sleep لن انامَ
You (m) will not write لن تكتبَ

So two things to remember:
When you add لم before a present tense verb, the verb ending changes to a sukuun
When you add لن before a present tense verb, the verb ending changes to a fatha

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As-salamu aleikum! (السلامُ عليكم)

As-salamu ʿaleikum (السلامُ عليكم) can be described as the quintessential Islamic greeting. If you’re traveling, or live, in a Muslim country you likely hear it all the time and should know what it means.

As-salamu ʿaleikum (السلامُ عليكم) in Arabic literally means “the peace upon you” and can be said to anyone, whether it is a male, female, individual or group. It is often used as a greeting, a way to get someone’s attention, or when joining a gathering.

The frequency of this phrase’s use depends mostly on the religiosity of the place as well as the speaker since this phrase is considered quite Islamic. In the bilād aš-šām I don’t hear the phrase used so often, and if I do its likely from an older man or during Ramadan time when everyone wants to appear more religion. In Egypt however it was the standard greeting and its use is very common among all people (perhaps this is a sign of increasing religiosity in the society).

When someone says: as-salamu ʿaleikum (السلامُ عليكم) there is an automatic response which also always stays the same. The response is wa ʿaleikum as-salām (وعليكم السلام), which means “and upon you, the peace”.

phrase: as-salamu ʿaleikum (السلامُ عليكم)
response: wa ʿaleikum as-salām (وعليكم السلام)

Here is some analysis of the phrase:
as-salamu (السلام) literally means the peace. The reason it is not al-salamu is because s is a sun letter. If you have no idea what that means, check out this lesson. The reason it is salamu and not just salam (which is the word for peace), is due to classical Arabic grammar which adds a u vowel at the end (however in Arabic writing the word is spelled exactly the same). The reason this u is added is quite complicated but at the moment not necessary to know and will be discussed in a future, more advanced, lesson.

ʿaleikum (عليكم) means upon you (in the plural form). I don’t exactly know the reason why you refer to the person in the plural opposed to the singular, but I have heard it may be because it is as a sign of respect in Classical Arabic.

The response to the phrase is more or less the same, just flipped around and with the word wa added which means and.

If you want more information you can look on wikipedia.

For those who want to seem especially religious, there is an extra phrase which you can add to the response which will definitely get you some street cred.

phrase: as-salamu ʿaleikum (السلامُ عليكم)
response: wa ʿaleikum as-salām wa raḥmat allahi wa-barakātuhu (وعليكم السلام ورحمة الله وبركاته)

That response literally means “and upon you, the peace, and the compassion of Allah and his blessings”. It’s a mouthful at first but we assure you, it can be done, and will automatically make you seem like a next-level Arabic speaker (even though you likely aren’t).

Let’s end it with a song:

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Here it is! هَيّه

In this lesson you’re going to learn all about the exclamation hayy which means “here is…”, or “here are…”, mostly used in the sense “here it is!” or “here I am!”. It is used either on its own, followed by a noun, or with an attached pronoun.

If this seems a bit confusing below are a few examples:
hayy il-ktāb! = here’s the book!
wēn il-bēt? hayyo! = where’s the house? here it is!
hayyha! = here she is

Here is a chart with them all:

Here I am! hayy-ni
hayyāni
Here you are! (masc sing) hayyak
Here you are! (fem sing) hayyek
Here he/it (masculine object) is! hayyo
Here she/it (feminine object) is! hayyha
Here we are! hayyna
Here you (plural) are! hayykom
Here they are! hayyhom

As you probably noticed, I put 2 ways to say here I am. That is because people here in Jerusalem have told me some people say it the one way and some say it the other way.

It is important to know that this way of saying here I am is used primarily in the Palestinian Arabic branch of Levantine Arabic. Up north in Syria instead of hayy they often use lēk. If a Syrian person wanted to say “here it is!” they would say lēko!

To end this lesson I’ll give you a Syrian song, who’s title you can now understand. The song is called lēki:

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Levantine Arabic Possession 1 (ملكية)

In this lesson you will learn about the easiest and most common way to demonstrate possession, which in Arabic is called ملكية (mulkiyya). What we mean by this is showing that someone owns something, ex. my house, your car, his father, and so on.
All you need to do to show possession in Arabic is take any noun and attach the corresponding possessive suffix to it depending on who you’re referring to.

For example, to say some object belongs to you, you just take any noun and attach the corresponding suffix, which for this case is -i, to the end. If I have the word بيت (bēt), which means house, and I want to say my house i just add i at the end. bēt + i = bēti.

Below is a chart with all the attached possessive suffixes:

My (masculine and femine) -i ي
Your (masc sing) -ak ك
Your (fem sing) -ek ك
His -o ه
Her -ha ها
Our -na نا
Your (m/f plural) -kom كم
Their (plural) -hom هم

Here is another chart showing possession using the example of bēt.

My house -i بيتي
Your house (masc sing) -ak بيتَك
Your house (fem sing) -ek بيتِك
His house -o بيته
Her house -ha بيتها
Our house -na بيتنا
Your house (m/f plural) -kom بيتكم
Their house (plural) -hom بيتهم
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