As you’re learning Arabic, you’re likely to come across some versatile words that you’ll wish you had learned earlier.

Take the word yaʻnee/يَعني for instance.

Spend any time in an Arab country and you’ll likely hear yaʻnee/يَعني being used everywhere from the classroom to the coffee shop.

So, if it’s used so much by Arabs today, what does it actually mean? Well, don’t bother with Google Translate, because it will tell you that yaʻnee/يَعني means, well, “means”.

Still, in researching the word, we found that it’s more than just another way of saying “I mean” or “That is to say”; rather, and perhaps more importantly, its meaning depends more on what the speaker really wants to convey.

yaʻnee/يَعني , look at these four examples of how it’s used, and we think you’ll see what we mean:

The Arabic “um”

Probably the reason you’ll hear this word most often in the everyday conversation of Arabs is that they often use it as filler words. Much like native English speakers stretch out “um” when they are trying to figure out what to say, Arabs will stretch out yaʻnee/يَعني . For example, “Ummm, I think that car is a little too expensive for my wallet” in Arabic would be:

 يَعني أَعتَقِد أَنَّ هَذِهِ السِّيَّارَةَ باهِظَةُ الثَّمَنِ بِالنِّسبَةِ لِمِحفَظَتي.

/yaʻnee ʼaʻtaqid ʻanna haTHihi issayyaarata baahiDHatu ithamani binnisbati limiHfaDHatee/

An Arabic Elaborator

You’ll most likely hear this in the classroom when someone wants to say “I mean”, “that is to say”, “in other words”, or “for example”. It’s then that you can see how Arabs use the word so versatilely. 

لِماذا تُريدُ دِراسَةَ الفَنِّ؟ أَعني، لَم يَسمَع أَحَد مِن قَبلُ عَن مُهَندِسٍ يَتَضَوَّرُ جوعًا.

/limaaTHaa tureedu diraasata ilfann ʼaʻnee lam yasmaʻ ʼaHad min qablu ʻan muhandisin yatadhawwaru jooʻan/

Why do you want to study art? I mean, nobody's ever heard of a starving engineer.

Words of Passion

Sometimes when it is joined with other words and used in a passionate conversation, yaʻnee/يَعني in both good and bad ways.

For instance, when used as yaʻnee lee/يَعني لي” the “means” becomes “means so much”.

الزُّهورُ التَّي أَرسَلتَها تَعني لِيَ الكَثير /yaʻnee lee/يَعني لي” like “The flowers that you sent mean so much to me.”/azzuhooru illatee ʼarsaltahaa taʻnee liya ilkatheer/

However, when it’s used as “yaʻneek/ يَعنيك/  yaʻnee lak /يَعني لَكَ” or “interest you”, as in “how does this interest you?” then it brings back “mean” as in “mean girls” as its definition, it can often be seen as a biting remark.

“If you can’t afford to go to Turkey, then we will just go and have fun without you. How does that interest you?

إذا كُنتَ لا تَستَطيعُ تَحَمُّلَ تَكاليفِ الذَّهابِ إلى تُركِيّا، فَسَنَذهَبُ وَنَستَمتِعُ دونَكَ. هَل هَذا شَيءٌ يَعنِيك؟
/ʼiTHaa kunta laa tastaTeeʻu taHammula takaaleefi iTHahaabi ʼilaa turkiyaa fasanaTHhabu wa nastamtiʻu doonaka hal haTHaa shayʼun yaʻneek/

It’s a Mood

Do any of you remember mood rings – the novelty jewelry with a stone that would turn colors according to your mood? If it was blue, you were calm. If it were black, let others be warned!

Think of yaʻnee/يَعني as a mood interjection (interjections are words that show emotions like “Hey!” “Wow!” and “Yikes!” for those of you who need a reminder).

Like mood rings, the inflection in which you say yaʻnee/يعني will let your listeners know exactly your mood. For example, there is a big difference between “Ugh! This pizza tastes horrible!” and “Wow! This pizza is awesome!”




“Ugh! This pizza tastes horrible!

/yaʻnee haTHihi ilbeetzaa Taʻmuhaa faDHeeʻ/

يَعني هَذِهِ البيتزا طَعمُها   فَظيع!

Wow! This pizza is awesome!”

/yaʻnee haTHihi ilbeetzaa raaʼiʻah/

يَعني هَذِه البيتزا رائعَة!"

It’s all in the way you use your yaʻnee/يَعني

So, now that you know how to use yaʻnee/يَعني, you can try to impress your friends and teachers with how versatile your Arabic has become.

yaʻnee/يَعني that’s all for today.

If you want to learn more Arabic, yaʻnee/يَعني you can’t go wrong when you learn it the right way with the Kaleela Arabic language learning app. See for yourself how fun and easy learning Arabic can be. Download the app today only from