When you first start learning Arabic, one of the most crucial steps in learning and understanding the language is knowing how to ask even the simplest of questions.
Today’s post is a lesson in learning how to do just that. And to make it as easy as possible, we’re going to divide the lesson into two categories: Yes and No Questions and Wh- Questions.
Much the same as it is in English, a Yes or No question in Arabic is a question that requires only an answer of “yes” or “no” (or “نَعَم/naʻam/” or “لا/laa/no” in the Arabic’s case).
To create a Yes or No question, start with the interrogative particle هَل /hal/. However هَل /hal/ can also be substituted by أ (ʼalif with a hamza on top)which serves the same purpose.
Either way, asking a question is quite simple in Arabic. All you have to do is add هَل /hal/ or أ (ʼalif with a hamza on top) to the beginning of a sentence with the formula verb + subject + object.
Did Laith find a job?
أَوَجَدَ ليثُ عَمَلًا؟
/ʼawajada laythu ʻamalan/
Is this your suitcase
هَل هَذِهِ حَقيبَةُ سَفَرِك؟
/hal haTHihi Haqeebatu safarik/
Are you from America?
هَل أَنتَ مِنْ أَمْريكا؟
/hal ʼanta min ʼamreekaa/
As you can see above, هَل /hal/ is used for nearly all Yes or No questions, even those that start with the English “be” verbs such as “is” and “are”. Also, again, the answer here would be a simple نَعَم/naʻam/yes or لا/laa/no.
Much like the Wh- questions in English, Arabic uses interrogative nouns in questions to which an answer provides information for what was asked.
Who: مَنْ /man/
What: ماذا or ما /maa/ or /maaTHaa/
Where: أَين /ʼayn/
When: مَتى /mata/
How: كَيف /kayf/
In Arabic, the formula is Wh- + verb + object.
Here are some examples using each Wh- question in Arabic:
Who did their homework?
مَنْ قامَ بِواجِباتِهِ المَدرَسيَّة؟
/man qaama biwaajibaatihi ilmadrasiyyah/
Where is the bathroom, please?
أَيْنَ هُوَ الحَمّامُ لَو سَمَحت؟
/ʼayna huwa ilHammaamu law samaHt/
What is the capital of Oman?
ما هِيَ عاصِمَةُ عُمان؟
/maa hiya ʻaaSimatu ʻumaan/
When is Jordan’s Independence Day?
متى عيدُ اِستِقلالِ الأُردُن؟
/mataa ʻeedu istiqlaali ilʼurdun/
How was your trip to Cairo?
كَيفَ كانَت رِحلَتُكَ إِلى القاهِرَة؟
/kayfa kaanat riHlatuka ʼilaa ilqaahirah/
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this short and sweet lesson on the basics of forming questions in Arabic.
From questions to answers, if it’s anything about Arabic we’ve got you covered when you learn Arabic the right way with the Kaleela Arabic language app. Find out how you can download the app today and start speaking Arabic tomorrow by visiting kaleela.com now.