Welcome back fellow language learners! We mentioned before that it’s summertime in the Middle East and what a great time it is to for you to get out and learn Arabic language conversation skills because the days are longer and there’s more native Arabic speakers to chit-chat with outsiders.

In Arabic, chit-chat or small talk is known as kalaam khafiif (literally,“light talk”), and it plays a very important part during communications with Arabic speakers. So, to improve your Arabic conversation skills, you are going to have to get out there and make a little kalaam khafiif with your neighbors, colleagues, and friends. To meet new people you will have to know their ‘ism (name), and you’re probably want to go beyond that as well by asking them such questions as where they’re from and what they do.

This article will, therefore, explain how to make small talk by asking questions in Arabic (su’aal). First, we will start with some key question words in Arabic.

The Wh- question words in Arabic

Who in Arabicman?من؟
Where in Arabic‘ayna?أين؟
When in Arabicmataa?متى؟
What in Arabicmaa?ما؟
What in Arabic (used with verbs)maathaa?ماذا؟
Why in Arabiclimaathaa?لماذا؟
How in Arabickayfa?كيف؟
How much in Arabicbikam?بكم؟
How many in Arabickam min?كم عدد؟

Once you’ve mastered those, it’s time to take the next step in learning Arabic language skills and use the following questions that require more detailed answers. (Notice that some of the questions below refer to either masculine or feminine subjects. When you ask a question in Arabic, you choose the gender of the subject by modifying the gender suffix of the noun in the question. For example, kitaab means book in Arabic but kitaabuka means “your book” in the masculine form and kitaabuki means “your book” in the feminine form. So if you want to ask a woman for her book, you use kitaabuki.

Here are some examples for you to start with:

What’s your name in Arabic maa ‘ismuka? (m.)
maa ‘ismuki? (f.)
ما اسمكَ؟
ما اسمكِ؟
What is your job in Arabic maa mihnatuka? (m.)
maa mihnatuki? (f.)
ما مهنتكَ؟
ما مهنتكِ؟
What are you doing in Arabic maadha taf’al? (m.)
maadha taf’aliina? (f.)
ماذا تفعل؟
ماذا تفعلينَ؟
Where are you from in Arabic min ‘ayna ‘anta? (m.)
min ‘ayna ‘anti? (f.)
من أين انتَ؟
من أين انتِ؟
What is he writing in Arabicmaadha yaktubu?ماذا يكتب؟
Do you like to read in Arabichal tuHibbu al-qiraa’a?هل تحب القراءة؟
Is this your book in Arabichal haadhaa kitaabuka?هل هذا كتابك؟
Where is the train station in Arabic‘ayna maHaTTatu al-qiTaar?أين محطة القطار؟
When did she go to the airport in Arabicmataa satadhhab ‘ilaa al-maTaar?متى سوف تذهب الى المطار؟
Where is the best restaurant in Arabic‘ayna huwa ‘afdhal maT’am?أين هو أفضل مطعم؟
Why did you go to the market in Arabiclii maadhaa dhahabta ‘ilaa as-suuq?لماذا ذهبت الى السوق؟

To sum everything up, you now have the Arabic language skills form a question in Arabic, so go outside, meet new friends and ask them questions to get to know a little more about them.
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