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Unless you’re in a hurry, having small talk with people is pretty common in Arab culture. This applies notably when meeting people of the same gender. Same as in every language, a good conversation starts by asking how are you.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to say how are you in Arabic and how to reply.
How to Say How Are You in Arabic?
A universal way of asking how are you in Arabic is kaif al hal? (كيف الحال؟). This expression is used in Modern Standard Arabic and is quite formal. The good thing is that it can be used for both genders. Besides, it’s used and understood in most Arabic dialects.
Most countries have a regional dialect used in everyday life. This implies that there is a short form for certain expressions, or a different word altogether.
How are You in Levantine Arabic
In Levantine Arabic (spoken in countries like Lebanon and Jordan), the most common way to say how are you is kefak? (كيفك) (to a man) or kefek? (كيفك) (to a woman).
While kaif al hal literally means “what is the state”, kefak is a short and easy form, literally meaning “your state”. Due to the similarity, kefak is also widely understood across the Middle East.
How are You in Egyptian Arabic
While Egyptian Arabic is usually quite close to Modern Standard Arabic, there are some exceptions. How are you in Egyptian Arabic is essayak? (ازيك) (to a man) or essayik? (ازيك) (to a woman). However, kaif al hal is also widely understood in Egypt.
As you can see in the expressions above, the Arabic language makes a grammatical difference between men and women. This difference needs to be made to verbs, pronouns and adverbs. It applies either for the gender of the person speaking, or the gender of the person you’re talking to.
When addressing a person, you’d have to adapt your wording according to the gender of that person (e.g. in the case of kefak/kefek). When talking about yourself, you’ll use your own gender (e.g. in the case of mneeh/mneeha). There are also many expressions which don’t need to be changed grammatically, such as Arabic greetings.
I’m Fine in Arabic
As a popular Arabic saying suggests: one day is honey, one day is onions. We can’t always have a good day. Sometimes, we just feel bad.
However, it’s almost part of Arab culture to answer positively when someone asks how one is doing. Even if a person is obviously not doing good, they will likely still tell you that they’re fine. That being said, there are countless ways to say I’m fine in Arabic! Let’s have a look at the most common words in spoken Arabic.
To the question how are you, men would answer mneeh (منيح), and women would answer mneeha (منيحة) (good). You could also reply with kwayes (kwayesa for women) or tamam (تمام) (equally used by men and women). All three words have the same meaning (good) and are widely understood across the Middle East.
Adding alhamdulillah (الحمد لله) (thank god) to your answer is pretty common. It’s mostly used by muslims as it’s an Islamic expression. Sometimes, people just use alhamdulillah as the answer, sometimes you can hear things like ana mneeh, alhamdulillah (I’m fine, thank god).
As you can see in the examples, you have to adapt the grammar of the adjectives according to your own gender when answering the question, i.e. talking about yourself. The only exception is tamam, which is used for both men and women. Alhamdulillah is not an adjective and can be used by men and women.
Expressions at a Glance
Below is a summary of the expressions used in this article and their English equivalent. The Latin script can help you with the correct pronunciation if you can’t read Arabic. Learning the Arabic alphabet will greatly help you with the correct pronunciation of Arabic words.
|English Equivalent||Arabic (Latin Script)||Arabic (Arabic Script)|
|How are you? (formal)||Kaif al hal?||كيف الحال|
|How are you? (Levantine Arabic) (masc.)||Kefak?||كيفك|
|How are you? (Levantine Arabic) (fem.)||Kefek?||كيفك|
|How are you? (Egyptian Arabic) (masc.)||Essayak?||ازيك|
|How are you? (Egyptian Arabic) (fem.)||Essayek?||ازيك|
|Thanks god (relig.)||Alhamdulillah||الحمد لله|
Learn Arabic with Me!
Looking for more expressions in Arabic, or are you interested in Arab culture? You’ve come to the right place! This blog is about all things Middle Eastern. You’ll find plenty of useful articles here to immerse yourself in the Arabic language, culture and cuisine.
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