Just like in English, there are many different ways to ask questions in Arabic. But, fortunately all types of questions can be asked using just a few different questions words. In this article you will learn all common Arabic question words and how to use them.
First, here is an overview over the different types of questions that can be asked in Arabic.
Arabic questions words and their English equivalents
1. أ؟ \ هل؟ a / hal – question particle
hal and a are both used to introduce a question that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’:
هل أنت مجنون يا حمار؟
hal anta madjnoon ya Himaar?
(Are you crazy, you donkey?)
أ نشرت كتابا؟
a nasharta kitaaban?
(Did you publish a book?)
The main difference between hal and a is that only a can be used for a question with a negative statement, e.g.:
أ ليس كذلك يا سيدي؟
a laysa kadhalika ya sayyidi?
(Isn’t that true sir?)
أ لا تدرس العربي يا أحمد؟
a la tadrusu l-arabi ya ahmad?
(don’t you study Arabic Ahmed?)
2. من؟ man – who?
من أرسل لي رسالة حب؟
man arsala li risalata Hubbin?
(Who’s sent me a love letter?)
(Who helps me?/Who is going to help me?)
3. كيف؟ kayf(a) – how?
The ending ‘a’ is often dropped, especially in dialects.
كيف أكلت التماسيح الرجل؟
kayfa akalat it-tamaseeHu r-radjul?
(How did the crocodiles eat the man?)
كيف يعمل هذا الجهاز؟
kayfa ya3milu hadha l-djihaaz?
(How does this machine work?)
4. متى؟ mata? – when?
In some dialects this is pronounced emta.
متى فزت في اليانصيب؟
mata fuzta fi l-yanaSeeb?
(When did you win the lottery?)
(When are you going to marry me?)
5. ما؟ \ ماذا؟ ma / madha – what?
There are two ways to ask “what” in Arabic, i.e. ma and madha. In general, ma is used for questions without a verb, while madha is used when there is a verb in the question. Examples:
ما هو سبب غيابك؟
ma huwa sababu ghiyaabik?
(What is the reason for your absence?)
ماذا سنأكل غدا؟
madha sa-na’kulu ghadan?
(What will we eat tomorrow?)
The exception to this rule is when you ask “what about?”:
ماذا عن الحب؟
madha 3an il-Hubb?
(What about love?)
6. لماذا؟ limadha – why?
As you will no doubt have noticed, limadha is composed of li (“for”) and madha (“what”), i.e. “for what?” = why?
لماذا تركت الحصان وحيدا؟
limadha tarakta l-HiSSaan waHeedan?
(Why did you leave the horse alone? – the title of one of Mahmoud Darwish’s anthologies)
لماذا استقال البابا؟
limadha istaqaala l-baaba?
(Why did the Pope resign?)
7. أين؟ ayn(a) – where?
Similarly to kayfa, the final ‘a’ ending of ayna can be dropped. Related questions are:
من أين؟ min ayna – from where?
إلى أين؟ ila ayna – where to?
أين الحمام من فضلك؟
ayna l-Hammaamu min faZlik?
(Where’s the bathroom please?)
من أين جاء محمد؟
min ayna dja’a muhammad?
(Where did Mohammed come from?)
إلى أين يذهب كل يوم؟
ila ayna yadhhabu kulla yawmin?
(Where does he go to everyday?)
8. كم؟ kam – how much? / how many?
كم عمرك يا بهلوان؟
kam 3omruka ya bahlawaan?
(How old are you, you clown?)
(How much do you love me?)
Now, when you’re asking for a price you usually say:
بكم كيلو الحشيش؟
bikam keelu l-Hasheesh?
(How much is a kilo of the Hashish (or grass)?)
9. لمن؟ liman – whose?
This is composed of li (“for”) and man (“who”), i.e. “for whom” = whose?
لمن هذا السلاح؟
liman hadha s-silaaH?
(Whose weapon is this? / Whom does this weapon belong to?)
10. أي؟ ay – which?
أي كتاب تقصد؟
ay kitaab taqsid?
(Which book do you mean?)
اي نوع من الرجال تفضل النساء؟
ay naw3 min r-ridjaal tufaDDilu n-nisaa’
(Which type of men do women prefer?)
I’ve covered all the ways of interrogation and interrogative particles in Arabic I could think of. Are there any question words that I missed?
shukran for providing clear information salem
You’re welcome Fenella. If you have ideas for further Arabic grammar topics, please let me know.
Can you please tell me the Gender of following Arabic quote, if the person saying it would be Feminine or Masculine:
كُنْتُ كنْزًا مَخْفِي ا فَاَحْبَبْتُ أَن أُعْرَفَ فَخلَقْت خلْقًا
Hi Aamir! The quote is gender neutral insofar as there would be no difference if a man or a woman would say it.
Btw, there seems to be a typo in the phrase, as it should be مخفيا and not مخفي ا .
المساواة is this accurate for “equality” ?
The only other question structure I would ask regarding is What + Noun.
What car did you buy?
What Brazilian footballer plays for Barcelona?
Hallo, ich wollte mal nachfragen ob sie/du mir die Namen Angelina und Luca auf arabisch übersetzen könntest ich möchte mir diese Tattoowieren lassen. Lg jessi
Can you translate these questions:
Didn’t you eat yet?
Did you go to the school?
Doesn’t it make sense?
I want to know if “فوكين جميلة” actually means “Fucking Beautiful”. Please can someone help me out.
The context is: My wife is Fucking Beautiful.
I dont trust google translate.
i want learn Arabic. plz.explain easy way.
Hi Sanjeewa, you can take a look here to start with some free resources. I’ve also developed a course for learning the Arabic alphabet that you might find helpful.
i want to learn arabic so please can you tell me in very easy way
Would you like to guide me how to translate English to Arabic.I do have some basic knowhow of arabic grammar.
24 01 2017
can u du my arabic hw for me on irab
answer before tmrw morning plz
Thanks bro good job
Good job thanks bro
Thank u good job
this is good way of teaching arabic Allah BLESS U
Please translate to Arabic: 1. What is the time?
2. What time are you going? Thanks
Will you translate these malayalam sentence… ” ഇന്ദിരാ ഗാന്ധി ഇന്ത്യയിലെ എത്രാമത്തെ പ്രധാനമന്ത്രിയാണ് “.
What is the plural of pink and purple, with its final vowel ending? Also, what is purple feminine with its final vowel ending?
list of harf nasab,
list of harf,
You forgot Maa’e Maan (With Whom?)
Pls I wanna learn Arabic. Having exams on 28 this week. 2-3 days left.. pls help me lrn arabic in a easy way because the thing is that arabic is considered 2 hard language for beginners. Iam not down rating it or saying arabic is worst, I love arabic but iam telling cause I need help. Reply by tomorrow pls