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Lesson 5b: Demonstrative Pronouns

Lesson 5, Part A:
  • Intro
  • Dialogue
Lesson 5, Part B:
What's this?
In this conversation, Jamal thinks the waiter has given him coffee by mistake. How does he ask, "Is this coffee?"

Is this coffee?
hal haadhahi qahwa?
هَل هٰذَهِ قهوة؟

Later on, Sue sees an unknown item on the menu, so she asks the waiter what it is. What does she say?

What is this?
maa haadha?
ما هٰذا؟

How does the waiter answer their questions? How does he explain this in Arabic? Let's take a look at how he answers Jamal's question:

This is coffee.
This is tea.
haadhahi qahwa
haadhaa shaay.
هٰذَهِ قهوة
هٰذَا شاي

He uses the word هٰذا or هٰذَهِ to explain to Jamal that "this is tea" and "this is coffee". But what is the difference between هٰذا and هٰذَهِ ? Can you guess? It's gender, of course! هٰذا is used with masculine nouns and هٰذَهِ is used with feminine nouns. As you are beginning to see, knowing the gender of a noun is really important to being able to speak accurately in Arabic!

Finally, did you notice that the waiter doesn't actually say the words "is" or "a" like in the English translation of "This is coffee" or "That is a meatball", but instead only says هٰذا or هٰذَهِ + noun? That's because in Arabic, you do not need to say "is" or "a/an". You only need to say "this+ an indefinite noun" to make a complete sentence.
Look at some of the examples below. Then, test your knowledge with the accompanying quiz!

هٰذا شاي This is tea.
هٰذا بَيت This is a house.
هٰذَهِ سَيّارة This is a car.
هٰذَهِ دَرّاجة This is a bicycle.

Asking for things politely
In the dialogue, we saw two ways to order food:

مُمكِن فَلافِل؟ May I have
.أريد كُبّة I'd like/I want
a meatball.

To be polite, مِن فَضلك can be added to the end of either sentence. As we have seen with the question ما اِسمُك؟ in lesson 1, this word also changes according to the person you are speaking to. If you want to say "please" to a man, useمِن فَضلَك (min faDlak). If you are speaking to a woman, use مِن فَضلِك (min faDlik).
Now that we know the word for please changes depending on whether we are speaking to a man or a woman, could you tell if the waiter in the conversation was a man or a woman based only on the text?

مُمكِن فَلافِل مِن فَضلَك؟

Since Sue said من فصلَك min faDlak, we can assume, without even listening to the audio, that the waiter was a man. Great work!
A lot or a little?
Jamal says that he is a little hungry, while Sue says she is very hungry. A lot and a little are words that modify adjectives. In Arabic, these words, قَليلاً and جِداً, go after the adjective. We'll cover more useful words like this in Chapter 15: Adverbs.

البَيت صَغير قليلاً The house
is a little
الخُبز لَذيذ جِداً The bread
is very