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• Asking informational questions
Asking informational questions
First, note that in standard Arabic, question words generally come at the beginning of a question, while in colloquial Arabic, these words usually (but not necessarily always) come at the end.
انهو - انهي - انهم (anhu [masc.] - anhi [fem.] - anhum [pl.])
ما and ماذا are used in different types of questions; the former is used in questions that do not have verbs, while the latter is used in questions that do have verbs. Frequently ما is followed by the pronoun corresponding to the noun being asked about. ايه, on the other hand, is fairly straightforward, and is used anytime you would say "what" in English.
What's your name?
اسمك ايه؟ (ismak eih?)
What's the difference between us and them?
ايه الفرق بيننا وبينهم؟ (eih il-far' beinna wa-beinhum?)
What do you want?
انت عايز ايه؟ (inta 3aayiz eih?)
What shall I tell you?
اقول لك ايه؟ (a'ollak eih?)
In standard Arabic, اي can be used with a pronoun suffix to mean "which of..." In Egyptian Arabic, you can put اي before a noun to ask "which [noun]..."
Which one of them do you prefer?
بتفضل اي واحد منهم؟ (bitfaDDal ayya waaHid minhom?)
Which team do you support?
بتشجع اي فريق؟ (bitšagga3 ayya farii'?)
Egyptian Arabic also has an alternative way to say "which": انهو\انهي\انهم. This can be a little tricky, since it can come either before or after the noun being referred to. The formulation is either:
- [ánhu/ánhi/ánhum - stress falling on the first syllable] + [indefinite noun]
- [definite noun] + [anhú/anhí/anhúm - stress falling on the second syllable]
Note that you would usually go with the second option only when the "which" question is on its own -- simply asking "Which book? Which girl?" as opposed to "Which book do you like? Which girl do you know?" in which case you'd probably go with the first option.
انت ساكن في انهي شقة؟ (inta saakin fi ánhi ša''a?) Which apartment do you live in?
انهو دور؟ (ánhu door?) -or- الدور انهو؟ (id-door anhú?) Which floor?
(على) فين ([3ala] fein)
The usage of "where" in Arabic is fairly straightforward.
Where is the museum?
المتحف فين؟ (il-matHaf fein?)
Where are you going?
رايحة على فين؟ (rayHa 3ala fein?)
Where are you from?
انت منين؟ (inta minein?)