How to Ask Questions in Arabic

By David F. DiMeo

How do you ask basic questions in Arabic? Well, Arabic interrogative words mean the same as they do for English: who, what, when, where, why, and how. By knowing basic Arabic interrogatives, you’ll be able to express your questions, even without an extensive vocabulary.

For example, say you’re visiting a street market and find a jacket you want to buy. You could ask the vendor “bi-kam al- qubbaa?” (“How much is this jacket?”). But if you don’t know enough vocabulary, you could simply point to the jacket and say “bikam?” and the seller will understand.

  • man? (Who?)

  • maa? (What? [without a verb])

  • maadhaa? (What [with a verb])

  • mataa? (When?)

  • ayna? (Where?)

  • limaadhaa? (Why?)

  • kayfa? (How?)

  • kam? (How many?)

  • bikam (How much?)

  • ayy/ayya? (Which?)

  • hal hunaaka (Is there?) (Are there?)

In addition to the question words above, you can put a hal in front of the sentence to create a question in Arabic that would elicit a yes (naam) or no (laa) response.

Here’s a look at some different ways to put all these question words to practice in some useful phrases.

  • bi-kam al-biTaaqa? (How much is the ticket?)

  • ayna-l-baab? (Where is the gate?)

  • kayf Haalak? (How are you?)

  • maa ismuka? (What is your name?)

  • maa waDHiifatuka? (What is your profession?)

  • ayna al-mustashfaa? (Where is the hospital?)

  • mataa taSil aT-Taa’ira? (When does the plane arrive?)

  • hal hunaaka markaz bariid qariib min hunaa? (Is there a post office nearby?)