Monday, July 30, 2012

Relative pronouns in Egyptian Arabic

Unlike in  MSA, in the Egyptian Arabic, there is only one relative pronoun: اللي - illi (that, who), no matter if the noun is feminine, masculine, singular or plural. Its use is simple and straightforward and shouldn’t cause any problems. You just need to remember some basic rules.

The relative pronouns are used only with definite nouns, examples:

الراجل اللي راح أمريكا (ar-raagil illi raaH amriika) - the man who went to America

البنت اللي درست عربي (al-bint illi darsit 9arabi) - the girl who learned Arabic

الأفلام اللي شفتها (al-aflaam illi shuftaha) - the films I watched

(Note to the last example: all plural non-human nouns are grammatically treated as feminine singular.)

كلمت المصريين اللي بيسكن في القاهرة (kallimt al-maSriyyiin illi biyaskanu fil-qaahira) - I spoke to the Egyptians who live in Cairo.

But:
كلمت مصريين بيسكن في الخليج (kallimt(i) maSriyyiin biyaskanu fil-qaahira) - I spoke to Egyptians who live in Cairo

If the pronoun is referring back to a noun that is a direct object or the object of a preposition (“the book [that] I read”, “the girl [whom] I wrote to”), a suffix referring to this noun must be added to the verb, examples:

الكتاب اللي قريته (al-kitaab illi ‘areitu) - the book I read (literally: the book that I read it)
الأفلام اللي شفتها (al-aflaam illi shuftaha) - the films I watched (literally: the film the I watched them)

More examples:

فين الجواب اللي كثبثه (feen al-gawaab illi katabtu) - where is the letter that you wrote
الولد اللي ةناك ده ابني (al-walad hnaak da ibni) - the boy over there is my son
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