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Introductions and Useful Expressions in Moroccan Arabic (Darija)

I’ve had a lot of people ask over the years for resources to learn Arabic, specifically Moroccan Arabic. There’s not a lot out there and honestly, the best way I’ve learned has been to live here. I know that’s not a reality for everyone.  

The first things to learn in basic “darija” Arabic are greetings. I’m going to work through the basics you’ll need to deal with day-to-day life. This is also where most learning resources end. I’ve found very little that goes beyond basic vocabulary and phrases.

Simple Greetings and Expressions in Moroccan Arabic (Darija)

Bear with me as I’m learning too, but with the help of MarocBaba we hope to make this a valuable resource. He’ll be recording some audio to go with the lessons so that you can hear the correct pronunciation, as well as double-checking my translations.  I’ll have several downloadable pages that go with each lesson.

One will be the overview of terms. Another will be some type of exercise, game, or other reinforcement. (Ha, bet you didn’t know I trained as an ESL teacher too! Not an Arabic teacher but I’ve got some teaching skills up my sleeve!) I’ve transliterated the pronunciation of these words as to how they sound to my English-speaking ear.

Moroccan Arabic is typically not written in Arabic script – there are some sounds that don’t exist as Roman letters so you’ll often see them written with a number like 3, 7, or 9. I won’t get ahead of myself and am not using any of those words here. There’s no standard spelling for these words as Darija is primarily an oral language.

Tips Before You Start Learning Darija

1. Start with the basics – focus on learning basic phrases and grammar before moving on to more difficult concepts.

2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – everyone makes them when learning a new language, so don’t be discouraged if you make a few yourself.

3. Practice, practice, practice – the more you use your new language skills, the better you’ll become at them. Find opportunities to practice with native speakers or other learners.

4. Be patient – learning a new language takes time, so don’t expect to be fluent overnight – or even have some of these words stick. Keep trying and you’ll get there eventually!

5. Find a good Arabic language course – there are many different ways to learn Arabic, but finding a course that suits your needs and learning style is important.

Greetings and Introductions in Moroccan Arabic

You may already know these, and if you do take some time to review them. If you’re planning a visit to Morocco, these are some of the easy phrases you can use in situations to show people you have learned a little of the language.

Learn the Language

Greetings in Darija

  • As-salaam Alaykum   —– (literally) Peace be with you – interchangeable for “hello”
  • Walaykum As-salaam —- response
  • Sbah l’kheir  —– Good morning
  • Labas? —- How are you?
  • Labas…mama, baba, drari, rajl, mrt  —- how is your mom, dad, kids, husband, wife
  • Culshi mzien? —– Everything is good?
  • Alhamdulilah —— Thank God
  • Culshi mzien. —– Everyone is good. (statement)
  • Inta?  —– and you? (to a man)
  • Intiya? —- and you? (to a woman)

Useful Expressions in Darija

  • Fimt? —- Do you understand? (to a male) If you understand you can answer “Fimt” in an affirmative tone.
  • Fimti? —- Do you understand? (to a female) If you understand you can answer “Fimti” in an affirmative tone.
  • Iyah —- Yes
  • La —- No
  • Waloo —- nothing (fihmt/i waloo – I don’t understand anything)
  • Ma’arft – I don’t know/I’m not sure.
  • Afak —- Please.
  • Shukrun —- Thank you.
  • Aoudi Afak — Repeat please.
  • Meshi Mushkil — It’s not a problem.
  • Kayn Mushkil — It’s a problem.
  • Kayna…..? —– Do you have?
  • Owni afak – Help me please
  • Atini…. —- I would like
  • Chwiya —- a little
  • Bezaf —- a lot
  • Smahli — Excuse me (to a man)
  • Smahaliya — Excuse me (to a woman)
  • Mashallah — When something is good or nice (like “your child is so cute mashallah”)
  • Bismillah — Blessing said before doing something
  • Arabe — Arabic
  • Ingles – English

There are many, many more useful expressions and phrases to learn but this is a small sampling to get you started!

Additional Resources to Learn Darija

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Gary

Saturday 18th of June 2022

I'm a 60 year old English guy from West London, and 4 hours ago I stepped off a plane at Heathrow from Errachidia in south eastern Morocco, from there travelling much further south to some very remote areas, where Berber is the primary language, and with the exception of the standard greetings and pleasantries, my knowledge borders on zero ! Fortunately I speak reasonably good French and this I used to communicate with almost everyone. Sadly I only came across your website just now whilst doing some research work Had I come across it a month ago, it would have helped me enormously! However, from now on I'll study and learn on a regular basis to better prepare me for my next visit being planned for February. Thanks for your very informative and educational website, I only wished I'd found you earlier! Kind regards Gary

Amanda Mouttaki

Wednesday 22nd of June 2022

Wishing you a great trip and I'm sure that it will all turn out memorable!

Megan

Friday 17th of July 2020

How do you write “Always” I have a bf that is from Rabat. We didn’t work out but love each other. I want to give him something with the word “always” . It would mean I’ll always love you but I just want the one word. Any help would be appropriated he goes back home on Tuesday.

Amanda Mouttaki

Friday 17th of July 2020

in darija you'd say - dima

Val Robitai

Sunday 8th of December 2019

Is this site current? (December 2019) I am from US but living in Marrakech and taking Darija lessons. So happy to find you!

Amanda Mouttaki

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

By current do you mean updated? if so then yes.

Pamela Hirsch

Monday 3rd of September 2018

I am going to Morroco in November. I am a strict Vegan. Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts and Grains. Nothing else. I am trying to find a phrase to speak so that when I am ordering, I will be understood. I do not want to appear rude, just want to do the right thing. Please help. [email protected] Thank you. Pamela

Allison

Tuesday 18th of February 2020

Hi Pamela, I'm also vegan and traveling to Morocco at the end of May. Did you learn anything you'd be willing to share?

Bernie

Thursday 31st of January 2019

Hello. I am planning to go to Morocco in just a few months and am learning all I can about the wonderful Kingdom. In an unrelated subject, how do you address an unmarried woman on a envelope? Thank you for your help.

Amanda Mouttaki

Saturday 8th of September 2018

Veganism is not well understood in Morocco. Honestly my best advice is to order things that are naturally vegan instead of trying to have recipes altered to fit what you need. If you are very strict this is the best way to ensure you will get this. Most salads and vegetable tajines are naturally vegan.

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