Never have I ever

During a recent Darija lesson, I learned the construction “ما عمّرني” meaning “I have never….” It uses the base word عمّر meaning to fill, with a suffix in agreement with the person (thus, for “I” (first person singular) the suffix is “ني”). Sentences are then constructed by adding the verb you have never done in its completed form (conjugated in agreement with the person). To demonstrate, in order to say “I have never yelled,” we will start with “ما عمّرني” and then finish with yell in its past first person singular form, “غوت” which gives us: “ما عمّرني غوت”. For an example from an actual Moroccan, I found this post from “Humans of Ifrane.” The subject says, “ما عمرني قريت” I have never studied. Another example discovered via twitter: “ماعمرني شفت شي تلفازة” I have never watched any television.

This grammar construction would be a great way to practice past-tense conjugation and agreement. Naturally, you can use this construction for other forms than the first person singular (I/me). These are all of the forms with their respective suffixes:

I have never

ما عمّرني

You have never

ما عمّرك

He has never

ما عمّره\عمّرو

She has never

ما عمّرها

We have never

ما عمّرنا

You (pl.) have never

ما عمّركم

They have never

ما عمّرهم

To make it an affirmative statement (example: I have drunk tea. عمّرني شربت الاتاي), you leave out the ما. To make it a question (example: Have you ever drunk tea? واش عمّرك شربتي الاتاي؟), you add واش to the start.

Here are some further examples found online. Notice how the “action” verb is conjugated in agreement with the person:

I have never watched any television

ماعمّرني شفت شي تلفازة

You have never heard her

ما عمّرك سمعتِها

We have never gone

ما عمّرنا مشينا

You (pl.) have never tried the “Baik” pastries

ما عمركم جربتوا معجنات البيك

They have never visited Spain

ما عمرهم زاروا اسبانيا

The armchair arabist also covered this topic here. Additionally, some kind soul (not me) created a quizlet for practicing.

واش عمّركم قريتوا الدارجة؟


Typical Greetings, as found in “Sarah entre France et Maroc”

A major part of speaking any language is knowing the greeting rituals. If you’re just a tourist, just the usual السلام عليكم\و عليكم السلام should be more than sufficient, with perhaps the occasional لا باس (literally “no problems” — it’s used a bit like ça va? in French) thrown in by people excited to hear you speaking Arabic. If you are visiting/making friends/family, however, the typical greeting goes into some greater detail. I was delighted to find this exchange in the book Sarah entre France et Maroc between two old friends, Valérie and Farida:

فاليري! كِيدَايْرَا؟ : F

F : Valérie! How are you?

رَانِي لاباسْ، فَريدَة، انْتِ لابَاسْ عليكْ؟ : V

V : I’m fine, Farida, how are you? (lit. you no problems on you?)

الحمد لله رَاني لاباسْ، و كيفْ حِيَ صَحَّة عائِلْتَكْ في فْرَنْسا؟ : F

F : Thanks be to God I’m fine, and how is the health of your family in France?

كُلْهُمْ لاباسْ وَرَاهْ كَيْبَلْغُو لكْ السَّلامْ : V

V : Everyone is fine and sends you their greetings.

There is an expectation that you should ask how people’s family is and send your own family’s greetings. This short dialogue serves as an excellent outline for participating in these sorts of greetings.


Ouazzani-Joncoux, Valérie & Leïla Louhibi. Sarah entre France et Maroc. Jeunesse L’Harmattan, 2004.


شنو حدا؟ ليمون

Moroccan Arabic being “non-standard” and non-standardized has a certain amount of variation in its lexicon. Here you can find a table containing different translations for the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, brown, black, and white from five different Darija books in their masculine, singular form, as well as the MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) words for each. To see how they change according to gender and case, I recommend looking at the Peace Corps Moroccan Arabic Textbook, page 85. I have included recordings of my resident Moroccan Arabic speaker saying each color in the most common form.

It is worth noting that the Chekayri book seems to keep the MSA spelling where the Darija word comes directly from MSA. The transcriptions in the book, however, were closer to the spellings of the other books (e.g. though red is written احمر in the Arabic script, its transcription was حmer rather than aحmer).

Additionally, here are some interesting (to me) facts about the names for purple:
*”حمامي” comes from the word for pigeon, referring to the purple color often found on their breast.
*”مْنِيّل” is now almost exclusively used in the deep South. It refers to the powder used to dye cloth.
*”مدادي” comes from the word for ink.

Color MSA Chekayri (2011) Peace Corps (2011) Sakulich (2011) Muñoz-Cabo (2009) Harrell (1963)
Red أحمر احمر حمر حمر حْمَر حْمَر
Orange برتقال ليموني ليموني، لتشيني رَنْجِ
Yellow أصفر اصفر صفر صفر (in Tetouan حميسي) صْفَر صْفَر
Green أخضر اخضر خضر خضر خْضَر خْضَر
Blue أزرق ازرق زرق زرق زْرَق زْرَق
Purple بنفسجي مدادي حجري، مدادي مدادي، حمامي، موڤ حْمَمِ مْنِيّل
Pink زهري وردي وردي وردي، حميسي وَرْدي وَرْدي، فَنِدِ
Brown بنّيّ قهوي قهوي قهوي قَهْوي صْمَر، قَهْوي
Black أسود اكحل كحل كحل كْحَل كْحَل
White أبيض ابيض بيض بيض بْيَض بْيَض


Bahhadi, Myriem, Laïla Gadouar, Farid Aitsiselmi & Lahsen Taibi. Parler l’arabe en voyage. Harrap’s, 2014.

Chekayri, Abdellah. An Introduction to Moroccan Arabic and Culture. Georgetown University Press, 2011.

Harrell, Richard S. A Dictionary of Moroccan Arabic: English-Moroccan. Georgetown University Press, 1963.

Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. Vocabulario Español-Árabe Marroquí. Universidad de Almería, 2009.

Peace Corps Morocco. Moroccan Arabic Textbook. 2011.

Sakulich, Aaron. Moroccan Arabic: Shnoo the Hell is Going on H’naa?. Collaborative Media International, 2011.

سلوى و الزبير “Am I pretty without makeup?” “انا زْوْينَة بْلَا المَكِيّاج؟”

As I wrote yesterday, I really enjoy the series, Salwa w Zoubir (سلوى و الزبير), produced by 2M. Today, I have taken a short clip from the first episode, added English subtitles and written out the Arabic below. The English translation is not word-to-word. Give it a listen and see what you can understand!

سلوى : الزُبير؟
؟ouais : الزبير
سلوى: انا زْوْينَة بْلَا المَكِيّاج؟
الزبير: لا
سلوى: لا شْنو: زعمَة واش لا زوينة بِه او لا، لا ما زوينة شْ بلا بِه
الزبير: واش گلتِ ليّ بلمكيّاج او بلا المكيّاج ؟
سلوا: زعمة اما حسن بِه او لا بلا بِه؟
الزبير: زعمة واش بِه او لا بلا به؟
سلوى: انا زوينة او لا خايْبَة؟
الزبير: عَلى حَسَبْ : واش دَيْرا المَكِيّاج او لا، لا.


in fact زعمَة
pretty (f.) زْوْينَة
without بْلَا
makeup مَكِيّاج
no لا
what شْنو
yes/no question marker واش
not ما … شْ
you (f. sg.) said گلتِ
to me ليّ
better (doesn’t have the alif MSA has) حسن
with بِ
or او
bad (f.) خايْبَة

Even more Darija resources!

Since I last wrote about what Darija resources I was using, I have added quiiiite a number of new books and sites to my rotation. (You’d think I’d be much further along then, wouldn’t you? But, of course, possessing things is not the same as making use of them.) In any case, here’s a rundown of what I’ve since come across:

Books (Instruction)

  • Abdel-Massih, Ernest T. Advanced Moroccan Arabic. MPublishing University of Michigan Library and Center for Near Eastern and North African Studies: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, 2011. [Available for free from the University of Michigan library (link), it is a reprint of a 1974 edition. It contains over 30 texts with accompanying questions. It does, however, use its very own system of transcription. I’ve only used it a little bit, but I appreciate its existence greatly. I just wish it also contained Arabic script. ]
  • Alami, Wali A. Moroccan Arabic Intermediate Reader. Intensive Language Training Center Indiana University – Bloomington, 1969. [This is an amazing, free resource for those who have already mastered a fair amount of Darija and/or proficient MSA speakers. I wrote more about this resource here.]
  • Jalaly, Az Eddine. Initiation à l’arabe parlé au Maroc. L’Harmattan, 2012. [This French-language instruction book comes with a CD and is written purely in transcription. I’ve included a track from the CD for you to check out.]
  • Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. ¡Habla Árabe Marroquí!: Método para principiantes. Universidad de Almería, 2010. [A Spanish-language resource with a set of 3 CDs. It definitely uses the Northern Moroccan variant for grammar/vocabulary/accent, but is a great resource if you speak Spanish. It mostly uses its own transcription system, but all conversations are also written in Arabic script. I quite like the CDs, but the Spanish can throw me — I sometimes only understand the Spanish through the Darija…. Nevertheless, I think the audio exercises are excellent. I’ve included a track from the CD for you to check out.]
  • Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. Gramática de Árabe Marroquí para Hispano-hablantes. Universidad de Almería, 2010. [A grammar book for hispanophones — I haven’t really used this except for “fun” reading.]
  • Muñoz-Cobo, Bárbara Herrero. Vocabulario Español-Árabe Marroquí. Universidad de Almería, 2010. [Transcribed rather than written in Arabic script, I only use this as a last resort.]

Books (Non-Instructional)

  • García, Francisco Moscoso. Cuentos en dialecto árabe del Norte de Marruecos: Estudio lingüístico, textos y glosario. Universidad de Cádiz, 2007. [This academic book includes eight stories written in the Northern Moroccan dialect (in Arabic script and in transcription, with translations in Spanish). I can’t speak to the linguistic analysis in this as I don’t read Spanish well enough to attempt that. It includes a Darija – Spanish glossary in the back.]
  • Goscinny, René & Jean-Jacques Sempé. Le Petit Nicolas en arabe maghrébin IMAV éditions, 2013. [In Arabic script and a transcription (including a “tableau de transcription), this edition of Le Petit Nicolas includes 9 Petit Nicolas stories in Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian dialects (three stories in each dialect).]
  • نيكولا الصغير بالدارجة

  • Hallaq, Boutros & Yves Gonzales-Quijano. Nouvelles arabes du Maghreb. Langues pour tous, 2015. [This anthology includes two stories by Moroccans — [الشجرة المقدسة] by [محمد زفزاف] and [حكاية الرأس المقطوع] by [محمد برادة] with introductions, notes and translations in French. It also includes a short glossary in the back.]
  • Ouazzani-Joncoux, Valérie & Leïla Louhibi. Sarah entre France et Maroc Jeuness L’Harmattan, 2004. [Destined for children, this book includes vocalizations(!) on its Arabic script. It is a parallel Darija-French text with a few illustrations. It is fantastic for the beginner.]
  • Quitout, Michel. Dictionnaire bilingue des proverbes marocains. L’Harmattan, 1997. [Excellent resource! Moroccans love their proverbs and this is an extensive collection of them. Every entry includes the proverb in Arabic script, a transcription and a translation in French, with equivalent French proverbs where applicable.]


For videos, I really like the 2M channel. Really great, are the short videos Salwa wa Zoubir (سلوى والزبير) produced during Ramadan. They last just 2-3 minutes and feature a couple talking about everyday things. You can understand some things from context even if you don’t know many of the words.

الله مع الصابِرين
God is with the patient (those who are patient).

Listening & Reading Practice: Moroccan Arabic Intermediate Reader

I recently discovered the Moroccan Arabic Intermediate Reader by Wali A. Alami and published by the Intensive Language Training Center of Indiana University – Bloomington in 1969. It is now provided (for free!) through various government agencies, including through ERIC. The reader comes in two volumes — the first with transcription, the second with (handwritten) Arabic script. Volume 1 is the story of Rashid and includes pre-listening drills, notes and translations of the drills. Volume 2 first includes the pre-listening drills of Volume 1 written in Arabic script and then a new series of texts. Despite being from 1969, the recordings are still appropriate for today (and clear and easy to understand).

Volume 1 is available here through ERIC:
Volume 2 is available here through ERIC:

Or you can download everything, including recordings through

The Arabic script can be… difficult to read. Not only is it handwritten, but it’s written in a veeeery classic script. The ق is written with only one dot up top, the ف is written with one dot underneath and… well… you’ll see.

To get you started, I’ve rewritten the first pre-listening exercises, with their translations.

قالو لي رشيد تبارك الله حصّل على الباكالورية هدا العام
I’ve heard that Rachid was successful in the baccalaureate this year.

ايّه، نجح و راه فرحان، لا هو ولا ابّاه
Yes, indeed, his success made him and his father very happy.

شغدى يعمل دبة؟
What is he going to do now?

اِوا، سمعت باللّي غدى يدخل لقسم البضاغجي،… وقيلة بغى يولي اُستاد
I was told he is going to register in the school of education and become a teacher.

مشي قبيح. شحال فى عمرو دبة؟
That’s not bad.* How old is he now?
*According to my resident Darija speaker, this expression is not used very often anymore, but rather مَشي خايِب, recording at the end

تمنطاش لعام بالضّبط
He is exactly eighteen.

وليّد نجيب تبارك الله، و دكي
A resourceful boy, and intelligent too.

الله يا ودّي
There’s no doubt of that.

خلاق حداي غير البارح؛ الدنيا بحال المنام
I’ve known him since he was born; it seems to me a very short time ago.

And to finish, two extra recordings:

مَشي خايِب
Not bad!

تَنْتَمْنى ليك التَّوفيق
Good luck!

How I’m Learning Darija

Though I am very lucky to have my own personal Moroccan Arabic speaker living with me; it’s not fair to him to request he listen to and correct my babbling in Darija 24/7. As such, I am using books and CDs to introduce myself to the language in a gradual manner. I then use what I’ve learned to communicate with the native Darija speakers in my life.

Before I started studying Darija, I studied Fusha, Modern Standard Arabic, through the Assimil series. It was through Assimil I learned the Arabic alphabet, which is indispensable in learning Darija (or any other Arabic dialect). Many Darija teaching materials I have seen assume the learner already has a certain level of Arabic knowledge. Those resources tend to be written in Arabic script. Books and sites intended for the beginning Darija learner with no Arabic background are generally intended for tourists and may include Arabic script, but more likely will rely on a transcription in the Latin alphabet. There are plenty of resources for Modern Standard Arabic, but quality resources for Darija remain fairly limited (particularly resources for someone who has no background whatsoever in any Arabic dialect). Nevertheless, I have found the following to be useful:

Chekayri, Abdellah. An Introduction to Moroccan Arabic and Culture. Georgetown University Press, 2011. [I will write a review of this book in the future, once I’ve gotten further in the material. According to the introduction, it was created for use in conjunction with Modern Standard Arabic studies and assumes prior knowledge of the Arabic alphabet. The book comes with a CD-Rom containing the recordings of the dialogues and supplemental video resources on culture. The book is an excellent resource, very thorough, though I sometimes question some of the pedagogical choices. For instance, the difficulty in accessing the dialogue recordings — they are only accessible to listen to through the CD-Rom program (though, if you were willing to put in the work, you can, of course, copy the mp3s onto your phone/computer/mp3 player). Dialogues are at a natural pace, that is to say, they are not slowed down for the beginner. For this reason, I would recommend copying them over so that you may listen to the dialogues multiple times with ease.]

Sakulich, Aaron. Moroccan Arabic: Shnoo the Hell is Going on H’naa?. Collaborative Media International, 2011. [This is a somewhat bizarre book, not so much instructional as an excellent collection of lists of vocabulary and grammar. There are also some great selections of proverbs. The organization is somewhat haphazard, but filled with a great wealth of knowledge if you’re willing to look for what you need.]

Bahhadi, Myriem, Laïla Gadouar, Farid Aitsiselmi & Lahsen Taibi. Parler l’arabe en voyage. Harrap’s, 2014. [A fantastic phrasebook of Darija. It indicates where there are differences between the Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian dialects. I use it for learning vocabulary.]

Wightwick, Jane & Mahmoud Gaafar. L’arabe avant de partir. Harrap’s, 2008. [This book and CD combo is sadly now out of print. The audio is excellent for listening to while doing other things and uses Darija, indicating when there are regional differences. It introduces the listener to the necessary vocabulary for many different situations — as well as grammatical structures. It’s quite the shame it’s no longer available.]

These four books form the basis of my self-study. Aside from the Chekayri book, none would be sufficient for learning Darija and, even then, I would recommend supplementing the Chekayri book. In fact, the author assumes the student will be supplementing their studies with prior or concurrent knowledge of Arabic.

Websites for learning Moroccan Arabic

To get started, here is a round-up of some of the Moroccan Arabic resources currently available online (both free and paid content).

Learning Darija in English:

Playaling <– New!!

Playaling is a fantastic resource for all Arabic learners! It curates clips in different Arabic dialects and difficulty levels. Every clip is accompanied by transcripts in Arabic and English. Most of the “North African Darija” clips are from Morocco.

Speak Moroccan Arabic
This site has great vocabulary lists and short phrase-based lessons. There is a forum, but seems to no longer be in use (as of January 2016, the last post was from 2014).

The Armchair Arabist
Amazing resource with transcribed and translated videos of naturally spoken Darija.

The Peace Corps Moroccan Arabic Textbook
Pretty much the best developed free Moroccan Arabic lessons available.

LangMedia Resources for World Languages
This is a wonderful resource of transcribed and translated videos discussing the culture of the speakers (there is material from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya).

Loecsen Free Moroccan Arabic Lessons
Illustrated phrasebook with sound.

Talk in Arabic
This relatively new website offers content in many different Arabic dialects. I cannot speak to the quality of the site, as I have not bought a membership. They do, however, offer some free content, including this song in Moroccan Arabic with transcription/translation.

Arabic Pod 101
I had a yearlong subscription to Arabic Pod 101 and, I have to say, I regret this somewhat. The site/app is highly frustrating due to its lack of clarity as to which materials are available in which dialects. The Absolute Beginner > Survival Phrases are supposed to be focussed on Moroccan Arabic and the Absolute Beginner > Newbie Season 1 also has Moroccan Arabic versions available for every lesson.

Learning Darija in French:

Speak Moroccan Arabic
French version of the Speak Moroccan Arabic site.

Loecsen cours d’arabe marocain
French version of the Loecsen site.