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