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North African Dialect

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Characteristics of the North African

(The Moroccan) Arabic Dialect:


1)      There are variations between the Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian dialects; but there are more similarities because of a common geography, history and culture.

2)      In each country you mayalso find few dialects. For instance the dialect of Northern Morocco is different than the Eastern provinces. The dialect of Fez is slightly different than that of Casablanca.  Sometimes two neighboring towns speak the same dialect with some differences.

3)      French being the second language, the dialects of North Africa adopted some French words. Northern Morocco is also influenced by Spanish words, which were adopted in the region’s dialect. Berber and Sus have their own language and the North African Arabic adopted also words from these local languages.




4) The pronunciations of some letters:

a.     The letter ث   is used exchangeable with the letter ت

b.    The letter ذ    is used exchangeable with the letter د

c.     The letter ظ   is used exchangeable with the letter ض

d.    ض  is pronounced like د   in some cases.

e.     The letter ق   is pronounced in some location as is or as أَ   or (g)

f.      The letter ك   is pronouncedas (k) or (g).  In some locations as “ch”

                 g.    The letter ج    is pronounced both ways (g) or ( j)         


5) The letter (ي ) is deeper (heavier) than the normal classical ي ) ).




A Review of Moroccan Arabic Grammar:


Definite Article, Gender and Number:

a) Definite Article    ( أَل)is pronounced in Moroccan Dialect as لْ    

          (The Hamzah is dropped in the pronunciation).

  وَرََقَةٌ >> ألوَرْقَةُ ( (in Classical  ,  وَرَقَه >> لْوَرْقَه (in Moroccan) 


If the noun starts with a Sun Letter (the definite article  أَل changes

into the same Sun Letter (causing the Sun Letter be doubled or with Shaddah).

زَنْقَه  starts with a Sun Letter ز  , the definite article لْ   becomes ز  :  زَّنْقَه .

دَار>>  becomes دَّار    ,         تَمَن >>become   تَّمَن


Singular, Dual and Plural:


Singular: Either masculine or feminine (same as in Classical Arabic).

Dual: There is no dual. Instead Plural is used.

Masculine plural ends with   (-ِ يْن)and feminine Plural with(-َات)

مُعَلِّم >> مُعَلِّمِيْن     ,      نَامُوسِيَّه >> نَامُوسِيّات


There are broken (irregular Plural) which can be learned by dictionary reference.

        كْتَابْ >> كْتُبْ     ,  قَلْب>> قْلُوب    , خَرِيْطَه >> خْرَايِط


Personal Pronouns:

أنَا , أَنْتَ , أَنْتِ, أَنْتُمَا , هُوَ , هِيَ , هُمَا , نَحْنُ , أَنْتُم , أَنْتُنَّ , هُم , هُنَّ  Classical

أَنَا , إِنْتَ , إِنْتِ ,  هُوَّ , هِيَّ , إحْنَا , إِنْتُومَا , هُمَّ  North African

a)    In North African dialect the Hamzah with the personal Pronouns is dropped in pronunciation.

They sound like:    أَنَا , نْتَ , نْتِ , حْنَا , نْتُومَا

b)    The dual (masc. and Fem.) and Plural (masc. and Fem.)YOU is conjugated as A Plural Masculine YOU.

أَنْتُمَا , أَنْتُمَا , أَنْتُم , أَنْتُنَّ >>> إِنْتُومَا (نْتُومَا)

c)     They (dual masc. or dual Feminine), They (masculine Plural), They (Feminine Plural) are conjugated as a They Masculine Plural

هُمَا , هُمَا , هُم , هُنَّ >>> هُمَّ



Personal Pronouns when connected to a noun:

بَيْتِي , بَيْتَكَ , بَيْتِكِ , بَيْتَكَمَا , بَيْتُهُ , بَيْتُهَا , بَيْتُهُمَا , بََيْتُنَا , بَيْتُكُم , بَيْتُكُنَّ , بَيْتُهُم , بَيْتُهُنَّ   classical

بِيْتِي , بِيْتَكْ , بِيْتِكْ , --- , بِيْتُو , بِيْتْهَا , --- , بِيْتْنَا , بِيْتْكُم, ---- , بِيْتْهُم , ----  N.African

 ( -ِي , - َكْ  , -ِ كْ ,---- , -ُ و  , -َ هَا ,----,  -َ نَا , -ْ كُم , --- , -ْ هُمْ ----)

a)                        بِيتْكُم  is for YOU Dual Masculine. & Feminine; Plural Masculine & Feminine.

b)                       بِيْتْهُم : is for THEY Dual Masculine & Feminine; Plural Masculine & Feminine.


Personal Pronouns when connected with an Adverb:

فُوقِي , فُوقَكْ , فُوقِكْ ---, فُوقُو , فُوقْهَا ,--- فُوقْكُم , ---- , فُوقْهُمْ , --

( -ِي , - َكْ  , -ِ كْ ,---- , -ُ و  , -َ هَا ,----,  -َ نَا , -ْ كُم , --- , -ْ هُمْ ----)



Personal Pronouns with Prepositions:

مِنِّي , مِنَّك , مِنِّكْ , ---, مِنّو , مِنْهَا , --- مِنَّا , مِنْكُم --- , مِنْهُم , ---

( -ِي , - َكْ  , -ِ كْ ,---- , -ُ و  , -َ هَا ,----,  -َ نَا , -ْ كُم , --- , -ْ هُمْ ----)






To make a statement into a question is done in three different ways:

 1) by changing The voice inflection to reflect Interrogative mode.


2)     By proceeding the statement with the word  وَاشْ


3) By using an Interrogative Particles:


شْكُون (إشْ كُون)  Who

آشْ  What (derived from Classical أَيُّ شَيْ )

إمْتَه When (derived from Classical  مَتَى)

فِيْن  Where (derived from Classical أَيْنَ)

عَلاشْ Why (derived from Classical عَلَى أَي شَيْ , لأَي شَيْ)

كِفَاش  How (derived from Classical كَيْفَ الشَيء )

دْيَالْمِن Whose (combined دْيَال + مَنْ)

أَشْمِن  Which (derived from classical أي شَيْ مِن)

شْحَال  How much (combined شَيء + حَال – both Classical.)



1)   Negating an Equational Sentence is made by using مَا شِي

with the Predicate:

تَّمَن رْخِيْصْ the price is cheap (inexpensive)

تََّمَن مَا شِي رْخِيْص the price is not cheap


2) Negating a Verbal Sentence is made by using مَا  as a Verb prefix andشْ   as a Suffix.

هَوَ جَا فِي الوِقْت >>>>>>> هُوَ مَاجَاش فِي الْوَقْت .



The Idafah: (Genetive Construction) & دْيَال

         The Idafah in Moroccan dialect comes in two different ways:

a)     Regular Idafah, as in Classical:خْرَايِط لِمْدِيْنَه

(the first part of the Idafah is only an indefinite noun)

b)    Using دْيَال  which means (of( i.e. (something of something- Possessiveness)

خْرَايِط دْيَال لِمْدِيْنَه   maps of the city , دْيَال لِمْدِيْنَه  لِخْرَايِطْ The maps of the city

(The first part of the Idafah with دْيَال is generally definite noun. Some cases it comes as indefinite noun,).




Conjunctions link nouns, phrases, and clauses in a sentence:

Among the most used conjunctions:

أوْلا   Or

مْنِيْنِ  When/ Since

حِتَّى  Until

بَاشْ   In order to

وَلَكِن  But

وَخَّا  Even though

مِلَّي  Since

وُ    And


This, That, These, Those:

هَاد     This

دِيْك    That-Feminine

دَاك    That- Masculine

دُوك    Those


هَادَا     This one - Masculine.

هَدَاك    That one- Masculine


هَادِي    This one- Feminine

هَادِيْك   That one – Feminine


هَادُو    These ones

هَادُوك  Those ones


هَاد الشِّي   This thing

دَاكْ الشِّي  That thing






1)      The Perfect Tense:

(In Classical)

كَتَبْتُ , كَتَبْتَ , كَتَبْتِ , كَتَبَ , كَتَبَت , كَتَبَا , كَتَبَتَا , كَتَبْتُمَا, كَتَبْتُم , كَتَبْتُنَّ, كَتَبُوا , كَتَبْنَ


(In Moroccan Dialect)

كَتَبْتْ , كَتَبْتْ , كَتَبْتِ , كَتَبْ , كَتْبَتْ , كَتَبُوا , كَتَبُوا , كَتَبْتُوا , كَتَبْتُوا , كَتَبْتُوا,كَتَبُوا , كَتَبُوا ,



(هُمَا)masc. And feminine, Plural masc. (هُم)And plural feminine(هُنَّ)take the form of masc. Plural( هُم)

أَنْتُم , أَنْتُمَا and أَنْتُنَّ  take the form of masc. Plural.



2)     The Imperfect Tense:

)in Classical(

أَدْرُسُ , تَدْرُسُ , تَدْرُسِيْنَ , تَدْرُسَانِ , يَدْرُسُ , تَدْرُسُ , يَدْرُسَان, نَدْرُسُ , تَدْرُسُونَ  تَدْرُسْنَ , يَدْرُسُونَ , يَدْرُسْنَ,


In Moroccan Arabic:


أَنَا تَنِهْدَر , إِنْتَ تَتِهْدَر, إِنْتِ تَتِهْدْرِي , هُوَ تَيِهْدَر , هِيَّ تَتِهْدَرْ , إِحْنَا تَنِهْدْرُوا, أنْتُوما تَتِهْدُرُوا , هُمَّ تَيِهْدْروا



a)      We add the letter  ت  before the Imperfect .

b)     Notice the Five Verbs (in blue) the ن , at the end is dropped:

يَدْرُسُون (in Classical) >>> تَيَدْرُسُوا (in Moroccan)

c) with إِحْنَا  we add the  وَاو of the Plural إِحْنَا تَنْهْدْرُوا


Notice also that

(هُمَا)masc. And feminine, Plural masc. (هُم)And plural feminine(هُنَّ)take the form of masc. Plural( هُم)

أَنْتُم , أَنْتُمَا and أَنْتُنَّ  take the form of masc. Plural.



3) The Imperative:

أُدْرُسْ , أَدْرُسِي , أُدْرُسَا , أُدْرُسُوا , أَدْرُسْنَ   In Classical

أُدْرُسْ , أَدُرْسِيْ , أُدُرْسُوا , أُدُرْسُوا, أُدُرْسُوا  In Moroccan

Notice: أَنْتُمَا , أَنْتُم , أَنْتُنَّ take the Masc. Plural Form. 


4)  Future Tense:

Is an Imperfect Tense is proceeded with the word غَادِي

أَنَا غَادِي نْهْدَر , إِنْتَ غَادِي تِهْدَرْ , إِنْتِ غَادْيَه تَتِهْدْرِي , هُوَّ غَادِي تَيِهْدَر  هِيَّ غَادْيَه تَتِهْدَر , إِحْنَا غَادِيْن نْهْدْرُوا , إِنْتُمَا غَادِيْن تْهِدْرُوا , هُمَّ غَادِيْن يْهْدْرُوا .

1)     Notice that the additional ت  added in the Imperfect is dropped here.

2)     غَادِي for masculine singular, غَادْيَه  for feminine singular and غَادِيْن for masculine & feminine Plural.      




Perfect Imperfect Future Imperative
كُنْتْ  أَنَا تَنْكُون غَادِي نْكُون -----
كُنْتِ  إِنْتَ تَتْكُونْ غَادِي تكُونْ كُونْ
كُنْتِ  إِنْتِي تَتْكُون غَادْيَه تْكُونِي كُونِي
كَانْ  هُوَّ تَيْكُون غَادِي يْكُونْ -----
كَانَتْ  هِيَّ تَتْكُونْ غَادْيَه تْكُونْ -----
كُنَّا  إِحْنَا تَنْكُونُوا غَادِيْنْ نْكُونُوا -----
كُنْتُوا  أَنْتُمَا تَتْكُونُوا غَادِيْن تْكُونُوا كُونُوا
كَانُوا  هُمَّ تََيْكُونُوا غَادِيْن يْكُونُوا -----


There is / there are:

كَايِنْ  There is for Masculine singular

كَايْنَه  There is for Feminine singular

كَايْنِيْنThere are for Masculine and Feminine Plural.

They go with nouns, matching them in Number and Gender.


Conjugating “To Have”:

Imperfect                Perfect                    Future

غَادِي يْكُون عِنْدِي                  كَانْ عِنْدِي                      عِنْدِي     


The Imperfect:عِنْدِي , عِنْدِك , عِنْدِك , عِنْدُو , عِنْدْهَا , عِنْدْنَا , عِنْدكُم , عِنْدهُم

( It is a combination of an adverb عِنْد (at the place of) + the pronoun suffixes).


The Perfect: You conjugate both parts depending on the subject of كَان   and the pronoun

            in the suffix form: ( كَان عِنْدْهَا , كَانَت عِنْدْهُم , كُنَّا عِنْدُو ..............)


The Future: You conjugate the three parts depending on the number and gender.

                        غَادِي تْكُون عِنْدْنَا , غَادْيَه تْكُون عِنْدِي , غَادِيْن يْكُونُوا عِنْدْهَا))

Notice that غَادِي and كَان , when conjugated, they must match in number and gender.


 Conjugating the verb: “WANT”

          It is a combination of two verbs بْغَى  (need) and another verb.

أَنَا بْغِيْت نِهْدَرْ                     أَنَا بْغِيْت نِمْشِي

إِنْتِ بْغِيْتْ تِمْشِي                   إنْتَ بْغِيْتْ تِهْدَرْ                                 

إِنْتِ بْغِيْتِ تِمْشِي                   إِنْتِ بْغِيْتِ تِهْدْرِي                               

هُوَّ بْغِي (بْغَى) يِمْشِي              هُوَّ بْغَى يِهْدَر                                   

هِيَّ بْغَتْ تِمْشِي                    هِيَّ بْغَتْ تِهْدَر                                  

إِحْنَا بْغِيْنَا نِمْشِي                    إِحْنَا بْغِيْنَا نِهْدَر                                 

إِنْتُومَا بْغِيْتُوا تِمْشَوا                 إِنْنُومَا بْغِيْتُوا تْهِدْرُوا                             

هُمَّ بِغْيُوَا يِمْشُُوا                    هُمَّ بِغْيُوا يِمْشُوا


Note: the verb بْغَى above was conjugated in the perfect tense to reflect “ I wanted to ….)

It can be conjugated in the Imperfect to reflect “ I want to ……)      

Notice that the verb بْغَى is weak verb ( The ل  in فَعَلَ  is  ى )


Conjugating The verb “ TO NEED”:

It is formed by combining the noun خِصّْ  (with pronoun suffixes) and the Imperfect.

خَصْنِي نِمْشِي ,خَصَّك تِمْشِي , خَصِّكْ تِمْشِي , خَصُّو يِمْشِي , خَصّْهَا تِمْشِي , خَصّْنَا نِمْشي , خَصْكُم تِمْشُيوا , خَصْهُم يِمْشُيوا



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