Algerian Arabic
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Algerian Arabic
Algerian Arabic
Native toAlgeria
Native speakers
42.5 million (2020)[1]
3 million L2 speakers in Algeria (no date)[2]
Arabic script
Language codes
Árabe argelino.png
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Reda speaking Algerian Arabic.

Algerian Arabic (known as Darja in Algeria) is a dialect derived from the form of Arabic spoken in northern Algeria. It belongs to the Maghrebi Arabic language continuum and is partially mutually intelligible with Tunisian and Moroccan.

Like other varieties of Maghrebi Arabic, Algerian has a mostly Semitic vocabulary.[4] It contains Berber and Latin (African Romance)[5]influences and has numerous loanwords from French, Andalusian Arabic, Ottoman Turkish and Spanish.

Algerian Arabic is the native dialect of 75% to 80% of Algerians and is mastered by 85% to 100% of them.[6] It is a spoken language used in daily communication and entertainment, while Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is generally reserved for official use and education.


The Algerian language includes several distinct dialects belonging to two genetically different groups: pre-Hilalian and Hilalian dialects.

Hilalian dialects

Hilalian dialects of Algeria belong to three linguistic groups:[7]

  • Eastern Hilal dialects: spoken in the Hautes Plaines around Sétif, M'Sila and Djelfa;[8]
  • Central Hilal dialects: of central and southern Algeria, south of Algiers and Oran;[9]
  • Mâqil dialects: spoken in the western part of Oranais (noted for the third singular masculine accusative pronoun h, for example, /fteh/ (I saw him), which would be /ft?/ in other dialects).[10]

Modern koine languages, urban and national, are based mainly on Hilalian dialects.

Pre-Hilalian dialects

Pre-Hilalian Arabic dialects are generally classified into three types: Urban, "Village" Sedentary, and Jewish dialects. Several Pre-Hilalian dialects are spoken in Algeria:[7][11]

  • Urban dialects can be found in all of Algeria's big cities. Urban dialects were formerly also spoken in other cities, such as Azemmour and Mascara, Algeria, where they are no longer used.
  • The lesser Kabylia dialect (or Jijel Arabic) is spoken in the triangular area north of Constantine, including Collo and Jijel (it is noteworthy for its pronunciation of [q] as [k] and [t] as [ts] and characterized, such as other Eastern pre-Hilalian dialects, by the preservation of the three short vowels).
  • The traras-Msirda dialect is spoken in the area north of Tlemcen, including the eastern Traras [fr], Rachgun [fr] and Honaine (it is noted for its pronunciation of [q] as [?]) ;
  • Judeo-Algerian Arabic was no longer spoken after Jews left Algeria in 1962, following its independence.



In comparison to other Maghrebi dialects, Algerian Arabic has retained numerous phonetic elements of Classical Arabic lost by its relatives;[12][13] In Algiers dialect, the letters /ð?/ ? ,? /ð/ and ? /?/ are not used, they are in most cases pronounced as the graphemes ? ,?and ? respectively.[12] This conservatism concerning pronunciation is in contrast to Algerian Arabic grammar which has shifted noticeably.[13] In terms of differences from Classical Arabic, the previous /r/ and /z/ phonemes have developed contrastive glottalized forms and split into /r/ and /r?/; and /z/ and /z?/. Additionally /q/ from Classical Arabic has split into /q/ and /?/ in most dialects. The phonemes /v/ and /p/ which are not common in Arabic dialects arise almost exclusively from (predominantly French) loanwords[12]

^1 The voiceless "Ch" (t) is used in some words in the Algerian dialect like "" /tina:/ (orange) or "" /ta:ra:k/ (A kind of Algerian sweet) but remains rare.


A study of Northwestern Algerian Arabic (specifically around Oran) showed that laterals /l/ or /?/ or the nasal consonant /n/ would be dissimilated into either /n/ in the case of /l/ or /?/; or /l/ or /?/ in the case of n when closely preceding a corresponding lateral or nasal consonant.[14] Thus /z?lzla/ (earthquake) has become /z?nzla/, conversely /lnmi/ "mutton" becomes /llmi/.[14]


The same study also noted numerous examples of assimilation in Northwestern Algerian Arabic, due to the large consonant clusters created from all of the historical vowel deletion: examples include /d?da:d/ "chicken", becoming /da:d/ and /mli:?/ "good", becoming /mni:?/.[14] An example of assimilation that occurs after the short vowel deletion is the historical /d?r?w?k/ "now" becoming /dr?u:k/ and then being assimilated to /du:k/,[14] illustrating the order in which the rules of Algerian Arabic may operate.


Monophthong phonemes of Algerian Arabic
Short Long
Front Central Back Front Back
Close ? u i: u:
Open a:

The phonemic vowel inventory of Algerian Arabic consists of three long vowels: /i:/, /u:/, and /a:/ contrasted with two short vowels: /u/ and /?/.[12][14] Algerian Arabic Vowels retains a great deal of features in relation to Classical Arabic Arabic phonology, namely the continued existence of 3 long vowels: /i:/, /u:/, and /a:/,[13] Algerian Arabic also retains the short close back vowel /u/ in speech, however the short equivalents of /i:/ and /a:/ have fused in modern Algerian Arabic, creating a single phoneme /?/.[14] Also notable among the differences between Classical Arabic and Algerian Arabic is the deletion of short vowels entirely from open syllables[13] and thus word final positions,[12] which creates a stark distinction between written Classical Arabic, and casually written Algerian Arabic. One point of interest in Algerian Arabic that sets it apart from other conservative Arabic dialects is its preservation of phonemes in (specifically french) loanwords that would otherwise not be found in the language: /[[Nasal vowel|]]/, /y/, and /?/ are all preserved in French loanwords such as /sy?/ (sure) or /k?n?ksi/ (connection).[12]


Nouns and adjectives

English Algerian Arabic
drink ?rab
sky sma
water ma
woman / women mra / nsa
fire nar
big kbir
man / men rajel / rjal
day nhar / yum
moon qmer
night lil
bread khubz
small ir
sand rmel
winter / rain ?ta / m?ar
ball balun
napkin servita
toilet / bathroom bit-el-ma / bit-er-ra?a / Twalat

Conjunctions and prepositions

English Algerian Arabic Notes of usage
but bea? is also used "wa lakin"
if ila, ida, lakan, kun used for impossible conditions and comes just before the verb
if lukan, kun for possible conditions, Also used is "ida" and "kan"
so that, that ba?, bah
that belli
as if ki ul, tqu?i, tqul, tgul
because xa?ar, xa?rake?, ?laxa?er
when ila
before qbel ma / gbel ma used before verbs
without bla ma / blach used before verbs
whether ka? ma used before verbs
under ta?t
over, on top of fuq or fug
after mur / mura / Ba?d / wra
before qbel / gbel used only for time
next to, beside quddam or guddam is also used "?da"
at ?end
with m?a
among, between bin, binat (plural)
same as, as much as ?la ?sab, qed, ged, kima amount
oh, oh so much ya, ah

Some of them can be attached to the noun, just like in other Arabic dialects. The word for in, "fi", can be attached to a definite noun. For example, the word for a house has a definite form "ed-dar" but with "fi", it becomes "fed-dar".


Algerian Arabic uses two genders for words: masculine and feminine. Masculine nouns and adjectives generally end with a consonant while the feminine nouns generally end with an a.


  • [?m?r] "a donkey", [?m?r?] "a female donkey".


Hilalian dialects, on which the modern koine is based, often use regular plural while the wider use of the broken plural is characteristic to pre-Hilalian dialects.

The regular masculine plural is formed with the suffix -in, which derives from the Classical Arabic genitive and accusative ending -?na rather than the nominative -?na:

mumen (believer) -> mumnin

For feminine nouns, the regular plural is obtained by suffixing -at:

Classical Arabic: bint (girl) -> banat
Algerian Arabic: bent -> bnat

The broken plural can be found for some plurals in Hilalian dialects, but it is mainly used, for the same words, in pre-Hilalian dialects:

Broken pluralabla -> ?wab?l.


The article el is indeclinable and expresses a definite state of a noun of any gender and number. It is also prefixed to each of that noun's modifying adjectives.

It follows the solar letters and lunar letters rules of Classical Arabic: if the word starts with one of these consonants, el is assimilated and replaced by the first consonant:

t, d, r, z, s, ?, ?, ?, ?, l, n.


rajel -> er-rajel "man" (assimilation)
qe -> el-qe "cat" (no assimilation)

Important Notes:

  • When it is after lunar letters consonant we add the article le-.


qmer -> le-qmer "moon"
?jer -> le-?jer "stone"
  • We always use the article el with the words that begin with vowels.


alf -> el-alf "thousand"


Verbs are conjugated by adding affixes (prefixes, postfixes, both or none) that change according to the tense.

In all Algerian Arabic dialects, there is no gender differentiation of the second and third person in the plural forms, nor is there gender differentiation of the second person in the singular form in pre-Hilalian dialects. Hilalian dialects preserve the gender differentiation of the singular second person.

Person Past Present
Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st - t - na n - n(e) - u
2nd (m) - t - tu t - t - u
2nd (f) - ti - tu t - i t - u
3rd (m) - - u i/y(e) - i/y(e) - u
3rd (f) - t - u t(e) - i/y(e) - u
  • Example with the verb kteb "To write":
Person Past Present
Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st (m) ktebt ktebna nekteb nekketbu
2nd (m) ktebt ktebtu tekteb tekketbu
2nd (f) ktebti ktebtu tekketbi tekketbu
3rd (m) kteb ketbu yekteb yekketbu
3rd (f) ketbet ketbu tekteb yekketbu
Person Past Present Future Present continuous
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st (m) ktebt ktebna nekteb nekketbu Raye? nekteb Ray?in nekketbu Rani nekteb Rana nekketbu
1st (f) ktebt ktebna nekteb nekketbu Ray?a nekteb Ray?in nekketbu Rani nekteb Rana nekketbu
2nd (m) ketbt ktebtu tekteb tekketbu Raye? tekteb Ray?in tekketbu Rak tekteb Rakum tekketbu
2nd (f) ktebti ktebtu tekketbi tekketbu Ray?a tekketbi Ray?in tekketbu Raki tekketbi Rakum tekketbu
3rd (m) kteb ketbu yekteb yekketbu Raye? yekteb Ray?in yekketbu Rah yekteb Rahum yekketbu
3rd (f) ketbet ketbu tekteb yekketbu Ray?a tekteb Ray?in yekketbu Raha tekteb Rahum yekketbu

Future tense

Speakers generally do not use the future tense above. Used instead is the present tense or present continuous.

Also, as is used in all of the other Arabic dialects, there is another way of showing active tense. The form changes the root verb into an adjective. For example, "kteb" he wrote becomes "kateb".


Like all North African Arabic varieties (including Egyptian Arabic) along with some Levantine Arabic varieties, verbal expressions are negated by enclosing the verb with all its affixes, along with any adjacent pronoun-suffixed preposition, within the circumfix ma ...-? (/?/):

  • « l?ebt » ("I played") -> « ma l?ebt-? /?/ » ("I didn't play")
  • « ma t?abba?ni-? » ("Don't push me")
  • « ma y?awlu-l-ek-? hadu le-qra?i » ("Those bottles won't last you long")
  • « ma sibt-? pla?a » ("I couldn't get a seat / parking place")
Person Past Present Future Present continuous
Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st (m) ma ktebt-? ma ktebna-? ma nekteb-? ma nekketbu-? ma Raye?-? nekteb ma Ray?in-? nekketbu ma Rani-? nekteb ma Rana-? nekketbu
2st (f) ma ktebt-? ma ktebna-? ma nekteb-? ma nekketbu-? ma Ray?a-? nekteb ma Ray?in-? nekketbu ma Rani-? nekteb ma Rana-? nekketbu
2nd (m) ma ketbt-? ma ktebtu-? ma tekteb-? ma tekketbu-? ma Raye?-? tekteb ma Ray?in-? tekketbu ma Rak-? tekteb ma Rakum-? tekketbu
2rd (f) ma ktebti-? ma ktebtu-? ma tekketbi-? ma tekketbu-? ma Ray?a-? tekketbi ma Ray?in-? tekketbu ma Raki-? tekketbi ma Rakum-? tekketbu
3rd (m) ma kteb-? ma ketbu-? ma yekteb-? ma yekketbu-? ma Raye?-? yekteb ma Ray?in-? yekketbu ma Rah-? yekteb ma Rahum-? yekketbu
3rd (f) ma ketbet-? ma ketbu-? ma tekteb-? ma yekketbu-? ma Ray?a-? tekteb ma Ray?in-? yekketbu ma Raha-? tekteb ma Rahum-? yekketbu

Other negative words (walu, etc.) are used in combination with ma to express more complex types of negation. ? is not used when other negative words are used

  • ma qult walu ("I didn't say anything")
  • ma ?uft tta wa?ed ("I didn't see anyone")

or when two verbs are consecutively in the negative

  • ma ?uft ma sme?t ("I neither saw nor did I hear").

Verb derivation

Verb derivation is done by adding suffixes or by doubling consonants, there are two types of derivation forms: causative, passive.

  • Causative: is obtained by doubling consonants :
xrej "to go out" -> xerrej "to make to go out"
dxel "to enter" -> dexxel "to make to enter, to introduce".
  • Passive:It is obtained by prefixing the verb with t- / tt- / tn- / n- :
qtel "to kill" -> tneqtel "to be killed"
?reb "to drink" -> tte?reb "to be drunk".

The adverbs of location

Things could be in three places hnaya (right here), hna (here) or el-hih (there).


Personal pronouns

Most Algerian Arabic dialects have eight personal pronouns since they no longer have gender differentiation of the second and third person in the plural forms. However, pre-Hilalian dialects retain seven personal pronouns since gender differentiation of the second person in the singular form is absent as well.

Person Singular Plural
1st ana ?na
2nd (m) n'ta n'tuma
2nd (f) n'ti n'tuma
3rd (m) huwwa huma
3rd (f) hiyya huma

Example: « ?atta ana. » -- "Me too."

Person Algerian Arabic
I am rani
You are (m) rak
You are (f) raki
He is rah or Rahu
She is Rahi or Raha
We are rana
You or Y'all are raku or rakum (m)and (f)
They are rahum (m)and (f)

Example: « Rani hna. » -- "I'm here." and « Wa? rak. » "How are you." to both males and females.

Possessive pronouns

Dar means house.

Person Singular Plural
1st i (Dari) na (Darna)
2nd (e)k (Dar(e)k) kum (Darkum)
3rd (m) u (Daru) (h)um (Dar(h)um)
3rd (f) ha (Darha) (hum) (Dar(h)um)

Example : « dar-na. » -- "Our house" (House-our) Possessives are frequently combined with ta? "of, property" : dar ta?-na -- "Our house.", dar ta?-kum ...etc.


ta?-i = my or mine

ta?-ek = your or yours (m, f)

ta?-u = his

ta?-ha = hers


ta?-na = our or ours

ta?-kum = your or yours (m, f)

ta?-hum = their or theirs (m, f)

"Our house" can be Darna or Dar ta?-na, which is more like saying 'house of ours'. Ta? can be used in other ways just like in English in Spanish. You can say Dar ta? khuya, which means 'house of my brother' or 'my brother's house'.

Interrogative pronouns

Interrogatives Algerian Arabic
What ? wa? ?
When ? waqta? ? / wekta? ? / wektah ? / wekket ?
Why? 3lah ? / 3la? ? / llah ?
Which ? wa?-men ? / a?-men ? / ama ?
Where ? win ?
Who ? ?kun ? / menhu ?
How ? kifa? ? / kifah ?
How many ? al ? / qedda? ? / guedda? ? / gueddah ?
Whose ? ta?-men ?

Verbal pronouns

Person Singular Plural
1st ni na
2nd (m) (e)k kum
3rd (m) u (after a consonant) / h (after a vowel)
/ hu (before an indirect object pronoun)
3rd (f) ha hum


« ?uft-ni. » -- "You saw me." (You.saw-me)
« qetl-u. » -- "He killed him." (He.killed-him)
« kla-h. » -- "He ate it." (He.ate-it)


Unlike Classical Arabic, Algerian Arabic has no dual and uses the plural instead. The demonstrative (Hadi) is also used for "it is".

Interrogatives Algerian Arabic Emphasized
This had (m), Hadi (f) hada, hadaya (m), hadiyya (f)
That dak (m), dik (f) hadak (m), hadik (f)
These hadu haduma
Those duk haduk

Sample text

The text below was translated from Kabylie, in Auguste Moulieras's Les fourberies de si Djeh'a.

Buzelluf Sheep Head
Wa?ed en-nhar, j?a med-lu baba-h frank, ba? ye?ri buzelluf. ?ra-h, kla ga? le?m-u. bqa ?ir le?dem, jab-u l baba-h. ki ?af-u qal-lu: "wa? hada?" Qal-lu: "buzelluf".

-A ?mata, win rahi wedn-u?

-Kan ?re?

-win rahum ?ini-h?

-Kan ?ma

-win rah lsan-u?

-Kan bekku?.

- U el-jelda ta? ras-u, win Rahi

-Kan fer?as.
One day, Jha's father gave him one cent so he buys a sheep head. He bought it and ate all of its meat. Only an empty carcass was left. He brought it to his father. Then, when he saw it, he said: "what is that?" Jehha said: "a sheep head".

-You vile, where are its ears?

-It was deaf.

-Where are its eyes?

-It was blind.

-Where is its tongue?

-It was dumb.

-And the skin of its head, where is it?

-It was bald.

French loanwords

Algerian Arabic contains numerous French loanwords.

Algerian Arabic French loanword English meaning Algerian Arabic French loanword English meaning
fer?i?a fourchette fork pur port port
fraz fraises strawberries utal hôtel hotel
nurmalmu normalement normally frijidar réfrigérateur refrigerator
kar?a carte card bumba bombe bomb
buja (v) bouger (v) move (v) tay thé tea
farina farine flour duntist dentist dentist
tilifun téléphone phone ?ufur chauffeur driver
valiza valise suitcase pa?pur passport passport
trunspur transport transportation tunubil automobile car
kazirna caserne barracks cuzina cuisine kitchen
fermli infirmier (male) nurse bla?a/pla?a place place/seat
pyasa/byasa pièce piece ?arja (v) charger (v) load (v)
karti quartier district jerda jardin garden
girra guerre war riska (v) risquer (v) risk (v)
(g)krava?a cravate tie zigu égout sewer
mikru micro-ordinateur computer kadre cadre frame
ri?u réseau network ridu rideau curtain
tabla table table biyyi billet ticket
vista veste jacket bulisiyya police police


See also


  1. ^ Algerian Arabic at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Algerian Arabic at Ethnologue (15th ed., 2005)
  3. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Algerian Arabic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. ^ Elimam, Abdou (2009). Du Punique au Maghribi :Trajectoires d'une langue sémito-méditerranéenne (PDF). Synergies Tunisie.
  5. ^ Martin Haspelmath; Uri Tadmor (22 December 2009). Loanwords in the World's Languages: A Comparative Handbook. Walter de Gruyter. p. 195. ISBN 978-3-11-021844-2.
  6. ^ "Arabic, Algerian Spoken". Ethnologue. Retrieved .
  7. ^ a b K. Versteegh, Dialects of Arabic: Maghreb Dialects Archived 2015-07-15 at the Wayback Machine,
  8. ^ The Eastern Hilal also includes central Tunisian Bedouin dialects.
  9. ^ The Central Hilal also includes Algerian Saharan Arabic.
  10. ^ The Mâqil family of dialects also includes Moroccan Bedouin Arabic dialects and Hassaniya. Those of the Oranais are similar to those of eastern Morocco (Oujda area)
  11. ^ D. Caubet, Questionnaire de dialectologie du Maghreb Archived 2013-11-12 at the Wayback Machine, in: EDNA vol.5 (2000-2001), pp.73-92
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Harrat, Salima; et al. (2016-11-03). "An Algerian Dialect Study and Resources" (PDF). HAL Archives. p. 390. Retrieved .
  13. ^ a b c d Souag, Lameen (2020-01-29). "Description of Algerian Arabic". Rosetta Project. Retrieved .
  14. ^ a b c d e f Guerrero, Jairo (2014-01-01). "A Phonetical Sketch of The Arabic Dialect Spoken in Oran (Northwestern Algeria)". Academia. Retrieved .

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