How To Buy Fruit And Vegetables At The Souq (In Arabic)

Mariam Enany

Author

Mariam Enany

Going to the souq is an essential experience in Arabic-speaking countries.

Not knowing the language or the words for what you would like to buy can make it stressful though.

Worry not! This will help.

Today’s guide will help you learn the different types of vegetables and fruits in Arabic, and how to buy them from the souq vendor or from the supermarket.

As a complete beginner of Egyptian Arabic, you need to know two essential verbs for this trip: to buy and to want.

Egyptian verbs: to buy and to want

EnglishTransliterationArabic
I buy (first person masculine)Ana Ashteriأنا أشترى
I buy (first person feminine)Ana ashteriأنا اشترى
I want (first person masculine)Ana ‘ayezأنا عايز
I want (first person feminine)Ana ‘ayzaأنا عايزة

In order to say “I want to buy (x)”, you would say:

EnglishTransliterationArabic
I want to buy (first person masculine)Ana ‘ayez ashteriأنا عايز أشترى
I want to buy (first person feminie)Ana ‘ayza ashteriأتا عايزة أشترى.

We can now dive in.

Egyptian fruit and vegetable vocabulary

Vegetables

Let’s go over the vocabulary for the vegetables (El-khodaar الخضار) first:

EnglishTransliterationArabic (singular)Arabic (plural)
CucumberKhiyaar- Khiyaraخيارةخيار
TomatoesTamatem- Tamatmayaطماطمايةطماطم
Pepper (Green-Yellow-Red)Felfel- Felfelaya (Akhdar-Asfar-Ahmar)فلفلايةفلفل (أخضر- أصفر- أحمر)
OnionsBasal- Basala/Basalayaبصلة - بصلايةبصل
GarlicToom- Toma/tomayaتومة- تومايةتوم
CabbageKoronb- Koronbaكرنبةكرنب
PotoatoesBatatis- Batatsayaبطاطسايةبطاطس
LettuceKhas- Khassayaخسايةخس
CarrotsGazar- Gazara/Gazarayaجزرة - جزرايةجزر
ZuchiniKousa- Kosayaكوسايةكوسة
EggplantBitingaan- Bitinganaبتنجانةبتنجان
GingerGanzabeel-جنزبيل
AnchoviesKharshouf- Kharshoufaخرشوفةخرشوف
ParsleyBa’dounesبقدونس
CeleryKarafs -Karafsayaكرفسايةكرفس
Cauliflower‘arnabeet-قرنبيط
BeetsBangar-بنجر
PeasBisilla-بسلة
String beansFasoulia-فاصوليا
SpinachSabanekh-سبانخ
MolokhiaMolokheya-ملوخية
Vine leavesWara’ ‘inab-ورق عنب

Fruit

And now, let’s take a look at the vocabulary for the different fruits (El-Fak.ha الفاكهة):

EnglishTransliterationArabic (singular)Arabic (plural)
ApplesTofaah- Tofahaتفاحةتفاح
BananasMooz- Mouzaموزةموز
MangoesManga- Mangayaمانجايةمانجة
WatermelonsBateekh- Bateekhبطيخةبطيخ
StrawberriesFarawla- Farawlayaفراولايةفراولة
OrangesBorto’an- Borto’anaبراقانةبرتقان
PearKometra- Kometrayaكمترايةكمترى
PineapplesAnanas- Ananasaأناناسةأناناس
Grapes‘enab - ‘enabaعنبةعنب
tangerinesYousefandi- yousefandayaيوسفندايةيوسفندى
LemonLamoon- Lamoonaلمونةلمون
PomegrenatesRomman- Rommanaرمانةرمان
FigsTeen- Teenaتينةتين
PeachKhoukh- Khoukaخوخةخوخ
PlumBar’oo’ - Bar’oo’aبرقوقةبرقوق
ApricotsMeshmesh- Meshmeshayaمشمشايةمشمش
DatesBalah - Balahaبلحةبلح
Dried datesTamr- Tamraتمرةتمر
GuavasGawafa- Gawafayaجوافةجوافاية

NOTE: you can listen to the full audio for these terms by creating an account.


Let’s take a look at a couple of examples before we move on to measurements & weights, and how to buy your fruits and vegetables.

The following section is for the more advanced readers. If you are a complete beginner feel free to skip this part and move on the measurements right away:

The following examples are from conversations you are bound to hear in Egypt. These are conversations that occur between family members, some heading to the souq, others bringing fruits from the kitchen, etc.

If you plan to stick around in Egypt and have a roommate or two, you will too eventually be part of these conversations.

ماما: يا محمد عايز موز ولا برتقان؟
محمد: عايز برتقانة يا ماما لو سمحتى.
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Mum: Mohamed, do you want bananas or oranges?Mama: Ya Mohamed, ‘ayez Mooz wala Borto’an?ماما: يا محمد عايز موز ولا برتقان؟
Mohamed: Mum, I want an orange, please.Mohamed: ‘ayez borto’ana ya mama law samahti.محمد: عايز برتقانة يا ماما لو سمحتى.
سميرة: أنا حروح السوق عايزين فاكهة ايه؟
يارا: الجو حر, هاتى بطيخ و مانجة.
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Samira: I am going to the souq, what kind of fruits do you want?Samira: Ana harouh elsou’, ‘ayzeen fak.hit eh?سميرة: أنا حروح السوق عايزين فاكهة ايه؟
Yara: the weather is hot, bring watermelons and mangoes.Yara: Elgaw Harr, Hati bateekh wi manga.يارا: الجو حر, هاتى بطيخ و مانجة.
نرمين: ماما الغدا ايه النهاردة؟
ماما: رز و ملوخية و فراخ.
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Nermine: Mum, what’s for lunch today?Nermine: Mama, elghadda eh elnahrda?نرمين: ماما الغدا ايه النهاردة؟
Mum: Rice, Molokhia and chickenMama: Rozz wi molokheya wi feraakhماما: رز و ملوخية و فراخ.

Now, before we follow Samira back to the souq, let’s learn the different measurements for weights that she will use.

Measurements and weights in Arabic

EnglishTransliterationArabic
KiloKiloكيلو
Half a kiloNos kiloنص كيلو
A quarter of a kiloRob‘ kiloربع كيلو
An Eighth of a kiloTomnتمن
A Third of a kiloTeltتلت
A kilo and a halfKilo wi nosكيلو و نص
(number) kilos(Rakam) Kilo(رقم) كيلو

For example:

٢ كيلو تفاح لو سمحت

Transliteration: Itnin Kilo tofaah law samaht.

2 kilos of apples, please.

نص كيلو بطاطس لو سمحت

Transliteration: Nos Kilo batates law samaht

Half a kilo of potatoes, please.

ربع بقدونس لو سمحت

Transliteration: Rob‘ Kilo ba’dounes law samaht.

A quarter kilo of Parsley, please.

Start learning egyptian Arabic today

In these previous examples, you might have noticed the direct structure of (weight+ product+ please) in Egyptian Arabic which you can either use with no verb, or preceded with the verb want.

أنا عايز ٢ كيلو كوسة لو سمحت
عايزة كيلو و نص مانجة لو سمحت.
EnglishTransliterationArabic
I want 2 kilos of zucchini please.Ana ‘ayez 2 kilo kousa law samaht.أنا عايز ٢ كيلو كوسة لو سمحت
I want a kilo and half of mango please.‘Ayza kilo wi nos manga law samaht.عايزة كيلو و نص مانجة لو سمحت.

Phrases for shopping in the souq

And now, let’s go over the different questions you might ask while you’re shopping.

The following questions will be in order; as soon as you step into the kiosk, walk you through all the different interactions you might have with the vendor, and until you take your bags and say “Thank you, sir.”

‘Andak Tamatem?

When you know exactly what you’re looking for, this would be the format to use:

‘Andak + vegetable/fruit name?

عندك + اسم الخضار أو الفاكهة؟

Example:

السلام عليكم. عندك بتنجان؟
صباح الخير عندك خضار ايه النهاردة؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Peace be upon you, do you have eggplants?Elsalamu ‘aleikum ‘andak betengaan?السلام عليكم. عندك بتنجان؟
Good morning, what kind of vegetables do you have today?Sabah elkheir, ‘andak khodaar eh elnhardaصباح الخير عندك خضار ايه النهاردة؟

You can also use:

Fi+ vegetable/fruit name?

فى + اسم الخضار أو الفاكهة؟

Fi is a preposition meaning “in” and it also has a different meaning: Is there? / There is

فى طماطم؟
اه فى - لا مفيش
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Literally: Are there any tomatoes?Fi tamatem?فى طماطم؟
Yes, there are.Ah fi.اه فى
لا مفيشLa mafish.No, there aren’t.

El Kilo bi Kam?

Once you do know that the product is in stock, you need to ask about the cost of the product in kilo so you can figure out if it’s a good price or whether it is too expensive.

الكيلو بكام لو سمحت؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
How much does one kilo cost?El kilo bi kam law samaht?الكيلو بكام لو سمحت؟

Good knowledge of numbers will be useful to you then as the vendor will answer الكيلو ب (El Kilo b-) followed by a number which you will help you determine whether it’s expensive or not.

Is the price too high? Want to negotiate?

مش غالى كده؟
لا – غالى جدا! — يادوبك.
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Isn’t this too expensive?Mesh ghaly keda?مش غالى كده؟
No, (number) is too expensive!(alternative number) is the best I can do.La — ghaly gedan! — yadoubakلا – غالى جدا! — يا دوبك

“Yadoubak” is an expression that means barely.

In this context, you are implying that you would barely agree to pay the alternative number you’re suggesting, and that would be the highest price you are willing to pay.

Momken Nos Kilo Tamatem?

Once you make your decision and you both agree on a price for the kilo, you officially make your order.

This next format you will use is for exactly that, so he can weigh your order and put it in a bag:

Momken+weight+ product+ (please)?

Momken means: Is it possible to

Example:

ممكن نص كيلو طماطم؟ و كيلو خيار؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Is it possible to get half a kilo of tomatoes? And a kilo of cucumbers?Momken nos kilo tamatem? Wi Kilo khiyaar?ممكن نص كيلو طماطم؟ و كيلو خيار؟

El Wazn Tamam?

Another possible question you might want to ask as a follow up when he weighs your order would be:

كده الوزن كام؟
كده الوزن تمام؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
So, how much does this weigh?كده الوزن كام؟Keda el wazn kam?
So, the weight is accurate?كده الوزن تمام؟Keda el wazn tamam?

That would only be in the case if you want to make sure the weight of the product you asked for is accurate and is not more/less than you initially ordered.

Keda Kam?

Once everything is ready and he packages your order. It’s time to pay!

ماشى كده كام لو سمحت؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Alright, how much (does this cost) please?ماشى كده كام لو سمحت؟Mashy, keda kam law samaht?

You will eventually use the question of “Keda kam?” a lot and in several contexts, whenever you’re buying several items anywhere, whether at the grocery store or at the mall, etc.

Another alternative question that you can use is:

كده الحساب كام لو سمحت؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
So, in total how much (should I pay) please?كده الحساب كام لو سمحت؟Keda elhessab kam law samaht?

Ma‘ak Fakka?

You reach in your pocket and you realize you only have a 50 and you were supposed to pay 8.5 Egyptian pounds. So, you turn to the vendor and say:

معاك فكة خمسين لو سمحت؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Can you break a fifty please?معاك فكة خمسين لو سمحت؟Ma‘ak fakkit khamseen law samaht?

Want to take it the extra step, and be a fluent Egyptian?

We would say:

معلش معاك فكة خمسين؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Excuse me, can you break a fifty?Ma‘lish, ma‘ak fakkit khamseen?معلش معاك فكة خمسين؟

Ma’lish

Ma‘lish” is a brilliant and sometimes a very frustrating term that Egyptians use.

It can mean: excuse me, never mind, and I am sorry, all at the same time.

In this case, of course, you would mean it as in excuse me” because you will inconvenience the vendor to find change.

It’s also worth mentioning that when you ask someone for “Fakka” in Egyptian, it could either mean:

  • You’re asking a person to break a large bill.
  • You’re asking a person to give you the change of the money that you paid.
  • You’re indicating you only have coins (one pound coins, half a pound, etc) instead of bills.

Shukran

Once you do get your change, do not forget to say thank you in Egyptian Arabic:

EnglishTransliterationArabic
Great. Thanks a lot (literally: a thousand thank yous)Tamam. Alf Shukr.تمام. ألف شكر.

Tazza wala la’?

Sometimes you would also like to check on the quality of the product that you are buying.

Is it fresh?

When is its expiration date?

Is it soft enough or is it too ripe?

Sometimes you would even want to handpick your own fruits and vegetables.

I am the same way, and so, I wanted to include this small section of the guide to similar questions for the advanced Arabic learners.

طازة و لا لا؟
فريش؟
تاريخ الصلاحية امتى؟
تاريخ انتهاء الصلاحية امتى؟
ممكن أختار أنا؟
EnglishTransliterationArabic
Is this Fresh or not?ده طازة و لا لا؟Da Tazza wala la’?
When is the production date?تاريخ الصلاحية امتى؟Tareekh elsalahiya emta?
When is the expiration date?تاريخ انتهاء الصلاحية امتى؟Tareekh intihaa’ elsalahiya emta?
Can I pick?ممكن أختار أنا؟Momken akhtar ana?
No, I don’t want this one. Can I get this instead?لا مش عايز(ة) دى. ممكن دى بدالها؟La mesh ‘ayez de. Momken de badal.ha?
No, not this one.بلاش دى لا.Balash de la.

I hope this guide is useful for you and that you will have an enjoyable shopping trip the next time you head to the souq.

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