The conditional sentence in Egyptian Arabic


There are two types of conditional statements: the possible (If you work hard, you'll do well; if I see Samia today, I'll ask her out) and the impossible/counter-to-fact (If I were rich, I'd buy a Mercedes; if I'd known that, I wouldn't have done what I did).

There are two main words for "if" in Arabic: لو (law) and اذا (ida in fuSHa/iza in 3ammiyya). (And there's also the more literary/classical إن.) In standard Arabic, اذا is reserved for possible conditions, while لو is used for impossible conditions. In Egyptian Arabic, however, the two words are usually used interchangeably, with لو being more common.

Possible conditionals

The "if" clause may begin with لو or اذا, followed by:

The "then" clause may begin with a future-tense verb or command.

هتكلم معاهم (hatkallem ma3aahom)
I'll talk to them
تعالى معايا (ta3aala ma3aaya)
come with me


اذا ذاكرت كويس، هتجيب درجات عالية (iza zakirte kwayyis, hatgiib daragaat 3alya)
If you study well, you'll get high grades.
لو شفت دينا النهار ده، هعزمها على العشا (law šofte Dina n-nahaarda, ha3zemha 3ala l-3aša)
If I see Dina today, I'll invite her to dinner
لو تروحي السينما بكرة، هآجي معاكي (law tiruuHi s-senema bokra, haagi ma3aaki)
If you go to the movies tomorrow, I'll come with you.
لو كان ده أسلوبك، ماتزعلش اذا ماكلمتكش تاني (law kan da osluubak, matiz3alše iza makallemtakše taani)
If that's your way of doing things, (then) don't get upset if I don't talk to you again.
لو كنت عايز تيجي معايا، يلا نروح (law kunte 3aayiz tiigi ma3aaya, yalla nruuH)
If you want to come with me, then let's go.
اذا كنت تحب تقعد، اتفضل (iza kunte tiHebbe ti'3od, itfaDDal)
If you'd like to sit down, then go ahead.
لو الجو كويس، يلا ننزل ونتمشى (law ig-gaww kwayyis, yalla ninzil wa nitmašša)
If the weather is nice, let's go down and take a walk.
لو اتفرجت على الفيلم ده، هتحبه (law itfarragt 3ala l-film da, hatHebbu)
If you watch this movie, you'll like it.

Impossible/counter-to-fact conditionals

Again, the "if" clause may begin with لو or اذا. It is usually followed by the appropriate form of كان. What follows that may be a past- or present-tense verb, modal, or active participle.

لو كنت شفته (law kunte šoftu)لو كنت بتحبني (law kunte bitHebbeni)
if you'd seen himif you loved me
لو كنت فاكر (law kunte faakir)لو كان ممكن (law kaan mumkin)
if I('d) rememberedif it had been possible

Note that, as with the last example, this clause may be identical to its "possible" equivalent. What really distinguishes possible from impossible conditionals is the following:

The "then" clause must begin with an appropriate form of كان! It is then followed by a past-tense verb, if you are talking about something you would/wouldn't have done, or a simple present/future-tense verb if you're talking about something you would do (right now).

كان جه (kaan geh)
he would've come
كنت أقول لك\هقول لك (kunt a'ollak/ha'ollak)
I would tell you


اذا كنت ذاكرت كويس، كنت جبت درجات أحسن (iza kunte zakirte kwayyis, kunte gibte daragaat aHsan)
If you had studied well, you would've gotten better grades.
لو معايا فلوس، كنت اشتريت عربية مرسيديس (law ma3aaya filuus, kunt ishtareit 3arabiyya Mercedes)
If I had money, I'd buy a Mercedes.
لو كان ممكن أروح معاك، كنت رحت، لكن أنا كنت مشغولة (law kan mumkin aruuH ma3aak, kunte roHt, laakin ana kunt mašġuula)
If I could've gone with you, I would've, but I was busy.
لو كنت عارفة ان ده هيحصل بعد ما أخرج، ماكنتش خرجت (law kunte 3arfa inne da hayeHSal ba3de maxrug, makunteš xaragt)
If I'd known that would happen after I left, I wouldn't have left.
اذا ماكنتش انت قلت لي، كان حد تاني قال لي (law makunteš enta 'oltili, kaan Hadde taani 'alli)
If you hadn't told me, someone else would've.
لو كنت بتحبني، ماكنتش قلت اللي انت قلته (law kunt bitHebbeni, makunteš 'olt illenta 'oltu)
If you loved me, you wouldn't have have said what you said.
لو الجو كان كويس، كنا رحنا البلاج (law ig-gaww kan kwayyis, kunna roHna l-blaaž)
If the weather had been good, we would've gone to the beach.
لو كنت اتفرجت على الفيلم ده، كنت هتحبه (law kunt itfarragt 3ala l-film da, kunte Habbeitu)
If you'd watched this movie, you would've liked it.
لو ماكنتش نسيت تليفوني المحمول، كنت رديت على المكالمة بتاعتك (law makunteš niseit telefooni l-maHmuul, kunt raddeit 3ala l-mukalma beta3tek)
If I hadn't forgotten my cell phone, I would've replied to your call.

Examples for comparison of possible and impossible conditionals

لو لقيت\ألاقي الجواب، هقول لك (law la'eit/alaa'i l-gawaab, ha'ollak)
If I find the answer, I'll tell you.
لو عثرت على الجواب، قول لي (law 3etert 3ala l-gawaab, 'olli)
If you come across the answer, tell me.
لو كنت عارفة الجواب، كنت قلت لك (law kunte 3arfa l-gawaab, kunt 'oltilak)
If I'd known the answer, I would've told you.
لو كنت عارفة الجواب، كنت هقول لك (law kunte 3arfa l-gawaab, kunt ha'ollak)
If I knew the answer, I would tell you.
حتى ولو كنت عارفة الجواب، ماكنتش قلت لك (Hatta wa-law kunte 3arfa l-gawaab, makunteš 'oltilak)
Even if I'd known the answer, I wouldn't have told you.
حتى ولو كنت عارفة الجواب، ماكنتش هقول لك (Hatta wa-law kunte 3arfa l-gawaab, makunteš ha'ollak)
Even if I knew the answer, I wouldn't tell you.

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