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Oh, the many uses of “تفضل”. If you’ve been to any Arab country, watched any Arabic shows, visited an Arab friend, you’ve most likely heard this word being used over and over again. So, what does “تفضل” mean, what is it derived from, and pragmatically speaking, how is it used appropriately and in what contexts?
In Arabic, تفضل is derived from the root word فَضِل meaning “grace”, therefore, تفضل being the imperative form, means “be so gracious”. It is a polite way to express invitation of something or a polite request for someone to sit/eat/drink/enter/speak. It can be addressed to a man “تفضل”, a woman “تفضلي”, and to a group “تفضلوا”.
We can consider the proper use of the word تفضل as part of Arab etiquette. It is used on a daily basis in formal contexts, for example, between a host and his/her guest, or informal contexts between a cashier and his/her costumers.
Also, an important note: تفضل is used in both MSA and colloquial Arabic, yay!
Think of it as a word that functions as all of the following polite requests in English:
“please”, “welcome”, “here you are”, “please sit” “please come in” and “go ahead”.
Here are some examples:
“Here you are” (as you give something to someone such as coffee, tea, food, money, a napkin, etc.)
.تفضل اشرب قهوة Here, have some coffee.
“Welcome” (as you gesture someone to enter your home/office)
! تَفَضَلوا، اهلاً وَسهلاً Please enter, welcome!
!تَفَضَل، البيت بيتَك Welcome, the house is your house!
“Go ahead” (as you gesture for them to pass in front of you)
.تفضلي Please go ahead.
“Please” (as you gesture someone to sit/begin eating/speaking.
.تَفَضَل اجلس Please, sit down.
Can you think of any of your own examples to you use تفضل?
Or in what incidents do you recall تفضل being used?