Arabic Language Blog

Expressing Similarity in Arabic with Like or As Posted by on Sep 1, 2009 in Grammar

Following my previous post about comparison, I received a question about how to express similarity in Arabic, and Niji contributed the answer. In this post, I explain more about similarity in Arabic.

There are 2 particles that we can use to express similarity, i.e. (كـ) and (مثل). Both of them mean ‘like’ or ‘as’, and they are used to establish a relationship of similarity between 2 things or people, e.g.

أنت بطئ كالسلحفاة.

“You are slow like a turtle.”

القطار سريع كالريح.

“The train is fast like wind.”

أحمد طبيب مثل والده.

“Ahmed is a physician like his father.”

والدتي صبورة وأنا مثلها.

“My mother is patient, and I am like her.”

Both (كـ) and (مثل) are used in the same way to express similarity between two nouns, and they are in most of the cases interchangeable. The main difference between them is that we can use (مثل) followed by a pronoun or a noun, but (كـ) can only be followed by a noun. For example, only (مثل) can be used in the sentence below.

أنا طالب مثله.

“I am a student like him.”

To negate these statements, i.e. to express ‘not like’, we use (ليس), for example:

محمد ليس طويلاً مثل والده.

“Mohammed is a not tall like his father.”

لست طالبة مثلك.

“I am not a student like you.”

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  1. Jose:

    Thank you. This is very well explained and I had been wondering the proper use of كـ particle. Aziza, when you have a chance can you also explain and give examples of other Arabic particles such as فـ ، لـ، ، بـ ? Shukran!

  2. Juan:

    Thank you, thank you
    exactly what I wanted!
    I join with Jose’s comment regarding the other particles.

    With respect to comparison, I wonder if it is valid the same structure for long adjetives but replacing أكثر by أقلّ for those cases where instead of ¨more¨ you want to express ¨less¨

    Example, how would you say?

    Peter is less nervous than his wife.

    (without reversing the order and using ¨more¨)


  3. Aziza:

    Ahlan Juan,
    You are perfectly right, you use (أقلّ من) to express less than with any quality, e.g. less patient than. It must be followed by the verbal noun, just like (أكثر من). To translate your sentence, you would say:
    بيتر أقل عصبية/توتراً من زوجته

  4. Aziza:

    Ahlan Jose,
    Thank you very much for the interesting question, soon I will write a post to deal with the particles you mention. Keep reading!

  5. non:

    dear sir, madam
    i would like to express my deep appreciation for the effort given by all admin. staff and the teacher Aziza .

    please , if you sen me posts (more ifromation)abut : adjective, adverbs and declinsion of nouns and verbs.
    thank you
    beast regards

  6. Aziza:

    Ahlan Non,
    I believe all the topics queried have already been explained under grammar category, may be adverbs not yet.
    Please refer to the old posts in the grammar category for more information. I wil write a post about adverbs soon. If you do not find answer to all your questions there, please write again!

  7. YasirHamid:

    Thank you sir, for making us understand the difference between particle ك and مثل.
    However I want to know in which dictionary can one find the names of different particles eg as ك is called ‘huruf tashbih’.