Arabic Language Blog

Letter of the Week (ب) baa Posted by on Feb 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

Moving on to our second letter of the Arabic alphabet (ب), we will look at various words and phrases beginning with (ب) along with more culture/language related facts. 🙂

Let’s begin with looking at your basic forms of the letter ب.

Initial ‍ب‍, as in the word “بَيْت” meaning “house”.

Medial ‍ب‍, as in the word “جَبَل” meaning “mountain”.

Final ب, as in the word “عَرَب” meaning “Arabs”.

Before looking at the following words and phrases, can you think of a name, thing, and place beginning with ب?

  • One of the first words you learn is بَيْت and every بَيْت needs a باب meaning “door”.

  • There are three colors that begin with ب!

       🎨  (بَنَفْسَجي، بُني، بُرتُقالي )       (purple, brown, orange)

  • بِسْمِ ٱللّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيم bi-smi llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm is an Islamic phrase meaning “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”. It is used during daily prayer and throughout the day before performing tasks, such as eating, beginning a project, giving a speech, cooking a meal, helping someone, driving, etc. Some people even begin their letters and emails with this phrase as a heading. This is to receive God’s blessing and the ability to do these actions. The more Arabic news, shows, and programs you watch, the more you will pick up on how prevalent this phrase is.

  • There are many fruits and vegetables that begin with ب !

         (بطاطِس،  بَطاطِس حَلوة، باذِنجان، بامية، بَصل، بَصل أخضَر، بُرتُقال، بِطيخ)                     🥔🍆🧅🍉🍊

(potato, sweet potato, eggplant, okra, onion, scallion, orange, watermelon)

  • You’ll find these at a بَقالة meaning “grocery store”.

  • In the Middle East, بامية is considered a comfort food for the winter. It’s not one of those common Arabic dishes you’ll come across often in Middle Eastern restaurants and is usually made at home. It’s simply an okra stew made with meat and tomatoes served with rice. Here is a link to a video showing how to make it in Arabic.

  • Note: Notice how the cook begins her video by saying “بِسْمِ ٱللّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيم


  • Here is a borrowed word:

 بَنْك meaning “bank”, and from the bank you get a بِطاقة ائتمان which is a “credit card”.

  • Here are a few animals that begin with ب!

         (بومة، بَقَرة، بَطة)        (duck, cow, owl)    🦆🐄🦉

Note: In Arabic, if you want say something is “beef”, you say بِقَري.

  • A “sea” is بَحر while a “lake” is بُحَيرة.

  • بِنْت can either mean “girl” or “daughter” depending on context. For example:

.بِنتي الآن في الصَّف الرَّابِع   My daughter is now in fourth grade.

.هذهِ البِنْت ذَكية جِداً             This girl is very smart.

  • Can you think of three major cities in the Middle East that begin with ب?

        (بغداد، بيروت، بيت لحم)

  • When something is cold, we say بارِد. When someone has a cold, we say  .مُصاب بالبَرد

  • Three kinds of clothing beginning with ب.

         (بَنطَلون، بَذلة، بَلوزة)    (pants, suit, blouse)    👖👚👔

  • البابا: In Arabic, the Pope is referred to as البابا meaning “the father”.

  • american university of beirut

    Image by A.K.Khalifeh – Own work on commons.wikimedia.or

    بَيروت: There are a number of universities in the Arab world which apply the American model of higher education that offer Arabic programs especially for international students learning Arabic. One well known example is the American University of Beirut (AUB) الجَّامِعة الأمريكية في بَيروت which was founded in 1866. The Arabic Department at AUB provides students from around the world with the opportunity to study Arabic as a Foreign Language, offering classes in Arabic language (Standard Arabic), culture, and colloquial Lebanese Arabic at all levels of proficiency.

  • بَيت لَحم: Bethlehem, meaning “House of Meat”, is a city located in the central West Bank, Palestine. It is home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities in the Middle East.

Levantine Arabic:

  • One of the first words taught to Levantine learners is بِدي meaning “I want”.

For example: .أنا بِدي بَنطلون وبَلوزة

I want pants and a blouse.

  • Present Tense with ب:

In spoken Levantine Arabic, you will hear people adding a ب to the beginning of present tense verbs. This applies to all subject pronouns. For example:

I walk:    أنا بَمْشي      Ana bam-shii

I like/love:      أنا بَحِب       Ana baHib

نا بَمْشي كل يوم   I walk every day.

.أنا بَحِب المَطَر       I like/love the rain.

Till next week, happy Arabic learning! 😃

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About the Author: yasmine

MarHaba! I am half Jordanian of Circassian descent and half American. I have a Master's in Second Language Teaching and I teach Arabic as a foreign language here in the US, both MSA and Levantine Arabic. I hope to help you become more familiar and interested in the Arabic language and culture.