Arabic Language Blog

Letter of the Week (ش) sheen Posted by on Apr 29, 2020 in Uncategorized

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

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

Initial شـ‎, as in the word “شُبّاك” meaning “window”.

Medial ـشـ‎ ‍, as in the word “مُشْكِلة” meaning “problem”.

Final ـش‎, as in the word “جَيْش” meaning “army”.

Before looking at the following words and phrases, can you think of words beginning with ش?

Image provided by Yasmine K.

Let us begin with شُكْراً meaning “thank you” which you probably picked up on your first day learning Arabic. You can respond to شُكْراً by saying عَفواً or أهْلاً وسَهْلاً both meaning “you’re welcome”.

There are a few other ways to say “thank you” in Arabic that are close variants to شُكْراً.

شُكْراً جَزيلاً meaning “thank you very much”

مَشْكُورة / مَشْكُور meaning “you are deserving of thanks”

شُكْراً كْتير also meaning “thank you very much” in Levantine Arabic.

🌳 شَجَرة: tree     .سَنَزرع المَزيد مِن الأشجار حَول المَنزِل

We are going to plant more trees around the house.

شَرّ: evil  .المَوضوع الرَّئيسي لِهذا الكتاب هو كَيف يَنتَصر الخَير على الشر

The main theme of this book is about how good conquers evil.

🏖 شاطيء: beach   .هذا الشاطئ ُمزدَحِم للغاية في الصيف

This beach is too crowded in the summer.

شَيء: thing /something

.لم يَفعَل شَيء كَهَذا     He did not do such a thing.

.هُناك شَيء غَريب في هذا الأمر  There is something strange about this.

Here are examples on how to say “anything”, “nothing”, and “everything” using شَيء.

.قال أنه سيفعل أي شيء لبلده    He said he’ll do anything for his country.

.لم يتبقى شيء       There is nothing left.

.أخبرني عَن كُل شيء   Tell me about everything.

شَّرْق: east    .أخَطِط لِزيارة الشَّرق الأوسَط لِممارسة لُغَتي العَرَبية

I plan to visit the Middle East to practice my Arabic.

🌞 شَمْس: sun

Fun fact: To say “sunrise”, would be شروق الشمس since the sun rises from the east. Likewise, to say “sunset” would be غروب الشمس since it sets from the west.

شَّمال: north   .تَقع تُركيا شَّمال العِراق      Turkey is to the north of Iraq.

👮‍♂️ شُرْطة: police   .أبلغَ الشُرطة بالسَرِقة صباح اليَوم   

He reported the theft to the police this morning.

شَيْخ: sheikh/elder/chieftain/patriarch   .يَهتم شيخ القبيلة بالحِفاظ على ثَقافَتِهِم

The tribal elder is concerned with preserving their culture.

شَقَّة: apartment  .هُناك أربع نوافِذ في شقتي

There are four windows in my apartment.

🍫🎂  شوكولاتة: chocolate   .أنا دائماً أطلبُ كعكة الشوكولاتة في هذا المقهى

I always order chocolate cake at this café.

شابة/شاب: young man/young woman    .كان الشباب والشابات يَحتجون على الحكومة الجديدة

The young men and women were protesting the new government.

📜 شِعْر: poetry

Note: Despite “poetry” meaning شِعْر, and “poet” meaning شاعِر, the word in Arabic for “poem” is قَصيدة.

Note: Remember the only difference between the words “poetry” شِعْر and “hair” شَعْر in Arabic is one diacritic, where شِعْر has a kesra on the ش and شَعْر has a fetHa on the ش.

Here is a short poem قَصيدة about travel by the famous Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998). A very celebrated contemporary مُعاصِر Arab poet, he was also a Syrian diplomat دِبلوماسِي, writer كاتِب and publisher ناشِر.

Please read the poem first and try to pick out any familiar words before looking below at the translation. 😊

Image via Pixabay

:قصيدة “ﺳَﻔَﺮ” للشاعر الكبير نزار قباني

…ﺍَﻟﻮَﺭَﻗَﺔُ ﺍَﻟﺒَﻴﻀَﺎﺀُ


ﺗَﺬﻛَﺮَﺓٌ ﻣَﻔﺘُﻮﺣَﺔٌ

…ﻟِﻟﺴَّﻔَﺮِ ﺣَﻮﻝَ ﺍَﻟﻌَﺎﻟَﻢِ 


the white paper…

in front of me

an open ticket

for travel around the world…

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.


  1. shaks:

    Wonderful lesson! Thank you so much!

  2. Francisco:

    I’m very happy to have stumbled upon this site! I enjoyed this article and in general the content of the blog, it will be very useful for my journey learning this marvelous language called Arabic. شكرا جزيلا