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How do you build the comparative and superlative in Egyptian Arabic?

Your have several options to express the comparative and superlative in Egyptian Arabic. An overview.

Last updated: May 2, 2021

The adjective in Egyptian Arabic has some special features. We already had a look at the basic singular and plural forms. In this last part of the series about the adjective, I will examine some peculiarities of the comparative and superlative forms.

“more tired”: the comparative of long adjectives

If you want to say bigger in Egyptian Arabic, you use the standard pattern that is also used in Modern Standard Arabic: أَفْعَل. So, we eventually get أَكْبَر.

This formula works perfectly for short adjectives that are derived from I-form verbs (not augmented).

But what should we do if we have adjectives that are quite long regarding the number of letters? We use the additional word أَكْتَر and put it after the adjective. This helping construction works very well for most adjectives and is often used instead of the regular comparative.

more tiredتَعْبان أَكْتَر
more tired than youتَعْبان أَكْتَر مِنَّك

How do you build the superlative in Egyptian Arabic?

That is tricky! In Egyptian Arabic, you have three options.

waa7id and wa7da

You often just use a helping construction with the word waahid (واحِد) or wahda (واحِدة) which are placed after the comparative!

the (fem. ) best oneأَحْسَن واحِدةa7san wahda
This (fem.) is the nicest one I have.دِي أَجْمَل واحِدة عَنْدِيda agmal wa7da 3andy.
This (masc.) is the cheapest one.دَه أَرْخَص واحِدda ar5aS waa7id.

Standard solution: genitive construction

This is the standard solution that is also used in Modern Standard Arabic. Use the comparative form and add the noun. It is nothing but a إِضافة-construction.

This is the biggest book.دَه أَكْبَر كِتابda akbar kitaab

Complex solution: comparative plus pronoun

Here, you have to listen closely. Otherwise, you may misunderstand it. Instead of a إِضافة, you use a different word order and add a possessive pronoun to the comparative form. Usually this is the plural pronoun hum (هُم). Sounds complicated? Let’s see.

This is the biggest book.الكِتاب ده أَكْبَرهمelkitaab da akbarhum.
1 comment
  1. Are there any rules about the possessive pronoun in 2.3? Can you use a different one? Or does it mean something like biggest among them?

Any thoughts or ideas about this? Leave a comment!

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