Arabic Speaking at Home 7: Getting Ready in Order

Ok, so you know how to greet your kids in the morning and find out how they’re feeling. Now it’s time to start cracking the whip; a metaphorical whip of course.

In this lesson, we’ll learn how to give commands. A reader requested that I do a lesson on ordinal numbers (first, second, third, and like that). I thought it would be great to do them together with commands.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have a super organized morning routine, so why not make one in Arabic.

Let’s get to it.

If you do already know the numbers, ordinals will be pretty easy. If you don’t know the numbers 1-10, let me know in the comments or just shoot me a quick email.

By the way, we’re just going to work with the male ones today. I know you didn’t think there weren’t female ordinal numbers. Go back and read this post again! EVERYTHING has male and female. (Ok, almost everything.)

If we only use the ordinals at the beginning of the sentence, we don’t have to worry about gender.

There’s a little bit of grammar going on behind the scenes in this sentence, so I’ll make a separate post for those interested in learning more about how to use ordinal numbers. But to make a simple list, it’s pretty straight forward.

Ok, for real this time. Let’s get to it.

The word for first is

The First الأَوَّل

In our sentence below, it actually means firstly. I know, that sounds super formal, but that’s Fusha. It’s actually the language of the Quran and classical Arabic, so it’s going to get pretty formal pretty fast.

Here’s the sentence:

Firstly, brush your hair. أَوَّلًا اُمْشُطْ شَعْرَك

Your ever so devoted child will answer:

نَعَم يا أُمِّي. سَأَمْشُطُ شَعْرِي
Yes, oh mother, I will brush my hair.

One tip, don’t even blink an eye when you teach your kids to say this. Just pretend it’s a totally normal thing for a kid to say to their parents.

Moving on with our totally normal morning.

The Second الثَّانِي

To use “second” in a sentence, we can say:

Secondly, brush your teeth. ثَانِيًا نَظِّف أَسْنَانَك

Literally, it means, “Clean your teeth.” And your ever so devoted child will literally answer:

نَعَم يا أُمِي. سَأُنَظِّفُ أَسْنَانِـي

Yes, oh mother, I will brush my teeth.

The last command we will do is for third.

  The third الثَّالِثُ

In a sentence, we can say,

Thirdly, tidy your room. ثَالِثًا رَتِّبْ غُرْفَتَك

And of course, your compliant child will reply:

نَعَم يا أُمِي. سَأُرَتِّبُ غُرْفَتِي

Yes, oh mother, I will tidy my room.

I need to know from my British readers, is tidy used in daily speech? I’m going with it. You could also say “straighten up” if things are getting a little too formal.

If your imaginary perfectly devoted children are anything like my actual children, getting them to do these three things consistently is enough work.

Let’s run through the rest of the numbers and see the formula for adding them to the sentence. You may have noticed it by now.

The fourth الرَّابِعُ

To add it to the beginning of a sentence. We’ll take off the “ال”.

Fourth رَابِعٌ

Then we’ll add a double fatha (and any word that has double fatha has an alif, but we’ll get to that much later in some other grammar section).

Fourthly رَابِعًا

Don’t get too hung up on the translation. It doesn’t matter if you say “fourth” or “fourthly” just know that on the beginning of the sentence, you say رَابِعًا.

Practice using these ordinals. Change them all so you could put them at the beginning of a sentence to organize your activities.

The fifth الْخامِسُ

The sixth السّادِسُ

The seventh السابعُ

The eighth الثّامِنُ

The ninth التّاسِعُ

The tenth الْعاشِرُ

Here’s a few ideas for how to use the concepts we went over today:

  1. First things first. I love saying this to my kids, try to translate it and start saying it. Then start organizing everything. If you’re a homeschooler, label your subjects as first, second, and third in Arabic.
  2. Let your kids be bossy. Kids love giving commands. Let them. If you only know the commands in this lesson, let them ask you for help. For example, let them say, “Umi, please clean my teeth.” in Arabic every morning.
  3. Switch it up. It’s always a good idea to swap out pronouns throughout the week. Ask your daughter to tidy her brother’s things. Ask your son to brush his sister’s hair. It’s a great way to practice your pronouns and make sure your kids are paying attention.

Since we covered a few topics in this lesson, here’s a quick overview:

  1. Ordinal numbers are used for counting the order of things like first, second, and third. We can use them in their male form only if we just put them at the beginning of the sentence. I’ll explain this more in the next post.
  2. Commands are made by using the present tense verb. We’ll also go over this a lot more in the future. For now, just practice with these verbs.
  3. Future tense is made by adding س to any present tense verb. Again, there will be a lot more on this.

It’s actually easier in Arabic to ordinal numbers with actions. In the next lesson, we’ll use them to talk about the order of things. So of course, that means we will need to have both male and female.

Speaking is funner with friends. Spread the word.

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