“Still”, “just”, “not yet” in Egyptian Arabic

When I started learning Egyptian Arabic, there was one word which gave me a headache: lissa –لِسّه; sometimes also written لِسَّى or لِسّة. Let’s see why.

*Lissa means not yet in negative sentence. This is also the case when lissa is used as a stand-alone expression.
*In non-negative sentences (affirmative) the word lissa usually means still or just.


Let’s look at some examples.


1. Just versus not yet

This can be very confusing for beginners.


1.1. Lissa in the meaning of just or only recently:

I have just arrived.

.لِسّه واصِل

They just came.

. لِسّه جايِّين

He was standing next to me just a second ago.

.ده لِسّه واقِف جَنْبِي مِن ثانْيَة

Note that the word lissa is used frequently in combination with the active participle (اِسم فاعِل) to express a past tense meaning (meaning of just): لِسّه+اسْم فاعِل


1.2. Now let’s turn to the meaning of not yet:

I haven’t arrived yet.

.ما وَصَلْتش لِسّه

They haven’t come yet.

. لِسّه ماجُوش

Note that if you want to express the meaning of not yet, you use the past tense (الْماضي) in Arabic in combination with the negation (ما+ش).



2. Now let’s have a look at still.


2.1. No action involved.

How do we use lissa if there is no action (no verb) mentioned in the sentence, but an adjective or adverb of time? Some examples:

It is still early.

. لِسّه بَدْرِي

There is still time.

. لِسّه فيه وَقْت

There is still one week (to go);

. لِسّه أُسْبُوع

He’s still young.

.هُوَّ لِسَّه صُغَيَّر

It’s still to soon for…

لِسَّه بَدْرِي عَلَى


2.1 What kind of verb-form do you use if you want to express still?

The present tense (الْمُضارِع).

I am still eating.

.لِسَّه بآكُل

I am still studying at the center.

لِسَّه بادْرِس في الْمَرْكَز

I’ve still to deliver the menu (food).

.لِسَّه حاوَدِّي الْوَجْبة

Note that you use the present tense in Egyptian Arabic (ب+فِعل مُضارِع) to express still. Do not use the active participle (اِسْم فاعِل) as this usually expresses just – see number 1.



3. Just in the meaning of now.


The word lissa is often used in the connection with the Egyptian Arabic expression for now, i.e. dilwa’ti (دِلْوَقْتِي)

They just now left.

.لِسَّه طِلْعِوا دِلْوَقْتِي




4. Lissa as a stand-alone word.


4.1. Have… yet?


You will also hear the word lissa very often in questions that contain Have… yet?

Question: Have you written it?

كِتِبْتُه وَلا لِسَّه؟

Answer: Not yet.




4.2. Directly connected to a sentence.

She put up with a lot, and there’s more to come.

.اِسْتَحْمِلِتْ كْتِير، وَلِسَّه



In some Arabic dialects, the word lissa (لِسّا)  is connected to a pronoun (ضَمِير), for example:

Haven’t you…



Related Post

  • 17