Which verb in Egyptian Arabic can mean to be, to become, no longer, or to begin?

Answer: It is the verb ba’a (بَقى) in Egyptian Arabic.

You will hear this verb in many situations. In general it is used with a following past tense verb – and has various meanings.

Let’s look at some examples. Note that the vowel markers correspond to the pronunciation in Egyptian Arabic (ECA) and to the vowels in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).


The past tense (ماضٍ)

A. It can be used as a modal verb that expresses a constant or repeated action.

He has started to work harder. ba2a biyishtaghal atkar.

بَقَى بِيِشْتَغِل أكْتَر.

It is more organized now. ba2a fiih nizaam dilwa2ti

بَقَى فِيه نِظام دِلْوَقْتِي.

She has started to cook well (not like before). ba2it bituTbukh kwayyis.

بَقِتْ بِتُطْبُخ كُوَيِّس.


B. With the negation it expresses to be (no longer) engaged in or accustomed to (doing sth.)

He has stopped visiting us. ma-ba2aash yizur-na khalaas.

مابَقَاش يِزُورنا خَلاص.

You no longer have time. ma-ba2aash 3andak wa2t.

ما بَقاش عَنْدَك وَقْت.

It is no longer so/that crowded as (it was) before. ma-ba2aash fiih za7ma zeyyi zamaan.

ما بَقاش فِيه زَحْمة زَيّ زَمان.


The present tense (مُضارِع):

In the present-tense يِبْقى or future tense هَيِبْقى – together with a following verb – it usually points to delayed future actions, to an action that will not happen soon – the idea of later is understood. Thus we could say that it functions as a modal verb of decision or emphasis. It may also be used with auxiliary words such as لازِم (must), يِمْكِن (maybe), etc.

If you add the future particle – which is in Egyptian Arabic a ه or ها – , then you can express more definiteness that the action will take place.


We have agreed then! nib2a ttafa2na

نِبْقَى اتَّفَقنا.

We will come to see you (fem.) soon. hanib2a niigi nshuufak 2urayyib.

هَنِبْقَى نِيجِي نِشُوفِك فُرَيِّب.

I will tell you later hab2a a2ul-lak ba3deen.

هابْقَى أقول لَك بَعْدِين.

Would you like to take the book and I’ll get it from you later? thibbi taakhud ikkitaab wab2a akhdu minnak ba3deen?

تحِبّ تاخُد الكِتاب وَأَبْقَى آخُده مِنّك بَعْدَين؟

After they got married, he did not allow her to go out. ba3d eg-gawaaz ba2a yamna3ha min il-khuruug.

بَعْد الْجَواز بَقَى يَمْنَعها مِن الْخُرُوج.


Watch out: The verb بقى It can also simply have just the meaning of to be.

Is that your husband? da yib2a goozik?

ده يِبْقَى جُوزِك؟

What kind of talk is that? ik-kalaam-da yib2a eeh?

الكلام ده يِبْقَى ايه؟

How is this woman related to you? issitti di tib2aa-lak eeh?

السِّت دِي تِبْقَالَك اِيه؟

Maybe that will be a little too late yimkin yib2a wakhri shwayya.

يِمْكِن يِبْقَى وَخْرِي شوَيّة.


It may also have the meaning of to become:

Good willing he will become a doctor! hayib2a Tabeeb 2in sha2allah.

هَيِبْقَى طَبِيب إنْ شاء الله.


The imperative إِبْقى is often used to express a request referring to a later time! The negative command means “stop doing” – but expressing an act in the future.

Come (fem. person) and visit us! ib2i ta3aali zuriina

إِبْقِي تَعالِي زُورينا!

Don’t be late anymore! matib2aash tit2akhkhar taani.

ما تِبْقاش تِتأخَّر تانِي.


Watch out!

The word بَقى is also used as an adverb of time (ظَرْف زَمان) in the basic meaning of already. For example:

Why don’t you stop envying! matbaTTal 7asad ba2a!

ما تْبَطَّل حَسَد بَقَى!


And last but not least – one of the most common expressions in ECA that you will hear many times:

enough! bass ba2a!

بَسّ بَقَى!

2 thoughts on “Which verb in Egyptian Arabic can mean to be, to become, no longer, or to begin?

  1. I love this verb. It has so many usages. As a word and as a filler

    بقالك قد إيه في مصر How long have you been in Egypt?

  2. thank you. This has cleared up a lot of confusion I’ve been having with this word. Previously I only ever translated it to the English “become”.

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