Arabic—Tunisian Dialect

Possession in Tunisian Colloquial Arabic

Expressing possession in Tunisian colloquial Arabic is similar to expression possession in MSA, but there are some differences. Like in MSA, we use the semi-preposition عند to say “I have,” “you have,” “he/she has,” et cetera.  Tunisian Arabic also uses possessive suffixes similar to MSA, as in كتابي “my book. But for the third person masculine, the pronunciation is different. In MSA we might hay دارهُ “his house,” but in TCA we lose the aspiration, so instead we say دارو. Since TCA has no standardized orthography, you might see it spelled both ways, but it’s pronounced like “ooh,” not like “who.”

Students of MSA are all familiar with the iḍāfah. In MSA, if we need to describe the possessive relationship between two nouns, the iḍāfah is our only option. So we might say دار امي “my mother’s house” of كيلو موز “a kilo of bananas.” In Tunisian Arabic, there is an additional way to express the possessive relationship between two nouns: with the semi-preposition متاع (best translated as “of” or “belonging to”). Sometimes either an iḍāfah clause or متاع can be used, sometimes only an iḍāfah clause works, and sometimes متاع is required. However, in most situation, متاع will make sense. It is beyond the scope of this lesson to explain where متاع should and should not be used, so instead I simply suggest to default to متاع when in doubt.[1]


TCA rarely forms iḍāfah clauses with French loanwords, so when using a French word, متاع is usually preferred.

Examples of sentences using متاع

.في وقت الثورة نسمعو في حس متاع كرطوش

“During the revolution, we were hearing the sound of gunfire.”


شنوة برڨرام متاع النهار متاعك؟

“What is your schedule for the day?”

Note here that there are two uses of متاع here: once to relate schedule to day, and once to relate that whole clause back to the listener. Also note that متاع is used after the French loanword programme.


.فما سرب متاع طيور قي السما

“There is a flock of birds in the sky”


.الكرهبا هذي متاع دار الجيران

“This car belongs to the neighbor’s house

Note that this sentences uses both متاع and an iḍāfah clause.


  1. Further linguistic research is likely required to fully explicate the use of متاع.


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