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Another proverb: رب أخ لم تلده أمك.

  • 1353

Since it's weekend and I can stay up late, I've decided to put on another proverb. Hope you like this one. Again, to read the transliteration here, I've used my own system. In case you didn't check it out yet: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9goaz5e3syj6e8y/abjd.docx?dl=0

رُبّ أخٍ لَم تَلِدْهُ أُمّك

Translation: There may be a brother (for you) not born by your mother.
Transliteration: rubba axin lam talidhu ummuk.
Moral: Some people out there may care for you like your brother or even more.


رُبّ: May, it might, such (classical word not common in Modern Standard Arabic).
أخ: A brother.
لم: Negative article.
تلده: she-gives birth- to him (verb+suffix for pronoun).
أمك: your mother.


One of the first words here is a classical word and probably many speakers of Arabic do not know that they are using this word in combination with another article. The word (رُبّ) is a classical word that was used to note a chance of something to happen, either in abundance or even scarcity. However, it is not common anymore and probably uttered when the speakers mentions a proverb like this one above. In modern Arabic, however, this word is combined with the article (ما) [má] to form (رُبّما) which is used commonly to mean (maybe) or (might), or even (possible). You might even ask someone and say (Do you think and that, etc?) and then hear a reply as simple as (ربما) [rubbamá], meaning (that's possible) or (maybe). Be careful here that a Dhamma (ـُ) is placed above (ر: R), for if this changes to Fatħa, the word would be come (رَب: rab), which means "god" or "deity."

Without going into the grammar related to the second word (أخ: ax), I'm going to jump to the third and fourth words, or the verb (تلده) and the article (لم) before it. Here we have an interesting operation going on: To negate an action in the past, bring the present tense of the verb and place (لم: lam) before it, and the meaning will be (did not -). Hence, the original verb is (تلدُ: talidu) meaning (she gives birth), and putting (لم: lam) before it, would change the meaning to the past: she did not give birth. ِ A bonus: (لم:lam) is called, in Arabic grammar books and under Arabic classification system, as (حرف جزم: ħarf jazm) which does a specific effect on the verbs which it preceeds, but I do not want to delve deeper into grammar here. The final suffix attached to the verb, (هُ: hu), is simply a pronoun in the place of the object of the verb (تلد) referring back to (أخ: ax), a brother.

Finally, we have, again, a noun and a possessive pronoun: أمك (your mother). Which probably you've encountered something similar to it in the courses of Duolingo already. However, it won't hurt to "dismantle" the word here: أم (mother) + ـك (your); Your mother.

Well, that's the end of the story for now. Hope you like the bits of info here and I hope they are useful to you, or at least enjoyed reading it!

July 19, 2019


  • 1353

Well, I'm wondering why did someone click the down arrow (disliked) the article. You could have asked in the comments below if you needed any elaboration, I guess?


Thanks! I learnt a new word "رُبّ" ;D

  • 1353

Most welcome. Well, it is a classical word anyway and seldom it is mentioned alone like that in modern Arabic or daily speech.


Honestly, I've never heard it before :)

  • 1353

are you an Arab living outside?

  • 1353

hehe this clarifies things. Well, you can google أمثال عربية and I'm sure you will find plenty, this one and others :)

This one is pretty famous here to my knowledge, and actually sometimes an extra word is inserted, like: رب أخ لك لم تلده أمك

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