“tfaDDal / تفَضَّل” (in Modern Standard Arabic: “tafaDDal / تَفَضَّل”) is a common Arabic imperative, literally meaning “Be kind” or “Be generous”. It is essentially an invitation for someone to take something or do something (the idea being that it is an act of kindness to accept the invitation). This invitation may be offered spontaneously or in response to a request.
There are three forms of this imperative. Which one is used depends upon whether one is addressing a male, female, or group.
“tfaDDal / تفَضَّل” can be used in many different situations and has a variety of possible translations. Here are some examples:
- “tfaDDal” with a welcoming gesture of the hand to a person standing at the door means “Please come in”. In this context it is similar in meaning to, and likely to be accompanied by, the welcoming expression “Āahlan wasahlan / أَهلاً وَسَهْلاً”.
- “tfaDDal” when handing an item to someone means “Here you are” or “Please take this”.
- “tfaDDal” said by one person to another when getting on an elevator or passing through a door means “Please go ahead” or “After you”.
- “tfaDDal” with a gesture of the hand towards a chair means “Please have a seat”.
- “tfaDDal” said by an employee to a customer waiting for service means “How can I help you?”
- “tfaDDal” said to a guest at the dinner table means “Please help yourself to the food”.
- “tfaDDal” said in response to someone seeking permission to do something means “Go ahead”.
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