The Difference Between حوالي and تقريباً


root: ف-ر-ق / noun / plural: فُروق / definition: difference

Two small words, carrying the same meaning but differing in grammar: حَوالَي and تَقريباً. So what’s the difference… and why does it matter?

Both حوالي—also spelt حوالى—and تقريباً are amongst the most common words for “approximately”/”roughly” (another synonym can be found in Wehr Wednesdays #35).

However, they are in different grammatical classes which affects where they are placed relative to the number/phrase that they are referring to. Here’s the breakdown:


root: ح-و-ل

word type: preposition

position: comes before the number


قَطَعْتُ حَوالَي 9 أمْيال مَشْياً على الأقدام

I covered approximately 9 miles on foot


  • as حوالي is a preposition, remember that the following word/number must always be مجرور


root: ق-ر-ب

word type: adverb

position: comes after the number


دَرَسَت لِمُدّة 4 ساعات تقريباً

she studied for approximately 4 hours


  • the word تقريباً is simply the adverbial form of the مصدر from the form II verb— قرّب / يُقرِّب / التقريب means “to approximate”

Simple as that!

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