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  • morphology / صرف (ṣarf)

The inflection of words like the declination of nouns (changing the case endings) or conjugation or verbs (changing the verb according to person and number).

علم التصريف  also refers to morphology.


  • syntax / نحو (naḥw)

The arrangement of words in a sentence. The Arabic term نحو  also means “direction”, “side”, so in terms of grammar, it refers to the placement of words in a sentence according to their functions.

The linguistic field of syntax is called عِلْمُ النَّحُو  or عِلْمُ الإِعْرَاب .


  • ’i‘rab / syntactic analyisis / إعراب  

The analyisis of individual segments of a sentence (or a full sentence) in Classical Arabic (CA) and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).

Example: Al-waladu in ذَهَبَ الوَلَدُ إلى الْبَيْتِ  (dhahaba al-waladu ila al-beiti) ends in an -u because it is the فاعل (subject) of the sentence,

Thus the ’i‘rab of الوَلَدُ  would be  فاعل مرفوع  or to be more precise:

فاعل مرفوع وعلامة رفعة الضمة الظاهرة على آخره (subject in the nominative case with the marker of the nominative case being a visible ḍamma on its last letter)

As for the last vowel in al-beiti it is -i because it stands after a preposition (حَرف الجَر ) and is therefore in the i-case (مجرور) and the ’i‘rab of  الْبَيْتِ would be اسم مجرور or to be more precise:

اسم مجرور وعلامة جره الكسرة الظاهرة على آخره (noun in the i-case with the marker of the i-case being a visible kasra on its last letter)


In general the structure of the ’i‘rab is as followed:

  1. The function of the word in the sentence, for example:

فعل مضارع  (present tense verb),   فعل ماض  (past tense verb), اسم (noun), حرف جر (proposition), نَعْت (adjective), مبتدأ  (subject in a nominal clause), فاعل (subject in a verbal clause), تميز (tamyīz), حرف عطف  (connector), اسم إشارة (demonstrative), مضاف إليه (possessed), مفعول به  (object), اسم موصول  (relative pronoun), etc

Note: If a past tense verb is conjugated the verb is split up into it’s root and the „pronoun“ (the personal ending) as in:

جلسْتُ : فعل ماض مبني على السكون لاتصاله بالتاء المتحركة والتاء المتحركة ضمير متصل مبني على الضم في محل رفع فاعل

If the verb is in the present tense the doer is referred to as: x الفاعل مستتر تقديره 

example: أقرعُ : فعل مضارع مرفوع وعلامة رفعه الضمة الظاهرة على آخره . والفاعل مستتر تقديره أنا 

If it’s a verb whose doer appears later on it is described in the following way:

لعبَ سعيدٌ بالكرةِ

لعبَ : فعل ماض مبني على الفتح الظاهر على آخره 


2. The case the word is in

مرفوع (u-case/nominative), مجرور (i-case/genitive), منصوب (a-case/accusative), مجزوم (zero-case) 


3. The sign of the case

which is always phrased like this: وعلامة رفعه / نصبه / جره / جزمه  and then the corresponding diacritic is mentioned like ضمة، فتحة، كسرة، سكون  or تنوين الفتح  etc

If it the last vowel is actually visible one adds: الظاهرة على آخره (visible on it’s last (letter))


There are, however, numerous cases in which the expected grammatical case ending that is required due to its position in the sentence does not appear at the end of a word because of different reasons, like the word ending in an alif maqṣūra or a yā or it being a sound masculine plural, sound feminine plural, diptote, etc. Here are a few example of how to phrase this:

a) مُصْطَفَى  : here the ḍamma doesn’t appear because of the alif maqṣūra, this is phrased like this:

 فاعل مرفوع، وعلامة رفعه الضمة المقدرة على الألف 

b) القَاضِي : here the ḍamma doesn’t appear because of the yā: 

 فاعل مرفوع، وعلامة رفعه الضمة المقدرة على الياء

In some cases the case is not marked by one of the short vowels / diacritics:

c) الْوَلَدَانِ : as the sign of the nominative in the dual is the alif (as opposed to the yā) one says:

 فاعل مرفوع ، وعلامة رفعه الألف لأنه مثنى

d) المدرسونَ : as the sign of the nominative in the masculine sound plural is the wāw (as opposed to the yā) one says:

فاعل مرفوع،وعلامة رفعه الواو لأنه جمع مذكر سالم

e) أَخُوكَ : as the sign of the nominative in the five nouns is the wāw (as opposed to the alif or yā) one says:

 فاعل مرفوع، وعلامة رفعه الواو لأنه من الأسماء الخمسة

 f) if it isn’t in certain case but “frozen” on a certain ending one says: مَبْني على as in الى  or من , etc


  • short vowel marks / diacritics / حركات (ḥarakāt)

The short vowels ḍamma, fatḥa, kasra, shidda and sukūn that are placed above or underneath letters but not written in most texts except for reasons of clarifications or in the Quran.

The small vowels are also called: حروف مصغرة  ḥurūf muṣaġġara (“reduced letters”).


  • grammatical cases /  الحالات الإعرابية (al-ḥālāt al-’i’rābiyya)

The grammatical category of a word according to its position or function in the sentence. Arabic exhibits three cases:

1. the nominative case is called الرفع  (al-raf‘) and the noun/adjective/verb in the case is called ٱلْمَرْفُوعُ  (al-marfū‘),

2. the accusative case is called النصب  (an-naṣb) and the noun/adjective/verb in the case is called ٱلْمَنْصُوب  (al-manṣūb)

3. the genitive case is called الجر (al-jarr) and the noun/adjective in the case is called ٱلْمَجْرُورُ  (al-majrūr)

4. the zero-case / sukūn case is called الجزم (al-jazm) and the verb in the case is called ُالْمَجْزُوم  (al-majzūm)

which are reflected in the respective case endings.

For more information see under the respective cases.


  • vocalization / ضبط (ḍabṭ)

Vocalization of Arabic words, especially of the last vowel which depends on its function and position in the sentence.

Example: Placing the “-u” at the end of waladu in ذَهَبَ الوَلَدُ إلى اللْبَيْتِ  (dhahaba al-waladu ila al-beiti) because it is the subject of the sentence is called ḍabṭ.


  • full vocalization / تشكيل (tashkīl)

Full vocalization (not just the vowels at the end of a word but even the small vowels within the word).


  • noun (!) / اسم (ism)

In Arabic every word is in one of three categories: اسم  (ism), فعل  (fi‘l) and حرف  (ḥarf).

The category ism is often readily translated as “noun” but it includes more than just the Western definition of a noun as for example an adjective is also considered to be اسم . 

اسم  thus includes: nouns, names, pronouns, adjectives and adverbs.


  • verb / فعل  (fi‘l)

The second category Arabic words can belong to. Same as in English.


  • ḥarf / حرف

The third category of Arabic words. Literally means “letter” because lots of the ḥurūf حروف  are letters, but this category includes all prepositions, connectors and articles. A way to determine whether a part of speech is whether it carries meaning all by itself. For example “على ” = “on” doesn’t carry meaning without another word like “الأرض ” = “the ground”. 


  • number / عدد (‘adad)

Whether a noun, adjective or verb is in the singular, plural or dual.


  • singular / مفرد (mufrad)

The singular is the unmarked (“easier”, unaltered) form of the noun, verb or adjective.


  • dual / مثنى (muthanna)

The dual is marked by the ان / ين  ending in nouns, adjectives and demonstratives:

– the nominative dual of كتاب  is كتابانِ  and the accusative/genitive كتابيْنِ

– the nominative dual of هذا  is هذانِ  and the accusative/genitive هذَيْنِ

– the nominative dual of هذه  is هاتان  and the accusative/genitive هاتينِ


ا  in pronouns: 

– the two of you (regardless of gender): أنتما  ; the corresponding pronoun suffix is كما

– the two of them (regardless of gender): هُما  ; the corresponding pround suffix is هما  as well. 

Note: 1. There is no specific pronoun for “the two of us”, 2. Though the pronouns do not differentiate in gender, the verbs do (see below).


and ان / ا  in verbs:

– the two of you write (regardless of gender): تكْتُبان  and past tense: كَتَبْتُما

– the two of them (masculine) write: يكْتُبان  and past tense: كَتَبا

– the two of them (feminine) write: تكْتُبان  and past tense: كَتَبتا


  • plural / جمع (jam‘)

The plural of nouns, adjectives and verb forms.


  • broken plural / جمع تكسير (jam‘ taksīr)

Arabic plurals in which the internal pattern of consonants and vowels is changed.

Example: The plural of بَيت  (house) is بُيوت

The plural of كنيسة  (church) is كنائس

The plural of مَلْعَب  (playground) is مَلاعِب


  • sound masculine plural / جمع المذكر السالم (jam‘ mudhakkar as-sālim) 

The regular plural -ūn / -īn usually reserved for human (but not for all human nouns):

Example: The plural of مدرّس  is مدرّسون  in the nominative and مدرّسين in the accusative/genitive case.


  • sound feminine plural / جمع المؤنث السالم (jam‘ al-mu’annath as-sālim)

The regular plural suffix for feminine nouns is -āt (الألف والتاء ), which is not only reserved for nouns ending in a ta-marbūṭa (like توقُع، توقُعات  – expectation(s)) and not all nouns ending in a ta-marbūṭa exhibit this plural.

Example: The plural of  مدرّسة  (female teacher) is مدرّسات


  • plurals of multitude / جموع الكثرة (jumū‘ al-kathra) (advanced!)

Subclass of the broken plural, indicates a number from 3 to infinity. There are 13 patterns to this plural, a few of them being:

– فُعْل  usually from an adjective/noun of the pattern أفعَل  like: أحْمَر وحَمْراء (red) plural:  حُمْر

– فُعُل  from an adjective/noun of the pattern فُعول  like: صَبور  (patient) plural: صُبُر or from an adjective/noun of the pattern فعال  where the letter before the last letter is a long alif like كِتاب (book) plural: كُتُب

– فُعَل  from an adjective/noun of the pattern فُعْلَة  like: غُرْفة (room) plural: غُرَف

–  فِعَل  from an adjective/noun of the pattern فِعْلَة  like حِجَّة  (argument, excuse) plural: حِجَج


  • plurals of fewness / جموع القلة (jumū‘ al-qilla) (advanced!)

Subclass of the broken plural, used for a number between 3 and 10.

There are four patterns for this plural:

1. أَفْعِلَة  like أَلْسِنَة  from لِسان  “tongue”

2. أَفْعُل  like أشْهُر  from شَهْر  “month” (as opposed to شهور  which indicated a greater number)

3. فِعْلَة  like فِتْيَة  from فتى  “youth, young man”

4. أَفْعَال  like أَعْمَال  from عَمَل “work”


  • plural of a plural / جمع الجمع  (jam‘ al-jam’) (advanced!)

An extra plural that makes a plural out of a plural, used to express an even bigger number than the usual plural.

This plural can be marked by the -āt suffix (الألف والتاء ):

طريق – طُرُق – طرقات       path / paths

Which is often added to the pattern فعول :

بيت – بُيوت – بيوتات   house / houses

ضغط – ضغوط – ضغوطات   pressure / pressures


Another way of forming this plural is the pattern أفاعل :

مكان – أمكنة – أماكن   place / places

Or the pattern أفعال  when pluralizing the pattern أفعل :

يد – أيد – أياد    hand / hands


  • gender / جنس (jins)

Whether a noun, adjective or verb form is masculine or feminine.


  • feminine / مؤنث (mu’annath)

Usually accompanied by a ta-marbūṭa, but not always:

– Nouns that are feminine without a ta-marbūṭa:

نار  (fire), دار  (house), شمس  (sun), سوق  (market – mostly f.), صحراء  (desert), حرب (war), روح (soul)

– Nouns without a  ta-marbūṭa that are intrinsically feminine due to their meaning:

بنت  (daughter, girl), أخت  (sister), أم  (mother)

– City and country names are often feminine:

عمّان (Amman), مصر  (Egypt), بغداد  (Baghdad), etc

Body parts which there are two of:

أذن  (ear), يد  (hand), سن  (tooth), عين (eye), كتف (shoulder), etc


Other signs of femininity (علامات التأنيث ) are: 

Alif maqsūra  (الألف المقصورة) as in عطشى  (thirsty), ذِكرى  (memory), etc

Alif & Hamza as in عذراء  (virgin), بيضاء  (white), etc

Adjectives that are of the pattern فعيل  and carry a passive meaning do not take a ta-marbūṭa: So امرأة قتيل  (a killed woman) doesn’t take a ta-marbūṭa but لغة فصيحة  (eloquent language) does because eloquent doesn’t have a passive meaning

The same goes for certain adjectives of the patter فعول  that have an exaggerated meaning (see under الأساليب البلاغية  – hyperbole (مبالغة))  like:

لعوب  (flirtatious, playful), بتول  (virgin), عجوز (old lady/man), عجول (hectic)


Note that especially in Classical Arabic the broken masculine plural can show feminine agreement and the broken plural of feminine nouns can take masculine agreement if they precede the verb as in: 

وقال نسوة في المدينة = “And the women in the town said”

قامت الرجال = “The men raised.”


  • masculine / مذكر (mudhakkar)


Some masculine nouns bear feminine markers like نابغة (genius) (see below under tā marbūṭa).

Some names bear feminine markers but are boys’ names:

حمزة (Hamza), زكرياء (Zakaria), طلحة (Talhah)


  • tā marbūṭa / تاء مربوطة

Used as a feminine marker:

طالب (male student) , طالبة (female student)

Or in rare cases as a mean of emphasis:

نابغة (genius), فَهّمانة (very understanding)

Or a plural marker (as part of the plural pattern فَعالية:

حرامي / حرامية (robber / robbers)


  • adjective / صفة (ṣifa) / نعت (na‘t)

ًWhen it comes to form I there is no one pattern that forms adjectives. These are the most common ones:

– فعيل  (fa‘īl)  like جميل  (pretty), كريم  (generous), بخيل  (stingy)

– فَعِل  (fa‘il) like مَرِح  (joyful), قَلِق  (worried), تَعِب  (tired)

– فَعْلان  (fa’lān), f.: فعْلى  (fa‘lā) like عَطْشان  (thirsty), سَكْران  (drunk), شبعْان  (full (after eating))

– أفْعَل  (af‘al), f.: فَعْلاء  (fa’lā), pl.: فُعْل  (fu‘l) like أحْمَر  (red), أحمق  (dumb), أعمى  (blind)


Both for form I as for the the other forms the active and passive particles are used to form adjectives. 


  • elative & superlative / تفضيل (tafḍīl)

The elative and the superlative are called تفضيل in Arabic.

According to Arabic grammarians the word that is in the elative/superlative (called اسم تفضيل ) is derived from a triliteral verb and is of the pattern أفعلُ. 

While what precedes the اسم تفضيل  is the one that is described as being higher in the respective quality and is called  مُفَضَّل  while what follows it is called مفضل عليه . 

There are three words that are in the elative/superlative but are not of the pattern أفعل  which are:

خَير  (better), شر  (worse, more evil), حب 

example: إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِندَ اللّهِ الصُّمُّ الْبُكْمُ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ = “For the worst of beasts in the sight of Allah are the deaf and the dumb,- those who understand not.”


  • verb form / وزن ج أوزان (wazn, awzān)

Refers to the 10  forms of Arabic verbs which are, however, mostly used by foreigners, not by Arabic grammarians:

Form 1 – فعل  (fa‘ala)

Form 2 – فعّل  (fa‘‘ala), يُفَعِّل  (yufa‘‘ilu)

Form 3 – فاعل  (fā‘ala), يُفاعِل  (yufā‘ilu)

Form 4 – أفعل (af‘ala), يُفْعِل  (yuf‘ilu)

Form 5 – تفعّل (tafa‘‘ala), يتَفَعَّل (yatafa‘‘alu)

Form 6 – تفاعل (tafā‘ala), يتَفاعَلُ  (yatafā‘alu)

Form 7 – انفعل (infa‘ala), يَنْفَعِلُ  (yanfa‘ilu)

Form 8 – افتعل (ifta‘ala), يَفْتَعِلُ  (yafta‘ilu)

Form 9 – افعلّ (if‘alla), يَفْعَلُّ  (yaf‘allu)

Form 10 – استفعل (istaf‘ala), يَسْتَفْعِلُ  (yastaf‘ilu)


Note: A source of confusion between foreign students of Arabic and Arabic teachers who are not familiar with the verb forms is that in Arabic Grammar (i.e. from an Arab perspective) what is understood under “verb form” or وزن  may be different. What lots of Arabs mean by form IV for example is a quadriliteral word and by that they often mean a verb that consists of four letters (like أخبر  or درّس ), NOT four radicals. 


  • quadriliteral verbs / أفعال رباعية (af‘āl rubā‘iyya)

As opposed to most verbs that consist of three letters as their root (ثلاثية) a quadrilateral verb has a four letter root. 

It is of the pattern  فَعْلَل يُفَعْلِل .

example: تَرْجَمَ ، يُتَرْجِمُ  (tarjama, yutarjimu)


A quadriliteral verb is often formed by repeating the first two consonants and can be onomatopoeic in nature:

example:  هَمْهَمَ ، يُهَمْمِمُ  (to humble)


Or they can be used to express that someone is uttering a religious phrase, like:

بسمل = to say  بسم الله ; or سبحل  = to say  سبحان الله  ; or حمدل = to say الحمد لله


A quadriliteral verb can also be of a different pattern, like form II (though it does in no way resemble form 2):

ُتَفَعْلَل يَتَفَعْلَل  (note the additional تَ in the beginning)

examples: تَزَلْزَلَ  (tazalzala) يَتَزَلْزَلُ‎‎  (yatazalzalu) = to shake; intransitive

تَشَيْطَنَ  (tashayṭana) يَتَشَيْطَنُ‎‎  (yatashayṭanu) = to act like the devil


Or of form III (again, bearing no resemblence to the form III pattern فاعل):

  اِفعَنْلَلَ  ،  يفعَنْلِلَ  (note the additional ا and ن )

 اِخْرَنْطَمَ  (ikhranṭama)  يَخْرَنْطِمُ‎‎  (yaḵranṭimu) = to elevate one’s nose, to be proud and angry


Or of form IV (which is quite common):

اِفعَلَلَّ ، يَفْعَلِلُ  (note the additional ا in the beginning)

اِشْمَأَزَّ  (ishmaʾazza),  يَشْمَئِزُّ‎‎  (yashmaʾizzu)  = to be disgusted 


Or form V which is often used in relation with place names:

تَمَصَّرَ (tamaṣṣara)  يَتَمَصَّرُ‎‎ (yatamaṣṣaru) = to become Egyptian

Note: Lots of Arabs including Arabic teachers consider a quadriliteral verb a verb that consists of four letters (like أخبر  or درّس ), NOT one that consists of four radicals


  • definite / معرفة (ma‘rifa)

A noun in Arabic can be definite in the following ways (أسلوب التعريف ):

1. by adding the definite article ال  (also called (ال التعريف  – alif lām it-ta‘rīf)

Example: الولد  (al-waladu) – the boy

2. in an iḍāfa: 

Example: مُدَرِّسُ طالبٍ  (mudarrisu ṭālibin) – the teacher of a student

The following are always definite:

– الأسماءُ الموصولة  (relative pronouns) like الذي ، التي  etc

– أسماءُ الإشارة  (demonstrative pronouns) like هذا، هذه  etc

– الضمائر  (personal pronouns) like انا، انت  etc

– الأعلام  (proper nouns) like سَلْمى  or المانيا


  • indefinite / نكرة (nakira)

Indefinite nouns and adjectives usually carry the tanwīn (-un,-an,-in) at the end of the word (except if they’re diptotes (see under diptotes)).

Example: ولدً (waladun) – a boy


  • U-case / nominative case / مرفوع (marfū‘)

The nominative case is called الرفع  (al-raf‘) and the noun/adjective/verb in the case is called ٱلْمَرْفُوعُ  (al-marfū‘). It is the “standard” case in which a noun/adjective/verb is in if nothing else is affecting it. It is marked by the charactersitic ḍamma (thus also called u-case).


  • In the A-case / accusative case / منصوب (manṣūb)

The accusative case is called النصب  (an-naṣb) and the noun/adjective/verb in the case is called ٱلْمَنْصُوب  (al-manṣūb).

It is marked by  (علامات النصب):

1. فتحة (fatḥa) – in most cases

example: انا قرأتُ الكتابَ  (ana qara’tu al-kitāba)


2. حرف ا  (the letter alif) – in the الأسماء الخمسة  (the five nouns like أخ , for more info see under “the five nouns”)

example: انا رأيتُ أخاك  (ana ra’aytu akhāk) – “I saw your brother.”


3. حذف النون  (deletion of the nūn) – in the الأفعال الخمسة  (the five verb forms that lose the nūn in certain cases like 3. Person Singular يذهبون , for more info see below)

example: يجبُ أن يذهبوا معي  (yajibu an yadhhabū ma‘i) – “They have to go with me.”


4. كسرة  (kasra) – in the case of a sound feminine plural -āt 

example: المدير سأل المدرّساتِ  (al-mudīru sa’ala al-mudarrisāti)


5. حرف ياء  (the letter yā) – in the sound masculine plural and the dual:

example: انا فتحتُ الحقيبتين  (ana fataḥtu al-ḥaqībatayni)

هل رأيتِ المدرّسين؟  (hal ra’ayti al-mudarrisīna?) – “Did you see the teachers?”


Triggers of the accusative case (أسلول النصب ):

1.  for the verb: words that call for the accusative (حروف النصب ):

أن  (that), لن  (future negative), كي / لكي  (in order to), حتى  (in order to), إذا (if – when followed by present tense), فاء السببية  (fā of causation, ف  meaning “in order to”)



2.  for the noun: sentence positions/functions that call for the accusative (منصوبات )


– (the mafā‘il) المفاعل  like:

مفعول به  (maf‘ūl bihi): the object of an action

Example:  رأيتُ كلبًا  ra’aytu kalban (“I saw a dog)


– إنّ وأخواتها  (inna wa akhawātuha): a noun after إنّ  and her sisters (see below under إنّ وأخواتها )

Example: أن الامتحانَ سهلٌ  inna al-imteḥāna sahlun


– الحال  (ḥāl): so called “circumstantial adverb” that describes how an action is done:

Example: عَادَ الجُندِيُّ مُنتَصِراً  = “The soldier came back victoriously.”


– ظرف المكان والزمان  (adverbs of time and place): 

Example: اشتريتُ سيارةً يومَ السبت  ishtaraytu sayyaratan yawma as-sabt (“I bought a car on Saturday”)

الحقيبة تحتَ الكرسي  al-ḥaqībatu taḥta al-kursi (“The bag is under the chair)

* Note that ٍأمس  amsi is not in the accusative as it is a short form of: “بالأمسِ ” (Bi-l-amsi)


– المندى (al-mundā – the called one): A noun in the vocative is in the accusative case.

Example: يا مديرَ  yā mudīra (“Oh director!)


  • In the I-case nouns / genitive case / مجرور (majrūr)

 The genitive case is called الجر (al-jarr) and the noun/adjective in the case is called ٱلْمَجْرُورُ  (al-majrūr).

1. Usually marked by the kasra:

أم الولدِ  ummu al-waladi (“the boy’s mother)


2. Or by a fatḥa if the noun in the eḍāfa is mamnū’ min aṣ-ṣarf (see under “diptote” for more information):

أحتاجُ إلى زُمَلاءَ مجتهدين  aḥtāju ila zumalā’a mujtahidīna (“I need hard-working colleagues)

يبحثُ عن قلمٍ أسودَ  yabḥathu ‘an qalamin aswada (“he is looking for a black pen)


3. Or by حرف ياء  (the letter yā) in the الأسماء الخمسة  (the five nouns like أخ , for more info see below)

example: انا سألتُ عن أبيك  (ana sa’altu ‘an abīk) – “I asked about your father.”


4. And حرف ياء  (the letter yā) in the sound masculine plural and the dual:

example: اشتكى المدير من الطالبَيْن  (ishtaka al-mudīr min aṭ-tālibayni) – “The director complained about the two students.”

هذه هي غُرفة المدرّسين؟  (hadhihi hiyya ghurfatu al-mudarrisīna) – “This is the teachers’ room.”


Triggers of the genitive-case:

– after a preposition (حرف الجر )

example: أحتاج إلى مساعدةٍ (aḥtāju ila musā‘adatin) “I need help”

– in an iḍāfa

example: ِهذا كتاب الأستاذ  (hadha kitābu al-ustādhi) – “this is the book of the professor”


  • in the zero-case / sokūn-case verbs / ø-case / مجزوم

The zero-case / sukūn case is called الجزم (al-jazm) and the verb in the case is called ُالْمَجْزُوم  (al-majzūm).

A verb has to be in the zero-case / sokūn-case in the following cases (أدوات الجزم):

1. in the past negated tense after لم  (not) and لما (not, not yet):

example: .لم أكذبْ  (lam akdhib.) – I didn’t lie. 

.لما يصلْ أبوك  (lammā yaṣil abūka.) – Your father hasn’t arrived yet.


2. after لا الناهية (the “lā of determination”) for example in negative commands:

example: لا تذهبْ ألى البيت (lā tadhhab ilā al-beyti!) – Don’t go home!


3. after the rarely used لام الأمر (the lām of command) (see more information below) (Advanced!)

example: لَيذهبْ معنا  (la-yadhhab ma‘na.) – He shall go with us.


  • genitive construction (iḍāfa) / إضافة

A genitive construction (called إضافة  and if it is not a false genitive construction إضافة محضة  (= “pure genitive”)) is made up of two parts: the possessor (المُضاف) and the possessed (المضاف اليه).

The possessed is always in the genitive case while the possessor never takes tanwīn or the definite article. If the second part of the iḍāfa is definite so is the first one (in meaning that is).

مُدَرِّسُ الطالبِ  (mudarrisu aṭ-ṭālibi) – the teacher of the student


Adjectives cannot come between the possessor and the possessed but has to come after the entire construction:

example: ذهب لزيارة والده المسجون  = “He went to visit his imprisoned father.”


Demonstratives that refer to the second part of the iḍāfa, however, can be placed in between:

example: مديرة هذه الجامعة لطيفة  = “The director of this university is friendly.”


  • false genitive construction / إضافة غير حقيقية (iḍāfa ġayr ḥaqīqiyya)

The so called false iḍāfa (or لإضافة غير المحضة  = “the unpure iḍāfa”) is constructed like a normal iḍāfa but instead of being made-up of two nouns it contains an adjective as the possessor (المُضاف ) and a noun as the possessed (المضاف اليه). 

Example: ِطيبُ القلب  ṭayyibu al-qalbi = “Good-hearted”


A false iḍāfa can also be added to a normal one. As the first part of the false iḍāfa is an adjective that is in agreement with the noun it is describing it is in the usual position of an adjective after the normal iḍāfa:

ِExample: مديرُ الشركةِ خفيفُ الدم  = “The director of the company is agreeable (lit.: light-blooded).”


You can also have two false iḍāfas in a row:

Example: ليصديق كاتم ُ السر طيب القلب  = “I have a friend who keeps a secret and is good-hearted.”


  • past tense / القعل الماضي  (al-fi‘l al-māḍi)

The past tense of a verb.

To intensify the past tense قد  or لقد  are used.


  • present tense / القعل المضارع (al-fi‘l al-muḍāri‘)

The present tense of a verb which can be مرفوع  (ending in a ḍamma), منصوب  (marked by the fatḥa) or مجزوم (marked by the sukūn).

In Arabic grammar the future tense falls into the same category as the present tense as it is only optionally marked.


the future tense المستقبل (al-mustaqbal) can be expressed through the following ways:

س  – for the near future

سوف  – for the far future

the future is negated by: لَن  with the verb following in the a-case


  • imperative / الأمر (al-amr)

1. The imperative verb pattern (depending on the form of the verb) (فعل الأمر )

Form 1: – if the middle vowel in the present tense is a/i the initial vowel is “i”

example ذهب، يذْهَب  imperative: !اِذْهَبْ  idhhab!

– if the middle vowel in the present tense is u the initial vowel is “u”

example كتب، يكتُب  imperative: !اُكتُب  uktub!


2. The lām of command (لام الأمر ) which is used for the command of an absent person.(advanced!)

example: لَيذهبْ معنا  (la-yadhhab ma‘na.) – He should go with us.


3. The verbal noun in the accusative case (المصدز نائب عن الفعل  – the verbal noun in place of the verb). (advanced!) 

example: !صبرًا  ṣabran! (“Be patient!”)

! كتابةً  kitābatan! (Write!)


  • deletion of the nun / حذف النون (ḥadhf an-nūn)

The delition of the final nun in verbs and nouns.


For verbs the final nun is deleted when the verb is in the a-case or the zero-case and is one of the five verbs (see below under “the five verbs”)

example: هل تريدين أن تذهبي الى البيت؟  (hal turīdīna an tadhhabī ila al-bayti?) – “Do you want to go home?”


For nouns the final nun is deleted when the noun in question is the first part of an iḍāfa:

example: معلمو اللغة العربية (mu‘allimū al-logha al-‘arabiyya) – “The teachers of the Arabic language / The Arabic teachers”


  • declinable / معرب  (mu‘rab)

Takes cases endings according to its position and function in a sentence. 


  • indeclinable / مبني (mabni)

Does not change it’s form regardless its of position and function in a sentence.

Always indeclinable are (amongst others):

– verbs in the past (unlike verbs in the present tense that change according to what precedes them)

example: سافر sāfara (“he travelled”)

– verbs in the imperative (like اُكتُبْ  (uktub!) “write!”)

– prepositions  (عن، من، ب. مع, etc)

– pronouns (انت، انت، هو، هي, etc)

– interrogatives (like ما؟ )

– numbers from 11 to 19 (like أحدَ عشرَ )


To express that something is “frozen” in a certain position grammarians say: 

مبني على  as e.g. in 

كَتَبَ : فعل ماض مبني على الفتحة الظاهرة على آخره

(kataba = verb in the past tense with an unchangable, visible fatḥa on the last letter)


  • relative pronoun / اسم موصول (ism mawṣūl)

The relative pronouns are used for definite nouns or noun phrases only. So:

 .قابلتُ البنتَ التي تدرس هنا  (qābaltu al-binta allati tadrus huna.) “I met the girl who studies here.”

but if indefinite no relative pronoun is used:

 .قابلتُ بنتًا تدرس هنا  (qābaltu bintan tadrus huna.) “I met a girl who studies here.”


If the noun is the object of the relative clause it has to reappear as a pronoun in the relative clause. This so called resumptive pronoun is called ضمير العائد  or ضمير الراخع  (“returning pronoun”) in Arabic.


These are the relative pronouns of the Arabic language:

masculine singular: الذي

feminine singular: التي

masculine (or mixed) plural: الذين

feminine plural: اللاتي / اللائي

2. person & 3. person masculine dual: اللذان / اللذين

2. person & 3. person feminine dual: اللتان / اللتين


  • demonstratitve pronoun / اسم إشارة (ism išāra)

close (لِلقريب )

masculine singular: هذا 

feminine singular: هذه

masculine (or mixed) plural: هؤلاء

feminine plural: هؤلاء

2. person & 3. person masculine dual: هذان / هذين

2. person & 3. person feminine dual: هاتان / هاتين

far (للبعيد )

masculine singular: ذلك

feminine singular: تلك

masculine (or mixed) plural: أولئك

feminine plural: أولئك

2. person & 3. person masculine dual: ذانك/ ذنيك

2. person & 3. person feminine dual: تانك/ تينك


  • verbal sentence / جملة فعلية (jumla fi‘liyya)

A sentence that starts with a verb. 

أكل الولدُ الطُفّاح  (akala al-waladu aṭ-ṭuffāḥ.) – “The boy ate the apple.”


  • nominal sentence / noun-cause  جملة اسمية (jumla ismiyya)

A sentence that starts with a noun.

Students often confuse an equational sentence with the nominal sentence. An equational sentence doesn’t include the verb “to be” (or any other verb for that sake), while a nominal sentence can have a verb in it as long as the sentence starts with the noun.

example: محمد يأكل الطفاح  (muḥammad ya’kulu aṭ-ṭuffāḥ) = “Mohammad is eating the apple.”


  • subject (in a noun-clause) / مبتدأ (mubtada’)

Mostly definite and always in the nominative case.

Can be: a noun, a proper noun, a demonstrative pronoun, a personal pronoun, etc.

example: الجو جميل  (al-jawwu jamīlun)


  • subject (in a verbal sentence) / فاعل (fā‘il)

The “doer” in the sentence. Always needs a verb to go along with it.

For example, the subject of أكل الولدُ الطُفّاح  (akala al-waladu aṭ-ṭuffāḥ.) – “The boy ate the apple.” is الولدُ al-waladu = “to boy”.


  • predicate/ „news“ / خبر (khabar)

The information in both a verbal and a nominal sentence that makes the sentence complete. As in الطَّالب مجتهدٌ (aṭ-ṭālibu mujtahidun) = “The student is hard-working.” The new information about the student here is that he is hard-working which makes مجتهدٌ   khabar.

The khabar can be in form of a single word or even a verbal sentence or a shibih jumla as in:

العصفور فوق الشجرة  (al‘asfūr fauqa aš-šajara) = “The bird is above the tree.”


  • active participle / اسم فاعل (ism fā‘il)

The active participle is formed in the following ways:

For a form 1 verb it is of the pattern فاعل  (fā‘il) – example: كاتب

If the last two radicals are the same it is فالّ  (fāll) – example: شابّ

For the other forms a mīm with a ḍamma is added in the beginning and a kasra / yā in the end before the last radical, like: مُدير  from أدار  or مُجتهِد  from اجتهد .

If, however, the last two radicals are the same (doubled verbs) no kasra is visible: example مُـهتَـمّ  from اهتمّ  and is thus of the same pattern as the passive participle.

Similarly, if it’s hollow verb of form 8 it takes an alif before the last radical like مُحْتَاج‎  .


It is called “اسم فاعل” (= active noun/adjective)  because it behaves grammatically like a noun/adjective.


  • passive participle / اسم مفعول (ism maf‘ūl)

The passive participle is formed in the following ways:

For form 1 verbs it is of the pattern مفعول like دَرَسَ: مدروس  and  كَتَبَ: مكتوب and  قَرَأَ: مقروء

If it is a hollow verb with a و  in the middle (أجوف واوياً ) like قال  it is مقول (originally being مقوُول )

If it is a hollow verb with a ي  in the middle (أجوف يائياً ) like باع  it becomes مبيعٌ .

For the other forms a mīm with a ḍamma is added in the beginning and the fatḥa / alif in the end before the last radical remains, like: مُتقدَّم  from تقدَّم  or مُحْتَاج‎   from احتاج .


If the verb the passive participle is derived of takes a preposition, so thus the passive participle. It thus doesn’t agree in number or gender:

سأقدم لك حتى بعض الرجال الموثوق بهم لمرافقتك  = I’ll even give you some trusted men to accompany you.

Note that the passive participle is not in the plural but the attached pronoun on bi- is.


  • verbal noun / مصدر (maṣdar)

There are different kinds of verbal nouns:

– المصدر الميمي (al-maṣdar al-mīmi) – with an additional m in the beginning: مَفعل

example: وعد  (wa‘ada) = “to promise” with the maṣdar  موعد (maw‘id) = “appointment”


–  مصدر المرة  (maṣdar al-marra) = “the one time verbal noun” – with an additional ta-marbūṭa: فَعلة

example: ضحك  (ḍaḥaka)  = “to laugh” with the maṣdar al-marra ضحكة  (ḍaḥka) = “laugh”

or from the maṣdar ضرب  (ḍarb) “beating” to ضربة  (ḍarba) “blow, punch”


– المصدر الصناعي  (al-maṣdar aṣ-ṣinā‘i) = “the artifical verbal noun” – with a geminated i and a ta-marbūṭa 

example: إِنسان  (insān) = “human being” with the maṣdar إِنسانية  (insāniyya) = “humanness”


– اسم مصدر  (ism maṣdar) = A verbal noun that is lacking a letter from the original form.

example: عطاء  (‘aṭā) = “gift” from أَعطى  (whose normal, expected verbal noun is إِعطاء )


– مصدر مؤول  (maṣdar mu’awwal) = A sentence in place of a verbal noun


  • accusative object / مفعول به (maf‘ūl bihi)

The object of an action:

example: َقرأتُ الجريدة  qara’tu al-jarīdata (“I read the newspaper”)


which can be in the form of:

– اسم ظاهر  (ism ẓāhir) = “an obvious name”  – any noun or name

– ضمير متصل  (ḍamīr muttaṣil) – a connected pronoun

example: سمِعتكَ  sami‘tuka (“I heard you”)

– جملة  (jumla) – a sentence 

example: هل رأيتَ ما حدث؟  hal ra’ayta mā ḥadatha? (“Did you see what happened?”)


  • Cognate Accusative / مفعول مطلق (maf’ūl muṭlaq)

Verbal noun that accompanies the verb it is based on (or is at least based on the same root). It is always in the accusative case (النصب ).

Can be used for three purposes: 

1. Emphasis (توكيد )

example: أحبك حباً  aḥibbuka ḥubban (“I love you very much”)


2. Expressing kind (بيان النوع) 

the maf‘ūl muṭlaq gives additional information to the verb it is derived of.

example: قفز قفزا سريعا  qafaza qafzan sarī‘an (“He jumped quickly” – as supposed to any other kind of jumping)

فكرت تفكيراً عميقاً  fakkartu tafkīran ‘amīqan (“I thought thoroughly” – as opposed to any other kind of thinking)


3. Expressing number (بيان العدد ) 

specifies the amount of times the action was performed.

example: قرأت الكتاب قراءتين  qara’tu al-kitāba qirā’atayna (“I read the book twice”)


  • adverb of time or place – مفعول فيه / ظرف الزمان/المكات (ẓarf al-makān/az-zamān / maf‘ūl fihi)

Answer to the question “where/when?”; in the accusative case.

example: درست ليلاَ ونهاراً  darastu laylan wa nahāran (“I studied night and day”)


  • maf‘ūl li-’ajlihi / مفعول لأجله

 A verbal noun in the accusative case that demonstrates the reason for what is done.

The maf‘ūl li-’ajlihi answers the question why?

example: سافرتُ إلى مصر زيارةً عمي  sāfartu ila miṣr ziyāratan ‘ami. (“I traveled to Egypt in order to visit my uncle.”)


  • maf‘ūl ma‘ahu / مفعوب معه

 The noun that comes after و  (and). It is in the accusative case and translated as “with X”.

example: سافرتْ وخالدًا  (sāfarat wa khālidan) “She traveled with Khalid.”


  • diptote  / ممنوع من الصرف

A diptote is a noun/adjective that doesn’t take a kasra or the tanwīn. This applies to certain adjectives and nouns at all times and to others only in their plural form.

– The following plural patterns are diptotes:

1. فُعَلاء  – e.g: زُمَلاء  (“colleagues”; from زميل )

2. أَفْعِلاء  – e.g: أصْدِقاء  ( “friends”; from صديق )

3. فَعالِل  – e.g: ملاعب  (“playgrounds”; from ملْعب )

4. فَعاليل  – e.g: مواضيع  (topics; from موضوع )


– The following patterns for adjectives are diptotes:

1. فَعْلان  – e.g: فَرْحان  (happy), غَضْبان  (angry), عَطشان  (thirsty), etc

2. فَعْلى  – e.g:  فَرحى  (happy, feminine form of فَرْحان ), etc.

3. أَفْعَل  – e.g: أسْوَد  (black), أبْيَض  (white)

4. فُعل  – (which there is only one of: أُخَر  (others) plural of أخرى )


– Adjectives in the elative/superlative are diptotes: 

أَفْعَل  – e.g: أجْمَل  (the most beautiful / more beautiful); ألْطَف  (the most friendly / friendlier)


– Nouns that end in ى  or ا  are diptotes:

example: ذكرَى  (memory); سلوَى  (condolence), دعْوَى  (calling),  قتْلَى  (killed (pl.)), دنيَا (world), كبرَى (bigger (fem.))


– Female nouns that end with “اء” (only if it is not part of the root)

صحراء  (desert), حمراء  (red (fem.))

(But not: أعداء  (enemies), بِناء  (building), داء  (disease) as here the اء  is replacing the last letter of the root)


– The following proper nouns ( = عَلَم ) are diptotes:

1. foreign names (العلم الأعجمي ) that consists of more than three radicals

example: إبراهيم  (Ibrahim), يعقوب  (Jakob / Yaqub), مايكل  (Michael), لندن  (London),  فلسطين  (Palestine),  إسرائيل  (Israel)

2. all names of prohphets except for 6: محمد, صالح, شعيب, هود,  نوح,  لوط

3. proper nouns that end in a hamza (العلم المنتهي بتاء التأنيث ):

example: حمزة  (Hamza), فاطمة  (Fatima), جدة  (Jeddah), مكة  (Mekka)

4. proper nouns that consist of three radicals and have a vowel on the middle one:

example: سحـَر  (Sahar), أمَـل  (Amal), قطَر  (Qatar)

(But if the middle radical has a sukūn on it like in مصْر  (Egypt) or هنْد  (India) it can be either a diptote or conjugated normally)

5. proper nouns that are compounds (العلم المركب تركيبًا مزجيًا ):

example: نيو يورك  (New York),  حضرموت (Hadhramaut), بعلبك  (Baalbek)

6. proper nouns that end in ان (with the nūn not being part of the root) (العلم المنتهي بألف ونون زائدتين ):

example: عمران  (Omran), عثمان  (Osman / Uthman), مروان (Marwan)

(But: حسان  (Hasan) is not a diptote as the final nūn is part of the root حسن  the name is derived from)

7. proper nouns that are of the pattern of a verb:

example: يزيد  (Yazid), أحمد  (Ahmad), أشرف  (Ashraf)

8. proper nouns that are of the pattern فُعَل

example: عُمَر  (Umar), جُحَا  (Joha), هُبَل  (Hubal)


Note: There are two situations in which diptotes act normally and take all case endings and the tanwīn:

1. If it is defined by ال 

 2. if it is the first part of an edafa (and thus definite)


  • prepositional phrase / شبه جملة (shibih jumla)

Literally: “resembling a sentence”. Neither a verbal sentence, nor a nominal sentence, like:

انا سمعتُ عن المشكلة  (Ana sami‘tu ‘an al-mushkilati) “I heard about the problem.”

الكتابُ تحتَ الكرسي  (Al-kitābu taḥta al-kursi) “The book is underneath the chair.”


  • preposition / حرف الجر (ḥarf al-jarr)

The noun after a preposition has to be مجرور (in the genitive / i-case). In the اعراب , this noun is called “اسم مجرور”.

 These are the Arabic prepositions: 

من، إلى، عن، في، ب، ل، ك، مع


  • particles of negation / حروف النقي (ḥurūf an-nafi)

– ليس  = used to negate nouns or a handful of verbs for emphasis


– ما = used to negate the past. The following verb is in the past tense.

– لم  = used to negate the past. The following verb has to be in the zero-case. 

– لما  = same as لم  but can add the meaning “yet”

– لن  = only used to negate the future. The following verb has to be in the a-case.

– لا = used for general statements, can refer to the past, present or future tense

قَط  adds the meaning “ever/never”

بعد  adds the meaning “yet


  • implied / مقدر (muqaddar)

A vowel that should exist because of grammatical reasons but can’t appear because of phonological reasons.

example:  لم يكنِ الأسناذ سعيدًا  (lam yakuni l-ustādh sa‘īdan) “The professor wasn’t happy.”

Now even though the “lam” requires yakūn to be in the zero-case (yakun) it carries a kasra because the following alif is a silent alif that doesn’t have a hamza on it and is thus not pronounced. 

Therefore the ’i‘rāb of yakun would be: 

مضارع مجزوم بـ”لم”، وعلامة جزمه سكون مقدر بسبب الكسرة التي جاءت للتخلص من الساكنين

(present tense (verb) in the zero case because of “lam” with the sign for the zero-case being an “implied” sokūn because of the kasra that was put because of the silent alif after it.)


  • etymology or derivational morphology / اشتقاق  (ištiqāq)

Is mostly used to refer to the derivation of words of the same root.


The word طالب  (ṭālib) “student” was derived from the verb طلب  (ṭalaba) “to request”.

The derivative is called اسم مشتق .

Can also be used to refer to etymology like the origin of the word كهرباء  (kahrabā) “electricity” being Persian and meaning “amber”.


  • transative / ٍمتعد (muta”adin)

A verb that takes an object, like: كتب  (“to write”) or two, like أعطى  (“to give”).


  • intranstive / لازم (lāzim)

A verb that doesn’t take an object, like: كبُر  (“to become big”) or “ذهب”  (“to go”)


  • „the five nouns“ / الأسماء الخمسة  (al-asmā al-khamsa)

There are five nouns in the Arabic language that require special attention:

أب  (father), أخ  (brother), حم  (father-in-law / brother-in-law), فم  (mouth), ذو  (possessor of)


If these nouns are in the singular and not the first part of an iḍāfa they behave normally: 

example: هو أبٌ لبنتين  (huwa ab li-binteyn) = “He’s a father to two daughters”


If, however, they are the first part of an iḍāfa an extra, long vowel is attached in accordance with the case it is in.

example: رأيتُ أخا حسنِ  (ra’aytu akhā ḥasanin) = “I saw Hasan’s brother.”

ذهب أبو خالد إلى السوق  (dhaba abū khālid ila as-sūq) = “Khalid’s father went to the market.”


Note that if the five nouns are connected with the first person singular (my father, my brother, etc), the so called ياء المتكلم  sort of “swallows” the case endings. 

example: هي زارت أخي  (hiya zārat akhī) (not * أخاي)  “She visited my brother.”


  • „the five verbs“ / الأفعال الخمسة (al-af‘āl al-khamsa)

The five verbs forms that end in the „nun“ which is removed in the a- or the ø-case. They are:

1. The third person dual هما (the two of them): يفعلان 

2. The second person dual أنتما  (the two of you): تفعلان

3. The third person plural هم (they): يفعلون

4. The second person plural أنتم  (you plural): تفعلون

5. The second person singular feminine أنتِ (you f.): تفعلين


  • kinds of ma / أنواع ما (anwā‘ mā)

1.  ما الاستفهامية  (the interrogative mā) = denoting “what”

example:  ما الذي أكلته  = “What is it that you ate?”


2. ما النافية  (the negating mā) = used in verbal sentences

example: ما سافر خالدٌ  = “Khalid didn’t travel.”


3.  ما المشبهة بليس  (the mā that resembles “laysa”) = used in nominal sentences and has the same function as “laysa” (and triggers the accusative case as well)

example: ما هذا بشرا  = “This is not a human being.”


4.  ما المصدرية  (the verbal-noun mā) = used in place of a verbal noun (see under مصدر مؤول)

example: (كما قلت لك (= كقولي لك = “As I told you…”


5. ما الموصولة  (the connecting mā) = functions as relative pronoun just like الذي 

example:  ما رأيته هناك كان عظيما   = “What I saw there was magnificent.”

Note that the returner (ضمير عائد) is not obligatory.


6. ما الظرفية  (the adverbial mā) 

example: لن أترك عملي القديم ما لم أتأكد انني حصلت على الجديد  = “I won’t quit my old job until I’m sure I have a new one.”


7. ما التعجبية  (the mā of astonishment) = used in the ما أفْعَلَ  construction.

example: ما أجملَ السماء  = “How beautiful the sky is!”


8.  ما الكافة  (the preventing mā) = prevents another word from its usual effect, like إنّ  usually putting the noun following in the a-case or the verb قلّ  needing a subject.

There are three verbs that don’t need a subject when mā has been attached to them (they are also called افعال مكفوفة ب ما ):

– طالما (how often!, frequently; as long as, until)

– كثر ما  (often, many times)

– قَلَّما  (seldomly)

example: وكثر حمدي لك الوفاء = وكثر ما حمدت لك الوفاء 


9. ما النكرة الإبهامية  (the mā of the indefinite- and vagueness).

example: أعطني كتابًا ما  = “Give me any book.”


10. ما الشرطية  (conditional mā) – one of the أدوات شرط جازمة  (instruments of initiating the conditional that require the verb after it to be in the zero-case). To me, however, it resembles the connecting mā a lot…

example: ما تكتموا في أنفسكم يعلمه الله  = “What you hide within yourselves, God knows it.”
 ما تدخره في الصغر ينفعك في الكبر  = “What you accumulate in young age will benefit you in old age.”


  • tamyīz / accusative of specification / تمييز

The tamyīz (“differentiation”) clarifies an otherwise incomprehensible or vague word or sentence. It is always in the singular, always in the accusative case and follows the word that has to be clarified. It can never be a sentence.

It is used for numbers between 11 and 99:

example: رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ جُنْديًا   (ra’aytu aḥada ‘ashara jundiyan) = “I saw eleven soldiers”.

If the tamyīz wasn’t there the sentence would read “ra’aytu aḥada ‘ashara” or “I saw eleven” to which one would immediately respond “elven what?” so the tamīz.

Or after measurements:

اشتريت كيلو لَحما  (ishtaraytu kilo laḥman) = “I bought a kilo of meat.”


Or in comparisons:

 أنا أكبرُ منك عمراً  (ana akbaru minka ‘umran) = “I’m older than you.” (lit.: “I’m bigger than you in terms of age.”)

The word whose meaning is obscure and that needs to be clarified through the tamyīz is called “مبهم”  (mubham)  = “vague, obscure”.


  • ḥāl / حال

The ḥāl (lit.: “state”), in English also called the “circumstantial adverb”, describes how an action is done.

This circumstantial adverb is, like most adverbs, always in the accusative case and indefinite.

It can be divided into many subcategories, amongst them:

1. الحال المُؤَسِّسة  (The existential ḥāl) which adds new meaning to the verb the ḥāl is referring to:

example: عَادَ الجُندِيُّ مُنتَصِراً  = “The soldier came back victoriously.”

2. الحال المُؤَكِّدة  (The emphasizing ḥāl) which only emphasizes what has happened:

example: تَبَسَّمَ فَرِحاً  = “He smiled happily.”

3.  الحال المفرد  (single ḥāl): ḥāl that is just a word and not a sentence

example: عادت الطالبات إلى المنزل مسرورات  = “The (female) students gladly returned to the flat.”

4. الحال الجملة  (sentence-ḥāl) = ḥāl that is either 1) جملة فعلية  or 2) جملة اسمية  or 3) شبه جملة

example (1): عاد الطلاب من المدرسة وهم مسرورون  = “The students gladly returned to the flat.”

example (2): أبصرت الطائرة تحلق في السماء  = “I saw the airplane circling in the sky.”

example (3): رأيت الحارس أمام البيت  = “I saw the guard in front of the house.”


  • interrogative pronoun / أسلوب الاستفهام (uslūb al-istifhām)

These are the Arabic interrogatives: هل  (hal), أ  (hamza), من  (min), منذا  (mindhā),ما  (mā), متى  (matā), أيّان  (ayyāna)، أين  (aina),  أنى  (annā), كيف  (kaifa), كم  (kam), أيٌّ  (ayyu)

– هل  = question particle for yes-no questions

– أ  = question particle especially used for negative sentences; if one wants to express “or” in a question أ… أم  has to be used as in: 

example: أمحمدٌ فاز أم خالد  = “Did Mohammad win or Khalid?”

– منذا  = same as من  (who)

– أيّان  = “when”

– أنَّى  = can mean both “how” and “from where”


  • “inna” and her sisters / إنّ وأخواتها (inna wa akhawātuhā)

These are particles that resemble إنّ  in the way they operate. As they resemble verbs in certain ways they are called أحرف المشبهة بالفعل  , as past-tense verbs they end in a fatḥa and take the accusative personal pronouns.

– إِنَّ للتوكيد  (inna – for emphasis)

– أَنَّ للمصدرية  (anna – for a noun clause)

– كَأَنَّ للتشبيه  (k’anna – for comparisons)

– لكِنَّ للاستدراك  (lākinna – for correction)

The subject of the sentence (called  is in the accusative case and follows the 

example: إن الحياةَ قصيرة  (= “Indeed, life is short”)


  • “kāna” and her sisters / كان وأخواتها (kāna wa akhawātuhā)

These verbs are also called  الأفعال الناقصة  “incomplete verbs” because they lack meaning without the accompanying noun/adjective in the accusative case.

They can be divided into three parts:

1. افعال تامة التصرف  = Verbs that are completely conjugatable like:

– كان  = to be

 – أصبح ;  أضحى  ; أمسى ;  بات يبيت ;  ظلّ يظَلّ ;  صار يصير  = to come to be, to become


 2. أفعال ناقصة التصرف  = Verbs that are not completely conjugatable like:

Note that all of these take ما  in the past tense and لا  in the present:

– ما برِح،  لا يبرَح  = to continue to be, to be still (برِح  = “to go away”)

– ما انفكّ،  لا ينفكّ  = to not stop doing, keep doing (انفكّ  = “to be separated; to disengage o.s.”)

– ما زال،  لا يزال  = still, yet (زال  = “to go away”)

– ما فتئ ، لا يفتأ  = not to cease doing (فتئ  = “to desist, stop”)


3. أفعال جامدة  = “solid” verbs

– ما دام  = as long as

– ليس  = negator


example: لا يزال المطـرُ منهمـرًا  = “The rain is still pouring down.”

ظل الضباب كثيفا  = “The fog remained thick.”

ما انفك الرجل نادما  = “The man is still rueful.”

لا أخرج من البيت ما دام المطر نازلا  = “I’m not leaving the house as long as it is still raining.”


The subject of a clause that contains one of these verbs is called ” اسم كانَ ” and is in the nominative case.

As for the predicate, it is called خبر كان  “news of kāna”.



  • “kāda” and her sisters / كاد وأخواتها (kāda wa akhawātuhā)

These are verbs that don’t carry a meaning on their own but rather describe a second verb. These verbs are divided into three sub-categories:

1. أفعال المقاربة  (verbs of approximation) = “to be on the verge of”, “to almost…”

– كادَ،  يكادُ  ;  أوشكَ،  يوشكُ ;  كربَ

All of these verbs may take أن  although كادَ  and كربَ  that are less likely to be connected with أن .

example: أوشك الظلم أن ينتهي  = “The tyranny was about to be over.”

أوشك القطار يصل  = “The train was on the verge of arriving.”


2. أفعال الرجاء  (verbs of request) = “I wish…!”; “If only…!”

عَسَى ، حَرَى ، اخْلَوْلَق 

– all of these verbs only exist in the past tense 

– a personal pronoun might be attached

– عَسَى ، حَرَى  may be followed by أن  

– اخْلَوْلَق  has to be followed by أن  

examples: عسى محمد ينجح  = “I wish Mohammad would succeed.”

حرى المطر أن ينزل  = “If only it would rain!”


3. أفعال الشروع  (verbs of commencing) = “to begin”

These verbs do not require to be connected with أنْ . They are:

– بَدَأ  (bada’a – original meaning: “to begin”; connected with ب )

– أَخَذَ  (akhadha – original meaning “to take”)

– َجَعَل  (ja‘ala – original meaning “to make”)

– هَبَّ  (habba – orginial meaning “to set out; to depart”)

– عَلَقَ  (‘alaqa – original meaning “to hang; be suspended, connected”)

– أنشأ  (anša‘a – original meaning “to make rise”)

– طَفِقَ  (ṭafiqa – original meaning “to do sth. immediately”)

– هَلْهَلَ  (halhala – originally meaning “to weave finely”)

example: أخذ الجندي يطلق النار  = “The soldier began to shoot.”


  • “ẓanna” and her sisters / ظن وأخواتها (ẓanna wa akhawātuha)

These are divided into two groups:

1. أفعال القلوب  (verbs of the heart) = verbs that denote propositional attitudes towards an object. This object is in the accusative case.

They are again split into two groups.

– Firstly, verbs of certainty like: 

عَلِمَ  (to know); رأى  (to see; deem, consider); وَجَدَ  (to find (good, bad)); دَرَىَ  (to know), أَلْفَى  (to find)

example:  وَجَدَ الطّالِبُ الدَرْسَ سَهْلًا  = “The student found the lesson easy.”

– And verbs of probability: 

ّظن  (to think), خَالَ  (to believe, consider); حَسِب  (to consider); زَعَمَ  (to allege; believe, regard); عَدَّ (to consider, deem); اعتبر  (to consider); ْهَب  (suppose that; this is the imperative of وهب  and is indeclinable; e.g. هَبْني فعلتُ = “suppose I had done…”)

example: زَعَمَ الْبَخِيلُ الجُودَ تَبْذِيرًا  = “The stingy man regarded generosity as a waste.”


2. أفعال التحويل  (verbs of change) 

جَعَل  (to make sth. into sth.); اتَّخَذَ (to make sth. out of sth.),  تَرَكَ  (to bequeath); وهب  (to present, endow); صيّر  (to make sth. into sth.); رَدَّ  (to return, restore)

example: جَعَلَ اللهُ الأَرْضَ مُسْتَقَرًّا  = “God made the earth stable.”


  • vocative / النداء (an-nidā)

The vocative is divided into two parts: The vocative participle (حروف النداء ) and the called  upon (المنادي )

The vocative participles are:

يا، أ، هيا، وا، أيا، أي، آ

Out of these أ and أي  are used for close objects or people, وا  for very far ones. Other than that they don’t differ in meaning.


What case is used for the called upon?

This depends on the grammatical features of the called upon. It is in the nominative case if:

1. it’s: a proper noun (علم مفرد), like: 

يا خالدُ  (yā khālidu!) = “O’ Khalid!”

يا قدسُ  (yā qudsu!) = “O’ Jerusalem!”


2. If it’s an intended indefinite noun (meaning you are talking to one specific person) called نكرة مقصودة  :

يا مدرّسُ  (yā mudarrisu!)  = “O’ teacher!”


3. If it’s a definite noun and you place أیُّها or أیّتها before it

یا أیّها المسافرُ  (yā ayyuha al-musāfiru!) = “O’ traveller!”


It is in the accusative case if:

1. It is the first part in an iḍāfa (مضاف):

یا عبدَ اللهِ  (yā ‘abda allah) = “O’ Abdullah!” (lit.: O’ slave of God!)

يا بياعَ الورد (yā bayyā‘a al-ward) = “O’ flower seller!”


2. It resembles a possessor but isn’t really (شبيه بالمضاف):

يا طالباَ للعلم  (yā ṭāliban li-l-‘ilm) = “O’ seeker of knowledge!”


3. It is an unintended indefinite noun (meaning you address someone unspecific in a group of people) called نكرة غير مقصودة  :

يا طالباً اجتهد  (yā ṭāliban ijthada) = “O’ student who worked hard” (You’re addressing a hard-working student but you don’t know or you don’t want to mention which one in particular it was)


  • calling for help / استغاثة (istiġātha) (advanced)

The istiġātha is a sub-category of the nidā, it is used to ask for help from the addressed.

The format of the istiġātha is: yā (يا ) then la (لَ ) + the called upon then li (لِ ) + the one help is asked for then (optionally) min (من) + because of what help is asked.

example:  يا لَلأقوياءِ لِلضعفاءِ  (yā la-l-aqwiyā li-l-ḍu‘afā) = “O’ you who are strong, help the weak ones!”


The la (لَ ) can be replaced by:

– the noun being in the accusative case: 

يا رجلا للفقير  = “O’ man, help the poor!”

– or by adding an alif (ا ) and a h (ه ):

يا قوماه للمظلوم  = “O’ people, help the oppressed!”

– or by just using a normal nidā as explained above.


  • expressions of astonishment / تعجب (ta‘ajjub)

There are three ways of expressing astonishment:

1. via the pattern “ما أفعل  (mā af‘ala) + what is described ( المتعجب منه )” or “ما افعل  + pronoun”

Note: Both the verb on the أفعل pattern and the noun that is described is in the accusative case.

example: َما أجملَ البيت  (mā ajmala al-beyta!) = “How beautiful the house is!”

or: ما أحسنك  (mā aḥsanaka!) = “How good you are!”


2. via the pattern “أفْعِلْ ب  (af‘il bi) + what is described”

Note: af‘il has a sukūn on it’s last letter while the متعجب منه  (what is described) is in the genitive case.

example: أكْرِم بزيدٍ  (akrim bi-zaydin) = “How generous Zayd is!”

أبْلِغ باجتهادِه  (abliġ bi-ijtihādihi)  = “How profound his diligence is!”


The adjective used (in Arabic it’s called فعل التعجب  (verb of astonishment) because the adjective is derived from it) has to fulfill a number of requirements:

– it has to be derived from a trilateral verb

– it can’t already be of the pattern  ما أفعل  (mā af‘ala)

example: You can’t say * ما أحمر الورد  (*mā aḥmara alwarda) = * “How red is the rose!” (wrong!)


If the verb/adjective you want to use doesn’t fulfill these requirements, the  تعجب  can be formed in the following way: 

First an adjective of degree (like أشد ، أعظم ، أكثر ) is used, then the verbal noun of the verb in question.

example: ما أشدّ حمرة الأزهار  (mā ašadda ḥumrata al-azhār!) = “How red the flowers are!” (lit.: How intense the redness of the flowers is!”)


  • ways of saying an oath / اسلوب القسم (uslūb al-qasam)

An oath consists of three parts:

1. the oath-particle (اداة القسم ) which can be in the form of:

– a particle/letter: و، ل، ت

– a verb: أُقسِم، أحلف


2. by what is sworn (مُقسَم به):

Which is usually God, the Prophet, something holy, like:

الله – رب الكعبة – حياة – عمر 


3. that which is sworn upon (المُقسَمِ عليه )

The statement whose trueness one wants to stress. It can be a nominal or a verbal sentence. If it is a nominal sentence, the following particles can be inserted for the purpose of stress:

– إنّ (inna): والله إن الحياة كفاح  = “By God, life is a struggle!”

– لَ (la): تالله لشاهد الزور آثم  = “By God, who is a false witness is a sinner.”

– إنّ (inna) & لَ (la): والله إن الحياة لَكفاح  = “By God, life is a struggle!”


If it is a negative sentence none of these particles are used: 

example: واللهِ لا تفوّق بلا جهد  = “By God, there is no excellence without effort!”


If this sentence is about the past the past tense has to be used. The particles لقد  and  قد  may be inserted

examples:  والله لقد درست  = “I swear by God, I studied!”


 If it is about the future, not only do we have to use the present or future tense but also the so-called لام القسم  (the lām of saying an oath) and the نون التوكيد  (nūn at-tawkīd) (see below)).

والله لينجحنّ المجتهد  = “By God, the hard-working one will succeed.”


  • means of praising and criticizing / أسلوب المدح والذم (uslūb al-madḥ wa adh-dhamm)

There are certain “solid” verbs (meaning they are not conjugated) that are used to praise or condemn:

The verbs of praising are: نِعْمَ  (ni‘ma), حَبَّذا  (ḥabbadhā), حَبَّ  (ḥabba)

Whereas the verbs of criticism are: بئسَ  (bi’sa), لا حبّذا  (la ḥabbadhā), ساءَ  (sā’a)

The noun that is being praised or criticized is in the nominative case as it is considered a delayed subject (مبتدأ مؤخر).

example: !بِئْسَ الرجلُ المدمنُ  = “How bad the addict is!”

نِعْمَ الصديقُ المخلصُ  = “How great a loyal friend is!”

They can also be used to describe a verb but then ما  has to be inserted: 

بئس ما يفعلُ الأعداءُ  = “How terrible is what the enemies are doing!”


  • the conditional / أسلوب الشرط (uslūb aš-šarṭ)

A conditional phrase is divided into three parts:

1. The “instrument” of the conditional (أداة الشرط ) e.g. the word that initiates the conditional

2. The if clause (جملة فعل الشرط ) whose verb tense depends on the instrument used

3. The main clause (جملة جواب الشرط) which at times has to start with the so-called connecting fā (see below)


– If the following words are used to initiate a conditional the verbs in the if-clause and in the main clause have to be in the zero-case (although they can be in the past tense as well), these words are called أدوات شرط جازمة :

إن  (if), مَن  (who), ما  (what), مهما  (whatever), متى  (when), أيان  (when)، أين  (where), أينما  (wherever), حيثما  (wherever), كيفما  (however)


– If the following words are used the verbs in the if – and in the main clause have to be past tense in form. These words are called أدوات الشرط غير الجازمة :

لو  (if (irrealis)), إذا  (if), لولا  (if it wasn’t for), كلما  (every time, whenever)


– If the verb in the main clause fulfills one of these characteristics it has to be connected to the if-clause with ف  (so called اقتران جواب الشرط بالفاء ) :

1. If the main clause is a nominal sentence:

example: من يدرُس فإنّه ناجحٌ  = “Who studies is successful”

2. If the main clause is a request (أمر أو طلب ) or question (استفهام ):

example: إن كان الخو جيدا فمن سيبقى في البيت؟  = “If the weather is good who will stay at home?”

3. If the main clause is in the negative:

example: .مهما تحاول إرضاء أمها فلن تستطيع  = “No matter how much you try to please her mother, you won’t be able to do it.

4. If the main clause is a verbal sentence with س، سوف  or قد  in it

example: اذا كانت الشقة جميلة فسآخذها  = “If the flat is pretty I will take it.”

5. If the main clause starts with a “stiff” verb:

example: إِن تُبْدُواْ الصَّدَقَاتِ فَنِعِمَّا هِيَ  = “For, those of you who believe and spend (in charity),- for them is a great reward.”


  • “solid” verbs / افعال جامدة (af‘āl jāmida)

Most verbs can be of three different forms: 1. the past tense, 2. the present tense, 3. the imperative.

A number of verbs, however, are conjugatable only to different degrees:

1.  ليس  – can be conjugated according to gender, but not tense, in terms of form it only exists in the past tense.

2. certain verbs of كاد وأخواتها  like: عسى، كرب، بئسَ، نعمَ، حبّذا 

3. مادامَ  (“as long as, while; since”)

4. certain verbs of ظن وأخواتها  which are mostly imperatives in form like هَبْ, تعلّمْ 

5. هاتِ (“bring me/us…!”, “give me/us…!” هَلُمَّ (“get up!”, “come!”, “bring me/us…!”) and تعالَ  (“come!”) 


  • “solid” nouns / اسماء جامدة (asmā jāmida)

In Arabic nouns are either جامد  (jāmid) which literally means “stiff, solid” or ومُشتقٌّ  (muštaqq) meaning “derived, derivative”.

A “solid” noun is a noun that isn’t derived from a different word such as دِرهَم  (plural: دراهم ) or حجر  (plural أحجار  or حِجار ). Of course, there is a verb حجّر  (= to turn sth. into stone) as well as تحجّر (to turn into stone, to petrify) but it is safe to assume that these verbs derive from the noun and not vice versa. Other examples are شجر،  رجُل،  أرض،  شمس , etc.

A derivative in Arabic is also called سائل  which literally means “fluid” and, naturally, is derived from a different word such as مشمس (mušmis) = “sunny” or رجولة  = “masculinity”.


  • kinds of lām / انواع اللام (anwā‘ lām)

1. لام الجرّ  (“the genetive lām”) – connects the possessor and the possessed. The lām has an -i after it (it’s a so-called لام مكسورة ) and is attached to the possessor who’s in the i-case.

example:  الحمد للهِ  al-ḥamdu lillah (“thank God” – literally “praise to God”)


2.  لام الابتداء  (“the lām of beginning”) – stands at the beginning of a sentence; has an -a after it (لام مفتوحة ); doesn’t have any effect on vocalization; serves the purpose of emphasis.

example: (لَأَنتُمْ أَشَدُّ رَهْبَةً  ( الحشر : 13  = “You are a greater source of terror.”

It can also be added to the “news of inna”: إنّ في السماء لخبراً  = “Indeed in heaven there is goodness.”


3. لام الجواب  (“the lām of the main clause”) – the lām that has to be placed at the beginning of the main clause in certain conditional phrases (for more see “the conditional”).

example: لو اجتهدت لأكرمتُكَ  = “If you work hard I will reward you.”


4. لام البُعْد  (“the lām of distance”) – is added to certain demonstratives to indicate distance.

example: ذلك (that one) – from ذاك (this one)


5. لام الجحود  (the lām of negation) – lām used after “ما كان” and “لم يكن”. The following vowel is -i and the verb is in the a-case.

example: وما كان الله ليعذبهم وأنت فيهم  = “But God would not punish them so long as you were among them”


6.  لام التعليل  (the lām of causation) – just like كي  it establishes a causative relationship between two things, it is thus also called لام كي . The following vowel is -i and the verb after it has to be in the a-case. 

example: جئنا لنستفيدَ  = “We have come in order to benefit.”


7. لام الأمر  (the lām of the imperative) –  used for the command of an absent person.

example: لَيذهبْ معنا  (la-yadhhab ma‘na.) = “He should go with us.”


8. لام العاقبة  (the lām of outcome) – also called لام الصيرورة (same meaning) – used to indicate that the outcome was unintended. The following verb is in the a-case.

example: فَالْتَقَطَهُ آلُ فِرْعَوْنَ لِيَكُونَ لَهُمْ عَدُوًّا وَحَزَنًا  = Then the household of Fir`awn picked him up, that he might become for them an enemy and a (cause of) grief. 


9. اللام الفارقة  (the separating lām) – used in clauses with إن  to separate the


  • emphasis (semantic) / توكيد


  • passive / مبني للمجهول


  • rhetoric / البلاغة


  • rhetorical devices / أساليب بلاغية


– طباق = contrast, antithesis

examples: الحي والميت

this includes the negation of verbs or opposition of prepositions as in :

الدهر يومان : يوم لك ويوم عليك – ad-dahru yawmān – yawmun laka wa yawmun ‘aleyka 

(life is two days: one day is for you, one against you)

– تشبيه  = simile 

there are different kinds of تشبيه :

التشبيه التام  = “complete simile” in which all elements of a simile appear:

1. the element that is compared to something else (المشبه )

2. the element it is compared to (المشبه به )

3. a device of comparison (أداة التشبيه ) like مثل  or ك

4. the characteristic that is the subject of the comparison (وجه الشبه ) 

example: الرجل كالأسد في شجاعته  = The man is brave like a lion (like a lion in terms of bravery).

Here the man is the مشبه , the lion the مشبه به , the ك  the أداة التشبيه  and the bravery the وجه الشبه 

– التشبيه المؤكد  = “assertive simile” in which the device of comparison (أداة التشبيه ) is not included as in:

الرجل أسد في الشجاعة  = The man is a lion in terms of bravery.

– التشبيه المجمل  = “general simile” where the charactersitic that is the subject of the comparison is not mentioned as in:

– الرجل كالأسد  = The man is like a lion. 

– التشبيه البليغ  = “eloqent simile” in which the device as well as the characteristic of comparison are not mentioned as in:

– الرجل أسدٌ  = the man is a lion

– استعارة  = often translated as “metaphor” although it carries a different meaning in Arabic. The استعارة  is a comparison in which what the referent is compared to (المشبه به ) is not explicitly mentioned but alluded to via its characteristics. Take for example:

ذبل المريض  (dhabala/dhabula al-marīḍ) = the patient withered away (got very sick and weak)

Here the patient is indirectly compared to a dying plant, although the plant itself isn’t mentioned.

another example would be:

طار الخبر في المدينة  = The news flew through the town (spread very quickly)

Here the news is compared to something flying as a bird, although only the charactersitic of the bird is mentioned. 

These kinds of استعارة  in which what is compared to (المشبه به)  is not explicitly mentioned are called استعارة مكنية (metonomical metaphor).

If, however, what is being compared is not explicitly metnioned, these kinds of استعارة  are called استعارة تصريحية  as for example in:

امطرت عين الطفل لؤلؤا  = The child cried pearls. 

Here the tears of the child, though not explicitly mentioned, are compared to pearls. 


– جناس  = assonance, i.e. resemblence in sound of two nearby words

there are two kinds of جناس : 

جناس تام  in which the sounds are exactly the same, as in:

الوقت من الذهب وقد ذهب  (al-waqtu min dhahab wa qad dhahab) = Time is out of gold and it has already gone. 

جناس ناقص  in which the sounds are not exactly the same as in:

فأما اليتيم فلا تقهر ، وأما السائل فلا تنهر  = So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him]. And as for the petitioner, do not repel [him].


– كناية  = can be translated as metonomy, a word or an expression that has in itself a clear meaning but a different, intended meaning as well, as for example:

هو كثير الرماد  = He has lots of ashes. – The intended meaning being: In his tent a lot of cooking is happening (on the fire), meaning he has a lot of guests, meaning is is generous and welcoming. 

The difference between a كناية  and an استعارة  being that the كناية  would techincally make sense on its own, while the استعارة  usually wouldn’t. 



  • hyperbole / مبالغة (mubāligha) (advanced!)

the meaning of an adjective can be exaggerated in the following patterns:

– فَعول  – fa‘ūl: لعوب  (flirtatious, playful), بتول  (virgin), عجوز (old lady/man), عجول (hectic), صبور  (very patient), كسول  (very lazy), شكور  (very thankful)

– فعال  – fa”āl: كذّاب  (liar), سفّاح  (shedder of blood, murderer), بنّاء  (builder), نمّام  (slanderer), أكّال  (glutton), شرّاب  (alcoholic, drinker), etc

  – فعالة  – fa”āla (invariable for gender): جوّالة  (roamer, wanderer), فهّامة  (very understanding), فزّاعة  (scarecrow), علامة  (very learned), etc

– مفعال  – mif’āl (invariable for gender):مِقْدام  (bold, daring), مِعْطاء  (very generous, liberal)

– from فعيل  fa’īl to فعال  fu’āl: like from كبير  to كُبار  (very great, very big); from عريض  to عُراض  (very wide), from طويل  to طُوال  (very long)

– فَعِل  (fa‘il): حَذِر  (cautious)


– فعيل  fa‘īl: قدير  (almighty, capable), عليم  (omniscient), بصير  (acutely aware, endowed with eyesight), حفيظ  (attentive)


  • tanwīn (nunation) / تنوين

  • human/ عاقل

Literally: “bestowed with reason”. 


  • non-human / غير عاقل

Literally: “not bestowed with reason”.


  • relative clause (?) / صفة جملة

(like a Hāl for an indefinite noun)


  •  verbs with no vowel as one of the three radicals / فعل صريح

like كتب، يكتبُ


  • verbs with a vowel in the root / فعل معتل

See below.


  • first radical weak / معتل الأول / مثال

like وَصَلَ   (waṣala) يَصِلُ‎  (yaṣilu)


  • hollow / أجوف

like قَالَ  (qāla) يَقُولُ‎  (yaqūlu)


  • final weak / ناقص / معتل الآخر (mu‘tal al-ākhir / nāqiṣ)

قَضَى  (qaḍā)  يَقْضِي‎‎  (yaqḍī)

or دَعَا  (daʿā)  يَدْعُو‎‎  (yadʿū)


  • two radicals weak / لفيف (lafīf)

Can be either mafrūq or maqrūn (see below).


  • first and last radical weak / مفروق (mafrūq)

from the word which means “to separate”

وعى (wa‘ā) يعي  (ya’ī) = “to hold, keep, be attentive”


  • second and last radical weak / مقرون (maqrūn)

from قرن،  يقرِن  which means “to link, connect”

رَوَى  (rawā) يَرْوِي‎‎  (yarwī) = “to quench one’s thirst”


  • last radical not a vowel / صحيح الآخر (ṣaḥīḥ al-ākhir)

like قَالَ  (qāla) يَقُولُ‎  (yaqūlu) or وَصَلَ   (waṣala) يَصِلُ‎  (yaṣilu)


  • vowel / حرف علة (ḥarf ‘illa)

Arabic exhibits only three vowels: و ، ا، ي  (i – ī, a – ā, u – ū)


  • consonant /  حرف صحيح (ḥarf ṣaḥīḥ)

same as in English


  • silent letter / حرف ساكن

letter with a sukūn on it like:

example: the ن  in لم يكُنْ  is ساكن  because of the sukūn on it.


  • vocalized letter / حرف متحرك

letter carrying a vowel like:

example: The ي  in يَقولُ  is  متحرك  because it carries a fatḥa.


  • assimilation of sounds / مماثلة (mumāthila)

Sounds becoming more like their neighbouring sounds (like English “cupboard” always being pronounced /ˈkʌbərd/, never /ˈkʌpbɔːrd/) (Wikipedia).

In written Arabic this occurs mostly in the pattern اِفْتَعَلَ  as for example:

– ز + ت  becoming ز + د  (due to the ز  being a voiced sound) like in ازدحم (to be crowded)

– ص + ت  becoming ص + ط  (due to the ص  being an emphatic sound)  like in اصطدم  (to collide)



  • pronoun / ضمير

Same as in English. 


  • pronoun of the speaker / ضمير المتكلم

انا، نحن (I, we)


  • pronoun of the adressed  / ضمير المخاطب

أنتَ،  أنتِ،  أنتما،  أنتم،  أنتن  (you (m.); (you (f.); you (dual); you (m.pl.); you (f.pl.)


  • pronoun “of the absent”  / ضمير الغائب

هو، هي، هما، هم، هن (he, she, they (dual), they (m), they (f))


  • connected pronoun / ضمير متصل

The pronouns that are connected to the word:

example: كتابك  (kitābuka) “Your book”

أمّي (ummi) “My mother”


  • separate pronoun / ضمير منفصل

The pronouns that are not connected to another word like انا، انتَ، انتِ , etc.


  • implied pronoun / ضمير مستسر

The pronoun that is not visible in the sentence, ususually the third person singular:

example: فَتَحَ الباب  (fataḥa al-bāb) “He opened the door.”


  • defective noun / اسم منقوص



  • loanword / لفظ دخيل


  • strong hamza / همزة القطع

The strong hamza is always pronounced and written (like أ or إ ). 

It appears in the following verbs:

Form I, II, and IV: 

أمرَ  (to order), imperative: مُرْ , verbal noun: أمْر

ألّف، يؤلّف  (to compose), imperative: 

أرسلَ  (to send), imperative: أرسِلْ , verbal noun:  إرسال

It also occurs in nouns (except for the ones listed under “weak hamza”) and prepositions and connectors likeإلى،  إنّ،  أنّ، أو ، etc.


  • weak hamza / همزة الوصل

The weak hamza is used for ease of pronunciation, but elided in certain circumstances.

The first part of the alif lām () is an elidble hamza. If it is only pronounced when nothing or a sukūn precedes it and is elided in certain circumstances like when لِ is added: لِلبيت

It appears in the following nouns: اسم (name); امرؤ (man);  امرأة (woman); ابن (son), اثنان (two)

In certain circumstances they loose their initial, weak hamza, like:


  • alif hamza / الف مهموزة


  • وصلة


  • consonant doubling (gemination) / تشديد (tashdīd)


  • madda / مدّة

The wave-shaped sign above an alif that indicates a long ā like in آن . The name “madda” goes back to the meaning of مدّ، يمُدّ  (madda, yamuddu) “to stretch, to elongate”.


  • normal alif / ألف طويلة (alif Tawīla)

The normal or “long” alif.


  • „dagger“ alif / ألف قصيرة  (alif qaSīra)

Not written alif used in certain words like hādha (هذا  hādha). It’s called the “dagger alif” because in the Quran it is written as a tiny alif in between the letters.


  • alif maqSūra / ألف مقصورة

The alif that looks like an ي without the dots. It is used in nouns, adjectives and verbs.

– In verbs it is used in the past tense 3. person singular when the underlying radical is ي not و : 

رمى، يرمي  (r – m – y) = to throw

As opposed to: 

غزا, يغزو  (ġ – z – w) = to make a raid

in which the last radical is a و  and thus the الف قائمة  “alif qā’ima” (see below) is used

– It is always used in verb forms higher than form 1: 

استدعى  = to summon


  • alif qā’ima / الف قائمة  (alif qā’ima)

The “standing alif” is


  • separating alif / ألف الفاصلة  (alif al-fāSila)



  • sun letters / الحروف الشمسية (al-ḥurūf aš-šamsiyye)

letters that absorb the l of the definite article:

ت، ث، د، ذ، ر، ز، س، ش، ص، ض، ط، ظ، ل، ن


  • moon letters / الحروف القمرية (al-ḥurūf al-qamariyye)

letters that do not absorb the l of the definite article:

 أ، ب، ج، ح، خ، ع، غ، ف، ق، ك، م، ه، و، ي


  • Connectors / حروف العطف

و، ف، ثم، أو


  • فاء عاطفة
  • in place of / نيابة عن / مكان / في محل(makān / niyābatan ‘an / fi maḥall)

Expression often used when analyzing grammatical features. It is usually used to express that a certain mark would be expected to appear on a word due to its position in the sentence it exhibits some other mark, as in:

رأيت أباك (ra’aytu abāk) = “I saw your father”

Since one would expect a fatḥa on “ab” but it actually exhibits an alif one would say: 

علامة النصب هي الألف نيابة عن الفتحة (the mark for the accusative case is the alif in place of a fatḥa)

(The word نيابة comes from ناب ينوب “to act as a representatitve, to deputize, to substitude”)


  • nūn of emphasis / نون التوكيد (nūn at-tawkīd)

The nūn of emphasis is added to verbs in the present tense and the imperative for the purpose of stress.

There are two kinds of the nūn of emphasis: The strong nūn and the weak one. The strong one is a nūn with a shedda on it ( ثقيلة مشددة ) while the weak one has a sukūn on it (خفيفة ساكنة). Both of them are added to the verb whose last letter has a fatḥa on it. They differ in terms of degree of emphasis with the strong one being more emphatic.

Example: وَلَتَجِدَنَّهُمْ أَحْرَصَ النَّاسِ عَلَى حَيَاةٍ  = “And you will most certainly find them the greediest of men for life”


  • letters/particles of attention / أحرف التنبيهِ (aḥruf at-tanbīh)

The letters or particles of attention are: أَلا  (ala),  أمَا  (ama) , ها  (the letter h) and يا  (the letter y)

– Both أَلا  and أمَا  introduce a sentence and serve the purpose of emphasis and calling for attention.

example:  “أَلا إِنَّ أَولياءَ اللهِ لا خوفٌ عليهم ولا هم يحزنون ” (from the Quran)

Unquestionably [for] the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them nor will they grieve.

– The letter ه can

1. be attached to demonstratives like “هذا” and “هذه”, etc

2. stand in front of a pronoun: ها أنا ذا meaning the same as هذا أنا

3. be attached to اي in the nidā (when the called upon is definite) with an added alif: يا أيُّها الرجل  

4. be attached to


  • voiced / مجهور (majhūr)

Voiced sounds (حروف الجهر ) in Arabic include:

 أ – ب – ج – د – ذ – ر – ز – ض – ط – ظ – ع – غ – ق – ل – م – ن – و -ي


  • voiceless / همس (hams)

Voiceless sounds (حروف الهمس ) in Arabic include:

ت – ث – ح – خ – س – ش – ص – ف – ك – ه


  • لفظ الجلالة



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