Arabic Class

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Posts Tagged ‘إعراب (i’raab)

Noun sentences in إعراب (i’raab) – 2

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[This post has been edited after corrections in the comments]

Last time I mentioned some exceptions in creating the مرفوع (marfuu’, nominative). The general rule is that the nominative get “un” for words without “al”, and “un” for words with “al”.

There are however, some exceptions.

Names of women and non Arabic names do not get a تنوين ضمة (tanwiin Damma, “-un”), but get a regular صمة (Damma) instead. So: قاتمةُ (faatimatu), not “faatimatun”. “Klaasu”, not “Klaasun”.

Additionally, in the genitive (which we will deal with later), they do not get كسرة (kasra, “i”), but get a فتحة (fatHa, “a”) instead.

That’s the ones I know – please do inform me if you know more cases…


Written by klaasvanschelven

January 25, 2008 at 7:12 am

Noun sentences in إعراب (i’raab)

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Having dealt with noun sentences earlier this week, let’s see how these are given their suffixes in i’raab. The general rule here is: noun sentences have everything in the nominative, which means “un” or “u” at the end of each word. To get it right we’ll have to be a bit more precise, though.

In noun sentences, all the words show up in مرفوع (marfuu’, nominative). First of all we will see how the مرفوع changes the word endings. In general, the diacritics ضمة (Damma) or the تنوين ضمة (tanwiin Damma) are used. Remember: these are written above the letter and resemble the letter و (waw). Examples: بُ and بٌ . Their sounds are respectively “u” and “un”.


محمدٌ مدرسٌ (muHammadun mudarrisun, “muHammad is a teacher”)

بيتٌ كبيرٌ (baiitun kabiirun, “a big house”)

The تنوين ضمة (tanwiin Damma) is only used for words not marked with the definite article ال (al-, “the”). If the definite article is present, the correct marker is the regular ضمة (Damma). Example:

البيتُ الكبيرُ (al-baitu al-kabiiru)

Now for some more precise terminology. Consider the following sentence in English: “John is a teacher.”In this sentence, “John” is the subject, and “a teacher” is the nominal predicate. Similarly, in “The school is small “, “The school” is the subject and “small” is the nominal predicate. However, in the phrase “a small school”, all of the phrase is the subject.

As seen in the previous post on noun sentences, there is no equivalent of “is” in Arabic, but subject and nominal predicate should be easily recognisable nonetheless. In أحمد صغير (‘aHmed Saghiir, “aHmed is small”) أحمد is the subject and صغير is the nominal predicate.

In إعراب (i’raab), both the subject and the nominal predicate are in the مَرفوع (marfuu’, nominative). Adjectives take the case of the noun they describe. These two rules together make for the above generalisation that words in noun sentences are simply in the nominative.

I have a couple of open questions left:

  • There is a number of words “not worthy of the Damma”. I’ll have to find out which and report on that.
  • If there is a adjective following a noun marked with “al” – does this mean the adjective gets “u” too? So: “al-baitu kabiiru” or “al-baitu kabiirun”?
  • I’ve read at some places that the تنوين ضمة (tanwiin Damma) is a marker of the indefinite article. Others describe this as a mistake, and simply state that it is an indication of the lack of the definite marker. Which is true? The following quote from Wikipedia goes with this:

Since Arabic has no indefinite article, nouns in a syntactic context unmarked for definiteness are generally indefinite; this has led to the extremely common but inaccurate belief that nunation is a marker for indefiniteness and is analogous to an indefinite article. The lack of a marker for definiteness does not necessarily make a word indefinite; in fact, many definite nouns (proper names) take nunation, as for example in the expression أشهد أن محمدا رسول الله (‘ashhadu ‘anna Muḥammadan rasūlullāh – “I witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.”), in which the name Muhammad, a definite noun, is nunated.

Wikipedia: Nunation

Written by klaasvanschelven

January 21, 2008 at 9:11 am

A new thread: إعراب (i’raab)

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I’ve decided to dive into إعراب (i’raab), the system of ‘nominal and adjectival suffixes’ in the Arabic language… I’ve been studying this in class this for a couple of months now, and still have only a vague feeling of how it is supposed to work. So, I’ve decided to dive in, and deal with pieces of this on a regular basis. This blog is all about learning by teaching – so be warned in general about errors… since this is a difficult subject, you are warned doubly.

What have I discovered so far? First of all: there is a system of suffixes in the Arabic language (suffix meaning end of word). This system is used in all more formal forms of Arabic – notably in Quranic recitation, literature and poetry. Also notably, they are not spoken in any of the spoken dialects of Arabic…. I’m curious to some more specific info on who would actually speak like this. Also, according to “some rules” they should not be used at the end of sentences.

There are three cases: nominative, accusative and genitive. (It’s worthwhile getting a feel of these cases in general with help of google & wikipedia). In Arabic these cases are called:

Nominative: مَرفوع (marfuu’, literally meaning “raised”)

Accusative: منصوب (manSuub)

Genitive: مجرور (majruur)

The nominative case is used for the subject and the nominal predicate. The accusative is used mainly for the direct object, but has other uses as well. The genitive case is used for genitive constructs and after most prepositions (the genitive case is sometimes also referred to as oblique).

Next time: the nominative case – at least some parts of it…


Wikipedia Iʿrāb has been a major source so far and will probably be so again.
#Arabic is another source

Written by klaasvanschelven

January 15, 2008 at 10:01 pm