Lesson 1: in/definiteness, gender, adjectives and



Lesson 1: in/definiteness, gender, adjectives and
Lesson 1:
in/definiteness, gender, adjectives and nominal sentences
In English, there are 4 major word classes:
1. Noun – naming words
2. Adjective – describing words
3. Verb – action (doing) words
4. Preposition Whereas in Arabic, there are 3:
‫اِس ٌْم‬
Verb ٌ‫فِعْل‬
Particle ٌ‫حرْ ف‬
1. Noun
Definiteness: Nouns
Every noun must either be definite or indefinite. In English, we would refer to something definite
using the definite article “the” – using “the” implies we have specified something. For example, if
we say “I ate the apple” – we have identified a specific apple which has been eaten.
Whereas, something which is indefinite, would be referred to with “a” or “an” because it does not
pin-point a specific thing. For example, if we say “please pass me an apple” – we have not
identified which apple we want, it could be any of the apples.
In Arabic, the definite article
corresponding to “the” is
The indefinite is shown by the use of
*Note: (some indefinite words do not take tanwin – you CANNOT try to give tanween if the vocab
list shows no tanween, eg the words:
َ )–
‫ أَوَّ ل‬and ‫آخر‬
TIP: It is important to know which words do not take tanween so make a list of words like this and
add to it as you go along to help you remember.
To make indefinite words definite
To make an indefinite word definite (“the”), all you have to do is drop one of the final vowels of the
tanween and prefix
ٌْ‫ ال‬to the font of the word.
ٌ‫ٌْالبِال ُد‬
ٌ‫بِال ُد‬
The towns
drop one of the
final vowels of the
Take the
indefinite word
To make definite words indefinite
To make a definite word indefinite (“a/an”), all you have to do is remove
ٌْ‫ ال‬and double to final
vowel to make tanween.
ٌ‫َرسو ُل‬
ٌ‫الرَّسو ُل‬
a messenger
The messenger
The messenger
Double the final vowel
to make tanween
Take the definite
In Arabic, words will grammatically be either masculine, or they will be feminine. There is no
neutral in Arabic.
Generally, feminine words will be shown as such by the taa’marboota
‫ ة‬at the end.
Grammatical gender is not based solely on a words biological gender. Words which may
“seem” masculine in meaning could actually be feminine grammatically!
For example, take the word
ُ‫ – الرُّ جُوٌلَ ٌة‬meaning “masculinity”. It may have a masculine
meaning, however, grammatically it is actually a feminine word, as denoted by the
taa’marbootah at the end!
Although most words that have a taa’marbootah at the end are visibly feminine, there are
some words which although may not grammatically appear to be feminine (because no
they are in fact so, through convention –
For example
ٌُ‫( األرْ ض‬earth) is in fact a feminine word.
Also some words that may not have a taa’marbootah but will be grammatically feminine
because of their meaning, for example
‫( أُ ٌم‬mother).
. As a general rule, words should be treated as masculine unless you have a reason to treat them
as feminine.
As with all rules, some rules are made to be broken!
There are a few words that although they have taa’marbootah, so therefore appear feminine, they
are in fact masculine!!!
The good news is that there are only a very small number of masculine words ending in
taa’marbootah, and these are usually boys names, such as
َ ‫ َح‬or ‫عاوية‬
ِ ‫ُم‬
And the only masculine “feminine appearing” word which appears in the Qur’an is
Making a masculine adjective feminine
As is taught in the next section, sometimes it becomes necessary to change the grammatical
gender of a word from masculine to feminine.
To do this, all you need to do is add tar’marbootah ( ) onto the end of the word, and place a fatha
on the letter before.
For example:
َ ‫َك‬
Adjectival Phrase
Adjectives are words that describe a noun and come after the noun in Arabic.
ٌ‫اآلخ ُر‬
ٌ‫اليَ ْو ُم‬
The last day
Like adjectives, an adjectival phrase describes nouns (or pronouns). Phrases add information to a
sentence, but they only make complete sense as part of a sentence. A phrase does not contain a
verb, and can perform the function of an adjective, an adverb or a noun.
To make an adjectival phrase, we need a noun + adjective.
The adjective must agree in 4 things with the noun it describes:
Does the noun
Is the noun
masculine or
Is the noun
singular, dual or
Is the noun
mansoob or
have ‫ ال‬before or
tanween on the
(covered in lesson 2
and 13)
(covered in lesson 3)
As lesson 1 only deals with in/definiteness and gender, we will ignore number and case here.
So, for example:
If I want to say “The clear book”, I need to make an adjectival phrase. To do it:
Write the noun
Write the
adjective after
the noun
ٌُ‫ال ِكتاب‬
ٌ‫ال ِكتابٌُ ُمبين‬
1- Is it definite or indefine?
Look at the 4
things the
adjective has to
agree with in
the noun
Make sure the
agrees in all 4
things and you
have your
–it has‫ ال‬so it is definite
2- Is it grammatically masculine or feminine?
ٌُ‫ال ِكتاب‬
– It does not have ‫ ة‬and there is no other reason
that makes it feminine, so it is masculine
3- What number is it?
4- What case is it?
ُ ‫ال ِكتابٌُ ال ُم‬
The clear book
Adjectival phrase
Not dealt with in lesson 1
1- Noun is definite so adjective is
2- Noun is masculine so adjective is
3- Number
4- case
Not dealt with in lesson 1
Simple nominal sentence
‫اِس ِميَّةٌ ُج ْملَ ٌة‬
If an adjective agrees with the noun in only gender and number and not in case or definiteness,
then you will not have an adjectival phrase, but instead an actual sentence!
A simple nominal sentence is known in Arabic as Jumlah ismiyyah
‫اِس ِميَّةٌ ُج ْملَ ٌة‬
It is also referred to as an equational sentence, because in its most basic form, its construction
can be represented with the equation:
The X is Y
The X
This is the subject
No need for a verb
“to be” in Arabic
present tense
ُ‫ال ُم ْبتَ َدٌأ‬
This is the noun of the
Will always be definite
Known as the predicate
ٌ‫الخبَ ُر‬
The predicate tells you
something about the subject
Will always be indefinite and
must agree with the X in
gender and number
Indefinite Predicate
(the adjective)
Definite Subject
(the noun)
ٌ‫ال ِكتابٌُ ُمبين‬
The book is clear
The X is Y
The difference between an adjectival phrase and a nominal sentence:
Adjectival Phrase
Nominal Sentence
ُ ‫ال ِكتابٌُ ال ُم‬
ٌ‫ال ِكتابٌُ ُمبين‬
The clear book
The book is clear
The X is Y
Agrees in all 4 things
Agrees only in gender and number
Lesson 1: Quick revision summary
To make word definite:
Drop one of the final vowels of the tanween and prefix
ٌ‫ْالبِال ُد‬
ٌْ‫ ال‬to the font of the word.
To make word indefinite:
ٌْ‫ ال‬and double to final vowel to make tanween.
*Remember: some words cannot take
ٌ‫الرَّسو ُل‬
Grammatical gender:
Treat words as masculine unless have a reason to treat as feminine (ie:
‫ ة‬or are feminine through
convention or meaning)
To make a masculine adjective feminine
Add taa’marbootah ( ) onto the end of the word, and place a fatha on the letter before.
ٌَ ‫َك‬
Adjectival Phrase:
Noun + adjective
Adjective must agree with noun in all 4 things:
1- In/definiteness
2- Gender
3- Number
4- Case
ُ ‫ال ِكتابٌُ ال ُم‬
The clear book
Nominal Sentence:
The X is Y
The X- is the subject (noun) – must be definite
Is –
no Arabic word needed
is the predicate (adjective) – must be indefinite
ٌ‫ال ِكتابٌُ ُمبين‬
The book is clear