HistoryThe identity of the oldest Arabic grammarian is disputed; some sources state that it was , who established marks and vowels for in the mid-600s, Others have said that the earliest grammarian would have been , "Ibn Mada's Criticism of Arab Grammarians." ''Orient'', v. 10, pgs. 89-113. 1974 (died AD 735/6, AH 117).Monique Bernards, "Pioneers of Arabic Linguistic Studies." Taken from In the Shadow of Arabic: The Centrality of Language to Arabic Culture, pg. 213. Ed. Bilal Orfali. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2011. The schools of and further developed grammatical rules in the late 8th century with the rapid rise of Islam.Goodchild, Philip. ''Difference in Philosophy of Religion'', 2003. Page 153. From the school of Basra, generally regarded as being founded by Abu Amr ibn al-Ala, two representatives laid important foundations for the field: , ''Introduction to the Science of Language''. Pg. 28, 1880. authored the first Arabic dictionary and book of Arabic prosody, and his student authored the first book on theories of Arabic grammar. From the school of Kufa, Al-Ru'asi is universally acknowledged as the founder, though his own writings are considered lost, with most of the school's development undertaken by later authors. The efforts of al-Farahidi and The differences were polarizing in some cases, with early Muslim scholar Muhammad ibn `Isa at-Tirmidhi favoring the Kufan school due to its concern with poetry as a primary source. Early Arabic grammars were more or less lists of rules, without the detailed explanations which would be added in later centuries. The earliest schools were different not only in some of their views on grammatical disputes, but also their emphasis. The school of Kufa excelled in Arabic poetry and
DivisionFor classical Arabic grammarians, the grammatical sciences are divided into five branches: *' (language/ ) concerned with collecting and explaining . *' ( ) determining the form of the individual words. *' ( ) primarily concerned with ('' ''). *' ( ) examining the origin of the words. *' ( ) which elucidates stylistic quality, or eloquence. The grammar or grammars of contemporary are a different question. Said M. Badawi, an expert on Arabic grammar, divided Arabic grammar into five different types based on the speaker's level of and the degree to which the speaker deviated from . Badawi's five types of grammar from the most colloquial to the most formal are Illiterate Spoken Arabic ( ), Semi-literate Spoken Arabic ( ), Educated Spoken Arabic ( ), ( ), and ( ).
PhonologyClassical Arabic has 28 al s, including two s, which constitute the . It also has six phonemes (three short vowels and three long vowels). These appear as various s, depending on the preceding consonant. Short vowels are not usually represented in the written language, although they may be indicated with diacritics. Word stress varies from one Arabic dialect to another. A rough rule for word-stress in Classical Arabic is that it falls on the penultimate of a word if that syllable is closed, and otherwise on the antepenultimate. ' (), elidable ''hamza'', is a phonetic object prefixed to the beginning of a word for ease of pronunciation, since Literary Arabic doesn't allow consonant clusters at the beginning of a word. Elidable ''hamza'' drops out as a vowel, if a word is preceding it. This word will then produce an ending vowel, "helping vowel" to facilitate pronunciation. This short vowel may be, depending on the preceding vowel, a ' (: ), pronounced as ; a ' (: ), pronounced as ; or a ' (: ), pronounced as . If the preceding word ends in a ' (), meaning that it is not followed by a short vowel, the ' assumes a ' . The symbol ( ') indicates or consonant doubling. See more in Tashkīl.
Nouns and adjectivesIn and (MSA), nouns and adjectives ( ') are declined, according to ('' ''), (definiteness), and . In colloquial or spoken Arabic, there are a number of simplifications such as the loss of certain final vowels and the loss of case. A number of derivational processes exist for forming new nouns and adjectives. Adverbs can be formed from adjectives.
Personal pronounsIn Arabic, s have 12 forms. In singular and plural, the 2nd and 3rd persons have separate and forms, while the 1st person does not. In the dual, there is no 1st person, and only a single form for each 2nd and 3rd person. Traditionally, the pronouns are listed in the order 3rd, 2nd, 1st. Informal Arabic tends to avoid the dual forms ' and ' . The feminine plural forms ' and ' are likewise avoided, except by speakers of conservative colloquial varieties that still possess separate feminine plural pronouns.
Enclitic pronounsforms of personal pronouns ( ') are affixed to various parts of speech, with varying meanings: * To the of nouns, where they have the meaning of possessive demonstratives, e.g. "my, your, his" * To verbs, where they have the meaning of direct object pronouns, e.g. "me, you, him" * To prepositions, where they have the meaning of objects of the prepositions, e.g. "to me, to you, to him" * To conjunctions and particles like ' "that ...", ' "because ...", ' "but ...", ' (topicalizing particle), where they have the meaning of subject pronouns, e.g. "because I ...", "because you ...", "because he ...". (These particles are known in Arabic as ' ( "sisters of '".) * If the personal pronoun ''-ī'' is added to a word ending in a vowel (e.g. ' "you saw"), an extra ''-n-'' is added between the word and the enclitic form to avoid a hiatus between the two vowels ( ' "you saw me"). Most of them are clearly related to the full personal pronouns.
= Variant forms= For all but the first person singular, the same forms are used regardless of the part of speech of the word attached to. In the third person masculine singular, ' occurs after the vowels ''u'' or ''a'' ('), while ' occurs after ''i'' or ''y'' ('). The same alternation occurs in the third person dual and plural. In the first person singular, however, the situation is more complicated. Specifically, ' "me" is attached to verbs, but ' "my" is attached to nouns. In the latter case, ' is attached to nouns whose construct state ends in a long vowel or diphthong (e.g. in the sound masculine plural and the dual), while ' is attached to nouns whose construct state ends in a short vowel, in which case that vowel is elided (e.g. in the sound feminine plural, as well as the singular and broken plural of most nouns). Furthermore, ' of the masculine sound plural is assimilated to ' before ' (presumably, ' of masculine defective ''-an'' plurals is similarly assimilated to '). Examples: * From ' "book", pl. ': ' "my book" (all cases), ' "my books" (all cases), ' "my two books (nom.)", ' "my two books (acc./gen.)" * From ' "word", pl. ': ' "my word" (all cases), ' "my words" (all cases) * From ' "world", pl. ': ' "my world" (all cases), ' "my worlds" (all cases) * From ' "judge", pl. ': ' "my judge" (all cases), ' "my judges" (all cases) * From ' "teacher", pl. ': ' "my teacher" (all cases), ' "my teachers" (all cases, see above) * From ' "father": ' "my father" (nom.), ' "my father" (acc.), ' "my father" (gen.) Prepositions use ', even though in this case it has the meaning of "me" (rather than "my"). The "sisters of '" can use either form (e.g. ' or '), but the longer form (e.g. ') is usually preferred. The second-person masculine plural past tense verb ending ' changes to the variant form ' before enclitic pronouns, e.g. ' "you (masc. pl.) wrote it (masc.)".
= Pronouns with prepositions= Some very common prepositions — including the proclitic preposition ' "to" (also used for indirect objects) — have irregular or unpredictable combining forms when the enclitic pronouns are added to them: In the above cases, when there are two combining forms, one is used with "... me" and the other with all other person/number/gender combinations. (More correctly, one occurs before vowel-initial pronouns and the other before consonant-initial pronouns, but in Classical Arabic, only ' is vowel-initial. This becomes clearer in the spoken varieties, where various vowel-initial enclitic pronouns exist.) Note in particular: * ' "to" and ' "on" have irregular combining forms ', '; but other pronouns with the same base form are regular, e.g. ' "with". * ' "to" has an irregular combining form ', but ' "in, with, by" is regular. * ' "from" and ' "on" double the final ''n'' before '.
= Less formal pronominal forms= In a less formal Arabic, as in many spoken dialects, the endings ''-ka, -ki, and -hu'' and many others have their final short vowel dropped, for example, كِتابُكَ ''kitābuka'' would become كِتابُك ''kitābuk'' for ease of pronunciation. This doesn't make a difference to the spelling as the diacritics used to represent short vowels are not usually written.
DemonstrativesThere are two s ( '), near- ('this') and far-deictic ('that'): The dual forms are only used in very formal Arabic. Some of the demonstratives (', and ') should be pronounced with a long ', although the unvocalised script is not written with alif (). Instead of an alif, they have the diacritic ( : '), which doesn't exist on Arabic keyboards and is seldom written, even in vocalised Arabic. Qur'anic Arabic has another demonstrative, normally followed by a noun in a genitive construct and meaning 'owner of': Note that the demonstrative and relative pronouns were originally built on this word. ', for example, was originally composed from the prefix ' 'this' and the masculine accusative singular '; similarly, ' was composed from ', an infixed syllable ', and the suffix ' 'you'. These combinations had not yet become completely fixed in Qur'anic Arabic and other combinations sometimes occurred, e.g. ', '. Similarly, the relative pronoun ' was originally composed based on the genitive singular ', and the old Arabic grammarians noted the existence of a separate nominative plural form ' in the speech of the Hudhayl tribe in Qur'anic times. This word also shows up in , e.g. masculine ''zeh'' (cf. '), feminine ''zot'' (cf. '), plural ''eleh'' (cf. ').
Relative pronounThe is declined as follows: Note that the relative pronoun agrees in gender, number and case, with the noun it modifies—as opposed to the situation in other inflected languages such as and , where the gender and is with the modified noun, but the case marking follows the usage of the relative pronoun in the embedded clause (as in formal English "the man who saw me" vs. "the man whom I saw"). When the relative pronoun serves a function other than the subject of the embedded clause, a is required: ', literally "the man who I spoke with him". The relative pronoun is normally omitted entirely when an indefinite noun is modified by a relative clause: ' "a man that I spoke with", literally "a man I spoke with him".
Colloquial varietiesThe above system is mostly unchanged in the colloquial varieties, other than the loss of the dual forms and (for most varieties) of the feminine plural. Some of the more notable changes: *The third-person ' variants disappear. On the other hand, the first person ' variation is preserved exactly (including the different circumstances in which these variants are used), and new variants appear for many forms. For example, in , the second person feminine singular appears either as ' or ' depending on various factors (e.g. the phonology of the preceding word); likewise, the third person masculine singular appears variously as ', ', or ' (no ending, but stress is moved onto the preceding vowel, which is lengthened). *In many varieties, the forms, which appear in Classical Arabic as separate words (e.g. ' "to me", ' 'to him'), become fused onto the verb, following a direct object. These same varieties generally develop a for negation (from Classical ' 'not ... a thing', composed of two separate words). This can lead to complicated constructs, such as 'he didn't write it (fem.) to me'. (Egyptian Arabic in particular has many variant pronominal affixes used in different circumstances, and very intricate rules leading to a large number of complex alternations, depending on the particular affixes involved, the way they are put together, and whether the preceding verb ends in a vowel, a single consonant, or two consonants.) *Other varieties instead use a separate Classical pseudo-pronoun ' for direct objects (but in Hijazi Arabic the resulting construct fuses with a preceding verb). *Affixation of dual and sound plural nouns has largely vanished. Instead, all varieties possess a separate preposition with the meaning of "of", which replaces certain uses of the genitive (to varying degrees, depending on the particular variety). In , the word is ''dyal'' (also ''d-'' before a noun), e.g. ''l-kitab dyal-i'' "my book", since the construct-state genitive is mostly unproductive. has ''bitā‘ '', which agrees in gender and number with the preceding noun (feminine ''bitā‘it/bita‘t'', plural ''bitū‘ ''). In Egyptian Arabic, the construct-state genitive is still productive, hence either ''kitāb-i'' or ''il-kitāb bitā‘-i'' can be used for "my book" he difference between them is simlar to the difference between 'my book' and 'the book is mine' but only ''il-mu‘allimūn bitū‘-i'' "my teachers". *The declined relative pronoun has vanished. In its place is an indeclinable particle, usually ''illi'' or similar. *Various forms of the demonstrative pronouns occur, usually shorter than the Classical forms. For example, Moroccan Arabic uses ''ha l-'' "this", ''dak l-/dik l-/duk l-'' "that" (masculine/feminine/plural). Egyptian Arabic is unusual in that the demonstrative follows the noun, e.g. ''il-kitāb da'' "this book", ''il-binti di'' "this girl". *Some of the independent pronouns have slightly different forms compared with their Classical forms. For example, usually forms similar to ''inta, inti'' "you (masc./fem. sg.)" occur in place of ', and ''(n)iḥna'' "we" occurs in place of '.
Cardinal numeralsNumbers behave in a very complicated fashion. ' "one" and ' "two" are adjectives, following the noun and agreeing with it. ' "three" through ' "ten" require a following noun in the genitive plural, but disagree with the noun in gender, while taking the case required by the surrounding syntax. ' "eleven" through ' "nineteen" require a following noun in the accusative singular, agree with the noun in gender, and are invariable for case, except for ' "twelve". The formal system of s, as used in Classical Arabic, is extremely complex. The system of rules is presented below. In reality, however, this system is never used: Large numbers are always written as numerals rather than spelled out, and are pronounced using a simplified system, even in formal contexts. Example: : Formal: ' "2,912 years" : Formal: ' "after 2,912 years" : Spoken: ' "(after) 2,912 years" Cardinal numerals ( ') from 0-10. Zero is ''ṣifr'', from which the words " " and " " are ultimately derived. * 0 ' () * 1 ' () * 2 ' () * 3 ' () * 4 ' () * 5 ' () * 6 ' () * 7 ' () * 8 ' () * 9 ' () * 10 ' () (feminine form ' ) The endings in brackets are dropped in less formal Arabic and in pausa. () is pronounced as simple in these cases. If a noun ending in is the first member of an idafa, the is pronounced as , while the rest of the ending is not pronounced. ' is changed to ' in oblique cases. This form is also commonly used in a less formal Arabic in the nominative case. The numerals 1 and 2 are adjectives. Thus they follow the noun and agree with gender. Numerals 3–10 have a peculiar rule of agreement known as polarity: A feminine referrer agrees with a numeral in masculine gender and vice versa, e.g. ' () "three girls". The noun counted takes indefinite genitive plural (as the attribute in a genitive construct). Numerals 11 and 13–19 are indeclinable for case, perpetually in the accusative. Numbers 11 and 12 show gender agreement in the ones, and 13-19 show polarity in the ones. Number 12 also shows case agreement, reminiscent of the dual. The gender of in numbers 11-19 agrees with the counted noun (unlike the standalone numeral 10 which shows polarity). The counted noun takes indefinite accusative singular. Unitary numbers from 20 on (i.e. 20, 30, ... 90, 100, 1000, 1000000, etc.) behave entirely as nouns, showing the case required by the surrounding syntax, no gender agreement, and a following noun in a fixed case. 20 through 90 require their noun to be in the accusative singular; 100 and up require the genitive singular. The unitary numbers themselves decline in various fashions: * ' "20" through ' "90" decline as masculine plural nouns * ' "100" ( or ) declines as a feminine singular noun * ' "1,000" () declines as a masculine singular noun The numbers 20-99 are expressed with the units preceding the tens. There is agreement in gender with the numerals 1 and 2, and polarity for numerals 3–9. The whole construct is followed by the accusative singular indefinite. * 20 ' () (plural of 10) * 21 ' () * 22 ' () * 23 ' () * 30 ' () * 40 ' () ' "100" and ' "1,000" can themselves be modified by numbers (to form numbers such as 200 or 5,000) and will be declined appropriately. For example, ' "200" and ' "2,000" with dual endings; ' "3,000" with ' in the plural genitive, but ' "300" since ' appears to have no plural. In compound numbers, the number formed with the last two digits dictates the declension of the associated noun, e.g. 212, 312, and 54,312 would all behave like 12. Large compound numbers can have, e.g.: * ' "1,909 years" * ' "after 1,909 years" * ' "94,863 years" * ' "after 94,863 years" * ' "12,222 years" * ' "after 12,222 years" * ' "12,202 years" * ' "after 12,202 years" Note also the special construction when the final number is 1 or 2: * ' "1,001 nights"
FractionsFractions of a whole smaller than "half" are expressed by the structure ' () in the singular, ' () in the plural. * half ' () * one-third ' () * two-thirds ' () * one-fourth ' () * three-fourths ' () * etc.
Ordinal numeralss ( ') higher than "second" are formed using the structure ', ', the same as active participles of Form I verbs: *m. ', f. ' "first" *m. ' (definite form: '), f. ' "second" *m. ', f. ' "third" *m. ', f. ' "fourth" *m. ', f. ' "fifth" *m. ', f. ' "sixth" *m. ', f. ' "seventh" *m. ', f. ' "eighth" *m. ', f. ' "ninth" *m. ', f. ' "tenth" They are adjectives, hence there is agreement in gender with the noun, not polarity as with the cardinal numbers. Note that "sixth" uses a different, older root than the number six.
VerbsArabic verbs ( ''fi‘l''), like the verbs in other Semitic languages, are extremely complex. Verbs in Arabic are based on a root made up of three or four consonants (called a triliteral or quadriliteral root, respectively). The set of consonants communicates the basic meaning of a verb, e.g. 'write', q-r-’ 'read', ’-k-l 'eat'. Changes to the vowels in between the consonants, along with prefixes or suffixes, specify grammatical functions such as tense, person and number, in addition to changes in the meaning of the verb that embody grammatical concepts such as mood (e.g. indicative, subjunctive, imperative), voice (active or passive), and such as causative, intensive, or reflexive. Since Arabic lacks an auxiliary verb "to have", constructions using li-, ‘inda, and ma‘a with the pronominal suffixes are used to describe possession. For example: (''ʿindahu bayt'') - literally: At him (is) a house. → He has a house. For the negation of Arabic verbs, see .
PrepositionsThere are two types of prepositions, based on whether they arise from the triconsonantal roots system or not. The 'true prepositions' ( ') do not stem from the triconsonantal roots. These true prepositions cannot have prepositions preceding them, in contrast to the derived triliteral prepositions. True prepositions can also be used with certain verbs to convey a particular meaning. For example, ' means "to discuss" as a transitive verb, but can mean "to search for" when followed by the preposition ', and "to do research about" when followed by '. The prepositions arising from the triliteral root system are called "adverbs of place and time" in the native tradition ( ') and work very much in the same way as the 'true' prepositions. A noun following a preposition takes the . However, prepositions can take whole clauses as their object too if succeeded by the conjunctions ' or ', in which case the subject of the clause is in the nominative or the accusative respectively.
Genitive construction ()A noun may be defined more precisely by adding another noun immediately afterwards. In Arabic grammar, this is called ("annexation, addition") and in English is known as the "genitive construct", "construct phrase", or "annexation structure". The first noun must be in the construct form while, when cases are used, the subsequent noun must be in the genitive case. The construction is typically equivalent to the English construction "(noun) of (noun)". This is a very widespread way of forming possessive constructions in Arabic, and is typical of a Semitic language. Simple examples include: * "the daughter of Hasan/Hasan's daughter". * "the house of peace". * "a kilo of bananas". * ' "the house of a man/a man's house". * "the house of the man/the man's house". The range of relationships between the first and second elements of the ''idafah'' construction is very varied, though it usually consists of some relationship of possession or belonging. In the case of words for containers, the ''idāfah'' may express what is contained: ' "a cup of coffee". The ''idāfah'' may indicate the material something is made of: ' "a wooden ring, ring made of wood". In many cases the two members become a fixed coined phrase, the ''idafah'' being used as the equivalent of a compound (linguistics), compound noun used in some Indo-European languages such as English. Thus ' can mean "house of the (certain, known) students", but is also the normal term for "the student hostel".
Word orderClassical Arabic tends to prefer the word order Verb–subject–object, VSO (verb before subject before object) rather than Subject–verb–object, SVO (subject before verb). Verb initial s like in Classical Arabic are relatively rare across the world's languages, occurring only in a few language families including Celtic languages, Celtic, Austronesian languages#Structure, Austronesian, and Mayan languages#Word order, Mayan. The alternation between VSO and SVO word orders in Arabic results in an agreement asymmetry: the verb shows person, number, and gender agreement with the subject in SVO constructions but only gender (and possibly person) agreement in VSO, to the exclusion of number. : : : : Despite the fact that the subject in the latter two above examples is plural, the verb lacks plural marking and instead surfaces as if it was in the singular form. Though early accounts of Arabic word order variation argued for a flat, Non-configurational language, non-configurational grammatical structure, more recent work has shown that there is evidence for a VP constituent in Arabic, that is, a closer relationship between verb and object than verb and subject. This suggests a hierarchical grammatical structure, not a flat one. An analysis such as this one can also explain the agreement asymmetries between subjects and verbs in SVO versus VSO sentences, and can provide insight into the syntactic position of pre- and post-verbal subjects, as well as the surface syntactic position of the verb. In the present tense, there is no overt Copula (linguistics), copula in Arabic. In such clauses, the subject tends to precede the predicate, unless there is a clear demarcating pause between the two, suggesting a marked information structure. It is a matter of debate in Arabic literature whether there is a null present tense copula which syntactically precedes the subject in verbless sentences, or whether there is simply no verb, only a subject and predicate. Subject pronouns are normally omitted except for emphasis or when using a participle as a verb (participles are not marked for person). Because the verb agrees with the subject in person, number, and gender, no information is lost when pronouns are omitted. Auxiliary verbs precede main verbs, prepositions precede their objects, and nouns precede their relative clauses. Adjectives follow the noun they are modifying, and agree with the noun in case, gender, number, and state: For example, ' 'a beautiful girl' but ' 'the beautiful girl'. (Compare ' 'the girl is beautiful'.) Elative (gradation), Elative adjectives, however, usually don't agree with the noun they modify, and sometimes even precede their noun while requiring it to be in the genitive case.
''’inna''The subject of a sentence can be topicalized and emphasized by moving it to the beginning of the sentence and preceding it with the word ' 'indeed' (or 'verily' in older translations). An example would be ' 'The sky is blue indeed'. ', along with its related terms (or "sister" terms in the native tradition) ' 'that' (as in "I think that ..."), ' 'that' (after ' 'say'), ' 'but' and ' 'as if' introduce subjects while requiring that they be immediately followed by a noun in the accusative case, or an attached pronominal suffix.
Definite articleAs a Arabic definite article, particle, ''al-'' does not inflect for , , grammatical person, person, or . The sound of the final -l consonant, however, can vary; when followed by a Sun and moon letters, sun letter such as t, d, r, s, n and a few others, it is replaced by the sound of the initial consonant of the following noun, thus doubling it. For example: for "the Nile", one does not say ''al-Nīl'', but ''an-Nīl''. When followed by a Sun and moon letters, moon letter, like m-, no replacement occurs, as in ''al-masjid'' ("the mosque"). This affects only the pronunciation and not the spelling of the article.
Dynasty or familySome people, especially in the region of Arabia, when they are descended from a famous ancestor, start their last name with , a noun meaning "family" or "clan", like the dynasty Al Saud (family of Saud) or Al ash-Sheikh (family of the Sheikh). is distinct from the Al-, definite article ال.
OtherObject pronouns are s and are attached to the verb; e.g., ' 'I see her'. Possessive pronouns are likewise attached to the noun they modify; e.g., ' 'his book'. The definite article ' is a clitic, as are the prepositions ' 'to' and ' 'in, with' and the conjunctions ' 'as' and ' 'then, so'.
Reform of the Arabic traditionAn overhaul of the native systematic categorization of Arabic grammar was first suggested by the medieval philosopher Al-Jahiz, al-Jāḥiẓ, though it was not until two hundred years later when Ibn Maḍāʾ wrote his ''Refutation of the Grammarians'' that concrete suggestions regarding word order and Governance (linguistics), linguistic governance were made. In the modern era, Egyptian litterateur Shawqi Daif renewed the call for a reform of the commonly used description of Arabic grammar, suggesting to follow trends in Western linguistics instead.
See also* *List of Arabic dictionaries *ʾIʿrab, I‘rab * Literary Arabic *Varieties of Arabic * *Quranic Arabic Corpus *Romanization of Arabic *:wikt:Appendix:Arabic verbs, Wiktionary: appendix on Arabic verbs *Wikibooks:en:Arabic, WikiBook: Learn Arabic * *Ibn Adjurrum *Ajārūmīya *Ibn Malik *Alfiya