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Arabic grammar or Arabic language sciences ( ar, النحو العربي ' or ar, عُلُوم اللغَة العَرَبِيَّة ') is the grammar of the
Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Wats ...

Arabic language
. Arabic is a
Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East. They are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of West Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Malta, in small pockets in the Caucas ...

Semitic language
and its grammar has many similarities with the grammar of other Semitic languages. The article focuses both on the grammar of Literary Arabic (i.e.
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, ') or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language used from the 7th century and throughout the Middle Ages, most notably in Umayyad and ...
and
Modern Standard Arabic Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), or Modern Written Arabic (shortened to MWA), is a term used mostly by Western linguists to refer to the variety of standardized, literary Arabic that developed in the Arab world in the late 19th and early 20th cent ...
, which have largely the same grammar) and of the colloquial spoken
varieties of Arabic The varieties (or dialects or vernacular languages) of Arabic, a Semitic language within the Afroasiatic family originating in the Arabian Peninsula, are the linguistic systems that Arabic speakers speak natively. There are considerable variations ...
. The grammar of the two types is largely similar in its particulars. Generally, the grammar of Classical Arabic is described first, followed by the areas in which the colloquial variants tend to differ (note that not all colloquial variants have the same grammar). The largest differences between the classical/standard and the colloquial Arabic are the loss of morphological markings of
grammatical case Grammatical case is a linguistics term regarding a manner of categorizing nouns, pronouns, adjectives, participles, and numerals according to their traditionally corresponding grammatical functions within a given phrase, clause, or sentence. In s ...
; changes in
word order In linguistics, word order typology is the study of the order of the syntactic constituents of a language, and how different languages employ different orders. Correlations between orders found in different syntactic sub-domains are also of interest ...
, an overall shift towards a more analytic morphosyntax, the loss of the previous system of
grammatical mood In linguistics, grammatical mood is a grammatical feature of verbs, used for signalling modality. That is, it is the use of verbal inflections that allow speakers to express their attitude toward what they are saying (for example, a statement of ...
, along with the evolution of a new system; the loss of the inflected
passive voice#REDIRECT Passive voice#REDIRECT Passive voice {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
, except in a few relic varieties; restriction in the use of the
dual number In algebra, the dual numbers are a hypercomplex number system first introduced in the 19th century. They are expressions of the form , where and are real numbers, and is a symbol taken to satisfy \epsilon^2 = 0. Dual numbers can be added compo ...
and (for most varieties) the loss of the feminine
plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical category of number. The plural of a noun typically denotes a quantity greater than the default quantity represented by that noun. This default quantit ...
. Many Arabic dialects,
Maghrebi Arabic Maghrebi Arabic (Western Arabic; as opposed to Eastern or Mashriqi Arabic) is a vernacular Arabic dialect continuum spoken in the Maghreb region, in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Western Sahara, and Mauritania. It includes Moroccan, Algerian, ...
in particular also have significant
vowel shift A vowel shift is a systematic sound change in the pronunciation of the vowel sounds of a language. The best-known example in the English language is the Great Vowel Shift, which began in the 15th century. The Greek language also underwent a vowel ...
s and unusual
consonant cluster In linguistics, a consonant cluster, consonant sequence or consonant compound, is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups and are consonant clusters in the word ''splits''. Some linguists argue ...
s. Unlike other dialects, in
Maghrebi Arabic Maghrebi Arabic (Western Arabic; as opposed to Eastern or Mashriqi Arabic) is a vernacular Arabic dialect continuum spoken in the Maghreb region, in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Western Sahara, and Mauritania. It includes Moroccan, Algerian, ...
first person singular verbs begin with a n- (ن).


History

The identity of the oldest Arabic grammarian is disputed; some sources state that it was
Abu al-Aswad al-Du'ali Abu or ABU may refer to: Places * Abu (volcano), a volcano on the island of Honshū in Japan * Abu, Yamaguchi, a town in Japan * Ahmadu Bello University, a university located in Zaria, Nigeria * Atlantic Baptist University, a Christian university l ...
, who established
diacritical A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek (, "distinguishing"), from (, "to distinguish"). The word ''diacritic'' is ...
marks and vowels for
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Wats ...

Arabic
in the mid-600s,
Kojiro Nakamura Kojiro Nakamura (中村 廣治郎 ''Nakamura Kōjirō'') is a Japanese scholar of Islam. He is professor emeritus of Islamic studies at both Tokyo University and Oberlin University. Tokyo University's Department of Islamic Studies was the first such ...
, "Ibn Mada's Criticism of Arab Grammarians." ''Orient'', v. 10, pgs. 89-113. 1974
Others have said that the earliest grammarian would have been
Ibn Abi Ishaq ʿAbd-Allāh ibn Abī Isḥāq al-Ḥaḍramī (Arabic, عَبْدُ اللّهِ بْنُ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ الْحَضْرَمِيُّ), (died AD 735 / AH 117)Kees Versteegh, ''Arabic Grammar and Qur'anic Exegesis in Early Islam'', ...
(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
Basra Basra ( ar, ٱلْبَصْرَة, al-Baṣrah) is an Iraqi city located on the Shatt al-Arab. It had an estimated population of 2.5 million in 2012. Basra is also Iraq's main port, although it does not have deep water access, which is handled ...
and
Kufa Kufa ( ar, الْكُوفَة ), also spelled Kufah, is a city in Iraq, about south of Baghdad, and northeast of Najaf. It is located on the banks of the Euphrates River. The estimated population in 2003 was 110,000. Currently, Kufa and Najaf ar ...
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.
Archibald Sayce The Rev. Archibald Henry Sayce (25 September 18454 February 1933), was a pioneer British Assyriologist and linguist, who held a chair as Professor of Assyriology at the University of Oxford from 1891 to 1919. He was able to write in at least twe ...
, ''Introduction to the Science of Language''. Pg. 28, 1880.
From the school of Basra, generally regarded as being founded by Abu Amr ibn al-Ala, two representatives laid important foundations for the field:
Al-Khalil ibn Ahmad al-Farahidi Abu ‘Abd ar-Raḥmān al-Khalīl ibn Aḥmad ibn ‘Amr ibn Tammām al-Farāhīdī al-Zahrāni al-Azdī al-Yaḥmadī ( ar, أبو عبدالرحمن الخليل بن أحمد الفراهيدي الزهراني; 718 – 786 CE), known as Al-Fa ...
authored the first Arabic dictionary and book of Arabic prosody, and his student
Sibawayh Sibawayh ( ar, سِيبَوَيْهِ ' or ; fa, سِیبُویه‎ ' ; c. 760–796), whose full name is Abu Bishr Amr ibn Uthman ibn Qanbar al-Basri (, '), was a Persian leading grammarian of Basra and author of the earliest book on Arabic gram ...
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
Sibawayh Sibawayh ( ar, سِيبَوَيْهِ ' or ; fa, سِیبُویه‎ ' ; c. 760–796), whose full name is Abu Bishr Amr ibn Uthman ibn Qanbar al-Basri (, '), was a Persian leading grammarian of Basra and author of the earliest book on Arabic gram ...
consolidated Basra's reputation as the analytic school of grammar, while the Kufan school was regarded as the guardian of
Arabic poetry Arabic poetry ( ar, الشعر العربي ''ash-shi‘ru al-‘Arabīyyu'') is the earliest form of Arabic literature. Present knowledge of poetry in Arabic dates from the 6th century, but oral poetry is believed to predate that. Arabic poetry is ...
and
Arab culture Arab culture is the culture of the Arabs, from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the east, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean in the southeast. Language, literature, gastronom ...
. 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
exegesis Exegesis (; from the Greek from , "to lead out") is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for work with the Bible. In modern usage, ''biblical exegesis'' is used ...
of the
Qur'an The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن, translit=al-Qurʼān, lit=the recitation, ), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text of Islam, believed by Muslims to be a revelation from God (''Allah''). It is widely regarded as the fine ...
, in addition to
Islamic law Sharia (, ar, ), Islamic law, or Sharia law, is a religious law forming part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the religious precepts of Islam, derived from the hadith. In Arabic, the term ''sharīʿah'' refers to God's immutable ...
and Arab genealogy. The more rationalist school of Basra, on the other hand, focused more on the formal study of grammar.


Division

For classical Arabic grammarians, the grammatical sciences are divided into five branches: *' (language/
lexicon A lexicon is the vocabulary of a language or branch of knowledge (such as nautical or medical). In linguistics, a lexicon is a language's inventory of lexemes. The word ''lexicon'' derives from Greek word (), neuter of () meaning 'of or for wor ...
) concerned with collecting and explaining
vocabulary A vocabulary, also known as a wordstock or word-stock, is a set of familiar words within a person's language. A vocabulary, usually developed with age, serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge. Acquiring ...
. *' (
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines *Morphology (archaeology), study of the shapes or forms of artifacts *Morphology (astronomy), study of the shape of astronomical objects such as nebulae, galaxies, ...
) determining the form of the individual words. *' (
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the set of rules, principles, and processes that govern the structure of sentences (sentence structure) in a given language, usually including word order. The term ''syntax'' is also used to refer to the study of suc ...
) primarily concerned with
inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation, in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number, gender, mood, animacy, and definiten ...
('' ''). *' (
derivation Derivation may refer to: * Derivation (differential algebra), a unary function satisfying the Leibniz product law * Derivation (linguistics) * Formal proof or derivation, a sequence of sentences each of which is an axiom or follows from the precedi ...
) examining the origin of the words. *' (
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to i ...
) which elucidates stylistic quality, or eloquence. The grammar or grammars of contemporary
varieties of Arabic The varieties (or dialects or vernacular languages) of Arabic, a Semitic language within the Afroasiatic family originating in the Arabian Peninsula, are the linguistic systems that Arabic speakers speak natively. There are considerable variations ...
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
literacy Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write in at least one method of writing, an understanding reflected by mainstream dictionaries. Correspondingly, the term ''illiteracy'' is considered to be the inability to read and ...

literacy
and the degree to which the speaker deviated from
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, ') or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language used from the 7th century and throughout the Middle Ages, most notably in Umayyad and ...
. 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 ( ),
Modern Standard Arabic Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), or Modern Written Arabic (shortened to MWA), is a term used mostly by Western linguists to refer to the variety of standardized, literary Arabic that developed in the Arab world in the late 19th and early 20th cent ...
( ), and
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, ') or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language used from the 7th century and throughout the Middle Ages, most notably in Umayyad and ...
( ).


Phonology

Classical Arabic has 28
consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronounced with the back of the ...
al
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west of Engl ...
s, including two
semi-vowel In phonetics and phonology, a semivowel or glide is a sound that is phonetically similar to a vowel sound but functions as the syllable boundary, rather than as the nucleus of a syllable. Examples of semivowels in English are the consonants ''y'' ...
s, which constitute the
Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّة, ' or , ', ), or Arabic abjad, is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing Arabic. It is written from right to left in a cursive style and includes 28 l ...
. It also has six
vowel A vowel is a syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in quantity (length ...
phonemes (three short vowels and three long vowels). These appear as various
allophone In phonology, an allophone (; from the Greek , ''állos'', "other" and , ''phōnē'', "voice, sound") is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds, or ''phones'', or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language. For ex ...
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
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants). Syllables are often considered the phonologic ...
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
gemination In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin ''geminatio'' "doubling", itself from ''gemini'' "twins"), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singleton consonant. It is dist ...
or consonant doubling. See more in Tashkīl.


Nouns and adjectives

In
Classical Arabic Classical Arabic ( ar, links=no, ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ, ') or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language used from the 7th century and throughout the Middle Ages, most notably in Umayyad and ...
and
Modern Standard Arabic Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), or Modern Written Arabic (shortened to MWA), is a term used mostly by Western linguists to refer to the variety of standardized, literary Arabic that developed in the Arab world in the late 19th and early 20th cent ...
(MSA), nouns and adjectives ( ') are declined, according to
case Case or CASE may refer to: Containers * Case (goods), a package of related merchandise * Case, the metallic enclosure component in modern firearm cartridges * Bookcase, a piece of furniture used to store books * Briefcase or attaché case, a narro ...
('' ''),
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, United States * ''Our Sta ...
(definiteness),
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gende ...
and
number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More universally, individual numbers can be re ...
. 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.


Pronouns


Personal pronouns

In Arabic,
personal pronoun Personal pronouns are pronouns that are associated primarily with a particular grammatical person – first person (as ''I''), second person (as ''you''), or third person (as ''he'', ''she'', ''it'', ''they''). Personal pronouns may also take dif ...
s have 12 forms. In singular and plural, the 2nd and 3rd persons have separate
masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with men and boys. Although masculinity is socially constructed, research indicates that some behaviors considered masculine are biologically ...
and
feminine Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women and girls. Although femininity is socially constructed, research indicates that some behaviors considered feminine a ...
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 pronouns

Enclitic In morphology and syntax, a clitic (, backformed from Greek "leaning" or "enclitic"Crystal, David. ''A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics''. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1980. Print.) is a morpheme that has syntactic characteristics of a word ...
forms of personal pronouns ( ') are affixed to various parts of speech, with varying meanings: * To the
construct state In Afro-Asiatic languages, the first noun in a genitive phrase of a possessed noun followed by a possessor noun often takes on a special morphological form, which is termed the construct state (Latin ''status constructus''). For example, in Arabic a ...
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.


Demonstratives

There are two
demonstrative Demonstratives (abbreviated ) are words, such as ''this'' and ''that'', used to indicate which entities are being referred to and to distinguish those entities from others. They are typically deictic; their meaning depending on a particular frame o ...
s ( '), near-
deicticIn linguistics, deixis (, ) is the use of general words and phrases to refer to a specific time, place, or person in context, e.g., the words ''tomorrow'', ''there'', and ''they''. Words are deictic if their semantic meaning is fixed but their denote ...

deictic
('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 (
dagger alif The dagger alif or superscript alif ( ar, ألف خنجرية ) is written as a short vertical stroke on top of an Arabic letter. It indicates a long sound where alif is normally not written, e.g. or . The dagger alif occurs in only a few mode ...
: '), 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
clitic In morphology and syntax, a clitic (, backformed from Greek "leaning" or "enclitic"Crystal, David. ''A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics''. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1980. Print.) is a morpheme that has syntactic characteristics of a word ...
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
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the only Canaanite language still spoken and the only tru ...
, e.g. masculine ''zeh'' (cf. '), feminine ''zot'' (cf. '), plural ''eleh'' (cf. ').


Relative pronoun

The
relative pronounA relative pronoun is a pronoun that marks a relative clause. It serves the purpose of conjoining modifying information about an antecedent referent. An example is the word ''that'' in the sentence "This is the house that Jack built." Here the relat ...
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
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language ...
and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language * Germanic peoples * Ger ...
, where the gender and
number agreement In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions (such as "one", "two", or "three or more"). English and other languages present number categories of ...
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
resumptive pronounA resumptive pronoun is a personal pronoun appearing in a relative clause, which restates the antecedent after a pause or interruption (such as an embedded clause, series of adjectives, or a wh-island), as in ''This is the girli that whenever it rain ...
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 varieties

The 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
Egyptian Arabic Egyptian Arabic, locally known as Colloquial Egyptian ( ar, العامية المصرية, ), or simply ''Masri'' (), is the spoken vernacular Arabic dialect of Egypt. Egyptian is a dialect of the Arabic language, which is part of the Afro-Asiati ...
, 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
indirect object In linguistics, an object is any of several types of arguments. In subject-prominent, nominative-accusative languages such as English, a transitive verb typically distinguishes between its subject and any of its objects, which can include but are ...
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
circumfix A circumfix (abbreviated ) (also confix or ambifix) is an affix which has two parts, one placed at the start of a word, and the other at the end. Circumfixes contrast with prefixes, attached to the beginnings of words; suffixes, attached at the e ...
for negation (from Classical ' 'not ... a thing', composed of two separate words). This can lead to complicated
agglutinative The middle sign is in Hungarian, which agglutinates extensively. (The top and bottom signs are in Romanian and German, respectively, both inflecting languages.) The English translation is "Ministry of Food and Agriculture: Satu Mare County Directo ...
constructs, such as
Egyptian Arabic Egyptian Arabic, locally known as Colloquial Egyptian ( ar, العامية المصرية, ), or simply ''Masri'' (), is the spoken vernacular Arabic dialect of Egypt. Egyptian is a dialect of the Arabic language, which is part of the Afro-Asiati ...
'he didn't write it (fem.) to me'. (Egyptian Arabic in particular has many variant pronominal affixes used in different circumstances, and very intricate
morphophonemic Morphophonology (also morphophonemics or morphonology) is the branch of linguistics that studies the interaction between morphological and phonological or phonetic processes. Its chief focus is the sound changes that take place in morphemes (mini ...
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
construct Construct, Constructs or constructs may refer to: * Construct (information technology), a collection of logic components forming an interactive agent or environment ** Language construct * ''Construct'' (album), a 2013 album by Dark Tranquillity * ...
genitive (to varying degrees, depending on the particular variety). In
Moroccan Arabic Moroccan Arabic ( ar, اللهجة المغربية, ), known as Darija in Morocco, is a form of vernacular Arabic spoken in Morocco. It is part of the Maghrebi Arabic dialect continuum, and as such is mutually intelligible to some extent with Alge ...
, 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.
Egyptian Arabic Egyptian Arabic, locally known as Colloquial Egyptian ( ar, العامية المصرية, ), or simply ''Masri'' (), is the spoken vernacular Arabic dialect of Egypt. Egyptian is a dialect of the Arabic language, which is part of the Afro-Asiati ...
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 '.


Numerals


Cardinal numerals

Numbers 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
cardinal numeral In linguistics, and more precisely in traditional grammar, a cardinal numeral (or cardinal number word) is a part of speech used to count. Examples in English are the words ''one'', ''two'', ''three'', and the compounds ''three hundred and forty- ...
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 "
cipher In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be followed as a procedure. An alternative, less common term is ''encipherment''. To encipher or encode i ...
" and "
zero 0 (zero) is a number, and the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals. It fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is u ...
" 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"
* ' "102 books"


Fractions

Fractions 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 numerals

Ordinal numeral In linguistics, ordinal numerals or ordinal number words are words representing position or rank in a sequential order; the order may be of size, importance, chronology, and so on (e.g., "third", "tertiary"). They differ from cardinal numerals ...
s ( ') 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.


Verbs

Arabic 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.
k-t-b K-T-B ( he, כ-ת-ב ; ar, ك-ت-ب ) is a triconsonantal root of a number of Semitic words, typically those having to do with writing. The words for "office", "writer" and "record" all reflect this root. Most notably, the Arabic word ''kitab'' ("b ...
'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
functions Function or functionality may refer to: Computing * Function key, a type of key on computer keyboards * Function model, a structured representation of processes in a system * Function object or functor or functionoid, a concept of object-oriented ...
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
Negation in Arabic Negation in Arabic ( ar, ٱلنَّفْي, al-nafy 'the negative') is the array of approaches used in Arabic grammar to express grammatical negation. These strategies correspond to words in English like ''no'' and ''not''. Modern Standard Arabic Ne ...
.


Prepositions

There 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
genitive case In grammar, the genitive case (abbreviated ), is the grammatical case that marks a word, usually a noun, as modifying another word, also usually a noun—thus, indicating an attributive relationship of one noun to the other noun. A genitive can al ...
. 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.


Syntax


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 order

Classical 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
word order In linguistics, word order typology is the study of the order of the syntactic constituents of a language, and how different languages employ different orders. Correlations between orders found in different syntactic sub-domains are also of interest ...
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 article

As a Arabic definite article, particle, ''al-'' does not inflect for
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, femininity and masculinity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex, sex-based social structures (i.e., gender roles), or gende ...
,
number A number is a mathematical object used to count, measure, and label. The original examples are the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and so forth. Numbers can be represented in language with number words. More universally, individual numbers can be re ...
, grammatical person, person, or
grammatical case Grammatical case is a linguistics term regarding a manner of categorizing nouns, pronouns, adjectives, participles, and numerals according to their traditionally corresponding grammatical functions within a given phrase, clause, or sentence. In s ...
. 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 family

Some 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.


Other

Object pronouns are
clitic In morphology and syntax, a clitic (, backformed from Greek "leaning" or "enclitic"Crystal, David. ''A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics''. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1980. Print.) is a morpheme that has syntactic characteristics of a word ...
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 tradition

An 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."The Emergency of Modern Standard Arabic,"
by Kees Versteegh. Taken from ''The Arabic Language'' by permission of the Edinburgh University Press. 1997.


See also

*
Arabic language Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P. Streck, Janet C. E.Wats ...

Arabic language
*List of Arabic dictionaries *ʾIʿrab, I‘rab * Literary Arabic *Varieties of Arabic *
Arabic alphabet The Arabic alphabet ( ar, الْأَبْجَدِيَّة الْعَرَبِيَّة, ' or , ', ), or Arabic abjad, is the Arabic script as it is codified for writing Arabic. It is written from right to left in a cursive style and includes 28 l ...
*Quranic Arabic Corpus *Romanization of Arabic *:wikt:Appendix:Arabic verbs, Wiktionary: appendix on Arabic verbs *Wikibooks:en:Arabic, WikiBook: Learn Arabic *
Sibawayh Sibawayh ( ar, سِيبَوَيْهِ ' or ; fa, سِیبُویه‎ ' ; c. 760–796), whose full name is Abu Bishr Amr ibn Uthman ibn Qanbar al-Basri (, '), was a Persian leading grammarian of Basra and author of the earliest book on Arabic gram ...
*Ibn Adjurrum *Ajārūmīya *Ibn Malik *Alfiya


Notes


References


External links


''Arabic conjugation 24000 Verbs''''Wright's Arabic Grammar'' Arabic Grammar: Paradigms, Literature, Exercises and Glossary By Albert SocinA Practical Arabic Grammar, Part 1Einleitung in das studium der arabischen grammatiker: Die Ajrūmiyyah des Muh'ammad bin Daūd By Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Ibn Ājurrūm''Alexis Neme and Eric Laporte (2013) Pattern-and-root inflectional morphology: the Arabic broken plural'' , year=2013'' Alexis Neme (2011), A lexicon of Arabic verbs constructed on the basis of Semitic taxonomy and using finite-state transducers''''Alexis Neme and Eric Laporte (2015), Do computer scientists deeply understand Arabic morphology?'' - , available also in Arabic, Indonesian, French
{{Language grammars Arabic grammar,