Learning Arabic Grammar قواعد العربية للمبتدئين
1- The Verb “to be” in Arabic:
In Arabic, there is no direct translation of “to be” in the present tense. That means that “am & is and are” don’t exist in Arabic sentence. For example:
|كَيْفَ الْحَال؟||Kayf al-Haal?
|How “are” you?|
|الحَمْدُ لِله. وَأَنْتَ: كَيْفَ الْحَال ؟||al-Hamdu lillah. Wa ‘anta, kayf al-Haal?||“I’m” doing well. And you. How” are” you?
|الحَمْدُ لِله. أَنَا بِخَيْر. شُكْراً.||al-Hamdu lillah. ‘anaa bekhayr. shukran||Fine. “I’m” doing well. Thanks.|
2-Definite and Indefinite articles:
There are no indefinite articles ‘a’ or ‘an’ in Arabic. For example; “SabaaH” means ‘morning’ and ‘a morning’, and “masaa‘” means ‘evening’ and ‘an evening’.
Arabic has a definite article like “the” in English. It is “al“, in Arabic, which added to the beginning of a word by attaching the prefix “al-“. For example; “al-masaa‘” means ‘the evening’, “al-Haal” means ‘the condition’ of someone’s health.
There is one other important rule to keep in mind when it comes to the definite article “al“.
Remember the phrases “as-salaam” and “an-nuur“? both “as” in “as-salaam” and “an” in “an-nuur” mean “the” as well, But neither are pronounced as “al“.
That’s because we have found few letters (14 of the 28) in Arabic when they come after the definite article “al” so they can cancel the pronunciation of the “l” sound in “al” and that time you will find only the “a” followed by those mentioned letters doubled. Hence “as-salaam” with double “s” and “an-nuur” with double “n“.
Those letters called “sun letters” because the word “shams” in Arabic which means “sun” begins with one of them.
How to know those letters? Simply they are the ones which we use the tip of the tongue to pronounce them:
“t , th , d , dh , r , z , sh , s, l, n”. :
ت، ث، د، ذ، ر، ز، س، ش، ص، ض، ط، ظ، ل، ن
The other 14 letters which don’t force “l” in “al” to be silent are called “moon letters” because the word “moon = qamar” in Arabic begins with one of them. Here is the example for both cases:
“SabaaH” = a morning, “aS-SabaaH” = the morning. “masaa‘” = an evening, “al-masaa’” = the evening. “shams” = sun, “ash-shams“ = the sun. “qamar“ = moon, “al-qamar” = the moon.
Arabic is a language that has gender, like Spanish, French, and Italian. That means every noun is either masculine or feminine.
Nouns in Arabic if they end with the sound (a) – called in Arabic (taa’ marbuuta)- are generally or 90% feminine, and masculine if they end in anything else. Examples:
“rajul“: man (masculine), “mar’a“: woman (feminine), “ketaab”: book (masculine), “Taawila“: table (feminine), “qalam“: pen (masculine), “say-yaara“: car (feminine)
Bear in mind that not all feminine nouns end with this sign.
“bent“: girl (f), “ukht”: sister (f), also some objects like: “shams”: sun (f), “‘arD”: earth (f). But this type of feminine gender is very rare in Arabic.
More Arabic Grammar notes
By now you should be able to recognize many words from the previous lesson. Remember the very common greeting phrase in Arabic “marHaban” and “‘ahlan wa sahlan” these are the friendly phrases that Mahmoud and Adam used.
To ask someone: “What’s your name?” simply say: “maa esmuka?” to a man, or “maa esmuke?” to a woman. Word by word: “maa” means: (what) and (your) is a possessive pronoun, which consists of (you = ‘anta or ‘ante) with adding of “ka or ke” to give the meaning of “esmuka” for a man or “esmuke” for a woman. Remember that Arabic doesn’t express (is, are, or am) and there are two forms of you: “‘anta” to a man and “‘anti” to a woman.
The response for this question is: “my (possessive pronoun) + name” which equal in Arabic “esm + ii“.
How to ask: “Where are you from?” simply say “men ‘ayn ‘anta” to a man as we mentioned above or “‘ante” to a woman.
There are other different forms for speaking to two people or to three or more, but do not worry about that for now!
At the end of the dialogue you have learned how to speak friendly to any one and how you can use a useful phrase like “nice to meet you”, which means “furSa saAiida” or “tashar-rafna“.
1- The possessive adjective
Where are you from?
The title refers to a type of adjective formed by adding a suffix (yy) for masculine, or (y-ya) for feminine nouns.
– To form these types of adjective from a place or noun, follow these steps;
1- Remove the definite article if the noun has (al) as in the example of (Iraq) above.
2- Remove (alif /taa’ marbuuta) from the end of the noun if it has either.
3- Add the suffix (yy) to make the adjective for male, or (y-ya) to make it for female. See the following;
|Country||Male adjective (nationality)||Female adjective (nationality)||English|
Arabic is like English. It has two sets of personal pronouns: subject and possessive pronouns. There is some overlap among these sets. However, Arabic has more pronouns than English (Formal Arabic has separate categories for masculine and feminine and dual pronouns for sets of two, these are not used in most varieties of spoken Arabic). Here you will learn the following most commonly used subject pronouns in spoken Arabic:
|أنْتَ||‘anta||You (for male)|
|أنْتِ||‘anti||You (for female)|
|هُوَ||huwa||He / It (for masculine)|
|هِيَ||heya||She /It (for feminine)|
3- Question words
To ask a question in Arabic, use one of the below words at the beginning of a sentence:
|ما؟||maa||What? (used before nouns)|
|ماذا؟||maaThaa||What? (used before verbs)|
|لِمَ / لِماذا؟||lema / lemaaThaa||Why?|
|هل؟||hal||For (Yes/No) question|
|مِنْ أَين؟||men ‘ayn||From where?|
|مَعَ مَنْ؟||maAa man||With whom?|
|1- What’s your name?||maa esmuk?||1- ما اِسْمُك؟|
|2- What do you do?||matha taAmal?||2- ماذا تَعْمَل؟|
|3- Why are you in Egypt?||lema ‘anta fii meSr?||3- لِمَ أنتَ في مِصْر؟|
|4- Where’s the University?||‘ayn al-jaameAa ?||4- أَيْن الجامِعَة؟|
|5- Who is Adam?||man ‘adam?||5- مَنْ آدَم؟|
|6- When is the lesson?||mataa ad-dars?||6- مَتى الدّرْس؟.|
|7- How are things?||kayf al-Haal?||7- كَيْف الحال؟.|
|8- Are you from France?
9- Where are you from?
10- Which country are you from?
|hal ‘anta men Faransaa?
men ‘ayn ‘anta?
men ‘ayy balad ‘anta?
8- هل أَنْتَ مِنْ فَرَنْسا؟
9-من أين أنت؟
10- مِنْ أَي بَلَد أَنتَ ؟
Possessive pronouns in Arabic are suffixes attached to the nouns. Those you have seen already in previous dialogues:
my name : esmii اِسْمي my brother: akhii أخي
your name: esmka / esmke اِسْمكَ / اِسْمكِ
Here are all these suffixes with their subject pronouns, applied on an example:
|your office (for a male)||maktabka / ak (spoken)||مَكْتَبـكَ|
|your office (for a female)||maktabke / ek (spoken)||مَكْتَبـكِ|
|your office (for plural)||maktabkum||مَكْتَبـكُم|
Notice that, the possessive pronouns (ka) and (ke) for your are pronounced as (ak) for male and (ek) for female in spoken Arabic.
maa haThaa / haThehe?
ما هَذا / هَذِهِ؟
The demonstratives “haTha / haThehe” are translated as “this is a/an….” and “this…” and are used to refer to masculine and feminine nouns.
Look at the below examples and learn how to say “this is a” & “this is the”:
1- This is a / an…. (referring to a masculine)
This is a house
This is a book
This is a pen
This is a chair
This is an office / desk
This is a telephone
2- This is a / an….(referring to a feminine)
This is a girl
This is a room
This is a car
This is a library
This is a watch
This is a picture
1- This…. (referring to a masculine)
This office / desk
2- This…. (referring to a feminine)
Building Arabic Sentences
1- Simple Sentences
Many Arabic sentences do not need the verb ‘to be’ (am, is, are) in the present tense, which means that you can have a ‘nominal sentence’ without verbs at all. Look at the following phrases;
I (am) Ahmad.
|أنا مِنْ سوريا
‘anaa men suurya
I (am) from Syria
I (am) an engineer
He (is) Hamdan
|هُوَ مِنْ قَطِر
huwa men qatar
He (is) from Qatar
He (is) an accountant
|نَحْنُ مِن الإمارات
naHnu men al-emaaraat
We (are) from Emirates
|أَنْتُم مِن دُبَي
‘antum men dubai
You (are) all from Dubai
|هُمْ مِن جَدّة
hum men jad-da
They (are) from Jeddah
The house (is) beautiful
The weather (is) nice
The city (is) big
2- Noun-Adjective phrases:
It is simple to form an adjective phrases in Arabic, because (The adjectivefollows the noun), as in the below example.
a big house
the big house
As you see in the two examples, if the noun has a definite article (al) also the adjective must be with (al), and vice versa.
Remember that, if the first word or the noun is definite or with (al) and the second word is not definite, so; it will be considered a full nominal sentence as in the grammar notice number 1. Example;
The house (is) big
3- The Plural
Arabic has three types of plurals:
|1-جَمْع المُذَكّر||jamA el-muThak-kar||1- Masculine Plural|
|2-جَمْع المُؤنّث||jamA el-mu’an-nath||2- Feminine Plural|
|3-جَمْع التكسير||jamA et-taksiir||3- Broken Plural|
1- Masculine plural
The noun takes one of pair endings (either “uun“- ــــون or “iin“يــــــن) according to grammatical function, which you will learn in the intermediate levels. While in spoken Arabic they use only one of the above suffixes, which is “iin“. For example:
|مِصْريون / مصريين
meSryuun / meSryiin
|إماراتيون / إماراتيين
|Emirati / Emiratis|
|قَطَريون / قَطَريين
qataryuun / qataryiin
|Qatari / Qataris|
|كويتيون / كويتيين
kuwaityuun / kuwaityiin
|Kuwaiti / Kuwaitis|
|مُدَرّسون / مُدَرّسين
|Teacher / Teachers|
|مُديرون / مُديرين
mudiiruun / mudiiriin
|Manager / Managers|
2- Feminine Plural
Most of the nouns which refer to feminine take the ending “aat ا ت“
|Emirati / Emiratis
|Kuwaiti / Kuwaitis
|Teacher / Teachers
|Manager / Managers
|Car / Cars
|Table / Tables
3- Broken Plural
Arabic has more than ten patterns of the broken plural which you will learn in intermediate level, as in some English words “child / children, man / men, and woman / women”. For example:
|رَجُل Rajul||رِجال rejaal||Man / Men|
|اِمْرَأَة ‘emra’aa||نِساء nesaa’||Woman / Women|
|طِفْل Tefl||أَطْفال ‘aTfaal||Child / Children|
Saying (to have) in Arabic
You have noticed Adam in the dialogue when he said (Aendii muHaaDara)= I have lecture. The pronoun forms which he used with the preposition are basically the same like the possessive pronouns forms which mentioned in the previous lesson. The following table introduces these endings with prepositions indicating the meaning of (to have) in Arabic.
Saying to have: prepositions with possessive suffixes
|You have (m)||لَكَ||laka||عِنْدك||Aendka||مَعَك||maAaka|
|You have (f)||لَكِ||lake||عِنْدك||Aendke||مَعَك||maAake|
|You have (pl)||لَكُم||lakum||عِنْدَكم||Aendkum||مَعَكم||maAakum|
Three of these combinations form (to have) in Arabic. The difference in
how they are used to express possession is:
– (lii) is used when referring to owning people: (lii ‘akh) = I have a brother
– (Aend) is used when referring to owning objects: (Aendii say-yaara) = I have a car
– (maAa) is used for referring to owning something right now: (maAii dollar)= I have a dollar. While some Arabic speakers use (Aend) for all cases.
Negation of (to have)
You can use (laysa(“ليس” to negate (to have) in Arabic, whatever the subject is. See the following examples:
|ليْسَ مَعي فُلوس||Laysa maAii fuluus||I don`t have money|
|ليْسَ عِنْده سَيّارة||Laysa Aendahu say-yara||He doesn’t have a car|
|ليْسَ لَهُم أَوْلاد||Laysa lahum awlaad||They don`t have children|