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Grammar Fundamentals of Arabic

Three Kinds of Words in Arabic

Ism

A person, place, thing, idea, adjective, adverb or more.

Fil

A word that has a tense, e.g. to read.

Harf

A word that makes no sense unless there is a word after it.

4 Properties of an Ism; Status (

), Number (

), Gender (

), Type (

Status

).

Properties of the Ism

Status

The role of the word in the sentence.

3 types of status:
Doer

- oo / un

- aa / an

- ee / in

(Subject)

Detail
(Object)

After of
(Possesive)

H e a t e h i s lu n c h q u ic k l y o u t s id e y e st e rd a y .

(i.e .Lunch of his)

Our parents will pray for our success.


In English the person mentioned first is the Doer, e.g. I chased the cat. In Arabic this is not the case.
Arabic uses Singular (1) Dual (2) and Plural (3+). The ending sound will change into an ending combination
when in Dual or Plural form.

You can tell status by:


1. Ending sounds

2. Ending Combinations -

Single harakah or tanween added to the end of a singular word, e.g.


A few letters added to the end of the word e.g.

(R )
3. Plural Combinations

(N/J)

Only used for something that thinks e.g. Humans, Angels, Jinn e.g.

(R )

(N/J)

Muslim Chart

Feminine Plural Combinations

When a word is feminine a

is usually added to the end, followed by the relevant status ending sound.

When a word is feminine plural the ending combination is


Be careful not to translate these as ending sounds.
If you see

(R ) or

(N/J).

at the beginning of a word, it will not have tanween.

Light and Heavy

Properties of the Ism

All the words in the Muslim chart are considered heavy. They all have an n sound either because they end
with a or tanween.
To make a word light, whether masculine or feminine, the extra n sound is removed. E.g.
Note the difference between

and

becomes

Normally a word should have a heavy status.


Light Isms are suspicious. If a word is light there needs to be a reason.
An Ism that becomes light does not have its properties affected.

4 reason a word can be light:


1. Partly flexible e.g.
2. When it is a Mudhaf e.g.
3. If it is part of a Categorical negation (

i.e. Absolute No. E.g.

4. An Ism is light if it is being called e.g.

Flexibility

Properties of the Ism

The flexibility of a word refers to whether it can change its appearance according to its status e.g. all the words
in the Muslim chart are fully flexible.
3 types of Flexibility:
1. Fully Flexible

Show all statuses i.e. can have R/N/J endings; Light or Heavy
Most isms
Arab names

structure

Only four of the Prophets were Arabs;

2. Partly Flexible -

The N/J versions look the same; Always Light; Cannot take a
kasra. e.g.
(R )
(N/J).
Places
Non Arab names except 3 Letter place name exception, and 3 letter names
with

3. Non-flexible

in the midlle, e.g.

Colours (M/F)

Despite status, these words do not change.

Words that end with alif behave like this. E.g.

or

e.g.
e.g

Number

Properties of the Ism

Isms have number. This means they can be one of the following;

Singular
Dual
People Plural
Feminine Plural
Human Broken Plural
Non-Human Broken Plural

A Broken plural is a word that in its plural form doesnt end with a plural ending combination and .
In English we have Book, Books vs Mouse, Mice.
Since human and non-human broken plurals end in ending sounds, the only way to know what its number is,
is to know the meaning of the word.

Rule of thumb: Remember when deciphering a words number check for ending combinations first.
EC: Dual, Fem and People Plural.

ES: Singular, Human and Non-human Broken plural.


Plural?

Human?

Broken Plural?
S, Fem or
Based on trans
e.g.

Non - Human?
Regular Plural?
Based on trans
e.g.

S, Fem
e.g.
Fatima bought four books.
She read each of her quickly

translates as singular, but grammatically treated as plural because it represents a group of people.
E.g.

nation,

nation/people,

generation/century.

Gender

Properties of the Ism

In English we say something is a he, she or it. In Arabic it doesnt exist. Everything is he or she. Which
one do you use?

Rule of thumb: Pretend all words are masculine unless you find the clues to make a word feminine.

There are two types of Feminine in Arabic.


1. Real Feminine - e.g. Sister, Mother, Daughter
2. Fake Feminine
a. Words that end with
(except mens names)
b.
c.
d.
e.

Hell

Broken Plurals (NHBP always, HBP Sometimes)


Feminine because the Arabs said so (BASS) (
Human body parts in pairs
Proper names of places

Glass

House

Road

Soul

Staff

War

Wind

Fire

Earth

Path

Sky

Sun

Well

Alcohol

Type

Properties of the Ism

A words type is either Proper (A Chair) or Common (The Chair). Everything is common unless proven proper.
7 proper Isms:
1. Proper Names
2. Pronouns (

) e.g.

3. Pointers (

) e.g.

4. The One being called


5. Words that have
6.

e.g.

7. If the word after of is proper, the word before it is proper

Fragments
A phrase is more than two words. There are 2 types of phrases:
1. Sentences
2. Fragments

complete ideas e.g. I am a teacher.


more than a word less than a sentence e.g. My marker....

Mawoof/Sifah
Idhaafah
Harf of jar
Harf of nasb
Pointers with
Ism Mawsool and Silah

Mawsoof sifah
The

Fragment
is a noun-adjective fragment. In Arabic adjectives are part of Isms, they also have 4

properties. When both noun and adjective match in all 4 properties, it is called
Rules:

The adjective comes after the noun.


Properties match
There may be multiple
.
Can tolerate long distance

NHBP = F,S. So when a broken plural is given an adjective, you must give them an adjective as though you are
giving it to a girl. e.g.

Raf, Singular, Masculine, Common Raf, Singular, Masculine, Common


Adjective Noun
A Clever Muslim

Idaafah

Fragment

An idaafah is a fragment which brings two isms together with the word of in between them, e.g. Something
of Someones. e.g. The House of Allah, or His house (i.e. house of his).
Idhaafah has two parts

(The word Allah) and

(word before of) and

. (The house).

word after of) and must have these criteria or it is not idhaafah.

Jar status
No distance between the two

Light
No

3 types of idhaafah:
1. of translation
2. Pronoun attached to an ism
3. Special Mudhaaf

Sometimes a sentence can have more than one

If the
has a N/J ending combination you accept it as Jar, so long as the
Each word has S, N, G & T.

. E.g Musas Mothers heart.


meets the criteria.

Pronouns & Idhaafah

Pronouns can be stuck at the end of an ism, Fil or Harf BUT you only call them
when they are attached to an ism.

N/J R

In this case we know it is J because it is after of.

Whenever you add

as an attached pronoun, change the letter before to a kasra e.g.

- My book.

Idhafah Five special isms

Mudhafs
Status not shown by ES or EC, but rather ending letter (EL).
Regular

Father

Mudhaf

Regular

Mudhaf

Mouth

R
N
J

Brother

In-law

R
N
J

Possessor

Raf ends in

e.g.

is always

Nasb ends in

mudhaf, it never
stands alone.

Jarr ends with

e.g.
e.g.

Special Mudhaaf and Tharf


Special Mudhaaf
Behind, beyond

behind

After

before

below

Above

with

With, at, has, by, beside

Besides, other than

Special mudaaf are part of the more list.


They are special because:
1. They act as a mudhaaf most of
the time.
2. Because you dont use an of
when translating them. e.g

under the chair, not under of the chair.


Other than

Around, surrounding

between

Some, some of

Which, any

Especially from

Infront of

Right in front of

Each, all, every, the


whole

are speical mudhaaf that indicate time or place. When a


considered as the

has a

then it is

. (See table on page 13).

Pronouns

Subject
Pronouns

Possessive
Pronouns

Independent Pronouns

Status is Raf

Attached Pronouns

Status is N/J

Them (pp)

They (dm)

He

Their

Their (dm)

His

Them (pf)

They (df)

She

Their(pf)

Their (df)

Her

You all

Both of you (dm)

You (m)

Yours (mp)

Both of Yours (dm)

Your (m)

You all (pf)

Both of you (df)

You (f)

Yours (pf)

Both of Yours (df)

Your (f)

(R)

We

- is

N/J ?

pronoun is

- is

(J)

Our

is an ism. When an ism is attached to a pronoun, the Ism is

. Therefore

(N)
My

and the

is Jar.

N/J ? Since it follows a Harf Nasb, it is Nasb.

Harf Jarr

Fragment

Harf of Jar make the Ism that follows it Jar.

The HJ comes before the ism.


No distance between HJ and its ism
A Harf does not have 4 properties.

Oath

For/have

Like (comparison)

Swear

With/By

About/away from

In

)dont confuse with and)

From

To/towards

Until (2)

On/Upon/Against

(Can mean from)

Laam when attached with a pronoun with have a fatha not kasra e.g.
is a harf of Jarr in only 2 places in the Quran.
8

2 reason for a word to be Jar.

1.
2.

It is attached to an ism (
Comes after a Harf Jar

1.
2.

2 reasons for a word to be Nasb.

It is attached to a Fil.
Comes after a Harf Nasb

Harf Nasb

Fragment

Harf Nasb role is to make the ism that comes after them Nasb.
Can have distance between the HN an its affected Ism e.g.

So that,
Hopefully

Because

However

Alas,
(express regret)

As though,
As if

That

Certainly,
For sure

Pointers
Demonstrative Pronouns

Pointers

Near

Pointers

Demonstrative Pronouns
Far

These (MP)

These (MD)

These (FP)

This (MS)

Those (M/FP)

Those (MD)

(R)

(R)

(N/J)

(N/J)

These (FD)
(R)

This (FS)

(N/J)

Those (M/FP)

Those (FD)

That (MS)

That (FS)

(R)
(N/J)

Pointers are:

1. Non flexible, except their dual form (see table).


2. Always proper.
3. Have 4 properties, number and gender determined by the meaning.
4. Can be used to make sentences or fragments.
If you want a fragment, you put right after the pointer. 4 properties must match

e.g.

. This book.

If you want a sentence you dont use right after the pointer. 4 properties must match

e.g.

and

This is a book.

could be talking about a broken plural thus it will translate as those or these instead.

The thing being pointed to is called the


9

Pointing at the Mudhaaf

What happens when you want to use a pointer with an idaafah, since the idhaafah cannot take
Create the idhaafah fragment. Since mudhaaf cant take
the pointer AFTER the mudhaaf ilay. e.g.

, but a fragment requires it, remove the

and put

- This path of mine.

Keeping the word The with Pointers


You want to say: This is the man.
means This man. But if you want a sentence you cant use
Use a pronoun to seperate the pointer and the

So

after the pointer!


This is THE man.

Sentences
There are 2 kinds of sentence:
1. Ism based/ Nominal -

and 2. Fil based / Verbal -

Invisible is in the

A simple

has the word is in it. This does not exist in Arabic, but is implied. In understanding Ism

based sentences, we must find the invisible is.


You can do this by:
1. Proper followed by common:
2. Right after Harf of Nasb and Mansoob:

Allah IS greater
and

3. Independant pronouns are followed with is, as opposed to just he:


4. Pointers and no :
5. First break in the relationship chain: when you cannot connect a group of isms together by applying
the 5 fragments, the invisible is comes where the connection the lost e.g
and

10

The Subject and The Predicate in the

Parts of the
1. The Mubtada

(subject) is the starting part of the

Raf or Harf Nasb fragment.


Always definite noun or a pronoun.

2. The Khabar

i.e. the part before the is.

(the information, predicate)i.e. the part after is.

Usually Raf status.


If Harf Jarr or a

In a

then it is known as the

we need a

(MBK). (See table 13).

or both.

In this sentence we have a

and a

The mubtada and the khabar should be compatible in gender and number (If the plural is an intelligent being).

If the mubtada comes after the khabr, the reason will be for either emphasis, or exclusivity. For example,

eid takbeer -

i.e. praise is for Allah ONLY.

Fil based sentence

There are 3 parts of the


1. The
2. The doer
3. The details A

fragment will be called a

Every basic JF must have a

and a

(not always present).

. The rest may or may not be present.

The word
is used to emphasize both a past and present tense fi'l. It will ALWAYS be followed by a fi'l.
In modern Arabic , when used with present tense it can imply certainty or might depending on the context.
- He might know, or He certainly knows.

Embedded / Complex sentences

with

inside it:

She said, He is a Muslim

with

inside it:

The man he read.

11

The Muslim helped.

Normal phrasing
Only one doer

The Muslim, he helped or


It is infact the Muslim who helped!

Abnormal phrasing
Doer emphasised twice - once as the muslim
and then as he. It reiterates who the act is
done by, when someone is confused about
who did the act.
It can indicate an emotionally charged
context e.g. passion, anger, yelling depending
on context.

In MSA the translation would be the same without the repeated pronoun.

Types of

in a

Who/ What was the action done to? NOT WHAT WAS THE ACTION
When an attached pronoun is attached to a fil it is always mafool bihi.

When/ Where did the action take place?

Why was the action carried out?

How did the action take place?

How badly (Uses masdar to emphasise/describe the action)

Yesterday, I ate the cake slowly because I was hungry.

12

Sentence BEGINS with ...

Raf Ism
or
HN

Fil

Anything
else

Look at the next word

: The Action

: Subject of the Sentence

: Doer of the Action

Inside pronoun
Outside
After the fil, raf status, fil is

or hiya

: Details about the Action

Nasb ism
JI
Starts w/ raf ism quote
Starts with HN
Another JF

: MBF related to the action

HJ fragment

Raf Ism
HN fragment
& its ism

: Information about the Subject

Raf Ism
JF
Another JI
For
look for a JF or Nasb ism

: MBK Related to the

info

HJ fragment
Idaafah with a tharf
If the khabr is a JF, there will be no MBK

13

Fi'l Past Tense


A Fil word that has a tense, is stuck in time, it is not a verb as a verb does not contain the doer.
In arabic every active fil comes with an inside pronoun
that is the doer . Thus the simplest
is a fil on its own.

Past Tense Fils

Endings Change

Pronouns attached to the fil are always nasb because it


is a detail of the fil.
To tell the difference between the hidden pronoun
inside the fil and the attached pronoun that is being

Root

affected by the fil e.g


1. Identify the attached pronoun and
ignore it.
2. Translate the original fil.
- he
helped.
3. Then translate the attached pronoun.
- me.
4. So He helped me.

When attached pronoun is


It is vital that the fils
For example,

the u sound is prolonged e.g

is not lost in the verbal constructions from


(huwa) + ( nahnu). He came to Us.

which becomes

onwards.

= Fil in nahnu . We came.

Sent down

Made

Warned

Believed

Assumed

Prepared

Stayed/slept

Got big

Left

Said

Congratulated

Worked

Took

Read

Hit

Took Firmly

Heard

Learned

Found

Taught

Pass (test)

Succeeded

Raised Up

Mentioned

Asked for
forgivness

Prevented/
Forbade

Conversed
With

14

Fi'l Past Tense - Two Kinds of Doers

There are two different kinds of doers, inside and outside. The Outside doer (

is when your doer is not an

attached pronoun e.g. Maryam read 1. Inside (

- we are implying an inside doer who is

2. Outside

: Fil stays in

and

form i.e.

and

ven if the outside

doer is a pair or a plural.


Raf
After the fil
Vs
He taught the teacher

Vs

The teacher taught

Fi'l Present Tense

Beginnings &
Ending Change

Present/Future Tense Fils

Four of the conjugations begin with


these are

and

Present fils always begin with ANITA

The harakat on the

fil will lead

the way for the rest of the chart.

Present tense vs Ism: Present tense starts


with
e.g

or

and then ends with

or

vs

All root endings in present tense end with


a dhamma .

*Definition depends
on context

The present tense in Arabic includes both present and future tense. Translation depends on context.
A present tense fil can be forced into the future by using the harfs
is attached to the

or

, e.g.

He WILL help.

is not attached the fil but can be attached to other harfs.


is close,

is a little bit further in the future.

15

The Light Harf & Fi'l Present Tense

The light harf make the Present tense fil light, and change the meanings accordingly.

Light Harf

Until

In that case *

So that

Will not

To
e.g I want to..

doesnt come in the Quraan as a light harf.

The Present tense has 3 forms;


1. Normal 2. Light

3. Lightest -

Fils that follow the Light harf can change in either of the following ways:

If the fil ends with

If the fil ends with a

Feminine Plurals are unchanged i.e.

change to a

remove the

(replace with an alif for plural).


and

To
To
To

He helps

He will not help

In that case, he will help

16

Fi'l Present Tense - The Lightest Harf

Lightest Harf

Should
Then he should

And he should

* not yet with present tense fil e.g.


e.g.

*Not yet/
When

**Did not/
Had not

If

he has not yet helped, and when with a past tense fil

- when he helped.

**

comes with a present tense fil, however it translates with a past tense negative meaning.

The

make the present tense fil lighter in the following ways:

If the fil ends with

If the fil ends with a

Feminine Plurals are unchanged i.e.

change to a
remove the

.
and is replaced with an alif for plural.
and

He helps

He did not help

If he helps

can can make the fil light or lightest.


can mean should (lightest) or so that from
, (Light).
If the fil is light it means so that the helps, and if it lightest it means he should help. If this doesnt help, go
with the context.
How do you know whether the

is HJ or Lightest harf? HJ will come with a HJ, lightest will come with a

present tense fil.

Question Words

How
What
When
Where
Why
Did

17

Simple Fi'l Negation

A harf that negates is called a

- He didnt help.

- He doesnt help.

Used with both past and present fil


Includes negation and refutation
Strongest form of negation
Be careful! Maa has other uses besides negation
- He doesnt help.

Used with present tense ONLY

- He didnt help.

Used with present tense ONLY


Pushes the meaning into the past tense

- He will not help.

Used with present tense ONLY


Pushes the meaning into the future tense

Forbidding & Commanding

Forbidding is used to prevent someone from carrying out an action. Given this, the following apply;

You cannot command/ forbid in the past tense.


You cannot command yourself.
You cannot command/ forbid someone who is not there.
A grammatical command isnt always really a command. It could be a suggestion, motivation, sarcasm,
permission, advice, request or imperative. E.g. Should I buy this car Buy it.
Forbidding is easier than commanding.

To forbid you;

+ 2nd person lightest

1. Take the second person present tense verb


2. Make it
3. Put

infront of it

You hit!

! Dont hit!

18

Commanding

(2nd Person Lightest) remove

+ possible helper.

1) Start with 2nd person. E.g

You help

2) Make it

i.e.

3) Remove the first

so we have

4) Add helper alif if needed

i.e. if the word cannot be read then add the alif.

If the third letter (starting with ) is:


a.
b. Other
The commaning fil may look like a past tense.
Most of the time when we make a dua to Allah we use the commanding or forbidding form, but we call it
request because we are addressing Allah swt.
The one being ordered will be in the fil used.

Forbidding Vs Observation
Statement/ Observation

I noticed you dont write books.

Forbidding

Dont write books.

*The fil is not in its

form.

Conditional statement

A conditional statement will start with one of the following:


if

- whatever

- Whoever

It has 2 parts and can be defined as an If-Then statement.


1. The condition 2. The answer/ consequence of the condition

Both fil parts are in the

form.

O you who have attained to faith! If you help [the cause of] God, He will help you, and will make firm your
steps (47:7)

19

Answering a Command / Forbidding

The consequence of a command (

) or forbidding is made

, to show its relationship to the

command.

Sometimes for flow, a word will not end with the sukoon. E.g.

Passive Fils

Transitive fil -

is a fil that can take mafool bihi i.e it can be followed by someone or something,

these can have a passive.


Intransative fil -

- is a fil that cannot take mafool bihi i.e. it cannot be followed by someone or

something. These cannot have a passive.


He read

He read someone

He read something

He fell

He fell someone

He fell something

Active fil - Doer is known e.g. "Yusuf ate the chocolate."


Passive fil (

- When the fil is mentioned, but you dont know who the doer is, instead the done-to
is known. E.g. "The chocolate was eaten.

After the fil


Fil stays singular
Raf status
E.g.

You can make a word passive in English by adding words like was, is being, etc, for example, He
sees (active) becomes He is being seen (passive).

20

In Arabic both the past and present tense have passive forms. In order to tell if a fil is active or passive we do
the following:
1) Determine the tense of the fil.

Past tense fil - the passive will have OO-EE sounds

Present tense fil - the passive will have OO-AA sounds.

Word

Tense

Sound

Type

Translation

Past

OO-EE

Passive

"You were taught"

Present

OO-AA- EE

Active

"He teaches"

Present

OO-AA

Passive

"He is taught"

Present passives you just need one OO, and can have as many AAs as you need. The last letter is off
limits. The ending will not change e.g.
Past Passive - ensure the second-last letter is EE, and the rest should all be OO. You can have
as many OOs as you need, but you need one EE.

OO-AA

Present Passive

OO -EE

Past Passive

Kaana and her Sisters

To be

To become

Present

Is/are not

Past

21

These are incomplete verbs

. They cannot stand alone. Because

and her sisters do not make

a complete sentence in themselves like other fils e.g He became... Vs He ate. They are constructed as JF but
grammatically they are JI due to the missing component i.e. they will need a khabar.

The doer of

When

= mubtada
details are called the khabar of kaana, and will ALWAYS be nasb
The MBK rules are the same
Since they are still fils they can be used with harf

is used with the word Allah it means was and has always been and always will be.

When the khabr of


-

but

is always raf

is not called

is a present tense fil the translation is used to <fil>

He helps

He used to help.

Mubtada, Khabar, MBK

Demonstrative Pronouns

Ism Mawsool is an incomplete ism, it needs another part i.e a connector (

) to complete the fragment.

The ones who (M)

The two who (M)

The one who (M)

The ones who (F)

The two who(F)

The one who (F)

Whoever

Whatever

The on the IM is part of it.


It is not the definite article.

A complex ism is a fragment that takes the place of an ism e.g. The ones who took a car thieves. IM are
complex isms. Anytime you see
etc know it is part of a complex ism and the word right after is tied
to it i.e. part of its ism.

22

The

and

are grammatically treated as one.

The one who stole the car

Any status but non flexible thus

No status

Always proper

Can be an outside doer

Comes straight after the IM


Can be one word, a fragment, or entire
sentence.

The status of the ism is taken from one of the following:


1. The context
2.

See table below

Raf

Faail (doer)
Mubtada
Khabr
Sifah of a raf word
No reason to say it is N/J

Nasb

Jarr

Mafool
After HN
Sifah of nasb word

When looking at a sentence that has an

MI
After HJ
Sifah of a jarr word

in it, we want to do the following:

1. Identify the
2. Determine what status it is.
3. Find where the silah ends.
4. Translate
The role the complex ism is playing:
Ism Mowsool as a sifah:

4 properties match

the disbelieving nation

the nation that disbelieved. *Sifah


If there is a proper ism before the ism mowsool, check for mowsoof and sifah.

*In the place of


*We use this term when we are speaking about an ism whose status can only be determined by context
(usually PF and NF isms). E.g.
If we can only tell the status of an ism based on context then, when doing the analysis, we will say the ism is
"in the place of raf" or "in the place of nasb" or "in the place of jarr" based on context.

- I helped Musa.
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The Noun is called Man'oot and the adjective is called Naat


The only time a HJ comes as a is when attached to a pronoun, e.g. .
Sometimes is used for emphasis, as opposed to HJ.
If you are confused as to whether or not a word is an ism or fil, you say what you think it is then
decipher why. If it has no reason to be a fil then its not.

Irab process
1. Identify the number of words
2. Seperate those words.
3. Find the role of each word.

Negation
The absolute no comes with an ism

Connectors
Then

And

Or

and

Flow

is made up of

= antum and

= we , for fluidity

Sometimes for flow, a word will not end with the sukoon. E.g.
If the word before ends with a sukoon is changed for the flow.
When attached pronoun is

the u sound is prolonged e.g

Whenever you add

Sometimes for flow, a word will not end with the sukoon. E.g.

as an attached pronoun, change the letter before to a kasra e.g.

- My book.

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