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Summary of Arabic Grammar

Introduction

The science of the Arabic language known as نحو – basically translated as grammar and syntax – is a topic through which we learn to correctly convey meaning in Arabic, form coherent sentences, and protect ourselves from verbal error. This also helps in reading texts without the aid of diacritic vowelling and in understanding such texts as well. Where Lexicology and Morphology are concerned with being able to work with the internals of words, grammar is concerned with being able to work with the endings of words in order to read and comprehend in a sentential milieu.

 

 In order to satisfy both goals of reading and comprehension, grammar treats one, and only one, topic; grammatical inflection. Grammar discusses which words in the language inflect and which do not. Of those that do not inflect, what are they and why don’t they inflect? Of those that do inflect, what are they and how do they inflect? Moreover, what situations cause this inflection?

 

Answering the questions above partly entails the analysis of nominal and verbal sentences. In analysing these, all occasions under which words change inflection are discussed. Discussing these occasions involves further scrutiny into phrasal structures and like topics. Once these questions above have been answered, a student is now able to correctly vowel and comprehend texts and thus both goals of grammar have been satisfied. Moreover and consequently, all of grammar has been exhausted.

 

Finally, there are two techniques used to parse sentences. Both of these are used to firmly, effectively, and expediently realize the two goals of grammar with students in practice. They are also used as tests to gage the understanding of a student. For exposure to these, one is encouraged to join Arabic classes.

Which Words Inflect and Which do not, and Why?

حرف

 

 

 

مبني

فعل

ماضي

 

 

مبني

مضارع

all emphatics

 

مبني

other tables

conjugations 6 & 12

مبني

other conjugations

معرب

امر

 

 

مبني

اسم

certain categories (e.g. pronouns)

مبني

all other nouns

معرب

 

Why don’t some words inflect?

Some words do not inflect because the purpose of inflection is to be able to differentiate the many uses of a single word (e.g. as a subject, as an object, etc). If a word is not used in these ways, then it does not need to be differentiated and it is called truly indeclinable. This includes:

·         the imperative verb (active second-person conjugations only)

·         the perfect verb

·         all particles

 

There are some words that do need a method of differentiation between their many uses. However, not all of these may inflect. This is because they resemble truly indeclinable words. For example:

·         nouns may resemble particles by virtue of number of letters, meaning, governing and not being governed, or not affording a complete meaning on their own

o   thus the nouns that are indeclinable are: all pronouns, nouns with verb meanings, onomatopoeias, and some others

·         the imperfect verb conjugations 6 and 12 resemble conjugation 6 of the perfect table

·         emphatic tables resemble imperative emphatics, and they in turn resemble second-person active imperatives in meaning

 

Why do some words inflect?

Words that need a method of differentiation between their many usages are declinable. But some words that do not need this also become declinable as a result of reverse resemblance.

·         the declinable imperfect verb is declinable because it resembles the active or passive participles in about 6 ways

·         moreover, the imperfect verb sometimes falls into cases where the interpretation of the sentence can be grossly divergent without the aid of declension

Of the Words that Inflect, How do They Inflect?

 

 

الإعراب

 

الاسم المتمكن

جر

(genitive)

نصب

(accusative)

رفع

(nominative)

 

Visible change using all three short vowels

Type 1

1 المفرد المنصرف الصحيح

2 المفرد الجاري مجرى الصحيح

3 الجمع المكسّر المنصرف

ـٍ

ـً

ـٌ

 

Visible change using some short vowels

Type 2

الجمع المؤنث السالم 4

ـٍ

ـٍ

ـٌ

Type 3

غير المنصرف، لا يعرف باللام ولا يضاف اليه 5

ـَ

ـَ

ـُ

 

Visible change using all three long vowels

Type 4

المكبرة الموحدة المضافة الى غير ياء المتكلم 6

أب أخ حم هن فم ذو

ي

ا

و

 

Visible change using some long vowels

Type 5

مثنى 7

كلا وكلتا المضافتان الى ضمير 8

اثنان واثنتان 9

ي

ي

ا

Type 6

الجمع المذكر السالم 10

عشرون الى تسعون 11

اولو 12

ي

ي

و

 

Completely invisible change of short vowels

Type 7

غير الجمع المذكر السالم، المضاف الى ياء المتكلم 13

  الاسم المقصور 14

ـٍ

ـً

ـٌ

 

Partially invisible change of short vowels

Type 8

الاسم المنقوص 15

ـٍ

ـً

ـٌ

 

Partially invisible change of long vowels

Type 9

الجمع المذكر السالم المضاف الى ياء المتكلم 16

ي

ي

و

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

الاعراب

 

الفعل المضارع

جزم

(jussive)

نصب

(subjunctive)

رفع

(indicative)

Type 1

المفرد الصحيح بغير نون الرفع 1

ـْ

ـَ

ـُ

Type 2

المعتل الواويّ بغير نون الرفع 2

المعتل اليائي بغير نون الرفع 3

حذف اللام

ـَ

ـُ

Type 3

المعتل الالفيّ بغير نون الرفع 4

حذف اللام

ـَ

ـُ

Type 4

المضارع مع نون الرفع 5

حذف النون

حذف النون

ن

 

The reason why a noun would fall into noun-type 5 is that one of the following characteristics applies to it

·         it is a name or adjective with a deviated construction

·         it is a name which is feminine by means of an explicit ة or an assumed ة, or it is feminine by means of an الف مقصورة or an الف ممدودة

·         it is a foreign name

·         it is pluralized using a منتهى الجموع pattern

·         it is a hyphenated name

·         it is a name or adjective with an extra ـان at the end

·         it is a name or adjective on the pattern of a verb

What Grammatical Positions Cause Inflection?

This is where we discuss nominal and verbal sentence as well as types of phrases. Because it is the manner in which a word occurs in a phrasal or sentential milieu – e.g. as the subject, as the object, etc – that causes change in inflection which is then somehow reflected at the end of the word.

 

Reasons why a word, phrase, or embedded sentence becomes nominative

·         in nominal sentences

o   it is the topic

o   it is a comment

o   it is the topic of a sentence abrogated by كان or one of its sisters

o   it is the topic of a sentence abrogated by the ما or لا which resemble ليس

o   it is a comment of a sentence abrogated by إنّ or one of its sisters

o   it is a comment of a sentence abrogated by the لا of class negation

·         in verbal or verb-like sentences

o   it is the subject

o   it is the ergative subject

 

Reasons why a word, phrase, or embedded sentence becomes accusative

·         in nominal sentences

o   it is a comment of a sentence abrogated by كان or one of its sisters

o   it is a comment of a sentence abrogated by the ما or لا which resemble ليس

o   it is the topic of a sentence abrogated by إنّ or one of its sisters

o   it is the topic of a sentence abrogated by the لا of class negation

·         in verbal or verb-like sentences

o   it is an object

o   it is a cognate adverb

o   it is a temporal or locative adverb

o   it is a causative adverb

o   it is the adverb of accompaniment

·         in phrases

o   it is a circumstantial adverb

o   it is an exceptive

o   it is a elucidatory adverb

 

Reasons why a word, phrase, or embedded sentence becomes genitive

·         in phrases

o   it is the second part of a genitival phrase

o   it is the object of a preposition

 

Reasons why a verb becomes indicative

·         it is neither subjunctive nor jussive

 

Reasons why a verb becomes subjunctive

·         it is preceded by أنْ, either explicitly or hidden after لِـ, حتى, and certain other particles

·         it is preceded by لن

·         it is preceded by كي

·         it is preceded by إذن

 

Reasons why a verb becomes jussive

·         it is preceded by لم

·         it is preceded by لما

·         it is preceded by the لـ of imperative

·         it is preceded by لا of prohibitive

·         it is preceded by the conditional إنْ, whether it be explicit o implicit

 

Grammatical case may also be extended from one noun or verb to another in the following ways

·         through the use of adjectives, which must match their noun in grammatical case

·         through the use of demonstrative pronouns, whose words must match the pronoun in case

·         through conjunction

·         through apposition

·         through clarifying apposition

 


 

Phrases

Phrases usually consist of two or three parts.

 

Second Part

Link

First Part

 

 

صفة

 

موصوف

Adjectival

matches the noun

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

noun or sentence, rarely phrase

 

usually a noun, can be a phrase

Nesting Capabilities

 

مضاف إليه

 

مضاف

Genitival

always genitive

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

noun, phrase, or sentence

 

noun

Nesting Capabilities

 

مشار إليه

 

اسم إشارة

Demonstrative

matches the pronoun

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

noun or phrase

 

fixed set of nouns

Nesting Capabilities

 

صلة

 

موصول

Relative-Pronominal

 

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

sentence

 

fixed set of nouns

Nesting Capabilities

 

معطوف

و، ف، إلخ

معطوف عليه

Conjunctive

matches the first part

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

usually the same as the first part

fixed particles

word, phrase, or sentence

Nesting Capabilities

 

بدل

 

مبدل منه

Appositional

matches the first part

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

usually the same as the first part

 

word, phrase or sentence

Nesting Capabilities

 

معطوف بعطف البيان

 

معطوف عليه

App.-Conjunctive

matches the first part

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

word or phrase

 

word or phrase

Nesting Capabilities

 

تأكيد

 

مؤكد

Emphatic

matches the first part

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

word or matches the first part

 

word or phrase

Nesting Capabilities

 

مستثنى

إلا

مستثنى منه

Exceptive

usually accusative

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

noun or phrase

 

noun or phrase, or hidden

Nesting Capabilities

 

تمييز

 

مميز

Elucidatory

accusative

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

usually a noun

 

word or phrase

Nesting Capabilities

 

حال

 

ذو الحال

Circumstantial

usually accusative

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

word, sentence, rarely a phrase

 

noun or phrase

Nesting Capabilities

 

صلة الموصول الحرفي

 

حرف مصدري

Gerundival

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

sentence

 

fixed particles

Nesting Capabilities

 

مجرور

 

جار

Prepositional

always genitive

 

 

Grammatical Case

nouns, phrases, nominal sent.

 

fixed particles

Nesting Capabilities

 

منادى

 

حرف النداء

Vocative

usually accusative

 

 

Grammatical Case

noun or phrase

 

fixed particles

Nesting Capabilities

 

مقسم به

 

حرف القسم

Testimonial

genitive

 

 

Grammatical Case

noun or phrase

 

fixed particles

Nesting Capabilities

 

معمول

 

شبه الفعل

Verb-Like

depends on its position

 

subject to the milieu

Grammatical Case

noun or phrase

 

certain nouns acting like verbs

Nesting Capabilities

 


 

Sentences

 

Predicate

Link

Subject

Abrogator

 

 

خبر

[ضمير الفصل]

مبتدأ

 

Nominative

nominative

 

nominative

 

Grammatical Case

noun, phrase, or sentence

pronouns

noun or phrase

 

Nesting Capabilities

 

خبر

[ضمير الفصل]

اسم

كان / ما / لا

Nominative

accusative

 

nominative

 

Grammatical Case

noun, phrase, or sentence

pronouns

noun or phrase

certain words

Nesting Capabilities

 

خبر

[ضمير الفصل]

اسم

إنّ / لا نفي جنس

Nominative

nominative

 

accusative

 

Grammatical Case

noun, phrase, or sentence

pronouns

noun or phrase

certain words

Nesting Capabilities

 

 

Nesting Capabilities

Grammatical Case

Verbal

 

 

فعل

noun or phrase

nominative

فاعل

noun or phrase

النائب عن الفاعل

noun or phrase, rarely a sentence

accusative

مفعول به

noun but usually a phrase

مفعول فيه

noun or phrase

مفعول له

noun or phrase

مفعول مطلق

noun and rarely phrase

مفعول معه

 



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