. 14
( 23)


light food for after midnight in the afternoon

3.4.3 ba¬d-u oó©H
If there is no noun or pronoun following ba¬d, it is considered an adverb. In this
case, devoid of a noun or pronoun object, ba¬d changes its final vowel to Damma.13
In this adverbial role, the final Damma is invariable. The expression ba¬d-u is used
chiefly as an adverbial of time in negative clauses, meaning ˜[not] yet.™

.ó©H √óY’e Oqó«j „
lam yu-Haddad maw¬id-u-hu ba¬d-u.
Its date has not yet been set. THE EXPRESSION ¬i-maa ba¬d-u oó©H ɪ«a ˜LATER™
.ó©H ɪ«a É¡∏ªYG .ó©H ɪ«a ‚d ø˜∏JCÉ°S
i-¬mal-haa fii-maa ba¬d-u. sa-√u-talfin-u la-ka fii-maa ba¬d-u.
Do it later. I will telephone you later.

The final Damma on ba¬d-u and on certain other semi-prepositions (qabl-u, taHt-u) is considered to
be a remnant of an old locative case. This Damma has two characteristics: (1) it is invariable, even
after a preposition (e.g., min qabl-u; min taHt-u); (2) it cannot be on the first term of an √iDaafa, that
is, it cannot be followed by a noun in the genitive case or by a pronoun suffix. See Chapter 11,
section 4.1.3, especially note 12.
390 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

3.5 daaxil-a πNGO ˜inside, within™
The semi-preposition daaxil-a refers to a location inside or on the interior of

áq«e“°SE™G ádhódG πNGO Ohó—G πNGO G’¤∏¨¦«d
daaxil-a l-dawlat-i l-√islaamiyyat-i li-ya-nghaliq-uu daaxil-a l-Huduud-i
inside the Islamic state to be locked inside the borders

3.5.1 After a true preposition
After a true preposition, daaxil- inflects for the genitive case.

覘°S™G πNGO ˜
fii daaxil-i l-isfanj-i
on the inside of the sponge

3.6 Didd-a só°V ˜against; versus™
.áq«cÎdG ádhódG qó°V kÉHôM qø°»j .¦ó°V A»°T qπc
ya-shunn-u Harb-an Didd-a l-dawlat-i kull-u shay√-in Didd-ii.
l-turkiyyat-i. Everything is against me.
He is launching a war
against the Turkish state.

3.7 Dimn-a nøª°V ˜within; inside; among™
Ió«qàŸG ·C™G ¤Gq’b øª°V
Dimn-a quwwaat-i l-√umam-i l-muttaHidat-i
within the powers of the United Nations

º¡àq°üM øª°V ¿’µJ ¿CG –©j ¿Éc ¢VGQCG
√araaD-in kaan-a ya-jib-u an ta-kuun-a Dimn-a HiSSat-i-him
lands [which] should have been [included] within their portion

3.8 duun-a ¿hO; min duun-i ¿hO øe; bi-duun-i ¿hóH ˜without™
n p p
The word duun by itself literally means ˜below, under™ and it can be used by itself
marked with a fatHa as a semi-preposition meaning ˜without.™ However, it often
occurs in combination with min or bi- as a compound prepositional phrase mean-
ing ˜without.™

3.8.1 duun-a
ôNB™G É¡°†©H ¿hO É¡°†©H „¦Gó®à°SG
istixdaam-u ba¬D-i-haa duun-a ba¬D-i-haa l-√aaxar-i
using some of them without the others
Prepositions and prepositional phrases 391

3.8.2 min duun-i
.ó∏‘dG Gòg ¿hO øe øµ‡ ’Z „¦“°ùdG
al-salaam-u ghayr-u mumkin-in min duun-i haadha l-balad-i.
Peace is not possible without this country.

«’NO º°SQ ¢Vôa ¿hO øe
min duun-i farD-i rasm-i duxuul-in
without imposing an entrance fee

3.8.3 bi-duun-i
ÚaÉc ¿hóH I’¡b .±óg ¿hóH É¡ª«∏©J ≈¤‘j
qahwat-un bi-duun-i kaafiin ya-bqaa ta¬liim-u-haa bi-duun-i hadaf-in.
decaffeinated coffee (˜without Teaching it remains aimless
caffeine™) (˜without a goal™).

3.9 fawq-an¥’a ˜above; upon; on top of; over™
.É¡b’a ¤“©Y ≈∏Y ’°ùj ¬à“ Éeh ¬b’a Ée
ya-siir-u ¬alaa ¬ajalaat-in fawq-a-hu. maa fawq-a-hu wa-maa taHt-a-hu
It goes along on wheels [which are] what is above it and below it
above it.

É¡b’ah ¢VQC™G ≈∏Y ¬dµ¦e í£°S ¥’a
fawq-a saTH-i manzal-i-hi
¬alaa l-√arD-i wa-fawq-a-haa
on the earth and over it on [top of] the roof of his house

3.10 fawr-a nQ’a ˜immediately upon; immediately after; right after™
.¬àHÉ°UEG Q’a á©eÉ·G ≈˜°»à°ùe ¤EG π¤of
nuqil-a √ilaa mustashfaa l-jaami¬at-i fawr-a √iSaabat-i-hi.
He was transported to the university hospital right after being hit.

3.11 Hasab-a n–°ùM ˜according to; in accordance with™
QGô¤dG q¢üf –°ùM
Hasab-a naSS-i l-qaraar-i
according to the text of the resolution

3.12 Hawl-a n«’M ˜about, regarding; around™
This semi-preposition has two distinct meanings, one being ˜about™ in the con-
crete physical sense of ˜surrounding™ or ˜around™ and the other being ˜about™ in
the sense of ˜regarding™ or ˜with regard to.™
392 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

„É©dG «’M q»µjôeC™G πqNóàdG §°ShC™G ¥ô°»dG ˜ „°V’dG «’M
al-tadaxxul-u l-√amriikiyy-u Hawl-a Hawl-a l-waD¬-i fii l-sharq-i l-√awsaT-i
l-¬aalam-i about the situation in the Middle East
American intervention around
the world

‘ΰ»e „¦ÉªàgG ¤GP „«°VG’e «’M
Hawl-a l-mawaaDii¬-i dhaat-i htimaam-in mushtarak-in
about topics of common concern

3.13 Hawaalii ‹G’M ˜approximately™
The word Hawaalii is not the typical locative adverb or semi-preposition ending in
fatHa, yet it serves much the same function, being followed by a noun in the
genitive case.

.åMÉH á„e ‹G’M ¬JÉ°ù∏L ˜
fii jalsaat-i-hi Hawaalii mi√at-i baaHith-in.
In its sessions [were] approximately 100 researchers.

3.14 √ibbaan-a n¿ÉHEG ˜during™
√ibbaan-a l-shitaa√-i
during the winter

3.15 √ithr-a nôKEG ˜right after; immediately after™
º¡YɪàLG ôKEG
√ithr-a jtimaa¬-i-him
right after their meeting

3.16 √izaa√-a nAGREG ˜facing; in the face of™
áqj ô°üŸG ÉjÉ°†¤dG AGREG
izaa√-a l-qaDaayaa l-miSriyyat-i
in the face of Egyptian problems

3.17 ladaa iód ˜at, by; upon; to; having™
This locative adverb denotes possession and proximity. Like √ilaa and ¬alaa, it
changes its final √alif maqSuura to yaa√ when it has a personal pronoun suffix. See
model inflectional chart of ¬alaa pronoun suffixes, Chapter 12, section 2.3.
Prepositions and prepositional phrases 393

3.17.1 ladaa showing possession:
.I’ãc ácΰ»e AÉ«°TCG ɪ¡jód .s¦ód π‘¤à°ùe ™
laday-himaa √ashyaa√-u mushtarakat-un laa mustaqbal-a laday-ya.
kathiirat-un. I [would] have no future.
They [two] have many things in common.

.¿hR QÉH „¦’‚ É¡jód i’¤dG ÜÉ©dCG
√al¬aab-u l-qiwaa laday-haa nujuum-un baariz-uuna.
Track and field [sports][they] have prominent stars.

3.17.2 ladaa as ˜to; at; with™
A particular use of ladaa is to denote the country to which an ambassador is

ô°üe iód ¢UÈb ’˜°S áqjO’©°ùdG iód ¿ÉHÉ«dG ’˜°S
safiir-u qubruS-a ladaa miSr-a safiir-u l-yaabaan ladaa l-sa¬uudiyyat-i
the ambassador of Cyprus the ambassador of Japan to Saudi Arabia
to Egypt

3.17.3 ladaa as ˜upon; at the time of™
‚dP º¡°†aQ iódh ¢ùf’J ¤EG ’˜°ùdG IO’Y iód
wa-ladaa rafD-i-him dhaalika ladaa ¬awdat-i l-safiir-i √ilaa tuunis-a
and upon their refusal of that upon the return of the ambassador to Tunis

„e ˜with™14
3.18 ma¬-a nn
The basic meaning of ma¬-a has to do with accompaniment or association and is
almost always equivalent to English ˜with.™ Note that it is not used for indicating
instrumental concepts; bi- is used for that. It is also possible to use ma¬-a to express
possession of something concrete that people could “have with” them, such as a
wallet or keys. This expression of possession does not indicate permanency or the
concept of ˜belonging to.™

3.18.1 Accompaniment or association
AÉbó°UC™Gh Ü QÉbC™G „e ¤É«q¦ªàdG qôMCG „e
ma¬-a l-√aqaarib-i wa-l-√aSdiqaa√-i ma¬-a √aHarr-i l-tamanniyaat-i
with relatives and friends with warmest wishes

The word ma¬-a may seem like a true preposition because it is a lexical primitive and is sometimes
used in verb-preposition expressions (naaqash-a ma¬-a ˜to discuss with,™ tasaawaa ma¬-a ˜to equate
with,™ ta¬aawan-a ma¬-a ˜to cooperate with,™ ijtama¬-a ma¬-a ˜to meet with™). The eighth-century
Arabic grammarian Sibawayhi, however, cites the phrase dhahab-a min ma¬-i-hi ˜he left him,™
showing that ma¬-a can sometimes be the object of another preposition. Sibawayhi 1970, I:177.
394 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

.Ú«µj ôeC™G „e «hGóàdG ¿hójôj
yu-riid-uuna l-tadaawul-a ma¬-a l-√amriikiyy-iina.
They want to deliberate with the Americans.

.qπµdG πLCG øe „¦qó¤àf qπµdG „ªa
fa-ma¬-a l-kull-i na-taqaddam-u min √ajl-i l-kull-i.
With everyone we will progress for the sake of everyone.

.πLôdG Gòg „e á∏µ°»e ¦ó¦Y §°ShC™G ¥ô°»dG ÉjÉ°†b qπc „e
¬ind-ii mushkilat-un ma¬-a ma¬-a kull-i qaDaayaa
haadhaa l-rajul-i. l-sharq-i l-√awsaT-i
I have a problem with that man. with all the problems of
the Middle East

3.18.2 Possession
A sense of immediate possession (on or near a person) is conveyed by ma¬-a.

.á‘∏©dG πNGO µ¦µdG É¡©e ?âjÈc ‚©e
ma¬-a-haa l-kanz-u daaxil-a l-¬ulbat-i. ma¬-a-ka kibriit-un?
She has the treasure inside the box. Do you have matches?

3.18.3 Use of ma¬-an kÉ©e as ˜together™
To convey the meaning of ˜together™ ma¬-a takes an adverbial indefinite accusative
ending -an:

¢Só¤dG ˜ kÉ©e ¢»«©dG
al-¬aysh-u ma¬-an fii l-quds-i
living together in Jerusalem

3.19 mithl-a ˜like; as™
The semi-preposition mithl-a indicates similarity. It is close in meaning to the
preposition ka- ˜like, as.™ However, it is more flexible than ka- because it can take
suffix pronoun objects (see section 2.1.3 above).

ôNBG –©°T q¦CG πãe q¦’b AGhO πãe
mithl-a √ayy-i sha¬b-in √aaxar-a mithl-a dawaa√-in qawiyy-in
like any other people like a strong medicine

3.19.1 mithl demonstrative noun ˜such as this/these; such a™
An idiomatic use of mithl occurs with a demonstrative pronoun, meaning ˜such a™
or ˜such as this/these.™
Prepositions and prepositional phrases 395

.¥É˜qJ™G Gòg πãe „«b’J ˜ ᦰùdG √òg í‚
najaH-a haadhihi l-sanat-a fii tawqii¬-i mithl-i haadhaa l-ittifaaq-i.
This year he succeeded in signing such an agreement.

.AG’LC™G √òg πãe ˜ πª©dG „«£à°ùj ™
laa ya-staTii¬-u l-¬amal-a fii mithl-i haadhihi l-√ajwaa√-i.
He cannot work in such an atmosphere.

.É¡¦«fQ É¡d AÉ«°TC™G √òg πãe
mithl-u haadhihi l-√ashyaa√-i la-haa raniin-u-haa.
Things such as these have their resonance.

3.20 naHw-a ’«f ˜toward; about; approximately™
This semi-preposition has either a directional meaning of ˜toward™ or a figurative
use of ˜approximately, about.™

IôFÉW ÚK“K ’«f √ójhµàd íHQCG óZ ’«f
li-tazwiid-i-hi naHw-a thalaathiina naHw-a ghad-in √arbaH-a
Taa√irat-an toward a more profitable tomorrow
to equip it with about thirty planes

3.20.1 naHw after a preposition
After a preposition or another semi-preposition, naHw- takes the genitive case:

Q™hO Új“H áK“K ’«¦H ¿ hôb á©°ùJ ’«f ó©H
bi-naHw-i thalaathat-i balaayiin-i duulaar-in ba¬d-a naHw-i tis¬at-i quruun-in
by approximately three billion dollars after about nine centuries

3.21 Words based on the root q-b-l
The root q-b-l, which denotes anteriority, is used in several forms that signify dif-
ferent degrees or variations on the concept.

3.21.1 qabl-a nπ‘b ˜before; prior to; ago™

.„¦ÉqjCG π‘b ⣑°V ᦰS π‘b ɪ¡à¦H IO™h ó©H
DubiT-at qabl-a √ayyaam-in. ba¬d-a wilaadat-i bnat-i-himaa qabl-a sanat-in
It was seized [a few] days ago. after the birth of their daughter a year ago

ô«‘dG ¤EG áMÉ‘°ùdG π‘b á«°VÉŸG π‘b á∏«∏dG
qabl-a l-sibaaHat-i √ilaa l-baHr-i al-laylat-a qabl-a l-maaDiyat-i
before swimming to the sea the night before last
396 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

3.21.2 qubayl-a nπ«‘b ˜a little before, just before™
This is a diminutive form of qabl-a that denotes a short period of time.

Gó«°U á¦jóe ¤EG «É¤àf™G π«‘b âj ’µdG ¤EG IO’©dG π«‘b
qubayl-a l-intiqaal-i √ilaa qubayl-a l-¬awadat-i √ilaa l-kuwayt-i
madiinat-i Saydaa just before returning to Kuwait
just before moving to Sidon

3.21.3 qubaalat-a ádÉ‘b ˜opposite; facing™
Gó¦dôjEG ádÉ‘b q»°ù∏WC™G §«™G √É«e ˜
fii miyaah-i l-muHiit-i l-√aTlasiyy-i qubaalat-a √iirlandaa
in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean opposite Ireland

3.21.4 muqaabil-a nπHɤe ˜opposite; in exhange for; opposed to™
.óMGh ±óg πHɤe Úaó¡H G’‘°ùc
kasab-uu bi-hadaf-ayni muqaabil-a hadaf-in waaHid-in.
They won by two goals to one (˜as opposed to one™).

3.21.5 min qibal-i pπ‘b
øe ˜on the part of; by™
.¤É¦WG’ŸG π‘b øe k™É‘bEG »b“J ܵ—G ˜ ¬F“eR π‘b øe
tulaaqii √iqbaal-an min qibal-i min qibal-i zumalaa√-i-hi fii l-Hizb-i
l-muwaaTinaat-i. on the part of his colleagues
It meets with acceptance on the part of in the party
female citizens.

3.22 Words based on the root q-r-b
The root q-r-b denotes proximity and is used chiefly in two forms.

3.22.1 quraabat-a náHGôb ˜almost; close to™
Q™hO ¿ ’«∏e ô°»Y áK“K áHGôb
quraabat-a thalaathat-a ¬ashar-a milyuun-a duulaar-in
close to thirteen million dollars

3.22.2 qurb-a nÜôb ˜near; close to; in the vicinity of™
áqj Q’°ùdG Ohó—G Üôb É«côJ Ü’¦L ˜
fii januub-i turkiyaa qurb-a l-Huduud-i l-suuriyya
in southern Turkey near the Syrian border[s]
Prepositions and prepositional phrases 397

3.23 siwaa i’°S ˜other than; except™
Used following a negative clause, siwaa indicates an exception. This use of siwaa
after the negative is a common way to phrase restrictive expressions that would
normally be expressed in English with ˜only.™

.óMGh π«‘°S i’°S iôj ™
laa ya-raa siwaa sabiil-in waaHid-in.
He sees only one way (˜he does not see but one way™).

.ɪ¡«ªLÎe i’°S ɪ¡©e ¢ù«d
lays-a ma¬-a-humaa siwaa mutarjimay-himaa.
Only their two translators were with them.

3.24 taHt-a â“ ˜underneath, under; below™
This semi-preposition refers to a location below, underneath or under something

.ÜGÎdG â“ É¡«∏Y ÌY Ió«qàŸG ·C™G ±Gô°TEG â“
¬athar-a ¬alay-haa taHt-a l-turaab-i. taHt-a √ishraaf-i l-√umam-i l-muttaHidat-i
He discovered it under the ground. under the supervision of the
United Nations

3.25 Tiwaal-a «G’W ˜during; for™
á«°VÉŸG ¤G’¦°ùdG «G’W O’¤Y á©HQCG øe ÌcCG «G’W
Tiwaal-a l-sanawaat-i l-maaDiyat-i Tiwaal-a √akthar-a min √arba¬at-i ¬uquud-in
during past years; in years past during/for more than four decades

3.26 tujaah-a n√É’ ˜facing, opposite, in front of; towards™
á«eɦdG «hódG √É’ ¥ô°»dG √É’ Üô¨dG ‘’∏°S
tujaah-a l-duwal-i l-naamiyat-i suluuk-u l-gharb-i tujaah-a l-sharq-i
facing the developing nations the behavior of the West towards the East

3.27 waraa√-a nAGQh ˜behind; in back of™
.ºgAGQh ¿’ª∏°ùŸG ¬côJ .¬aóg AGQh ≈©°ùj qπX
tarak-a-hu l-muslim-uuna waraa√-a-hum. Zall-a ya-s¬aa waraa√-a hadaf-i-hi.
The Muslims left it behind (them). He continued to pursue/run after
his goal.
398 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

3.28 wasT-a §°Sh ˜in the middle of; in the midst of; among™
á¦jóŸG §°Sh ÜhQódG √òg §°Sh
wasT-a l-madiinat-i wasT-a haadhihi l-duruub-i
in the middle of the city among these alleyways

3.29 xalf-a n∞∏N ˜behind; in back of™
≥FɤM øe É¡˜∏N øªµj Ée .QÉà°S ∞∏N …HàNª ’g
maa ya-kmun-u xalf-a-haa min Haqaa√iq-a huwa muxtabi√-un xalf-a sitaarat-in.
that which is hidden behind it of truths He is hidden behind a curtain.

3.30 xaarij-a nêQÉN ˜outside; outside of™
¬LQÉNh ‚«HhCG πNGO áµ∏ªŸG êQÉN ¥G’°SCG ¤EG
√ilaa √aswaaq-in xaarij-a l-mamlakat-i
daaxil-a √uubiik wa-xaarij-a-hu
inside OPEC and outside of it to markets outside the kingdom

3.31 xilaal-a n«“N ˜during™; min xilaal-i «“N øe ˜through™
The word xilaal-a is used to denote an extension over a period of time; min xilaal-i
is used in the meaning of ˜via; through™ or sometimes ˜by means of.™

≈£°S’dG Q’°ü©dG «“N ádq’£e á°SGQO «“N
xilaal-a l-¬uSuur-i l-wusTaa xilaal-a diraasat-in muTawwalat-in
during the Middle Ages during an extended study

.qø˜dG «“N øe k“«ªL í‘°UCG
√aSbaH-a jamiil-an min xilaal-i l-fann-i.
It was made beautiful through art.

3.32 ¬abr-a nÈY ˜across, over™
.ÚJqQÉb ÈY qóàÁh øeµdG øe O’¤Y ÈY
wa ya-mtadd-u ¬abr-a qaarrat-ayni. ¬abr-a ¬uquud-in min-a l-zaman-i
It extends across two continents. across decades of time

3.33 ¬aqib- a n–¤Y ˜right after, immediately after™
i’à°ùŸG ‹ÉY πqNóJ –¤Y ‚dP
É¡f“YEG –¤Y
dhaalika ¬aqib-a tadaxxul-in ¬aalii l-mustawaa
¬aqib-a √i¬laan-i-haa
immediately after her that was right after a high-level intervention
Prepositions and prepositional phrases 399

3.34 ¬ind-a nó¦Y ˜on the part of™; ˜in the opinion of™; ˜near, by, at, upon™; ˜chez™
The semi-preposition ¬ind-a denotes location in space or time. It can also denote
temporary location at the “place” where someone lives or works (e.g., huwa ¬ind-a
l-Tabiib-i ˜He™s at the doctor™s™).
In spoken Arabic, ¬ind-a plays a fundamental role in the expression of posses-
sion, and some of that possession role has crept into MSA, especially in the
relating of conversations or interviews where people are quoted directly. The
more usual preposition to use for possession in formal MSA is li-, or the semi-
preposition ladaa.

3.34.1 ¬ind-a ˜on the part of; in the opinion of™
»FGqôb øe ’ãµdG ó¦Y º¡˜dG „¦óY
¬adam-u l-fahm-i ¬ind-a l-kathiir-i min qurraa√-ii
the lack of understanding on the part of many of my readers

.±qô£àdG „e ºgó¦Y ihÉ°ùàj „¦“°SE™G
al-√islaam-u ya-tasaawaa ¬ind-a-hum ma¬-a l-taTarruf-i.
Islam for them (˜in their opinion™) equates with extremism.

3.34.2 Location in time
qóŸG ÜÉ«°ùfG ó¦Y ô«‘dG …WÉ°T øe Üô¤dÉH
¬«∏Y ¢†‘¤dG AɤdEG ó¦Y
¬ind-a √ilqaa√-i l-qabD ¬alay-hi bi-l-qurb-i min shaaTi√-i l-baHr-i
¬ind-a nsiHaab-i l-madd-i
at the time of his arrest
near the seashore at ebb tide

3.34.3 Location in space
.√ó¦Y ∞qb’àdG –©j Q’HÉ£dG ôNBG ó¦Y
ya-jib-u l-tawaqquf-u ¬ind-a-hu. ¬ind-a √aaxir-i l-Taabuur-i
It is necessary to stop at his [place]. at the end of the line

3.34.4 Possession
.πLôdG Gòg „e á∏µ°»e ¦ó¦Y .AÉbó°UCG ºgó¦Y
¬ind-ii mushkilat-un ma¬-a haadhaa l-rajul-i. ¬ind-a-hum √aSdiqaa√-u.
I have a problem with that man. They have friends.

3.34.5 Adverbial of time
¬ind-a may be suffixed with the adverbial markers -maa and -idhin to serve as an
adverb denoting ˜time when.™ This expression is usually followed directly by a verb.
400 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic ¬ind-a-maa ˜WHEN™
.¿ó¦d ¤EG π°Uh Éeó¦Y √ôªY øe øjô°»©dG ˜ ¿Éc
kaan-a fii l-¬ishriina min ¬umr-i-hi ¬ind-a-maa waSal-a √ilaa landan.
He was twenty years of age when he arrived in London.

ô«‘dG i’à°ùe ¢†˜®fG Éeó¦Y ´QÉ°»dG ¤EG G’dµf Éeó¦Y
¬ind-a-maa nxafaD-a mustawaa l-baHr-i ¬ind-a-maa nazal-uu √ilaa l-shaari¬-i
when the sea level receded when they came down into the street ¬ind-a-idhin mòFó¦Y ˜AT THAT POINT IN TIME; THEN™
.„¦’°SôdG ¢†©H πªY ˜ òFó¦Y ¤CGóH
bada√-at ¬ind-a-idhin fii ¬amal-i ba¬D-i l-rusuum-i.
She began at that point to make some drawings.

4 Prepositions with clause objects
Prepositions may take entire clauses as their objects, in which case they may be
followed by the subordinating conjunctions √an or √anna. For more on subordi-
nate clauses, see Chapter 19. Here are two examples:

‚ª°ùdG πcCÉJ ‚qfCÉc .á¤ãdG øe q’L ¬qfCÉH √’˜°Uh
ka-√anna-ka ta-√kul-u l-samak-a waSaf-uu-hu bi-√anna-hu jaww-un min-a l-thiqat-i.
as though you were eating fish They described it as an atmosphere of trust.
Questions and question words

Question formation and the use of question words in Arabic are not complex. In
general, the interrogative word is placed at the beginning of a sentence. There is
no inversion of word order, usually just the insertion of the question word.
The most common question words in Arabic include:

˜where™ nørjnCG

˜which; what™ q¦nCG

kam ˜how much; how many™ rºnc
kayf-a ˜how™ n∞r«nc
li-maadhaa ˜why™ GPɪpd
maa ˜what™ Ée
maadhaa ˜what™ GPÉe
man ˜who/whom™ røne
mataa ˜when™ ≈àne
hal introduces yes/no question rπng
introduces yes/no question nCG

1 √ayn-a nørjnCG ˜where™
The question word √ayn-a is invariable, even after a preposition. It always ends
with fatHa.1

?¦ó«°S Éj ,øjCG ¤EG ?âfCG øjCG øe ?áqj QGR’dG ᦩ∏dG »g øjCG
√ilaa √ayn-a, yaa siidii? min √ayn-a √anta? √ayn-a hiya l-lajnat-u l-wizaariyyat-u?
Where to, Sir? Where are you from? Where is it, the ministerial
Note that the question word √ayna is not used as the locative adverb ˜where.™ To express an idea
such as “at a university where he teaches,” the adverb Hayth-u is used for ˜where™: fii jaami¬at-in
Hayth-u yu-darris-u. See Chapter 11, section 3.1.3 for more on Hayth-u.

402 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.1 √ayn-a-maa ɪn¦rjnCG ˜wherever™
With the addition of the function word maa, interrogative √ayna becomes a con-
ditional particle with the meaning of ˜wherever.™

â¦c ɪ¦jCG
√ayn-a-maa kunt-a
wherever you are

2 √ayy-un w¦nCG ˜which; what™
As a question word, √ayy- can be an indefinite noun, meaning ˜which one?™ or as
the first part of a construct phrase, it specifies ˜which noun.™ It may alterna-
tively be followed by a pronoun suffix (e.g., ?º¡qjCG √ayy-u-hum? ˜which of them?™). It
takes the full set of three case endings, depending on its function and placement
in the sentence.2

?–gòJ mádhO u¦C™ ?pør««q°TôŸG øe w¦CG
li-√ayy-i dawlat-in ta-dhhab-u? √ayy-un min-a l-murashshaH-ayni?
To which country are you going? Which one of the (two) candidates?

?m–fQCG t¦CG
√ayy-u √arnab-in?
Which rabbit?/What rabbit?

3 kam ºc ˜how much; how many™
This question word is usually followed by a singular indefinite noun in the accu-
sative case.3

?¬¦«aô©J ‘ɪ°SC™G øe kÉY’f ºc ?ºà∏ªcCG kÉ°SQO ºc
kam naw¬-an min-a l-√asmaak-i ta-¬rif-iina-hu? kam dars-an √akmal-tum?
How many kinds of fish do you (f.) know? How many lessons have you
(m. pl.) completed?

3.1 kam rºnc nominative
When the interrogative word kam has the meaning of ˜how much [is],™ it is fol-
lowed by a definite noun (either with the definite article or with a pronoun
suffix) in the nominative case:4

The word √ayy- also has a non-interrogative use as a determiner meaning ˜any.™ For more on this
see Chapter 9, section 5.2.
The accusative case after kam is considered to be a form of tamyiiz, or accusative of specification.
For more on tamyiiz, see Chapter 7, section and Chapter 11, section 6.
In this use of kam, it is actually a fronted predicate of an equational sentence; the noun is in the
nominative as the subject/topic of an equational sentence.
Questions and question words 403

?oáYÉ°ùdG ºc ?√oôªY ºc
kam-i l-saa¬at-u? kam ¬umr-u-hu?
What time is it? (˜How much is the hour?™) How old is he? (˜How much is his

4 kayf-a n∞r«nc ˜how™
The interrogative word kayf-a is invariable in case. It always ends with fatHa. It may
be followed by a verb or by a noun.

?o«É—G n∞«c ?ɦg ¤EG â∏°Uh n∞«c
kayf-a l-Haal-u? kayf-a waSal-ta √ilaa hunaa?
How are you? (˜How is the condition?™) How did you get (to) here?

?pâaôY n∞«c ?o‘ô«àJ n∞«c
kayf-a ¬araf-ti? kayf-a ta-taHarrak-u?
How did you (f.) know? How does it move?

5 li-maadhaa GPɪpd ˜why; what for™
This is a compound word consisting of the preposition li- ˜for™ and the question
word maadhaa ˜what.™ Thus its meaning of ˜what for™ or ˜why.™

?áMÉ‘°ùdG q–“ GPÉŸ ?π«ãªàdG ¤EG â¡©qJG GPÉŸ
li-maadhaa tu-Hibb-u l-sibaaHat-a? li-maadhaa ttajah-ta √ilaa l-tamthiil-i?
Why do you like swimming? Why did you turn to acting?

?É¡à©«‘W ≈∏Y Q’eC™G ‘ÎJ ™ GPɪ∏`a
fa-li-maadhaa laa ta-truk-u l-√umuur-a ¬alaa Tabii¬at-i-haa?
So why don™t you leave matters as they (˜naturally™) are?

6 maa Ée and maadhaa GPÉe ˜what™
The interrogatives maa and maadhaa have similar meanings but are used in differ-
ent contexts. In general, maa is used in questions involving equational (verbless)
sentences and maadhaa is used with verbs.5

6.1 maa ˜what™
Interrogative maa is used with verbless predications.

?‚ª°SG Ée ?‚jCGQ Ée
maa sm-u-ka? maa ra√y-u-ki?
What [is] your (m.) name? What [is] your (f.) opinion?

Interrogative maa is probably not used with verbs because it is a homonym with negative maa,
which when used with a verb indicates negation (e.g., maa √adrii ˜I don™t know.™).
404 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

?¥ô˜dG Ée ?–‘°ùdG Ée
maa l-farq-u? maa l-sabab-u?
What [is] the difference? What [is] the reason?

When used to ask a question with a longer noun phrase, maa may be followed
directly by an independent third person personal pronoun acting as a copula in
the question:

?¤h™G áqª¡ŸG »g Ée
maa hiya l-mahammat-u l-√uulaa?
What is the first task (˜What is it, the first task™)?

?§q’∏àdG πcÉ°»e qºgCG »g Ée
maa hiya √ahamm-u mashaakil-i l-talawwuth-i?
What are the most important problems of pollution?
(˜What are they, the most important problems of pollution™)?

6.2 maadhaa GPÉe ˜what™
The question word maadhaa is used mainly with verbs:

?iôL GPÉe ?‚∏gCG π©˜j GPÉe
maadhaa jaraa? maadhaa ya-f¬al-u √ahl-u-ka?
What happened? What [will] your family do?

?ó¤à©J GPÉe ?πcCÉJ GPÉe
maadhaa ta-¬taqid-u? maadhaa ta-√kul-u?
What do you think? What does it eat?

6.2.1 maadhaa as pronoun
Sometimes maadhaa is used like a relative pronoun meaning ˜that which,™ or ˜what™:

.«’¤J GPÉe º¡aCG ™
laa √a-fham-u maadhaa ta-quul-u.
I don™t understand what you are saying.

6.2.3 maadhaa ¬an ˜what about™
The interrogative phrase maadhaa ¬an is used to express a general query about a

?øjôNB™G IOɤdG øY GPÉe
maadhaa ¬an-i l-qaadat-i l-√aaxar-iina?
What about the other leaders?
Questions and question words 405

7 man røne ˜who; whom™
This word is used both as an interrogative pronoun and as an indefinite pronoun.
Because it ends in sukuun, it needs a helping vowel, kasra, if it precedes a conso-
nant cluster.

?’g røe ?≥HÉ°ùdG ¢ù«FôdG pøe
man huwa? man-i l-ra√ iis-u l-saabiq-u?
Who is he? Who is the former president?

8 mataa ≈àne ˜when™
The question word mataa is also invariable, ending in √alif maqSuura. Note that
mataa is used only as an interrogative, not as a connective adverb meaning

?¬JóLh ≈àe ?áqj QÉ°†—G IÉ«—G ¤ô°»àfG ≈àe
mataa wajad-ta-hu? mataa ntashar-at-i l-Hayaat-u l-HaDaariyyat-u?
When did you find it? When did civilized life spread?

?¤h’H øY πMôj ≈àe ?â∏°Uh ≈àe
mataa ya-rHal-u ¬an bayruut-a? mataa waSal-at?
When is he departing from Beirut? When did she arrive?

9 hal and √a- -CG ¬interrogative markers
Both hal and √a- are prefixed to statements in order to convert them into yes/no
questions. They have equivalent functional meaning, but different distribution:
hal is used with a wide range of constructions; √a- is restricted in that it is not used
before a noun with the definite article or words that start with √alif plus hamza,
such as √anta ˜you.™ Neither word is translatable into English, since shift in word
order is the signal of yes/no question formation in English.

9.1 hal rπng
?ôJ’«‘ªc ÉfCG πg ?q„¦É©dG ¦CGôdG »YhQ πg
hal √anaa kumbyuutir? hal ruu¬iy-a l-ra√y-u l-¬aamm-u?
Am I a computer? Was public opinion taken into account?

?CGó‘f ¿CG ¿ÉµeE™ÉH πg ?ɦg øe áLÉLµdG ¤òNCG πg
hal bi-l-√imkaan-i √an na-bda√-a? hal √axadh-ta l-zujaajat-a min hunaa?
May we begin? Did you take the glass from here?

See time adverbials in Chapter 18, and in Chapter 11, section 3.1.3.
406 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

9.2 √a- -CG
This √alif plus hamza is prefixed to a word, but not if the word begins with √alif:

?‚dòc ¢ù«dCG ?’ª°S GògCG
√a-lays-a ka-dhaalika? √a-haadhaa samiir-un?
Isn™t that so? Is this Samir?

9.2.1 √a-laa
Negative yes/no interrogatives are usually prefaced with √a-laa:

?kÉq‘°ü©J »¦©J ™CG ?kGô¤¡¤J »¦©j ™CG
√a-laa ta-¬nii ta¬aSSub-an? √a-laa ya-¬nii taqahqur-an?
Doesn™t it mean bigotry? Doesn™t it mean regression?
Connectives and conjunctions

Connectives “ words or phrases that connect one part of discourse with another “
are a pervasive feature of MSA syntax.1 Arabic sentences and clauses within a text
are connected and interconnected by means of words or phrases (such as wa- ˜and™ )
that coordinate, subordinate, and otherwise link them semantically and syntacti-
cally. This frequent use of connectives results in a high degree of textual cohesion
in Arabic writing that contrasts significantly with the terser style of written
English. Not only are parts of Arabic sentences coordinated or subordinated
in various ways, but most sentences within a text actually start with a connective
word that links each sentence with the previous ones.
Even paragraphs are introduced with connectives that connect them to the text
as a whole. As Al-Batal remarks: “MSA seems to have a connecting constraint that
requires the writer to signal continuously to the reader, through the use of
connectives, the type of link that exists between different parts of the text. This
gives the connectives special importance as text-building elements and renders
them essential for the reader™s processing of text” (1990, 256).
Connective words that link sentences within a text are referred to as “discourse
markers.” 2 Analysis of discourse markers in English has tended to focus on spoken
conversation whereas analysis of discourse markers in Arabic (Al-Batal 1990,
Johnstone 1990, Kammensjö 1993) has focused particularly on the structure of
written narrative. Arabic writing has been characterized as syndetic, that is, as
using conjunctions to link discourse elements; and it has also been described as
formulaic, that is, relying on “fixed sets of words” ( Johnstone 1990, 218) to make

I use the term “connective” after Al-Batal 1990, whose research on Arabic connectives has been
crucial to our understanding of their nature and importance. He gives the following definition:
“any element in a text which indicates a linking or transitional relationship between phrases,
clauses, sentences, paragraphs or larger units of discourse, exclusive of referential or lexical ties”
(1994, 91). Other terms used to refer to these words include “connectors,” “function words,” and
Schiffrin, in her work Discourse Markers, brings attention to the importance of cohesive elements as
interpretive links that connect the “underlying propositional content” of one discourse element
with another (1987, 9). She states that markers work “on the discourse level” and that they “have a
sequencing function of relating syntactic units and fitting them into a textual or discourse
context” (1987, 37).

408 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

semantic and syntactic links. In certain instances, short function words such as
wa- ˜and,™ actually function in Arabic texts as punctuation marks would function
in English texts. These connective words are therefore not always translatable
because they sometimes perform strictly grammatical functions rather than
adding semantic content. At the discourse or text level, the presence of appropri-
ate connectives is an important feature of “acceptability,” according to Al-Batal,
who notes that although “no explicit or formal rules exist,” interconnection
between sentences is essential to authentic Arabic texts.3
Connectives are therefore an important topic in studying Arabic. However, like
the category of adverbials, the class of words and phrases used as connectives is
large and heterogeneous. Different types of words and word groups serve as con-
nectives: conjunctions, adverbs, particles, and also certain idiomatic or set
phrases. These elements link at different discourse levels (phrase, clause, sen-
tence, paragraph) and in different ways, some simply coordinating or introducing
text elements, and others requiring particular grammatical operations (e.g., sub-
junctive mood on verb, accusative case on nouns). There are therefore differences
in the form, distribution, and function of connectives.4 Moreover, different
researchers classify members of these categories in different ways.
At the sentence level, traditional Arabic grammarians classify particles
(Huruuf ±hôM) according to whether or not they have a grammatical effect on
the following phrase or clause. For instance, the particle kay r»nc ˜in order that™
requires the following verb to be in the subjunctive mood; the negative particle
lam rºnd requires the verb to be in the jussive mood; and the subordinating con-
junction √anna s¿nCG ˜that™ requires the subject of the following clause to be either
a suffix pronoun or a noun in the accusative case. Thus the operational effect
(¬amal πnªnY) of the function word is a primary feature in its classification. The
effects of these particles on the syntax and inflectional status of sentence
elements form a major component in the theoretical framework and analysis
of Arabic syntax.5
Along these lines, connectives are presented here according to whether or not
they exercise a grammatical effect on the following sentence element.

Al-Batal points out that a lack of sentence-initial connectives in otherwise “perfectly grammatical”
Arabic texts written by nonnative speakers of Arabic reveals a stylistic gap that affects the accept-
ability of such texts, whose structures do not correspond with “the frequent usage of connectives
that is characteristic of Arabic written texts” (1990, 253).
For further discussion of the nature of Arabic connectives, see Al-Batal 1990 and 1994 as well as
Johnstone 1990. For further description and exercises with Arabic connectives, see al-Warraki and
Hassanein, 1994.
For analysis of Arabic syntactic theory in English, see Beeston 1970; Bohas, Guillaume, and
Kouloughli 1990, 49“72; Cantarino 1974“1976 (all three volumes); Holes 1995, 160“247 and
Wright II:1“349.
Connectives and conjunctions 409

In one class are the many connecting words that serve linking functions
only, without requiring a grammatical change, called here “simple linking
In the other class are the “operative particles” (Huruuf ¬aamila á∏eÉY ±hôM)
that require inflectional modification of the phrase or clause that they introduce.
This class includes, for example, particles that require the subjunctive or the
jussive on following verbs, or particles that require the accusative case on nouns,
adjectives, and noun phrases. These “operative particles” are dealt with under
separate headings in this book. See the sections on subjunctive, jussive, negation
and exception, √inna and her sisters, and the section on cases and their functions.
In some instances, a connective may have more than one function and may fall
into both classes: simple linking and operative.7
This chapter deals primarily with simple linking connectives.

1 wa- ˜and™ (waaw al-¬aTf ∞£©dG hGh)
This connective is of the highest frequency of all (almost 50 percent of all Arabic
connectives) and occurs at all levels of text to “signal an additive relationship”
(Al-Batal 1990, 245).8

1.1 Sentence starter wa-
Sentences within an expository text after the introductory sentence are often
initiated with wa- ˜and™ and/or another connective expression. The following
examples are beginnings of typical sentences. As a sentence-starter, wa- is con-
sidered good style in Arabic, but it is not usually translated into English because
English style rules normally advise against starting sentences with ˜and.™

. . . ´ÉaódG ôj Rh óYÉ°ùe ¢ùeCG IôgɤdG QOÉZh
wa-ghaadar-a l-qaahirat-a √ams-i musaa¬id-u waziir-i l-difaa¬-i . . .
(And) the assistant minister of defense left Cairo yesterday . . .

. . . ¢ùeCG ᪰UÉ©dG ¤EG ¿É°ù«FôdG π°Uhh
wa-waSal-a l-ra√iis-aani √ilaa l-¬aaSimat-i √ams-i . . .
(And) the two presidents arrived in the capital yesterday . . .

These include what Al-Batal refers to as Huruuf muhmala ˜inoperative particles,™ Huruuf zaa√ida
˜redundant or augmentative particles,™ and Huruuf al-¬aTf ˜coordinating particles™ (1990, 236).
For example, wa- as a coordinating conjunction does not exercise a grammatical effect on the
following phrase, but when used as the waaw al-ma¬iyya, ˜the waaw of accompaniment,™ it requires
the following noun to be in the accusative case. For more on this see Baalbaki 1986 and Wright
1967, II:83“84.
According to Schiffrin (1987, 141) “and” is “a discourse coordinator; the presence of and signals the
speaker™s identification of an upcoming unit which is coordinate in structure to some prior unit.”
410 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

. . . q¿CG ¿hó¤à©j Aɪ∏Y áªKh
wa-thammat-a ¬ulamaa√-u ya-¬taqid-uuna √anna . . .
(And) there are scholars who believe that . . .

. . . q¿CG ¤EG áqjOôc QOÉ°üe ’°»Jh
wa-tu-shiir-u maSaadir-u kurdiyyat-un √ilaa √anna . . .
(And) Kurdish sources indicate that . . .

1.2 Coordinating conjunction wa-
The coordinating conjunction wa- ˜and™ functions as an additive term within
sentences to link clauses, phrases, and words. In particular, Arabic uses wa- in lists
where in English a comma would be used to separate each item. The items in the
list retain the case determined by their role in the sentence.

Ió«qàŸG áq«Hô©dG ¤GQÉeE™G ádhOh ¿ÉqªYh ô£bh ¿É¦‘dh âj’µdGh q¿OQC™Gh ô°üe É¡¦e
.áqjO’©°ùdG áq«Hô©dG áµ∏ªŸGh
min-haa miSr-u wa-l-√urdunn-u wa-l-kuwayt-u wa-lubnaan-u wa-qaTar-u wa-¬umaan-u
wa-dawlat-u l-imaaraat-i l-¬arabiyyat-i l-muttahidat-i wa-l-mamlakat-u l-¬arabiyyat-u
Among them are Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Oman, the (˜State of ™)
the United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

.¿É°»«°»dGh ’ª°»ch ᦰS’‘dGh «Ée’°üdGh É«‘«dh ¿GO’°ùdGh ¥Gô©dG ÉjÉ°†¤H ≥q∏©àj
ya-ta¬allaq-u bi-qaDaayaa l-¬iraaq-i wa-l-suudaan-i wa-liibyaa wa-l-Suumaal-i
wa-l-buusinat-i wa-kashmiir-a wa-l-shiishaan-i.
It relates to the problems of Iraq, The Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Bosnia, Kashmir,
and Chechnia.

áq«˜°ù∏ah áq«®j QÉJh áqj ’¨dh áq«HOCG qOG’e
mawaadd-u √adabiyyat-un wa-lughawiyyat-un wa-taariixiyyat-un wa-falsafiyyat-un
literary, linguistic, historical, and philosophical materials

2 fa- `na ˜and so; and then; yet; and thus™
This connector implies several different kinds of relationships with the previous text
elements. It can have a sequential meaning ˜and then,™ a resultative meaning ˜and so™
( faa√ al-sababiyya áq«‘‘°ùdG AÉa), a contrastive meaning ˜yet; but,™ a slight shift in topic
˜and also; moreover™, or a conclusive meaning, ˜and therefore; in conclusion.™ 9
Beeston refers to it as “the most interesting of the ambivalent functionals” (1970, 98).

Al-Batal refers to it as “the most complex and the most interesting” connective in his research
because of the different functions that it has (1990, 100). Cantarino 1975, III:20“34 has an extensive
analysis of the functions of fa-, with examples taken from literary contexts.
Connectives and conjunctions 411

It may start a sentence in a text or it may knit elements together within a

.á°VɘàfE™G §GóMCÉH Úqªà¡e G’dGR Ée º¡`a
fa-hum maa zaal-uu muhtamm-iina bi-√aHdaath-i l-intifaaDat-i.
Yet they are still interested in the events of the uprising.

.¬∏gÉ©àj ¬qfEÉ`a ,ôNB™G ≠∏j „ GPEG h
wa-√idhaa lam ya-lghi l-√aaxar . . . fa-√inna-hu ya-tajaahal-u-hu.
If he doesn™t abolish the other . . . (then) he ignores it.

.íà˜fÉ`a ÜÉ‘dG â«àa
fataH-tu l-baab-a fa-nfataH-a.
I opened the door and [so] it opened.

.Iqôªà°ùe á©WɤŸG q¿EÉ`a , áq«Yô°»dG øe áLQÉN „¦GO Ée
maa daam-at xaarijat-an min-a l-shar¬iyyat-i, fa-√inna l-muqaaTa¬at-a mustamirrat-un.
As long as it remains outside the law, (then) the boycott will continue.

3 Contrastive conjunctions
These conjunctions indicate contrast in semantic content between two parts of a

3.1 bal πH ˜rather; but actually™
The word bal is termed an “adversative” by Al-Batal because it introduces a clause
whose semantic content conveys the idea of something additional but also different
or contrastive from the main clause.10

.áqj ÈY ±hô«H É¡ª¶©e –àc πH áq«¦«J“dG ¤EG –àµdG √òg âªLôJh
wa-turjim-at haadhihi l-kutub-u √ilaa l-laatiiniyyat-i bal kutib-a mu¬Zam-u-haa
bi-Huruuf-in ¬ibriyyat-in.
These books were translated into Latin, but [actually] they were mostly written
in Hebrew script (˜letters™).

.QGhOC“d „°SGh „jR’J ‘ɦg πH ºFɪM hCG Q ’¤°U áqnªnà ôeC™G ˜ ¢ù«d
lays-a fii l-√amr-i thammat-a Suquur-un √aw Hamaa√im-u bal hunaaka tawzii¬-un
waasi¬-un li-l-√adwaar-i.
There are in the matter neither hawks nor doves, but rather there is a wide
distribution of roles.

See also under “negative and exceptive expressions.”
412 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

3.2 √inna-maa ɪsfpEG /wa-√inna-maa ɪsfpEGnh ˜but; but moreover; but also, rather™
This connective word has both confirmational and contrastive components to its

.»YɪàL™G „bG’∏d ¢Sɵ©fG ’g ɪqfEG h §¤a “«©°ùJ øµJ „
lam ta-kun tasjiil-an faqaT wa-√inna-maa huwa n¬ikaas-un li-l-waaq¬-i l-ijtimaa¬iyy-i.
It was not only documentation, but moreover a reflection of social reality.

4 Explanatory conjunctions
4.1 √ay r¦CG ˜that is, i.e.™
This small word (which resembles in spelling the word √ayy- ˜which™ but is
unrelated to it) is an explicative particle equivalent to the Latin abbreviation i.e.,
for id est ˜that is,™ which is used in English texts.

q»©bGh ’g Ée qπc r¦CG
√ay, kull-u maa huwa waaqi¬iyy-un
that is, everything that is real

5 Resultative conjunctions
5.1 √idh rPpEG ˜since,™ ˜inasmuch as™
This small word is a resultative particle that introduces a clause providing a
rationale or reason for the main clause.

.óYɤŸG º¶©e ≈∏Y π°üM PEG ¬«°ùaɦe ≈∏Y kɤMÉ°S kGô°üf ºcÉ—G q¦Q’¡ª·G ܵ—G ≥q¤M
Haqqaq-a l-Hizb-u l-jumhuuriyy-u l-Haakim-u naSr-an saaHiq-an ¬alaa munaafis-ii-hi √idh
HaSal-a ¬alaa mu¬Zam-i l-maqaa¬id-i.
The ruling republican party realized an overwhelming victory over its
opponents since it obtained most of the seats.

5.2 √idhan r¿nPpEG (spelled with nuun) and √idh-an kGPpEG (spelled with nunation) ˜therefore;
then; so; thus; in that case™
This connective word initiates a clause or question that comes as a result or
conclusion from a previous statement. In more conversational style, it may also
come at the end of the clause.

... ...
ɦ«∏Y –qL’àj GPÉŸ ¿PEG ¿É©¡¦e ‘ɦg ¿PEG
√idhan li-maadhaa ya-tawajjab-u ¬alay-naa . . . √idhan hunaaka manhaj-aani . . .
Then why do we have to . . . Thus, there are two methods . . .

See al-Warraki and Hassanein 1994, 59“63 for further discussion.
Connectives and conjunctions 413

!¿PEG kG’‘c kÉq£b ¿’µ«°S
sa-ya-kuun-u qiTT-an kabiir-an √idhan!
It™ll be a big cat, then!

5.3 Hattaa ≈qànM past tense: ˜until™
Hattaa followed by a past tense verb introduces a clause that shows the conse-
quences or result of the previous clause. Used in this way, it refers to an event or
action that has taken place in the past.12

.ᤣ¦ŸG ¿óe qºgCG øe â«‘°UCG ≈qàM q’ª¦dG ˜ «µJ „h
wa-lam ta-zul fii l-namuww-i Hattaa √aSbaH-at min √ahamm-i mudun-i l-minTaqat-i.
It kept growing until it became [one] of the most important cities of the region.

6 Adverbial conjunctions
Adverbial conjunctions in Arabic fill the role of subordinating conjunctions in
English such as ˜where,™ ˜when,™ ˜while,™ and ˜as.™ That is, they introduce a clause
subordinate to the main clause by indicating a place, time, manner, or result
relation between the two.

6.1 Adverbial conjunctions of place: Hayth-u oår«nM ˜where™
The connective adverb Hayth-u denotes the concept of ˜where™ or ˜in which.™ It has
an invariable Damma suffix.13 It is an extensively used conjunction of place. It also
has non-locative meanings when used with other particles, such as min Hayth-u
˜regarding; as for™ or bi-Hayth-u ˜so that; so as to.™ 14

¢SqQóJ å«M áq«q∏c ˜ åjó—G „e §∏à®j Ëó¤dG å«M
fii kulliyyat-in Hayth-u tu-darris-u Hayth-u l-qadiim-u ya-xtaliT-u ma¬-a l-Hadiith-i
in a college where she teaches where the old mixes with the new

áq«dhO ácô°T „e πª©j å«M áqjO’©°ùdG ˜
fii l-sa¬uudiyyat-i Hayth-u ya-¬mal-u ma¬-a sharikat-in duwaliyaat-in
in Saudi Arabia where he works for an international company

–M ¢ü°üb „¤J å«M k≈˜°»à°ùe ˜
fii mustashfan Hayth-u ta-qa¬-u qiSaS-u Hubb-in
in a hospital where love stories take place

Hattaa may also be an operative particle with the meaning of ˜until; up to the point of,™ followed
by a noun in the genitive case (Hattaa l-sanat-i l-maaDiyat-i ˜until last year™), but in that case it is
considered a preposition. See Chapter 16, section 2.2.3. As a particle of purpose, it has the
meaning of ˜in order to™ followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood (see Chapter 34, section. 2.2.6).
Note that the question word ˜where?™ is different: √ayna. See Chapter 17, section 1.
For exercises on and further examples of the uses of Hayth-u, as well as the conjunctions Hayth-u
√anna and bi-Hayth-u, see al-Warraki and Hassanein 1994, 93“97.
414 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

6.2 Adverbial conjunctions of time
This category includes expressions that link clauses by specifying how one clause
is related to another in terms of time. These adverbials often consist of traditional
Zuruuf, the semi-prepositions or locative adverbs, plus the indefinite relative
pronoun maa, and sometimes the adverbial suffix -idhin.
The locative adverbs, as noted in the chapter on prepositions and prepositional
phrases, are essentially nouns of place that act as prepositions by going into a con-
struct relationship with another noun (e.g., Üô—G ó©H ba¬d-a l-Harb-i ˜after the war,™
ᦰS π‘b qabl-a sanat-in ˜a year ago™). These nouns with the accusative marker are
restricted to occurring only before other nouns or pronouns unless a buffer (such
as maa or √idhin) is added to them. The locative adverb and buffer may be written
together as one word, or they are written separately. By adding the buffer
element, the semi-prepositions or locative adverbs are converted into adverbial
elements that can directly precede verbs and entire clauses.

6.2.1 bayn-a-maa ɪn¦r«nH ˜while; whereas™
This connective word has both a temporal meaning ˜while, during the time that,™
and also a contrastive meaning of ˜whereas.™

.Qqó±G ¿’µ∏¡à°ùj G’fÉc ɪ¦«H G’£‘o°V
DubiT-uu bayn-a-maa kaan-uu ya-stahlik-uuna l-muxaddir-a.
They were arrested while they were consuming the drug.

.¢Sɦdd á¨d áqeÉ©dG áq«¦«J“dG âq∏X ɪ¦«H áq«ª°SQ áq«Hô©dG áaɤãdG âfɵa
fa-kaan-at-i l-thaqaafat-u l-¬arabiyyat-u rasmiyyat-an bayn-a-maa Zall-at-i l-laatiiniyyat-u
l-¬aammat-u lughat-an li-l-naas-i.
Arabic culture was official whereas vernacular Latin remained a language of the

6.2.2 ba¬d-a-maa Éenór©nH ˜after™
This connective is usually followed directly by a past tense verb. Note that the
preposition ba¬d-a ˜after™ can be followed only by a noun or pronoun; it is necessary
to use ba¬d-a-maa before a clause beginning with a verb.

IqQÉŸG óMCG √ógÉ°T Éeó©H è∏ãdG ≈∏Y â©bh Éeó©H
ba¬d-a-maa shaahad-a-hu √aHad-u l-maarrat-i ba¬d-a-maa waqa¬-at ¬alaa l-thalj-i
after one of the passers-by saw him after she fell on the ice

¬jRÉ©J ¢ù«Fô∏d „¦qóob Éeó©H
ba¬d-a-maa quddim-a li-l-ra√iis-i ta¬aazii-hi
after his condolences had been presented to the president
Connectives and conjunctions 415

6.2.3 ba¬d-a √an r¿nCG nór©nH ˜after™
The expression ba¬d-a √an means essentially the same as ba¬d-a maa when describing
a situation that has taken place in the past. The phrase ba¬d-a √an, when referring
to an event that has already taken place, is followed by a clause with a past tense

.¢ù«FôdG πHÉb ¿CG ó©H ¢ùeCG IôgɤdG QOÉZ
ghaadar-a l-qaahirat-a √ams-i ba¬d-a √an qaabal-a l-ra√iis-a.
He left Cairo yesterday after he met with the President.

á˜∏ଂ ¤É¤HÉ°ùe IqóY ˜ ¿ ’‘Y“dG ‘QÉ°T ¿CG ó©H
b a¬d-a √an shaarak-a l-laa¬ib-uuna fii ¬iddat-i musaabaqaat-in muxtalifat-in
after the players had participated in several different contests

6.2.3 ba¬d-a-√idhin mòpFnór©nH ˜after that; then; subsequently™
This compound expression is equivalent in most situations to the adverbial
conjunction thumma (see below 6.2.8):

.Ëôc QGO ¤EG π¤àfG mòFó©H h
wa-ba¬d-a-√idhin-i ntaqal-a √ilaa daar-i kariim-in.
After that he moved to Karim™s house.

6.2.4 Hiin-a-maa ɪn¦«M and Hiin-a nÚM ˜when; at the time when™

Üq“£dG «’NO áWô°»dG â∏bôY ɪ¦«M â‘°»f áeRC™G qøµd
laakinna l-√azmat-a nashab-at Hiin-a-maa ¬arqal-at-i l-shurTat-u duxuul-a l-Tullaab-i
but the crisis broke out when the police obstructed the entrance of students

᪰UÉ©dG â«‘°UCG ɪ¦«M
Hiin-a-maa √aSbaH-at-i l-¬aaSimat-a
when it became the capital

6.2.5 ¬ind-a-maa Éenór¦pY ˜when; at the time when™

ɦg ¤EG ɦ„L Éeó¦Y ôeC™G ˜ „¦qó¤àJ Éeó¦Y
¬ind-a-maa ji√naa √ilaa hunaa ¬ind-a-maa ta-taqaddam-u fii l-¬umr-i
when we came here when they grow older (˜advance in age™)
When referring to a non-past situation, or a hypothetical situation, ba¬d-a √an is followed by a verb
in the subjunctive mood. For example,
πbCɦ ¿CG ó©H ¢SôO¦°S
sa-na-drus-u ba¬d-a √an na-√kul-a.
We will study after we eat.
416 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

6.2.6 ¬ind-a-√idhin mòFnór¦pY ˜then; at that point in time; at that time™
.ÜÉ«°ùf™G áq«°†b ¬ôW øe mòFó¦Y óH™h
wa laa budd-a ¬inda-√idhin min TarH-i qaDiyyat-i l-insiHaab.
Rejection of the issue of withdrawal was inevitable at that point.

6.2.7 qabl-a √an r¿CG nπr‘nb subjunctive ˜before™
Contrasting with ba¬d-a √an, qabl-a √an refers to an action anterior to the action in
the main clause. The verb after qabl-a √an is in the subjunctive mood, even if the
main clause reference is past tense.

.§‘¡j ¿CG π‘b QÉ£ŸG ¤EG øeC™G ¤Gq’b â∏°Uh
waSal-at quwwaat-u l-√amn-i √ilaa l-maTaar-i qabl-a √an ya-hbuT-a.
The security forces arrived at the airport before he landed.

Üô—G ¬bqµ“ ¿CG π‘b
qabl-a √an tu-mazziq-a-hu l-Harb-u
before war tears it apart

6.2.8 thumm-a sºoK ˜then; and then; subsequently™
The connective particle thumm-a is an adverb that indicates a sequential action,
coming later in time than the action in the preceding sentence or clause.

.q»¦W’dG ó«°»¦dG Ghó°»fCG
.¥hó¦°U ˜ ó©H ɪ«a É¡©°V qºK qºK
thumm-a Da¬-haa fii-maa ba¬d-u thumm-a √anshad-uu l-nashiid-a
fii Sanduuq-in. l-waTaniyy-a.
Then put it in a box later. Then they sang the national anthem.

6.3 Adverbial conjunctions of similarity
These expressions predicate a state of similarity with something that has gone
before, either in a previous statement or earlier in the same sentence.

6.3.1 ka-maa ɪnc ˜as; just as; similarly; likewise™
The expression ka-maa is usually followed by a verb phrase.

§qó«àŸG ôcP ɪc á«°VÉŸG ᦰùdG G’∏©a ɪc
ka-maa dhakar-a l-mutaHaddith-u ka-maa fa¬al-uu l-sanat-a l-maaDiyat-a
the spokesman likewise mentioned just as they did last year

6.3.2 mithl-a-maa ɪn∏ãe ˜like; just as; as™
. . . »∏gCG «’¤j ɪ∏ãe
mithl-a-maa ya-quul-u √ahl-ii . . .
as my family says . . .
Connectives and conjunctions 417

6.4 Adverbial conjunction of equivalence: qadr-a-maa ÉenQrónb
˜as much as; just as; as . . . as™
.¤Éqjqó«àdG øe ɦeÉeCG ÉeQób ¢Uô˜dG øe kG’ãc ɦeÉeCG q¿EG
√inna √amaam-a-naa kathiir-an min-a l-furaS-i qadr-a-maa √amaam-a-naa min-a
There are [just] as many opportunities before us as there are challenges.

6.5 Adverbial conjunction of reference or attribution: Hasab-a-maa ɪn‘n°ùnM
˜according to; in accordance with; depending on™
This conjunction links one clause to another clause, expressing a relationship of
reference or attribution.16
... IQ’£°SC™G «’¤J ɪ‘°ùMh
wa-Hasab-a-maa ta-quul-u l-√usTuurat-u . . .
according to what legend says . . .

‘GòfBG ɡ૪°ùJ ¤ôL ɪ‘°ùM
Hasab-a-maa jar-at tasmiyat-u-haa √aan-a-dhaaka
in accordance with its naming at that time

6.6 Adverbial conjunctions of potential or possibility

6.6.1 rubb-a-maa ɪqHoQ ˜perhaps; maybe; possibly™ 17
.Ú∏q©°ùe º¡¦e ¿ h’ãc ¿Éc ɪqHQ
rubba-maa kaan-a kathiir-uuna min-hum musajjal-iina.
Perhaps many of them were registered.

. . . –‘°ùdG Gò¡d ɪqHQ
rubba-maa li-haadhaa l-sabab-i . . .
perhaps for this reason . . .

.„¦hµ∏dG øe ÌcCG »°ù˜f øe kɤKGh â¦c ɪqH Q
rubba-maa kun-tu waathiq-an min nafs-ii √akthar-a min-a l-luzuum-i.
Perhaps I was overconfident.

7 Disjunctives
Arabic has a set of particles that indicate disjunction, that is, a distinction
between one alternative and another. They include the following:
As for the expressions Hasab-a and bi-Hasab-i ˜according to,™ these are not conjunctions but operative
particles that are followed by a noun in the genitive case.
For another word meaning ˜perhaps™ see la¬alla in Chapter 19 on √inna and her sisters.
418 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

7.1 √aw rhnCG ˜or™
This disjunctive indicates an option between two or more elements, but that
option is inclusive, that is, it may include one, both, or all the elements.

ó°üb ’Z øe hCG ó°üb øY .kÉàq«e hCG kÉq«M ¬fhójôj
¬an qaSd-in √aw min ghayr-i qaSd-in yu-riid-uuna-hu Hayy-an √aw mayyit-an.
on purpose or not on purpose They want him dead or alive (˜alive or dead™).

¬∏°»a hCG ºcÉ—G ܵ—G ¬É©¦d
li-najaaH-i l-Hizb-i l-Haakim-i √aw fashl-i-hi
for the success of the ruling party or its failure

7.2 √am r„¦nCG ˜or™
This disjunctive indicates an exclusive option; one or the other, but not both or all.
Because it ends with sukuun, it sometimes needs a helping vowel, kasra.

?¤’°üdG „¦CG áª∏µdG „¦CG ø«∏dG
al-laHn-u √am-i l-kalimat-u √am-i l-Sawt-u?
the tune, or the words, or the voice?

kÉHq“W „¦CG G’fÉc IòJÉ°SCG
√asaatidhat-an kaan-uu √am Tullaab-an
[whether] they were professors or students

7.2.1 √a with √am
Sometimes the particle √a- is used on the first element of the exclusive disjunction:

.‚«°†j „¦CG ºà°»jCG Qój „
lam ya-dri √a -ya-shtam-u √am ya-DHak-u.
He didn™t know whether to curse or laugh.

7.3 √immaa . . . √aw hCG . . . . qÉeEG.; √immaa . . . wa-√immaa ÉqeEGh . . . ÉqeEG ˜either . . . or™
This two-part disjunctive conveys the idea of an exclusive choice: one or the other,
but not both. Sometimes the first part of the disjunction is followed by √an plus a
verb in the subjunctive, but not always.

.kGóHCG ¿’µj ™ hCG “eÉ°T ¿ ’µ« ¿CG ÉqeEG „¦“°ùdG Gòg
haadhaa l-salaam-u √immaa √an ya-kuun-a shaamil-an √aw laa ya-kuun-u √abad-an.
This peace is either inclusive, or it is not at all.

.ÜÉgQ™G „e ÉqeEG h ɦ©e G’f’µJ ¿CG ÉqeEG
√immaa √an ta-kuun-uu ma¬-a-naa wa-√immaa ma¬-a l-√irhaab-i.
Either you are with us or [you are] with terrorism.
Connectives and conjunctions 419

8 Sentence-starting connectives
In addition to single words as sentence-introducers and connectors, there are also
many fixed expressions or idiomatic phrases that serve to start sentences. This
process of using a starting formula to introduce a sentence is especially common
in journalistic and expository writing and gives it what Johnstone refers to as a
certain “formulaicity.” 18 Some of the more common phrasal starters are listed

8.1 Participle or adjective starters with min-a l-
A definite adjective or passive participle, often preceded by the partitive preposition
min, is a common way of introducing a sentence, especially in journalistic prose.
This use of min is termed “pleonastic” (superfluous or redundant).19 It is a way of
opening a statement with a generic or general observation, just as “It is . . .” may be
used in English.

. . . ¿CG „qb’àŸG . . . q¿CG øµªŸG
øeh øe
wa-min-a l-mutawaqqa¬-i √an . . . min-a l-mumkin-i √an . . .
It is expected that . . . It is possible that . . .

.¤™RɦàdG øe ’ãµdG Ëó¤J „¦óY º¡ŸG øe
min-a l-muhimm-i ¬adam-u taqdiim-i l-kathiir-i min-a l-tanaazulaat-i.
It is important not to offer too many concessions.

. . . IQÉjµH „¦’¤f ¿CG q»©«‘£dG øe
min-a l-Tabii¬iyy-i √an na-quum-a bi-ziyaarat-in . . .
It is natural that we undertake a visit . . .

8.1.1 Starters without min
Sometimes participle or adjective starters are used on their own, without min, but
usually preceded by wa-.

. . . q¿CG . . . q¿CG Üô¨à°ùŸGh
wa-ma¬luum-un √anna . . . wa-l-mustaghrab-u √anna . . .
It is known that . . . The strange [thing] is . . .

8.2 Passive and passive-like starters
With or without wa- a passive verb in the third person masculine singular may
initiate a sentence by introducing a general, unattributed observation. In
addition to the morphological passive, a Form V or Form VII verb with passive
meaning is sometimes used.

18 19
Johnstone 1990, 223. See also pleonastic min, Chapter 16, section
420 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

. . . q¿CG . . . ¤EG
º∏oYh QÉ°»oj
wa-¬ulim-a √anna . . . yu-shaar-u √ilaa . . .
(And) it has been learned that . . . It is indicated . . .

. . . „¦É©dG ÚeC™G q¿CG ôcòoj h
wa-yu-dhkar-u √anna l-√amiin-a l-¬aamm-a . . .
(And) it is mentioned that the Secretary General . . .

. . . kÉMGÎbG ôjô¤àdG πª°»j ¿CG „qb’àjh
wa-ya-tawaqqa¬-u √an ya-shmul-a l-taqriir-u qtiraaH-an . . .
(And) it is expected that the report will include a proposal . . .

8.3 Other idiomatic starters
Some other phrases used to start sentences typically include the following.

8.3.1 Topic shift: √ammaa . . . fa- `na . . . ÉqeG ˜as for . . .™
This expression denotes a shift in topic from the previous sentence. It is in two
parts, the first word, √ammaa, signaling the new topic, and the second, fa-, intro-
ducing the comment on that topic. In English, the “as for” phrase is here followed
by a comma, which introduces the second part of the sentence, or comment.
Therefore fa- in this case fills the same function as the punctuation mark in
English. Since √ammaa introduces a new sentence and a new topic, the noun
following is in the nominative case, as subject of the sentence.

.kGqóL ´q’¦àªa ºLΟG º°ù¤dG ÉqeGC
√ammaa l-qism-u l-mutarjam-u fa-mutanawwa¬-un jidd-an.
As for the translated part, it is very diverse.

... ¿’d’¤«a . . . ¿’q«∏«FGô°SE™G ÉqeGC
√ammaa l-israa√iiliyy-uuna . . . fa-ya-quul-uuna . . .
as for the Israelis, they say . . .

.á©HGQ ¤AÉL ó¤a , áeô°†±G ÉqeGC
√ammaa l-muxaDramat-u, fa-qad jaa√-at raabi¬at-an.
As for the old-timer, she came in fourth.

8.3.2 Addition: √ilaa dhaalika ‚dP ¤pG ˜in addition to that; moreover; furthermore™
np E
This phrase is a shortened version of bi-l-√iDaafat-i √ilaa dhaalika ˜in addition to that™:

... q˜É«°üdG óqcCG ‚dP ¤EG
√ilaa dhaalika √akkad-a l-saHaafiyy-u . . .
Moreover, the journalist affirmed . . .
Connectives and conjunctions 421

... ¤Éq«∏ªY ˜ «“àM™G Iq’b ¤qôªà°SG ‚dP ¤EG
√ilaa dhaalika stamarr-at quwwat-u l-iHtilaal-i fii ¬amaliyyaat-in . . .
In addition to that, the occupation forces continued operations . . .

8.3.3 Statement of contents: jaa√-a ¬i ˜ nAÉL/wa-jaa√-a ¬i ˜ nAÉLnh
The expression jaa√-a fii ˜it came in™ is an idiomatic way to start a sentence that
reveals the contents of a letter, announcement, declaration, or other official
document. The English equivalent usually omits this expression and begins with
the document itself as the subject of the sentence.

... ...
¿CG ¿É«‘dG ˜ AÉLh ´hô°»ŸG ¢üf ˜ AÉLh
wa-jaa√-a fii l-bayaan-i √anna . . . wa-jaa√-a fii naSS-i l-mashruu¬-i . . .
(And) the declaration stated that . . . And the text of the plan stated that . . .
(˜And it came in the declaration that . . .™) (˜And it came in the text of the plan . . .™)
Subordinating conjunctions: the particle
√inna and her sisters
1 Introduction
This group of particles, referred to as √inna wa-√axawaat-u-haa É¡JG’NCGh q¿EG ˜√inna
and her sisters,™ are part of the class of Arabic words that are referred to as
nawaasix ï°SG’f, or words that cause a shift to the accusative case.1 The members
of this particular group are usually used as subordinating conjunctions, connect-
ing two clauses, although √inna itself may also be used at the beginning of a
These particles include:2

verily, indeed; that √inna q¿EG
that √anna q¿CG
but qøµd
because q¿C™
perhaps qπ©d

1.1 Grammatical effect
These particles have the grammatical effect of making the subject noun in the fol-
lowing clause accusative. If there is no overt subject noun in the clause, a suffix
pronoun is affixed to the particle.

For more on the nawaasix, see Chapter 7, section
Arabic grammars refer to particles that require the accusative as Huruuf mushabbiha bi-l-fi¬l
˜particles resembling verbs™ because transitive verbs require the accusative on their direct objects.
There is therefore a parallel relationship between these two elements; they are both “operators” or
“governors” (¬awaamil ), and both have similar effects on a following noun or noun phrase. As
Anghelescu states, “it must not be forgotten that √inna, as well as other members of the
al-nawaasikh class, resemble verbs in their capacity to ˜act™ (¬amal ), or to govern, according to the
Arab grammarians” (1999, 136).
The subordinating particle √an is also sometimes considered in this category, although it is
different in that it is followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood, rather than a noun in the
accusative case. For more on √an and the subjunctive, see Chapter 34, section 2.3.

Subordinating conjunctions: The particle √inna and her sisters 423

1.2 Overt noun subject
When the subject noun in the following clause is overt, it receives the accusative
case and usually follows directly after the particle. Note that the form of the accu-
sative case may vary according to the declension of the noun.

.„¦ÉghCG ¤EG âdq’“ «ÉeB™G q¿EG
√inna l-√aamaal-a taHawwal-at √ilaa √awhaam-in.
(Indeed), the hopes have turned into delusions.

.áq«ŸÉY á¨d náYGQµdG q¿CG ó¤à©f
na-¬taqid-u √anna l-ziraa¬at-a lughat-un ¬aalamiyyat-un.
We believe that agriculture is a world language.

‚dP ¢ùµY nπ°UÉ—G øµdh
wa-laakinna l-HaaSil-a ¬aks-u dhaalika
but the actuality is the reverse of that

å©‘¦J ¤òNCG káq«HÉL«EG m¤ÉgÉ©qJG q¿CG ºZQ
raghm-a √anna ttijaahaat-in √iijaabiyyat-an √axadh-at ta-nba¬ith-u
despite [the fact] that positive trends began to emerge


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