. 8
( 23)


200 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic FURTHER EXAMPLES:
(1) Nouns of place:

coffeehouse maqhan stream, course majran
k≈¡¤e iô›
goal, range marman building mabnan
k≈eôe k≈¦‘e
(2) Common nouns:

stick, cane villages quran
kÉ°üY iôb

(3) Verbal nouns

effort mas¬an meaning ma¬nan
k≈©°ùe k≈¦©e
Passive participles of derived verb forms (II“X):102

a level mustawan a crossroad multaqan
k k≈¤à∏e
a hospital mustashfan required; muqtaDan
k≈˜°»à°ùe k≈°†à¤e
(5) Examples in context:

.páq«c’eC™G pá©eÉ·G ≈˜°»à°ùe ¤EG nπ¤of
nuqil-a √ilaa mustashfaa l-jaami¬at-i l-√amiirkiyyat-i.
He was taken to the hospital of the American University.

.mI’‘c kiôb §“K §HôJ
n o áq«bɘqJ™G ≈°†à¤Ã
ta-rbiT-u thalaath-a quran kabiirat-in. bi-muqtaDaa l-ittifaaqiyyat-i
It links three big villages. in accordance with the agreement

5.4.5 Declension eight: Invariable nouns
This noun class consists of a set of nouns which vary neither in case nor in defi-
niteness. They are spelled with final √alif maqSuura unless the previous letter is
yaa√, in which case, √alif Tawiila is used.103

Some passive participles of the derived forms serve also as nouns of place.
Abboud and McCarus 1983, II:19“20 provide an informative discussion of this declension. ¬Abd al-
Latif et al. 1997, 54“55, describe these nouns as having a suffixed feminine marker, √alif maqSuura,
and that they are therefore diptote, and do not take nunation.
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 201 INVARIABLE NOUN ENDING WITH √alif maqSuura:

˜complaint™ shakwaa i’µ°T

al-shakwaa shakwaa
i’µ°»dG i’µ°T

al-shakwaa shakwaa
i’µ°»dG i’µ°T

al-shakwaa shakwaa
i’µ°»dG i’µ°T
Accusative INVARIABLE NOUN ENDING WITH √alif Tawiila:

˜gifts™ hadaayaa ÉjGóg

al-hadaayaa hadaayaa
ÉjGó¡dG ÉjGóg

al-hadaayaa hadaayaa
ÉjGó¡dG ÉjGóg

al-hadaayaa hadaayaa
ÉjGó¡dG ÉjGóg

˜higher, highest™ √a¬laa ≈∏YCG

al-√a¬laa ≈∏YC™G ≈∏YCG

al-√a¬laa ≈∏YC™G ≈∏YCG

al-√a¬laa ≈∏YC™G ≈∏YCG

˜sick™ marDaa ≈°Vôe

al-marDaa marDaa
≈°VôŸG ≈°Vôe

al-marDaa marDaa
≈°VôŸG ≈°Vôe

al-marDaa marDaa
≈°VôŸG ≈°Vôe
202 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic This declension or
inflectional class includes a number of noun and adjective types:

(1) Singular nouns: These nouns are feminine in gender, having an √alif maq-
Suura suffixed after the root consonants, chiefly with patterns fu¬laa, fi¬laa
and fa¬laa:

gift; benefit jadwaa fever Hummaa
ihóL ≈ªM
candy, sweet Halwaa dream ru√yaa
i’∏M ÉjDhQ
chaos fawDaa world; universe dunyaa
≈°V’a É«fO
memorial; dhikraa one; one of
iôcP ióMEG

.πcÉ°»ŸG ÉjɤH ¤EG páaÉ°VE™ÉH Gògh ɪgGóMEG
wa-haadhaa bi-l-√iDaafat-i √ilaa baqaayaa l-mashaakil-i. √iHdaa-humaa
And this [is] in addition to the rest of the problems. one of [the two
of ] them

.ká∏«ªL É«fódG nógÉ°T .p¤É°ùq°SD’ŸG uºgCG ióMEG »g
shaahad-a l-dunyaa jamiilat-an. hiya √iHdaa √ahamm-i l-mu√assasaat-i.
He saw the world [as] beautiful. It is one of the most important

(2) Singular adjectives

(2.1) fu¬laa ≈∏©oa: The feminine singular superlative adjective has the form
fu¬laa, which puts it into this inflectional class. If the final √alif is pre-
ceded by a yaa√, it becomes √alif Tawilla.

finest, Husnaa (f. of middle, wusTaa
≈¦°ùM ≈£°Sh
best al-√aHsan) most central (f. of √awsaT)
great, kubraa (f. of highest
iÈc É«∏oY
greatest (f. of √a¬laa)

n¿’©°ùàdGh oá©°ùàdG ≈¦°ù—G p¬q∏dG oAɪ°SCG
√asmaa√-u llaah-i l-Husnaa l-tis¬at-u wa-l-tis¬uuna
the ninety-nine attributes (˜the finest names™) of God

.p„¦ÉeC™G ¤EG iÈc I’£N πãÁ
k oq ≈£°S’dG pQ’°ü©dG n«“N
yu-maththil-u xuTwat-an kubraa √ilaa l-√amaam-i. xilaal-a l-¬uSuur-i l-wusTaa
It represents a great step forward. during the Middle Ages
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 203

(2.2) √af ¬aa ≈©anCG: The comparative/superlative adjective from defective roots has
the form √af ¬aa, which puts it also into this category.

≈fOCG óM ¿hO øe ≈fOC™G ¥ô°»dG
al-sharq-u l-√adnaa
min duun-i Hadd-in √adnaa
without a lower limit (minimum) the Near East

(2.3) The feminine form of ˜first™ √uulaa ¤hCG: This is a feminine adjective; it
usually follows a feminine noun.

¤hC™G pIqôª∏d ¤hC™G oá∏ª·G
li-l-marrat-i l-√uulaa al-jumlat-u l-√uulaa
for the first time the first sentence

(2.4) The feminine form of ˜other™ √uxraa iôNCG

iôNCG m« hO ˜ iôNCG kIqôe
fii duwal-in √uxraa marrat-an √uxraa
in other countries another time; one more time

(3) Invariable plurals: Included in this set of words are a number of noun
and adjective plurals, such as the following:

Halaawaa pl. of Halwaa ˜sweet, candy™ ih“M
zawaayaa pl. of zaawiya ˜corner™ ÉjGhR
qaDaayaa pl. of qaDiyya ˜issue, problem™ ÉjÉ°†b
baqaayaa pl. of baqiyya ˜rest, remainder™ ÉjɤH
kaslaa pl. of kaslaan ˜lazy™ ≈∏°ùc
ghaDaabaa pl. of ghadbaan ˜angry™ ≈HÉ°†Z
naSaaraa pl. of naSraaniyy ˜Christian™ iQÉ°üf
qatlaa pl. of qatiil ˜killed (person), casualty™ ≈∏àb
marDaa pl. of mariiD ˜sick (person)™ ≈°Vôe
jarHaa pl. of jariiH ˜wounded (person)™ ≈MôL
p«GµdµdG ÉjÉ«°V oOóY
¬adad-u DaHaayaa l-zilzaal-i
the number of victims of the earthquake
204 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

(4) Foreign nouns: These nouns are not traditionally considered part of this
class because they are not of Arabic origin. However, foreign proper
names and borrowed words ending in /-aa/ are also invariable in their

Canada kanadaa cinema siinamaa
Gó¦c ɪ¦«°S
France faransaa potato baTaaTaa
É°ùfôa ÉWÉ£H
Korea kuuriyaa music muusiiqaa
ÉjQ’c ≈¤«°S’e
camera kaamiiraa G’eÉc
É°ùfô˜d mIQÉjR ˜ É«fÉ‘°SG pÜ’¦L ˜
fii ziyaarat-in li-faransaa fii januub-i isbaaniyaa
on a visit to France in southern Spain

oáãjó—G ɪ¦«°ùdG É«˜jôaEG QÉ¡fCG ˜
al-siinamaa l-Hadiithat-u fii √anhaar-i √ifriiqiyaa
the modern cinema in the rivers of Africa
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition

1 The construct phrase or √iDaafa áaÉ°VE™G
In Arabic, two nouns may be linked together in a relationship where the second
noun determines the first by identifying, limiting, or defining it, and thus the
two nouns function as one phrase or syntactic unit. Traditionally, in English
descriptions of Arabic grammar, this unit is called the “genitive construct,” the
“construct phrase,” or “annexation structure.” In Arabic it is referred to as the
√iDaafa (˜annexation; addition™). As Beeston explains, “The link between a noun
and an entity which amplifies it is termed by the Arab grammarians √iDaafa
˜annexation™, and the noun amplified is said to be muDaaf ˜annexed™” (1970, 45).
Similar constructions in English, where two nouns occur together with one
defining the other, might be, for example, “coffee cup,” “university library,” or (as
one word) “eggshell.” In fact, English often juxtaposes nouns to create new hybrid
terms: “airbag,” “seat belt,” or “keyboard.” Another English equivalent to the Ara-
bic construct phrase is a possessive phrase using “of” (“the Queen of Sweden,” “a
bottle of wine”) or the possessive suffix / -™s /on the possessing noun (“Cairo™s caf©s”,
“the newspaper™s editorial”).
The noun-noun genitive construct is one of the most basic structures in the Ara-
bic language and occurs with high frequency. The first noun, the muDaaf (˜the
added™), has neither the definite article nor nunation because it is in an
“annexed” state, determined by the second noun.1 But, as the head noun of the
phrase, the first noun can be in any case: nominative, genitive, or accusative,
depending on the function of the √iDaafa unit in a sentence structure. The second,
or annexing noun, is called the muDaaf √ilay-hi.2 It is marked either for definite-
ness or indefiniteness, and is always in the genitive case.

“In Arabic it is the amplifying term whose definitional status yields the definitional status of the
whole phrase: consequently, an annexed substantive will not itself have the article” (Beeston 1970,
Literally, the noun ˜added to.™ For an extensive discussion (in English) of √iDaafa constructions in
literary Arabic, see Cantarino 1970, II: 92-119. See also Wright 1967, II:198-234 for a summary of the
rules for Classical Arabic “Status constructus and the genitive.” Hasan 1987, III:1-180 has a thor-
ough analysis of the genitive construct (in Arabic).

206 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

In terms of semantic relationships between the nouns in an Arabic construct
phrase, they are very wide-ranging.3 Here they are classified in relatively discrete
groups, but clear boundaries cannot always be established between the groups and
sometimes membership blurs or overlaps. Eleven general categories are listed here.4

1.1 Types of √iDaafas

1.1.1 Identity relationship
In this broad category, the second term specifies, defines, limits, or explains the
particular identity of the first:5

the city of Jerusalem madiinat-u l-quds-i p¢Só¤dG oá¦jóe
the minister of justice waziir-u l-¬adl-i p«ó©dG oôjRh
starfish najmat-u l-baHr-i pô«‘dG o᪂

a police officer DaabiT-u shurTat-in máWô°T o§HÉ°V
a handbag Haqiibat-u yad-in mój oá‘«¤M
love letters rasaa√il-u Hubb-in x–M oπFÉ°SQ
1.1.2 Possessive relationship
In this kind of annexation structure, the first term can be interpreted as belong-
ing (in the very broadest sense) to the second term. In certain respects, it is very
close to the next category, the partitive relationship, and it is sometimes difficult
to draw a line between the two.
Beirut airport maTaar-u bayruut-a n¤h’H oQÉ£e
√ab-uu Hasan-in6
the father of Hasan mø°ùM ’HCG
the leaders of the tribes zu¬amaa√-u l-qabaa√il-i pπFÉ‘¤dG oAɪYR
1.1.3 Partitive relationship
Here the annexed term (the first term) serves as a determiner to describe a part or
quantity of the annexing term. This includes the use of nouns that are quantifiers
(“some,” “all,” “most”), certain numbers and fractions, and superlative constructions.
Beeston refers to the “semantic polyvalency of the annexation structure” (1970, 46).
Holes 1995, 166-67 (after Beeston 1970, 45-47) identifies six categories of constructs, including the
adjective √iDaafa or “unreal” √iDaafa (√iDaafa ghayr Haqiiqiyya).
Also called the epexegetical genitive, or genitive of explanation.
Although the second noun, Hasan, has nunation, it is considered definite because it is a proper name.
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 207


some of the films ba¬D-u l-√aflaam-i p„¦“aC™G o¢†©H
most of the seats mu¬Zam-u l-maqaa¬id-i póYɤŸG oº¶©e
the first part of the month maTla¬-u l-shahr-i pô¡°»dG o„∏£e
the best conditions √afDal-u shuruuT-in •hô°T π°†aCG
m o
the end of the line √aaxir-u l-Taabuur -i pQ’HÉ£dG oôNBG
two-thirds of the members thulthaa l-√a¬Daa√-i AÉ°†YC™G Éã∏K
every day kull-a yawm-in m„¦r’nj sπc
a quarter of a riyal rub¬-u riyaal-in m«ÉjQ o„HQ
any attempt √ayy-u muHaawalat-in mádhɬ t¦CG
four daggers √arba¬at-u xanaajir-a nôLɦN oá©HQCG
a thousand pages √alf-u safHat-in m᫘°U o∞dCG
For further discussion and examples of these categories, see sections on quan-
tifiers, numerals, and superlative adjectives.

1.1.4 Agent relationship
In this type of construct, the second term is the agent or doer of the action and
the first term is a verbal noun (maSdar), the name of an action:

the crowing of the rooster SiyaaH-u l-diik-i p‚jódG o¬É«°U
the squeaking of the door Sariir-u l-baab-i pÜÉ‘dG oôjô°U
the departure of the minister mughaadarat-u l-waziir-i pôjR’dG oIQOɨe
the arrival of the queen wuSuul-u l-malikat-i páµ∏ŸG o«’°Uh ACTION, AGENT, OBJECT: In this variant of the agent-relationship √iDaafa,
where the object of the verbal action is mentioned in addition to the doer of the
action, then the object follows the √iDaafa construction, and is in the accusative
case (as object of the underlying transitive verb):

n᪰UÉ©dG pôjR’dG oIQOɨe
mughaadarat-u l-waziir-i l-¬aaSimat-a
the minister™s leaving the capital
208 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

á«°SÉ«°ùdG §GóMC™G pµcôŸG oá©HÉàe
n n
mutaaba¬ at-u l-markaz-i l-√aHdaath-a l-siyaasiyyat-a
the center™s following [of ] political events

ná°SÉFôdG pí°TôŸG oº∏°ùJ
tasallum-u l-murashshaH-i l-ri√aasat-a
the nominee™s assuming [of] the presidency

1.1.5 Object relationship
In this type of construct, the second term is the object of an action, and the first
term is either the name of the action (maSdar), or an active participle (ism-u l-faa¬il)
referring to the doer of the action. In this type, the first term is a verbal noun
referring to the action itself:


the raising of the flag raf ¬-u l-¬alam-i pº∏©dG o„aQ
the protection of infants Himaayat-u l-√aTfaal-i p«É˜WC™G oájɪM
the solution of the problems Hall-u l-mashaakil-i pπcÉ°»ŸG tπM
the regaining of the initiative isti¬aadat-u l-mubaadarat-i pIQOÉ‘ŸG oIOÉ©à°SG
entering the church duxuul-u l-kaniisat-i pá°ù«¦µdG o«’NO
criticizing Orientalism naqd-u l-istishraaq-i p¥Gô°»à°S™G oó¤f
riding horses rukuub-u l-xayl-i pπ«ÿG oÜ’cQ
playing a role lu¬b-u dawr-in mQhO o–©d
establishing a state qiyaam-u dawlat-in mádhO o„¦É«b
opening fire √iTlaaq-u naar-in mQÉf o¥“WEG In the second type of object-relationship
√iDaafa, the first term is an active participle denoting the doer of an action:


the decision-makers Saani¬-uu l-qaraar-i pQGô¤dG ’©fÉ°U
companions of the delegation muraafiq-uu l-wafd-i póa’dG ’¤aGôe
the two leaders of the campaign qaa√id-aa l-Hamlat-i pá∏ª—G GóFÉb
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 209

an assistant minister; musaa¬id-u waziir-in môjRh oóYÉ°ùe
a shoemaker Saani¬-u √aHdhiyat-in májòMCG o„fÉ°U
an anteater √aakil-u naml-in mπ° oπcBG
1.1.6 Compositional relationship
In this structure, the second noun of the construct expresses the nature or com-
position of the first:

the railway (˜road of iron™) sikkat-u l-Hadiid-i pójó—G oáµ°S
bouquets of flowers baaqaat-u l-zuhuur-i pQ’gµdG o¤ÉbÉH
a chain of mountains silsilat-u jibaal-in m«É‘L oá∏°ù∏°S
lentil soup shuurbat-u ¬adas-in m¢SóY oáHQ’°T
a bunch of grapes m–¦Y oO’¤¦Y
¬unquud-u ¬inab-in
a kindergarten (˜garden rawDat-u √aTfaal-in m«É˜WCG oá°VhQ
    of children™)
1.1.7 Measurement relationship
Where the first noun expresses the nature of the measurement and the second
(and third) the extent or the measurement itself. These occur mainly in indefinite

a stone™s throw marmaa Hajr-in mô©M ≈eôe
[for] a period of two days muddat-a yawm-ayni ø«e’j Ióe
pr n
to a distance of ten meters √ilaa masaafat-i QÉàeCnG pIô°»Y páaÉ°ùe ¤EG
¬ashrat-i √amtaar-in
a kilo of bananas kiiluu mawz-in mR’e ’∏«c
1.1.8 Contents relationship
Where the first term denotes a container and the second or annexing term the
contents of the container:

boxes of gold Sanaadiiq-u l-dhahab-i p–gòdG o≥jOɦ°U
210 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

a cup of coffee finjaan-u qahwat-in mI’¡b o¿É©¦a
a pack of gum máµ∏Y oá‘∏Y
¬ulbat-u ¬ilkat-in
a bag of nuts kiis-u fustuq-in ≥à°ùa ¢ù«c
m o
1.1.9 Purpose relationship
Here the second term explains or defines the particular purpose or use of the first
a marble quarry maqla¬-u ruxaam-in m„¦ÉNQ o„∏¤e
a rescue plane Taa√ irat-u √inqaadh-in mPɤfEG oIôFÉW
greeting cards baTaaqaat-u tahni√at-in mᄦ¡J o¤ÉbÉ£H
1.1.10 Quotation or title relationship
Here the second term is a title or a quotation. When this is the case, the words of
the title or quotation in quotation marks are considered to be set off from the
case-marking requirements of the second term of the √iDaafa, and are inflected
independently, not necessarily in the genitive.
zOÉ¡·G{ ߘd zá∏«dh á∏«d ∞dCG{ ÜÉàc
lafZ-u “al-jihaad-u” kitaab-u “√alf-u laylat-in wa-laylat-un”
the expression “jihad” the book “The Thousand and One Nights”
z¬JÉjó“h §°ShC™G ¥ô°»dG{ ¿G’¦©H Iô°Vɬ
muHaaDarat-un bi-¬unwaan-i “al-sharq-u l-√awsaT-u wa-taHaddiyaat-u-hu”
a lecture entitled “The Middle East and Its Challenges”
zIOÉ©°ùdG ø—{ oº∏a
film-u “laHn-u l-sa¬aadat-i”
the film “The Sound of Music” (˜the tune of happiness™)

1.1.11 Clause relationship
A clause in its entirety may occasionally form the second term of an √iDaafa. For
purposes of clarity, the boundary between first term and second term is indicated
by a plus sign (+) in the Arabic transliteration:

¬«∏Y ’g Ée ≈∏Y „°V’dG ôªà°SG p«ÉM ˜
fii Haal-i + stamarr-a l-waD¬-u ¬alaa maa huwa ¬alay-hi
in case the situation remains as it is
„¦ó¤J ≥«¤«àd Gó©e A»°T πc ¿Éc pâbh ˜
fii waqt-i + kaan-a kull-u shay√-in mu¬add-an li-taHqiiq-i taqaddum-in
at a time [when] everything was prepared for achieving [some] progress
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 211

É«∏c ÉcGQOEG ᤫ¤—G ‘QóJ pâbh ˜
fii waqt-i + tu-drik-u l-Haqiiqat-a √idraak-an kulliyy-an
at a time [when] it fully realizes the truth

1.2 Rules of the noun construct (√iDaafa áaÉ°VEG):

1.2.1 The ¬rst term of the construct
The first term of a construct phrase has neither the definite article nor nunation
because it is defined through the second term, which determines the definiteness
or indefiniteness of the entire phrase. The first term of a construct phrase cannot
have a possessive pronoun suffix.
The first term carries a case marker which is determined by the syntactic role
of the phrase in the sentence or clause. Examples: FIRST TERM OF CONSTRUCT IS NOMINATIVE:
.lIóq¤©e p§°ShC™G p¥ô°»dG oá∏µ°»e
mushkilat-u l-sharq-i l-√awsaT-i mu¬aqqadat-un.
The problem of the Middle East is complex. FIRST TERM OF CONSTRUCT IS ACCUSATIVE:
.p¢SÉ°SC™G pô©—G p„°Vh á∏˜M nôn°†M
HaDar-a Haflat-a waD¬-il-Hajr-i l-√asaas-i.
He attended the party for the laying of the cornerstone. FIRST TERM OF CONSTRUCT IS GENITIVE:

.m§«°»f QhO –©∏`d mOGó©à°SG ≈∏Y »g
hiya ¬alaa sti¬daad-in li-la¬b-i dawr-in nashiiT-in.
She is ready to play an active role (˜for playing an active role™). THE RESTRICTION ON NUNATION on the first term of the construct applies
not only to the nunation which marks indefiniteness, but also to the final nuuns
of the dual and the sound masculine plural. These nuuns are deleted on the first
term of a construct phrase.

„¦“YE™Gh «ó©dG GôjRh ¤GQqó±G ’Hô¡e
waziir-aa l-¬adl-i wa l-√i¬laam-i muharrib-uu l-mukhaddiraat-i
the two ministers of justice and drug smugglers (˜smugglers of drugs™)
212 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

á«LQÉÿG ¦ôjR’`d ¤Éª¶¦ŸG ¦ôjóª`d
li-waziir-ay-i l-xaarijiyyat-i li-mudiir-ii l-munaZZamaat-i
to the two foreign ministers to the directors of the organizations

ÉH’c ’«°VÉjQ ¿’àjµdG ’YQGµe
riyaaDiyy-uu kuubaa muzaari¬-uu l-zaytuun-i
the athletes of Cuba olive growers (˜growers of olives™) PAUSE FORM PRONUNCIATION OF taa√ marbuuTa AS FIRST TERM OF
When a word ending in taa√ marbuuTa is the first word of a construct
phrase, the taa√ is pronounced, even in pause form. For more on this see Chapter 2,

¤h’H á``¦jóe «É‘L á``∏°ù∏°S „¦ÉjCG á``K“K
madiinat bayruut silsilat jibaal thalaathat √ayyaam
the city of Beirut a chain of mountains three days

1.2.2 The second or ¬nal term of the construct
The second or final term is in the genitive case (whether or not it is overtly
marked); it may be either definite or indefinite; may be a noun or a demonstrative
pronoun. It may have a possessive pronoun suffix. SECOND TERM NOUN:


the engineers™ quarter Hayy-u l-muhandis-iina nÚ°S󦡟G t»M
the kings of India muluuk-u l-hind-i pó¦¡dG ‘’∏e
a lunch banquet ma√dabat-u ghadaa√- in mAGóZ oáHOCÉe
a beauty queen malikat-u jamaal-in m«ÉªL oáµ∏e
six schools sitt-u madaaris-a n¢SQGóe tâ°S A demonstrative pronoun
may serve as the second term of a construct phrase, but as an invariable word, it
does not inflect for case.

the meaning of this ma¬naa haadhaa Gòg ≈¦©e
all (of ) this kull-u haadhaa Gòg tπc
the result of that natiijat-u dhaalika ‚dP oá©«àf
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 213 SECOND TERM HAS PRONOUN SUFFIX:
his birthplace masqaT-u ra√s-i-hi p¬p°SCGQ o§¤°ùe
marketing their (f.) production taswiiq-u √intaaj-i-hinna søp¡LÉàfEG o≥j’°ùJ
bearing their responsibilities taHammul-u mas√uuliyyaat-i-haa É¡pJÉ«dhD’°ùe oπª“
raising his level raf ¬-u mustawaa-hu o√G’à°ùe o„aQ
the withdrawal of its units saHb-u waHdaat-i-hi p¬pJGóMh o–«°S MORE THAN ONE NOUN MAY BE CONJOINED AS THE SECOND TERM OF THE

IQÉ©àdGh ´ÉaódG »à°SÉ«°S ˜
fii siyaasatay-i l-difaa¬-i wa-l-tijaarat-i
in the two policies of defense and trade

pIô©¦—Gh p¿PC™Gh p∞fC™G o¬GqôL
jarraaH-u l-√anf-i wa-l-√udhn-i wa-l-Hanjarat-i
nose, ear, and throat surgeon (˜surgeon of nose, (˜and™) ear and throat™)

1.3 Modi¬ers of the construct

1.3.1 Modifying the ¬rst term
A construct phrase cannot be interrupted by modifiers for the first term. Any
adjectives or other modifiers applying to the first term of the √iDaafa must fol-
low the entire √iDaafa. Modifiers for the first term agree with it in gender, num-
ber, case, and definiteness.
á„aGódG ¢ùª°»dG á©°TCG ó«L ¿É¦°SCG –«‘W
√ashi¬¬at-u l-shams-i l-daafi√at-u Tabiib-u √asnaan-in jayyid-un
the warm rays of the sun a good dentist (˜doctor of teeth™)
᫦«£°ù∏˜dG ôj ô«àdG ᪶¦e á°ùªÿG „¦“°SE™G ¿ÉcQCG
munaZZamat-u l-taHriir-i l-filisTiiniyyat-u √arkaan-u l-√islaam-i l-xamsat-u
the Palestinian Liberation Organization the five pillars of Islam

‹hódG »‘X ’HCG QÉ£e ¤EG ¥hô°ùŸG ô˜°ùdG RG’L
√ilaa maTaar-i √abuu Zabiyy-i l-duwaliyy-i7 jawaaz-u l-safar-i l-masruuq-u
to the Abu Dhabi international airport the stolen passport

Technically this should be √ilaa maTaar-i √abii Zabiyy-i l-duwaliyy-i, with inflection of √ab in the geni-
tive, but in newspaper Arabic the name of the emirate is often treated as a lexical unit and not
214 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.3.2 Modifying the second term
The second term of the construct may be modified by adjectives directly following
it and agreeing with it in definiteness, gender, number, and case.

£°ShC™G ¥ô°»dG ᤣ¦e ˜ á«aɤãdG ¿hD’°»dG ≥«∏e
fii mintaqaT-i l-sharq-i l-√awsaT-i mulHaq-u l-shu√uun-i l-thaqaafiyyat-i
in the region of the Middle East cultural affairs officer (˜attach©™)

ÊóŸG ´ÉaódG ±É©°SEG ᪫∏°Sh IójóL ¢ù°SCG Aɦ‘d
√is¬aaf-u l-difaa¬-i l-madaniyy-i li-binaa√-i √usus-in jadiidat-in
civil defense ambulance
to build secure new foundations

‹hódG ¢Vô©ŸG ¬ÉààaG ˜
fii ftitaaH-i l-ma¬riD-i l-duwaliyy-i
at the opening of the international exhibit

1.3.3 Modi¬cation of both terms of the construct
When a construct or √iDaafa needs modifiers for both terms, the general order is
to put the modifiers for the last term closest to the √iDaafa, and then modifiers for
the first term(s), in ascending order. Each modifier agrees with its noun in case,
gender, number, and definiteness.
qÊOQC™G á«Hô©dG á¨∏dG „ª›
majma¬-u l-lughat-i l-¬arabiyyat-i l-√urduniyy-u
the Jordanian Arabic Language Academy
(literally: ˜academy (of) the-language the-Arabic the-Jordanian™)

≥HÉ°ùdG qÊOQC™G á«Hô©dG á¨∏dG „ª› ¢ù«FQ
ra√ iis-u majma¬-i l-lughat-i l-¬arabiyyat-i l-√urduniyy-i l-saabiq-u
the former president of the Jordanian Arabic Language Academy
(literally: ˜president (of the) academy (of) the-language the-Arabic the-Jordanian

1.4 Demonstrative pronouns in construct phrases

1.4.1 Demonstrative with ¬rst term of construct
Normally, when a noun is modified by a demonstrative pronoun, that pronoun
precedes the noun and the noun also has the definite article (for example, haa-
dhaa l-qarn-u o¿ô¤dG Gòg ˜this century™).8 However, when a noun as first term of a con-
struct is modified by a demonstrative pronoun, that pronoun follows the entire

For further discussion of demonstrative pronouns, see Chapter 13.
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 215

√iDaafa structure because of the restriction that prevents the presence of the def-
inite article on the first term of a construct. The pronoun agrees with the first
term in gender and number.

√òg ¢»«à˜àdG á∏ªM ˜ √òg ô¶¦dG á¡Lh ºYód
fii Hamlat-i l-taftiish-i haadhihi li-da¬m-i wujhat-i l-naZar-i haadhihi
in this inspection campaign to support this point of view

√òg O’ª·G á∏Môe ‚∏J Qɶàf™G Ióe «“N
marHalat-u l-jumuud-i haadhihi xilaal-a muddat-i l-intiZaar-i tilka
this level of solidity during that period of waiting

1.4.2 Demonstrative with second term of construct
The second term of a construct or √iDaafa may be preceded directly by a demon-
strative pronoun plus definite article because the second term can be marked for

¤GQó±G √òg ᪫b ó¡©dG ‚dP ¢ùª°T
qiimat-u haadhihi l-muxaddiraat-i shams-u dhaalika l-¬ahd-i
the value of these drugs the sun of that time

¤É°Sh’˜dG ‚∏J ’eóJ
tadmiir-u tilka l-fiiruusaat-i
the destruction of those viruses

1.5 Complex or multi-noun construct
A construct phrase may consist of more than two nouns related to each other
through the use of the genitive case. When this happens, the second and all sub-
sequent nouns are in the genitive case and only the last noun in the entire con-
struct phrase is marked for either definiteness or indefiniteness. Thus, the medial
nouns, the ones which are neither first nor last, are all in the genitive, and none
of them have nunation or the definite article. That is, the medial nouns combine
certain features of being the first term of an √iDaafa (no definite article or nuna-
tion) with one feature of being the second term of an √iDaafa (marked for genitive

1.5.1 Construct with three nouns

páq«∏NGódG pôjRh oÚ«©J pIô°SC™G pOGôaCG o„«ªL
ta¬yiin-u waziir-i l-daaxiliyyat-i jamii¬-u √afraad-i l-√usrat-i
the appointment of the minister of interior all the members of the family
216 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

pá°»«©ŸG i’à°ùe o„aQ p¿ ’©dG pój tóe
raf ¬-u mustawaa l-ma¬iishat-i madd-u yad-i l-¬awn-i
raising the standard of living extending a helping hand (˜the hand of help™)

á∏ÛG ôj ô“ ¢ù«FQ
ra√iis-u taHriir-i l-majallat-i
the editor-in-chief of the magazine (˜chief of the editing of the magazine™)

1.5.2 Construct with four nouns

mRQCG pIô©°T p´QR o«É˜àMG
iHtifaal-u zar¬-i shajarat-i √arz-in
celebration of the planting of a cedar tree

p√pO“H p«“¤à°SG iôcP pá‘°SɦÃ
bi-munaasabat-i dhikraa stiqlaal-i bilaad-i-hi
on the occasion of the commemoration of his country™s independence

p¤GQqó±G p¿ÉeOEG pá∏µ°»e pá·É©Ÿ
li-mu¬aalajat-i mushkilat-i √idmaan-i l-mukhaddiraat-i
for handling the problem of drug addiction

É°ùfôa pÜ’¦L pAɪ°S nâ“
taHat-a samaa√-i januub-i faransaa
under the skies of southern (˜the south of™) France

É«°SBG p¥ô°T pÜ’¦L p« hO ˜
fii duwal-i januub-i sharq-i √aasiyaa
in the countries of Southeast Asia

1.5.3 Construct with ¬ve nouns

pøeC™G p¢ù∏› p¤GQGôb p„«ªL o≥«‘£J
taTbiiq-u jamii¬-i qaraaraat-i majlis-i l-√amn-i
the application of all of the resolutions of the Security Council

nÚ‘Y“dG póMCG pô˜°S pRG’L oábô°S
sarqat-u jawaaz-i safar-i √aHad-i l-laa¬ib-iina
the theft of the passport of one of the athletes

¿hÉ©àdG p¢ù∏› p«hO p§˜f oAGQRh
wuzaraa√-u nifT-i duwal-i majlis-i l-ta¬aawun-i
the oil ministers of the states of the [Gulf] Cooperation Council
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 217

1.6 Joint annexation
Traditional Arabic style requires that the first term of the √iDaafa or annexation
structure be restricted to one item. It cannot be two or more items joined with wa-
˜and.™ If more than one noun is to be included in the expression then they follow
the √iDaafa and refer back to it by means of a resumptive pronoun suffix.

.√’fhÉ©eh óa’dG ’¤aGôe ÊÉãdG ∞°üdG ˜ iôoj h
wa-yuraa fii l-Saff-i l-thaanii muraafiq-uu l-wafd-i wa-mu¬aawin-uu-hu.
Seen in the second row are the companions and assistants of the delegation (˜the
companions of the delegation and its assistants™).

¬H“Wh ïjQÉàdG IòJÉ°SCG ¤EG á‘°ù¦dÉH
bi-l-nisbat-i √ilaa √asaatidhat-i l-taariix-i wa-Tullaab-i-hi
in relation to the professors and students of history (˜the professors of history and
its students™)

º¡JÉaÉàgh ô“D’ŸG AÉ°†YCG á°SɪM §°Sh
wasT-a Hamaasat-i √a¬Daa√-i l-mu√tamar-i wa-hutaafaat-i-him
amidst the enthusiasm and cheers of the members of the conference (˜the enthu-
siasm of the conference members and their cheers™)

.º¡ª¶YCGh Úfɦ˜dG RôHCG º°†j
ya-Dumm-u √abraz-a l-fannaan-iina wa-√a¬Zam-a-hum.
It brings together the most prominent and greatest artists (˜most prominent
artists and the greatest of them™).

This rule is widely observed. However, it is also regularly broken, and “joint annex-
ation is rapidly gaining ground” (Beeston 1970, 48), as the following examples show:

á¦jóŸG Q’°übh óLÉ°ùe
masaajid-u wa-quSuur-u l-madiinat-i
the mosques and castles of the city

É«¤jôaEG QÉ¡fCGh ¤G’«H ˜
fii buHayraat-i wa-√anhaar-i √ifriiqiyaa
in the lakes and rivers of Africa

á«Hô©dG á¨∏dG Q’£Jh ’°
numuww-u wa-taTawwur-u l-lughat-i l-¬arabiyyat-i
the growth and development of the Arabic language

iôNC™G ¤GQÉ°†—G ¤GOÉYh º«b „¦GÎMG
iHtiraam-u qiyam-i wa-¬aadaat-i l-HaDaaraat-i l-√ uxraa
respecting the values and customs of other cultures
218 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

¤ÉJÉ‘¦dG ø°ùMCGh ÈcCG
√akbar-u wa-√aHsan-u l-nabaataat-i
the biggest and best plants

áµ∏ªŸG áe’µMh –©°T º°SÉH
bi-sm-i sha¬b-i wa-Hukuumat-i l-mamlakat-i
in the name of the people and the government of the kingdom

These examples and others show that joint annexation is an area of modern
Arabic syntax where the traditional rules are still in use but routinely violated.
This particular area of Arabic grammatical structure is in a state of flux, with the
newer structure being widely used in everyday language.

1.7 Special cases of constructs

1.7.1 The use of ¬adam and √i¬aada
Two verbal nouns, ¬adam ˜lack of ™ and √i¬aada ˜repetition, resumption™ are fre-
quently used in lexicalizing functions, as the first term of √iDaafas to create com-
pound lexical items.9 ¬adam + The noun ¬adam is a privative term that expresses
negative concepts or “lack of ”: it is used with verbal nouns to create compound
Arabic expressions conveying concepts expressed in English by prefixes such as
“non-,” “in-,” or “dis-,” or to express what would be a negative infinitive.

impermissibility ¬adam-u jawaaz-in RG’L „¦óY
nonexistence ¬adam-u wujuud-in O’Lh „¦óY
instability ¬adam-u stiqraar-in QGô¤à°SG „¦óY
insincerity ¬adam-u jiddiyyat-in ájóL „¦óY
discomfort ¬adam-u rtiyaaH-in ¬É«JQG „¦óY
displeasure ¬adam-u riDaa√-in AÉ°VQ „¦óY

.¤™RɦàdG øe ’ãµdG Ëó¤J „¦óY qº¡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.

See also Chapter 37, section 2.2.5 in this book and Holes 1995, 266“67.
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 219

Ú‘fÉ·G ¬É«JQG „¦óY
¬adam-u rtiyaaH-i l-jaanib-ayni
the uneasiness of both sides √i¬aada + ˜RE-™: The noun √i¬aada used as the first term of a
construct with a verbal noun, expresses concepts of repetition or renewal.10

√i¬aadat-u ta¬miir-in √i¬aadat-u ¬add-i l-√aSwaat-i
rebuilding recounting the vote

√i¬aadat-u farz-i l-√aSwaat-i √i¬aadat-u farD-i l-¬uquubaat-i
re-sorting the votes the re-imposition of sanctions

√i¬aadat-u ta¬yiin-i l-waziir-i √i¬aadat-u fatH-i sifaarat-i-haa
re-appointment of the minister the reopening of its embassy

1.7.2 Of¬cial titles as constructs
Many official titles of dignitaries and royalty consist of genitive constructs, for

His Highness the Prince sumuww-u l-√amiir-i p’eC™G t’ª°S
His Highness the Crown Prince sumuww-u waliy-i l-¬ahd-i pó¡©dG p‹h t’ª°S
His Majesty the King jalaalat-u l-malik-i p‚∏ŸG oád“L
His Majesty the Sultan jalaalat-u l-SulTaan-i p¿É£∏°ùdG oád“L
His Royal Highness SaaHib-u l-sumuww-i l-malikiyy-i »µ∏ŸG u’ª°ùdG o–MÉ°U
His Eminence SaaHib-u l-samaaHat-i páMɪ°ùdG o–MÉ°U
His Excellency the Minister ma¬aalii l-waziir-i pôjR’dG ‹É©e
1.7.3 Use of nafs ˜same™ as ¬rst term
A frequent genitive construct is the use of the noun nafs ˜self™ or ˜same™ as the first
term in order to express the concept of “the same ________.”11

.A»°»dG ¢ù˜f ¤ôcP âb’dG ¢ù˜f ˜
dhakar-at nafs-a l-shay√-i. fii nafs-i l-waqt-i
It mentioned the same thing. at the same time
The noun √i¬aada is a verbal noun from the Form IV verb √a¬aad-a /yu-¬iid-u ˜to renew, repeat,
restore, re-do.™
See also section 2.3.
220 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

.«G’¦ŸG ¢ù˜f ≈∏Y É¡©«ªL πª©J
ta-¬mal-u jamii¬-u-haa ¬alaa nafs-i l-minwaal-i.
They all work the same way.

1.7.4 Coalescence of the construct
Certain frequently used constructs have come to function as solid units and are
even occasionally written together as one word. This fusing of terms is rare in Ara-
bic, but does happen occasionally: FIXED EXPRESSIONS:
capital (financial resources) ra√s-u maal-in m«Ée o¢SCGQ
ra√smaal «Éª°SCGQ
administrative officer qaa√im-u maqaam-in „¦É¤e oºFÉb
(of a town or village)
qaa√imaqaam „¦É¤ªFÉb Although optionally written as one word, the
first term still inflects for case. For example:

five hundred xams-u mi√at-in má„e o¢ùªN
xams-u-mi√at-in mᄪo°ùªN
nine hundred tis¬-u mi√at-in má„e o„°ùJ
tis¬-u-mi√at-in mᄪo©°ùJ

1.8 Avoiding the construct phrase or √iDaafa
Sometimes an √iDaafa is avoided by means of linking two nouns with a preposi-
tion, usually min or li-. This happens especially if the first noun is modified by an
adjective or a phrase that would otherwise have to be placed after the √iDaafa con-
struction. It is a stylistic option.

ÜÉàµdG øe ’NC™G º°ù¤dG øjô°»©dG ¿ô¤dG øe ÊÉãdG ∞°ü¦dG ˜
al-qism-u l-√axiir-u min-a l-kitaab-i fii l-niSf-i l-thaanii min-a l-qarn-i l-¬ishriina
the last part of the book in the second half of the twentieth century

ôª¤∏`d »FµL ±’°ùN á©WɤŸG –൪`d „¦É©dG ¢V’˜ŸG
xusuuf-un juz√iyy-un li-l-qamar-i al-mufawwaD-u l-¬aamm-u li-maktab-i
a partial eclipse of the moon l-muqaaTa¬at-i
the general commissioner of the boycott
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 221

.á∏ÛG øe ójó·G Oó©dG ô¡X .π«®∏`d ÉbÉ‘°S Ghô°†M
Zahar-a l-¬adad-u l-jadiid-u min-a l-majallat-i. HaDar-uu sibaaq-an li-l-xayl-i.
The new issue of the magazine appeared. They attended a horse race (˜a race
of horses™).

1.9 Adjectives in construct phrases
Adjectives or participles functioning as adjectives may occur in construct phrases
either as the first or second term, in the following types of constructions.

1.9.1 Modi¬er as ¬rst term of construct
Sometimes an adjective or a participle with adjectival meaning will appear as the
first term of a construct phrase instead of following the noun as a modifier. In
these phrases the adjective remains in the masculine gender, but it may be sin-
gular or plural. These expressions are often set phrases and tend to be used with
particular adjectives, as follows.
¿ÉeµdG Ëób ˜ £°S’àŸG »bô°»`d
fii qadiim-i l-zamaan-i li-sharqiyy-i l-muTawassit-i
in olden times to the eastern Mediterranean

ÚdhD’°ùŸG QÉ‘c „e ¤É‘KEG Oô©ª`d
ma¬-a kibaar-i l-mas√uul-iina li-mujarrad-i √ithbaat-in
with the senior officials for mere confirmation

¿óŸG ∞∏ଂ ˜ ¥GhPC™G ∞∏ଂ AÉ°VQE™
fii muxtalif-i l-mudun-i li-√irDaa√-i muxtalif-i l-√adhwaaq-i
in various cities in order to please various tastes

OÉ°üàb™G ¤“› ≈à°T ˜ ᣰ»fC™G ≈à°T ˜
fii shattaa majaalaat-i l-iqtiSaad-i fii shattaa l-√anshiTat-i
in diverse fields of economics in various activities

1.9.2 The adjective or “false” √iDaafa (√iDaafa ghayr Haqiiqiyya ᫤«¤M ’Z áaÉ°VEG)
The “false” or “unreal” √iDaafa, also called the “adjective” √iDaafa, is a special case
of the construct phrase where an adjective serves as the first term and acts as a
modifier of a noun. Not only can an adjective serve as the first item in this struc-
ture, but, contrary to the general rules for the √iDaafa structure, this adjective
may take the definite article if the phrase modifies a definite noun. Since this
type of construct violates the rule against the first term of a construct phrase tak-
ing a definite article, it is termed “unreal” or “false.”
This construction is a way of expressing a quality of a particular component of
an item, often equivalent to hyphenated expressions in English such as: long-term,
222 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

hard-nosed, or cold-blooded. It is generally used to express qualities of “inalienable
possession,” that is, qualities that are “naturally attributable” to their owners.12
The adjective √iDaafa is quite frequent in MSA because it is a construction that
can be used to express recently coined, complex modifying terms such as “multi-
lateral,” or “long-range.”
In this construction, the adjective agrees with the noun it modifies in case,
number, and gender. The second term of the adjective √iDaafa is a definite noun in
the genitive case and refers to a particular property of the modified noun. ADJECTIVE √iDaafa AS NOUN MODIFIER:
(1) Modifying a definite noun: When modifying a definite noun, the first term
of the adjective √iDaafa agrees with the noun in gender, number, and case,
and it also has the definite article:

áeɤdG πj’£dG ∞¤ãŸG πLôdG
al-rajul-u l-muthaqqaf-u l-Tawiil-u l-qaamat-i
the cultured, tall (˜tall of height™) man

.᪰UÉ©dG øe „¦°üdG ᫵j ôeC™G ádB™G â∏°SQCG óbh
wa-qad √ursil-at-i l-√aalat-u l-√amriikiyyat-u l-San¬-i min-a l-¬aaSimat-i.
The American-made instrument was sent from the capital.
–fG’·G IOó©àŸG á«°†¤dG √òg ˜
fii haadhihi l-qaDiyyat-i l-muta¬addidat-i l-jawaanib-i
in this multi-sided issue

(2) Modifying an indefinite noun: When modifying an indefinite noun, the
first term of the adjective √iDaafa does not have the definite article. How-
ever, neither does it have nunation, because this is prevented by its being
the first term of an √iDaafa. It agrees with the noun it modifies in gender,
number, and case:

.øj ô«‘dG Qhµj i’à°ùŸG „«aQ q»µjôeCG «hD’°ùe «hCG ’g
huwa √awwal-u mas√uul-in √amriikiyy-in rafii¬-i l-mustawaa ya-zuur-u l-baHrayn-a.
He is the first high-level American official to visit Bahrain.13
.Iô°†ÿG náªFGO kGQÉ©°TCG ≈ª°ùJ
tu-sammaa √ashjaar-an daa√imat-a l-xaDrat-i.
They are called evergreen trees.
Killean 1970, 11. Killean™s article “The false construct in Modern Literary Arabic” is one of the few
that deal with the syntactic and semantic analysis of this structure from the point of view of gen-
erative syntax.
Although the English equivalent of this sentence uses the definite article to refer to the “American
official,” the Arabic structure using the term √awwal ˜first™ is followed by an indefinite noun.
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 223

ÚYGQòdG áa’àµe ICGôeEG
imra√at-un maktuufat-u l-dhiraa¬-ayni
a woman with crossed arms

i’à°ùŸG ‹ÉY πNóJ –¤Y ‚dP
dhaalika ¬aqib-a tadaxxul-in ¬aalii l-mustawaa
that [was] right after a high-level intervention ADJECTIVE √iDaafa AS PREDICATE OF EQUATIONAL SENTENCE: When serving
as the predicate of an equational sentence, the first term of the adjective
√iDaafa does not have the definite article, in keeping with the rules for predicate
adjectives. It agrees with the noun it refers to in gender, number, and case.

.QÉ°»àf™G á©°SGh ájô°üŸG á©¡∏dG .π°UC™G ¦ó¦g „ô£°»dG ¿EG
al-lahjat-u l-miSriyyat-u waasi¬at-u l-intishaar-i. √inna l-shaTranj-a hindiyy-u l-√aSl-i.
The Egyptian dialect is widespread. (Indeed) chess is Indian in origin.

.πµ°»dG Iôjóà°ùe ¢VQC™G .«ÉªàM™G –©°U Gòg
al-√arD-u mustadiirat-u l-shakl-i. haadhaa Sa¬b-u l-iHtimaal-i.
The earth is circular in shape. This is hard to bear.

1.9.3 The descriptive construct with ghayr plus adjective
In this unique construction, an adjective serves as the second term of a construct
phrase. The noun ghayr ˜ non-; un-, in-, other than™ is used as the first term of the
construct in order to express negative or privative concepts denoting absence of a
quality or attribute. As the first term of a construct, ghayr carries the same case
as the noun it modifies. As a noun which is the first term of an √iDaafa, it can-
not have the definite article. The second term of the √iDaafa construction is an
adjective or participle in the genitive case which agrees with the noun being mod-
ified in gender, number, and definiteness. Here are some examples:
unsuitable ghayr-u munaasib-in m–°Sɦe o’Z
indirect ghayr-u mubaashir-in mô°TÉ‘e o’Z
untrue ghayr-u SaHiiH-in mí««°U o’Z
insufficient ghayr-u kaaf-in m±Éc o’Z
non-Arab ghayr-u ¬arabiyy-in m »HôY o’Z
undesirable ghayr-u marghuub-in fii-hi ¬«a mÜ’Zôe o’Z
á©b’àe ’Z ¤ÉH’©°U á˜jô°T ’Z –«dÉ°SCÉH
Su¬uubaat-un ghayr-u mutawaqqa¬at-in bi-√asaaliib-a ghayr-i shariifat-in
unexpected difficulties in unscrupulous (˜non-noble™) ways
224 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

᫪°SQ ’Z „¦ÉbQCG –°ùM
Hasab-a √arqaam-in ghayr-i rasmiyyat-in
according to unofficial figures

2 Nouns in apposition (badal «óH )
Nouns or noun phrases are said to be in apposition with one another when they are
juxtaposed and both refer to the same entity, but in different ways.14 Phrases such
as “my cat, Blondie,” “Queen Victoria,” “President Bush,” or “King Hussein” con-
sist of nouns in apposition. As a general rule, the nouns agree in case, number,
gender, and definiteness, but one subset of appositional specifiers requires the
accusative case.

2.1 Straight apposition
In straight apposition, the noun in apposition takes the same case as the noun
with which it is in apposition.

2.1.1 Names and titles
The title (normally with the definite article) is followed directly by the name of
the person:
King Fahd al-malik-u fahd-un ló¡a ‚∏ŸG
The Emperor Constantine al-imbiraaTuur qusTanTiin Ú£¦£°ùb Q’WGÈeE™G
The Prophet Muhammad al-nabiyy-u muHammad-un lóª¬ t»‘¦dG
Queen Nur al-malikat-u nuur-u oQ’f oáµ∏ŸG
Father Joseph al-√ab-u yuusuf-u o∞°S’j oÜC™G
Professor Faris al-√ustaadh-u faaris-un l¢SQÉa oPÉà°SC™G
Colonel Qadhdhaafi al-¬aqiid-u l-qadhdhaafiyy-u t˜Gò¤dG o󫤩dG
2.1.2 Reduced relative clauses
In this form of apposition, the specifying noun is equivalent to a relative noun

The term badal (literally, ˜substitution; exchange™) is used in traditional Arabic grammar to
describe more than the noun-noun appositional relationship. It also covers the use of the demon-
strative pronoun in demonstrative phrases, and modifying adjectives. In this section of the refer-
ence grammar, however, the discussion of badal is restricted to appositional structures that
include nouns and personal pronouns. For a detailed discussion of apposition see Wright 1967, II:
272ff. Cachia (1973) gives the terms tab¬ or tab¬iyya for ˜apposition,™ and Hasan (1987) refers to
nouns in apposition as tawaabi¬ (literally: ˜followers™).
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 225

»¦W’dG ܵ—G ˜ AÉ°†YCG ÜG’f ÚH
bayn-a nuwwaab-in √a¬Daa√-in fii l-Hizb-i l-waTaniyy-i
among deputies [who are] members of the national party

.¤Éb“©dG √òg „£¤H AÉ°†YC™G «hódG –dÉ£à°S
sa-tu-Taalib-u l-duwal-a l-√a¬Daa√-a bi-qaT¬-i haadhihi l-¬alaqaat-i.
It will demand the member states sever these relations.

2.1.3 Apposition for speci¬cation
In more general terms, the noun or nouns in apposition further specify the head
min-a l-sharikat-i l-√umm-i
from the mother company u„¦C™G ácô°»dG øe
fii l-√urdunn-i l-shaqiiq-i
in the sister [country] Jordan ≥«¤°»dG ¿OQC™G ˜
p u
Sadiiqat-ii √amiirat-u
my friend, Amira oI’eCG »à¤jó°U
al-rabb-u l-xaaliq-u
the creator god o≥dÉÿG tÜôdG
She carried her brother Samir. Hamal-at √ax-aa-haa .kG’ª°S ÉgÉNCG â∏ªM
al-yawm-a l-√aHad-a
today, Sunday óMC™G n„¦’«dG
al-waziir-u l-Dayf-u
the guest minister ∞«°†dG ôjR’dG
¿ÉªY á«fOQC™G ᪰UÉ©dG ˜ ÜÉ‘°»dG Úfɦ˜dG ¢Vô©e
fii l-¬aaSimat-i l-√urdunniyaat-i ¬ammaan-a ma¬raD-u l-fannaan-iina
in the Jordanian capital, Amman
the exhibit of young artists
(˜artists youths™)

2.2 Accusative Apposition
A noun in apposition to a pronoun is put into the accusative case because it spec-
ifies that noun in a particular way and is considered a form of tamyiiz or accusa-
tive of specification.
When an independent pronoun (often the first person plural) is further speci-
fied, the specifying noun is in the accusative case as the object of an understood
verb such as √a¬nii ˜I mean,™ or √axuSS-u ˜I specify.™
we, the Arabs naHnu l-¬arab-a nÜô©dG oø«f
we, the people of the Gulf naHnu l-xaliijiyy-iina nÚ«©«∏ÿG oø«f
we, the Americans naHnu l-√amriikiyy-iina nÚ«µjôeC™G oø«f
226 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

2.3 Appositive speci¬cation of quantity or identity
Arabic nouns may be further specified by other nouns in terms of quantity or
identity. In most of these cases, the specifying noun agrees in case with the head
noun and carries a personal pronoun suffix referring back to the head noun. The
pronoun agrees with the head noun in number and gender. Quantity nouns such
as kull, jamii¬, ba¬D, and fractions, as well as identity nouns such as nafs ˜same; self™
are used in these expressions.15

º¡©«ªL Ü“£dG ‚«°V ¬∏c –©°»dG
DaHik-a l-Tullaab-u jamii¬-u-hum al-sha¬b-u kull-u-hu
all the students laughed all the people
(˜the students, all of them™) (˜the people, all of them™)

É¡∏c ᤣ¦ŸG «hO ≈∏Y ¬°ù˜f âb’dG ˜
¬alaa duwal-i l-minTaqat-i kull-i-haa fii l-waqt-i nafs-i-hi
on all the states of the region at the same time
(˜the states of the region, all of them™)

¬°ù˜f Ü’∏°SC™É`H É¡°ù˜f áYô°ùdÉ`H
bi-l-√usluub-i nafs-i-hi bi-l-sur¬at-i nafs-i-haa
in the same way at the same speed

Ú«¦Áh Ú«°ù«¤c º¡°ù˜fCG Üô©dG ÚH
bayn-a l-¬arab-i √anfus-i-him ka-qaysiyy-iina wa-yamaniyy-iina
among the Arabs themselves like the Qays and the Yamanis

2.3.1 Quanti¬er noun ¬idda ( IqóY )
The noun ¬idda ˜several™ is often used in apposition with a head noun. It does not
carry a pronoun suffix. It agrees with the noun in case.

fii mudun-in ¬iddat-in
in several cities mIóY m¿óe ˜
fii manaaTiq-a ¬iddat-in
in several regions mIóY n≥Wɦe ˜
in several languages bi-lughaat-in ¬iddat-in mIóY m¤É¨∏`H
mundhu sanawaat-in ¬iddat-in
several years ago mIqóY m¤G’¦°S oò¦e
.«ÉÛG Gòg ˜ ¿RôH IqóY ¤Góq«°S ‘ɦgh
wa-hunaaka sayyidaat-un ¬iddat-un baraz-na fii haadhaa l-majaal-i.
There are several women who have become eminent in this field.

This is an alternative structure to using the quantifying nouns as the first term of an √iDaafa, e.g.,
kull-u l-wuzaraa√-i ˜all the ministers™ versus al-wuzaraa√-u kull-u-hum, or nafs-u l-fikrat-i ˜the same idea™
versus al-fikrat-u nafs-u-haa.
Construct phrases and nouns in apposition 227

2.4 Relative pronoun maa in apposition
The indefinite relative pronoun maa can be used in apposition with a noun to
indicate ˜a certain,™ or ˜some.™

fii makaan-in maa
in a certain place Ée m¿Éµe ˜
yawm-an maa
some day Ée kÉe’j
naw¬-an maa
somewhat; to a certain extent Ée kÉY’f
?Ée É‘JÉc –“ GPÉŸ Ée mó∏H íàa ó©H
li-maadhaa tu-Hibb-u kaatib-an maa? ba¬d-a fatH-i balad-in maa
Why do you like a certain writer? after conquering a certain country
Noun specifiers and quantifiers

Certain Arabic nouns act primarily as specifiers or determiners for other nouns.
They may be used as first terms of construct phrases, in apposition with nouns,
with pronouns, or independently. Many of these nouns express quantities; some
express other kinds of specification.
Here are five major classes of specifiers and quantifiers in MSA.

1 Expressions of totality

1.1 kull qπc ˜all; every; the whole™

1.1.1 “Each, every”
When used as the first term of a construct phrase with a singular, indefinite
noun, kull has the meaning of ˜each™ or ˜every.™1

kull-u shay√-in every one kull-u waaHid-in
everything A»°T πc óMGh πc
kull-a yawm-in
every day „¦’j πc
ɦ∏NO øe «ÉjQ πc »HôY ¿É¦a πµ`d
„¦ó®à°ùe πµ`d
li-kull-i mustaxdim-in kull-u riyaal-in min daxl-i-naa li-kull-i fannaan-in ¬arabiyy-in
for every user every riyal of our income for every Arab artist

1.1.2 “all, the whole”
When used with a definite singular noun or a pronoun, kull has the meaning of
˜all of,™ ˜the whole,™ or ˜all.™

ᦵªŸG IóYÉ°ùŸG πc Gòg πc
kull-u l-musaa¬adat-i l-mumkinat-i kull-u haadhaa
all possible aid all of this/that

LeTourneau (1995, 30) refers to constructs with quantifiers as the first term as a “quantified con-
struct state.”

Noun specifiers and quantifiers 229

1.1.3 “all”
When used with a definite plural noun, kull means ˜all.™

±hô¶dG πc ˜ §°ShC™G ¥ô°»dG ÉjÉ°†b πc „e
fii kull-i l-Zuruuf-i ma¬a kull-i qaDaayaa l-sharq-i l-√awsaT-i
in all circumstances with all the problems of the Middle East

πcÉ°»ŸG πc πM ±ó¡H
bi-hadaf-i Hall-i kull-i l-mashaakil-i
with the aim of solving all the problems

1.1.4 kull-un min øe wπc ˜each; both; every one of™
The noun kull may be used as an indefinite noun with nunation, followed by the
preposition min ˜of ™ to convey the meaning of totality. When there are only two
items, the phrase kull min functions as the equivalent of ˜both.™

ÜhɦàdÉH ¿ÉªYh ø£¦°TGh øe πc ˜
fii kull-in min waashinTun wa-¬ammaan-a bi-l-tanaawub-i
in both Washington and Amman, alternately

.IójóL á°üb ¤É¤∏—G øe πc ˜ ôFGµ·Gh É°ùfôa øe πc »a
fii kull-in min-a l-Halaqaat-i qiSSat-un fii kull-in min faransaa wa-l-jazaa√ir-i
jadiidat-un. in both France and Algeria
In each installment is a new story.

1.1.5 kull-un wπc; al-kull qπµdG ˜everyone™
The noun kull may be used alone to express the idea of ˜everyone.™ It may occur
with or without the definite article. Agreement is masculine singular.

.‘ɦg GQ’°U §¤à∏j ¿CG ójôj πc
kull-un yu-riid-u √an ya-ltaqiT-a Suwar-an hunaaka.
Everyone wants to take pictures there.

1.2 jamii¬ „«ªL ˜all™
The word jamii¬ is used with a following genitive noun (usually plural) to mean
˜all,™ or ˜the totality of.™

øeC™G ¢ù∏› ¤GQGôb „«ªL ≥«‘£J
taTbiiq-u jamii¬-i qaraaraat-i majlis-i l-√amn-i
the application of all the decisions of the security council
áaô©ŸG ¬LhCG „«ªL âdhÉW º¡fG’NEG „«ªL ¤EG
Taawal-at jamii¬-a √awjuh-i l-ma¬rifat-i √ilaa jamii¬-i √ixwaan-i-him
it rivaled all aspects of knowledge to all their brothers
230 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.3 kilaa˜kilay/ kiltaa˜kiltay - »∏c-“c ˜»à∏c - Éà∏c ˜both; both of (m. & f.)™
The specialized dual quantifiers kilaa/kilay (m.) and kiltaa/kiltay (f.) are used to
express the idea of ˜both.™ They are followed by a definite dual noun in the geni-
tive or by a dual pronoun suffix. These two words inflect as does the dual suffix
when it is the first term of a construct, but they do not inflect for case when fol-
lowed by a noun; only when followed by a pronoun.

1.3.1 Masculine

kilaa l-wafd-ayni
both of the delegations øjóa’dG “c
fii kilaa l-¬aalam-ayni
in both worlds ÚŸÉ©dG “c ˜
ma¬-a kilay-himaa
with both of them (m.) ɪ¡«∏c „e

1.3.2 Feminine

fii kiltaa l-fatrat-ayni
during both of the periods ÚJΘdG Éà∏c ˜
fii kiltaa l-Haalat-ayni
in both cases ÚàdÉ—G Éà∏c ˜
bi-kiltaa yad-ay-hi
with both his hands ¬jój Éà∏µ`H
kiltaa-humaa zaa√idat-aani.
Both of them (f.) are affixes. .¿ÉJóFGR ɪgÉà∏c
by both of them (f.) bi-kiltay-himaa ɪ¡«à∏µ`H

1.4 kaaffa áaÉc ˜totality; all™
The noun kaaffa is used as the first term of a construct phrase to express totality:

IQGR’dG ¿hD’°T áaÉc
É¡JÉgÉ’G áaÉc
kaaffat-u ttijaahaat-i-haa kaaffat-u shu√uun-i l-wizaarat-i
all of its inclinations all the affairs of the ministry

.áã©‘dG OGôaCG áaÉc ¤EG ᄦ¡àdG ¬qLh
wajjah-a l-tahni√at-a √ilaa kaaffat-i √afraad-i l-bi¬that-i.
He directed congratulations to all the members of the delegation.

.á«°SÉ°SC™G ¤ÉeóÿG áqaÉc ôa’àJ
ta-tawaffar-u kaaffat-u l-xidamaat-i l-√asaasiyyat-i.
All the basic services are provided.

2 Expressions of limited number, non-speci¬c number, or partiality
There are several ways to express partial inclusion in Arabic.
Noun specifiers and quantifiers 231

2.1 ba¬D ¢†©H ˜some,™ ˜some of ™
The masculine singular noun ba¬D is followed by a singular or plural noun in the
genitive or by a pronoun suffix. It may also be used independently.

2.1.1 As ¬rst term of a construct
The quantifier ba¬D is usually followed by a definite noun in the genitive case.
Note that adjectives that follow the construct normally agree in gender and num-
ber with the second term, the noun being quantified.

áj’ÿG ¤É«©ª·G ¢†©H „¦“aC™G ¢†©H êGôNEG IOÉYEG
ba¬D-u l-jam¬iyyaat-i l-xayriyyat-i √i¬aadat-u √ixraaj-i ba¬D-i l-√aflaam-i
some of the charitable associations the re-release of some films

.A»°»dG ¢†©H G’«‚
najaH-uu ba¬D-a l-shay√-i.
They succeeded somewhat.

2.1.2 With pronoun suf¬x
The noun ba¬D may also take a pronoun suffix.

.CÉ£N ‚dP ˜ º¡°†©H iôj
ya-raa ba¬D-u-hum fii dhaalika xaTa√-an.
Some of them see in that a mistake.

2.1.3 Reciprocal ¢†©H: Double use of ba¬D
The concept of “each other” or “together” may be expressed with the use of ba¬D
as a reciprocal pronoun. The first ba¬D has a pronoun suffix; the second has either
the definite article or nunation.

.¢†©‘dG º¡°†©H ¿’dCÉ°ùj ºg .¢†©‘dG É¡°†©H „e ¢»«©J
hum ya-s√al-uuna ba¬D-u-hum-u l-ba¬D-a. ta-¬iish-u ma¬-a ba¬D-i-haa l-ba¬D-u.
They are asking each other. They live all together.

¢†©‘dG ¥’a º¡°†©H Ú‘Y“dG ±’bh
wuquuf -u l-laa¬ib-iina ba¬D-u-hum fawq-a l-ba¬D-i
the acrobats standing on top of each other

.Ió«L áaô©e É°†©H º¡°†©H G’aô©j ¿CG Ú¦WG’ŸG ≈∏Yh
wa-¬alaa l-muwaaTin-iina √an ya-¬rif-uu ba¬D-u-hum ba¬D-an ma¬rifat-an jayyidat-an.
It is necessary for citizens to know each other well.

.É°†©H ɪ¡°†©H øY G’ãc ¿“°ü˜¦e ɪ¡fCG ó¤àYCG
√a¬taqid-u √anna-humaa munfaSil-aani kathiir-an ¬an ba¬D-i-himaa ba¬D-an.
I think that they (two) are very separate from each other.
232 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

2.2 biD¬ „°†H and biD¬a á©°†H ˜a few,™ ˜several™
This term is used in the masculine with feminine nouns and in the feminine
with masculine nouns, reflecting gender polarity similar to that of the numeral
system. The following noun is in the genitive plural. The nouns specified by biD¬
and biD¬a are often numerals or terms of measurement:

2.2.1 With masculine noun

.„«HÉ°SCG á©°†H –∏£àj „¦ÉjCG á©°†H ó©H
ya-taTallab-u biD¬at-a √asaabii¬-a. ba¬d-a biD¬at-i √ayyaam-in
It requires several weeks. after a few days

2.2.2 With feminine noun

á∏ãeC™G ¤É„e „°†H øe ÌcCG ≥FÉbO „°†H ó©H
√akthar-u min biD¬-i mi√aat-i l-√amthilat-i ba¬d-a biD¬-i daqaa√ iq-a
more than several hundred examples in a few minutes

.¤G’°UC™G ¤É„e „°†H ≈∏Y ≥∏©j ¿G’K „°†H øe ÌcCG
yu-¬alliq-u ¬alaa biD¬-i mi√aat-i l-√aSwaat-i. √akthar-u min biD¬-i thawaan-in
It hangs on several hundred votes. more than a few seconds

2.3 ¬idda IqóY ˜several™
This noun is used in two ways: either as the first part of a construct phrase or as a
noun in apposition with the noun it specifies.

2.3.1 As ¬rst term of construct

.ø¡e IóY á¦jóŸG πgCG ø¡àeG
imtahan-a √ahl-u l-madiinat-i ¬iddat-a mihan-in.
The people of the city practiced several trades.

.á«HôY «hO IóY øe ¿’qHôŸG A™D’g AÉL
jaa√-a haa√ulaa√ i l-murabb-uuna min ¬iddat-i duwal-in ¬arabiyyat-in.
These educators came from several Arab countries.

2.3.2 In apposition with a noun
When ¬idda is in apposition with a noun, it carries the same case as the noun.

IóY ≥Wɦe ˜
IóY ¿óe ˜
fii mudun-in ¬iddat-in fii manaaTiq-a ¬iddat-in
in various cities in several regions
Noun specifiers and quantifiers 233

.§óM ɪY IóY ¤ÉjGhQ ‘ɦ¡a
fa-hunaaka riwaayaat-un ¬iddat-un ¬ammaa Hadath-a.
There are several stories about what happened.

2.4 shattaa ≈qà°T ˜various, diverse; all kinds of™
This word, the plural of shatiit ˜scattered; dispersed,™ is used as the first term of an

¢VQC™G AÉ«fCG ≈qà°T ˜
fii shattaa √anHaa√-i l-√arD-i
in various parts of the earth

2.5 muxtalif ∞∏ଂ ˜various; several™
This active participle of Form VIII (literally ˜differing™) is often used as the first
term of an √iDaafa to mean ˜various™ or ˜different.™

áj™’dG AÉ«fCG ∞∏ଂ øe ¿óŸG ∞∏ଂ ˜
min muxtalif-i √anHaa√-i l-wilaayat-i fii muxtalif-i l-mudun-i
from various parts of the state in various cities

2.6 ¬adad-un min øe OóY ˜a number of™


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