Nahw – The Anatomy of a Sentence – Part 2

As promised here is the second part of our sentence analysis exercise. In this post, Insha Allah, I will take up a complex Arabic sentence and will show how rules of grammatical states apply to such sentences.

و کانَ ﺍﹺﺑﺮﺍﻫﻴﻢﹸ ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ انَّ الاَصنامَ حِجارةﹲ ( And Ibrahim would recognize that idols are rock)

Right away you can see that this sentence can be divided into two main parts: إسم of كان , which is ﺍﹺﺑﺮﺍﻫﻴﻢﹸ , and the rest of the sentence, starting from ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ , which is the خبر of كانﹶ. However, within this خبر of كانﹶ are at least two other complete sentences: انَّ الاَصنامَ حِجارةﹲ (idols are rock) and ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ انَّ الاَصنامَ حِجارةﹲ (he knew that idols are rock). As a rule, whenever an Arabic sentence is composed of other smaller sentences (and most of them do!) then the rules of grammatical states apply to the inner sentences and the outer sentence is assumed to take the grammatical state which a stand-alone word would have taken had there been one. To understand this concept fully take the word ﺍﹺﺑﺮﺍﻫﻴﻢﹸُ . The dhamma at its end signifies that it is in the state of رفع, which is expected since إسم of كان goes into the grammatical state of رفع . However, the rest of the sentence which constitutes the خبر of كانﹶ has to go into نَصَب , but how do you put a complete sentence (which itself is composed of two other sentences) into نَصَب? The answer is that we start analyzing the inner sentences and apply rules of grammatical states to them individually and the complete outer sentence is assumed to be in the state of نَصَب. So let us do exactly that and in the end we will recombine the inner sentences to complete the whole outer sentence.

انَّ الاَصنامَ حِجارةﹲ : Here الاَصنامَ is the اِسم of اَنَّ . As with اِنُّ , the اِسم of اَنَّ goes into نَصَب , thus the fatha on الاَصنامَ . Similarly, حِجارةﹲ is the خبر of اَنَّ and therefore it is in the state of رفع, as signified by the dhamma at the end. Also recognize that the complete sentence is a جمله أسميّه .

Now look at the verb ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ: It needs a فاعل (the doer) and a مفعول به (the one upon whom the verb is done. Do remember, though, that there are other verbs which do not require a مفعول به). The فاعل for ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ is implied since it is the first conjugation (he recognize). Since the فاعل is contained within the verb, the rest of the sentence, انَّ الاَصنامَ حِجارةﹲ , has to be the مفعول به of the verb ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ (Revert back to the previous paragraph and note that this مفعول به itself is a جمله أسميّه ). Again, since we cannot put a whole sentence into the state of نَصَب , where a مفعول به is supposed to go, therefore we assume that this part of the sentence is in the state of نَصَب . Also, this sentence is a ﺟﹹﻤﻠﻪ ﻓﹻﻌﻠﹻﻴﹽﻪ since it starts with a verb, ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ.

So until now we have desiccated and analyzed this sentence into at least 2 major parts: جمله أسميّه and ﺟﹹﻤﻠﻪ ﻓﹻﻌﻠﹻﻴﹽﻪ , and have seen how each word within these parts is following its particular rule for grammatical states. Now let us move ahead and combine the whole sentence. Since the sentence starts with کانَ , a verb, therefore the complete sentence is a ﺟﹹﻤﻠﻪ ﻓﹻﻌﻠﹻﻴﹽﻪ , and the part starting from ﻳﹶﻌﺮﹺﻑﹸ up to the end is assumed to be in the state of نَصَب , since it is the خبر of كانﹶ . As I mentioned before, ﺍﹺﺑﺮﺍﻫﻴﻢﹸُ, being the إسم of كان, goes into رفع , and hence the dhamma at the end.

I hope that this example further explains how the concept of grammatical terms is used in Arabic Language.

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9 thoughts on “Nahw – The Anatomy of a Sentence – Part 2

  1. assalamu alaykum,

    Jazak Allah for the excellent blog. I’m a student of Shariah Program (Toronto)

    one (stupid) question:
    I always think of calling Ibrahim the Fa’il (in a sentence structure like this). I don’t understand when to pull out the hidden “huwa” in the verb, and call it the fa’il.

    Jazak Allahu Khairan Katheeran.

  2. Assalam-O-Alaikum Hafsa,
    Glad that you are making use of this blog.
    The he is coming from یَعرِفُ . This is exactly like saying یَفعَلُ , which means he will do. Here you do not need to say he separately, since it is contained within the conjugation itself.
    Also, in this sentence اِبراھیمُ is the إسم of كان : since a كان sentence will at least have a إسم and خبر .
    I hope that makes sense. Feel free to ask again. Insha Allah I will try my best to explain. Of course, we can always ask Sheikh Yousuf in the class :-)

    May Allah grant you what is best in the Hereafter and in this world!

  3. “one (stupid) question:
    I always think of calling Ibrahim the Fa’il (in a sentence structure like this). I don’t understand when to pull out the hidden “huwa” in the verb, and call it the fa’il.

    Jazak Allahu Khairan Katheeran.”

    If the sentence were:
    يعرف ابراهيم ان الاصنام حجارة

    then ibraaheem would be the faa’il, since it comes after ya’rifu.
    The tarkeeb would be as follows:
    ya’rifu – fi’l
    ibraaheem – faa’il
    anna – one of the inna sisters
    al-aSnaam – ism anna
    Hijaarah – khabr anna

    anna combines with ism anna and khabr anna to form jumlah ismiyyah and become maf’ool bihee
    the fi’l, along with its faa’il and maf’ool bihee forms jumlah fi’liyyah khabariyyah

    However, if ibraaheem precedes ya’rifu (ابراهيم يعرف ان الصنام حجارة), then we have a jumlah ismiyyah with ibrahaaheem as the mubtadaa and “ya’rifu anna al-asnaama Hijaaratun” as a jumlah fi’liyyah and its khabr. Therefore, we will need to take out a hidden “huwa” for “ya’rifu…..,” since its faa’il is not explicitly stated.

    the tarkeeb would be as follows:
    ibraaheem – mubtadaa
    ya’rifu – fi’l
    huwa – Dameer maHZoof, its faa’il
    anna al-aSnaama Hijaaratun – jumlah ismiyyah, its maf’ool bihee

    The fi’l combines with its faa’il and maf’ool bihee to form jumlah fi’liyyah khabariyyah and becomes khabr.
    mubtadaa and khabr combine to form jumlah ismiyyah khabariyyah.

    • Faruq and ‘Umar are going to the school:
      فاروق و عمر يذهبان إلى المدرسة
      يذهب فاروق و عمر إلى المدرسة
      the first is jumlah ismiyah that contains: mubtada’ (فاروق و عمر) + khabar (يذهبان)+ fadhlah/complement (إلى المدرسة)
      the second is jumlah fi’liyah that contains : fi’l (يذهب) + fa’il (فاروق و عمر) + fadhlah/complement (إلى المدرسة)

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