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Nahw – The Grammatical States in Arabic Language – Part 2

March 13, 2007

In the last post we started discussing the concept of grammatical states in the Arabic Language and saw a few examples where an اسم took on these grammatical sates. It was also mentioned that the اسم itself can occur in Arabic sentences in the form of more than simply nouns. In fact, an اسم can act like an:

  1. Adjective e.g. The green apple
  2. Adverb e.g. He ran quickly
  3. Object of Preposition e.g. in the house
  4. Adverb of time and place e.g. I met Amr yesterday
  5. Adverb of reason and cause e.g. I stood up out of respect

In this post I will introduce quite a few more grammatical terms, all of which form part of Arabic sentences and all of which will be اسم , and then we will see how each of these terms fall into one of the 3 grammatical states. Since there are only 3 grammatical states which an اسم can take but multiple ways in which it can occur in an Arabic sentence therefore رفع نصب ، جر will cover a lot more than just indicating the Subject/Object/Possessive characterization, as we had mentioned in the previous post. In fact, there are 22 positions or grammatical states in an Arabic sentence which an اسم can take.This will entail defining a whole set of new grammatical terms, some of which we have already seen. Let’s start from the basics and see how it works.

We had earlier said that there are two kind of sentences in Arabic: ﺟﻤﻠﻪ ﺍﺳﻤﻴﻪ (Nominal Sentence) and ﺟﻤﻠﻪ ﻓﻌﻠﻴﻪّ (Verbal Sentence). We can extract 5 separate grammatical terms from these two type of sentences:

  1. خبر ، مبتداء : ﺟﻤﻠﻪ ﺍﺳﻤﻴﻪ e.g. الوَلَدُ قاﺋِﻢٌ i.e. The boy is standing (Standing = خبر , Boy = مبتداء )
  2. فعل,فاعل : ﺟﻤﻠﻪ ﻓﻌﻠﻴﻪّ e.g. ضَرَبَ حامِدٌ i.e. Hamid hit (Hamid = فاعل , Hit = فعل). If we were to say ضَرَبَ حامِدٌ احمد i.e. Hamid hit Ahmad, then Ahmad, the object of the verb hit, becomes مفعول به
  3. If we were to change the sentence above to passive voice i.e. Ahmad was hit, then the فاعل (Hamid)is no more present and the مفعول به (Ahmad) becomes the subject of the sentence. In such cases it is called نائب فاعل , or the deputy doer

In addition to this we have also been introduced to the concept of phrase and already know that a possessive phrase consists of two parts:

  1. مضاف ﺍﻟﻴﻪ (The possessor)
  2. مضاف (The possessed)

This is now the right time to introduce another term which is frequently encountered in Arabic sentences, called مجرور . As you may have guessed correctly this is the state when an اسم goes in the state of جر . In Arabic, whenever an اسم is preceded by a preposition it automatically goes into جر . An example of this is: فى البيتِ (in the house). Note that البيتِ has entered its grammatical state because of the preposition فى in front of it. There are certain particles in Arabic which cause an اسم to enter a specific grammatical state. These particles are known as Governing Agents. There are 17 of them in total. However, we will start with only two at this time and will see how the two of them affect the grammatical state of an اسم. These two particles are:

  1. كان
  2. إنََََََََََََََ

Both these governing agents affect ﺟﻤﻠﻪ ﺍﺳﻤﻴﻪ and cancel the original grammatical states of مبتداء and خبر .Also, the name of both these terms change as well when a sentence contains either كان or إنََََََََََََََ. What was earlier known as مبتداء is now known as اسمُ کانَ (Ism of kana) and in case of إنََََََََََََََ, as اسمُ اِنَّ (Ism of Inna). Similarly, the predicates are known as خبرُ کانَ and خبرُ اِنَّ .

So, all in all we have 12 terms at our disposal and the rules of نحو will dictate which grammatical state each of these terms go in. Firstly, since we are only concerned with اسم at this stage, therefore we will remove فعل from our list, leaving us with 11 terms to deal with. The following table lists which grammatical state each falls in:

رفع فاعل, نائب فاعل, مبتدأ, خبر, إسمُ كان, خبرُ إنََ
نصب مفعول به, إسمُ إنَََََ, خبرُ كانَ
جر مضاف إليه, مجرور

Now this is a lot of information! Insha Allah I will give a number of examples in the coming posts for each of these rules so that they become easy to understand.

  1. Jan permalink

    Allah praise is due to Allah, may Allah swt reward you…

  2. Karabaloot permalink

    Most helpful, thank you very much indeed

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