An Introduction to Arabic Grammar

So I have thought about making a quick and simple intro to Arabic grammar, this mysterious and beautiful language that is hard to grab and take hold of easily! (I know what I am talking about because, even I am a native speaker, I faced a huge problem to simplify and make things clear in this post!!). Thus, here are some general points about Arabic grammar (نحو و صرف):

  • Arabic sentence structure:

English is an SVO language: Subject+ Verb+ Object/Adjective/ Adverb. Arabic can follow this order too, but it is so heavy and unnatural. Actually, Arabic has 2 different types of sentences;

 the verbal sentence (الجملة الفعلية ) and the nominal sentence (الجملة الإسمية). The verbal sentence has a general form of VSO: Verb+ Subject+ Object/ Adjective/Adverb… Ex: ذهب أحمد إلى المدرسة (‘went Ahmed to school’= Ahmed went to school). 

The nominal sentence has the form of Object/ Subject (noun) + adjective/adverb/verb (but it is rare for the latter case). Ex: رنيم فتاة رائعة (‘Ranim girl wonderful’ = Ranim is a wonderful girl). What is the difference? The first structure is used for sentences where there is a verb (as the name indicates), and the other one for the rest.

 But wait; is there a sentence without a verb?!!! That leads us to the next point!

  • There is no verb “to be” in Arabic:

Ok this may sounds crazy to some, especially whose first language is romance or Germanic one, but believe me, there are other languages that doesn’t have “ to be” too. In Arabic, it is simple, no “to be” at all, not in the present, in the past nor in the future! It is so easy, just pull away this verb. Ex: you want to say “I am happy”, say ‘I happy’  ـة /أنا فرح

  • Articles (the/ A):

There is only the offset of « the » which is ‘al’ ( الـ), applies for all gender and number ( because some languages do have some differences but not Arabic). There is only a problem of the pronunciation sometimes, which I’ll treat in another post.

 Remember! No “a”!!

  • Gender and number:

Ahhh! This!! We have a lot of pronouns, a loooot(!!!) which are based in specified gender and number.

 Let’s take an example of “you”; there are anta (أنت singular masculine), anti (أنتِ singular feminine), antouma (you two masculine and feminine), antom ( أنتم  plural masculine) and antona ( أنتنَ  plural feminine ). Imagine this with all the other pronouns!! And of course, there is an accordance with verbs and adjectives depending on that! (But don’t worry, in the majority of Arabic dialects, things are a lot easier and some pronouns are never used).

  • Roots system:

Arabic language is based over a system of roots and there are like “templates”  that help construct words. Roots are mostly formed o 3 letters (sometimes 4 letters), and everything can be derived of them.

 Let’s take an example:  the root ( ك.ت.ب) =write and the derivations : the verb kataba كتب( write), kiteb كتاب (book), kateb كاتب (writer), maktaba مكتبة (library), the verb taketaba تكاتب ( exchange messages, letters, anything written), etc… I’ll make another more detailed post about that if you want

  • Pronunciation and conjugation:

This is the most difficult part! The pronunciations of words depends on their function in the sentence and their conjugated form!! I am not only talking about verbs, I am talking about every single word in the sentence! 

Well to be honest, it’s not ALL the word that changes in pronunciation, only the last syllable. And there are three possibilities: الضم (addam) which add the sound ‘oo’, الفتح (al-fat’h) which add the sound ‘a’ and  الكسر (al-kassr) which add the sound ‘ee’. I’ll try to make a post about that; the functions in the sentence and which modification has its one.

 These modifications are called علامات الإعراب (literal translation: Arabisation signs)  and I think this is so accurate! Because this is so specific to Arabic, but it is also pretty hard to learn ( don’t forget the gazillion exceptions that there are!!). Even native speakers make mistakes in that. Actually, the majority of our generation mispronounce everything (and this is very sad :/), so don’t worry! Don’t put too much effort in this! But if you master them, you’ll be an amazing and beautiful Arabic speaker!! This will make you so special!!

This is what I managed to remember about Arabic specific Grammar, and I should mention here that I’m talking about the standard Arabic, Fus’ha that is recognized in every country talking Arabic, dialects differ! I hope this help you get an idea about how Arabic functions, good luck in your learning and if you need any help in Arabic, have any questions or suggestions, please tell me! I’ll be more than happy to help ^^ more posts are coming!