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ARABIC ONLINE

        اللّغة العربيّة    

Arabic Online

 

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Demonstratives

 

Demonstratives in English are "this," "that," "these," and "those."

In Arabic, demonstratives are nouns, thus they have the characteristics of gender, number, and case. There are so many demonstratives in classical Arabic; I am going to try to put them all, but I will indicate which ones are the ones used usually in modern life.

Demonstratives are called in Arabic the "nouns of pointing" أَسْماءُ الإِشارَةِ.

 

1. Near Demonstratives

The basic forms of demonstratives are the near demonstratives. All demonstratives are "built" words (do not change form with changing in grammatical case) except for the dual demonstratives, which are case inflected.

 

Demonstratives (Basic Forms)

أَسْمَاْءُ الإِشَاْرَةِ (مُجَرَّدَةً)

This (masc. sing.)

thaa

ذَاْ

This (fem. sing.)

thee

ذِيْ

These (masc. dual)

thaan(i)

(subject)

ذَاْنِ

thayn(i)

(object)

ذَيْنِ

These (fem. dual)

taan(i)

(subject)

تَاْنِ

tayn(i)

(object)

تَيْنِ

 These (plu.)

'ulaa'(i)

أُولاءِ*

'ulaa

أُولَىْ*

*The و is silent.

The feminine singular demonstrative had so many variants in the classical language of which none is used in the modern language. However, some of them may be heard in some spoken dialects today.

 

Demonstratives for the Feminine Singular (Basic Forms)

This (fem. sing.)

thee

ذِيْ

thih

ذِهْ

thih(i)

ذِهِ

thihee

ذِهِيْ

thaat(u)

ذَاْتُ

taa

تَاْ

tee

تِيْ

tih

تِهْ

tih(i)

تِهِ

tihee

تِهِيْ

All of those feminine singular demonstratives are also "built" words; except for ذِاْتُ which is a really obsolete demonstrative anyway.

 

It is common to add a  haa- هَـ prefix to demonstratives. This prefix will change nothing in the meaning. Note that the haa- lacks an extended 'alif in writing هَـ when attached to most demonstratives.

This haa'< is called the " haa'< of attention "   هَاْءُ التَّنْبِيْهِ.

 

Demonstratives Attached to Attention haa'<

أَسْمَاْءُ الإِشَاْرَةِ مُتَّصِلَةً بِهَاْءِ التَّنْبِيْهِ

This (masc. sing.)

haathaa

هَذَاْ

This (fem. sing.)

haathee

هَذِيْ

These (masc. dual)

haathaan(i)

(subject)

هَذَاْنِ

haathayn(i)

(object)

هَذَيْنِ

These (fem. dual)

haataan(i)

(subject)

هَاْتَاْنِ

haatayn(i)

(object)

هَاْتَيْنِ

 These (plu.)

haa'ulaa'(i)

هَؤُلاءِ

أُولَىْ cannot take haa- prefix, and this prefix takes a different figure هَا when attached to the feminine dual demonstratives.

Four of the feminine singular demonstratives can be prefixed with attention haa'< :

haathee

هَذِيْ

haathih

هَذِهْ

haathih(i)

هَذِهِ

haathihee

هَذِهِيْ

 

 

Now to the bottom line, the near demonstratives that are really used in modern standard Arabic are the following:

Commonly Used Near Demonstratives

This (masc. sing.)

haathaa

هَذَاْ

This (fem. sing.)

haathih(i)

هَذِهِ

These (masc. dual)

haathaan(i)

(subject)

هَذَاْنِ

haathayn(i)

(object)

هَذَيْنِ

These (fem. dual)

haataan(i)

(subject)

هَاْتَاْنِ

haatayn(i)

(object)

هَاْتَيْنِ

 These (plu.)

haa'ulaa'(i)

هَؤُلاءِ

 

Examples:

هَذَاْ يَوْمٌ جَمِيْلٌ

haathaa yawm(un) jameel(un)

 

= this (is) a day a beautiful

Translation: this is a nice day

 

هَذِهِ نَصِيْحَةٌ جَيِّدَةٌ

haathih(i) naseeha(tun) jayyida(tun)

 

= this (is) an advice a good

 

Translation: this is a good advice

 

هَؤُلاءِ قَوْمٌ صَادِقُوْنَ

haa'ullaa'(i) qawm(un) saadiqoon(a)

 

= these (are) people honest

 

Translation: these are honest people

 

Since that demonstratives are definite nouns, when the predicate is also definite there can be a problem of ambiguity. This problem is similar to what has been described already in the section on separation pronouns.

هَذَاْ الْمُعَلِّمُ

haathaa ('a)l-mu"allim(u)

 

 

This phrase can mean either one of two things:

 

this teacher

this (is) the teacher

 

So to make a distinction, a separation pronoun is used:

 

هَذَاْ هُوَ الْمُعَلِّمُ

haathaa huw(a) ('a)l-mu"allim(u)

 

= this he (is) the teacher

 

Translation: this is the teacher

 

 

So, basically, according to the noun after the demonstrative we have the following three situations:

 

 This is a teacher

هَذَاْ مُعَلِّمٌ

haathaa mu"allim(un)

 This teacher

هَذَاْ الْمُعَلِّمُ

haathaa ('a)l-mu"allim(u)

 This is the teacher

هَذَاْ هُوَ الْمُعَلِّمُ

haathaa huw(a) ('a)l-mu"allim(u)

 

 

 

هَاْتَاْنِ هُمَاْ التِّلْمِيْذَتَاْنِ

haataan(i) humaa ('a)t-tilmeethataan(i)

 

= these they (are) the two students (fem.)

 

Translation: these are the two students

humaa was necessary here to distinguish the sentence "these are the two students" from "these two students."

هَذَاْ هُوَ صَدِيْقِيْ

haathaa huw(a) sadeeq-ee

 

= this he (is) (the) friend (of) me

 

Translation: this is my friend

huw(a) here was not necessary like in the previous examples. The phrase without the pronoun could not mean anything other than "this is my friend." 

هَذَاْ صَدِيْقِيْ

haathaa sadeeq-ee

 

= this (is) (the) friend (of) me

 

Translation: this is my friend

So because there was no ambiguity here, the usage of a separation pronoun was optional.

هَذِهِ مَكَّةُ

haathih(i) makka(tu)

 

= this (is) Mecca

 

Translation: this is Mecca

 

هَذِهِ هِيَ مَكَّةُ

haathih(i) hiy(a) makka(tu)

 

= this she (is) Mecca

 

Translation: this is Mecca

hiy(a) here was optional (emphatic).

 

هَذِهِ هِيَ

haathih(i) hiy(a)

 

= this (is) she

 

Translation: this is her / here she is

hiy(a) here was a predicate but not a separation pronoun.

 

Thus, a rule can be stated:

A separation pronoun must be used after demonstratives only if the predicate is a noun attached to the definite article 'al- ال . Otherwise it is optional (emphatic).

 

 

 

 

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