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An English sentence is
"the door of the house." Another way to say the same thing is "the house's
door" or "the house-door."
This is the genitive
construction, which expresses a relationship of possession between the two
parts of the construction. In formal Arabic, there is not a possessive preposition
like "of" or any other possessive particles. The only way to say
that sentence will be by virtue of the "construct state" of nouns and the
Look at the examples:
The door of
door the house
window a house
The window of
window the house
Every one of those phrases
was a genitive construction. Two things can be noted about those
The second nouns were in
the genitive case instead of the regular nominative case.
These two notes are the
components of any genitive construction in Arabic. The fact that the first
noun did not have a definite article attached (i.e. was not in the
definite state) nor did it have an indefinite declension attached (i.e.
was not in the indefinite state) leaves us in front of a new state for
nouns in Arabic. This is what is called the "construct state" of nouns, or
the state of "addition" الإِضَاْفَةُ
in Arabic terminology.
construct state exists in many Semitic languages. Whereas this state can
mean considerable changes to the noun structure in languages such as
Hebrew and Syriac, in Arabic there is not really that much. Just no
definite article before, nor noonation
at the end of nouns. The noonation must be removed here even from the dual
and masculine plural endings if the noun had either of them.
Meaning of the Construct
When a noun is in the
construct state, it will not have neither a definite nor an indefinite
marker. However, it will be always a definite
noun, even if there were no definite article attached. Think of it as if
there were a hidden definite article before the noun. The definiteness of the
construct state is so strict that even the final
noonنof the dual
and the masculine plural endings will be removed in this state, and this
is the only case in Arabic where this happens to those two.
The second point is that
changing a noun to the construct state will always implant a hidden
possessive "of" after the noun.
This is the main point of the construct state anyway.
So a noun in the construct
state will be like this:
The part of the sentence before the
is the first part of the genitive construction. It can be a noun in
the construct state or it can be a phrase, e.g. "the first two pages
of the book." The 1st part of a genitive
construction is called in Arabic "the added" الْمُضَاْفُ.
The second part of the genitive construction
is the part coming after "of." This
part is called in Arabic "the added to"
The second part of the
genitive construction must be
always in the
in Arabic. This
is why they called it a genitive case anyway. The 2nd part of the
construction will not be in the construct state nor it will have anything
to do with it. It will be either in the definite or the indefinite state
just as usual.
Examples on genitive
Two male teachers
The two male teachers
of a class
The two female
The two female
teachers of a class
of the class
inمُعَلِّمُوْاis a silent.
The female teachers
of the class
More examples in which the
first part is in other cases ('an-nasb
two male teachers of the class
two female teachers of the class
(male) teachers of the class
Examples on proper
(the) book (of) Ali
(the) airport (of)
دِمَشْقis a "forbidden to
noonation" الْمَمْنُوْعُ مِنَ الْصَّرْفِword, so it has
an irregular case sign in the genitive case (-a) in addition to
never taking noonation.
Proper names are always
definite and don't take
them. However, we mentioned before that first names of people and some
other proper nouns take tanween
even though they are definite.
such as "my" and "your" do not exist in Arabic; nor do exist ones such as
"mine" and "yours." To say in Arabic that something is yours, you would
use the genitive construction described above and say "(the) thing (of)
me." To say "your book and his book" you would say "(the) book (of) you
and (the) book (of) him."
This will be shown
later in the section about object pronouns.
"A" Thing of a Thing
A final issue about
the genitive construction is how we translate the following sentence to
A door of a house
We know that it is
impossible in Arabic for the first part of a genitive construction to be
indefinite. Thus, this kind of sentences is usually translated in Arabic
(The) door (of) a house
There is not really
that much of a difference between the two. However, if you were insisting
on having the first part indefinite, there is one trick that could be used,
which is to use a preposition other than the hidden "of" of the genitive
construction. Usually that would be the particle li-لِـ= "for/to."
for a house
This is not a genitive
construction. The word after li-is in the ablative case, which is
the same in Arabic as the genitive case ('al-jarr).
The door key
Can you translate those
phrases to Arabic by using the following Arabic words?