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ARABIC ONLINE

        اللّغة العربيّة    

Arabic Online

 

• Welcome!

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• Plural Nouns EDITED

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• Negation

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• Negation+Exclusion Style

• Interrogation

• Yes/No Questions

• Interrogative Pronouns

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Interrogation

 

Interrogative sentences, or questions, are two types: yes/no questions (verification questions), and questions requesting additional information about the sentence by using words such as what, who, when, etc. Yes/no questions can become multiple choice questions when the word "or" is used.

 

Yes/No Questions

Yes/no questions are formed in Germanic languages, of which English is one, by inverting the subject and the verb of the sentence; e.g. "you are" becomes "are you?" and "you can" becomes "can you?" etc. Of course modern English has its own way with the verb "do," which is used before the subject in place of most of the verbs.

Turning a sentence into a yes/no question is easier in Arabic than in English. Here we will not need to invert the subject and the verb or anything like that. We will just put a particle in front of the sentence and that will turn it into a yes/no question. No changes in cases or moods are required.

There are two particles that we can use to create yes/no questions, or multiple choice questions with the addition of "or."

Here are those two particles:

Particles of Interrogation

حَرْفَاْ الاِسْتِفْهَاْمِ

Is it that ?

'a-

أَ

hal

هَلْ

 

Those particles resemble in meaning the French est-ce que = "is it that?"

 

Lets have some examples.

 

1) Positive Questions

 

Positive Sentence

خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

khaleel(un) hunaa

= Khalil (is) here

Translation: Khalil is here

 

Positive Question

أَخَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ ؟

'a-khaleel(un) hunaa

= is it that Khalil (is) here

Translation: is Khalil here?

 

Positive Question

هَلْ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ ؟

hal khaleel(un) hunaa

= is it that Khalil (is) here

Translation: is Khalil here?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

na"am khaleel(un) hunaa

= yes Khalil (is) here

Translation: yes Khalil is here

 

Negative Answer

لا خَلِيْلٌ لَيْسَ هُنَاْ

laa khaleel(un) lays(a) hunaa

= no Khalil is/exists not here

Translation: no Khalil is not here

 

Negative Answer

لا لَيْسَ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

laa lays(a) khaleel(un) hunaa

= no is/exists not Khalil here

Translation: no Khalil is not here

 

 

Note that there are many alternatives for forming a negative answer. I used here ones commonly used in modern standard Arabic. (See negation for more information)

More examples:

Positive Sentence

الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ

'at-taqs(u) mushmis(un)

= the weather (is) sunny

Translation: it is sunny

 

Positive Question

آلْطََّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ ؟

'aa-t-taqs(u) mushmis(un)

= is it that the weather (is) sunny

Translation: is it sunny?

 

Positive Question

هَلِ الْطََّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ ؟

hal(i) ('a)t-taqs(u) mushmis(un)

= is it that the weather (is) sunny

Translation: is it sunny?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمِ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ

na"am(i) ('a)t-taqs(u) mushmis(un)

 = yes the weather (is) sunny

Translation: yes it is sunny

 

Negative Answer

لا الْطَّقْسُ لَيْسَ مُشْمِسًا

laa ('a)t-taqs(u) lays(a) mushmis(an)

 = no the weather is/exists not (as) sunny

Translation: no it is not sunny

 

Negative Answer

لا لَيْسَ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسًا

laa lays(a) ('a)t-taqs(u) mushmis(an)

 = no is/exists not the weather (as) sunny

Translation: no it is not sunny

 

 

The purple vowels, barring the first one, were added for phonological reasons, namely to prevent still letters from directly following each other.

However, the first purple vowel was added for a different reason which is to clarify that the statement was a question. This vowel will always be added when attaching interrogative 'a- to the definite article ('a)l-, and the combination will become 'aa-l-.

 

Attachment of Interrogative 'a- to 'al-

آلْقَمَرُ

الْقَمَرُ

'aa-l-qamar(u) ('a)l-qamar(u)
is it that the moon? the moon

آلشَّمْسُ

الشَّمْسُ

'aa-sh-shams(u) ('a)sh-shams(u)
is it that the sun? the sun

 

More examples:

Positive Sentence

تَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

tatakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: you speak Arabic

you are speaking Arabic

 

Positive Question

أَتَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ ؟

'a-tatakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= is it that (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: do you speak Arabic?

are you speaking Arabic?

 

Positive Question

هَلْ تَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ ؟

hal tatakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= is it that (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: do you speak Arabic?

are you speaking Arabic?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ أَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

na"am 'atakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= yes (I) speak the Arabic

Translation: yes I speak Arabic

yes I'm speaking Arabic

 

Negative Answer

لا لا أَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

laa laa 'atakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= no not (I) speak the Arabic

Translation: no, I don't speak Arabic

no, I'm not speaking Arabic

 

 

 

Multiple-Choice-Questions

Multiple choice questions have the conjunction "or" in them; e.g. "do you like apples more or bananas?"

The particle hal is not used in questions containing the word "or." Only 'a- will be used here.

In Arabic, there are two versions of the conjunction "or," one for regular sentences and another one for questions or sentences preceded by 'a-. If the sentence containing "or" were not preceded by 'a-, the version 'aw  أَوْwould be used for "or."  If the sentence were preceded by 'a-, the version 'am أَمْ  would be used.

 

Positive Sentence

زُرْتُمْ إِمَّاْ سُوْرْيَاْ أَوِ الْعِرَاْقَ

zurtum 'immaa sooryaa 'aw(i) ('a)l-"iraaq(a)

= (you plu. masc.) visited either Syria or Iraq

Translation: you (have) visited either Syria or Iraq

 

Positive Question

أَزُرْتُمْ سُوْرْيَاْ أَمِ الْعِرَاْقَ ؟

'a-zurtum sooryaa 'am(i) ('a)l-"iraaq(a)

= is it that (you plu. masc.) visited Syria or Iraq

Translation: did/have you visit(ed) Syria or Iraq?

 

Positive Answer

زُرْنَاْ سُوْرْيَاْ وَالْعِرَاْقَ

zurnaa sooryaa wa-l-"iraaq(a)

= (we) visited Syria and Iraq

Translation: we (have) visited Syria and Iraq

 

Positive Answer

زُرْنَاْ كِلَيْهِمَاْ

zurnaa kilay-himaa

= (we) visited (the) both (of) them

Translation: we (have) visited both of them

 

Positive Answer

لَمْ نَزُرْ أَيًّا مِنْهُمَاْ

lam nazur 'ayy(an) min-huma

 = did not (we) visit any from/of them

Translation: we did/have not visit(ed) any of them

we (have) visited neither of them

 

Note: Syria can be also written sooriyya(t) سُوْرِيَّةُ . This is the only form that was used before the 20th century, and the form used by the people of the country itself until now. It is more correct from an Arabic point of view, but I used up there the form that is common in the Arab world in general.

 

Positive Sentence

إِمَّاْ سَتُسَاْعِدُنِيْ أَوْ لا

'immaa sa-tusaa"idu-nee 'aw laa

= either (you sing. masc.) will help me or not

Translation: you are going to either help me or not

 

Positive Question

أَسَتُسَاْعِدُنِيْ أَمْ لا ؟

'a-sa-tusaa"idu-nee 'am laa

= is it that (you sing. masc.) will help me or not

Translation: are you going to help me or not?

 

Positive Answer

 نَعَمْ سَأُسَاْعِدُكَ

na"am sa-'usaa"idu-k(a)

= yes (I) will help you

Translation: yes, I am going to help you

 

Negative Answer

لا لَنْ أُسَاْعِدَكَ

laa lan 'usaa"ida-k(a)

= no will not (I) help you

Translation: no, I am not going to help you

 

 

 

'a- Meaning If/Whether

The particle 'a- becomes in certain sentences a conjunction word that introduces alternatives like "if" or "whether."

Example:

سَنَبْدَأُ سَوَاْءٌ أَحَضَرُوْا أَمْ لَمْ يَحْضُرُوْا

sa-nabda'(u) sawaa'(un) 'a-hadaroo 'am lam yahduroo

= (we) will begin, a same (it is) if/whether (they plu. masc.) came or did not came

Translation: we will begin whether they came/showed up or not

 

The word sawaa'(un) = "a same" is often employed in such sentences, but it can be done without:

سَنَبْدَأُ أَحَضَرُوْا أَمْ لَمْ يَحْضُرُوْا

sa-nabda'(u) 'a-hadaroo 'am lam yahduroo

= (we) will begin if/whether (they plu. masc.) came or did not came

Translation: we will begin whether they came/showed up or not

 

The 'a- itself can also be omitted in such sentences:

سَنَبْدَأُ سَوَاْءٌ حَضَرُوْا أَمْ لَمْ يَحْضُرُوْا

sa-nabda'(u) sawaa'(un) hadaroo 'am lam yahduroo

= (we) will begin, a same (it is) (if/whether) (they plu. masc.) came or did not came

Translation: we will begin whether they came/showed up or not

 

A mostly reduced version:

سَنَبْدَأُ حَضَرُوْا أَمْ لَمْ يَحْضُرُوْا

sa-nabda'(u) hadaroo 'am lam yahduroo

= (we) will begin (if/whether) (they plu. masc.) came or did not came

Translation: we will begin whether they came/showed up or not

 

 

2) Negative Questions

Negative sentences (e.g. you don't) are turned into yes/no negative questions (e.g. don't you?) by the same mechanism mentioned for positive sentences. However, the particle 'a- is the one used in negative questions.

 

An important difference here from English lies in the answer to the question. If a question is a negative question then the answer must be with the word na"am نَعَمْ for agreement with the negative sentence of the question, or for saying "no" (e.g. no, I don't), and the word balaa بَلَىْ for disagreement with the negative sentence of the question, or for saying "yes" (e.g. yes, I do).

 

Examples:

 

Negative Sentence

خَلِيْلٌ لَيْسَ هُنَاْ

khaleel(un) lays(a) hunaa

= Khalil is/exists not here

Translation: Khalil is not here

 

Negative Sentence

لَيْسَ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

lays(a) khaleel(un) hunaa

= is/exists not Khalil here

Translation: Khalil is not here

 

Negative Question

أَخَلِيْلٌ لَيْسَ هُنَاْ ؟

'a-khaleel(un) lays(a) hunaa

= is it that Khalil is/exists not here

Translation: is Khalil not here?

 

Negative Question

أَلَيْسَ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ ؟

'a-lays(a) khaleel(un) hunaa

= is it that is/exists not Khalil here

Translation: is not Khalil here?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ خَلِيْلٌ لَيْسَ هُنَاْ

na"am khaleel(un) lays(a) hunaa

= yes Khalil is/exists not here

Translation: no, Khalil is not here

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ لَيْسَ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

na"am lays(a) khaleel(un) hunaa

= yes is/exists not Khalil here

Translation: no, Khalil is not here

 

Negative Answer

بَلَىْ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

balaa khaleel(un) hunaa

= no Khalil (is) here

Translation: yes, Khalil is here

 

 

 

Answering Negative Questions (don't you?)

Agreement with the negative sentence

(no, I don't)

na"am

نَعَمْ

Disagreement with the negative sentence

(yes, I do)

balaa

بَلَىْ

 

 

When the 'a- in the negative question is separated from negative word (e.g. lays(a)) by the subject, the emphasis of the question will be on the subject, making the question primarily about the subject rather than the verb or the action.

 

When the 'a- in the negative question is followed directly by the negative word, the emphasis of the question will be on the verb or action, making the question primarily about it rather than about the subject.

 

 

Negative Sentence

الْطَّقْسُ لَيْسَ مُشْمِسًاْ

'at-taqs(u) lays(a) mushmis(an)

= the weather is/exists not sunny

Translation: it is not sunny

 

Negative Sentence

لَيْسَ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسًاْ

lays(a) ('a)t-taqs(u) mushmis(an)

= is/exists not the weather sunny

Translation: it is not sunny

 

Negative Question

آلْطََّقْسُ لَيْسَ مُشْمِسًاْ ؟

'aa-t-taqs(u) lays(a) mushmis(an)

= is it that the weather is/exists not sunny

Translation: is it not sunny?

 

Negative Question

أَلَيْسَ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسًاْ ؟

'a-lays(a) ('a)t-taqs(u) mushmis(an)

= is it that is/exists not the weather sunny

Translation: is not it sunny?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ الْطَّقْسُ لَيْسَ مُشْمِسًاْ

na"am ('a)t-taqs(u) lays(a) mushmis(an)

= yes the weather is/exists not sunny

Translation: no, it is not sunny

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ لَيْسَ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسًاْ

na"am lays(a) ('a)t-taqs(u) mushmis(an)

= yes is/exists not the weather sunny

Translation: no, it is not sunny

 

Negative Answer

بَلَىْ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ

balaa ('a)t-taqs(u) mushmis(un)

= no the weather (is) sunny

Translation: yes, it is sunny

 

 

 

Negative Sentence

لا تَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

laa tatakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= not (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: you don't speak Arabic

you are not speaking Arabic

 

Negative Question

أَلا تَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ ؟

'a-laa tatakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= is it that not (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: don't you speak Arabic?

Aren't you speaking Arabic?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ لا أَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

na"am laa 'atakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= yes not (I) speak the Arabic

Translation: no, I don't speak Arabic

no, I'm not speaking Arabic

 

Negative Answer

بَلَىْ أَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

balaa 'atakallam(u) ('a)l-"arabiyya(ta)

= no (I) speak the Arabic

Translation: yes, I do speak Arabic

yes, I'm speaking Arabic

 

 

 

Negative Sentence

لَمْ تَقُلْ شَيْئًاْ

lam taqul shay'a(n)

= did not (you sing. masc.) say a thing

Translation: you didn't say anything

you haven't said anything

 

Negative Question

ألَمْ تَقُلْ شَيْئًاْ ؟

'a-lam taqul shay'a(n)

= is it that did not (you sing. masc.) say a thing

Translation: didn't you say anything?

haven't you said anything?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ لَمْ أَقُلْ شَيْئًاْ

na"am lam 'aqul shay'a(n)

= yes did not (I) say a thing

Translation: no, I didn't say anything

no, I haven't said anything

 

Negative Answer

بَلَىْ قُلْتُ شَيْئًاْ

balaa qult(u) shay'a(n)

= no (I) said a thing

Translation: yes, I did say something

yes, I have said something

 

 

 

 

Negative Sentence

لَنْ تَكُوْنَ هُنَاْكَ

lan takoon(a) hunaak(a)

= will not (you sing. masc.) be there

Translation: you won't be there

 

Negative Question

ألَنْ تَكُوْنَ هُنَاْكَ ؟

'a-lan takoon(a) hunaak(a)

= is it that will not (you sing. masc.) be there

Translation: won't you be there?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ لَنْ أَكُوْنَ هُنَاْكَ

na"am lan 'akoon(a) hunaak(a)

= yes will not (I) be there

Translation: no, I won't be there

 

Negative Answer

بَلَىْ سَأَكُوْنُ هُنَاْكَ

balaa sa-'akoon(u) hunaak(a)

= no (I) will be there

Translation: yes, I will be there

 

 

 

'a-conjunction-

As we have mentioned before on this site, Arabs tended to use a lot of unnecessary "and's" in their talk. Here we are going to see another manifestation of this fact.

However, the wa- = "and" will not come here before the interrogative particle 'a- , but it will rather come between it and the word following it.

Examples:

أَوَتَعْرِفُ الْجَوَاْبَ ؟

'a-wa-ta"rif(u) ('a)l-jawaab(a)

= is it that and (you sing. masc.) know the answer?

= and is it that (you sing. masc.) know the answer?

Translation: do you know the answer?

 

أَوَلا تَعِيْ مَاْ أَقُوْلُ ؟

'a-wa-laa ta"ee maa 'aqool(u)

= is it that and (you sing. masc.) not comprehend what (I) say?

= and is it that (you sing. masc.) not comprehend what (I) say?

Translation: don't/won't you understand what I'm saying?

don't/won't you understand what I say?

 

أَوَلَمْ تُؤْمِنْ بَعْدُ ؟

'a-wa-lam tu'<min ba"d(u)

= is it that and (you sing. masc.) did not believe yet?

= and is it that (you sing. masc.) did not believe yet?

Translation: haven't you believed yet?

 

However, wa- was not the only particle that could be inserted between 'a- and the word following it. Other conjunctions could be inserted as well, like fa- = "then/so," and thumm(a) = "after that/afterwards"

أَفَلا تَعِيْ مَاْ أَقُوْلُ ؟

'a-fa-laa ta"ee maa 'aqool(u)

= is it that then/so (you sing. masc.) not comprehend what (I) say?

= then/so is it that (you sing. masc.) not comprehend what (I) say?

Translation: so don't/won't you understand what I'm saying?

so don't/won't you understand what I say?

 

أَثُمَّ إِذَاْ مَاْ وَقَعَ آمَنْتُمْ بِهِ ؟

'a-thumm(a) 'ithaa maa waqa"(a) 'aamantum bi-h(i)

= is it that after that if that (he/it) fell (you plu. masc.) believed in him/it?

= after that is it that if that (he/it) fell (you plu. masc.) believed in him/it?

Translation: after that, if it happened, will you believe in it (the punishment)?

This was a difficult sentence from the Koran (the Muslim holy book).

  • The verb وَقَعَ = "fell" means "happened" in classical Arabic.

  • The verbs were in the perfective because it was a hypothetical situation, and perfective verbs in Arabic are used for hypothetical situations (the subjunctive mood).

  • The word maa مَاْ here was an infinitival maa, which means "that" (like 'an أَنْ ). This will be covered later on this site.

The insertion of conjunction words after 'a- is common in the Koran.

 

 

Etymology note

The etymology of the interrogative particle 'a- أَ is ha- هَـ (cf. Hebrew -הֲ). The transition of litter هـ into أ was common in classical Arabic. Ha- as interrogative particle was attested in some classical dialects.

 

e.g.               وَأَتَىْ صَوَاْحِبُهَاْ فَقُلْنَ : هَذَاْ الَّذِيْ     مَنَحَ الْمَوَدَّةَ غَيْرَنَاْ وَجَفَاْنَاْ ؟

 

 

 

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