Praise & Disparagement
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Writing of Letter 'alif
The vowel form can appear at the middle or the end of words, but never at the beginning. It can assume the following forms:
Choosing Between the Two Forms at the End of the Word
I. Triliteral Nouns & Verbs
If a three-lettered noun in Arabic ends with a long vowel 'alif, that noun will be an irregular noun called a Shortened Noun. If a three-lettered verb in Arabic ends with a long vowel 'alif, that verb will be an irregular verb called a Defective Verb.
The common point between those two types of words is that the long vowel 'alif at the end of any triliteral noun or verb in Arabic is not an original letter or a root letter, rather it always substitutes for a different week letter.
The form ـا substitutes for a waaw ـو .
The form ـى substitutes for a yaa'< ـي .
Deciding which form to use requires knowing the root of the word. Natives and people with good knowledge of the language can usually guess the original vowel from other derivatives of the same root, like the infinitive and the imperfective verb when dealing with defective verbs, and the dual and plural when dealing with singular shortened nouns.
II. Nouns & Verbs with More Than Three Letters
Those will always end with an 'alif of the type: ـى .
Such 'alif may be an original root letter, but it also may be not.
The exception is when the 'alif is preceded by a yaa'<. In that case, it will take the other form.
However, the proper name يَحْيَىْwill irregularly take the first form in order to be distinguished from the verb that looks like it.
Words of foreign origin that end with with long vowel 'alif's usually take the form: ـا .
However, there are few foreign words that end with ـى .
Particles (rootless words) that end with a long vowel 'alif are not few. As a rule, all such particles will end with the form ـا except for the following four particles: