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Interrogation (continued)

Interrogative Pronouns


7) 'annaa


This is an obsolete, classical, interrogative word that may mean how, when, or where.


أَنَّىْ يَكُوْنُ لِيْ غُلامٌ ؟!ه

'annaa yakoon(u) l-ee rulaam(un)

= how will be for me a boy?!

Translation: how am I going to have a son?!



8) Which

The pronoun 'ayy(u) أَيُّ  = "which (of)" is the only interrogative word that undergoes case inflection. The rest are all "built" words, which means that they do not show case inflection.

This pronoun will only mean "which?" when it is in the construct state, or when it is a first part of a genitive construction.


Which (of) ...?
الرَّفْعُ 'ayy(u) أَيُّ
النَّصْبُ 'ayy(a) أَيَّ
Accusative / Dative
الْجَرُّ 'ayy(i) أَيِّ
Ablative / Genitive


The standard structure to begin a question with 'ayy(u) will be:

'ayy(u) (of)-a unit-of-the units-verb

which (of)-a unit-of-the units-verb



which (of)-a picture-of-the pictures-(is)-the prettiest

Translation: which one of the pictures is the prettiest?


Now an example in Arabic:

أَيُّ صُوْرَةٍ مِنَ الصُّوَرِ أَجْمَلُ ؟

'ayy(u) soorat(in) min(a) ('a)s-suwar(i) 'ajmal(u)

= which (of) a picture of the pictures (is) prettier

Translation: which one of the pictures is prettier than the rest?

which one of the pictures is the prettiest?


However, as it is usual in Arabic, this structure is rarely kept whole, and usually parts will be omitted from it.

It will be rendered either like this:

(1) which (of)-the units-verb

Or like this:

(2) which (of)-a unit-verb


Examples in Arabic:

أَيُّ الصُّوَرِ أَجْمَلُ ؟

'ayy(u) ('a)s-suwar(i) 'ajmal(u)

= which (of) the pictures (is) prettier

Translation: which picture is prettier than the rest?

which picture is the prettiest?


أَيُّ صُوْرَةٍ أَجْمَلُ ؟

'ayy(u) soorat(in) 'ajmal(u)

= which (of) a picture (is) prettier

Translation: which picture is prettier than the rest?

which picture is the prettiest?


More examples:

أَيُّ الْصُّوْرَتَيْنِ أَجْمَلُ ؟

'ayy(u) ('a)s-sooratayn(i) 'ajmal(u)

= which (of) the two pictures (is) prettier

Translation: which picture is prettier?


أَيَّ اللُّغَاْتِ تَتَحَدَّثُ ؟

'ayy(a) ('a)l-luraat(i) tatahaddath(u)

= which (of) the languages (you sing. masc.) speak

Translation: which/what language do you speak?

which/what language are you speaking?


أَيَّ لُغَةٍ تَتَحَدَّثُ ؟

'ayy(a) lurat(in) tatahaddath(u)

= which (of) a language (you sing. masc.) speak

Translation: which/what language do you speak?

which/what language are you speaking?

In the last two examples, 'ayy(a) was in the accusative case because it was an object of the verb.

مِنْ أَيِّ الْمُدُنِ أَنْتَ ؟

min 'ayy(i) ('a)l-mudun(i) 'ant(a)

= from which (of) the cities (are) you

Translation: which city are you from?


مِنْ أَيِّ مَدِيْنَةٍ أَنْتَ ؟

min 'ayy(i) madeena(tin) 'ant(a)

= from which (of) a city (are) you

Translation: which city are you from ?


In the last two examples, 'ayy(i) was in the ablative case because it was preceded by a particle-preposition or an ablative particle.


When 'ayy(u) is followed by pronouns, they will have to be object pronouns, and thus they will be attached.

أَيُّكُمْ أَخَذَ هَذَاْ ؟

'ayyu-kum 'akhath(a) haathaa

= which (of) you (plu. masc.) took this

Translation: which one of you took this?


The whole form of this sentence would be:

which (of)-a one-of-you-took-this

 In Arabic:

أَيُّ وَاْحِدٍ مِنْكُمْ أَخَذَ هَذَاْ ؟

'ayy(u) waahid(in) min-kum 'akhath(a) haathaa

= which (of) a one of you (plu. masc.) took this

Translation: which one of you took this?


More examples:

أَيَّهُمْ رَأَيْتَ ؟

'ayya-hum ra'ayt(a)

= which (of) them (plu. masc.) (you sing. masc.) saw

Translation: which of them did you see?

which of them have you seen?


إِلَىْ أَيِّكُنَّ أُرْسِلُهَاْ ؟

'ilaa 'ayyi-kunn(a) 'ursilu-haa

= to which (of) you (plu. fem.) (I) will send her/it

Translation: to which of you will I send her/it?

to whom of you should I send her/it?


Attachment of 'ayy(u) to different object pronouns:

Attachment of 'ayy(u) to Object Pronouns

Which (of) you (dual)



Which (of) them (dual)



Which (of) us



Which (of) you (plu. masc.)



Which (of) you (plu. fem.)



Which (of) them (plu. masc.)



Which (of) them (plu. fem.)





'ayy(u) Meaning "Any"

The meaning of 'ayy(u) can change to "any" in questions and in negative statements.


هَلْ رَأَيْتَ أَيَّ بَطَّةٍ ؟

hal ra'ayt(a) 'ayy(a) battat(in)

= is it that (you sing. masc.) saw which/any (of) a duck

Translation: did you see which duck?

have you seen which duck?

did you see any duck?

have you seen any duck?


لا ، لَمْ أَرَ أَيَّ بَطَّةٍ

laa lam 'ara 'ayy(a) battat(in)

= no not (I) saw any (of) a duck

Translation: no, I didn't see which duck

no, I haven't seen which duck

no, I didn't see any duck

no, I haven't seen any duck



Anybody 'ayy(u) shakhs(in) أَيُّ شَخْصٍ

'ayy(u) waahid(in)

أَيُّ وَاْحِدٍ
'ayy(u) 'ahad(in) أَيُّ أَحَدٍ
Anything 'ayy(u) shay'(in) أَيُّ شَيْءٍ
Anytime 'ayy(u) waqt(in)

أَيُّ وَقْتٍ

'ayy(u) zamaan(in) أَيُّ زَمَاْنٍ
'ayy(u) zaman(in) أَيُّ زَمَنٍ
'ayy(u) heen(in) أَيُّ حِيْنٍ
'ayy(u) 'awaan(in) أَيُّ أَوَاْنٍ
'ayy(u) saa"a(tin) أَيُّ سَاْعَةٍ
Anyway 'ayy(u) tareeqa(tin) أَيُّ طَرِيْقَةٍ
'ayy(u) waseela(tin) أَيُّ وَسِيْلَةٍ
Anywhere 'ayy(u) makaan(in) أَيُّ مَكَاْنٍ




When 'ayy(u) is not in the construct state, or not a first part of a genitive construction, it will not only have Nunation or tanween 'ayy(un), but it will also lose its interrogative function and will always mean "any" instead of "which (of)?"


الرَّفْعُ 'ayy(un) أَيٌّ
النَّصْبُ 'ayy(an) أَيًّا
Accusative / Dative
الْجَرُّ 'ayy(in) أَيٍّ
Ablative / Genitive


However, "any" alone does not provide a full meaning, and this word will usually be followed by the preposition min = "from/of" and a plural word, or a pronoun referring to plural, to complete its meaning.

'ayy(un)-min-the units

any-of-the units



 لَمْ يَأْتِ أَيٌّ مِنَ الْبَطِّ

lam ya'<ti 'ayy(un) min(a) ('a)l-batt(i)

= did not come any of the ducks

Translation: no one of the ducks came

no one of the ducks have come


لَمْ أَرَ أَيًّا مِنْهُمْ

lam 'ara 'ayy(an) min-hum

= did not (I) see any of them

Translation: I didn't see any of them

I haven't seen any of them


لَنْ تَجِدُوْا أَيًّا مِنْهَاْ

lan tajidoo 'ayy(an) min-haa

= will not (you plu. masc.) find any of her/it

Translation: you won't find any of it/them



'ayy(u) as Intensifier

'ayy(u) can be used in an intensive style as follows:


إِيَاْدٌ قَاْئِدٌ أَيُّ قَاْئِدٍ !ه

'iyaad(un) qaa'id(un) 'ayy(u) qaa'id(in)

= Iyad (is) a leader which (of) a leader

Translation: Iyad is a great leader!

Iyad is one hell of a leader!


الْجَوُّ حَاْرٌّ أَيُّ حَاْرٍّ !ه

'al-jaww(u) haarr(un) 'ayy(u) haarr(in)

= the weather (is) a hot (one) which (of) a hot (one)

Translation: it is scorching hot!



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