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Pronouns in Arabic الْضَّمَاْئِرُ belong to the category of "nouns." Therefore, everything that applies to nouns will apply to them. Pronouns have genders, numbers, and grammatical case. Pronouns are always definite nouns.

Pronouns in Arabic are four categories:

  • Subject Pronouns:

    • Separate Subject Pronouns

    • Attached Subject Pronouns


  • Object Pronouns:

    • Separate Object Pronouns

    • Attached Object Pronouns




Separate Subject Pronouns




Separate Subject Pronouns

  ضَمائِرُ الرَّفْعِ المُنْفَصِلَةِ












You (masc.)



You (fem.)

























We (dual / plu.)



You (masc.)



You (fem.)



They (masc.)



They (fem.)



In Arabic, a mixed group of males and females will be always referred to by plural masculine pronouns or conjugations.

Separate subject pronouns work similarly to the English ones.


أَنَاْ أَحْمَدُ

'anaa 'ahmad(u)

= I (am) Ahmad

Translation: I am Ahmad

*Proper names must have noonation, but 'ahmad cannot be noonated because it belongs to the "forbidden to noonation" الْمَمْنُوْعُ مِنَ الْصَّرْفِ words, which cannot be noonated.

أًنْتَ تَعْرِفُ

'ant(a) ta"rif(u)

= You know

Translation: you know


نَحْنُ هُنَاْ

nahn(u) hunaa

= We (are) here

Translation: we are here


مَنْ هُمْ ؟

man hum

= who (are) they

Translation: who are they?



One important difference from English is that separate subject pronouns can be omitted from sentences in Arabic in many situations. This is because nominal declensions of the verbs make it clear who the subject is (or as in Arabic grammar, those declensions are themselves subject pronouns as we will see shortly).


أُرِيْدُ الْحَقِيْقَةَ

'aureed(u) ('a)l-haqeeqa(ta)

= (I) want the truth

Translation: I want the truth


مَاْذَاْ سَنَفْعَلُ ؟

maathaa sa-naf"al(u)

= what will (we) do

Translation: what will we do?




Pronouns of Separation


Thanks to the many word declensions in Arabic, which often indicate the gender and the number of the subject, separate subject pronouns have really little significance in regard to the syntax of Arabic sentences. This is actually the case for all old-fashioned languages as well, such as Latin for instance.

However, separate subject pronouns are still used a lot in Arabic. They are most often used pleonastically for emphasizing either the subject or the object of a sentence. Sometimes, however, they can be important to clarify the meaning of a sentence, this will be usually when they are used in present tense "be"-sentences.

Separate subject pronouns are called "pronouns of separation"  ضَمَاْئِرُ الْفَصْلِwhen they are used without grammatical necessity. This will be the case for separate subject pronouns in most of the time.

Pronouns of separation will be used in the following situations:


1. In present tense "be" sentences

This is a vital usage. If the subject and the predicate of a present tense "be" sentence were both definite words, the meaning of the phrase could be ambiguous.


إِبْرَاْهِيْمُ الْمُدِيْرُ هُنَاْ

'ibraaheem(u) ('a)l-mudeer(u) hunaa


This sentence can mean either one of the following: 

(1) Ibrahim, the manager, (is) here

(2) Ibrahim (is) the manager here

This is because the word الْمُدِيْرُ can be either an adjective or a predicate.

So to make a distinction (a separation) between the two, it is usual to add a separate subject pronoun in place of the non-existing "be" in present tense "be"-sentences. That is, between the subject and the predicate.

إِبْرَاْهِيْمُ هُوَ الْمُدِيْرُ هُنَاْ

'ibraaheem(u) huw(a) ('a)l-mudeer(u) hunaa

= Ibrahim he (is) the manager here

Translation: Ibrahim is the manager here


A similar ambiguity can also occur when the subject and the predicate are both indefinite words, but it is very uncommon in Arabic for the subject of a "be"-sentence to be an indefinite word. That is, a sentence of the type "a man is here," for example, will not be virtually used in Arabic. Instead, such sentences will be often expressed via demonstratives, e.g. "there is a man here."

Additional examples:

سُعَاْدُ هِيَ أُخْتُ يَاْسَمِيْنَ

su"aad(u) hiy(a) 'ukht(u) yaasameen(a)

= Su'ad she (is) (the) sister (of) Jasmine

Translation: Su'ad is Jasmine's sister

Both سُعَاْدُ  andيَاْسَمِيْنَ   are "forbidden to Noonation," hence the irregular case-signs. hiy(a) was used to disambiguate from "Su'ad, Jasmine's sister, ..." but clearly it was not a must here because there was nothing after the clause أُخْتُ يَاْسَمِيْنَ . So one can say that the employment of the separation pronoun was optional in this case.


الرَّبَاْطُ هِيَ عَاْصِمَةُ الْمَغْرِبِ

'ar-rabaat(u) hiy(a) "aasima(tu) ('a)l-marrib(i)

= Rabat she (is) (the) capital (of) Morocco

Translation: Rabat is the capital of Morocco

hiy(a) was used to disambiguate from "Rabat, the capital of Morocco, ..."

Again, the use of the separation pronoun was optional here.



2. Between verbs and coordinators

The pronouns of separation are often used between verbs and coordinator conjunctions.


ذَهَبَ وَمُحَمَّدًا

thahab(a) wa-muhammada(n)

= (he) went with Muhammad

Translation: he went with Muhammad

In this sentence, the verb was not followed by a subject pronoun; so the coordinator wa- = "and" would not have made any sense here. This is why the noun after the coordinator was put in the accusative (nasb) case to indicate that the wa- = "and" in this sentence means "with." This is a general rule.

ذَهَبَ هُوَ وَمُحَمَّدٌ

thahab(a) huw(a) wa-muhammad(un)

= went he and Muhammad

Translation: he and Muhammad went

Here, the separate subject pronoun allowed the coordinator wa- to have the meaning of "and," and the noun after the coordinator was in the nominative case again.

However, it is still possible for wa- to mean "with" in this sentence, we have just to change the case, as in the following sentence:

ذَهَبَ هُوَ وَمُحَمَّدًا

thahab(a) huw(a) wa-muhammada(n)

= went he with Muhammad

Translation: he went with Muhammad

So it all depends on the case-sign.


اِذْهَبُوْا وَأَخَاْكُمْ

'ithhaboo wa-'akhaa-kum

= (you) go with (the) brother (of) you

Translation: go with your brother

أَخَاْ is one of the "Six Nouns," so it takes irregular case-signs.

اِذْهَبُوْا أَنْتُمْ وَأَخُوْكُمْ

'ithhaboo 'antum wa-'akhoo-kum

= go you and (the) brother (of) you

Translation: go you and your brother


اِذْهَبُوْا أَنْتُمْ وَأَخَاْكُمْ

'ithhaboo 'antum wa-'akhaa-kum

= go you with (the) brother (of) you

Translation: go with your brother



3. For emphasis

Anywhere other than in the two situations mentioned above, the pronouns of separation can be used; but there they will not be used for disambiguation but rather for emphasizing the subject, or the object.


كَاْنَ هُنَاْ

kaan(a) hunaa

= (he) was here

Translation: he was here


هُوَ كَاْنَ هُنَاْ

huw(a) kaan(a) hunaa

= he was here

Translation: HE was here


يَعْرِفُوْنَ الْجَوَاْبَ

ya"rifoon(a) ('a)l-jawaab(a)

= (they) know the answer

Translation: they know the answer


هُمْ يَعْرِفُوْنَ الْجَوَاْبَ

hum ya"rifoon(a) ('a)l-jawaab(a)

= they know the answer

Translation: THEY know the answer




= (you) get up

Translation: get up


قُمْ أَنْتَ

qum 'ant(a)

= get up you

Translation: YOU get up!



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