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Arabic Sentences (continued)


Verbal Sentences

 A verbal sentence  الْجُمْلَةُ الْفِعْلِيَّةُis a sentence that starts with the verb and the subject follows. The subject can be a noun, a pronoun, a demonstrative, or a relative clause.

The defining property of a verbal sentence is that the verb precedes the subject. There are more than one possibility for verbal sentences in the presence of an object, an adverb, a prepositional phrase, etc.

The standard usual structure is:

Standard Structure of Verbal Sentences





the boy

his book



the boy




the boy

in the library

Prepositional Phrase


 The other possible structures for verbal sentences are more rare:

Alternative Structure For Nominal Sentences




in the library


the boy


Alternative Structure For Nominal Sentences





in the library


the boy

his book


Alternative Structure For Nominal Sentences





in the library

the boy


The main point is that the verb always precedes the subject in verbal sentences.


Subjects of Verbal Sentences

Subjects in verbal sentences may not be always showing up. There can be apparent, attached, and hiding subjects in verbal sentences.


I. Apparent Singular Subjects


Verb - Subject - Object

يَقْرَأُ الْوَلَدُ كِتَاْبَهُ

yaqra'(u) ('a)l-walad(u) kitaaba-h(u)

= read the boy (the) book (of) him

Translation: the boy reads his book


Compare this sentence with its nominal alternative, in which the subject is the stressed element:

Subject - Verb - Object

الْوَلَدُ يَقْرَأُ كِتَاْبَهُ

'al-walad(u) yaqra'(u) kitaaba-h(u)

= the boy reads (the) book (of) him

Translation: THE BOY reads his book


More examples on verbal sentences:


Verb - Subject - Adverb

كَاْنَتِ الْسَّمَاْءُ صَاْفِيَةً

kaanat(i) ('a)s-samaa'(u) saafiya(tan)

= was/existed the sky clearly

Translation: the sky was clear

*The verb be in Arabic requires an adverb after it rather than an adjective like in English. This is only true when the verb appears but not when it is not apparent (i.e. in the present tense). Such verbs are called in Arabic the incomplete verbs الأَفْعالُ النَّاْقِصَةُ .


Verb - Subject - Adverb

كَاْنَ هَذَاْ يَوْمًا عَصِيْبًا

kaan(a) haathaa yawma(n) "aseeba(n)

 = was this a day a hard

Translation: this was a hard day



Verb - Subject - Adverb

سَيَكُوْنُ مُحَمَّدٌ هُنَاْ غَدًا

sa-yakoon(u) muhammad(un) hunaa rada(n)

= will be Muhammad here tomorrow

Translation: Muhammad will be here tomorrow



Verb - Attached Object - Subject

يَسُرُّنِيْ أَنَّكَ هُنَاْ

yasurru-nee 'anna-k(a) hunaa

= please me that you (are) here

Translation: I am glad that you are here


We mentioned that sentences which begin with an indefinite word, such as "a man is here" are not usually used in Arabic and that the demonstrative "there" would be usually used for such sentences.

Example, a nominal sentence:

هُنَاْكَ رَجُلٌ بِالْبَاْبِ

hunaak(a) rajul(un) bi-l-baab(i)

= there (is) a man by the door

Translation: there is a man at the door


If we wanted to change this sentence to the past tense, we can NOT say "there was a man at the door." To change the tense of sentences which begin in demonstratives in this manner from the present to the past, a verbal sentence is usually used.


كَاْنَ هُنَاْكَ رَجُلٌ بِالْبَاْبِ

kaan(a) hunaak(a) rajul(un) bi-l-baab(i)

 = was there a man by the door

Translation: there was a man at the door


كَاْنَ ثَمَّةَ أَحَدٌ مَاْ

kaan(a) thammat(a) 'ahad(un) maa

= was there one-some

Translation: someone was there


The same thing about these sentences is true for the future tense. To change the tense of these sentences to the future, a verbal sentence is usually used. Sentences of the type "there will be" are NOT the usual way of doing it.


سَيَكُوْنُ هُنَاْكَ الْكَثِيْرُ مِنَ المَدْعُوِّيْنَ

sa-yakoon(u) hunaak(a) ('a)l-katheer(u) min(a) ('a)l-mad"uwween(a)

 = will be there many of the invited

Translation: there will be many guests


سَيَكُوْنُ ثَمَّةَ كَاْرِثَةٌ

sa-yakoon(u) thammat(a) kaarithat(un)

= will be there a disaster

Translation: there will be a disaster




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