What is Alif al-Wasl?

What is Alif al-Wasl?

What is alif al-wasl? The word [wasl] means ‘connection’. So, [alif al-wasl] أَلِف الوَصْل is ‘connective alif.’ It connects the word in which it occurs with the preceding word so that speech sounds natural and connected. It always occurs at the beginning of certain verbs, certain nouns, and the definite article ال.

[alif al-wasl] is not part of the root word but an addition. Since the root word begins with a [sukuun], the connective [alif] makes its pronunciation easy. [alif al-wasl] is pronounced at the beginning of the sentence but not within it.

what is alif al-wasl

[alif al-wasl] occurs at the beginning of imperative triliteral verbs and at start of perfective and imperative five- and six-letter verbs. Also, it occurs at the beginning of verbal nouns that are derived from the five- and six-letter verbs. The [alif] of the definite article ال is always [alif al-wasl].

Verbs with [alif al-wasl]:

 الفِعْل الثُلاثِي Triliteral Verb

مُضَارِع  Imperfective —  أَمْر Imperative

مَاضِي Perfective

(a) The imperative الفَعْل الأَمْر is derived from the imperfective المُضَارِع by dropping the يَـ.

(b) The remainder verb after dropping the يَـ starts with [sukuun] (see between brackets), so [alif al-wasl] is added.

(c) The short vowel over/below [alif al-wasl] is either [DHammah] or [kasrah].

(d) If the second letter of the root verb in the imperfective المُضَارِع has [DHammah], [alif al-wasl] must also have [DHammah], as in (3), (4), and (6). If it does not have [DHammah], the short vowel with [alif al-wasl] is always [kasrah].

يَفْهَم – (فْهَم) – اِفْهَمْ  

يَشْرَب – (شْرَب) – اِشْرَبْ

يَكْتُب – (كْتُب) – اُكْتُبْ

يَخْرُج – (خْرُج) – اُخْرُجْ

يَلْعَب – (لْعَب) – اِلْعَبْ

يَدْخُل – (دْخُل) – اُدْخُلْ

(1) فَهِمَ understood

(2) شَرِبَ drank

(3) كَتَبَ wrote

(4) خَرَجَ went out

(5) لَعِبَ played

(6) دَخَلَ came in

الفِعْل الخُمَاسِي والسُّدَاسِي Five- and Six-letter Verbs

مُضَارِع imperfective — أَمْر Imperative

مَاضِي Perfective

(a) Like with the triliteral, the imperative verb الفِعْل الأَمْر here is derived from the imperfective المُضَارِع by dropping the يـَ and adding [alif al-wasl].

(b) With five- and six-letter verbs, the short vowel with [alif al-wasl] is always [kasrah] both in the perfective and imperfective forms.

يَبْتَسِم – (بْتَسِم) – اِبْتَسِم ْ

يَجْتَمِع –(جْتَمِع) – اِجْتَمَعْ

يَبْتَكِر –(بْتَكِر) – اِبْتَكِرْ

يَسْتَمِع –(سْتَمِع) – اِسْتَمِعْ

يَسْتَفْهِم – (سْتَفْهِم) – اِسْتَفْهِمْ

يَسْتَقْبِل – (سْتَقْبِل) – اِسْتَقْبِلْ

(1) اِبْتَسَمَ smiled

(2) اِجْتَمَعَ met with

(3) اِبْتَكَرَ improvise

(4) اِسْتَمَعَ listened

(5) اِسْتَفْهَمَ inquired

(6) اِسْتَقْبَلَ received

Note that [alif al-wasl] أَلِف الوَصْل is also known as [hamzat al-wasl] هَمْزَة الوَصْل, so it is a type of [hamzah]. Different types of [hamzah] will be explained in a future lesson.

Nouns with [alif al-wasl]:

أَسْمَاء Nouns

(a) With these nouns, the [alif] is always [alif al-wasl], and no [hamzah] is required below the [alif].

(b) The short vowel with [alif al-wasl] in these nouns is always [kasrah].

اِبْن son

اِبْنَة daughter

اِسْم name / noun

اِثْنَان  two (male)

اِثْنَتَان two (female)

اِمْرَأَة woman

المَصْدَر الخُمَاسِي والسُّدَاسِي Five- and Six-letter Verbal Noun

(a) These are verbal nouns مَصْدَر derived from the five- and six-letter verbs above.

(b) [alif al-wasl] with these types of nouns is always accompanied by [kasrah]

اِبْتِسَام smiling

اِجْتِمَاع meeting

اِبْتِكَار improvising

اِسْتِمَاع listening

اِسْتِفْهَام inquiry

اِسْتِقْبَال reception

[alif al-wasl] with the Definite Article:

(a) The [alif] in the definite article ال is [alif al-wasl].

(b) The short vowel that accompanies [alif al-wasl] in ال is always [fatHah].

اَلْكِتَاب the book

اَلْسَّيْف the sword

اَلْلَعِب the playing

اَلْخَيْل the horse

اَلْقَلَم the pen

Pronunciation of [alif al-wasl]:

[alif al-wasl] is pronounced if the word in which it occurs is at the start of the sentence. If [alif al-wasl] is preceded by a word, it is not pronounced, but is still written.

[alif al-wasl] in these examples is pronounced because it occurs in words that are at the beginning of the sentence.

(1) اِسْمَعْ يَا وَلَد listen you boy

(2) اِبْن سَلْمَان حَضَر Salman’s son came

(3) اِسْتِخْدَام تِلْفُونَك مَمْنُوع using your phone is not allowed

(4) اَلْبَيْت كَبِيْر the house is big

[alif al-wasl] in these examples is not pronounced because it occurs in words that are preceded by another word, but it is still written.

(1) نَظِّفَ اَلْغُرْفَة وَاُكْتُبِ اَلْوَاجِب clean the room and write the homework.

(2) أَنَا وَاِبْن عَمِّي فِي اَلْجَامَعة I and my cousin are in the university

(3) كَتَبْتُ بَـاَلْقَلَم I wrote with the pen

If [alif al-wasl] is preceded by the preposition لِـ, which means ‘for’, it is omitted, i.e. it is neither pronounced nor written. In other words, whenever we prefix لِـ to a word that begins with ال, [alif al-wasl] is left out.

(1) لِـ  + اَلْأُسْتَاذ = لِلْأُسْتَاذ for the teacher

(2) لِـ + اَلْمَرِيْض = لِلْمَرِيْض for the patient

(3) لِـ + اَلْوَلَد = لِلْوَلَد for the boy

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