Pronouns in Arabic can be separate, attached, or implied (i.e. not overt). In Arabic, the separate pronouns are the subject pronouns that are found in most world languages in addition to the dual and feminine forms. The attached pronouns are suffixed to nouns, prepositions, adverbs, particles, and verbs, while the implied pronouns are commonly inferred from the structure of the verb. For every separate pronoun, there is a corresponding attached pronoun. Their grammatical function in the sentence vary according to what they are attached to.
When attached pronouns are suffixed to common nouns, they are more like the English possessive / adjective pronouns. For example, in the words كِتَابِي, كِتَابُكَ, كِتَابُهُ, and كِتَابُهُم, the pronominal suffixes ـي, ـكَ, ـهُ, and ـهُم mean my, your, his, and their, respectively. If they are attached to prepositions or adverbs, they function as objects of these prepositions / adverbs. Take the words مَعَنَا “with us” and إِلَيْكُم “to you”. The pronominal suffixes ـنَا and ـكُم are the object of the prepositions, just like their English counterparts.
With verbs, the attached pronouns function as a subject or an object. For instance, in كَتَبْتُ “I wrote”, سَمِعْنَ “they (fem.) heard,” and ضَرَبَا “they both beat”, the pronominal suffixes ـتُ, ـنَ, and ـا (i.e. I, they (fem.), and they both, respectively) are the subjects of the verbs they are attached to. Similarly, in كَتَبْتُهُ “I wrote it”, سَمِعْنَنَا “they (fem) heard us”, and ضَرَبَاه “they beat him,” the pronominal suffixes, ـهُ, ـنَا, and هُ are the object of the verbs, hence I wrote it; they (fem.) heard us; and they (both) beat him, respectively.
As for particles, the function of the attached pronoun varies according to the type of particle. For an illustration, if a pronoun is attached to إِنَّ or any of its sisters (i.e. أَنَّ, لَكِنَّ, لَيْتَ, and لَعَلَّ), it functions as a topic مُبْتَدَأ. These particles are used with nominal sentences (i.e. topic مُبْتَدَأ + predicate خَبَر). Normally, topics which are separate pronouns are changed into their corresponding attached pronouns when إِنَّ or of its sisters is added to the start of the nominal sentence.
In this e-book, you will find tables of the attached pronouns with examples. We hope that our presentation of these essential lexical items makes your Arabic learning easier and speedier.