The Basic Arabic Nominal Sentence

The Basic Arabic Nominal Sentence

The basic Arabic nominal sentence is الْجُمْلَةُ الْاِسْمِيَّةُ الْبَسِيطَة. It starts with a noun, such as البَيْت ‘the house’, الرَّجُل ‘the man’, الجَامِعَة ‘the university’, كِتَابِي ‘my book’ صَدِيْقُهُ ‘his friend’ and so forth. This noun is almost always definite مَعْرِفَة, as in the table of examples. There are cases in which it can be indefinite. In these cases, the order of the subject/topic الْمُبْتَدَأ and the predicate الْخَبَر must change. 

The Basic Nominal Sentence in Arabic

What is the definite noun in Arabic? The definite noun in Arabic is the noun that starts with the definite article ال ‘the’, such as الْبَيْتُ 'the house', الْكِتَابُ 'the book', and الْجَامِعَةُ 'the university'; the noun that is followed by an attached possessive pronoun, such as بَيْتُهُ 'his house', كِتَابِي 'my book', and جَامِعَتُنَا 'our university'; a proper noun (i.e. names of people / places) such as مُحَمَّد, سَارَة, and مِصْر ‘Egypt', or a genitive construction, such as كِتَابُ الْمُدَرِّسِ 'the teacher's book', مَكْتَبُ الْمُدِيرِ 'the manager's office', and بَابُ الْبَيْتِ 'the door of the house.' 

Definite Nouns:

   الْهَاتِف    the phone    السَّيْدَة    the lady    أَخِي    my brother    زَمِيلُهُ    his classmate
   الْجَو    the weather    شَنْطَتِي    my bag    التُّفَّاحَة    the apple    مَدِينَتُكُم    your city
   الْيَمَن    Yemen    مَدْرَسَتُنَا    our school    اللُّغَة    the language    الْمَطْعَم    the restaurant
   هَذَا    this (m)    الصُّورَة    the picture    هِيَ    she    خَطُّهَا    her handwriting
   أَنَا    I    هَذِهِ    this - f    تِلْكَ    that - f    الْبَاص    the bus
   قَلَمُ الْبِنْتِ   the girls pen    ذَيْلُ الْقِطِّ   the tail of the cat    سَيَّارَةُ سَامَ   Sam's car    كُرَةُ الْوَلَدِ   the boy's ball

In Arabic grammar, this noun is the subject or topic مُبْتَدَأ. In the simplest form of the nominal sentence, the topic مُبْتَدَأ is followed by either an indefinite noun, an indefinite adjective, or a prepositional phrase. The indefinite noun, adjective or the prepositional phrase is the predicate خَبَر. Hence, the nominal sentence الجُمْلَة الاِسْمِيَّة is composed of the topic الْمُبْتَدَأ and the predicate الْخَبَر.

Indefinite Nouns and Adjectives:

   طَالِب    a student    جَدِيد    new    مُهَنْدِس an engineer    كَبِير big
   جَمِيل    nice / beautiful    سَيَّارَة    a car    ذكِيّ    smart    مَطْعَم    a restaurant
   صَيْدَلِي   a pharmacist    حَار    hot    بَارِد    cold    شَاي    tea
   لَذِيذ    delicious    خَيْمَة    a tent    سَائِق    driver    صَعْب    difficult

A prepositional phrase شِبْهُ جُمْلَة  (literally means semi-sentence) is composed of a preposition حَرْفُ جَر, such as فِي ‘in’, مِنْ ‘from’, فَوْقَ ‘on’, and alike, followed by a definite noun. The whole phrase (i.e. the preposition and the noun) is the predicate الْخَبَر.

Prepositional Phrases:

   مِنَ اليَمَنِ    from Yemen    فِي البَيْتِ    in the house
   دَاخِلَ الغُرْفَةِ    inside the room    تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ    under the tree
   أَمَامَ السَّيَّارَةِ    in front of the car    خَلْفَ الَمَدْرَسَةِ    behind the school

To make a basic nominal sentence in Arabic, therefore, we simply start with a definite noun. According to the meaning that we intend to make, the definite is followed by an indefinite noun, an indefinite adjective, or a prepositional phrase, as in the following table: 

   جُمْلَة اِسْمِيَّة



   الْهَاتِفُ جَدِيْدٌ.   The phone is new    الْهَاتِفُ    جَدِيدٌ
   أَنَا مِنَ الْيَمَنِ.   I am from Yemen    أَنَأ    مِنَ الْيَمَنِ
   الرَّجُلُ مُهَنْدِسٌ.   The man is an engineer    الرَّجُلُ    مُهَنْدِسٌ
   مِصْرُ فِي أَفْرِيقِيَا.   Egypt is in Africa    مِصْرُ    فِي أَفْرِيْقِيَا
   السَّيَّارَةُ أَمَامَ البَيْتِ.   The car is in front of the house    السَّيَّارَةُ    أَمَامَ البَيْتَِ
   التُّفَّاحَةُ لَذِيذَةٌ.   The apple is delicious    التُّفَّاحَةُ    لَذِيذَةٌ
   هَذِهِ خَيْمَةٌ.   This is a tent    هَذِهِ    خَيْمَةٌ
   بَيْتُنَا خَلْفَ المَدْرَِسَةِ.   Our house is behind the school    بِيْتُنَا    خَلْفَ المَدْرَسَةِ
   هِيَ طَبِيْبَةٌ.   She is a physician    هِيَ    طَبِيْبَةٌ
   هُوَ طَالِبٌ.   He is a student    هُوََ    طَالِبٌ
   الْجَوُ جَمِيلٌ.   The weather is beautiful    الْجَوُ    جِمِيْلٌ
   صَدِيقُ سَامَ قَصِيرٌ.   Sam's friend is short    صَدِيقُ سَامَ    قَصِيرٌ

Using the list of words in this lesson and the previous lesson, try to write basic simple sentences. Then, try the following test, paying attention to both form and meaning of words.

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