What is shadda?

What is shadda?

What is shadda? shadda شَدَّة is a diacritical mark that is indicated by the mark ( ـّ ). It means the doubling of a consonant. In other words, the consonant over which the shadda is placed is to be sounded/uttered twice without inserting a short vowel (i.e.  fatha  ـَ , kasra  ـِ , or dhamma  ـُ , in between. So, instead of writing the same consonant twice, it is written only once, placing the shadda ( ـّ ) over it indicates that it is comprised of two consonants.

shadda in Arabic(1) shadda ( ـّ ) of identical letters (consonants)

  سُكْكَر ← سُكَّر sugar

  تُفْفَاحَة ← تُفَّاحَة an apple

  خَرْرَج ← خَرَّج he made sb/sth go out

  كَلْلَم ← كَلَّم he spoke to

  سَيْيِد ← سَيِّد lord, mister / Mr

  نَزْزِل ← نَزِّل he brought down

  تَبَخْخُر ← تَبَخُّر evaporation

  تَفَكْكُر ← تَفَكُّر contemplation

  سَكَتْتُ ← سَكَتُّ I kept quite

  فَنْنًا ← فَنًّا an art

  سِرْرٌ ← سِرٌّ a secret

  عَدُوْوٌ ← عَدُوٌّ an enemy

(a)   In these words, each consonant that has a shadda ( ـّ ) over is comprised of two identical consonants. You can see these consonants in the (decomposed) words before the arrow.

(b)   The two consonants are basically assimilated (i.e. blended) into one. For this assimilation to happen, the first consonant must have a sukuun ( ـْ ) over it, while the second consonant must have a short vowel or a tanween, that is ( ـً ), ( ـٍ ) , ( ـٌ ), above it.

(c)   The shadda ( ـّ ) gets the short vowel, i.e. ( ـَ ), ( ـِ ), ( ـُ), or the tanween, i.e. ( ـً ), ( ـٍ ), ( ـٌ) of the second consonant.

(d)   The shadda ( ـّ ) must be preceded by a consonant that has a short vowel over it, as you can see in the list.

(e)   This is a word-level shadda ( ـّ ). That is, it occurs at the level of words.

  لَمْ يَخْرُجْ جَـمَال ← لَمْ يَخْرُجْ جَّمَال Jamal didn't go out

  اُكْتُـبْ بِالْقَلَم ← اُكْتُبْ بِّالْقَلَم write with the pen

  اِسْمَــعْ عَـلِي ← اِسْمَعْ عَّلِي listen to Ali

  كُلْ لَوْز ← كُلْ لَّوْز eat almonds

  لَنْ نَذْهَب ← لَنْ نَّذْهَب we will not go

  قُلْ لَهُم ← قُلْ لَّهُم tell them

  مَنْ رَسَبَ؟ مَنْ رَّسَبَ who failed

(a)   In these phrases/sentences, the last letter of the first word (in orange) is identical to the first letter of the second word (in orange). The first one is saakin (i.e. has a sukuun ( ـْ ) over it), while the second is mutaharik (i.e., has a short vowel over it).

(b)   When spoken, the two sounds/letters become one doubled sound. So, the second letter gets a shadda ( ـّ ), while the first letter is not pronounced. It is still written, however.

(c)   This is a phrase-level shadda ( ـّ ); it occurs a the level of phrases.

(2) shadda of ال and the sun letters (consonants):

  التْتَمر ← التَّمْر the dates - fruit

  الثْثُوم ← الثُّوم the garlic

  الدْدَار ← الدَّار the house

  الذْذُعْر ← الذُّعْر panic

  الرْرَب ← الرَّب the Lord / God

  الزْزَهْرَة ← الزَّهْرَة the flower

  السْسَاعَة ← السَّاعَة the watch / clock

  الشْسَمْس ← الشَّمْس the sun

  الصْصِدْق ← الصِّدْق the truth

  الضْضَحِك ← الضَّحِك the laughter

  الطْطَبْخ ← الطَّبْخ the cooking

  الظْظُلْم ← الظُّلْم the injustice

  اللْلَيْل ← اللَّيْل the nighttime

  النْنَهَار ← النَّهَار the daytime

(a)   The letters ت, ث, د, ذ, ر, ز, س, ش, ص, ض, ط, ظ, ل, and ن are the sun letters (also called solar letters). They are named after the word شَمْس which begin with one of them, that is the ش. The remaining letters of the Arabic alphabet are the moon letters.

(b)   These letters are grouped together because of a pronunciation phenomenon in Arabic, that is assimilation with the definite article الْ. In particular, the assimilation of the لْ to these letters.

(c)    This assimilation happens because these letters (more accurately, consonant sounds) are near to the ل when we produced them in our mouth. That is, there is a slight pause in moving from the ل to these letters when consecutive. The ل, as a result, is assimilated to the following letter forming an identical letter, hence two consecutive identical letters.

(d)   The first letter has a sukuun ( ـْ ) over it, and the second letter has a short vowel over it (fatha ( ـَ ) , kasra ( ـِ ) , Dhamma ( ـُ )). So, they become one, and a shadda ( ـّ ) is added to indicate the doubling.

(f)    This is a word-level shadda ( ـّ ).

(3) shadda of phonetically similar / adjacent consonants:

  قَدْ تَنَام ← قَد تَّنَام you may sleep

  قَدْ تُقْتَل ← قَد تُّقْتَل you may be killed

  قَدْ تَكَلَّم ← قَد تَّكَلَّم he has spoken

  هَلْ رَأَيْت؟ ← هَل رَّأَيْت did you see

  هَلْ رَجِعَ؟ ← هَل رَّجِعَ did he come back

  بَلْ رَبِيْع ← بَل رَّبِيْع rather it is Rabe'e

(a)   In these two-word phrases, if we examine the last letter of first word and first letter of the second word, we can see that they are phonetically near each other when produced in the mouth.

(b)   The first one has a sukuun ( ـْ ) over it, and the second has a short vowel. In pronouncing them, they become one. This is indicated by the shadda ( ـّ ) on the second letter.

(c)   In writing, however, they are still written separately, in two separate words.

  أَنْ يَسْمَعَ ← أَن يَّسْمَع to listen

  أَنْ يَنْظُر ← أَن يَّنْظُر to look

  مِنْ رُوْسِيا ← مِن رُّوسِيا from Russia

  عَنْ رَحْمَة ← عَن رَّحْمَة about Rahma

  مَنْ لَا ← مَن لَّا who doesn't

  مَنْ لَكِ ← مَن لَّكِ who will take care of you

  مَنْ مَعِي ← مَن مَّعِي who is with me

  عَنْ مَاذَا ← عَن مَّاذا about what

  مِنْ وَاحِد ← مِن وَّاحِد from one

  عَنْ وَلَدٍ ← عَن وَّلَدٍ about a boy

(a)   In these phrases, the first word is a preposition (i.e. عَنْ and مِنْ) / particle (i.e. أَنْ) that ends in ن which has a sukuun ( ـْ ) over it (this is called the ن saakina). The second word in these phrases begin with ي, ر, ل, م, or و.

(b)   The ن saakina assimilates to the following letter changing it into a doubled sound. This is indicated by shadda ( ـّ ) on the first letter of the second word (i.e. ي, ر, ل, م, and و). Hence, the ن is written but not pronounced.

(c)   Note that the particle أَنْ is followed by a (present) verb, while the prepositions مِنْ and عَنْ are followed a noun or a prepositional phrase (e.g. لَكِ and مَعِي).

  رَجُلٌ رَحِيْم ← رَجُل رَّحِيْم a merciful man

  خَيْرٌ وَفِيْرٌ ← خَيْرُ وَّفِيْرٌ abundant of good

  شَرَابٍ لّذِيْذ ← شَراب لَّذِيْذ delicious drink

  تَمْرٍ يَابِس ← تَمْر يَّابِس dried dates - fruit

  وَلَدًا وَسِيْمًا ← وَلَد وَّسِيْمًا a handsome boy

  صَوْتٍ مُرْعِب ← صَوْت مُّرْعِب a frightening voice

(a)   The first word in these phrases ends in a tanween—that is ( ـً ), ( ـٍ ), and ( ـٌ )—pronounced as an, in, un, respectively. The tanween, therefore, ends in a ن that is saakina.

(b)   The ن saakina of the tanween assimilates to the first letter of the following word resulting in a doubled consonant. The doubling of the sound is indicated by a shadda and the short vowel of letter to which the ن saakina assimilates.

  عَنْ مَا ← عَمَّا about what

  مِنْ مَا ← مِمَّا from what

  أَنْ لاأَلَّا in order not to

مِنْ مَنْ ← مِمَّن from whom

  عَنْ مَنْ ← عَمَّن about whom

  إِنْ لَاإِلَّا except

  إِنْ مَا ← إِمَّا if, either 

(a)   These words are two-word particles. The first particle ends in ن saakina; the second particle begins in م or ل.

(b)   The ن saakina assimilates to the ل or م resulting in doubled ل or م. This doubling is indicated by the shadda and the short vowel of the ل / م.

(c)   Since this kind of assimilation takes place at the level of particles (i.e. very short words), the ن of the first particle is completed left out, and the two particles become one, that is عَمَّا, مِمَّا, أَلَّا … etc.

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