What is Tanween?

What is Tanween?

What is tanween in Arabic?  The English word for tanween is ‘nunation.’ Only nouns get nunation, but not all nouns. Certain nouns, all types of pronouns, which are classified as nouns in Arabic, verbs, and particles do not get nunation. Generally, nunation is used to distinguish nouns from other parts of speech and to indicate that the noun with which it is used is indefinite. If we define the noun, the nunation is removed and replaced by the corresponding short vowel, [faHah, DHammah, or kasrah].

tanween التَّنْوِيْن

Tanween التَّنْوِيْن

Types of Tanween:

For each short vowel in Arabic, there is a corresponding tanween mark. So, for [DHammah] it is [tanween al-DHammah] marked by two [DHammahs], for [fatHah] it is [tanween al-fatHah] marked by two [fatHahs], and for [kasrah] it is [tanween al-kasrah] marked by two [kasrahs].












ءً / ءًا






















With [tanween al-fatHah], an [alif] is always added after the [tanween], except with ـة and certain types of [hamzah].

Tanween Assignment:

Tanween is always added to the end of the indefinite noun. The position of this noun in the sentence determines the type of tanween to add. If the indefinite noun is a subject فَاعِل , a topic مُبْتَدَأ, or a predicate خَبَر, it gets [taween al-DHammah]. If the indefinite noun is an object مَفْعُول, it gets [tanween al-fatH ah]. And if it is after a preposition, it gets [tanween al-kasrah].

Tanween al-DHammah

(a) Tanween al-DHammah at the end of the indefinite noun means that this noun is مَرْفُوع ‘in the nominative case’.

(b) In (1) and (4), the indefinite nouns are خَبَر.

(c) In (3) and (6), the indefinite nouns are مُبْتَدَأ. Note that when the مُبْتَدَأ is indefinite نَكِرَة, it occurs after the خَبَر.

(d) In (2) and (5), the indefinite nouns are فَاعِل.

(1) هَذَا مِفْتَاحٌ. This is a key

(2) خَرَجَتْ بِنْتٌ مِنَ الغُرْفَةِ. A girl came out of the room

(3) فِي المَدِيْنَةِ مَلْعَبٌ. There is a stadium in the city

(4) السَّيَّارَةُ جَدِيْدَةٌ. The car is new

(5) نَبَحَ كَلْبٌ. A dog barked

(6) أَمَامَ البَيْتُ دُكَّانٌ. There’s a shop in front of the house

Tanween al-fatHah

(a) Tanween al-fatHah at the end of the indefinite noun means that this noun is مَنْصُوب ‘in the accusative case’.

(b) Since they represent the receiver of the action, each noun in these examples is مَفْعُول. Note that there are other positions in which the noun is مَنْصُوب. This will be explained in future lessons.

(c) جَدِيْدةً and جَدِيْدًا in (3) and (5) are adjectives, and they follow the preceding noun in gender and tanween (i.e. case).

(1) وَجَدْتُ مُفْتَاحًا فِي الشَّارِع. I found a key in the street

(2) رَأَيْتُ بِنْتًا فِي الحَدِيْقَة. I saw a girl in the garden

(3) اِشْتَرَى أَبِي سَيَّارَةً جَدِيْدَةً. My father bought a new car

(4) قَتَلَ الصَّيَّاد أَسَدًا. The hunter killed a lion

(5) فَتَحَ التَّاجِر دُكَانًا جَدِيْدًا. The businessman opened a new shop.

Tanween al-kasrah

(a) Tanween al-kasrah at the end of the indefinite noun means that this noun is مَجْرُور ‘in the genitive case’.

(b) Since preceded by a preposition, every noun in these examples is مَجْرُور.

(c) in (3), جَدِيْدٍ follow the noun in gender and tanween (i.e. case).

(1) يَأكُلُ الطِّفْل بِـمِلْعَقَةٍ. The child eats with a spoon

(2) أَسْكُنُ فِي بَيْتٍ صَغِيْرٍ. I live in a small house

(3) كَتَبْتُ بَـقَلَمٍ جَدِيْدٍ. I wrote with a new pen

(4) يَبْحَتُ الطَّالِبُ عَنْ عَمَلٍ. The student is looking for a job

(5) نَامَ المُسَافِر تَحْتَ شَجِرَةٍ. The traveler slept under a tree.

Replacing Tanween with Short Vowels:

Tanween at the end of indefinite nouns changes to its corresponding short vowel if these nouns are made definite. This indicates that tanween is a marker for indefiniteness عَلَامَة التَّنْكِير.

اِسْم مَعْرِفَة definite noun

اِسْم نَكِرَة indefinite noun

(a) With the definite nouns, short vowels replace the tanween.

(b) The indefinite nouns are made definite by adding the definite article ال to the beginning, or by attaching a possessive pronoun, as in (6).

(c) Not that in (4), when the indefinite مُبْتَدَأ is made definite, it must be place at the start of the sentence

رَأَيْتُ البِنْتَ فِي الحَدِيْقَةِ.

هَذَا المِفْتَاحُ لِمُحَمَّد.

نَامَ المُسَافِر تَحِتَ الشَّجَرَةِ.

الدُّكَّانُ أَمَامَ البَيْتِ.

يَأَكُلُ الطِّفْل بِــالمِلْعَقةِ.

وَجَدْتُ مِفْتَاحَهَا فِي الشَّارِع.

(1) رَأَيْتُ بِنْتًا فِي الحَدِيْقَة

(2) هَذَا مِفْتَاحٌ.

(3) نَامَ المُسَافِر تَحْتَ شَجِرَةٍ.

(4) أَمَامُ البَيْتِ دُكَّانٌ.

(5) يَأَكُل الطِّفْل بِـمِلْعَقَةٍ.

(6) وَجَدْتُ مِفْتَاحًا فِي الشَّارِع.

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