A HOME FOR ANYONE ADDICTED TO ARABIC.

JOIN ARABIC FOR NERDS➕

Support this site with a membership: For only $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year, you can have a true AD-FREE experience. You also get a 15% discount in my shop and a monthly premium newsletter. Find out more here.

Help this site

Passion doesn't need money. Unfortunately, my web provider does. Your contribution ensures that this site will grow and grow.

Donate with PayPal


Buy Me A Coffee

Donate

protection

كَتَبُوا – what is the function of the Aleph here?

The Aleph at the end of third-person plural verbs is there for protection.

Have you ever thought why we spell كَتَبُوا (they wrote) with an Aleph at the end?

When a conjugated verb has a و at the end, and when this و is preceded by ضَمّةٌ or by فَتْحةٌ, then the ا is often used (and written), particularly in the plural of verbs.

Let’s see some examples:

they (m.) remindedذَكَّرُوا
they (m.) sawرَأَوْا
they (m.) wroteكَتَبُوا
they (m.) visitedزارُوا

This Aleph, in itself superfluous (Aleph otiosum), is in­tended to guard the و. The Aleph protects it against the possibility that the و could be separated from the body of the word to which it belongs – and thus could be mistaken for the word and (i.e., the conjunction وَ).

For this reason, this Aleph is called أَلِفُ الْوِقايةِ, the guarding Aleph, or الْأَلِفُ الْفاصِلةُ, the separating Aleph.

Note that there are other explanations as well, but most of them share the idea of guarding and protecting the و from being mistaken for other letters or from being absorbed.


Excursus: In which position will you never find an Aleph?

The Aleph can never stand at the beginning of an utterance.

The Aleph (ا) is a sound of prolongation after فَتْحةٌ (=“a”) and can’t carry any vowel – which makes it different to و and ي since they are capa­ble of that. The Aleph, although mostly unwritten, al­ways has a سُكُونٌ on it (اْ). In Arabic, you can only start an utter­ance if the first let­ter has a vowel on it. Thus, you can’t start a sen­tence with an Aleph.

Any thoughts or ideas about this? Leave a comment!

Previous Article
thinking

What does the vowel on the second root letter of an Arabic verb tell us?

Do you like this article?

If you can afford it, any contribution is highly appreciated. Your support will help to keep this site growing.

You can also become a member of Arabic for Nerds+ and enjoy this website AD-FREE.

Thank you very much !
Related Posts
black friday

Black Friday Week

Get 15% off in the Arabic for Nerds shop with this coupon code: blackfriday21