A HOME FOR ANYONE ADDICTED TO ARABIC. 
JOIN ARABIC FOR NERDS➕

Support this site with a membership: For only $2.99 a month or $29.99 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.

SUPPORT THIS SITE

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

Buy Me A Coffee

PayPal Donate
amazon wishlist button
Free monthly newsletter

Subscribe to my FREE newsletter and get 10% off in my store!

Boy and Girl Cutout Decals

What gender should you use for Arabic grammar terms?

In Arabic, do you say مبنيّ or مبنيّة for “indeclinable”? Well, you can use both: masculine or feminine. Here is why.

Last updated: 12 months ago

When you read , you get the impression that there are no rules for the correct of grammar terms. Let's take the Arabic term for . Some authors choose the mas­culine form (مَبْنِيٌّ), others the feminine (مَبْنِيّةٌ). So, what is correct?

Both are correct.

Both forms are actually used as adjectives (نعت) – but for two different words which are not there, but understood anyway. What are these hidden words? Both are Arabic terms for word. Arabic has sev­eral words for word:لَفْظٌ, كَلِمةٌ or لُغةٌ.

Now we are getting closer to the answer.

Grammar terms like inde­clinable (word) are regarded as…

  • Masculine – when they implicitly refer to the word لَفْظٌ.
  • Feminine – when they relate to the gender of كَلِمْةٌ or لُغةٌ.

مَبْنِيٌّ is used to further describe these words. It is an , and adjectives need to be in grammatical agreement with the word to which they relate. Thus, it is a matter of taste whether the au­thor had لَفْظٌ مَبْنِيٌّ or كَلِمةٌ مَبْنِيّةٌ in mind. So, you can use either form.

Excursus: What does مَبْنِيٌّ mean in Arabic grammar?

When you see a particle (حَرْفٌ) – for example, a prepo­sition (حَرْفُ الْجَرِّ) –, you can be sure that it will stay the same and never change its form/shape, no matter what the position in the sentence is.

Such words are called مَبْنِيٌّ which means set up, fixed, structured; in linguistics: inde­clinable. Basically, they have a cemented shape. You never have to think about which vowel you should put at the end.

What about other grammar terms?

  • Grammar terms which relate to اسْمٌ‎: They are usually mas­culine. For example, adjectives take the gender of اِسْمٌ which is the masculine form. For example: indeclinable noun (اِسْمٌ مَبْنِيٌّ).
  • Grammar terms relating to a particle (حَرْفٌ): They are usually masculine. However, they may also be femi­nine because the author might relate to أَداةٌ (tool; instrument) and not to the masculine حَرْفٌ.
  • The verb كانَ (to be) seems by common consent to be taken as feminine, e.g., كانَ النّاقِصةُ (defective “to be”) or كانَ التّامّةُ (com­plete verb “to be”). Note that mere words like كانَ are treated as proper names and do not take the article.
  • What about the letters of the alphabet? They can have both gen­ders, but are usually treated as feminine.

Just in case you are not familiar with the terms اِسْمٌ and حَرْفٌ:

A noun (اِسْمٌ) is defined as a word that denotes a complete mean­ing by itself, having no reference to past or present tense. Com­plete here means that the word can be un­derstood indepen­dently and with­out reference to anything else.

The اِسْمٌ is equiva­lent to the noun in Eng­lish, but it is much wider in scope. The term اِسْمٌ in­cludes all pro­nouns, the in­finitive (مَصْدَرٌ), ad­jectives, partici­ples, and some adverbs.

A particle (حَرْف) doesn't convey any com­plete mean­ing until an­other word is added to it. Most common example: prepositions like في.

A حَرْفٌ is never influenced by other words. We say that a حَرْفٌ does not have a place in the analysis (لا مَحَلَّ لَهُ مِن الْإِعْرابِ). A حَرْفٌ doesn't take different jobs or functions in a sentence. It cannot serve as a direct ob­ject (مَفْعُولٌ بِهِ), circumstantial description (حالٌ), etc. A حَرْفٌ is often what we call a preposition.

The Arabs call a preposi­tion حَرْفُ الْجَرِّ which means particle of drag­ging, in the meaning of subordination.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Previous Article
unordered, chaos, computational thinking

"He gives it to me" - How to add two pronoun suffixes in Arabic

Next Article
Arabic dictionary

How good is your Arabic? A quiz

Related Posts