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The Nun for emphasis – how does it work in Arabic?

The letter Nun can be used to convey emphasis (energetic). There is a “light” and a “strong” form. Here is how it works.

Last updated: May 2, 2021

You can use the نُون التَّوْكِيد (emphasis with the letter ن – also called energetic mood) with the present tense (الْمُضارِع) and the imperative (أَمْر) – but you cannot use it with the past (الْماضِي).

Here is how it works.

The light نن خَفِيفة ساكِنة

It is formed by adding a ن with a سُكُون

Obey your parents!أَطْيَعَنْ والِدَّيْكَ!
The strong/heavy نن ثَقِيلة

This form is more common. Here is how you build it:

  1. Delete the ضمّة on the verb (marker for present tense) or delete the final ن if the verb-form belongs to the so called الْأفْعال الْخَمْسة (“five verbs”)
  2. Add a fatha (فَتْحة) on the last letter
  3. Finally, add نَّ → Note: do the same for the imperative
Do you (really) help your friend?هَلْ تُساعِدَنَّ زَمِيلَكَ؟

Did you know? There are many ways to emphasize in Arabic. You could use the letter ب or the word من or use separate pronouns.


In case you want to dive deeper into the grammar ocean…

Picture credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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