Sentence Structure in the Arabic Language
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The Arabic language is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4thcenturies CE alongside the rise of Islam as a major world religion since it is the language used in the Holy Quran, the Holy Book of Islam. The Arabic language differs from English in many ways starting with the letters and ending with the sentence structure that can sometimes be difficult to understand to those who decide to pick up the Arabic language. This is why today we are going to take a lookat the sentence structure in Arabic language and give everyone a better understanding of how it works.
Types of Sentences
The first thing that you need to learn about the Arabic language is that there are two types of sentences, nominal and verbal. Now, let’s go through some examples:
الجملة الاسمية(al-jumla l-ismiyya) is a nominal sentence where the first word is a noun.
الولد مصري. (al-walad miSri) – The boy is Egyptian.
الجملة الفعلية(al-jumla l-fi3liyya) is a verbal sentence where the first word is a verb.ولد الولد في مصر.
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(wulida l-walad fi miSr) – The boy was born in Egypt.
The biggest difference when compared to English is that in the English language, the sentences are simplified according to whether or not they include a verb and the verb’s position in the sentence doesn’t matter. Let’s go ahead and check out what an equational sentence looks like.
Equational sentence (a sentence without a verb)
الولد مصري. (al-walad miSri) – The boy is Egyptian.
Even though the sentence might contain a verb in the English translation, the verb doesn’t exist in Arabic. The reason behind this is that in the Arabic language no one uses the present-tense form of “to be”. This is considered to be a verb-less sentence that contains only a noun and adjective. The “is” in the translation is understood.
في أاسرتي اثلاثة أفراد. (fi usrati talaatat afraad) – There are three people in my family.
Once again, the English translation of the sentence contains the verb “are”, but the verb doesn’t exist in the Arabic version of the sentence. Since the present-tense form of “to be” doesn’t exist in the Arabic language, the verb “are” in the sentence is understood and implies, just like in the example shown above.
The Parts of a Sentence
Now that we have checked the sentence structures in Arabic language, the next step is to take a closer look at the parts of these sentences, the subject and predicate, so that we can understand the Arabic language better.
Just like in all other languages, the subject is what the sentence is talking about. The subject can be a noun, pronoun or noun phrase.
The predicate is telling us something about the subject. In fact, the character “خبر” means a piece of news in Arabic language and we can think that way of predicates to understand them easier. Nonetheless, the predicate can be an adjective, verb or noun.
الولد مصري. (al-walad miSri)
The boy is Egyptian. – The subject is a noun, and the predicate is an adjective.
بنت عمي مدراسة. (bint 3ammi mudarrisa)
My cousin is a teacher. – The subject is a noun phrase (a genitive construction), and the predicate is a noun.
هو طويل. (howwa Tawiil)
He is tall. – The subject is a pronoun, and the predicate is an adjective.
خرجت منال مبكرا. (xarajat Manaal mubakkiran)
Manal went out early. – The subject is a (proper) noun, and the predicate is a verb paired with an adverb.
We want to mention that in sentences with a verb, in the standard Arabic language is usually following the Verb-Subject-Object order. However, the sentence can also sometimes use the Subject-Verb-Object order. As a side note, the Egyptian dialect uses the Subject-Verb-Object. Here are some examples of the order used in sentences:
Manal went out early.
خرجت منال مبكرا(xarajat Manaal mubakkiran) منال خرجت بدري(Manaal xargit badri)
The boy ate an apple.
أكل الولد تفاحة(akala l-waladu tuffaaHatan) ) الولد كل تفاحة(il-walad kal tuffaaHa)
Negation in Arabic Language
Now that we have learned about sentences and their structures, the question that remains is how do we negate them? This is super simple and the only thing you need to do is to negate the verb. On the other hand, negating a sentence that doesn’t contain a verb requires a different process. The process here is to insert ليس(laysa), conjugated to match the noun.
Examples of Negation:
أنالبنانية(ana lubnaaniyya) = أنا لست لبنانية(ana lastu lubnaaniyya)
I am Lebanese = I am not Lebanese
بنت عمي مدراسة(bint 3ammi mudarrisa) = بنت عمي ليست مدراسة(bint 3ammi laysat mudarrisa)
My cousin is a teacher = My cousin is not a teacher
هو طويل(howwa Tawiil) = هو ليس طويل(howwa laysa Tawiil)
He is tall = He is not tall
لديها خبرة في هذا المجال(ladayha xibra fi haada l-majaal) = ليس لديها خبرة في هذا المجال(laysa ladayha xibra fi haada l-majaal)
She has experience in this field = She doesn’t have experience in this field.
في خيار تاني(fii xiyaar taani) = مافيش خيار تاني(mafiiš xiyaar taani)
There is another choice = There is no other choice