So, you’ve learned about a gazillion words in Arabic, but you still can’t make a sentence with any of them? Well, don’t worry because today’s the day you start making simple Arabic sentences and putting all those words to use.
Basic Sentence Structure in Arabic
First, there are basically three sentence structures you need to learn for making sentences in Arabic: the basic, the compound and the clausal. Today, we’re going to start with the basic Arabic sentence which can also be either verbal or nominal. So, more specifically, today you’re going to learn about how to make a basic verbal sentence.
Verbal Sentences in Arabic
Essentially, when it comes to the Arabic word order in a basic verbal sentence, it starts with a verb (الفِعْل/alfiel) followed by the subject (الفَاعِل/alfaeil). Further, there are some other important things to know when making basic verbal sentences:
Most importantly, always start the verbal sentence with a fully conjugal verb. These can include three forms of the verb: a perfective (past), an imperfective (present), or an imperative (command). What’s more, particles like قَدّ /qadd (maybe), مَا /maa (not), and so on are the only words that can precede the verb. Now, here are some Arabic sentences examples using the verbal form:
|خرج الرجل||kharaj alrajul||The man went out.|
|خَرَجَتْ نادين||kharajat nadin||Nadine already went out.|
|لِنَذْهَبْ إِلَى السِّيْنَمَا.||li-nadhhab ilaa assiinama||Let’s go to the cinema.|
Not surprisingly, a verbal sentence expresses an action, so we call it an action sentence. Therefore, since the verb is the word that describes the action, we put it at the beginning of the Arabic sentence. On the other hand, if it started with the noun, then the sentence would be called a declarative sentence. (In other words, a sentence that declares a fact.) To give you some examples, let’s flip the word order of the first two examples above:
|Arabic Verbal (with transliteration)||Arabic Declarative (with transliteration)||English|
|خَرَجَ الرجل / kharaj alrajul||الرجل خَرَجَ / alrajul kharaj||The man went out.|
|خَرَجَتْ نادين / kharajat nadin||نادين خَرَجَت / nadin kharajat||Nadine already went out.|
As you can see, the difference between the two is merely the focus. Therefore, the focus tells you whether the sentence is verbal or declarative.
Parts of the Verbal Sentence
As mentioned above, a verbal sentence must have two parts: a verb (الفِعْل/alfiel) followed by the subject (الفَاعِل/alfaeil). It would be an incomplete sentence if you only used a verb. Likewise, it would not be a complete sentence if it contained only the subject. However, there may be a time when you run into imperatives (or commands) like !اُكْتُبْ / uktub! (Write!) or !يقرأ / yaqra’ul! (Read!) where “you” as the subject is implied just as an imperative is in English.
Moreover, along with the verb and the subject, basic sentences may also include complements. These can be the object, an adjective, an adverb, a prepositional phrase and so on. These are words that complete the verb or the subject.
Types of Subject
In a verbal sentence, the subject of the verb can be an overt noun (that is, a proper noun, a common noun, an interrogative noun and the like). However, it can also be a pronoun which can either be attached or implicit. What’s more, it can also be a noun clause. For now, we will just highlight the overt noun and the covert/implicit or attached pronoun. Look at these examples:
|Overt Noun Subject|
|رَقَدَ/ نام) الوَلَد)||(raqada/naam) al-waladu||The boy slept.|
|تَرْقُصُ البِنْت.||tarquSu al-bint||The girl dances.|
|الرجال يركضون||ar-rijaal yrkudhoun||The men run.|
|النساء يركضن||an-nisaa’ yarkudhn||The women ran.|
|Covert/Implicit or Attached Pronoun Subject|
|نام (Implicit Subject)||naam||He slept.|
|نَرْقُص. (Implicit Subject)||narquS||We dance.|
|ركضنا. (Attached Subject)||rakadhnaa||We ran.|
|يَجْرَيْـنَ. (Attached Subject)||yajreina||They run. (f.)|
When it comes to gender, the verb absolutely must agree with the subject. In other words, if the subject is feminine, the verb must be feminine and therefore, marked with a ـتْ (ت with sukoon) in the perfective (past) verb tense. Likewise a تَـ (ت with fatHah) should be added to the beginning of the imperfective verb. Again, here are some examples:
|سَافَرَتْ نادين||saafarat nadin||Nadine traveled.|
|جَلَسَـتْ البِنْتَان||. jalasat al-bintan||The two girls sat.|
|خَرَجَـتْ المُدَرِّسَات||kharajat al-mudarrisaat||The teachers went out.|
|تــقْفِز البَنَات.||taqfiz al-banat||The girls jump.|
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