/’ahlan/ أَهلًا  welcome our lesson on Definite Article in our Arabic grammar series.

In Part 3 of last week’s lesson on directions, we learned about the definite article in Arabic; however, we thought we needed to explain a little more about another aspect of the definite article that warranted a lesson all its own. It’s called هَمزَةُ الوَصل/hamzatu ilwaSl, otherwise known in English as “the link”.

hamzatu ilwaSl 

In our lesson on definite articles, you might remember that أدوات التّعريف/’adawaat attaʻreef/, Arabic for definite articles.

Well, you see, there is no word in Standard Arabic that starts with a sukoon( ـْ ) – the symbol that represents an absence of the vowel on a letter – because you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it. As a result, an Arabic word must start with any of the three short vowels: fatHahـَ ), dhammahـُ ) or kasrahـِ ). Thus, we add an extra /ʼalif/  (ا) with the vowel fatHah ـَ ) on top of /ʼalif/  (ا) before the letter /laam/ ( ل ). 

Now, if you remember learning about the Arabic vowels, you know that any /ʼalif/ ( ا ) in combination with long or short vowels is called /hamzah/, and the particular hamza used in the definite article to pronounce the word correctly is called a هَمزَةُ وَصل /hamzatu waSl/. The /waSl/ comes from the symbol that represents the letter ص  – a letter used to abbreviate the word  وَصل  that, in fact, means /waSl/ (or, in English, “to join”). Here is an example:

the chair 



Rules of hamzatu ilwaSl

  1. hamzatu ilwaSl only comes at the beginning of a word.

  2. hamzatu ilwaSl is not pronounced if a word with hamzat waSl has a preceding word. That is, if the first word of a sentence has a hamzat waSl, then you’ll pronounce the hamzat waSl; however, if the hamzatu ilwaSl word is not the first word, then you drop its pronunciation. See the following examples.

The chair is beautiful.

/alkurseyu jameelun/

 الكُرسِيُّ جَميلٌ

The pen is under the chair.

/alqalamu taHta ilkursey/

الْقَلَمُ تَحْتَ الكُرْسِيّ.

Notice in the first example that the word الكُرْسِيّ /alkursey/ has no word that comes before it so the hamzat waSl is pronounced. In the second example, however, الكُرْسِيّ /alkursey/ has the preposition تَحْتَ /taHta/ (“under”) before it so the hamzat ilwaSl is not pronounced.

Hamzatu ilwaSl has other uses as well where it is a part of some nouns like امرَأَة /imraʼah/ (“woman”). 

What’s more, you can also find it at the beginning of certain verbs. However, in this lesson, we just stuck to its use in the definite article.

Of course, if you’d like to dig a little deeper into hamzat waSl or even find some more vocabulary for looking for an apartment, then download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app and start learning Arabic the right way today. Go to kaleela.com for more information.