We’re surprised that many students of Arabic have studied the language for years, yet still know little about the idaafa. After all, the idaafa (in Arabic الإضافة) is an extremely important part of Arabic grammar. You see, idaafa describe the distribution of the definite article in Arabic language in its two representations. Yet, it also shows possession in Arabic grammar.

In today’s post we’ll be looking at the idafa, Arabic’s answer to the “’s” in English. What’s more, it’s the most important tense in Arabic that you’ll learn. So, with that in mind, let’s get to it.

The Addition of the Idaafa

Idaafa means “to add” in Arabic. This suits the structure well as you are really “adding” two or more nouns back to back. What’s more, it’s worth noting that when you’re using the idaafa, nothing can come between the words. So, if you want to add an adjective, put it at the end of the idaafa. Oh, and be sure to include a definite article ال. 

For instance, let’s look at this idaafa:

مَكتَب المُدَرِّس / maktab almudaris (the office of the teacher or the teacher’s office)

However, if you add an adjective to the end, it would look something like this:

مكتب المدرس الكبير / maktab almudaris alkabir (the big office of the teacher or the teacher’s big office)

As shown above, in English we can show possession using the word of (the desk of the teacher). We can also use the possessive “’s (the teacher’s desk). In Arabic, you’ll find the most common way to show possession by putting “office” first. This is then followed by the word for “teacher”. Both words are joined without the need for “of” as it clear it is there.  Finally, the last word has the definite article ال ( المُدَرِّس).

Let’s Practice

Here is a story for you to read with idaafa written in it. See how many you can find:

تعيش عبير في شقة صغيرة لشقيقتها في ضواحي عمان الهادئة. تعيش هناك لأنها أرخص من استئجار شقتها الخاصة. قبل ثلاثة أشهر تم تعيينها كمدرس في مدرسة إنجليزية شهيرة في الصويفية. قالت مديرة المدرسة إنها معلمة جيدة وأن راتبها سيكون مرتفعا. الآن ، تستطيع عبير العيش في شقتها الخاصة وبدء حياتها المهنية في التدريس. ومع ذلك ، فهي تخشى أنها إذا انتقلت ، فسوف تؤذي مشاعر أختها. لذا ، بدلًا من الانتقال ، قررت شراء أثاث جديد لشقة أختها. أعطاها صاحب متجر الأثاث صفقة جيدة.

“Abeer lives in her sister’s small apartment in the quiet suburbs of Amman. She lives there because it’s cheaper than renting her own apartment. However, three months ago she got hired as a teacher at a famous English school in Sweileh. The school’s principal said she was a good teacher and that her salary would be high. These days, Abeer can afford to live in her own apartment and start her teaching career. However, she is afraid that if she moves, she will hurt her sister’s feelings. So, instead of moving, she decided to buy new furniture for her sister’s apartment. The owner of the furniture store gave her a pretty good deal.


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