In English, definite nouns are usually preceded by “the” (i.e. the book, the students) and indefinite nouns with “a”, “an” or no article at all(i.e. a student, tables). Arabic also kind of works the same way as it has definite and indefinite nouns. In Arabic, the Arabic definite article attaches to the word that it precedes.
When the definite article comes before a noun, then that noun is a definite noun. and this includes the names of cities, countries, regions, and people. On the other hand, nouns without an article in front of them are usually indefinite.
How you should pronounce the definite article is totally dependent on the letter that comes after it. In the example below it is pronounced “al” like the nickname for Albert or Alvin and the letters that follow this pattern are called “moon letters” (الحروف القمرية).
When الـ is attached to words that begin with certain letters known as “sun letters” (الحروف الشمسية), the l isn’t pronounced at all. Instead the first letter of the word is either pronounced twice or stressed. This is the case in the example below.
See that symbol in the example above that kind of looks like a slanted “w”? That symbol is a called a shadda. Whenever two identical consonants appear right next to each other, only one consonant is written, and the shadda is written after it, indicating that it is doubled.
The sun letters are used in the examples below:
|the date (fruit)||الـتّـمـر||date (fruit)||تّـمـر||ت|
Half of the 28 consonants in the Arabic alphabet are sun-letters while the other half are moon-letters. Recognizing and remembering these letters will help you determine how to pronounce them when it comes to Arabic speaking practice.
Arabic Indefinite Articles
To use the indefinite article in Arabic, you really don’t add anything at all –simply just leave the word with no article. However, especially when you write in Arabic, there is a small modification that occurs at the end of the word, called a nunation (adding the suffix “un”):
A house = bait +un = baitun بيتٌ.
The “un” is expressed by this symbol ( ُ or ٌ ) when written in Arabic as in the example above.
Since the nunation is belongs solely to the indefinite article you cannot apply it to the definite article,
The star = annajm النجم , a star = najmun نجمٌ .
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