!مَرْحَبًا و أَهْلًا Hello and welcome!
Those of you who have been following us lately know that we are well down the path of our Arabic grammar journey. Today we’ll continue our walk along that path as we look at a part of Arabic grammar that is uniquely Arabic – إِضافَة/ʼidhaafah/, otherwise known as the “possessive clause”.
إِضافَة/’idhaafah/ is an Arabic grammar structure made up of two nouns.
For example, “Laith’s car” would be سَيّارَةُ /sayyaaratu/ + لَيْث /layth/ or سَيّارَةُ لَيْث/sayyaaratu layth/ (“car of Laith”).
Notice in Arabic that what is being possessed – the car in this case – comes before the possessor. This is because the first word of the clause is مُضاف /mudhaaf/ or “the word that is added” and the second word is called the مُضاف إِلَيه /mudhaaf ʼilayh/ or “what was added to.
There are two key rules when creating possessive clauses:
If the mudhaaf has a tanwin (or a ً that substitutes for it), that tanwin or ً will drop off
Next, the مُضاف إِلَيه/mudhaaf ʼilayh/ will be in the state of جَرّ /jarr/, meaning that it will have كَسرَة/kasrah/ or one of its substitutes at the end.
It’s not a hard rule, but the مُضاف/mudhaaf/ never has the ال at its beginning.
In the example سَيّارَةُ لَيْث/sayyaaratu layth (Laith’s car), the word لَيْث /layth/ is the مُضاف إِلَيه/mudhaaf ʼilayh/ and has كَسرَة/kasrah/ added to it it. The word سَيّارَةُ /sayyaaratu/ is the مُضاف/mudhaaf/ and has lost its tanwin. The words together mean “Laith’s car”. In the end, it simply comes down to this easy-to-remember formula:
Another thing to remember when constructing an ʼidhaafah is that this construction includes both an indefinite and a definite noun. However, there is a condition that must be met: the first noun (mudhaaf) is indefinite, and the second (mudhaaf ʼilayh) is a definite noun. For example, مَكتَبُ الرَّجُلِ /maktabu irrajuli/ means “the office of the man”.
Note that, even though it’s indefinite, the word مَكتَبُ/maktabu/ was translated to “the office”. The reason for this is that the second noun (الرَّجُلِ/irrajuli/) is already a definite noun with the definite article ال /al/. As a result, it has taken possession of the first noun, turning it into a definite noun. Since إِضافَة/ʼidhaafah/ is like an addition of one thing to another, one noun is of another noun; hence “the office of the man.”
ʼidhaafah also happens when both nouns are indefinite, as seen in the following example:
Furthermore, إِضافَة/ʼidhaafah/ is also used when a possessive pronoun is placed as a suffix on a noun.
You can see the examples of this in the word مَكتَبُهُ /maktabuhu/ meaning his office and مَكتَبُها /maktabuhaa/ meaning her office.
What’s more, you can also place a demonstrative pronoun between the first and second noun in إِضافَة/ʼidhaafah/ clauses as in the following example:
The construction doesn’t stop there, however. It also applies to a more complex situation called “complex إِضافَة/ʼidhaafah/”. Still, the first two nouns are indefinite, while the last one is the only one allowed to be definite. This can be seen in the following example:
Now that you are familiar with the إِضافَة/’idhaafah/ construction, it’s easy to see who owns what. As a result, let’s turn one إِضافَة/’idhaafah/ clause into some definite versions as per the following examples:
In the end, constructing the إِضافَة/’idhaafah/ is really as easy as it looks.
If you’d like to possess more knowledge when it comes to Arabic and the Arabic language, then head over to our website and download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app. Starting today, let Kaleela guide you through the basics of Arabic all the way up to mastering a local Arabic dialect. With Kaleela, it’s never been so easy and convenient to learn Arabic the right way. Find out for yourself by visiting us now at kaleela.com.