/’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”.
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: fatHah ( ـَ ), dhammah ( ـُ ) or kasrah ( ـِ ). 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:
hamzatu ilwaSl only comes at the beginning of a word.
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.
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.
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