In today’s post, we’re going to learn about relative pronouns. Though the name suggests that they might be used to refer to your aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives (and, technically, we suppose they can be), in Arabic, relative pronouns come after definite nouns to introduce sentences that describe these nouns or provide additional information about them.


It’s All Relative

In English, we know them as “who”, “which”, and “that”, but in Arabic, relative pronouns depend on the number and gender of the noun. What’s more, they always come after the noun.

When referring to a masculine singular noun use the relative pronoun الَّذي /allaTHee/. For example:

هَذا الكِتابُ الَّذي قَرَاتُهُ أمْس

/haTHaa ilkitaabu illaTHee qara’tuhu ’ams/

This is the book that I read yesterday.

Here, the Arabic word الَّذي/illaTHee/ refers to the relative pronoun “that”, “who” or “where”  in English.

When referring to a feminine singular noun, use the relative pronoun الَّتي/allatee/, as in:

هَذِهِ الجامِعَةُ الَّتي دَرَسْتُ فيها قَبْلَ سَنَتَيْن

/haTHihi iljaamiʻatu illatee darastu feehaa qabla sanatayn/

This is the university that I studied at two years ago.

Again, here the word الَّتي /illatee/ refers to the relative pronoun “that”, “who” or “where” in English.

Other examples include:

هَل هَذِهِ الدَّوْلَةُ الَّتي سافَرْتَ إِلَيْها السَّنَةَ الماضِيَة؟

/hal haTHihi idawlatu illatee saafarta ʼilayhaa issanata ilmaadhiyah/

Is this the country that you traveled to last year?

Once again, the relative pronoun الَّتي/allatee/ 

هَل هذِهِ صَديقَتُكِ الَّتي تَزَوَّجَت سامي؟

/hal haTHihi Sadeeqatuki illatee tazawwajat saamee/

Is this your friend who married Sami?

You’ll notice in this case that the relative pronoun الَّتي /illatee/ is equal to the English “who” in this case.

Dual and Plural Relative Pronouns

Use the relative pronoun اللَّذانِ/allaTHaani/ for duals. For example:

هَذانِ الرَّجُلانِ اللَّذانِ يَتَكَلَمانِ العَرَبَِيَة؟

/haTHaani irrajulaani illaTHaani  yatakallamaani il‘arabiyyah/

These are the men who speak Arabic.

The human masculine plural relative pronoun meaning “who” or “that” is الَّذينَ/allaTHeena/.

الطُّلابُ الَّذينَ نَجَحوا في الاِمْتِحان

/aTTulaabu illaTHeena najaHoo fee ilimtiHaan/

The students who pass the exam.

Finally, for the human feminine plural noun, we use the relative pronoun اللَّواتي /allawaatee/ for “who”, as in:

هَؤُلآءِ الطَّالِباتُ اللَّواتي يَعْمَلْنَ في المُستَشْفى

/ha’ulaa’i iTTaalibaatu illawaatee ya‘malna fee ilmustashfaa/

These are the students who work in the hospital

That’s all you need to know about relative pronouns for now, but if you (or a relative) would like to learn more about the Arabic language, then why not download the Kaleela Arabic language and get started today?

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