Arabic – Creating Simple, Verb-Free Sentences – Arabic Lesson For Beginners –


Arabic – Creating Simple, Verb-Free Sentences

Creating Simple, Verb-Free Sentences
There are two ways to form sentences in Arabic: You can manipulate definite
and indefinite nouns and adjectives, or you can pull together nouns, adjectives,
and verbs. In Arabic, it’s possible to create a complete sentence with a
subject, object, and verb without actually using a verb! This concept may
seem a little strange at first, but this section helps you quickly see the logic
and reasoning behind such a structure.
To be or not to be: Sentences without verbs
Before you can construct verb-free sentences, you need to know that there’s
actually no “to be” verb in the Arabic language. The verb “is/are” as a proper
verb simply doesn’t exist. That’s not to say that you can’t create an “is/are”
sentence in Arabic — you can. “Is/are” sentences are created without the use
of an actual verb. In other words, you create “to be” sentences by manipulating
indefinite and definite nouns and adjectives, similar to what I cover in the
section “Understanding the interaction between nouns and adjectives” earlier
in this chapter.

When you put an indefinite noun with an indefinite adjective, you create an
indefinite phrase. Similarly, when you add a definite adjective to a definite
noun, you end up with a definite phrase. So what happens when you combine
a definite noun with an indefinite adjective? This combination — defined
noun and undefined adjective — produces an “is/are” sentence similar to
what you get when you use the verb “to be” in English.
For example, take the defined noun al-kitaab (the book) and add to it the
indefinite adjective kabiir (big). The resulting phrase is al-kitaab kabiir,
which means “The book is big.” Here are some more examples to illustrate
the construction of “is/are” sentences:
 al-walad mariiD. (al-wah-lad mah-reed; The boy is sick.)
 al-bint SaHiiHa. (al-bee-net sah-hee-hah; The girl is healthy.)
 as-sayyaara khadraa’. (ah-sah-yah-rah kad-rah; The car is green.)
 aT-Taaliba dakiiya. (ah-tah-lee-bah dah-kee-yah; The student is smart.) (F)
 al-mudarris qaSiir. (al-moo-dah-rees kah-seer; The teacher is short.) (M)
 al-‘ustaadh Tawiil. (al-oos-taz tah-weel; The professor is tall.) (M)
If you want to use additional adjectives in these verb-free sentences, you
simply add the conjunction wa. Here are some examples of “is/are” sentences
with multiple adjectives:
 al-walad mariiD wa Da’iif. (al-wah-lad mah-reed wah dah-eef; The boy is
sick and weak.)
 al-bint SaHiiHa wa qawiiya. (al-bee-net sah-hee-hah wah kah-wee-yah;
The girl is healthy and strong.)
 as-sayyaara khadraa’ wa sarii’a. (ah-sah-yah-rah kad-rah wah sah-ree-ah;
The car is green and fast.)
 aT-Taaliba dakiiya wa laTiifa. (ah-tah-lee-bah dah-kee-yah wah lah-teefah;
The student is smart and nice.) (F)
 al-mudarris qaSiir wa dakiiy. (al-moo-dah-rees kah-seer wah dah-kee;
The teacher is short and smart.) (M)
 al-‘ustaadh Tawiil wa Sa’b. (al-oos-taz tah-weel wah sahb; The professor
is tall and difficult.) (M)
This construct is fairly flexible, and if you change the nature of one of the
adjectives, you radically alter the meaning of the jumla (joom-lah; sentence).
For instance, the examples all show a defined noun with two indefinite adjectives.
What happens when you mix things up and add an indefinite noun to an
indefinite adjective and a definite adjective?

Consider the example al-bint SaHiiHa wa qawiiya (The girl is healthy and
strong). Keep al-bint as a definite noun but change the indefinite adjective
SaHiiHa into its definite version, aS-SaHiiHa; also, drop the wa, and keep
qawiiya as an indefinite adjective. The resulting phrase is al-bint aS-SaHiiHa
qawiiya, which means “The healthy girl is strong.”
You can grasp what’s going on here by dividing the terms into clauses: The first
clause is the definite noun/definite adjective combination al-bint aS-SaHiiHa
(the healthy girl); the second clause is the indefinite adjective qawiiya
(strong). Combining these clauses is the same as combining a definite noun
with an indefinite adjective — the result is an “is/are” sentence. Here are more
examples to help clear up any confusion you have regarding this concept:

 al-walad al-mariiD Da’iif. (al-wah-lad al-mah-reed dah-eef; The sick boy
is weak.)
 as-sayyaara al-khadraa’ sarii’a. (ah-sah-yah-rah al-kad-rah sah-ree-ah; The
green car is fast.)
 aT-Taaliba ad-dakiiya laTiifa. (ah-tah-lee-bah ah-dah-kee-yah lah-tee-fah;
The smart student is nice.) (F)
 al-mudarris al-qaSiir dakiiy. (al-moo-dah-rees al-kah-seer dah-kee; The
short teacher is smart.) (M)
 al-‘ustaadh aT-Tawiil Sa’b. (al-oos-taz ah-tah-weel sahb; The tall professor
is difficult.) (M)
Notice that a simple change in the definite article changes the meaning of the
phrase or sentence. For example, when the noun is defined and both adjectives
are indefinite, you create an “is” sentence, as in “The boy is big.” On the
other hand, when both noun and adjective are defined, the adjective affects
the noun directly, and you get “the big boy.”