Arabic Yes/No Questions – Particles of Interrogation

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Arabic Yes/No Questions – Particles of Interrogation

Arabic Interrogation – The Interrogation – الاسْتِفْهَامُ

Yes/No Questions

Yes/no questions are formed in Germanic languages, of which English is one, by inverting the subject and the verb of the sentence; e.g. “you are” becomes “are you?” and “you can” becomes “can you?” etc. Of course modern English has its own way with the verb “do,” which is used before the subject in place of most of the verbs.

Turning a sentence into a yes/no question is easier in Arabic than in English. Here we will not need to invert the subject and the verb or anything like that. We will just put a particle in front of the sentence and that will turn it into a yes/no question. No changes in cases or moods are required.

There are two particles that we can use to create yes/no questions, or multiple choice questions with the addition of “or.”

Here are those two particles:

Particles of Interrogation

حَرْفَاْ الاِسْتِفْهَاْمِ

Is it that ?

‘a-

أَ

hal

هَلْ

 

Those particles resemble in meaning the French est-ce que = “is it that?”

 

Lets have some examples.

 

1) Positive Questions

 

Positive Sentence

خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

khaleel(un) hunaa

= Khalil (is) here

Translation: Khalil is here

 

Positive Question

أَخَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ ؟

‘a-khaleel(un) hunaa

= is it that Khalil (is) here

Translation: is Khalil here?

 

Positive Question

هَلْ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ ؟

hal khaleel(un) hunaa

= is it that Khalil (is) here

Translation: is Khalil here?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ خَلِيْلٌهُنَاْ

na”am khaleel(un) hunaa

= yes Khalil (is) here

Translation: yes Khalil is here

 

Negative Answer

لا خَلِيْلٌ لَيْسَ هُنَاْ

laa khaleel(un) lays(a) hunaa

= no Khalil is/exists not here

Translation: no Khalil is not here

 

Negative Answer

لا لَيْسَ خَلِيْلٌ هُنَاْ

laa lays(a) khaleel(un) hunaa

= no is/exists not Khalil here

Translation: no Khalil is not here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note that there are many alternatives for forming a negative answer. I used here ones commonly used in modern standard Arabic. (See negation for more information)

More examples:

Positive Sentence

الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ

‘attaqs(u) mushmis(un)

= the weather (is) sunny

Translation: it is sunny

 

Positive Question

آلْطََّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ ؟

‘aattaqs(u) mushmis(un)

= is it that the weather (is) sunny

Translation: is it sunny?

 

Positive Question

هَلِ الْطََّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ ؟

hal(i) (‘a)ttaqs(u) mushmis(un)

= is it thatthe weather (is) sunny

Translation: is it sunny?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمِ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسٌ

na”am(i) (‘a)ttaqs(u) mushmis(un)

= yesthe weather (is) sunny

Translation: yes it is sunny

 

Negative Answer

لا الْطَّقْسُ لَيْسَ مُشْمِسًا

laa (‘a)ttaqs(u) lays(a) mushmis(an)

= no the weather is/exists not (as) sunny

Translation: no it is not sunny

 

Negative Answer

لا لَيْسَ الْطَّقْسُ مُشْمِسًا

laa lays(a) (‘a)ttaqs(u) mushmis(an)

= no is/exists not the weather (as) sunny

Translation: no it is not sunny

 

 

 

 

 

The purple vowels, barring the first one, were added for phonological reasons, namely to prevent still letters from directly following each other.

However, the first purple vowel was added for a different reason which is to clarify that the statement was a question. This vowel will always be added when attaching interrogative ‘a- to the definite article (‘a)l-, and the combination will become ‘aal-.

 

Attachment of Interrogative ‘a- to ‘al-

آلْقَمَرُ

الْقَمَرُ

‘aalqamar(u) (‘a)lqamar(u)
is it that the moon? the moon

آلشَّمْسُ

الشَّمْسُ

‘aash-shams(u) (‘a)sh-shams(u)
is it that the sun? the sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

More examples:

Positive Sentence

تَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

tatakallam(u) (‘a)l-“arabiyya(ta)

= (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: you speak Arabic

you are speaking Arabic

 

Positive Question

أَتَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ ؟

‘atatakallam(u) (‘a)l-“arabiyya(ta)

= is it that (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: do you speak Arabic?

are you speaking Arabic?

 

Positive Question

هَلْ تَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ ؟

hal tatakallam(u) (‘a)l-“arabiyya(ta)

= is it that (you sing. masc.) speak the Arabic

Translation: do you speak Arabic?

are you speaking Arabic?

 

Positive Answer

نَعَمْ أَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

na”am ‘atakallam(u) (‘a)l-“arabiyya(ta)

= yes(I) speak the Arabic

Translation: yes I speak Arabic

yes I’m speaking Arabic

 

Negative Answer

لا لا أَتَكَلَّمُ الْعَرَبِيَّةَ

laa laa ‘atakallam(u) (‘a)l-“arabiyya(ta)

= no not(I) speak the Arabic

Translation: no, I don’t speak Arabic

no, I’m not speaking Arabic