yawm- (one) day. This word is made out of three letters, yâ', wâw and mîm. But as you see in the Latin translitteration, there is a forth letter coming through: 'a'. This is the short a, unlike the long a, as in 'alif above. In Arabic this is the source of frustration for beginners: Short vowels are not written. That is, there is a way of writing the three short vowels, is small curls above or under the letter it follows, but beyond sometimes religious works, and school books, these are omitted.
The 3 short vowels are: a, u, i. And that's it!
There is a system to how these vowels are used,- Arabic is a very organised language. For now, just settle with learning the sound of each word. That is the best.
'ummî- my mother. With this word, you should note the following: The double letters of mîm, are not written each by themselves, they are written as one letter. There is a curl to indicate just this, but at this beginner's level, the same rule applies as for the short vowels: Learn the sound for each word.
Note that the suffix of a yâ', is the straightforward way of indicating "mine", "my", or "of "me". When putting yâ' at the very end of a word, pronouncing and writing it as one word, you can't go wrong.
wathaba- to jump, to leap This is a verb. Note that it really means "he jumped, he leaped", as masculin singular past, is presented as the core form for a verb.
Arabic verbs are declined stricly according to 1., 2., or 3. person, gender, and singular, dualis (!!!) and plural. But the good news is: Only two tenses: Perfect (past) and Imperfect (now), while Futurum is simply made by adding the prefix "sa-" to the Imperfect form.
tâba- to repent. Surprise, surprise! One letter becomes another one!!
One of the more time consuming challenges students of Arabic will have to face, is getting a hold on the many irregularities that occur when one of these 3 letters are found in a verb:
'alif, wâw and/or yâ'
Sometimes they are transformed into one of the others, sometimes they disappear.
But for now: Forget all about it. And save your strength until we get there.
wahaba- to give. This time, nothing special happened to the wâw, but when declining this verb, unpleasant things will become evident.
danna- being miserly.
nasr- victory. Hey, this is the same as former president of Egypt's name: Nasser. I guess that it is a good name for a ruler of a country.
'islām- Islam. One thing here: Note the connection between lâm and 'alif. These two letters have a couple of interesting forms of joining together,- not to difficult to grasp, but more on that later.
jacala- become; bring [someone into a state]. Arabic is a very rich language in its vocabulary. This means that expressions can be very clear, or consciously vague. For the student of Arabic, this is a challenge.
This verb is only one out of many different verbs that carry more or less the same meaning. But do not be scared: Most of the different words are true synonyms in normal use of Arabic.
ghalla- crops, produce, yield. Here again, note that double consonants always are written with one letter only. This noun has the feminine mark, which is only pronounced (as a t), if there is a suffix following it.
Very often, when it has nothing to do with human beings, the same noun can indicate two quite different things,- with only the feminine mark as a difference.
Hajj- greater pilgrimage. This is the word for the most central religious act in Islam - the pilgrimage to Mecca.
you (singular, masculin)
you (singular, feminin)
they (plural, masculin)
they (plural, feminin)
The definite article
One of the things many should have noticed before embarking on learning the Arabic language, is the frequent use of prefixes like "Al" or "El". "Al" and "El" are the same two letters "a" and "l" put together, which indicate the definite article for a noun. But what is considered definite and what is not, is often different from many Western languages. Briefly one could make this as a rule: If it is not particularly important to stress the indefinite form, the definite article should be used. But this is only a valid rule at your present stage in learning Arabic
When a noun is indefinite, no prefixes or suffixes are added, you simply use the core form of the noun.
Just to complicate things a bit here: In Arabic there are a group of "sun letters", letters which standing first in a noun, eat the "l" of the definite article. These are the following letters:
t, th, d, dh, r, z, s, sh, S, D, T, Z, n.
The result is that you never write it in English transcription nor pronounce the l: "al-t.....", "al-th....", "al-d....", "al-dh....", "al-r....", "al-z....", "al-s....", "al-sh...." and so on.
What you do write and pronounceis : "at-t....", "ath-th....", "ad-d....", "adh-dh....", "ar-r....", "az-z....", "as-s....", "ash-sha....." and so on. However, when you write it in Arabic, the letter "l" is written, but that is for later lessons.
For the remainder of the letters, you leave the "l" of the definite article intact.
Masculin and Feminine nouns
Arabic nouns are either masculine or feminine. Usually when referring to a male, a masculine noun is usually used and when referring to a female, a feminine noun is used. In most cases the feminine noun is formed by adding a special character, the ta marbuta ـة ة, to the end of the masculine noun.
(someone sent on a mission)
Sometimes the noun used to refer to a male and the noun used for a female are completely different.
It's not just nouns referring to people that have gender. Inanimate objects (doors, houses, cars, etc.) is either masculine or feminine. Whether an inanimate noun is masculine or feminine is mostly arbitrary. A lot of inanimate nouns ends in ta marbuta. When this is the case you know it is feminine.
Unfortunately, not all feminine nouns end in ta marbuta. Whenever you learn a new word, and that word is a noun, it's best if you learn it's gender too. Here are some masculine nouns..
and here are some feminine nouns..
Adjectives in Arabic
Unlike English Arabic adjectives follow the noun they modify, which is somehow easier, because when you start with the noun first you will easily modify the adjective that comes afterwards accordingly either to its masculine, feminine, dual or plural form.
A small house: baitun sagheer بيت صغير (literally house small).
Just like Spanish & German, Arabic has masculine and feminine adjective forms, we learned in a previous lesson how to form the feminine from masculine in nouns, same steps will be taken to form feminine adjectives too.
Let’s go over the rule of forming feminine from masculine form, which includes feminine adjectives with some:
In Arabic to form a feminine adjective from the masculine, you simply add "taa’ marbuta" which looks like (ة, ــة) to the end of the adjective for example:
Big: Kabeer كبير (masculine), Big: kabeera كبيرة (feminine)
Small: Sagheer صغير (masculine), Small: sagheeraصغيرة(feminine)
Note that adding the "taa" marbuta ة, ــة is not always the case to form the feminine of a masculine adjective. There are some exceptions to this:
Colors and most adjectives starting with "a" " أ " for example take in most cases a different form, the steps to model our feminine irregular adjective is: extract the consonants from the masculine adjective and place them respectively in the place of the question marks, here are some examples:
To form a dual feminine adjective add "ataan" " تان " to the masculine adjective:
Big, kabeer كبير (masculine singular), Big, kabeerataan كبيرتان(feminine dual)
Plural Adjectives in Arabic
The way to form a plural adjective is the same way you form a plural noun. Just remember that the adjective follows the noun, and not the opposite like in English.
Good: jayyed جيد
Vowels in Arabic
There are 3 vowels to Arabic. These are not written as letters, but are indicated above or under the letter preceding it.
Does this look a bit confusing? Well yes, that is also one of the reasons why it is seldom included in Arabic writing. But at this stage you could do well with writing down the vowels, in order to remember the correct pronounciation of the words.
When these vowels are used, as well as some of the other indicators from above, it is with care, and only important vowels and indicators are used, in an acheivement to avoid misunderstandings.
The pure pronounciations coming from these vowels are short, sometimes hardly pronounced at all.