A Confusing Arabic Word Pair: An and Anna

Posted on 20. May, 2010 by in Grammar

There are two words that are written in the same way and that are often confusing for learners of Arabic. These words are (أنّ) ‘anna’, (أنْ) ‘an’. They are functional words that differ in the way they are used.

These two words collocate with different verbs, e.g. with (عرف) ‘knew’, we must use (أنّ) which is more like ‘that’ in English; and with (أراد) ‘wanted’, we must use (أنْ) which is more like ‘to’ in English. Consider the following examples:

عرفت أنّ القطار سيتأخر عن موعده.

‘I knew that the train will be late.’

أريد أنْ اسافر بالقطار.

‘I want to travel by train.’

The two words are also used with different constructions; (أنّ) must be followed by a nominal sentence, while (أنْ) must be followed by a verb.

عرفت أنّ الرحلة كانت ممتعة.

‘I knew that the trip was enjoyable.’

صديقي يريد أنْ يسافر معي.

‘My friend wants to travel with me.’

Other verbs that come with (أنّ) include:

(علِم) ‘he knew’

(تذكَر) ‘he remembered’

(سمع) ‘he heard’

(قرأ) ‘he read’

Other verbs that come with (أنْ) include:

(أحب) ‘he loved/liked’

(تمنى) ‘he wished’

(رغب في) ‘he wanted/desired’

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