Definite Demonstrative Nouns in Arabic

Posted on 23. Mar, 2011 by in Arabic Language, Culture, Grammar, Vocabulary

  • A new type of Arabic definite nouns to look at is the Demonstrative Nouns.
  • These Nouns are definite by themselves because they Refer to a definite person, thing or place. They are referring words.
  • In English, these are called Demonstrative Adjectives or Adverbs of Place but in Arabic, they are Nouns.
  • Arabic has three numbers: singular, dual and plural. Arabic nouns are also masculine or feminine. So, we have different demonstrative nouns that represent or refer to all these three numbers and genders.


(1)  هذا  = ذا  = (he-This) :

                             It refers to near masculine singular nouns; (persons and things)  

                                 Examples:This is a poet.= هذا شاعر 

                                                    –  This is a book. = هذا كتاب  


(2)  ذلك  =ذاك   = (That) :

                             It refers to faraway masculine singular nouns; (things only).

                                 Examples : – That is the Book no doubt in it.   =ذلك الكتاب لا ريب فيه        

                                                     – Like father like son. (proverb) = هذا الشبل من ذاك الأسد 

(3)  هذه= ذه  = ذى  = هذى  =  (she-This) :

                           It refers to near feminine singular nouns; (persons and things).

                                Examples: – This is a girl. = هذه بنت 

                                                – This is a tree. = هذه شجرة

                                                – These are trees. = هذه أشجار  

                                                – These are schools. =هذه مدارس 

(Note: هذه is also more common with plural non-human nouns instead of هؤلاء .)

(4)  تلك  = (That/Those) :

                         It refers to faraway feminine singular or plural nouns; (persons or things).

                               Examples:  – That is a girl. = تلك فتاة 

                                                    – That is a tree. = تلك شجرة 

                                                   – Those are trees. = تلك أشجار 

(5)  هذان = ذان  = (These two = Both) :

                        It refers to near dual masculine nouns.

                                 Examples: – These are two boys. = هذان ولدان.  

                                                     – These are two books. = هذان كتابان.  

(6)  هاتان  = تان  (These two = Both) : 

                      It refers to near dual feminine nouns.

                                  Examples: These are two girls. = هاتان بنتان  

                                                      – These are two papers. = هاتان صحيفتان  

(Note: When you apply the dual suffix ( ان /ين ) to a noun ending in the closed (marboota) Ta’a, this Ta’a changes to an open Ta’a to allow more letters to be added to the word.)

 (7) هؤلاء = أولاء  = أولى  = أولئك  = (These / Those) :

                     It refers to near plural masculine or feminine nouns; (persons or things).

                           Examples: – These are heroes. = هؤلاء / أولئك أبطال  

                                              – Those are girls. =  هؤلاء فتيات 

(8)  هنا  = (Here) :

                   It refers to near places.

                         Examples: – Here is the school. = هنا المدرسة    

                                          – Here are the schools. = هنا المدارس  

                                         – The hotel is here. = هنا الفندق   

(9)  هناك = هنالك = (There) :

                               It refers to faraway places.

                                 Examples: – There is a school next to the bank. = هناك مدرسة بجوار البنك  

                                                    – There are schools. = هناك مدارس  

                                                    – There is a hotel. = هنالك فندق

                                                    – There are hotels. = هنالك فنادق  



Are you ready for learning Pronouns?

Do you know that they are Definite Nouns in Arabic? OK, Next time..!!

Check us back soon

  Peace سلام   /Salam/   


About Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL. I got my BA in Education from Alexandria University Majoring in the English Language in 1999. I did some advanced studies and got a Professional Diploma in Education Technology in 2002. Then, in 2003 I got a Special Diploma in Education with a major in Curricula and Methodologies. I travelled for an Advanced Training Course at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, U.K. in 2006. In 2007 - 2008 I was a Fulbright Fellow - Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (FLTA Program) at Marlboro College, Vermont, USA. I have the ICDL Certificate.

17 Responses to “Definite Demonstrative Nouns in Arabic”

  1. Rajapk 24 March 2011 at 7:00 am #

    Excellent definition of demon nouns.

  2. Scheich Josef 24 March 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    مرحبا يا فيصل

    I have a question to the English translation of the first example sentences in part (2).

    Why do you translate ذلك الكتاب with “that is the book”? I learnt the following:

    ذلك الكتاب “that book”

    ذلك كتاب “that is a book”

    ذلك هو الكتاب “that is the book”



  3. Fisal 24 March 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    أهلا شيخ يوسف
    That sentence in part 2 is a verse from the Qura’an. Here is a good link for good
    the pronoun هو or verb to be is often omitted in Arabic but it is understood from context.

  4. Scheich Josef 25 March 2011 at 11:10 am #

    مرحبا يا فيصل

    Thank you for the reference to the Qura’an. Indeed your sentence in part (2) is part of verse 2 of sura 2 البقرة “Al Baqara”:

    ذلك الكتاب لا ريب فيه هدى للمتقين

    The English “translation” of this verse from Madinah

    “This is the Book (the Qur’an), whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Al-Muttaqun […].”

    Also all English “translations” of this verse offered in your reference
    use similar words except the one of Abdul Daryabadi:

    “This Book whereof there is no doubt, is a guidance unto the God-fearing.”

    Of course, the “translations” offered are only more or less free interpretations of the Qur’an text from a religious point of view. Interestingly, they all use “this” instead of “that”.

    In accordance with what I learnt I would “translate” this verse as follows:

    “That Book, without doubt, is a guidance for the Al-Muttaqun.”

    “That Book is without doubt a guidance for the Al-Muttaqun.”

    I don’t see any need for inserting “is” after “That”.

    Can you give a reference for the camel picture and the “هذا clock”? I think it would be a nice project for children to fabricate such a clock. I am only missing the cases, where there are male and female persons together.



  5. Fisal 25 March 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    أهلا شيخ يوسف
    You are very welcome. It is true that “translations” are only more or less free interpretations of the Qur’an. I agree with you on using “that” on your translation, but do you really need to use “the” with “Al” when you said “The Al-Muttaqin” ??
    As for the verb “is” , let’s agree that it is a must in this sentence because there is no sentence without a verb in English. However, its position can be different according to the context. You arranged your words in a certain order and so did I . That is it simply.
    Picture references …. yes .. sorry I didn’t inculde them. I just googled with أسماء الاشارة and chose images. Here is my search result page link :

  6. Fisal 25 March 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    @ شيخ يوسف
    when there is a male and female, you can either refer to each gender with its demon noun or use the male demon noun (females are implied in most ways of addressing males)

  7. Scheich Josef 25 March 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    @ فيصل

    You caught me there! It should be:

    “That Book, without doubt, is a guidance for the Muttaqin.”

    “That Book is without doubt a guidance for the Muttaqin.”

    Thanks for the google reference.


  8. Laiba 27 March 2011 at 2:11 am #

    Assalam o alaikum!
    It was a very good effort. Very helpful Indeed! There is a problem, the Hatha Clock is not labeled right.
    Thanks for the info.
    Assalam o alaikum

  9. Fisal 27 March 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    Assalamo alykom Laiba,
    Thanks for your kind words. There is no problem with the “Hatha” clock as it is meant as a tool for kids to practice the demon nouns. Kids should set the hands at the correct pronoun and correct picture and then say the demon noun and correct name(s). It is just a drill tool that any teacher can create for his learners or kids.

  10. Laiba 28 March 2011 at 8:20 am #

    OK! Thanks!
    Assalam o alaikum!

  11. R 6 April 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    Assalamo alaikum bro,
    First of all, jazakallah for this lesson. By Allah’s grace I’m pursuing a correspondence course in Arabic and your blog is really helpful. Keep up the good work. How about adding audio recordings of the lesson so that one can learn the pronounciation too.
    Secondly, the “zalika” of surah al-Baqar has often made me wonder why it is translated as “this” (“yeh” in Urdu). When the Book is in our hands, then why is the word “zalika” used? Of course, Allah knows best.

  12. Fisal 6 April 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Assalamo Alaykom R,
    For audio and video, please visit and SUBSCRIBE to our Youtube Channel “Arabic Transparent” at
    For the word “zalika” in Al-Baqara, Allah the Knowledgeable, uses it because it implies the meaning of the word “this” in it. If you break the word you will find that it consists of /za + lika/ = هذا / ذا + لك , so it refers to near and far, it is for demonstration and confirmation. In this verse, Allah is not only addressing us Muslims but non-Muslims as well. This use and explanation confirms the UNIVERSALITY of the Qur’an and Islam. (My personal analysis as a native Arabic Language speaker and Muslim and Allah knows)
    Best wishes and luck with your course.

  13. aasif 27 October 2013 at 9:17 am #

    “(This is) THAT Book no doubt in IT is guidance for the God-fearing.” Both things are referred in the same verse i.e. THAT and IT. THAT is for lohey mahfooz and IT is for what is before us. This is my understanding. Allah knows best!

  14. aasif 27 October 2013 at 9:22 am #

    I don’t know whether zalika can be broken down into za and lika in Arabic as I don’t know Arabic. Read my previous comment.

  15. Fisal 29 October 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    Hi aasif,
    Actually the word (zalika)is made up of the demon pronoun (za) and the attached pronound (lika). You can drop (lika) only if you will use a noun, e.g. za kitab or za baab 🙂

  16. sameer 14 December 2014 at 4:54 am #

    If you want to have a good translation of the verse 2 0f sura baqara read the translation of imam Ahmad raza Khan which is named as kanzul imam.

  17. Randal Donnellan 10 August 2015 at 7:59 pm #

    I just added this blog to my feed reader, great stuff. Can’t get enough!

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