Arabic Language Blog

Arabic Attached Pronouns Posted by on Oct 23, 2018 in Grammar, Vocabulary

الضَّمِيْر ‘the pronoun’ in Arabic is either overt or covert. The covert is called مُسْتَتِر, and it is neither written nor pronounced. The overt is called ظَاهِر, and it can be separate مُنْفَصِل or attached مُتَّصِل. This post is primarily about the attached pronouns in Arabic.

الضَّمِيْرُ المُنْفَصِل The Separate Pronoun:

الضَّمِيْر المُنْفَصِل ‘the separate pronoun’ refers to a person, hence called the personal pronoun. There are twelve personal pronouns in Arabic classified into three types: first person, second person, and third person, as summarized below:

مُتَكَلِّم first person

مُخَاطَب second person

غَائِب third person













الضَّمِيْرُ المُسْتَتِر The Covert Pronoun:

الضَّمِيْر المُسْتَتِر ‘the covert pronoun’ is associated with verbs: the perfective المَاضِي and imperfective المُضَارِع (as well as the imperative الأَمْر). Of the twelve separate pronouns, only five pronouns are covert. These are: هُو, هِيَ, أَنَا, نَحْنُ, and أَنْتَ. Of these, هُوَ and هِيَ do not appear after both the perfective and the imperfective forms of the verb, while أَنَا, نَحْنُ, and أَنْتَ do not appear after the imperfective forms of the verb.

الضَّمِيْر the pronoun المَاضِي the perfective المُضَارِع the imperfective
هُوَ نَظَرَ* يَنْظُر*
هِيَ نَظَرَتْ* تَنْظُر*
أَنَا أَنْظُر* نَظَرْتُ
نَحْنُ نَنْظُر* نَظَرْنَا
أَنْتَ تَنْظُر* نَظَرْتَ

In the table above, the asterisk (*) indicates that the subject pronoun of the verb is covert (i.e. implicit). Note that the taa’ with sukuun تْ in نَظَرَتْ is not a pronoun. Rather, it is the feminine marker.  The subjects of the verbs with no asterisk is overt (i.e. attached). In نَظَرْتُ, the subject is تُ; in نَظَرْنَا, it is نَا; and in نَظَرْتَ, it is تَ.

الضَّمِيْرُ المُتَّصِل The attached Pronoun:

Attached pronouns are always added to the end of the word. This word can be a verb, a noun, or a preposition. When added to a verb, it functions as a subject فَاعِل or as an object مَفْعُول. If added to a noun, it is a possessive pronoun مُضَاف إِلَيْهِ. And if appended to a preposition, it functions as an object of a preposition اِسْم مَجْرُور.

فَاعِل Subject of Verb

مَفْعُول Object of Verb

اِسْم مَجْرُور

Object of Preposition

مُضَافٌ إِلَيْه

Object of Noun

كَتَبْـتُ  I wrote سَمِعَنِـي He heard me مَعِــي with me كِتِابِــي my book
كَتَبْـنَا we wrote سَمِعَتْـنَا she heard us إِلَيْـنا to us بَيْتُــنَا our house
كَتَبْـتَ you (m, s) wrote سَمِعَتْـكَ she hear you مِنْـكَ from you غُرْفَتُـكَ your room
كَتَبْـتِ you (f, s) wrote سَمِعَتْـكِ she hear you عَلَيْـكِ on you سَاعَتُـكِ your watch
كَتَبْـتُمَا you (d) wrote سَمِعَتْـكُمَا she heard you مَعَـكُمَا with you كِتَابُـكُمَا your book
كَتَبْـتُم you (p, m) wrote سَمِعَتْـكُم she heard you عَلَيْـكُم on you بَيْتُـكُم your house
كَتَبْـتُنَّ you (p, f) wrote سَمْعَتْـكُنَّ she hear you عَلَيْـكُنَّ on you بَيْتُـكُنَّ your house
كَتَبَ* he wrote سَمِعَتْــه she heard him بِــهِ by him قَلَمُــهُ his pen
كَتَبَتْ* she wrote سَمِعَتْــها she heard her بِــهَا by her قَلَمُــهَا her pen
كَتَبَـا both (m, d) wrote سَمِعَتْــهُمَا she heard both بِــهِمَا from both of them قَلَمُــهُمَا their pen
كَتَبَتَـا both (f, d) wrote سَمِعَتْــهُمَا she heard both بِــهِمَا from both of them قَلَمُــهُمَا their pen
كَتَبُـوا they (m, p) wrote سَمِعَتْــهُم she heard them عَلَيْــهِم on them بَيْتُــهُم their house
كَتَبْـنَ they (m, f) wrote سَمْعَتْــهُنَّ she heard them مِنْــهُنَّ from them (f) بَيْتُــهُنَّ their house
m = masculine, s = singular, f = feminine, p = plural, d = dual, * = covert pronoun

You can download a complete summary of all attached pronouns here.

You can also try this short test.

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About the Author: Ibnulyemen اِبْنُ اليَمَن

Marhaban! I am from Yemen. I am a language teacher. I teach English and Arabic. In this blog, I will be leading you through Arabic language learning in a sequential fashion. I will focus on Modern Standard Arabic. To learn more, you can also visit my website Ibnulyemen Arabic or my facebook page.