Arabic Language Blog

Arabic Prepositions in Combination Posted by on Apr 17, 2011 in Grammar, Vocabulary

Have you ever come across these words before?

عمّ، فيمَ، مِمَّ

These are question words involving both a preposition and the question word.

عمّ = عن + ما / ماذا = about what

عمّ تتكلم؟

What are you talking about?

فيمَ = في + ما / ماذا = in what

فيمَ تفكر؟

What are you thinking about (literally in)?

ممَّ = من + ما / ماذا = of what

ممَّ تخاف؟

What are you afraid of?

So, when prepositions come with the question word (ما) or (ماذا) “what”, they become shorter, and the same thing happens to the question word. However, when we try to answer these questions using a combination of a preposition and (ما), the prepositions remain short, but (ما) is written in full again.

عمّ تتكلم؟

أتكلم عما يهمني.

What are you talking about?

I am talking about what concerns me.

فيمَ تفكر؟

أفكر فيما سأفعل.

What are you thinking about?

I am thinking about what I will do.

ممَّ تخاف؟

أخاف مما ينتظرني.

What are you afraid of?

I am afraid of what is awaiting me.

Can you notice the difference between the way the preposition and question word combination appear in questions and in statements?

Now can you guess what these question words mean?






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  1. Juan:

    Hello Aziza,

    I give up!, I do not know the last two words that you mentioned, I never saw them before.

    I could bet for the first: على+ ما؟
    And for the second: إلا + ما؟

    But I cannot find any sense.
    Could you please explain and also give an example?


    • aziza:

      @Juan Hello Juan, Thank you very much for your effort. You got the first one correct. Please find the answer in my next post.