Arabic sentence structure: nominal and verbal sentences Posted by aziza on Jan 29, 2009 in Grammar
Arabic has 2 types of sentences: nominal and verbal.
Nominal sentences begin with a noun or a pronoun, while verbal sentences begin with a verb.
Nominal sentences have 2 parts: a subject (مبتدأ) and a predicate (خبر). When the nominal sentence is about being, i.e. if the verb of the sentence is ‘to be’ in English, this verb is not given in Arabic. Instead, it is implied and understood from the context. This can be confusing to some learners who speak European languages and are used to having a verb in each sentence. Consider the first 3 examples below where verb to be is not given in the Arabic sentence.
The subject of the nominal sentence is a noun or a pronoun, while the predicate can be a noun, adjective, preposition and noun, or verb. In the following examples the subject is underlined:
هذه مقالة ممتازة.
“This is an excellent article.”
“Her father is Lebanese.”
نحن من مصر.
“We are in Egypt.”
“The boy plays.”
The subject of a nominal sentence is usually definite, yet an indefinite subject is allowed in some types of sentences that express existence or possession, and in this case the subject comes after the predicate. In the following examples the subject is underlined:
هناك أولاد في الحديقة.
“There are kids in the park.”
“I have a brother”
“I have a car.”
Verbal sentences begin with a verb, and they have at least a verb (فعل) and a subject (فاعل). The subject can be indicated by the conjugation of the verb, and not written separately, for example:
يعمل جدّي في التجارة.
My grandfather works in trade.
Some people prefer verbal sentences to nominal sentences whenever a verb needs to be used in the sentence, however, this is not necessarily the case and the choice of which word to use at the beginning of a sentence depends on what you want the focus of the sentence to be:
يعمل جدّي في التجارة.
جدّي يعمل في التجارة.
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