Arabic Language Blog

Categorical Negation in Arabic Posted by on Dec 3, 2010 in Grammar

The negative particle (لا) is typically used to negate verbal sentences in the present tense. In this way, it is used before the present tense verb to negate it, e.g.

لا أشرب الكحول.

“I do not drink alcohol.”

There is another use of (لا) for categorical negation (لا النافية للجنس). In this way, (لا) negates the meaning of the proposition categorically, e.g.

لا أحد غائب.

“No one is absent.”

لا سفر بدون تذكرة.

“No travelling without tickets.”

لا شيء يهم.

“Nothing matters.”

In this construction, (لا) must be followed by an indefinite noun, and it negates the meaning of the sentence completely and categorically.

Now, try to translate these sentences into English.

لا معلمة في الصف.

لا أجر بلا عمل.

لا قلم في الحقيبة.

لا مفتاح للباب.

لا إله إلا الله.

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  1. Scheich Josef:

    مرحبا يا عزيزة

    Your examples demonstrate the use of the lâ of absolute negation (لا النافية للجنس) very well. But I am just missing here the most famous example of it:

    لا إله إلا الله

    مع السلامة


    • aziza:

      @Scheich Josef شكراً يا يوسف
      I will add your suggestion to the post.

  2. zobia:

    The Arabic language should be in much
    bigger print for easier reading than the English. It’s Arabic one is learning, not English.

  3. Nur:

    I agree with zobia. When I read arabic I must set the font bigger. Please, write the arabic characters in a bigger font.

  4. enver:

    لا معلمة في الصف.

    there is NO teacher in the classroom.

    لا أجر بلا عمل.

    ONLY with work there is a salary.

    لا قلم في الحقيبة.

    there is NO pen in the bag.

    لا مفتاح للباب.

    there is NO key of the door

    لا إله إلا الله.

    there is NO god but Allah. or the affirmative version
    Allah is the ONLY god.

    is this good? 😀

    • aziza:

      @enver great thank you!

  5. Aaron P:

    Could ‘لا أجر بلا عمل’ be translated as ‘No pain no gain’, perhaps?

    • aziza:

      @Aaron P Yes it could be! The Arabic is also very idiomatic!

  6. Asni M Amin:

    Yes, please use a bigger font for the Arabic letters. I always have to copy and paste on to another document to enlarge it so that I can read it! But, thank you so much for these lessons.