Arabic Language Blog

Noun Determiners in Arabic Posted by on Feb 17, 2016 in Arabic Language, Grammar, Vocabulary

  • Ahlan أهــْــلاً , Arabic lovers! We have gone quite far up till now in studying Arabic grammar and especially the Arabic nouns. Today, we are going to have a quick short lesson on Arabic nouns.
  • We already know that all Arabic words fall into three main categories; Nouns, Verbs and Particles.
  • The question of this post is: How can we determine or judge whether an Arabic word is a noun or not? we will answer this simple question in an easy way.
  • For a quick review of Arabic nouns, click here.
  • For detailed study of Arabic nouns, refer to our Index of Arabic Grammar.
Noun Determiners in Arabic - image via

Noun Determiners in Arabic – image via


   A determiner is a word, a marker or an affixation that comes with a noun to distinguish it from other parts of speech. This is quite the same as with noun determiners in English but of course these determiners are different from those in English.

Noun Determiners (Markers) عــَــلامــَــاتُ الاســْــم:

   There are five determiners or markers to distinguish Arabic nouns. If a word accepts one or more of these determiners, then the word is a noun:

1- The Genitive or Idaafa Construction (Majrour): We have already learnt about the different Arabic Prepositions. So, if a noun comes after these particles, then it is in the genitive case and it automatically has a Kas’rah on its ending. We define this noun as “genitive” or as (a Majrour Noun اســْــم مــجــرور) by the preposition (particle) because this preposition was the real cause of this genitive case. In the same way, if the word comes as a part of an Idaafa, it is a Mudaaf Majrour (genitive) noun. These posts about Idaafa and Modaaf structures and definite nouns may help.

             Ex. .  وَصَــلَ الــقــِــطــارُ إلــى الــمــَــحــطــّــةِ

= The train arrived at station. (Majrour by a preposition)

Ex.  الإجــتــهــادُ أســاسُ الــنــَّــجــَــاحِ .

= Working hard is the origin of success. (Majrour by Idaafa)

In the above two examples, the words الــمــحــطــة (station) and الــنــجــاح (success) are both in the genitive case (End in a Kasrah) because the first word is preceded by the preposition إلـى and the second comes in the Idaafa construction.

2- The Tanween الــتــنــويــن: Tanween is one form of the Arabic Diacritics. It is a long vowel of (a, e, o) that ends in /n/. Only nouns accept the Tanween. The noun with Tanween can be in any of the three cases and this depends on context.

      Ex. اِنــْــطــَــلــَــقَ صــَـاروخٌ ضــَــخــْــمٌ .

= A huge rocket was launched. (Nominative case and subject)

Ex.  اِشــْــتــريــْــتُ ســَــيــَّــارةً.

= I bought a car. (Accusative case and object)

Ex. اِنــْــطــلــَــق الــصــاروخُ بــِــســُــرعــَــةٍ مــُــذهــِــلــةٍ

= The rocket went in astonishing speed. (Genitive case and Majrour)

3- The Definite Article (Al-): As we studied earlier in the post about Definite Nouns with (Al-), we already know that the article (Al-) makes the noun definite. Consequently, the definite article (Al-) in Arabic is a noun determiner. The definite noun with (Al-) can be in any case.

     Ex. الــكــِــتــابُ مــُــثــيــرٌ  

= The book is interesting.(Nominative Case and subject/Mubtada)

Ex. اِشــْــتــريــْــتُ الــمــَــنــزلَ  

= I bought the house. (Accusative Case and object)

Ex  ذهــَــبــْــتُ إلــى الــســُّــوقِ.

= I went to the market. (Genitive Case and Majrour)

4- The Vocative Case الــنــِــداء: If a word is followed by one of the vocative particles e.g. (Ya يــَــا), then this word is a noun and is in the vocative case. Here Arabic is different from English.

     Ex. أســْــرعــُــوا يــا رجــال. = Hurry up, guys!

5- Attribution (Isnad) الإســنــاد: The Arabic word Isnad means to allocate or to attribute something or someone to another. It is a grammatical term. So, the predicate is an attribute of the subject in the nominative sentence and the subject is an attribute of the verb in the verbal sentence. Isnad is a noun that gives more information or defines another word (noun or verb).

    Ex. الــعــِــلــمُ نــُــورٌ. = Knowledge is light.

Ex. تــَــطــَــوَّرَ الــعــِــلــمُ. = Science has developed.

To sum up, if a word accepts one or more of the above determiners, then this word is a noun.


Find all our grammar posts here; Index of Arabic Grammar.


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Peace سلام  /Salam/

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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. 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.


  1. Pedro:

    Hi Fisal,

    I’m Pedro. I’m from México. Firs of all, I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge regarding arabic language. I’m spanish speaker, but I love arabic language. I love Amr’s Diab music, and I try to understand his songs. But I have I big problem, because in normal arabic writings you don’t put the vowels and I can’t read well the word. I would appreciate if you can tell me how can I solve this problem. Thanks for your arabic grammar lessons. Best regards, Pedro.

    • Fisal:

      @Pedro Ahlan, Pedro. We are happy that you are enjoying our blog and learning from it. My first advice for you is to be patient and to practice reading more. We have so many reading comprehension exercises with answers posted later on on a separate blog. Yes, Arabic is normally written without the (vowels). We call them Diacritics or (Tashkeel) which refers to the markings over the ending letters. Why do that? Because context determines them. It is absolutely easy to guess them. Just think of the meaning of the sentence. Use the logic! Who? is the subject with a dammah (O) at the ending. Did what? is the verb and it either ends in a Fatiha or a dammah or a sukoun. Did what to who or to what? is the object and the object always has a fat’ha at the ending. then think of when? where? and so on. If you see a preposition, then what comes after always has a Kasrah. This blog post about thous diacritics may help you 🙂 Best

  2. Jesse The Comedian:

    Which Case Ending Does The Noun Get After Using The Yaa Of Calling? Should I Say Ahlan Mualimu Burhan Or Ahlam Mualima Burhan?