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Some Common Particles in Arabic (3) Posted by on Aug 30, 2018 in Grammar, morphology, Vocabulary

In the previous two posts, you learned how some Arabic particles are used and what they mean. Given their functions in style, sentence transition, conciseness in speech and written language, and idiomatic usage, another post is yet again dedicated to these important words. Some of these words are called حَرُوف ‘particles’, and others are called ظُرُوف ‘adverbs’. In these posts, they are referred to as particles because they must be used with nouns or verbs to be meaningful.


كَيْ is a functional particle that means ‘to / in order to’. It is used to express purpose and/or reason. It is normally followed by an imperfective form of the verb. Considering parsing, the verb that follows it is in the subjunctive mood, that is, it takes place in the future.  The following examples illustrate:

جِئْتُ إِلَى هُنَا كَيْ أَتَعَلَّم.     I came here to learn.

أَسْرِع كَيْ تَصْل فِي الوَقْت المُنَاسِب.     Hurry up in order to arrive in time.

هَيَّا نُسَافِر إِلَى القَرْيَة كَيْ نَسْتَمْتِع بِالهُدُوء.     Let’s travel to the village to enjoy tranquility.

ذَاكِر كَيْ تَنْجَح.     Study so as to pass!


لِكَيْ is used in the same way as كَيْ. The لِ makes it possible to change the كَيْ and the verb into مَصْدَر ‘verbal noun’ which is also called مَصْدَر مُؤَوَّل, as in these examples:

(1) سَافَرْتُ لِكَيْ أَحْصُل عَلَى المَزِيْد مِنْ المَال.     I travel to get more money.

سَافَرْتُ لِلْحُصُول عَلى المَزِيْد مِنْ المَال.

(2) جِاءَ مُحَمَّد لِكَيْ يُسَاعِدَكُم.     Mohammed came in order to help you

جَاءَ مُحَمَّد لِمُسَاعَدَتِكُم.

(3) حَضَرَ الأَبّ لِكَيْ يُقَابِل المُدِيْر.     The father came in order to meet the principal.

حَضَرَ الأَبّ لِمُقَابَلَة المُدِيْر.

In (1), (2), and (3) above, each of the second sentences has the same meaning as the first. It is derived from it by changing كَيْ and the verb into مَصْدَر ‘verbal noun’ and keeping the لِ of لِكَيْ. The verbal nouns are لِلْحُصُول, لِمُسَاعَدَتِكُم, and لِمُقَابَلَة.

كَيْلا / لِكَيْلا

كَيْلا and لِكَيْلا are the negative forms of كَيْ and لِكَيْ. They both mean ‘in order not to’. The following examples illustrate:

ذَاكِر بِجِد كَيْلا تَرْسَب فِي الاِمْتِحَان.     Study diligently in order not to fail the exam.

يَجِبُ أَنْ تُسْرِع لِكَيْلا تَتَأَخَّر.     You must hurry in order not to be late.


سِوَى is a functional word that use make an exception. Its meaning is similar to that of إِلَّا which was explained in a previous post, i.e. ‘except’, as in these examples:

مَا جَاء سِوَى نَاصِر.     No one came except Nasser.

لَمْ أُقَابِل سُوى عَلِي.     I met no one except Ali.

حَضَرَ الطُّلَّاب سُوِى سَلِيْم.     The students came except Saleem.


حَيْتُ is a functional particle that functions as an adverb of place. It means ‘where’, and it may be preceded by prepositions like إِلَى فِي¸ بـ, and مِنْ. It is always added to sentences. Normally, it is preceded by a verbal sentence, and followed by either a verbal or a nominal sentence. If it is followed by a noun, this noun must be a topic مُبْتَدَأ and its predicate خَبَر is dropped as it is understood from the context. The following examples illustrate:

(1) دَرَسْتُ حَيْثٌ دَرَسَ أَخِي صَالِح.     I studied where my brother Saleh studied.

(2) سَكَنْتُ حَيْثُ الأَسْعَارُ مُنْخَفِضَةٌ.     I lived where the prices are low.

(3) جِئِنَا مِنْ حَيْثُ جَاء مُحَمَّد.     We came from where Mohammed came.

(4) رَحَلَ البَدْو إِلَى حَيْثُ المَاءُ.     The Bedouin left to where the water is (available).

(5) اِرْجَعْ إِلَى حَيْثُ أَتَيْت.     Go back to where you came from.

In sentence (1), حَيْتُ is preceded by a verb and followed by a verb. In (2), it is preceded by a verb and followed by a nominal sentence (topic مُبْتَدَأ + predicate خَبَر). In (3), it is preceded by a preposition and verb and followed by a verb. In (4), it is preceded by a preposition and verbal sentence, and follow by a topic مُبْتَدَأ whose predicate is dropped, as it is understood from the context. Basically, the sentence is رَحَلَ البَدْو إِلَى حَيْثُ المَاء مَوْجُود, but مَوْجُود is dropped.


حَتَّى is a functional particle that has many meanings. The most common of these are: 1) a preposition that means ‘till, to’, 2) a subordinating conjunction that means ‘till / until’, 3) a coordinating conjunction that indicate emphasis and means ‘even / and’, 4) a particle that has the same meaning as كَيْ ‘in order to’, and in this case it must be followed by an imperfective verb. The following examples illustrate:

(1) عَمِلْتُ حَتَّى مُنْتَصَف اللَّيْل.      I worked till midnight

(2) يَجِبُ أَنْ تَمْشِيَ حَتَّى هّذَا نَهَايَة الزُّقَاق.     You must walk to the end of this alleyway

(3) سَأَنْتَظِر حَتَّى يَأْتِي المُدِيْر التَّنْفِيْذِي.     I will wait till the CEO comes

(4) أَكْلْتُ حَتَّى شَبِعْتُ.     I ate until I become full

(5) كُلَّ الطُّلَّاب رَسِبُوا فِي اِمْتَحَان الرِّيَاضِيَّات حَتَّى سَامِر.     All the student flunked the math test even Samir

(6) هَرَبَ الجُنُوْد مِنْ المَعْرَكَة حَتَّى القَائِد.     The soldiers fled the battleground even the commander

(7) عَلِي يَعْمَل دَوَامِيْن حَتَّى يَحْصُلَ عَلَى فُلُوس أَكْثَر.     Ali worked two shifts to gain more money

(8) اِشْتَرِيْتُ تَذْكِرَة حَتَّى أَحْضُر المُبَارَاة.     I bought a ticket to attend the match.


كُلّ is mostly dependent on the word that occurs after it; it usually occurs in a genitive construction إِضَافَة, that is, it is followed by a noun or an attached pronoun. It means ‘all, all of’. It is also possible that it occurs by itself as definite الكُلّ or indefinite كُلّ. It is always masculine and singular regardless of the number and gender to the word that follows it. The following examples illustrate:

حَضَرَ كُلُّ الطُّلَّاب.      All of the students came

حَضَرَ الكُلُّ / حَضَرَ الكُلَّ.     All came

كُلُّ كِتَاب صَعْب.     Every book is difficult.

الرِّجَال كُلُّهُم مِنْ بَاكِسْتَان والنَّسَاء كُلُّهُن مِن الهِنْد.     All of the men are from Pakistan and all the women are from India.

كُلُّنَا مَوَافِقُون عَلَى فِكْرَتِك.     All of us agree with your idea.

تَبَرَّعَتِ المَرْأَة بِكُلِّ أَموَالِهَا.     The woman donated all her money.

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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.


  1. MANZOOR ali:

    I have learnt the arabic grammer but your
    Lessons are very informative interesting and knowledgeable.

  2. Abba Dahiru Nigeria:

    Jazakallah for your contributions.may I have your WhatsApp number?