October 19, 2019 0

Arabic Grammar: Expressing Relation and Possession using “Idaafa” الإضافة


Ahlan wa sahlan! Right now, we’re going to
talk about how to form الإضافة. الإضافة is a really really important
central construction in Arabic, and it literally means ‘addition,’ and ‘iDaafas’
are formed by two or more nouns that were placing together in a relationship
of possession, or belonging. It can be helpful to conceptualize الإضافة
the way that we sometimes use the word ‘of’ in English, right? If we say ‘the book
of the student,’ or ‘the city of Amherst,’ ‘the X of the Y.’ There is no ‘apostrophe s’
construction in Arabic to indicate possession, there is no way that we can
say ‘the students book,’ we need to sort of restructure it to say ‘the
book of the student.’ And even though the meaning of the entire phrase is definite,
only the last term of the اضافة is going to indicate its definiteness by
‘alif-laam’ or a possessive suffix, usually. So for example, if we want to say
‘the book of the student,’ ‘the student’s book,’ we would say we would write: كتاب الطالب ‘the book of the student.’ So we
have ‘alif laam’ here, because this is the final term of the اضافة, even though that
book is definite, we’re talking about a specific book, we do not have ‘alif laam’
here. Or ‘the door of the house.’ باب البيت again no ‘alif-laam’ here, but we know
because we have a couple of nouns together, right, we don’t have an
adjective to confuse us. باب البيت There’s a relationship between these two
things: first term, first word, doesn’t have an ‘alif-laam,’ and this one does, so
it’s likely that they have that possessive relationship, we’re talking
about الإضافة. Now remember that things that are definite with possessive
suffix are never going to take ‘alif-laam.’ So if I wanted to talk about ‘my
mother’s office,’ for example, I would write مكتب والدتي I have this ‘yaa’
that indicates that the والدة is my والدة
والدتي, and again ‘maktab’ has no ‘alif laam,’ so I know that I’m speaking about a
specific والدة, my waalida, waalidatii, مكتب والدتي. One final way that
nouns can be definite is if they’re proper nouns, right? So if I wanted to
talk about the University of New York, NYU, I would write جامعة نيو يورك. Notice that I haven’t put an ‘alif-laam’ on New York, because there is
only one New York. New York is a proper noun, so I don’t need to give it
additional definiteness. It’s already definite. Also notice that here, when I
say it as a phrase, I say ‘jaami’at New York, whenever we have a noun with a
‘taa marbuuTa’ in an اضافة we’re going to pronounce that ‘taa marbuuTa’ as a ‘taa,’ as a
‘t’ sound, on all the words except the final word of the اضافة. You’ve probably
also heard phrases like مدينة آمهرست, مدينة نورثهامتون, we’re not
substituting letters, right we’re going to write things exactly the same way,
we’re going to write it as a ‘taa marbuuTa,’ but because it is
not the last term in اضافة we’re going to pronounce the sound of the ‘taa.’

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