level 1

Lesson 1 - Types of Words | Noun Case

1) Does the ism (اِسْم) only encompass nouns, pronouns, and adjectives?

No. The definition includes any word that conveys a meaning without a tense, so this can apply to several parts of speech in English. Therefore, it also includes things like nouns, adverbs, quantifiers.

2) What if I can’t recognize a word using the table in Lesson 1?

There are other signs that are also used to identify the parts of speech in Arabic and what is provided in Lesson 1 is meant to be a basic list. You will learn more signs as you progress, like the tā marbūṭah (ة) which is seen in an upcoming lesson. A good tip: anytime you memorize a new word make sure you determine what type of speech it is and take note of that. The dictionary will also indicate the type of speech when you look up a word.

3) I don’t understand "case." What are some more examples in English?

In English, many of our pronouns change their ending sound based upon the situation they are in. For example, we say:

  • “Who are you?” instead of “Whom are you?”
  • “Whose pen is this?” instead of “Who pen is this?”

These examples show how the end of the word who/whom/whose changes depending on context. This is an equivalent of cases in English and is just done on a much larger scale in Arabic.

Lesson 2 - Definite & Indefinite Nouns | Past Tense Verbs

1) What does the word tanwīn mean?

It means to make the sound of the letter nūn after the word. Notice that when a word like bayt has a tanwīn on the end, it will be pronounced as baytun or baytan or baytin. The -n sound on the end is what the tanwīn signifies.

2) Are there any tips for memorizing the sun and moon letters?

One tip is that the sun letters in the Qur’an always have a shaddah written on the letter after the alif lām, whereas the moon letters will not. Using this tip you will eventually memorize which ones are which.

3) Are there conjugations in English?

English has a very basic conjugation system. We would say “He says” as opposed to “We say.” This is a basic English conjugation. The difference between Arabic and English is that Arabic has a unique conjugation pattern involving adding prefixes and suffixes to the root verb  for each tense and each pronoun that is being used in that tense. For example, the word “says” in “He says” and “She says” would sound different in Arabic.

Lesson 3 - Gender of Nouns

1) In the lesson we learn feminine word endings. What about masculine word endings?

There are no specific signs that a word is masculine in Arabic but instead the absence of one of the feminine word endings will usually indicate that the word is masculine. That being said there are some masculine words that have feminine endings, like the name hamzah, and there are some words that do not have feminine endings but are still treated as feminine as mentioned in the lesson.

Lesson 4 - Singular, Dual & Plural

1) Does every noun in Arabic have a singular, dual, and plural?

No. Certain words, like the name Allah, only exists in a singular form. Some plurals (as you will learn later) do not have a singular (e.g. إبل meaning camels). Other words are commonly used in the plural form in the Qur’an even though they have a singular word, like the word dhulumāt (darkness).

2) If the accusative and genitive patterns for the sound plurals repeat, how can I tell the difference?

Other context clues can be used to determine if the case is accusative or genitive, such as the presence of genitive particles or the iḍāfah structure which we will learn later. Remember that Arabic grammar is very logical and does not typically leave the reader is very ambiguous positions.

Lesson 5 - Adjective Phrase & Present Tense Verbs

1) Why are non-human plurals considered feminine?

This is an excellent question and there is a lot of discussion on the issue but at this point it may be too difficult to get into it. Instead focus on memorizing the rule for now and being able to identify non-human plurals wherever you can.

2) Is there only one middle vowel change per verb from past to present tense?

Yes, this is overwhelmingly the case. There are some roots that have more than one possible middle vowel change and the dictionary will be able to identify for you verbs for which that is the case.

Lesson 6 - Nominal Sentence

1) Is there a difference between using hal (هَلْ) and a’ (أَ)?

At this level, no in the nominal sentence there is no difference between the two. However, there are some tendencies toward using one of the other depending on the subject. For example if the subject begins with an alif lām it is common to use hal so that there isn’t a long alif sound created (although in some cases this occurs). On the other hand when beginning a sentence with a pronoun that begins with hamzah, such as ‘anta, it is common to use a’.

2) If adjectives are added to the nominal sentence, how can I keep track of the subject and predicate?

Remember that typically the subject is definite and the predicate is indefinite and adjectives copy these aspects from the words they are describing. So make sure you pay attention to the tanwīn and alif lām on the words in the nominal sentence.

Lesson 7 - Pointing Nouns

1) Are there other words that are mabnī in the Arabic language?

Yes, there are many words that are mabnī, meaning that they do not change based on the case. In English, this is the default whereas case endings are the exception. In Arabic, it is more balanced and there is almost an even distribution between the types of words that are mabnī and those that are not.

2) Are pointing nouns definite or indefinite?

They are always definite.

Lesson 8 - Possessive Construct

1) I know the muḍāf ilayhi is in the genitive case. What about the muḍāf?

The muḍāf has no rules governing its case. As long as it has no alif lam and no tanwin it can be in any case. Its case will depend upon what it is doing in the sentence. For example, if the mudaf is a mubtada’ or a khabr it will be in the nominative (raf’) case. If it is playing a different grammatical role the sentence, it will take the case assigned to that role. In summary, the mudaf can be in any case whereas the muḍāf ilayhi must be in the genitive (jarr) case.

2) Does anything happen to the nūn of the dual or sound masculine plural if it is in the muḍāf ilayhi position?

No. The nun from the end of the dual and sound masculine plural remains if they are in the muḍāf ilayhi position. It will only drop if the dual and sound masculine plural is in the muḍāf position.

Lesson 9 - Prepositions

1) Do all ḥurūf put the following ism in the genitive case?

No, for the most part this ability is limited only the ones mentioned in this chapter. There are even some ḥurūf which have no effect on the case of the following word while others, such as prepositions, cause changes to case.

2) Is there any difference between using the prepositions that are ḥurūf verses the prepositions which are asmā’?

In terms of the overall grammatical effect on the following word, there is no difference. There are some technical differences which will be addressed later. Both types of prepositions affect the nouns that come after them by creating the genitive state (jarr).

Lesson 10 - Verbal Sentence

1) What happens if the verb comes after the subject?

This is technically not considered a verbal sentence anymore, and we will learn more about this in Level 2. The sentence would still be considered valid in Arabic, but it can no longer be classified as “verbal sentence.” In order for a sentence to qualify as a verbal sentence, the verb must precede its subject.

2) When pronouns are used with prepositions do the changes always have to take place, i.e. ḍammah on the attached pronouns changing to kasrah for certain pronouns?

This should be done as a default rule, although there are some exceptional cases in the Qur’an where the ḥarakat do not change when the preposition is attached.

Lesson 11 - Noun Endings

1) Are there other instances where these noun-cases are found?

Yes, there are many other places where these cases are found. They will be discussed in later levels.

2) Are patterns or roots more important for determining the meaning of a word?

Both are essential to understanding what a word means and a student cannot do without memorizing both a large number of roots and a large number of patterns. A root on its on will only give you the general underlying meaning and the pattern will focus it into a specific meaning, such as an active participle (doer of an action) or passive participle (the thing or person to whom the action is done). Both of these patterns will be discussed in the next lesson more in depth and in Level 2 later on in the curriculum we will learn additional patterns.