In our last post, I introduced the six types of definite nouns.

In this post I’m going to elucidate further by explaining each category, Allah willing. I mentioned the first type which was the pronoun. The pronoun in Arabic is called الضّمِير. The root of this word means to be hidden or separate, the plural form is الضَّمَائِرُ. Another technical term used by the scholars of Arabic grammar is مُضْمَر, which means the same thing.

The pronoun is complex so we will start with the basics. At first it may seem overwhelming but after hard work and diligence this issue will become easy with the help of Allah Most High.

I will be basing this post on two texts to explain this area of definite nouns as I found the benefit within them very pertinent to the beginning student of Arabic. The first is المُغْنِي فِي عِلْمِ النَّحْوِ al-Mughnee fee ‘Ilm an-Nahwi by al-‘Allaamah Aboo al-Makaarim Fakhr-ud-Deen al-Jaarabardee, may Allah have mercy upon him, (died in 664 A.H. / 1346 C.E.), from the major scholars of at-Tabreez. The second is مُتَمِّمَةُ الآجُرُّومِيَّةِ فِي عِلْمِ العَرَبِيَّةِ Mutammimah al-Aajurroomiyyah fee ‘Ilm al-‘Arabiyyah by al-‘Allaamah Shams-ud-Deen Muhammad al-Hattaab, may Allah have mercy upon him, (died in 945 A.H.) from the major scholars of Yemen. I have covered his bio briefly in this post.

I will start with al-Jaarabardee’s explanation as it is brief and to the point. He states under the section الضَّمَائِرُ وَ أقْسَامُهَا (the Arabic Pronoun and its categories) that the pronoun is reserved for one addressing himself such as saying أنَا (I or me), or when one is being addressed such as saying أنْتَ (You) or to one who is not present by addressing that person as هُوَ (him). It is used to address the one needing to be spoken of whether that is in the form of speaking to others or the one speaking or the one being spoken about.

He mentions that the pronoun consists of two examples the مُتَّصِلٌ Muttasil and the مُنْفَصِلٌ Munfasil. Before we go further, I want to give just a little bit of linguistic background on these two words. In my short time seeking knowledge with some of the scholars I noticed in their lessons that whenever they teach a subject to their students they always give the linguistic background of the topic. For example in the classes of Shaykh Fawzaan, may Allah protect him from every harm and evil, he would give us an explanation of words covered in the text or concerning the topic. I remember once in our class on Mukhtasar Zaad al-Ma’aad he went into the linguistic meaning of the word ‘Aqeeqah so that we could understand it when he was explaining the text. I found this to be very beneficial and helped to understand the word anytime I happened upon it in Ahaadeeth or when used by the scholars in their books. Therefore if you understand the linguistic background of a word then you will understand the function of it grammatically, and Allah knows best, that is just my advice to you and I hope it will benefit.

The word Muttasil is from the root وصل Wasal, without getting too much into the science of Sarf (verb conjugation) the base of this word is such that the Waa is dropped and a Taa takes place of it and connects to the second Taa. It means something that is connected hence here the pronoun that has to be connected to a noun or verb in order to make sense.

The word Munfasil is from the root فصل Fasal which means to leave or separate. It also can mean to stand alone. Here it is referring to the personal pronouns that are independent and do not need to be connected to a verb or noun to make sense.

Al-Imaaam al-Jaarabadee then goes on to cite examples of the Muttasil occurring between the noun and the verbs. Examples of the Muttasil include:

أَخُوكَ
Your brother.

مَرَّ بِكَ
I passed you by.

ضَرَبَكَ
He hit you.

أفْعَلُ
I do.

The examples of the Munfasil are words such as:

هُوَ
He

هِيَ
She

أنْتَ
You

And إِيَّاكَ which means “You” (masculine) used when we address Allah five times a day saying in al-Faatihah:

إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
{And You alone we worship, and You alone we seek assistance from.}

It is important to note here that there are twelve personal pronouns in Arabic that must be memorized. You cannot grasp Arabic until you know them. The chart below gives you all twelve along with whether they are 1st person, 2nd, or 3rd and the English translation of each word.

The second chart covers the attached personal pronouns. They are the same as the personal pronouns only they connect to verbs and nouns while the personal stand on their own. Reference this post for a good video covering the pronouns.

In the next post, Allah willing, I will cover the B side of the pronouns using the text of al-Imaam al-Hattaab, may Allah have mercy on him.

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