Jun 4, 2015

Indefiniteness in the Arabic language

One of the First concepts taught in Basic Arabic Grammar is the subject of Indefiniteness of nouns. Indefiniteness is usually represented by tanween and the removal of the Alif and Laam of definiteness at the beginning of a word . It usually signifies that a noun is unknown or undefined.

اشتَرَيْتُ كِتَاباً        I bought a book.

مَرَرْتُ بِرَجُلٍ      I passed by a man

It is unknown which book I bought and which man I passed by.

But that's only the tip of the iceberg!

When one studies more advanced books of Grammar and delves into the science of Rhetoric then things get more complicated, but interesting at the same time.Indefiniteness, as Explained by the Scholars of Rhetoric, can have many possible meanings  and the only limit is ones own imagination.

One of the ways which Ancient Arabs used it was to magnify something. In other words, something is so great that one is unable to define it by making it definite. It is as if, it has no limit. With this meaning we could translate the following sentence as

مَرَرْتُ بِرَجُلٍ      I passed by a GREAT man

This meaning would be applicable if the context mentioned the great qualities this man.

Another example is the word كِتَاباً  in the ayah mentioned in the following short video lesson. If you notice, Indefiniteness is used to magnify the Quran.

I have explained this topic along with many others, giving examples from both inside and outside the Quran, in the following Course:

For those who would like to spend time studying Arabic and the Quran linguistic miracle we have a number of courses available on our institute website. We also have Premium membership for those who would like complete access to all our courses for relaxed, self paced study. 

May Allah ( Ta'ala) make your studies easy and may He grant you success in this life and the hereafter.


Nabeel Alkhalidy


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  2. Assalamualaikum! Nice blog. Thanks for sharing. :)

    Cheers from Ayat Quran