G: Demonstrative Pronouns

هذا is a masculine demonstrative pronoun meaning “this”.ما هذ؟ means “What is this?”. هذا طالبٌ means “This is a student”. هذا is the subject of the sentence but it is not a word that has case.

ذلِكَ is a masculine demonstrative pronoun meaning “that”. As in English, ذلك “that” refers to objects which are more distant or is used in contrast: هذا طالبٌ وذلك مُدَرِّسٌ

هذه and تلك are the feminine equivalents for هذا and ذلك

Whenever any of these four words is followed by a definite noun we have one unit meaning “this noun”. For example هذا الكتابُ means “this book” and ذلك البليدُ means “that moron”. (These are phrases, not sentences. Note that all four demonstratives end in a vowel, so no helping vowel is needed for elision.) Also, be aware that phrases such as هذا الكتابُ do not mean “This is the book” but only “this book”. These phrases often serve as the subject of an equational sentence as in: هذا الطالب جميلٌ “This student is handsome.”

6 responses to “G: Demonstrative Pronouns”

  1. Steve Avatar

    So how would one say “This is the book”? Thanks.

    1. Patrick Baggett Avatar
      Patrick Baggett

      هذا هو الكتاب
      Literally something like “This, it is the book”

  2. Naseer Qureshi Avatar
    Naseer Qureshi

    Arabic grammar books often give the meaning of ھٰذا الکتاب as
    “This is the book” too!
    هذا هو الكتاب is the unambiguous way to say, “This is the book”. Hopefully, the learned author of this site will be able to clarify this point.

  3. Hayat Avatar

    نقول احيانا “في عطلة نهاية الاسبوع هذه سأسافر الى سان فرانسيسكو” او هندسة الجينات تلك قد احدثت ثورة علمية كبيرة” ” فكيف تترجم هاتين الجملتين يا ترى؟ شكرا جزيلا

    1. AD Avatar

      The first sentence may be translated thus: ‘During the holidays at the end of this week, I shall travel to San Francisco.’
      The second sentence may not have a literal equivalent in my opinion…but a native speaker would be better placed to highlight this issue.

    2. Rafut Avatar

      In the first instance, the demonstrative pronoun is being used in place of a personal pronoun (feminine انا.) It would be translated, as previously stated: ‘During the holidays at the end of this week, I shall travel to San Francisco.’
      The second sentence would be best translated: The aforementioned genetic engineering has created a large scientific revolution (the تلك is referring back to genetic engineering, so aforementioned is a good translation of the word)
      The third is literally: These two sentences, I wonder. (expressing confusion as in “what on earth could these two sentences mean?”)

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