B: The Pronoun of Separation

You have so far dealt with sentences such as هذا كتابٌ جديدٌ “This is a new book”, and هذا الكتابُ جديدٌ

“This book is new.” How would you say “This is the new book”? The answer is هذا هو الكتابُ الجديُد.

What has happened is that the pronoun هو has been inserted between هذا and ‘الكتاب. As I indicated before هذا and هذه when followed by a definite noun form one unit with that noun. Thus هذا الكتاب means “this book”. The only way to say “This is the book” is to break up the unit. The pronoun هو in the example above is placed between هذا and كتاب to break that unit. It is called the “pronoun of separation” (ضميرُ الفصْل in Arabic).

A phrase such as هذه المديرة , “this director (f),” is broken up with the feminine pronouns هي to get هذه هي المديرة, “This is the director (f).”

If the phrase is plural, then plural pronouns are used. You will see examples of this later on in Part One. Note also that the pronoun of separation does not affect the case of the word following it.

Sometimes the pronoun of separation is optional. When the demonstratives (and sometimes other words) are followed by an idaafa instead of a noun with a definite article, the pronoun of separation does not need to be added, although often it is used for emphasis. For example:

1. This is the new professor’s article.

١. هذه مقالةُ الاستاذِ الجديدِ.

2. This is the new professor’s article.

٢. هذه هي مقالةُ الاستاذِ الجديدِ.

3. What is the importance of this article?

٣. ما أهمية هذه المقالةِ؟

4. What is the importance of this article?

٤. ما هي أهميةُ هذه المقالةِ؟




2 responses to “B: The Pronoun of Separation”

  1. Pkallthebest Avatar

    This post really helped me studying Arabic!! Thank you!!

  2. Audrey Avatar

    I have my undergrad in Arabic FusHa and am trying to brush up a bit. This is by far the clearest resource for those who know Arabic already and just want to cut to the important bits. Thank you!

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