E: False Idaafas

Idaafas are treated in detail in Part I. However, in Part I, the focus is on idaafas composed of two or more nouns in a row and there is considerable stress on the fact that only nouns are used in an idaafa construction. There is another type of idaafa which does not occur any where near as often, but of which you should be aware. Its first term is an adjective and its second term is a noun. Look at the examples below.

  1. This man talks a great deal.
١. هذا الرجل كثيرُ الكلام.
  2. This woman talks a great deal.
٢. هذه المرأةُ كثيرةُ الكلام.
  3. We are participating in multilateral negotiations.
٣. نشارك في مفاوضاتٍ متعددة الاطرافِ.
  4. We are participating in the multilateral negotiations.
٤. نشاركُ في المفاوضاتِ المتعددةِ الأطرافِ.


The underlined elements in the sentences above are known as false idaafas or adjectival idaafas. The first term is an adjective which agrees in case, number, and gender with the preceding noun.. The second term will be a noun which will always be definite and in the genitive case.

In sentences one and two above, the false idaafas are indefinite, even though the last term of each idaafa has the definite article. The same is true for sentence number three. The only difference in sentence three is that متعددة (“multi”) is feminine singular because it is modifying a noun-human plural. In each of the first three sentences, the false idaafa is acting as the predicate of an equational sentence.

Sentence four is a definite version of sentence three. Now the adjective متعددة has the definite article and the false idaafa is functioning as an adjective modifying the noun المفاوضات. Even though المتعددةِ is definite, it is still considered to be the first term of an idaafa and it puts the second term in the genitive case.

You will come across false idaafas from time to time in media Arabic and in literature. I deliberately did not mention them in Part I because of the importance of your mastering regular idaafas.

4 responses to “E: False Idaafas”

  1. Jtytler Avatar

    This is a bit confusing since you haven’t fully vocalised the examples,
    I think it should be
    نشارك في مفاوضاتٍ متعددةُ الاطرافِ
    But I’m not entirely clear based on just the explanation

    I also noticed in the topic on indeclinable nouns that مستشفَى was given and not the correct مستشفًى which again was somewhat confusing and not what I needed a few days before my Arabic final!

    Otherwise I love this site though generally very good explanations 🙂

    1. John Leake2 Avatar
      John Leake2

      No, the adjective must agree in case with the noun it qualifies (مفاوضاتٍ), so here it should be in the genitive (jarr), that is: نشارك في مفاوضاتٍ متعددةِ الاطرافِ. It needs to agree in definiteness, but that is concealed by the idafa relationship with الاطرافِ.

      I agree that example 3 is a verbal sentence (جملة فعلية).

      ءYour second point is obviously a typo by the author – he even says that مستشفىَ has a double fatha (ـًً).

  2. Jtytler Avatar

    Also I don’t see how number three is a جملة اسمية this is rather confusing actually

  3. AF Avatar

    I think that’s a mistake, actually. نشارك is definitely a verb. To use this book’s words, it’s the form III imperfect form of شرك, a root which tends to relate to groups.

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