Lesson 48 – الدَّرْسُ الثَّامِنُ وَالأرْبَعُونَ

Pronouns 5 of 5 -الضَّمَائرُ (٥ مِنْ ٥)

latent pronoun - الضَّمير المُسْتَتِر

Latent Pronoun - الضَّمير المُسْتَتِر

  • We mentioned earlier that the opposite type of the prominent pronoun (الضَّمير الْبارِز /ađ-đamīr albāriz/) is the latent pronoun (الضَّمير المُسْتَتِر /ađ-đamīr almustatir/).This pronoun is neither detached nor attached to any word. It is not written in the sentence. It is only understood from the context of the sentence. The latent pronoun disappears after the verb whether in speaking or in writing.
  • The latent pronoun, is divided into two parts: obligatorily latent, and permissibly latent. It can occupy four positions: the agent (فاعِل /fāξil/) of a verbal sentence, the pro-agent (نائِب فاعل /nā'ib fāξil) in the passive voice sentence, after a verb of exclusion (اسْتِثْناء /istithnā'/), and after a verb of astonishment ( تَعَجُّب /taξaĵĵub/).
  • Have a look at the following examples before we discuss it in detail:


The latent pronoun



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أَسْكُنُ (أنا) .....

I live in a big flat.

أَسْكُنُ فِي شَقَّةٍ كَبِيرَةٍ.

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يَسْبَحُ (هو) ....

Muhammad is swimming in the sea.

مُحَمَّدٌ يَسْبَحُ فِي البَحْرِ.

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تُتْعِبُ (أنتَ) نَفْسَكَ

You exhaust yourself by working much.

أَنْتَ تُتْعِبُ نَفْسَكَ بِالعَمَلِ الكَثِيرِ.

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نُصَلِّي (نحنُ) ....

We pray in the big mosque.

نَحنُ نُصَلِّي في المسجدِ الكَبِيرِ.

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فاز (هو) ....

Muhammad won the contest prize.

مُحَمَّدٌ فَازَ بِجَائِزَةِ المُسَابَقَةِ.

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خَسِرَتْ (هي) ....

Layla lost in the same context.

لَيْلَى خَسِرَتْ فِي المُسابَقَةِ نَفْسِهَا.

  • When we return to the tables of the nominative attached pronoun (ضَّمير الرَّفْع المُتَّصِل / đamīr ar-rafξ al muttaŝil), we find that there are some conjugations of the past and the present verbs which are not expressed by a suffix pronouns. These cases will be studied here in our lesson because the agent is simply a latent pronoun, so please look at the empty fields in the following shortcuts of the tables of past and present conjugations:

Past verb conjugation:

     (The empty fields are those related to 3rd person masculine and feminine).

Present verb:

(The empty fields are those related to the entire first person, the second person singular masculine, and the third person singular masculine and feminine.)

  • When we conjugate the verb with a doer (فاعِل /fāξil/) of the empty fields we express it by the prefix, or we say the evident noun after the verb, or we do not mention it (leaving it to be understood from the context). Look at the first sentence of the examples shown above: أَسْكُنُ فِي شَقَّةٍ كَبِيرَةٍ, it is a verbal sentence, the doer is expressed by the prefix (أ), but the prefix is not a pronoun, so we suppose that there is a latent pronoun meaning (I \ أنا).
  • Sometimes we say the doer of the verb before the verb itself. Please return to the second sentence in the above mentioned examples. In that sentence "مُحَمَّدٌ يَسْبَحُ فِي البَحْرِ" there is a smaller verbal sentence within "يَسْبَحُ فِي البَحْرِ". This verbal sentence is the predicate of the subject of the nominal sentence.
  • The subject in the verbal sentence is a latent pronoun that refers to the subject of the nominal sentence “محمد”.
  • So it is noticeable that the latent pronoun (الضَّمير المُسْتَتِر /ađ-đamīr almustatir/) is always in place of nominative (مَحَلّ رَفْع /maħall rafξ), but it is not always a subject (agent) of verbal sentence. It can also occupy the position of the so-called (نَائبُ الفاعِلِ) or the pro-agent (the subject of the passive voice sentence). See these examples:


The supposed latent pronoun



Verbal sentence inside a nominal sentence. The subject precedes the verb, so the pro-agent of the passive verb is latent.

It     هُوَ

The meeting will be held tomorrow.

الاجْتِمَاعُ سَوْفَ يُعْقَدُ غَدًا.

The Tā' attached to the verb is not a pronoun, as we learnt earlier, but the pronoun is latent as a pro-agent of the verb.

It    هِيَ

The match was played in the stadium of the capital.

المُبَاراةُ أُقيمَتْ في مَلْعَبِ العاصمةِ.

Verbal sentence, in which the pro-agent can be guessed from the prefix, but it is a latent pronoun.

We   نَحْنُ

We are treated here as foreigners.

نُعَامَلُ هنا كَأننا غُرَبَاءُ.

  • There are two situations in which the pronoun is obligatorily latent. We can study them in the following table:


Supposed latent pronoun




The word meaning except is an Arabic verb, which its doer is obligatorily latent.

It     هُوَ

The students came except one.

/ĵā'a aŧ-ŧullābu mā ξadā wāhidan

جاءَ الطُّلابُ ما عدا واحِدًا.

The verb of astonishment in the Arabic language is always conjugated with a latent pronoun.

It      هُوَ

How beautiful is the spring!

Mā aĵmala -r- rabīξa

ما أجْمَلَ الربِيعَ!

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