From time to time we would like to contact you with updates for new Arabic lessons, videos, articles, quizzes from or other offers and updates from our Arabic Tuition Center. Please use the form below to subscribe to these updates. You wouldn't be subscribed until you confirm your subscription first by clicking a button in the subscription email we will send you.

Lesson 74 – الدَّرْسُ الرَّابِعُ والسَّبْعونَ

The exclusion (2of3) - الاِسْـتِـثْـنَـاءُ (٢مِن٣)

The exclusion with /ghayr/ and /siwā/– الاِسْتِثْناء بـ "غَيْر، وسِوَى"

  • The exclusion articles /ghayr/ and /siwā/ are nouns, so they occupy a position in the sentence, and they have their own declension cases as all nouns. In the previous lesson we didn’t study the declension of the exclusion article /illā/ because it is a particle. We learnt in lesson (4) that the Arabic particles are all indeclinable, so they do not change whatever their positions in the sentence are.
  • Therefore we will study the grammatical declension of the exclusion articles (غَيْر - سِوى) and the declension of the excluded noun after each of them.
  • Each of /ghayr/ and /siwā/ means except or but, especially when the exclusion sentence is negative, as in the following examples:

English meaning

Arabic example

Nobody came except (but) Muhammad

لَمْ يَأتِ أحدٌ غَيْرُ مُحَمَّدٍ

/lam ya’ti aħadun ghayru muħammadin/

I like nobody but you

لا أُحِبُّ سِواكَ

/lā uħibbu siwāka/

  • Sometimes we translate /ghayr/ and /siwā/ by the English words (other or other than) especially when the exclusion sentence is affirmative, as in the following examples:

English meaning

Arabic example

A man other than Zayd came

جاءَ رَجُلٌ غيرُ زيدٍ

/ĵā’a raĵulun ghayru zaydin/

A person other than her met me

قابَلَني شَخْصٌ سِواها

/qâbalanī shakhŝun siwāha/

  • The two nouns (غَيْر - سِوى) are vague indefinite nouns. Therefore when we say:

Someone other than Muhammad ate the food

أكَلَ الطَّعامُ غَيْرَ مُحَمَّدٍ

/akala aŧ ŧaξāma ghayra muħammadin/

  • This means that somebody else ate the food, but we cannot determine who exactly ate the food, because the noun /ghayr/ remains vague even if it is annexed to a definite noun.

The declension of the excluded after (غَيْر - سِوى):

  • Each of /ghayr/ and /siwā/ falls as an annexing noun, and the noun after each of them is always in the genitive case because it is annexed noun (muđâf ilaihi).

The declension of (غَيْر - سِوى):

  • The two exclusion articles /ghayr/ and /siwā/ always follow the rules of declension of the excluded after /illā/, which we studied in the previous lesson.
  • E.g. if we want to know the declension of /ghayr/ in the following example:

No one came except an engineer

ما جاءَ غَيْرُ مُهَنْدِسٍ

/mā ĵā’a ghayru muhandisin/

  • We have to make the following steps:

1-    To imagine the sentence with /illā/ instead of /ghayr/, as follows:

No one came except an engineer

ما جاءَ إلاَّ مُهَنْدِسٌ

/mā ĵā’a illā muhandisun/

2-    To know the declension of the excluded after /illā/ according to the rules that we studied in the previous lesson.

In this example, the structure is emptied negative, so the excluded will be declined as its position in the sentence (as if there is no exclusion), so it is here an agent of the verb, i.e. it is in the nominative case, signed with the /đammah/.

3-    To apply the declension of this excluded in the imagined structure on the article of the real structure /ghayr/, i.e. it will be in the nominative case (doer of the verb), signed with the /đammah/. While the excluded after /ghayr/ is annexed noun in the genitive case, signed with /kasrah/.

More examples:


Type of exclusion



Arabic lesson image

Complete affirmative

The players returned except one player

رَجَعَ اللاَّعِبُونَ غَيْرَ لاِعِبٍ

/raĵaξa al lāξibūna ghayra lāξibin/ lesson image

Emptied negative

Nobody likes to study except the hardworking people

لا يُقبِلُ على الدِّراسَةِ غَيْرَ/غَيْرُ المُجْتَهِدِينَ

/lā yuqbilu ξala ad drâsati ghayra, ghayru al muĵtahidīna/ lesson image

Emptied negative

Nobody sleep much except the lazy

لا يَنَامُ كَثِيرًا غَيْرُ الكَسْلانِ

/lā yanāmu kathīran ghayru al kaslāni/ lesson image

Emptied negated

I didn’t understand other than one lesson

ما فَهِمْتُ غَيْرَ دَرْسٍ واحِدٍ

/mā fahimtu ghayra darsin wāhidin/ lesson image

Detached negative

The house was not burned (except) but the books

ما اِحْتَرَقَتِ الدَّارُ غَيْرَ الكُتُبِ

/mā iħtaraqat ad dāru ghayra al kutubi/ lesson image

Emptied negative

Nobody failed other than the dictator

ما خابَ سُوى الْمُسْتَبِدِّ بِرَأيِهِ

/mā khâba siwā al mustabiddi bi ra’yihi/ lesson image

Emptied negative

I didn’t see in the club other than Khalid

ما رَأَيْتُ فِي النَّادي سُوى خالِدٍ

/mā ra’aytu fī an nādī siwā khâlidin/

  • In the above mentioned examples we notice the following:

-          The excluded after /ghayr/ and /siwā/ is always in the genitive case, because it is an annexed noun (muđâf ilaihi).

-          The exclusion article /siwā/ is ended with long vowel (ā), so the declension signs cannot appear on its ending, rather it is always declinable with virtual signs as we studied lesson 53 (al maqŝūr noun).

-          In the example no. 1, the noun /ghayr/ is in the accusative case, because the exclusion structure is linked complete affirmative. The excluded in a similar structure with /illā/ is obligatorily accusative.

-          In the example no. 2, the noun /ghayr/ is facultatively accusative or nominative, because the excluded after /illā/ in this type (complete negative) can be accusative by the exclusion or it follows the included by the substitution.

-          In the examples no. 3 and 4 the exclusion is of the emptied type, so the noun /ghayr/ is declined as its normal position in the sentence before the exclusion (as if there is no exclusion), as we studied in the previous lesson about the declension of the excluded after /illā/. Therefore the noun /ghayr/ in the example no. 3 is a doer of the verb, and it is nominative signed with the /đammah/ on its last letter, while it is in example 4 a direct object, accusative, signed with the /fatħah/ on its last letter.

-          In the example no. 5 the exclusion is of the detached type, in which the excluded after /illā/ is obligatorily accusative, so this declension is applicable on the exclusion article /ghayr/, so that it is signed with the /fatħah/ on its last letter.


  • Quick Links
  • Arabic Tuition
    Madinah Arabic Tuition Center
    Arabic Tuition over Skype from Learn Modern Standard Arabic, Business Arabic, Classical–Qu’ranic and Tajweed. Get A Free Trial!
    Please note that continues to be a free resource and the new Tuition Centre is for those seeking 1-to-1 tuition over Skype with one of our qualified native Arabic tutors.
  • Learn Arabic Alphabet
    This video teaches you how each Arabic letter is written and pronounced along with an illustration of a word using that letter and guides on pronunciation.
  • MadinahArabic iPhone App
    iMadinahArabic for iPhone app is the iPhone version of the lessons located at MadinahArabic website.
    MadinahArabic iPhone App
  • Madinaharabic Translation Center