Lesson 25 – الدَّرْسُ الْخَامِسُ وَالْعِشْرُونَ

The Declinable and the non-Declinable – الْمُعْرَبُ وَالْمَبْنِيُّ  


  • We are still in lesson twenty five of our free Arabic language course. This Arabic course with images and audios will help you learn Arabic.
  • Any Arabic word is either declinable or indeclinable. The Arabic declinable words are the words that have the feature of changing their endings according to their grammatical position in the Arabic sentence. The Arabic indeclinable words are those words that do not have that feature (i.e. their vowel endings never change whatever their grammatical position is). Arabic language (like most Semitic languages) is classified as a declension language. The declension language is the language in which we distinguish the position of each word by the use of certain signs for each position, while in the non-declension languages (e.g.: English) we guess the position of each word in the sentence from the word form and the word order in the sentence.
  • Consider the following two English sentences:
    • The man killed the snake.
    • The snake killed the man.
  • In the first sentence, we understand that the killer is the man, while he is the one killed in the second sentence. We understand this meaning from the word order (i.e. the doer comes before the direct object).
  • In Arabic the doer is that which is in the nominative case (i.e. signed originally with đammah) regardless of its order in the sentence, and the direct object is that which is in the accusative case (i.e. signed originally with fatħah) regardless its order in the sentence. Consider the following two sentences:


English meaning

Arabic sentence

The killer here is the man because the noun is signed with the đammah (nominative case)

The man killed the snake.

قَتَلَ الرَّجُلُ الثُّعْبَانَ.

The killer here is the snake because its noun is signed with the đammah (nominative case) while the man is signed with fatħah (direct object)

The snake killed the man.

قَتَلَ الرَّجُلَ الثُّعْبَانُ.

  • This means that you have to learn the declension cases and signs in order to speak and to understand the Arabic Language.  In these lessons we will help you learn the different grammatical cases of words and the signs related to each case In-Shaa’-Allaah (God willing).
  • In spite of this, there are some types of Arabic words which have constant (fixed) endings without consideration to their position in the sentence. These are called الْكَلِمَاتُ الْمَبْنِيَّةُ the indeclinable words.
  • Arabic words are divided into three categories: nouns, verbs and articles. The general rule of the nouns is that they experience declension, so the indeclinable nouns are an exception to the rule. The general rule of the verbs is one of indeclension, so a few cases of verbs are declinable. The articles are all indeclinable (without exception).
  • In the next part (part 3) we will learn the declinable nouns and in part 4 we will learn the indeclinable nouns.
  • The declinable and the indeclinable verbs will be studied in part 6 of this lesson.
  • And finally the indeclension of the articles we be studied in part 8.  
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