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Lesson 73 – الدَّرْسُ الثَّالِثُ والسَّبْعونَ

The exclusion (1of3) - الاِسْـتِـثْـنَـاء (١مِن٣)

The excluded with /illā/ - الْمُسْتَثْنَى بِـ "إِلَّا"

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  • We studied the different types of Arabic exclusion in the second part of this lesson. The excluded after /illā/ has different declension cases according to the type of the exclusion, as follows:

1-            The linked exclusion (الاستثناء الْمُتَّصِل):

a-    The linked complete affirmative exclusion (الاسْتِثْناءُ الْمُتَّصِل التَّام الْمُثْبَتُ): the excluded in this type is obligatorily accusative by the exclusion. Consider the following examples:





Arabic lesson image


I wrote the lessons except one lesson

كَتَبْتُ الدُّرُوسَ إِلَّا دَرْسًا وَاحِدًا

/katabtu ad durūsa illā darsan wāħidan/ lesson image


I hit the students except one student

ضَرَبْتُ الطُّلاَّبَ إِلَّا طالِبًا

/đarabtu aŧ ŧullāba illā ŧâliban/ lesson image


The armies were defeated except for our army

هُزِمَتِ الْجُيُوشُ إِلَّا جَيْشَنَا.

/huzimat al ĵuyūshu illā ĵayshana/

b-        The linked completed negative exclusion (الاسْتِثْناءُ المُتَّصِلُ التَّامُّ الْمَنْفِيُّ): the excluded in this category has two ways of declension:

-          Either to be in the accusative case because of the declension.

-          Or to follow the declension case of the included (as a substitute of it). Consider the following examples:





طالِبًا  / طَالِبٌ

None of the students ate except one student

لَمْ يأْكُلِ الطُّلاَّبُ إِلَّا طالِبًا / إِلَّا طَالِبٌ

/lam ya’kul aŧ ŧullābu illā ŧâliban, ŧâlibun/

خالِدًا / خالِدٌ

None of the people stood up except Khalid

ما قام النَّاسُ إلا خالِدًا / إِلَّا خالِدٌ

/mā qâma an nāsu illā khâlidan , khâlidun

عليَّا / عَليٍّ

I did not go to any friends except for Ali

لَمْ أذْهَبْ إلى أيِّ أصدِقاءٍ إلا عليًّا / إِلَّا عَليٍّ

/lam adhhab ilā aŝdiqâ’in illā ξaliyyan, ξaliyyin/

  • As we notice in the above mentioned examples, there are two ways of declension for the excluded of this type (completed negative); to be accusative by the exclusion, or to be substitute (to follow the declension of the included).

2-        The detached complete exclusion (الاستثناء الْمُنْقَطِع أو الْمُنْفَصِل): in this type the included and the excluded are not of the same genus. The concept of this structure is that the excluded is mostly occur with the included, as in the following examples:

English meaning


The farmers came except their animals

جَاءَ الْفَلاحُونَ إلا دَوابَّهُمْ

/ĵā’a al fallaħuna illā dawābbuhum/

The passengers arrived except their luggage

جاءَ المُسافِرُونَ إِلَّا حَقَائِبَهُم

/ĵā’a al musāfirfirūna illā ħaqâibahum/

  • This type of exclusion is always complete, i.e. the included has to be mentioned, and otherwise we cannot say that it is a detached exclusion.
  • The excluded in this type is obligatorily accusative by the exclusion, whether it is in an affirmative exclusion or in a negative exclusion. Consider the following examples:






The players came except the trainer

حَضَرَ اللاَّعِبُونَ إِلَّا المُدَرِّبَ

/ħađara al lāξibūna illā al mudarriba/


The players did not come except the trainer

ما حَضَرَ اللاَّعِبُونَ إِلَّا المُدَرِّبَ

/mā ħađara al lāξibūna illā al mudarriba/

More examples of this type:






They have no knowledge about it, but following the conjecture

"ما لَهُمْ بِهِ مِنْ عِلْمٍ إِلَّا اِتِّباعَ الظَّنِّ"



The war destroyed the country except the willpower

حَطَّمَتِ الْحَرْبُ البَلَدَ إِلَّا العَزِيمةَ

/ħaŧŧamat al ħarbu al balada illā al ξazīmata/


The people died except their donkey

ماتَ الْقوْمُ إِلَّا حِمارَهم

/māta al qawmu illā ħimārahum/

3-            The emptied exclusion (الاستثناء الناقص): In this exclusion the included is eliminated, and it is always negated by any of the negation articles.

The excluded in this type is declined according its normal position in the sentence before the exclusion (i.e. as if there is no exclusion article), as in the following examples:

The sentence before the excluding

The declension of the excluded




نَمْلِكُ مَصْنَعًا صَغِيرًا

Direct object, accusative, with /fatħah/

We have nothing but a small factory

ما نَمْلِكُ إِلَّا مَصْنَعًا صَغِيرًا

/mā namliku illā maŝnaξan ŝaghīran/

كَتَبَ الْوَاجِبَ مُحَمَّدٌ

An agent, nominative, with /đammah/

Nobody wrote the homework except Muhammad

ما كَتَبَ الْوَاجِبَ إِلَّا مُحَمَّدٌ

/mā kataba al wāĵiba illā muħammadun/

مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولٌ

A predicate, nominative, with /đammah/

Muhammad is just a prophet

ما مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ

/mā muħammadun illā rasūlun/

عِنْدِي حَقِيبة ٌ وَاحِدَةٌ

A subject, nominative, with /đammah/

I have nothing but one bag

ما عِنْدِي إلا حَقِيبة ٌ وَاحِدَةٌ

/mā ξindī illā ħaqībatun wāħidatun/

خالِدٌ طالِبٌ فِي المدرسة

A predicate, nominative, with /fatħah/

Khalid is just a student in the school

ما خالِدٌ إِلَّا طالِبٌ فِي المدرسة

/mā khâlidun illā ŧâlibun fī al madrasati/