Accusative is one of the three Arabic cases. One can say that accusative is the object case. The object (the one that the action is aimed at) in a sentence has accusative case.
Words that have accusative case end in a in definite form and an in indefinite form. As an example, we can look at the Arabic word for juice. Without case endings, it is pronounced 3aSiir.
The Arabic word for juice in definite form accusative is pronounced al-3aSiira.
The prefix al in the beginning of the word is written اَل and indicates definite form. The vowel a in the end of the word is written as a line above the final letter of the word and indicates accusative case.
The Arabic word for juice in indefinite form accusative is pronounced 3aSiiran.
The ending an in the end if the word is written as two lines above the final letter of the word and indicates accusative case and indefinite form.
These lines are often combined with letter alif.
Now that we can recognize accusative case, we will learn how it is used in Arabic.
The object is accusative
In Arabic, the object (or objects) of a sentence has accusative case. The object is the one that is the target of the action in a verb sentence, the one that the action is aimed at. In the sentence I drink juice, the juice is the object. Therefore, the juice has accusative case: al-3aSiira.
The sentence I drink juice is pronounced 'ashrabu al3aSiira in Arabic. 'a3shrabu = I drink, al-3aSiir = the juice. The word for juice is the object in the sentence and therefore has accusative case.
Arabic sentences can have more than one object. All objects have accusative case. Let's look at the sentence He turned the orange into juice that has two objects.
The sentence He turned the orange into juice is pronounced ja3ala alburtuqaalata 3aSiiran in Arabic. ja3ala = he turned, al-burtuqaal = the orange, 3aSiir = juice. The sentence has two objects: the orange and juice. The orange is pronounced al-burtuqaala and is in definite form accusative. Juice is pronounced 3aSiiran and is in indefinite form accusative.
That sentence is a bit cumbersome. A more straightforward way of saying it would be: He squeezed the orange.
Details - object
When we talk about object in Arabic grammar, the Arabic word maf3uul is important. That literally means affected. That is logical since the object is affected by the action of the verb.
What we call object in English grammar, is called maf3uulun bi-hi in Arabic. maf3uul = affected, bi = with/by, hi = him.
In English, we talk about direct object and indirect object. That distinction is not made in Arabic. In the sentence He turned the orange into juice we say that the orange is the first object, maf3uulun bi-hi al-'awwalu, och juice is the second object, maf3uulun bi-hi ath-thaani.
Five kinds of objects
Arabic grammar defines five kinds of objects. All of them has accusative case. We have just learned one of them, maf3uulun bi-hi, that describes the target of the action. That corresponds to what we call object in English.
The four other kinds of objects in Arabic are not called objects in English. Some are called adverbials and some has no equivalent in English.
Object for time and place
If I want to say that I drink juice in the morning, I can write this sentence:
The sentence I drink juice in the morning is pronounced 'ashrabu al3aSiira SabaaHan in Arabic. 'ashrabu = I drink, al-3aSiir = the juice, SabaaH = morning. The Arabic word for juice, al-3aSiira, has accusative case since the juice is the target of the action. The Arabic word for morning, SabaaHan, also have accusative case since it explains when the action occurs.
If I want to say that I stand in front of the house, I can write this sentence:
The sentence I stand in front of the house is pronounced 'aqifu 'amaama albayti in Arabic. 'aqifu = I stand, 'amaama = in front of, al-bayt = the house. The Arabic word for in front of, 'amaama, has accusative case since it explains where the action occurs.
The word for morning,SabaaHan, would be called adverbial of time in English. The word for in front of, 'amaama, would be called adverbial of place. In Arabic, they are objects. More precisely: they are objects that express the time or the place of the action. Since they are objects, they have accusative case.
This kind of object is called maf3uulun fii-hi in Arabic. maf3uul = affected, fii = in, hi = him.
Objects of cause
Now we will look at another kind of object in Arabic: objects of cause. Let's take the following sentence as an example:
The sentence The people applauded in admiration of the team is pronounced Saffaqa annaasu 'i3jaaban bialfariiqi in Arabic. Saffaqa = he applauded, an-naas = the people, 'i3jaab = admiration, fariiq = team. The Arabic word for admiration, 'i3jaban, has accusative case. The word is an object according to Arabic grammar, an object that expresses the reason of the action.
Lets's look at another example of the Arabic object of cause:
The sentence The stranger cried longing for his homeland is pronounced bakaa alghariibu shawqun 'ilaa waTanihi in Arabic. baqaa = he cried, al-ghariib = the stranger, shawq = longing, 'ilaa = to, waTan = homeland, hi = his. The Arabic word for longing, shawqan, is the object that expresses the cause of the action.
This type of object is called maf3uulun li'ajli-hi in Arabic. maf3uul = affected, li = for, 'ajl = because of, hi = him.
Object related to the verb
Now we will look at a kind of object that is called maf3uulun muTlaqun in Arabic.
maf3uulun muTlaqun literally means absolute object. I have chosen to translate it to cognate object. . Cognates are words with the same etymological origin, for example the verb hit and the noun hit. A cognate object is an object that is related to the verb. For example the noun hit in the sentence I hit a hit.
If you open the Arabic Wikipedia page for maf3uul muTlaq and change language to English, you will find an article about Cognate object.
In the sentence above, it says Darabtu Darban in Arabic. Darabtu = I hit, Darb = a hit. The word for hit, Darb, is related to the verb to hit, Daraba. They have all their important letters in common. That is the case for all objects of the kind maf3uul muTlaq, they are related to the verb, i.e. cognates.
An object of the kind maf3uul muTlaq can have three different purposes. One purpose is to emphasize the verb, as in the sentence above. The object Darban shows that I did not hit a symbolic hit. I hit a real hit.
Another purpose is to show what type of action that occurred. We can see an example by extending our sentence.
Now it says Darabtu Darban shadiidan in Arabic. Darabtu = I hit, Darb = hit, shadiid = hard. Literally it says I hit a hard hit. But I have translated the sentence to I hit hard since that is more similar to the way we express ourselves in English. It is still the word for hit, Darban, that is maf3uulun muTlaqun in the sentence. Here it is not used to emphasize the verb, but to explain what type of action that occurred. I did not hit a gentle hit. I hit a hard hit.
The third purpose that maf3uul muTlaq can have is to declare how many times the action occurred. Let's look at an example by changing our sentence.
The sentence I hit two blows is pronounced Darabtu Darbayni in Arabic. The word Darbayni is dual accusative of the word Darb that, as we know by now, means hit.
We have learned that accusative ends in a or an. But for dual, it is different. I will go through that later in this lesson.
Object that does it with the subject
Now we will look at the last of the five Arabic object. This is my favourite of them. It is in fact one of my favourite among all grammatical phenomena. Unfortunately it is rare. Most people do not know about it.
The object I am talking about is called maf3uulun ma3a-hi. maf3uul = affected, ma3a = with, hi = him. I have heard people calling it 'the object of accompaniment' in English.
When I look at the Arabic Wikipedia page for maf3uulun ma3a-hu, there are no translations to other languages. But there is a beautiful Arabic sentence:
The sentence is pronounced sahirtu wa alqamara in Arabic. sahirtu = I stayed awake, wa = and, al-qamar = the moon. Literally it says I stayed awake and the moon. But the fact that the moon, al-qamara, has accusative case and therefore is an object, gives the meaning that the object (the moon) is doing the action together with the subjecct (I). I stayed up at night and the moon stayed up with me. Wow, how much can be expressed with only three words!
Since maf3uulun ma3a-hi is my favourite object, we will look at one more sentence.
The sentence is pronounced sirtu wa aTTariiqa in Arabic. sirtu = I moved, wa = and, aT-Tariiq = the road. Literally it says I moved and the road. But since the road, aT-Tariiqa, has accusative case and therefore is an object, the meaning is that the object (the road) performed the action together with the subject (I). I moved and the road moved together with me. A little more boring translation could be: I walked along the road.
Conclusion - Arabic objects
There are five kinds of objects in Arabic.
- maf3uulun bi-hi Object for the target of the action. (direct object, indirect object)
- maf3uulun fii-hi Object for the time or place of the action. (adverbial of time, adverbial of place)
- maf3uulun li-'ajili-hi Object for the reason of the action (adverbial of cause)
- maf3uulun muTlaqun Absolute object. (cognate object)
- maf3uulun ma3a-hi Object for the one that performs the action together with the subject (object of accompaniment)
If you are not interested in Arabic grammar, it is enough to learn the two first objects in the list: maf3uulun bi-hi and maf3uulun fii-hi.
You may be wondering what the phrases themselves, maf3uulun bi-hi, maf3uulun fii-hi, maf3uulun li-'ajli-hi and maf3uuun ma3a-hi mean. Literally, I would translate them to affected with, affected in, affected because of and affected with.
The pronoun hi means it or him and refers back to the word maf3uul. But that pronoun does not translate in these types of phrases. In Arabic, we can for example literally say 'the pen is written with him/it'. While, in English, we just say 'the pen is written with', without the pronoun.
In Arabic, you can use accusative to show the state of the subject or the object when the action occurred. As an example, we can look at this sentence:
The sentence is pronounced saafara khaalidun Haziinan in Arabic. saafara = he travelled, khaalid = Khalid (proper name), Haziin = sad. Khalid is the subjec ot the sentence, he was the one who travelled. The Arabic word for sad, Haziinan, has accusative case and describes the state of Khalid when he travelled.
Let's try a less depressing sentence.
The sentence is pronounced qaabaltu 'aSdiqaa'ii mubtasiman in Arabic. qaabaltu = I met, 'aSdiqaa' = friends, ii = my, mubtasim = smiling. I am the subject of the sentence. The Arabic word for smiling, mubtasiman, has accusative state and describe the state I was in when I met my friends.
This Arabic grammatical phenomenon is called al-Haalu that suitably means the state. It does what it says: describe the state of the subject or the object.
Let's introduce another grammatical phenomenon that has accusative state. It is called at-tamyiiz which literally means the distinction.
tamyiiz can be used with measures to specify what the measure measures. Let's look at an example where tamyiiz specifies weight.
The sentence above means We produced a ton of iron and is pronounced 'antajnaa Tunnan Hadiidan in Arabic. 'antajnaa = we produced, Tunn = ton, Hadiid = iron. According to Swedish grammar (and English as well I suppose), the combination 'ton of iron' is the object. But according to Arabic grammar, they are two different kinds of objects. The Arabic word for ton, Tunnan, is maf3uulun bi-hi, i.e. the target of the action. The Arabic word for iron, Hadiidan, is at-tamyiizu and specifies what the weight measures.
Let's look at an example of how at-tamyiiz can specify cubic measures.
The sentence above means Give the poor a small jar of lentils! and is pronounced 'a3Ti alfaqiira Saa3an 3adasan in Arabic. 'a3Ti = to give (imperative), al-faqiir = the poor, Saa3 = a cubic measure, 3adas = lentils. The poor, al-faqiira, and the measure, Saa3, are both maf3uulun bi-hi, i.e. the target of the action. The word for lentils, 3adasan, is at-tamyiizu and specifies what the measure measures.
The cubic measure saa3 is rarely used nowadays. 'Small jar'i is my own free translation. If you want to know more exactly, you can visit the English Wikipedia page for the cubic measure saa3.
tamyiiz can also be used to specify how something is something. For example, how something is beautiful.
The sentence above is pronounced azzahratu aljamiilatu lawnan. az-zahra = the flower, jamiil = beautiful, lawn = color. The Arabic word for color, lawnan, is at-tamyiiz and specifiy how the flower is beautiful. The sentence could be translated to The flower is beautiful in terms of color. We can also simplify the sentence and say The color of the flower is beautiful.
That was quite a boring sentence, so let's look at a more fun and difficult one.
The sentence above is pronounced ishta3ala arra'su shayban. ishta3ala = it flared up, ar-ra'su = the head, shayb = gray hair. The Arabic word for gray hair, shayb, is at-tamyiiz and specifies how the hair flared up. The sentence can be translated to The head flared up with gray hair . We could also rephrase it to The gray hair flared up on the head.
Accusative with kaana and its sister verbs
In the lesson about nominative case, we studied kaana and its sister verbs. We looked at this sentence.
The sentence The sky was rainy is pronounced kaanat assamaa'u mumTiratan in Arabic. kaanat = it/she was , as-samaa' = the sky, mumTira = rainy. The Arabic word for rainy, mumTiratan, is khabaru kaana and should have accusative case.
Accusative with 'inna and its sister particles
In the lesson about nominative case, we also studies 'inna and its sister particles. We looked at this sentence.
The sentence The rabbit is indeed fat is pronounced 'inna al'arnaba samiinun in Arabic. 'inna' = indeed, al-'arnab = the rabbit, samiin = fat. The Arabic word for the rabbit, al-'arnaba, is ismu 'inna' and should have accusative case.
Accusative after numerals
Nouns that follow the number 11 and higher have accusative case. The exception is even hundreds, that have genitive case.
Fifteen books is pronounced khamsata 3ashara kitaaban in Arabic. khams = five, 3ashar = ten, kitaab = book. The enumerated noun, kitaaban, have case accusative.
Fourty-five books is pronounced khamsatun wa 'arba3uuna kitaaban in Arabic. khams = five, wa = and, 'arba3uuna = fourty, kitaab = book. The enumerated noun, kitaaban, have case accusative.
Note that the enumerated word, that has accusative case, also should be in singular. Note also that the number five, khamsa, has the opposite genus of the enumerated word. That goes for all numbers less than ten.
Enumerated nouns is actually a part of at-tamyiiz.
Accusative - erected in Arabic
The Arabic word for accusative is naSb.
naSb literally means setting up or erecting. One can image that the vowel fatHa, that is pronounced a, and indicates accusative case, has a pronunciation that raises. The vowel fatHa is written as a line above the letter, as if the line is about to rise the letter.
In Arabic, we also use the word manSuub that functions as an adjective. That literally means erected. If a word has accusative case, we say that the word is manSuub.
Signs of accusative
Now we will become experts in recognizing words with accusative case. First I will introduce the Arabic term 3alaamatu naSbin that means sign of accusative. It is the vowel or letter in the end of the word that indicates that a word has accusative case.
fatHa is the common sign of accusative
We have alredy learned the most common sign of accusative: the vowel fatHa. The ending a is used for definite form accusative and the ending an is used for indefinite form accusative. That is true for singular words and broken plural.
We have already seen examples using the Arabic word for juice. Now we will look at another word. The Arabic word for bridge is pronounced jisr without case endings.
Since bridge is singular, the vowel fatHa is the sign of accusative. The word ends in a in definite form and an in indefinite form.
The Arabic word for bridges (i.e. plural of bridge) is pronounced jusuur without case endings. That is broken plural.
Since it is broken plural, the vowel fatHa is the sign of accusative. The word ends in a in definite form and an in indefinite form.
Regular plural feminine
Words in regular plural feminine ends in aat. For example many photographers that are all women is muSawwiraat in Arabic.
Regular plural feminine has the same case endings in accusative and genitive. The ending is i in definite form and in in indefinite form. For words in singular and broken plural, these endings are signs of genitive.
Ya is the sign of accusative of many men
Words in regular plural masculine ends in iina in accusative. Regular plural masculine is used for groups of people where at least one of them is a man. For example, many photographers that are men is muSawwiriina in accusative.
As mentioned, regular plural masculine has the ending iina in accusative. It is the Arabic letter ya that indicates accusative case. The letter is pronounced as a long ii when it follows the vowel kasra. The ending iina is also used for regular plural masculine genitive.
Ya is the sign of accusative in dual
When there is two of something, we can use dual. Masculine dual ends in ayni in accusative. For example two photographers that are men.
Feminine dual ends in atayni in accusative. For example two photographers that are women.
Thus, words in masculine dual end in ayni in accusative case and words in feminine dual end in atayni in accusative case. The Arabic letter ya shows that it is accusative case. Accusative and genitive has the same endings in dual as well.
The letter ya is, as we have seen, sign of accusative for both regular plural masculine (iina) and for dual (ayni and atayni). Note that the letter ya is pronounced as a long i when it is preceded by the vowel i. Otherwise, it is pronounced as y.
Accusative is used if the word has any of the following functions in a sentence:
- Direct object or indirect object (maf3uulun bi-hi).
- Object for time or place (maf3uulun fii-hi).
- Object for the cause of the action (maf3uulun li-'ajli-hi).
- Cognate objekt (maf3uulun muTlaqun).
- Object of accompaniment (maf3uulun ma3a-hi).
- The state of the subject or the object (al-Haalu).
- Specification of a measure, specification of how something is for example beautiful (at-tamyiiz).
- Kaana's predicative (khabaru kaana) or the predicative of any of kaana's sister verbs.
- Inna's subject (ismu 'inna) or the subject of any of 'inna's sister particles.
- The noun that follows the number 11 and higher, except for even hundreds.
The following endings indicate that a word has accusative case:
- a for definite form and an for indefinite form is used for words in singular and broken plural.
- aati for definite form and aatin for indefinite form is used for regular plural feminine.
- iina is used for regular plural masculine.
- ayni is used for masculine dual and atayni is used for feminine dual.