Build sentences without verbs

Here are the words we learned in the lesson about gender and number.

parent (m)
waalid
وَالِد
beautiful (m)
jamiil
جَمِيل

We can combine them to make a sentence.

the father is beautiful
alwaalid jamiil
الوَالِد جَمِيل

It's almost perfect... We just need to add the case endings.

the father is beautiful
alwaalidu jamiilun
الوَالِدُ جَمِيلٌ

Now it's grammatically perfect. It's a sentence without verbs! And we can even switch the words to make another sentence.

the beautiful is a father
aljamiilu waalidun
الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ

We don't even need two different words, we can use the same word twice in a sentence.

the father is a father
alwaalidu waalidun
الوَالِدُ وَالِدٌ

Challenge

How do you say "the beautiful is beautiful" in Arabic?

See the answer
the beautiful is beautiful
al-jamiilu jamiilun
الجَمِيلُ حَمِيلٌ

The basic nominal sentence

The sentences we just built are nominal sentences. A nominal sentence is a sentence without any verb.

In English we can't really make nominal sentences. You can see that the translations are verbal sentences because they contain the verb "to be". Arabic does not have a verb for "to be" and does not need it. Therefore, nominal sentences are very common in Arabic.

Later, we are going to look at other types of nominal sentences. But for now we will focus on nominal sentences that contains only substantives and/or adjectives. That type of nominal sentence follow these rules:

We will now go through the rules one by one, and look at some examples.

Two parts

A nominal sentence have two parts. Let's call them the "definite part" and the "indefinite part". Each part consists of one or more words. For example we can use the two same words to make a nominal sentence with four words.

the beautiful father is a beautiful father
alwaalidu aljamiilu waalidun jamiilun
الوَالِدُ الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ جَمِيلٌ

There are four words in this sentence but only two parts. The definite part is "alwaalidu aljamiilu" which means "the beautiful father". The indefinite part is "waalidun jamiilun" which means "a beautiful father".

Let's try a less redundant sentence. We'll introduce a new word, the Arabic word for lazy, to get some variation:

lazy (m)
kasuul
كَسُول
the beautiful father is lazy
alwaalidu aljamiilu kasuulun
الوَالِدُ الجَمِيلُ كَسُولٌ

Challenge

How do you say "the lazy father is beautiful" in Arabic?

See the answer
the lazy father is beautiful
alwaalidu alkasuulu jamiilun
الوَالِدُ الكَسُولُ جَمِيلٌ

Same gender and number

All the sentences we have looked at so far have been about a father, and therefore all the words have been in masculine singular. But there are two genders in Arabic (feminine and masculine) and three numers (singular, dual and plural) so now it's time for some variation.

In the lesson about gender and number we learned the many Arabic words in feminine singular ends with a.

parent (f)
waalida
وَالِدَة
beautiful (f)
jamiila
جَلِيلَة

Now let's combine the words and say "the mother is beautiful" in Arabic.

the mother is beautiful
alwaalidatu jamiilatun
الوَالِدَةُ جَمِيلَةٌ

You can see that both the definite part ("alwaalidatu") and the indefinite part ("jamiilatun") are in feminine singular.

In the lesson about gender and number we also learned that words in feminine plural ends in "aat" if they have regular plural. With that in mind, we can say "the mothers are beautiful" in Arabic.

the mothers are beautiful
alwaalidaatu jamiilaatun
الوَالِدَاتُ جَمِيلَاتٌ

Challenge

How do you say "the beautiful mother is lazy" in arabic?

See the answer
the beautiful mother is lazy
alwaalidatu aljamiilatu kasuulatun
الوَالِدَةُ الجَمِيلَةُ كَسُولَةٌ

How do you say "the lazy mother is beautiful" in arabic?

See the answer
the lazy mother is beautiful
alwaalidatu alkasuulatu jamiilaun
الوَالِدَةُ الكَسُولَةُ جَمِيلَةٌ

First part is definite

The first part of the nominal sentence can contain one or many words, as long as the part as a whole is in definite form.

In the lesson about definite form we learned that the marker for definite form looks like this:

ال

We learned that the marker is often pronounced "al". And we learned that by adding the marker in the beginning of a substantive or adjective, we turn it into definite form.

We have seen examples of where the first part of the nominal sentence is one word in definite form. Like the first example, where the first part is "alwaalidu" (the father):

the father is beautiful
alwaalidu jamiilun
الوَالِدُ جَمِيلٌ

We have also seen examples of where the first part of the nominal sentence is a a substantive described by an adjective:

the beautiful father is lazy
alwaalidu aljamiilu kasuulun
الوَالِدُ الجَمِيلُ كَسُولٌ

In that sentence the first part is "alwaalidu aljamiilu" (the beautiful father). Note that the adjective comes after the substantive in Arabic.

We can see that both the substantive and the adjective in the first part should be in definite form. But what if we want the first part to be two or many substantives? Then we need to insert the conjunction "and" between them:

and
wa
وَ
the mother and the father are beautiful
alwaalidu wa alwaalidatu jamiilaani
الوَالِدُ وَالوَالِدَةُ جَمِيلَانِ

In that example, the first part is "alwaalidu wa alwaalidatu" (the father and the mother). The second part is "jamiilani" which is the indefinite and dual form of "jamiil" (beautiful).

If the first part should be a substantive described by two or many adjectives, we need to insert "and" between the adjectives.

the beautiful and lazy father is a father
alwaalidu aljamiilu waalkasuulu waalidun
الوَالِدُ الجَمِيلُ وَالكَسُولُ وَالِدٌ

In that sentence, the first part is "alwaalidu aljamiilu waalkasuulu" (the beautiful and lazy father). Note that the both adjectives come after the substative in Arabic.

Pronouns

Pronouns like "I", "you", "she" and "he" are also considered to be in definite form. That means they can also begin a nominal sentence. Nominal sentences that consist of a pronoun plus a substantive is very common and useful in Arabic.

We can use the Arabic pronoun for "I" as an example.

I
'anaa
أَنَا

If you are a man and want to say that you are beautiful, you say:

I am beautiful
'anaa jamiilun
أَنَا جَمِيلٌ

If you are a woman and want to say that you are beautiful, you say:

I am beautiful
'anaa jamiilatun
أَنَا جَمِيلَةٌ

Challenge

How do you say "me and the father are beautiful" in Arabic.

See clue

For the first part: Use the word "I", the conjunction "and" and the word for father.
For the second part: Since it is should describe two people, we need the dual form for "beautiful". In a earler sentence we learned that it is "jamiilaani".

See the answer
me and the father are beautiful
'anaa wa alwaalidu jamiilaani
أَنَا وَالوَالِدُ جَمِيلَانِ

Second part is indefinite

The second part of the nominal sentence can contain one or many words, as long as the part as a whole is indefinite.

We have seen examples of where the second part is one word in indefinite form, like this one:

the beautiful is a father
aljamiilu waalidun
الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ

We have also seen sentences of where the second part is a substantive and described by an adjective. But let's make a new one:

the beautiful is a lazy father
aljamiilu waalidun kasuulun
الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ كَسُولٌ

In that sentence the second part is "waalidun kasuulun" (lazy father). Both words are in indefinite form. Note that the adjective comes after the substantive in Arabic.

We can modify the second part of that sentence a bit by inserting the conjuction "and" between the substantive and the adjective:

the beautiful is a father and lazy
aljamiilu waalidun wa kasuulun
الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ وَكَسُولٌ

Now the second part is "waalidun wa kasuulun" (father and lazy), we can extend that part by adding another "and" and another word:

the beautiful is a father and lazy and beautiful
aljamiilu waalidun wa kasuulun wa jamiilun
الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ وَكَسُولٌ وَجَمِيلٌ

Now the second part is "waalidun wa kasuulun wa jamiilun" (father, lazy and beautiful). If we just have more words, we can extend that part forever.

Challenge

How do you say "the beautiful is a lazy and beautiful father" in Arabic?

See clue

Modify the latest sentence by removing one of the conjunctions "and".

See the answer
the beautiful is a lazy and beautiful father
al-jamiilu waalidun kasuulun wa jamiilun
الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ كَسُولٌ وَجَمِيلٌ

Nominal sentences with prepositions

The second part of the nominal sentence can also be a phrase with a preposition. Prepositions are words like "in", "at" and "with". Let's start by looking at a preposition.

with
ma3a
مَعَ

Now let's make a nominal sentence.

the father is with the mother
alwaalidu ma3a alwaalidati
الوَالِدُ مَعَ الوَالِدَةِ

The first part of the nominal sentence is "alwaalidu" (the father) and the second part is "ma3a alwaalidati" (with the mother) which is our preposition phrase.
Words after prepositions should be in genitive case, it is therefore the word for mother, "alwaalidati" ends in "i" and not "u".

We can easily reverse the parents and make another nominal sentence:

the mother is with the father
alwaalidatu ma3a alwaalidi
الوَالِدَةُ مَعَ الوَالِدِ

Now the second part of the nominal sentence is the preposition phrase "ma3a alwaalidi" (with the father).

Challenge

How do you say "I am with the beautiful" in Arabic?

See the answer

If the beautiful is a male, you say:

I am with the beautiful (m)
'anaa ma3a aljamiili
أَنَا مَعَ الجَمِيلِ

And if the beautiful is a female, you say:

I am with the beautiful (f)
'anaa ma3a aljamiilati
أَنَا مَعَ الجَمِيلَةِ