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.

There is something in Arabic called jumla ismiyya that is translated to nominal sentence. But the Arabic jumla ismiyya is really a sentence that starts with a noun. It can have verb (just not the first word in the sentence) and it can be nonverbal like the English definition of a nominal sentence.

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". The definite part is a word in definite form and the indefinite part is a word in indefinite form. But those parts can have many words added to them. A nominal sentence therefore consists of two or more words.
For example, here is a 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" (the father) that has the word "aljamiilu" (the beautiful) added to it. The indefinite part is "waalidun" (father) that has the word "jamiilun" (beautiful) added to it.

Here we see a difference in philosophy between Arabic grammar and English grammar. In English grammar philosophy, we would say that "alwaalidu aljamiilu" (the beautiful father) is the definite part and "waalidun jamiilun" is the indifinite part. En Arabic grammar, we say that only "alwaalidu" (the father) is the definite part and only "waalidun" (father) is the indefinite part. The other word are considered additions.

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 is a definite word. For example a noun in definite form, like in the sentences we have seen above.

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.

In the sentence "alwaalidu jamiilun" (the father is beautiful), the first part "alwaalidu" is definite because it has "al" in the beginning.

the father is beautiful
alwaalidu jamiilun
الوَالِدُ جَمِيلٌ

As we know, the definite part can have words added to it. For example we can describe it by an adjective. And since adjectives follow the gender, number and definiteness of the word it describes, the adjective is also in definite form.

the beautiful father is lazy
alwaalidu aljamiilu kasuulun
الوَالِدُ الجَمِيلُ كَسُولٌ

Note that the adjective comes after the substantive in Arabic: "alwaalidu aljamiilu" literally translates to "the father the beautiful".

Execept for adding adjectives to the first part, we can add more substantives. We just need to insert the conjunction "and":

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

Since we have two people now, we change the second part of the sentence to "jamiilani" which is the indefinite and dual form of "jamiil" (beautiful).

Pronouns

Pronouns like "I", "you", "she" and "he" are also considered to be in definite form. That means they can also be the definite part (the first part) of 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 is an indefinite word. Just like the first part, it can have many words added to it.

The second part can be a noun in indefinite form (without al in the beginning). Like in this example we have seen before:

the beautiful is a father
aljamiilu waalidun
الجَمِيلُ وَالِدٌ

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

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

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

The second part of the nominal sentence is still "waalidun" (father) but it has the addition "wa kasuulun" (and lazy). We can extend that part further by adding another "and" followed by another word:

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

If we just have more words, we can extend that sentence forever...

In the sentence above, we can spot a difference between English and Arabic in the usage of "and". In English we would normally say "father, lazy and beautiful" but Arabic consistently has an "and" between all the words: "father and lazy and beautiful".

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