Adverbials of Place and Time in Arabic Language

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

When we speak about Zarf AL-makaan or Az-zamaan in Arabic ظَرْف المَكان/ ظَرْف الزَّمان, Zarf literally denotes a vessel or container, which contains something; therefore it is the container where or when the verb takes place. So, Zarf Al-Makaan is the place where the verb happens (Where/ which direction, etc.; the place of doing the verb...), and Zarf Az-zamman is the time when the verb happens (When/ What time...). In this lesson we will get introduced to both, including some examples and grammatical tips.

Zarf Al-makaan or the adverbial of place has to imply a non-specific place versus specific. For example, when we say the man is in front of the house: .الرّجل أمامَ البيت, although we said in front of, it is not very specific. On the other hand, when we say: .الرّجل في البيت or .الرّجل في المَدْرَسَة; The man is in the house, or the man is in the school; we implied a very specific location: the house and the school, and we use the aid of a particle of Jarr حرف الجرّ, in this case في.

This condition is not true for Zarf Al-Zamaan, which can be specific or non-specific:

جَلَسَ الأُسْتاذُ في الصَّفِّ ساعةً/ جَلَسَ الأُسْتاذُ في الصَّفِ وَقْتاً.

The teacher sat in the class for an hour/ The teacher sat in the class for a period of time (an hour: specific/ a period of time: non-specific time).

Examples of adverbials of place/ Zarf Al-Makaan/ similar to some prepositions in English language:

أمامَ: جَلَسَ الطّالِبُ أمامَ الأستاذِ.

The student sat in-front of the teacher.

خَلْفَ: مَشى الطِّفْلُ خَلْفَ أُمِّهِ. .The child walked behind his mother

قُدَّامَ: مَشى الحارِسُ قُدَّامَ المَلِكِ. .The guard walked in-front of the king

وَرَاءَ: وَقَف المُصلُّون و راءَ الإِمام. .Those praying stood behind the Imam

فوقَ: الكِتابُ فوقَ الطّاولةِ.

The book is on the table.

تَحْتَ: الفَأْرُ تَحْتَ الطّاوِلَةِ. .The mouse is under the table

مَعَ: مَشَت مهى مَعَ سارة. .Maha walked with Sarah