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Arabic Tanween or Nunation

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Tanween or nunation or nunated short vowels are used in Arabic language (as well as some other Semitic languages), by doubling one of the three known short vowels or diacritics at the end of the noun, adjective or adverb, to create an alveolar nasal ending or simply an "nnn..." sound (tongue touching the inner ridge of the gums of the upper front teeth).

Tanween, besides having distinct vocalization or pronunciation, also reflects a distinct grammatical case. Tanween is also a form of "definitiness", whereby the noun becomes definite or specific (example in English: a student = indefinite = a non specific student; the student = definite = a specific student that I am talking about).

Double fatHa = ً = pronounced as "an" = a typical accusative grammatical case ending.

(example, being the object of the sentence .رأيت تلميذاً I saw a student).

Double Damma = ٌ = pronounced as "un" = a typical nominative grammatical case ending.

(example, being the predicate in a nominal sentence .هذا تلميذٌ This is a student.)

Double kasra = ٍ = pronounced as "in" = a typical genitive grammatical case ending.

(example, being preceded by a particle of "Jarr" .سلََمت على تلميذٍ I said hello to a student.)

Have you noticed that for fatHa nunation or tanween, we add "alif" ا letter? So, we also change the way the word is written by adding another letter. There are common mistakes in Arabic writing when it comes to fatHa nunation, that even Natives can fall victim to.

First, words ending with "ta marbouta" ة or "alif maksoura" ى, and words ending with "hamza" ء that is preceded by Alif, do not take an alif at the end for tanween with fatHa. Examples:

مراسلةً = correspondence

فتىً = a boy

مَساءً = evening time

I have recently shared one on the Facebook Page (click here to follow), which is posted below:

Pay attention to specific words which end in Hamza that is proceeded by an Alif:


When Hamza is proceeded by Alif, the word does not take another Alif at the end in Tanween with FatHa. Ex:

مَساءً، شِتاءَ، لِواءً، نِداءً، أَسْماءً

If there is no Alif before the Hamza, the word will take an Alif at the end in Tanween with FatHa. Ex:

جُزْءاً، ضَوْءاً، بَرْءاً، عِبْئاً، تَبَوُّءاً

The study cards below will help you better understand and remember this rule.

I hope the lesson was useful and enjoyable at the same time!

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