Updated: Sep 18, 2019
One of the many "Huroufu Al-jarr" in Arabic (or what you may call prepositions in English), is the letter بـِ or "Bi". It can be misunderstood by non-natives, especially because its usages are not limited to prepositional phrases, and can include many other meanings. So, "Bi" is a "Harfu-Jarr" which serves different purposes. We will briefly discuss them here, to provide you with the logic behind "Bi"; keeping in mind Arabic is a very logical language:
بـِ = حرف جَرّ مُتَّصِل = Connective Particle/ an attached Harf Jarr
Common usages of “Bi”:
-for prepositional phrases (with, by, at, in, at...):
I travelled by train.
I am at home
I wrote with the pen.
I wrote (with the aid of) the pen.
"بسم الله ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ الرحيم"
"In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate"
"Bi" here means with the aid of God's name.
-to connect; to signify actual physical attachment or metaphorical attachment:
I held your hand.
This is a case of physical attachment, since "I actually held your hand". So "Bi", is acting as the connective particle, affirming this attachment or physical connection.
.أَمْسَكَ الشُّرْطيُّ بِاللِّصِّ.
The policeman caught the thief,
This is a case of physical attachment too, since "the policeman actually or physically got hold of the thief". So, again, "Bi" is the particle of physical attachment here.
I passed by home.
(metaphorical attachment or connection)
i.e., I attached or connected my passage to a place close to home (figurative attachment).
تَرْبُطُني بِصَديقي علاقةُ مَحَبَّة.
Literal translation: A loving friendship connects me to my friend.
In this case also, "Bi" is the connective particle forming the metaphorical conjunction between "me" and "my friend".
-to justify (because of):
نَجا مِنَ الحادِثِ بِفِطْنَتِه. He survived the accident because of his intelligence
Here, "Bi" could be replaced with the phrase "because of" بِسَبَبِ., so it is meant for justification. ("Sabab" mean reason in Arabic.)
كُلُّ مُوَظَّفٍ يُكافأ بِعَمَلِهِ.
Literal translation: Every employee will be rewarded because of or due to his work.
Every employee will be rewarded with (the equivalent of) his work; i.e. because of his work or how much he has worked.
-to make an oath;
I swear by God.
-as a connective particle for an intransitive verb (which does not require an object), changing it to a transitive verb, and allowing it to take an object:
"سُبْحَانَ الَّذِي أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ لَيْلًا"
Exalted is He who took His Servant by night
Surah Al-Isra (2)
أَسْرَىٰ بِعَبْدِهِ = سَيَّرَهُ لَيْلاً
ذَهَبْتُ بِالمَريضِ إلى الطَّبيبِ.
I took the sick person to the doctor.
ذَهَبْتُ بِالمَريضِ = أَذْهّبْتُه
Normally, the verb ذهب would not require an object; so you can say ذهبت إلى الطبيب; I went to the doctor. The "bi" particle here acts as a connective link and allows the verb "to go" to have an object "the patient"; since we cannot say in Arabic ذهبت المريض. Therefore, the connective particle is needed.
-when talking about "replacement" or "substitution":
An eye for an eye.
خُذِ السَّاعَةَ بِالخاتَم.
Take the watch in exchange of the ring.
-to mean some:
امسحوا برؤوسِكُم وأرجلِكم.
Wet some of or part of your heads and feet.
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