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Noun Declension in Arabic

Full Explanation, with Examples and Brain Friendly Flashcards.

The Arabic language is a very logical language, where the grammatical case of the word affects its ending. Grammatical case signifies where the word is placed in the sentence; for example: is it the subject or object?; and whether it is affected by the case of a governing particle; for example: a noun after a proposition (Harf AL-Jarr) will always be in the genitive case and have a Kasra ending .

أكَلَ الوَلَدُ التُّفَّاحَةَ.

The boy ate the apple.

the boy = الوَلَدُ the doer/ who did the verb or action الفاعل "Faa'il"

Being a "doer", "the boy" will be in the nominative case and take a Damma diacritic, which is a nominative sign.

the apple = التُّفَّاحَةَ the object of the verb / the thing or one that received the action or was affected by it.

Being the object, "the apple" will be in the accusative case and take a FatHa diacritic, which is an accusative sign.

أنا في البَيْتِ.

I am at home.

Here, "home" البيت is after "at" في, which is a paricle of Jarr or preposition, causing البيت noun to be in the genitive case and take a Kasra ending, a gentive sign.

*Note: A diptote noun will take FatHa instead of Kasra; so the FatHa becomes the deputy of Kasra in the genitive case. Example:

سَلَّمْتُ على عُمَرَ.

I said hello to Omar.

(Omara) with FatHa and not (Omarin).

The following brain friendly study cards will help you understand the topic in a brief and simple manner.

Noun declension according to grammatical case and position in the sentence.

When would a noun be in the nominative case?

How would the noun endings change in the nominative case?

When would the noun be in the accusative case?

How would the noun endings change in the accusative case?

When would the noun be in the genitive case?

How would the noun endings change in the genitive case?

Most nouns and adjectives are "declinable". i.e. they are declined according to factors like grammatical case , plus others like state, gender and number. Some nouns, are indeclinable,which means their endings do not change regardless of the case.

Indeclinable nouns are divided into seven main categories:

1- Pronouns: الضَّمائِر I, you, we, he, she, they... أنا، أنت، نحن، هو، هي، هم...

2- Demonstrative Nouns: أسْماءُ الإِشارَة this, that, these, those... هذه، هذا، هؤلاء، أولئك...

3- Relative Pronouns: الأسْماءُ المَوْضولة who, which... الّذي، الّتي، اللّذان، اللّتان، الّذين...

4- Interrogative (Questioning) Nouns: أسْماءُ الاسْتِفهام Who? What? Where? When? How many?... كم؟ من؟ ما؟ أين؟ متى؟...

5- Conditional Nouns: أسْماءُ الشَّرْط He who, if, wherever, wherever...

منْ، إِنْ/ إذا/ لوْ، حيثما، أيْنما ...

6- Compound Numbers: الأعْدادُ المُرَكَّبَة twelve, nineteen... إثنا عشر، تسعة عشر...

7- Certain Adverbs (and compound adverbs): الظُّروف والظُّروفُ المُرَكَّبَة where (wherever, when, how can...), where, now, here, there, at, yesterday, day and night, morning and evening...

أنَّى، حيث، الآن، هنا، هناك، أمْسِ،عِنْدَ، ليلَ نهارَ، صباحَ مساءَ...

(*There are also partially declinable nouns, i.e. they cannot take all case ending like feminine names which cannot take a kasra or tanween, however can take a dhamma or fatha; and some adverbs can be declinable in some cases and indeclinable in other, depending how they are used: such as before and after:قبل- بعد.)

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