What You Didn't Learn About Idaafa the First Time Around

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Idaafa is a basic topic in Arabic language grammar and has been spoken about a lot online; however, there are still some missing pieces that could further add to the Arabic learner's knowledge. In this blog post, I will highlight some important points regarding Idaafa concept.

What is Idaafa? Idaafa construction is made up of 2 nouns, but never a verb or particle! It is composed of two elements: mudaaf + mudaaf ilayh.

المُضاف Al-mudaaf

/ Object possessed/ Possession/

The first noun; noun added to another causing it to become in a genitive state

اسم أُضيفَ إلى اسم آخر، والأوّل يجرُّ الثاني.


المُضافُ إِلَيْه Al-mudaafu Ilayh

/ The one who owns/ Possesser/

The addition; noun that we add to the first noun in order to provide meaning such as defining or specifying or so on/ the addition. الاسم المُضاف إلى اسم آخر ويُفيد التَّعريف أو التّخصيص

Idaafa is the masdar مصدر or verbal noun from the verb to add أضَافَ. It literally means adding to something, so the second noun in the equation is adding to the first noun; basically in meaning or providing some information; creating this idaafa noun to noun relationship. So, mudaaf, the first noun is the one we are going to add to (we will add to it another noun); this other noun added to the mudaaf is the mudaaf ilayh or the addition. Think of it like a bowl of soup, where the mudaaf is the bowl, and the salt is the mudaaf ilayh we're going to add to the soup. And this salt, will give it an extra flavor or meaning!

Let's look more closely at each element of the two:

The Mudaaf:

•Although has no “Al-” or looks indefinite, is still considered definite, since it is defined by possession or Idaafa; therefore cannot take “tanween” or double diacritic (because it is already definite-defined by Idaafa, so you cannot add an Al prefix).

•“Noun” letter is removed, if dual or sound masculine plural. مُعَلِّمو الصَّفِّ

•Grammatical case is according to its position in the sentence; so it could be in the nominative, accusative or genitive.

كِتَابُ كَريمٍ

The book of Karim

كِتابُ التِّلْميذِ

The book of the student

كِتابَا التِّلْميذِ