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Modern Standard Arabic Grammar: A Learner's Guide

ISBN: 978-1-4051-5501-4
424 pages
April 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
Modern Standard Arabic Grammar: A Learner


Modern Standard Arabic Grammar is comprehensive guide that introduces readers to the basic structure and grammar of the Arabic language. Its features include:
  • Comprehensive coverage of Arabic grammar and structure in current standard use (MSA), from entry level to advanced proficiency
  • Balanced treatment of the phonological, syntactic, and morphological rules of the Arabic language
  • An intuitive presentation of grammar rules and structures, in order of frequency and functional use
  • Straightforward explanations with minimum linguistic jargon and terminology, explaining the key issues

Packed throughout with symbols, tables, diagrams, and illustrative examples, this book is essential reading for anyone in the early years of studying the language.

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Table of Contents


The Aim of this Book.

Why Learn/Teach Grammar?

Is the Arabic Language Difficult to Learn?

The Organization and Content of the Book.

Background Knowledge Required of the Reader.

Transliteration Symbols of Arabic Sounds.


1 Arabic Script and Sounds.

1.1 Arabic Script: The Alphabet.

1.2 Arabic Sounds.

1.3 Gemination.

1.4 Stress.

1.5 Spelling Variations of 'alif.

1.6 taa' marbuuTa.

1.7 Definiteness.

1.8 Formal MSA vs. Informal MSA.

1.9 Helping Vowels and Dropping the hamza of the Definite Article.

1.10 Dropping the hamza and 'alif Seat of the Definite Article in Writing.

1.11 Summary.

2 Word Structure.

2.1 The Basic Components of the Arabic Word: Root and Pattern.

2.2 Gender.

2.3 Number.

2.4 Summary.

3 Noun Phrase Structure.

3.1 Noun–adjective Phrase.

3.2 Demonstrative Phrase.

3.3 ’iDaafa Phrase.

3.4 Adjective 'iDaafa Phrase.

3.5 Summary.

4 Sentence Structure.

4.1 The Verbal Sentence.

4.2 The Nominal Sentence.

4.3 Summary.

5 Pronouns.

5.1 Personal Pronouns.

5.2 Object Pronouns.

5.3 Possessive Pronouns.

5.4 Demonstrative Pronouns.

5.5 Relative Pronouns and the Definite Relative Clause.

5.6 Dropping of Relative Pronouns and the Indefinite Relative Clause.

5.7 The Particles and man Functioning as Relative Pronouns.

5.8 Sound Changes to Pronoun and Word Endings.

5.9 Summary.

6 Prepositions.

6.1 Basic meanings and Use of Prepositions.

6.2 Idiomatic Usage and Expressions Involving Prepositions.

6.3 Occurrence with Pronoun Suffixes and Resulting Sound Changes.

6.4 Summary.

7 Question Words and Question Formation.

7.1 Question Formation and Question Words.

7.2 Summary.

8 Adverbs of Time and Place.

8.1 Adverbs of Time.

8.2 Adverbs of Place.

8.3 Words Used as Adverbs of Time or Place.

8.4 Dropping of Adverbs while Retaining Adverbial Meaning.

8.5 Occurrence of Adverbs of Time and Place with Prepositions.

8.6 Expressing Adverbial Meanings by a Preposition Followed by a Noun.

8.7 Other Uses of Adverbs.

8.8 Summary.

9 Adverbs of Manner.

9.1 Adverbs of Manner Occurring as a Single Word.

9.2 Adverbs of Manner Occurring as Non-derived Nouns.

9.3 Adverbs of Manner Occurring as a Phrase.

9.4 Adverbs of Manner Occurring as a Verbal Sentence.

9.5 Adverbs of Manner Occurring as a Nominal Sentence.

9.6 Dropping of Adverbs of Manner with Prepositional and Adverbial Phrases.

9.7 Summary.

10 Adverbs of Specification.

10.1 Adverbs of Specification Clarifying an Ambiguous Word.

10.2 Adverbs of Specification Clarifying an Ambiguous Verb.

10.3 Adverbs of Specification Clarifying an Ambiguous (Nominal) Sentence.

10.4 Summary.

11 Adverbs of Cause.

11.1 Adverbs of Cause Occurring as Indefinite Singular Verbal Noun/Gerund.

11.2 Adverbs of Cause Occurring as an ’iDaafa Phrase.

11.3 Other Ways of Expressing Adverbs of Cause.

11.4 Summary.

12 Adverbs of Emphasis/Cognate Accusative.

12.1 Adverbs of Emphasis Emphasizing a Verb/Action or a Word in a Sentence.

12.2 Other Uses of Adverbs of Emphasis.

12.3 Adverbs of Emphasis Emphasizing a Sentence.

12.4 Adverbs of Emphasis Occurring as an’iDaafa Phrase.

12.5 Dropping Adverbs of Emphasis

12.6 Summary.

13 The Verb.

13.1 Common Triliteral Verb Forms.

13.2 Meanings of the Common Triliteral Verb Forms.

13.3 Common Quadriliteral Verb Forms.

13.4 Categories of Arabic Verbs and Conjugations.

13.5 The Imperative.

13.6 The Negative Imperative.

13.7 The Passive Voice.

13.8 Summary.

14 The Noun.

14.1 The Non-derived Noun.

14.2 The Verbal Noun.

14.3 The Active Participle.

14.4 The Passive Participle.

14.5 Nouns of Time and Place.

14.6 Nouns of Instrument.

14.7 Nouns of Once.

14.8 Derived Abstract Nouns.

14.9 The Diminutive Noun.

14.10 The Five Nouns.

14.11 Summary.

15 The Adjective.

15.1 Main Adjective Patterns.

15.2 Color and Bodily Defect/Beauty Adjective Patterns.

15.3 Adjective Use.

15.4 The Comparative and Superlative.

15.5 The Active Participle.

15.6 The Passive Participle.

15.7 The Relative/nisba Adjective.

15.8 Summary.

16 Quantifiers and Emphasis.

16.1 Quantifiers.

16.2 Emphasis Words.

16.3 Other Ways of Expressing Emphasis.

16.4 Summary.

17 Conditional Sentences.

17.1 The Possible/Probable Conditional Sentence.

17.2 The Improbable Conditional Sentence.

17.3 The Impossible Conditional Sentence.

17.4 Summary.

18 Exceptive Sentences.

18.1 Exceptive Words and Their Use.

18.3 The Structure of "Especially".

18.4 Summary.

19 The Vocative.

19.1 The Vocative Particle.

19.2 Dropping the Vocative Particle.

19.3 Optative Use of the Vocative Particle.

19.4 Derogatory Use of the Vocative Particle.

19.5 The Vocative Particles.

19.6 Summary.

20 Exclamation.

20.1 Two Regular Expressions.

20.2 Use of the Vocative Particle يا and the Exclamation Particle.

20.3 Use of Certain Question Words and Phrases.

20.4 Summary.

21 Apposition.

21.1 Types of Apposition Nouns.

21.2 Definiteness Agreement within Noun–Noun Apposition.

21.3 Use of "Son" and the Noun Following it as an Apposition Noun.

21.4 Summary.

22 Triptote, Diptote, and Indeclinable/Invariable.

22.1 The Indeclinable/Invariable.

22.2 The Declinable.

22.3 Summary.

References and Further Reading (in Arabic).

Appendix A The Geometric Basis of Arabic Numerals.

Appendix B The Writing of the hamza.

Appendix C The Phoenician Alphabet.

Appendix D Identifying the Root and Looking up Words in the Dictionary.

Appendix E The Number Phrase.

English Index.

Arabic Index.

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Author Information

Mohammad T. Alhawary is Associate Professor of Arabic Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition at the University of Michigan, where he teaches courses on both Arabic language and Arabic theoretical and applied linguistics at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
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"A well-balanced comprehensive grammar book covering phonological, morphological and syntactic features of Arabic. Fresh material, comprehensive examples, and helpful Arabic-English comparisons that make learning Arabic grammar easy and straightforward."
Hanada A. Al-Masri, Cornell University

"Unlike many books on Arabic grammar, Alhawary's deals with the grammatical topics in much more useful details. The sequence of presentation of the topics is nicely designed from the more basic and frequent to the less basic and frequent, using the communicative functions. This text will be of great help as a pedagogical guide of all the basic structures and grammar of the Arabic Language needed in the first 4-5 years of learning the language, i.e. from the novice to advanced levels."
Adel Gamal, University of Arizona

"I consider this book a valuable addition to the few Arabic grammar books available in the field of Arabic language and linguistics. It is a concise Arabic grammar book that will be welcomed by students and teachers of Arabic because it includes a systematic presentation of key Arabic grammar topics combining intuitive modern and traditional approaches in describing and analyzing Arabic structures. It is an excellent source for use in Arabic grammar courses and also to complement Arabic textbooks used in Arabic language courses."
Raji Rammuny, University of Michigan

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