<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"> <head> <meta http-equiv="Content-type" content="text/html;charset=UTF-8" /> <title>The genitive construct and other ways to express possession in Egyptian Arabic</title> <link type="text/css" rel="stylesheet" href="style.css" /> <meta name="description" content="An explanation of the idafa construct and other ways to express possession in Egyptian Arabic." /> <script type="text/javascript"> var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-29877981-1']); _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']); (function() { var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js'; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })(); </script> </head> <body> <div id="content"> <div id="head"> <span class="title">Arabic learning resources</span> <ul id="menu"> <li><a href="index.html">home</a></li> <li><a href="vocab.html">vocabulary</a></li> <li><a href="grammar.html">grammar</a></li> <li><a href="faq.html">faq</a></li> <li><a href="about.html">about</a></li> <li><a href="links.html">links</a></li> </ul> </div> <div class="body"> <h1>The genitive construct and other ways to express possession in Egyptian Arabic</h1><br /> <ul> <li><a href="#idafa">The genitive construct</a> - <span class="arabic">'D%6'A)</span> (il-iDaafa)</li> <li><a href="#poss">Other ways to express possession</a></li> </ul> <br /><hr /> <br /><h2><a name="idafa"></a>The genitive construct</h2> <br /><p>In Arabic, two nouns can be placed one after the other in what is called a genitive construct (<span class="arabic">'D%6'A)</span>) to indicate possession. First comes the noun being possessed (<span class="arabic">'DE6'A</span>), then comes the noun referring to the owner (<span class="arabic">'DE6'A 'DJG</span>). For example:</p> <div class="example"> <span class="arabic">C*'( 'DHD/</span> (kitaab il-walad)<br />the boy's book<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">'3E 'D(F*</span> (ism il-bint)<br />the girl's name<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">E/JF) 'DB/3</span> (mediinat il-'uds)<br />the city of Jerusalem<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">(F* 9EJ</span> (bint 3ammi)<br />my cousin (paternal uncle's daughter)</div> <br /><p>If <span class="arabic">'DE6'A</span> ends in a taa' marbuuTa, then the end of that word will be pronounced -it instead of -a.</p> <div class="example"> <span class="arabic">#H6) #.*J</span> (ooDit oxti)<br />my sister's room<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">91(J) F(JD)</span> <span dir="ltr">(3arabiyyit Nabiila)</span><br />Nabila's car<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">5H1) 5'-(J</span> (Suurit SaHbi)<br />my friend's picture<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">4B) F,HI</span> (aa''it Nagwa)<br />Nagwa's apartment</div> <br /><p>In Egyptian Arabic, <span class="arabic">'DE6'A</span> must be indefinite, but <span class="arabic">'DE6'A 'DJG</span> may be definite or indefinite.</p> <div class="example"> <span class="arabic">C*'( 'DHD/</span> (kitaab il-walad)<br />the boy's book<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">C*'( -3F</span> (kitaab Hasan)<br />Hasan's book<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">C*'( HD/</span> (kitaab walad)<br />a boy's book</div> <br /><p>Whether an adjective modifies <span class="arabic">'DE6'A</span> or <span class="arabic">'DE6'A 'DJG</span>, it will come at the very end, after <span class="arabic">'DE6'A 'DJG</span>. As usual, it will agree in gender, number, and definiteness with the noun it modifies.</p> <div class="example"><table class="nest"> <tr><td><span class="arabic">C*'( 'D(F* 'D7HJD)</span> (kitaab il-bint iT-Tawiila)</td><td><span class="arabic">C*'( 'D(F* 'D7HJD</span> (kitaab il-bint iT-Tawiil)</td></tr> <tr><td>the tall girl's book</td><td>the girl's long book</td></tr> <tr><td>&nbsp;</td></tr> <tr><td><span class="arabic">C*'( (F* 7HJD</span> (kitaab bint Tawiil)</td><td><span class="arabic">C*'( (F* 7HJD)</span> (kitaab bint Tawiila)</td></tr> <tr><td>a girl's long book</td><td>a tall girl's book</td></tr> </table></div> <br /><p>But sometimes, if both <span class="arabic">'DE6'A</span> or <span class="arabic">'DE6'A 'DJG</span> are the same gender and number, there can be confusion over what noun is being modified by the adjective, as with this phrase:</p> <div class="example"><span class="arabic">C*'( 'DHD/ 'D7HJD</span> (kitaab il-walad iT-Tawiil) - does this mean "the tall boy's book" or "the boy's long book"?</div> <br /><p>Fortunately, Egyptian Arabic has a solution for this kind of ambiguity: use of the <span class="arabic">(*'9</span> (bitaa3) construction. The word <span class="arabic">(*'9</span> (female form <span class="arabic">(*'9)</span> bitaa3a, plural form <span class="arabic">(*H9</span> bituu3) indicates possession.</p> <div class="example"> <span class="arabic">'DC*'( (*'9 'DHD/ 'D7HJD</span> (il-kitaab bitaa3 il-walad iT-Tawiil)<br />the tall boy's book<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">'DC*'( 'D7HJD (*'9 'DHD/</span> (il-kitaab iT-Tawiil bitaa3 il-walad)<br />the boy's long book</div> <br /><p>This construction is also used if you want to modify <span class="italic">both</span> terms of the <span class="arabic">'6'A)</span> with adjectives.</p> <div class="example"><span class="arabic">'DC*'( 'D7HJD (*'9 'DHD/ 'D5:J1</span> (il-kitaab iT-Tawiil bitaa3 il-walad iS-So!ayyar)<br /> the little boy's long book</div> <br /><br /><hr /> <br /><h2><a name="poss"></a>Other ways to express possession</h2> <br /><p>There are also other ways to express possession. Of course, you can use <a href="g_pronouns_poss.html">possessive pronouns</a>.</p> <p>Arabic has no verb for "to have," but you can express this idea with three different prepositions, with possessive pronoun suffixes added:</p> <ul> <li><span class="arabic">9F/</span> <span dir="ltr">(3and-) - used to talk about "having" something in the sense of owning or possessing it. This is the most commonly-used of these three choices.</span> <br /><div class="example"><span class="arabic">'D1',D /G 9F/G (J* C(J1</span> (ir-raagil da 3andu beit kibiir)<br />That man has a big house.</div><br /></li> <li><span class="arabic">D@</span> (li-) - used to refer to something intended for somebody or something "owned" by an inanimate object. <br /><div class="example"><span class="arabic">DJC ,H'( AJ 'D(H37)</span> (liik gawaab fil-bosTa)<br />You have a letter in the mail.<br /><br /> <span class="arabic">'D#H6) DG' *D'* 4('(JC</span> (il-ooDa liiha talat aababiik)<br />The room has three windows.</div><br /></li> <li><span class="arabic">E9</span> (ma3a) - used to talk about something you physically have with you. <br /><div class="example"><span class="arabic">E9'C ADH3</span> (ma3aak filuus?)<br />Do you have money (with you)?</div></li></ul> <p>Here are the "conjugations" of these words:</p> <table class="zebra"> <tr><td>I have</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/J</span> <span dir="ltr">(3andi)</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DJ</span> (leyya)</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'J'</span> (ma3aaya)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>you (masc. sing.) have&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/C</span> <span dir="ltr">(3andak)</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DC</span> (lik)</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'C</span> (ma3aak)</td></tr> <tr><td>you (fem. sing.) have</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/C</span> <span dir="ltr">(3andik)</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DCJ</span> (likii)</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'CJ</span> (ma3aakii)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>he has</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/G</span> <span dir="ltr">(3andu)</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DG</span> (luh)</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'G</span> (ma3aah)</td></tr> <tr><td>she has</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/G'</span> <span dir="ltr">(3andaha)</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DG'</span> (laha)</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'G'</span> (ma3aaha)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>we have</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/F'</span> <span dir="ltr">(3andena)</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DF'</span> (lina)</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'F'</span> (ma3aana)</td></tr> <tr><td>you (pl.) have</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/CH'</span> <span dir="ltr">(3anduku)</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DCH'</span> (luku)</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'CH'</span> (ma3aaku)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>they have</td><td><span class="arabic">9F/GE</span> <span dir="ltr">(3anduhum)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</span></td><td><span class="arabic">DGE</span> (luhum)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td><span class="arabic">E9'GE</span> (ma3aahum)</td></tr> </table> <br /><p>And here are the negations:</p> <table class="zebra"> <tr><td>I don't have</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/J4</span> (ma3andiia)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DJ4</span> (maliia)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9J4</span> (mama3iia)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>you (masc. sing.) don't have&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/C4</span> (ma3andaka)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DC4</span> (malaka)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9C4</span> (mam3aka)</td></tr> <tr><td>you (fem. sing.) don't have</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/C4</span> (ma3andikiia)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DCJ4</span> (malkiia)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9CJ4</span> (mam3akiia)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>he doesn't have</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/G4</span> (ma3anduua)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DH4</span> (maluua)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9GH4</span> (mam3ahuua)</td></tr> <tr><td>she doesn't have</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/G'4</span> (ma3andahaaa)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DG'4</span> (malhaaa)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9G'4</span> (mam3ahaaa)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>we don't have</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/F'4</span> (ma3andenaaa)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DF'4</span> (malnaaa)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9F'4</span> (mam3anaaa)</td></tr> <tr><td>you (pl.) don't have</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/CH4</span> (ma3andukuua)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DCH4</span> (malkuua)</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9CH4</span> (mam3akuua)</td></tr> <tr class="odd"><td>they don't have</td><td><span class="arabic">E'9F/GE4</span> (ma3anduhuma)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td><span class="arabic">E'DGE4</span> (malhuma)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td><td><span class="arabic">E'E9GE4</span> (mam3ahuma)</td></tr> </table> <br /><p>To shift into the past tense, you say <span class="arabic">C'F</span> (kaan) or <span class="arabic">E'C'F4</span> (makana) followed by the preposition + pronoun suffix.</p> <div class="example"><span class="arabic">E'C'F4 9F/J AC1) %FG GH 'DDJ 9ED C/G</span> (makana 3andi fikra innu howwa lli 3amal kida)<br />I had no idea that he was the one who did that.</div> <br /> <br /><span class="back">&larr; 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