Own stuff  - possession: the miracle idaafa construction



🔴 See also: Idaafa explained, Be careful, Picture drill


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Possession using the Idaafa.


idaafa construction is practical, efficient, and used PLENTY in the Arabic language to express:

1- Possession in Arabic:

Noun #1 = what is possessed
Noun #2 = possessor

حَديقَةُ الْبَيْتِ   = garden + house

Possession in English FLIPS word order:

Noun #1 = possessor
Noun #2 = what is possessed

The house’s garden = house + garden

2- A one unit phrase - Two or more words that simply belong to one another.

ذاتَ مَرّةٍ - Once upon a time 

Beware: Idaafa constructions are phrases and not sentences. Therefore, they cannot stand alone but are part of a sentence.

Let's go back to an idaafa used to express possession:

cat + Tom

Which would mean Tom’s cat or the cat of Tom.

Let’s try it now in Arabic: utta + Tom or “uttit Tom”

Rule recall:
utta (cat) is a feminine noun and therefore ends in an a. This "a" changes to an it to express possession.

Uttit Tom is definite because “Tom” is definite. 

Remember: It is the second noun, and not the first noun, which determines if “what is possessed” is definite.

Let's say this again...

If the second term in the idaafa is definite then the entire idaafa construction is definite. In other words the first term is definite as well.

Therefore, because Tom is definite than we are referring to
the cat and not a cat.

Let’s take a close-up look at two more examples:

  Let's do a close up:

حَديقَةُ الْبَيْتِ

جِنينِةِ الْبيتْ
giniinit il beet

The garden of the house OR/
The house’s garden


  Let's do a close up:

حَديقَةُ بَيْتٍ

جِنينِة بيتْ

  giniinit beet

A garden of a house OR/
A house’s garden

Notice in the first example above the second noun is definite so the entire idaafa construction is definite.


  Listen to the definite and indefinite idaafa constructions…

  Definite Idaafa                     Indefinite Idaafa

بَيْتُ الْمُدير ِ

بيتْ اِلـْمُديرْ

  beet il modiir  
the director’s house

بَيْتُ مُديرٍ

بيتْ مُديرْ
beet modiir   
a director’s house

شارِعُ الْفُنْدُق ِ

شارِعْ اِلـْلوكَنْدَةْ

  shaariç il lokanda  
the street of the hotel

شارِعُ فُنْدُق ٍ

شارِعْ لوكَنْدَةْ 

  shaariç lokanda  
a street of a hotel

🔴 See more examples 😊 😊


Be careful. You asked and we answered.

1- An idaafa construction is very different from a noun-adjective phrase.

A noun-adjective phrase can never show possession.

And, both nouns are definite or both nouns are indefinite in a noun-adjective phrase.

2- In the idaafa construction if NOUN 2 is definite then NOUN 1 becomes definite (without the definite article).

In an idaafa construction only the second term can take the definite article.

The second noun determines whether the entire construction is definite or indefinite.




Keep going! You're almost there.


     Drill with answers

Make up idaafa constructions by selecting any two nouns.

The declension of the idaafa construction in MSA/Classicalis as follows:

#1st term of the idaafa: Can be in the nominative, accusative, or genitive depending on the idaafa's grammatical role in the sentence. 

Example: If the idaafa construction plays the role of the "subject" within the sentence; then the first term of the idaafa takes the nominative case -- just as any regular stand alone subject would.

#2nd term of the idaafa: Is always in the genitive

The genitive marker on the second term of the idaafa demonstrates possession. 

EXCEPTION: Most proper s and certain indefinite forms of broken plurals will appear in the accusative for the genitive case.


   Answers below for drill


 Drill 1

problem - moshkila

the desk - il maktab

professor - ostaaz

girl - bint

chair - korsi

the countries - il bilaad

cup - kobaaya

the class - il fasl

school - madrasa

boys - awlaad

shoe - gazma




 Answers (Drill 1)

 مُشْكِلَةُ الْبِلادِ

  مُشْكِلِة الْبِلاد

 12  mo shkilit il bilaad
the problem of the countries


🔴 See more answers 😊 😊


  Read more on the idaafa construction



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