Own stuff  - possession: the miracle idaafa construction



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


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Possession using the Idaafa.


The idaafa construction is used A LOT in the Arabic language for:

1- Possession:

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

حَديقَةُ الْبَيْتِ   = garden + house

Possession in English is the opposite word order:

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

The house’s garden = house + garden

An idaafa for possession:

cat + Tom

Meaning Tom’s cat or the cat of Tom.

In Arabic: utta + Tom or “uttit Tom”

Utta = cat and is a feminine noun ending in a. This "a" changes to an it to express possession.

If the second term in the
idaafa is definite then the entire idaafa construction is definite.

“Tom” is definite so uttit Tom is definite.

Because Tom is definite than it is
the cat and not a cat.

2- A phrase: Two or more words belonging to one another.

ذاتَ مَرّةٍ - Once upon a time 

Beware: Idaafas are phrases and not sentences.

Two definite and indefinite idaafa examples:

  Example #1

حَديقَةُ الْبَيْتِ

جِنينِةِ الْبيتْ
giniinit il beet

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

For the above example the second noun is definite so the entire idaafa construction is definite.


  Example #2

حَديقَةُ بَيْتٍ

جِنينِة بيتْ

  giniinit beet

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

For the above example the second noun is indefinite so the entire idaafa construction is indefinite.

  Listen to these idaafa constructions:

  Definite Idaafa                 Indefinite Idaafa

بَيْتُ الْمُديرِ

بيتْ اِلـْمُديرْ

  beet il modiir  
the director’s house

بَيْتُ مُديرٍ

بيتْ مُديرْ
beet modiir   
a director’s house

شارِعُ الْفُنْدُقِ

شارِعْ اِلـْلوكَنْدَةْ

  shaari3 il lokanda  
the street of the hotel

شارِعُ فُنْدُقٍ

شارِعْ لوكَنْدَةْ 

  shaari3 lokanda  
a street of a hotel

🔴 See more examples

  GAME: Egyptian Colloquial  


 GAME: MSA/Classical


 GAME: Arabic using English


Be careful:

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

A noun-adjective phrase has nothing to do with possession.

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

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

In an idaafa construction ONLY the second noun 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


Skip (Not really necessary)

The declension of the idaafa construction in MSA/Classical is 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. 

  مُشْكِلَةُ الْبِلادِ كَبيرةٌ.

Here the idaafa construction is the subject of the sentence.

Therefore, the first term of the
idaafa is nominative:

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

The genitive marker, on the second term of the
idaafa, gives possession

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

End of skip section.


Make up idaafa constructions:

    Answers below for drill

 Drill 1

 Noun #1                Noun #2


il maktab
the desk




il bilaad
the countries


il fasl
the class







 GAME: Egyptian Colloquial  


GAME: MSA/Classical

GAME: Arabic using English


 Answers (Drill 1)

 مُشْكِلَةُ الْبِلادِ

  مُشْكِلِة الْبِلاد

 12  moshkilit il bilaad
the problem of the countries


🔴 See more answers


  Read more on the idaafa construction



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