Additional complements : The absolute object, the state and the disambiguation / المَفْعُول المُطْلَق والحال والتَمْيِيز

Arabic dialects map

The absolute object / المَفْعول المُطْلَق

The absolute object (المَفْعُول المُطْلَق) is a repetition of the verb’s meaning without any temporal context. To express this, we use either a verbal noun/maṣdar (مَصْدَر) or a one-time noun (اِسْمُ المَرةِ) (see the page on the subject). This word is derived from the same root as its corresponding verb and is usually in indefinite form. An adjective can be added to it to specify it. 

It is mentioned after the verb in order to:

  1. Confirm its meaning / التَأْكِيد 
  2. To show its nature / بَيانُ النَوْعِ
  3. Specify the number / بَيانُ العَدَدِ
1. I indeed ran١. جَرَيْتُ جَرْيًا 
2. He sat like a king (litt. he sat the way kings sit)٢. جَلَسَ جِلْسةَ المُلوكِ
3. He hit him one time٣. ضَرَبَهُ ضَرْبَةً

Note: when the verbal noun/maṣdar (مَصْدَر) is followed by an adjective (نَعْت) or a 2nd term of annexation (مُضاف إليه) it’s generally the 2nd meaning.

Sometimes the absolute object (المَفْعُول المُطْلَق) can be implicit.

شَكَرَها جَزيلاً 🢠 شَكَرَها (شُكْرًا) جَزِيلاً
He thanked her very much

Some expressions can be used only with the absolute object omitting the rest of the sentence like the famous ‘thank you’ in Arabic which is basically an absolute object (المَفْعُول المُطْلَق) isolate from the sentence.

Thank you

The state (al-ḥāl) / الحال

Regular ḥāl with a noun

The word حال means ‘circumstance, condition, or state’ in Arabic. Grammatically it refers to an adjective or participle (اِسْم الفاعل / اِسْم المَفْعول) in the indefinite accusative case (نَكِرة مَنْصوب), which provides additional information to an already complete sentence by answering one of two things:

  • “How?” and “In what manner?” did the subject perform the action
  • In which state was the complement/object (المَفْعُول) when the action was performed. 

In English translation specifically, the ḥāl (الحال) corresponds primarily to copredictive adjectives or adverbial participles (referring either to the subject or the object).

As stated above the ḥāl (الحال) is usually an adjective or participle (اِسْم الفاعل / اِسْم المَفْعول) in the indefinite accusative case (نَكِرة مَنْصوب). Henceforth, it agrees only in gender and number with the noun to which it refers. The said noun can be in the nominative (مَرْفُوع), accusative (مَنْصُوب) and genitive (مَجْرُور) forms.

Zainab came cryingجاءتْ زَيْنَبُ باكيةً
The army came back victoriousرَجَعَ الجَيْشُ مُنْتَصِرًا
We left the door openتَرَكْنا البابَ مَفْتوحًا

Note: The حال can also take the shape of a quasi-sentence (preposition + noun).

They (fem.) went to the library in a hurryذَهَبْنَ إلى المَكْتَبةِ في عَجْلةٍ
She gladly helped her friendساعَدَتْ صَدِيقتَها بِسُرورٍ

State clause introduced by wāw / واو الحال

The wāw of ḥāl (واو الحال) is the وَ conjunction that initiates a “state clause” حال when paired with either a detached pronoun (ضَمِير مُنْفَصِل) or definite noun (اِسْم مَعْرِفة), both left in their nominative form (مَرْفُوع). This can be understood equivalently as ‘while’ and ‘as‘. In other words:

واو الحال + ضَمِير مُنْفَصِل / اِسم مَعْرِفة مَرْفُوع = حال
wāw of hāl + detached pronoun/definite noun nominative case = hāl

The pronoun or the noun will act as the subject (مُبْتَدأ) of a nominal sentence (جُمْلة اِسْميّة), followed by a verb/noun/particle that’ll be part of the information (الخَبَر).

He shouted in the street while the people were asleepصاح في الشارِع والناسُ نِيامٌ
They’re walking in the street arrogantlyَيَمْشُونَ في الشارعِ وَهُمْ يَتَكَبَّرُون
He’s driving while drinking his coffeeيَسُوق السَيّارةَ وهو يَشْرَبُ قَهْوَتَهُ

Note: The status clause حال can also take the shape of a verbal sentence introduced by wāw of ḥāl

She broke the TV as her father came back from workكَسَرَتْ التِلْفاز وقد رجع أَبوها من العَمَل

Note 2: It is also possible to find “status clauses” without the  wāw of hāl (واو الحال).

أَطْعَمُوا الكَلْبَ صَباحًا يَسْتَبْشِرونَ
They fed the dog in the morning rejoicing

The disambiguation (tamyīz) / التَمْيِيز

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