The adjective / النَعْت

The adjective in Arabic (النَعْت)

The adjective rules / قُواعِد النَعْت

The adjective in Arabic is called نَعْت and the noun it qualifies is called مَنْعوت. There are two rules regarding the adjective in Arabic:

  • Unlike English, the adjective comes systematically after the noun it qualifies.
  • The adjective agrees with the noun it qualifies in all possible respects, namely:
  1. In gender / الجِنْس
  2. In number / العَدَد
  3. In definiteness / التَعْريف
  4. In grammatical case / الإعْراب

Examples:

يَذْهَبُ إِلى الجامِعةِ الكَبِيرةِ
He goes to the big university

Gender: The word ‘university’ جامِعة is feminine by nature, the adjective big (كَبير) will have to take the feminine form => كَبيرة.

Number: ‘The university’ الجامِعةِ is here singular, hence, ‘big’ كَبيرة stays in the singular form.

Definiteness: ‘The university’ الجامِعةِ is definite, we’ll then have to add the article of definition to big ? الكَبيرة 

Grammatical case: ‘The university’ الجامِعةِ is in the genitive form and ends with a kasra. As a matter of consequence الكَبيرة also ends with the kasra accordingly ? الكَبيرةِ


هذا قِطٌّ صَغِيرٌ
This is a small cat

Gender: The word ‘cat’ قِطٌّ is masculine by nature, and the adjective ‘small’ (صَغِير) stays in the masculine form (صَغِير? (مُذَكَّر

Number: ‘Cat’ قِطٌّ is here singular, hence, “small” صَغِير stays in the singular form.

Definiteness: ‘Cat’  قِطّ is indefinite, we won’t add the article of definition to small ? صَغِير

Grammatical case: ‘Cat’ قِطّ is in the nominative case (مَرْفُوع) and ends with a ḍamma. As a matter of consequence صَغِير also ends with the ḍamma accordingly ? صَغِيرٌ


الطُلّابُ الناجِحونَ مُجْتَهِدونَ
The successful students are hard-working

Gender: The word ‘students’ الطُلّابُ is masculine by nature, the adjective successful ناجِح stays in the masculine form (ناجِح ? (مُذَكَّر

Number: ‘The students’ الطُلّابُ is here plural , hence, ‘successful’ ناجِح take the plural form (ناجِحُون ? (الجَمْع

Definiteness: “The students” الطُلّابُ is definite, we’ll then have to add the article of definition to successful ? الناجِحونَ 

Grammatical case: “The students” الطُلّابُ is in the nominative form (مَرْفُوع) and ends with a ḍamma. As a matter of consequence, الناجِحونَ is a regular plural (which we saw in previous lessons) and will end with ون accordingly ? الناجِحونَ 

Note: In the latter sentence, “hard-working” مُجْتَهِدونَ is considered the information (الخبر) of the nominal sentence and not as an adjective, as it doesn’t follow the subject “students” طُلّاب in definiteness.

Plurals not endowed with reason / الجُموع الجامِدة

The adjective which refers to non-personified things or animals in the plural form agrees with the feminine singular. This rule is only valid for the plural (and not the dual).

Beautiful storiesحِكاياتٌ جميلةٌ
Fierce lionsأُسُدٌ شَرِسةٌ
The United Statesالوِلاياتُ المُتَّحِدةُ

Note: On rare occasions, the adjective which refers to non-personified plurals can stay plural, the aim is generally to insist on the value of the adjective.

A set number of daysأَيّامٌ مَعْدُوداتٌ
Ever-lasting hours (litt. long hours)ساعاتٌ طِوالٌ

The adjective and the annexation / النَعْت والإِضافة

With the exception of demonstrative adjectives, nothing can separate two annexed terms. As a result, any adjective associated with the first term must be placed behind that of the second one in an annexation.

ثِيابُ الوَلَدِ الجَديدةُ 
The boy’s new clothes 

As the 2nd term can also have an adjective, it is the genre or the noun case which can then allow knowing which of the 2 terms is qualified.

وَزِيرُ الحُكُومةِ الجَديدَةِ
The minister of the new government

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Adjectives

The Adjective

Master the use of adjectives in Arabic with our comprehensive guide. Learn how to modify nouns and create vivid descriptions with ease.

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