Al-tamyīz (the disambiguation) / التَمْيِيز

Al-Tamyiz in Arabic

The term التَمْيِز (al-tamyīz) in Arabic, means ‘specification, discrimination, disambiguation’. Its presence might not always be needed for sentences, but it certainly helps clarify any potential misunderstandings; simply put it can help your listener ask “In what sense?”.

When talking about numbers, amounts, or comparing things, the “tamyīz” (تَمْيِيز) helps make your sentences clearer. It’s like adding a label to the sentence to ensure everyone knows exactly what you mean. This is especially important when you’re talking about numbers between 11 and 99 or comparing things to show which one is better or the best (see our lesson on comparatives under the section adjectival patterns). By using tamyīz, you help avoid misunderstandings in your conversations. Here, I chose to translate tamyīz by the English word disambiguation, as its primary purpose is to lift ambiguity.

The disambiguation/tamyīz (تَمْيِيز) is divided into two parts:

  • Disambiguation of self / تَمْيِيز الذات
  • Disambiguation of attribution / تَمْيِيز النِسْبة 

Disambiguation of self / تَمْيِيز الذات

The disambiguation of self (تَمِييز الذات) is that which clarifies the ambiguity in a word.

في بَيْتِهِم خَمْسُونَ سَيارةً
There are fifty cars in their house

Note: In that regard everything noun used after the interrogative particle كَمْ (how many) must be a singular noun in the accusative case which is tamyīz.

كَمْ كِتابًا عِنْدَكَ ؟
How many books do you have?
  • Measures:
عِنْدَه صاعٌ تَمَرًا
I have a ṣāʿ (cubic dry measure) of dates

Note: The disambiguation of self تَمِييز الذات can also be in the genitive case preceded by preposition مِن or as a 2nd term of annexation (مُضاف إِلَيْهِ).

I have a ṣāʿ (cubic dry measure) of datesعِنْدَه صاعٌ مِنْ تَمَرٍ
I have a ṣāʿ (cubic dry measure) of datesعِنْدَه صاعُ تَمَرٍ
  • Something similar to measures:
عِنْدي مَدُّ البَصَرِ أَرْضًا
I have as far as the eye can see in land (My land extends as far as the eye can see)

Disambiguation of attribution / تَمْيِيز النِسْبة 

The disambiguation of attribution (تَمْيِيز النِسْبة) clarifies the ambiguity in the relationship between two things. 

  • Between the verb الفِعْل and the subject الفاعِل:
تَفَوَّقَ كَرِيمٌ غِناءً
Karim excelled in singing
هِيَ أَكْبَرُ مِنْهُ عُمْرًا
She is bigger than him in age (She is older than him)
  • Between the verb الفِعْل and the object المَفْعُول:
زَرَعْتُ الأَرْضَ قَمْحًا
I cultivated the land with wheat

Now, let’s test your knowledge

Al-tamyiz

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