The vocative / النِداء

Arabic dialects map

The Arabic vocative particles serve as an invitation or a signal to warn the spoken-to to pay close attention and heed what the speaker is about to say. It can also be a way to target the speech and specify the addressee. As opposed to the English language, the vocative in Arabic is widely used. It is usually composed of two components:

  • the vocative article أداة النداء 
  • the summoned noun / the addressee المُنادى

The vocative article أداة النداء 

In Arabic, there are vocative particles that all mean ‘O(h)/Hey’, yet they don’t necessarily require a translation in many cases. The exclamation mark at the end of a noun or sentence is usually enough to express these words. Those particles are:

أَدَوات النِداء 
Vocative particles

Despite having a variety of particles, only three are regularly put into use. These include:

Followed by a noun with the definite article الـFollowed by a noun without the definite article الـ
For feminineFor masculineFor both genders
أَيَّتُها أَيُّها يا 

Particle يا

Usage of يا

We know the particle يا is used if the definite article الـ does not precede the summoned noun (المُنادى). 

Particle يا is mainly used to call someone or something:

يا مُحَمَّدُ 
O Muḥammad!

 It can also be used:

  •  as a distress call (للاستغاثة )
O my people (help me)!يا قَوْمي
  • for lamentation (النَّدْبَةُ) 
{How regretful for the servants […]}
Qur’an [Ya-Sin : 30]
يَا حَسْرَةً عَلَى الْعِبَادِ […]} القُرْآن [يس : 30]}

Noun case of the summoned noun / إِعراب المنادى

Nominative case (مَرْفُوع) without nunation (تَنْوِين):

  • if one is addressing someone well determined
O teacher, I know the answerيا أُسْتاذُ أَعْرِفُ الجَوابَ
  • if the addressee is a proper name (without an annexation construction)
O Amina, where are you?يا أمينةُ أيْنَ أنتِ؟

Accusative noun case (مَنْصُوب):

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