The demonstrative phrase / المُرَكّب الإِشاريّ

The demonstrative phrase in Arabic (المُرَكّب الإِشاريّ)

Arabic has two sets of demonstratives, also known as “أسْماء الإشارة,” which are similar to the English ones this/these and that/those. The demonstrative phrase in Arabic consists of distinctly masculine and feminine cases for each set in the singular and dual forms. However, for plural forms, there is no distinction between genders.

Demonstratives are not subject to noun cases except within the dual form where they differ by nominative or accusative-genitive case distinctions.

Demonstratives table

Distance (that)Proximity (this)
أَسْماء الإشارة
Demonstrative pronouns
المُؤَنَّث
Feminine
المُذَكَّر
Masculine
المُؤَنَّث
Feminine
المُذَكَّر
Masculine
َتِلْك
that
ذَلِكَ
that
هَذِهِ
this 
هَذا
this 
المُفْرَد
Singular
تانِكَ
those two
ذانِكَ
those two
هاتانِ
these two
هَذانِ
these two
مَرْفُوع
Nom.
المُثَنّى
Dual
تَيْنِكَ
those two
ذَيْنَكَ
those two
هاتَيْنِ
these two
هَذَيْنِ
these two
مَنْصُوب ومَجْرور
Acc. & Gen.
أُولائِكَ
those
هَؤُلاءِ
these
الجَمْع
Plural

Ways of use

The demonstrative can be used:

  • As an adjective / بَدَل
  • As a pronoun / ضمِير

The demonstrative as an adjective

The demonstrative acts as a demonstrative adjective when it is put in apposition (بَدَل) before the noun defined by the article. This is not an annexation: the demonstrative has no influence on the case of the noun that follows but agrees with it in gender (except in the plural) and number.

This library is bigهَذِهِ المَكْتَبةُ كَبِيرةٌ
That woman is oldتِلْكَ المَرْأَةُ عَجوزٌ

When a demonstrative is used to qualify the first term of annexation, it must be positioned after the entire phrase (after the 2nd term) similarly to other regular adjectives. In this case, we’ll only use the demonstrative of proximity.

This museum gallery is filthyرُواقُ المَتْحَفِ هَذه وَسِخةٌ
This ring from the princess is beautifulخاتِمُ الأَمِيرةِ هَذِا جَميلٌ

Note: The demonstrative may come before the last term of an annexation, which is the only exception to the general rule that nothing separates two terms in an annexation.

The gallery of this museum is filthyرُواقُ هَذا المَتْحَفِ وَسِخةٌ
This princess’s ring is beautifulخاتِمُ هَذِه الأَمِيرةِ جَميلٌ

The demonstrative as a pronoun

The demonstrative works as a pronoun when it’s subject (المُبْتَدأ) in a nominal sentence.

In this case, we’ll find three different types of structures depending on the definiteness of the predicate/information (الخبر):

  • When the predicate/information (الخبر) is indefinite (نَكِرة) the sentence adopts the classical construction as follows:

Subject  المُبْتَدأ (the demonstrative) + Predicate الخَبَر (an indefinite noun)

These (two) are two booksهَذانِ كِتابانِ
Those (two) are two rosesتانِكَ وَرْدَتانِ

  • When the predicate/information (الخبر) in question is made definite by the article ال , a third-person detached pronoun (ضَمير مُنْفَصِل) must be inserted between the subject (المُبْتَدأ) and the predicate/information to act as an indicator of being – ‘is’ or ‘are.’

Subject/المُبْتَدأ (demonstrative) + Detached pronoun/ضَمير مُنْفَصِل + Predicate/الخَبَر (indefinite noun)

This is the bookهَذا هُوَ الكِتاب
Those are the victorious هَؤُلاءِ هُمُ المُفْلِحونَ

  • When the predicate/information (الخبر) in question is made definite by an annexation إِضافة we have the choice to keep a regular structure subject + predicate or to add a third-person detached pronoun in between.
This is the owner of the caféهذا صاحِبُ المَقْهى
This is the life of the peasantsتلكَ هِيَ حَياةُ الفَلاّحينَ

Note: Used in isolation, the demonstrative can be the exact equivalent of a 3rd person pronoun

من هذه ؟
Who’s this/who is she?

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Demonstratives

The demonstrative phrase

Learn about the demonstrative phrase in Arabic and how it is used to point to specific people, things, or ideas. Improve your understanding of Arabic grammar and syntax with our comprehensive guide.

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  1. Salem alaykoum. Tout d’abord que Allah vous récompense pour le bien de votre site .J’ai un soucis voilà j’aimerais apprendre la grammaire mais je ne trouve pas le” Parcours ” disons par ou commencer. Cela serait bien si il y a des indications comme ” Grammaire cours no1 etc…Barakallahoufikoum

    1. Wa ‘aleykom as-salam, les cours sont organisés par niveaux; Débutant, Elementaire, Intermédiaire, Intermédiaire supérieur et Avancé. Les cours sont aussi numérotés au sein de ces sections. Regardez dans l’entête du site (la section “Apprendre l’arabe”) ou sur le widget à droite (ou en bas si vous êtes sur mobile).

  2. J’ai vraiment des efforts à faire car du mal à assimilé les cours mais cela viendra in cha Allah et encore merci .