Emphatic “nūn” and emphatic “lām” / نُون التَوْكِيد ولام التَوْكِيد

Arabic dialects map

There are two particles used as suffixes to verbs to express emphasis in Arabic or to give an assertive tone to a certain action. Those particles are the emphatic nūn ـنَّ/ـنْ and the emphatic lām لَـ.

Emphatic nūn / نُون التَوْكِيد

The emphatic nūn (نون التوكيد) is a letter nūn ـن suffixed to a verb to emphasize the action it expresses. This noun can be found under two different versions at the end of the verb; the heavy version and the light version, although the heavy version is most often preferred:

  • The heavy nūn (نُون التَوكِيد الثَقِيلة) is a nūn bearing a shadda and a fatḥa ـنَّ (most used)
  • The light nūn (نُون التَوكِيد الخَفِيفة) is a nūn bearing the sukūn ـنْ

Conditions of use

Both the heavy nūn and the light nūn are suffixed to verbs under the same conditions. The verb has to be:

Imperative or interdiction:

Write the sentence on the boardاُكْتُبَنَّ الجُمْلةَ على اللَوْحِ
Don’t open the gift nowلا تَفْتَحَنْ الهَدِيّةَ الآنَ

In the present tense:

  • In the negative form
He doesn’t live thereلا يَسْكُنَنَّ هناك
We don’t go out at nightلا نَخْرُجَنْ في اللَيْل
  • Following an oath:
By God I will study hardوَاللّهِ لأَدْرُسَنَّ باجتهاد
By God I will punish the thiefتَاللّهِ لأُعاقِبَنْ السارِق

Note: When the emphatic nūn is used for an oath it’s usually combined with the emphatic lām.

  • After a conditional particle combined with ما:
{And if you fear treachery from any people (with whom you have a covenant) then publicly throw their covenant at them…} Qurʾān [al-Anfāl : 58{…وَإِمَّا تَخَافَنَّ مِن قَوْمٍ خِيَانَةً فَانبِذْ إِلَيْهِمْ عَلَىٰ سَوَاءٍ} 
القُرْآن [الأنفال: 58]
{And whether or not We take you away [in death], indeed, We will take retribution upon them} Qurʾān [al-Zukhruf : 41]{فَإِمَّا نَذْهَبَنَّ بِكَ فَإِنَّا مِنْهُم مُّنتَقِمُونَ} 
القُرْآن [الزخرف: 41]


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