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

The emphasis in Arabic with "nūn" and "lām" / نُون التَوْكِيد ولام التَوْكِيد

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]

Conjugation

  • The heavy nūn (نُون التَوكِيد الثَقِيلة)
مُثَنّى (dual)جمع (plural)مُفْرَد (singular)المُضارِع
Imperfect
نَحْنُ نَفْعَلَنَّأنا أَفْعَلَنَّالمُتَكَلِّم 
1st person 
أَنْتُما تَفْعَلانَّ
أَنْتُم تَفْعَلُنَّأنتَ تَفْعَلَنَّالمُذَكَّر
masc.
المُخاطَب 
2nd person 
أَنْتُنَّ تَفْعَلْنَانَّأَنتِ تَفْعَلِنَّالمُؤَنَّث
fem.
هُما يَفْعَلانَّهُم يَفْعَلُنَّهُوَ يَفْعَلَنَّالمُذَكَّر
masc.
الغائِب 
3rd person
هُما تَفْعَلانَّهُنَّ يَفْعَلْنانَّهِيَ تَفْعَلَنَّالمُؤَنَّث
fem.
مُثَنّى (dual)جمع (plural)مُفْرَد (singular)الأَمْر
Imperative


اِفْعَلانِّ
اِفْعَلُنَّاِفْعَلَنَّالمُذَكَّر
masc.
المُخاطَب 
2nd person 
افْعَلْنَانِّاِفْعَلِنَّالمُؤَنَّث
fem.
  • The light nūn (نُون التَوكِيد الخَفِيفة) 

مُثَنّى (dual)جمع (plural)مُفْرَد (singular)المُضارِع
Imperfect
نَحْنُ نَفْعَلَنْأنا أَفْعَلَنْالمُتَكَلِّم 
1st person 
N/A
أَنْتُم تَفْعَلُنْأنتَ تَفْعَلَنْالمُذَكَّر
masc.
المُخاطَب 
2nd person 
N/Aأَنتِ تَفْعَلِنْالمُؤَنَّث
fem.
N/Aهُم يَفْعَلُنْهُوَ يَفْعَلَنْالمُذَكَّر
masc.
الغائِب 
3rd person
N/AN/Aهِيَ تَفْعَلَنْالمُؤَنَّث
fem.

Note: The light nun doesn’t exist in dual and feminine plural forms

مُثَنّى (dual)جمع (plural)مُفْرَد (singular)الأَمْر
Imperative


N/A
اِفْعَلُنْاِفْعَلَنْالمُذَكَّر
masc.
المُخاطَب 
2nd person 
N/Aاِفْعَلِنْالمُؤَنَّث
fem.

Emphatic lām / لام التَوكِيد

The particle لَـ called لام التَوْكِيد (= the emphatic lām), can precede a noun or a verb to give it more force. It can be used:

  • at the beginning of a sentence with what is called the ‘starting lām’ (لام الاِبْتِداء): 
He is (indeed) the best driverلَهُوَ أَفْضَلُ السُوَّاقِ
The sun is (indeed) shiningلَلشّمْسُ مُشْرِقة
  • following an oath with the ‘lām of oath’ (لام القسم):
By God, I will study hardوَاللّه لأَدْرُسَنَّ باجتهاد
By God I will punish the thiefتَاللّه لأُعاقِبَنْ السارِق
Emphatic "nūn" and emphatic "lām"

Learn about the unique features of the Arabic language with our guide to emphatic 'nūn' and emphatic 'lām.' Explore the pronunciation, usage, and grammatical rules surrounding these two distinct features of Arabic.

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