The exception and the exclusivity / الاِسْتِثْناء والحَصْر

Arabic dialects map

To express the exclusivity and the exception in Arabic we resort to a few words all meaning  ‘except (for), excepting, with the exception of, apart from, excluding, barring’ which are:

عَدا / خَلا / حاشا
غَيْر / سِوَى
verbs and prepositions at the same time

Note: The particle إلا, and the accusative form of غَيْرُ may be followed by the subordinating conjunction أَنَّ ‘that’. The meaning then becomes ‘except that, nevertheless, but, however’:

He went to work but he was tiredذَهَبَ إِلى العَمَلِ إِِلا أَنَّهُ كانَ مُتْعَباً
He didn’t attend the meeting, however, he had apologized in advanceلَمْ يَحْضُرْ إِلى الاِجْتِماعِ، غَيْرَ أَنَّهُ قَدَّمَ اِعْتِذارَهُ مُسْبَقًا

The exception / الاِسْتِثْناء

An exceptive sentence contains the following four central elements: 

  • The predicate expresses the action or situation to which the exception refers
  • The first noun from which the exception is made (المُسْتَثْنى منه)
  • The exceptive particle (أداة الاستْثناء)
  • The second noun the excepted member (المُسْتَثْنى)

The exception with إِلا 

Among the different exceptive particles إِلا, is the most commonly used. In an exceptive sentence, it takes the following noun in any of the three cases as follows:

  • إلاّ in a positive sentence makes the following noun the accusative case (مَنْصوب)
My friends visited me except Karimزارَني أَصْدِقائِي إِلاّ كَرِيمًا
I love Kuwait except for its hot weatherأُحِبُّ الكُوِيتَ إِلاّ الطَقْسَهُ الحَارَّ 
  • In a negative sentence the noun that follows إلاّ is most often in the nominative case (مَرْفُوع) but can also be in the accusative (مَنْصوب)
Nothing new in the series except for the actors.لا جَدِيدٌ في المُسَلْسَلةِ إِلاّ المُمَثِلّونَ
She doesn’t hate anyone except her enemyلا تُكْرِهُ أَحَدًا إِلاّ عَدُوَّها

The exception with غَيْر and سِوى

The words غَيْر and سِوى are nouns. Both غَيْر and سِوى can replace إلاّ but they put the following noun in the genitive case essentially because they act as 1st term of annexation (مُضاف)

I don’t trust anyone but youلا أَثِقُ بِأَحَدٍ غَيْرِكَ
The device runs everywhere except in the mountainsيَجْرِي الجِهازُ فِي كُلِّ مَكانٍ سِوَى الجِبالِ

The exception with خَلا / عَدا / حاشا

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