Prepositions / حُرُوف الجَرّ

Prepositions in Arabic (حُرُوف الجَرّ)

In Arabic, the noun governed by a preposition will always come after it and be in genitive form. The actual prepositions in Arabic حُروف الجَرّ are particles that are not subject to noun cases.

List of prepositions /قائِمة حُروف الجرّ 

Prepositions (الضَمائِر)
(for the teacher)
as / like
(like the teacher)
up to/until/tillحَتّى
since/fromمُذْ \ مُنْذُ
wāw to swear in the name of…وَ + اِسْم ← واو القَسَم
tāʾ to swear in the name of…تَـ + اِسْم ← تاء القَسَم
Particles to express the exception (see dedicated page on that)عَدا / خَلا / حاشا

Note: prepositions consisting of only one letter are attached to the words following them.

Prepositions: contexts of use

Particle بِـ

  • With/by (instrument):
He came by carجاءَ بِسَيّارةٍ
He is boxing with his glovesيُلاكِمُ بِقُفازاتِهِ

  • At, in, during (temporal or spatial continuity):
At the universityبِالجامعةِ
During the eveningبِالمَساءِ

  • To take an oath:
By God!بِاللّهِ
On my honor!بِشَرَفِي

  • Preceded by إِذا (= and suddenly): 
إِذا بِهِ…
and suddenly he…

  • In combination with other words:
    • Prepositional groups: بِدونِ / بِغَيْرِ / بِلا = without
    • Interrogatives: بِمَ؟ = with what ?
    • Adverbs: بِسُرْعة = quickly (with speed) / بِالضَبْط = exactly

 Particle لِـ

  • For, to, because (purpose and cause):
I studied for the examدَرَسْتُ لِلاِمْتِحان
That’s becauseلِذَلِكَ…

  • Express possession:
لَهُم كِتابٌ
They have a book (litt. => to them a book)

Note: Takes the fatḥa instead of the kasra when used with a pronoun (except for the 1st person singular pronoun ي )   

لَهُ (for him)

Note 2: Before a noun is preceded by the definite article (ال – أَداة التَعْرِيف), the ا of the article disappears:

  لِلْمُعَلِّمِ = for the teacher

  • Express possibility/permission, with أَنْ:
لَكُم أَنْ تَأْخُذوا ذَلِكَ
You can take that / You have the right to take that

  • Express dependency or relationship (when annexation is difficult):
مُنَظَّمةُ الأُمَمِ المُتَّحِدةِ لِلطُفُولةِ
The United Nations Children‘s Fund (UNICEF)

  • In combination with other words:
    • Prepositional group: لِأَجْلِ = in order to
    • Interrogatives: لِماذا؟ = why?
    • Conjunction: لأَنَّ = because

Particle كَـ

  • Like, as:
He is speaking to us as a politicianيُخاطِبُنا كَرَجُلٍ سِياسيٍّ
The girl is beautiful like the full moonالفتاة جميلةٌ كَالبَدْرِ
  • In combination with other words:
    • Relative clause: كَمَن/ كَالذي = like the one…
    • Adverbial expression: كَذَلِكَ = also / as well / likewise
    • Conjunctionكَأَنّ = as if / كَما = like (followed by a relative clause)

Note: Particle كـ can’t be followed by a pronoun (as opposed to مِثْل which can be followed by one)

Particle عَنْ

  • About:
تَحَدّثَ عَنْ اِبنِ سينا
He talked about Avicenna

  • Estrangement, separation or detachment:
بَعِيدًا عَنْ
Far from

  • Express the origin. Style very much used in classical resources like collections of hadith or khabar when mentioning the isnād (chain of transmitters of the information).
حَدَّثَنَا ‌اللَّيْثُ، عَنْ ‌خَالِدٍ، عَنْ ‌سَعِيدِ بْنِ أَبِي هِلَالٍ، عَنْ ‌نُعَيْمٍ الْمُجْمِرِ قَالَ…
Al-Layth told us, on the authority of Khalid, on the authority of Saeed bin Abi Hilal, on the authority of Naeem Al-Mujmar who said…

  • Generally used with verbs عَنْ has other values attached to it:
    • Research and exposure: كَشَفَ عن = to unveil / بَحَثَ عن = to look for
    • Defense: دافَعَ عَنْ = to defend

  • In combination with other words:
    • Adverbial expression: عَنْ قَرِيب = shortly
    • Interrogative: عَمَّنْ؟ = about who? / عَمَّ؟ = about what?

Particle إِلى

  • To, towards, until (time and place):
He goes to schoolيَذْهَبُ إلى المَدْرَسة
From now till infinityمِنْ الآنَ إِلى الأَبَدِ

Note: Becomes إِلَيْـ when a pronoun is attached to it

Particle مِنْ

  • From, of, that (time and place):
He came from the cityجاءَ مِنْ المَدينةِ
From now till infinityمِنْ الآنَ إِلى الأَبَدِ
A door made of woodبابٌ مِنْ خَشَبٍ

  • Comparison (than):
This is better than thatهذا أَحْسَنُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ
He is bigger than himهو أَكْبَرُ مِنْهُ

  • In combination with other words:
    • Prepositional group: مِنْ أَجْلِ = in order to / مِنْ قِبَلِ = from (someone)
    • Adverbial expression: مِنْ قَرِيب = closely
    • Interrogative: مِمَّنْ؟ = from who? / مِنْ أَيْنَ؟ = from where?
    • Expressions with adjectives and أَنْ or أَنَّ:
      • مِنْ الأحْسَنَ أَنْ = It is better that…
      • مِنْ المُمْكِنِ أَنْ = It is possible that…

Particle فِي

  • In, inside, at (time and place):
We are at homeنَحْنُ فِي البَيْتِ
The appointment is at 10 amالمَوْعِدُ في الساعة العاشِرة صَباحًا

  • About, concerning:
ما رَاْيُكَ فِي ذَلِكَ؟
What do you think about that?

Particle حَتَّى

  • Until, up to:
أَكَلَ السَمَكةَ حَتَّى رَأْسِها
He ate the fish up to its head

Note: Can also mean ‘even/also’ but when adopting this meaning حَتّى isn’t anymore a preposition (حَرْف جَرّ), and consequently doesn’t influence the noun case of the noun following it:

أَكَلَ السَمَكةَ حَتَّى رَأْسَها
He ate the fish even its head

Particle مُنْذُ / مُذْ

  • Since/from:
He has been studying Arabic since his childhood.يَدْرُسُ العَرَبِيّةِ مُنْذُ طُفولتِهِ
I’ve known him for six months.أَعْرِفُهُ مُنْذُ سِتَّةِ أَشْهُرٍ

Note: Can’t be followed by a pronoun. 

Note 2: The مُذْ form is more archaïc and not very much used.

Particle عَلى

  • Above/upon/on:
Peace be upon youالسَلامُ عَلَيْكُمْ
The cushion is on the bedالوِسادةُ عَلى السَرِيرِ

Note: Similarly to إِلى, the particle على becomes عَلَيْـ when a pronoun is attached to it

  • Against:
{they think that every shout is against them} Qur’an [al-Munafiqoon : 4] يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ} القرآن [المنافقون : 4]}
He got angry at himِغَضِبَ عَلَيْه
He condemned him (litt. He judged against him)حَكَمَ عَلَيْهِ

  • Express duty/obligation:
(يَجِب) عَلَيْكَ أَنْ تَفْعَلَ كَذا
You have to do this

  • In combination with other words:
    • Adverbial expressions: عَلى الإطْلاقِ=absolutely,by no means / عَلى حِسابِ = at the expense of
    • Conjunctions: عَلى أَنَّ = however, though / عَلى أَنْ = at the condition of
    • Interrogatives: عَلامَ؟ = why? in what purpose?
    • Prepositional group: عَلى حَسَبِ = depending on…

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Learn about prepositions in Arabic and how to use them correctly. Improve your understanding of the Arabic language and take your language skills to the next level. Find useful tips and examples to help you master prepositions in Arabic.

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