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Interjection in Arabic | Arabic free course

Interjection in Arabic - صِيْغَةُ التَّعَجُّبِ

1. The interjection: the vocative

Vocative particles in Arabic are utilized to directly address or call someone. These particles, known as أَدَوَاتُ النَّدَاء, play a crucial role in expressing attention or emphasis. Among them are:


  • يَا: Used as “O!” and can address both masculine and feminine.
  • يَا أَيُّهَا: Specifically addressing a masculine entity with “O!”.
  • يَا أَيَّتُهَا: Exclusively for addressing a feminine entity with “O!”.


When the particle يَا precedes a singular noun, the noun adopts the nominative case. Notably, this noun won’t have the nunnation (tanween), and it is prefixed with the definite article اَلْ. In the realm of Arabic grammar, the term for the vocative particle is حَرْفُ النِّدَاءِ, while the individual being addressed is referred to as مُنَادَى.





 يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ أَعْرِضْ عَنْ هَـٰذَا



[The angels said], “O Abraham, give up this [plea] (11:76)



When addressing someone using a possessive construct in Arabic, the grammatical rules shift slightly. If the مُنَادَى (the one being addressed or called) is in a مُضافٌ (possessive) construct, its case changes to the accusative.



يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّـهِ وَأَنتُمْ تَشْهَدُونَ


O People of the Scripture, why do you disbelieve in the verses of Allah while you witness [to their truth]? (3:70)



In certain instances, the first person singular possessive pronoun ى, attached to a noun, is substituted with a kasrah -ِ or تِ. This alteration serves to express affection or endearment towards the individual being addressed.





قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ



He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. (37:102)


  Sometimes the vocative يَا is omitted along with the pronoun like in ر:  

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُ قَوْمِي لَيْلًا وَنَهَارًا

He said, “My Lord, indeed I invited my people [to truth] night and day. (71:5)


The vocative form “يَا أَيُّهَا” is employed for masculine nouns, while “يَا أَيَّتُهَا” is used for feminine nouns. Following these vocatives, nouns are in the nominative case and are typically prefixed with the article ال.




يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اعْبُدُوا رَبَّكُمُ



O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you (2:21)



قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ



Say, “O disbelievers, (109:1)



يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ



[To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul, (89:27)


To address a gathering, the term أَيُّهَا is employed, as demonstrated in the following verses.




وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّـهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ



And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed. (24:31)



For the purpose of prayer, the vocative particle مَّ is suffixed to Allah instead of حَرْفُ النِّدَاء, as exemplified in:


 دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّـهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلَامٌ



Their call therein will be, “Exalted are You, O Allah,” and their greeting therein will be, “Peace.”  (10:10)


To convey feelings of affection, يَا is followed by a verbal noun or a nominal sentence, as illustrated in the following:



قَالَ يَا بُشْرَىٰ هَـٰذَا غُلَامٌ



He said, “Good news! Here is a boy.” (12:19)



وَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنْهُمْ وَقَالَ يَا أَسَفَىٰ عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَابْيَضَّتْ عَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْحُزْنِ فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ



And he turned away from them and said, “Oh, my sorrow over Joseph,” and his eyes became white from grief, for he was [of that] a suppressor. (12:84)


At times, حَرْفُ النِّدَاء is omitted. A few examples are provided below.


 يُوسُفُ أَعْرِضْ عَنْ هَـٰذَا



Joseph, ignore this. (12:29)



وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَقُولُ رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ



But among them is he who says, “Our Lord, give us in this world [that which is] good and in the Hereafter [that which is] good and protect us from the punishment of the Fire.” (2:201)



رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَإِسْرَافَنَا فِي أَمْرِنَا



“Our Lord, forgive us our sins and the excess [committed] in our affairs (3:147)

2. The interjection: other particles of interjection

A. To express grief or anguish towards someone, the particle وَيْلٌ is invariably accompanied by لِ in an indirect speech construction




وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ هُمَزَةٍ لُّمَزَةٍ



Woe to every scorner and mocker (104:1)



وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ



Woe to those who give less [than due], (83:1)

B. In direct speech, لِ is substituted with pronouns, such as وَيْلَكَ (woe to you!) and وَيْلَنَا (woe to us!).



وَيْلَكَ آمِنْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ



 “Woe to you! Believe! Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth.” (46:17)



وَيْكَأَنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الْكَافِرُونَ



Oh, how the disbelievers do not succeed!” (28:82)



أَوْلَىٰ لَكَ فَأَوْلَىٰ



Woe to you, and woe! (75:34)

C. يَا وَيْلَتَى (with a feminine ending ة instead of ى from the first-person pronoun) is also employed to convey a similar sentiment.

For example: 


قَالَتْ يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ أَأَلِدُ وَأَنَا عَجُوزٌ 



She said, “Woe to me! Shall I give birth while I am an old woman (11:72)

D. يَالَيْتَ is employed to articulate a desire or wish following the expression of grief or anguish, as exemplified in:

For example: 


 وَيَقُولُ الْكَافِرُ يَا لَيْتَنِي كُنتُ تُرَابًا



and the disbeliever will say, “Oh, I wish that I were dust!” (78:40)



 قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَـٰذَا 



he said, “Oh, I wish I had died before this  (19:23)

E. Other words utilized to convey grief include: يَا حَسْرَةً حَسْرَةٍ حَسْرَتَنَا يَا حَسْرتَا These terms all derive from the same root: حَسَرَ.



 يَا حَسْرَةً عَلَى الْعِبَادِ



How regretful for the servants. (36:30)



قَالُوا يَا حَسْرَتَنَا عَلَىٰ مَا فَرَّطْنَا فِيهَا 



 they will say, “Oh, [how great is] our regret over what we neglected concerning it,” (6:31)



أَن تَقُولَ نَفْسٌ يَا حَسْرَتَىٰ عَلَىٰ مَا فَرَّطتُ فِي جَنبِ اللَّـهِ وَإِن كُنتُ لَمِنَ السَّاخِرِينَ



Lest a soul should say, “Oh [how great is] my regret over what I neglected in regard to Allah and that I was among the mockers.” (39:56)

F. هَيْهَاتَ is employed similarly to بَعُدَ to convey the remote or infrequent likelihood of an event taking place.



هَيْهَاتَ هَيْهَاتَ لِمَا تُوعَدُونَ



How far, how far, is that which you are promised. (23:36)

G. إيْ imparts the same meaning as نَعَمْ ('yes'), yet it is invariably succeeded by a commitment or promise.



قُلْ إِي وَرَبِّي إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ



Say, “Yes, by my Lord. Indeed, it is truth; (10:53)

H. بَلَى, meaning 'yes' or 'indeed,' is used to respond with certainty to a question that contains a negative word, resolving any doubts.



أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ



“Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.”  (7:172)



زَعَمَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَن لَّن يُبْعَثُوا ۚ قُلْ بَلَىٰ وَرَبِّي لَتُبْعَثُنَّ



Those who disbelieve have claimed that they will never be resurrected. Say, “Yes, by my Lord, you will surely be resurrected; (64:7)

I. أَنَّمَا and إِنَّمَا, both meaning 'only,' are words of restriction, known as حُرُوفُ الحَصْرِ.



قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ أَنَّمَا إِلَـٰهُكُمْ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ



Say, “I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. (18:110)


اِيَّا also gives the same meaning. 




إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ 



It is You we worship and You we ask for help. (1:5)

J. When إِنَّهُ and إِنَّهَا are employed at the beginning of a sentence, they convey the sense of "indeed" or "as a matter of fact," rather than providing a literal translation like "indeed he" or "indeed she."



إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ 



Indeed, the wrongdoers will not succeed. (6:21)



فَإِنَّهَا لَا تَعْمَى الْأَبْصَارُ وَلَـٰكِن تَعْمَ



For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, (22:46)

K: A cautionary word to take heed is هَا, signifying "Ah, be aware."



هَا أَنتُمْ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ حَاجَجْتُمْ فِيمَا لَكُم بِهِ عِلْمٌ



Here you are – those who have argued about that of which you have [some] knowledge, (3:66)



هَا أَنتُمْ أُولَاءِ تُحِبُّونَهُمْ وَلَا يُحِبُّونَكُمْ



Here you are loving them but they are not loving you (3:119)


This lesson on Arabic nuances concludes here. Insha’Allah, our subsequent session will delve into  the adjectives in Arabic.


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