The definite article | Alif Lam – اَلْ

The definite article | Alif Lam – اَلْ

Welcome to our second lesson to learn the Arabic language. This lesson will be about the definite article.


1. The definite article

In Arabic, as well as in English, the noun can be definite or indefinite. In English, for example, if we say “a house,” it is indefinite because we cannot identify exactly which house we talk about. Nonetheless, if you use the definite article “the,” then you identify which house we are discussing: “The house.”

In Arabic, it is the same. If you say: بَيْتٌ (a house), it is indefinite. But, if I say الْبَيْتُ (the house), I could definite the noun by adding the definite article Alif Lamاَلْ.”

Thus, we understand from this example to make a noun definite in Arabic. We have to:

  • add the definite article اَلْ before the noun.
  • To remove the tanween   and to change it to a simple dammah .


For example:


اَلْ + كَتَابٌ = الكِتابُ

The + book = the book


اَلْ + بَيْتٌ= اَلْبَيْتُ

The + house = the house.


اَلْ + قَلَمٌ = اَلْقَلَمُ

The + pen = the pen

اَلْ + جَمَلٌ = اَلْجَمَلُ

The + camel = the camel



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The al Madina Center for Arabic is the first language school specializing in teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers, based in Medina, Saudi Arabia.


2. The nominal sentence in Arabic


In Arabic, there are two types of sentences

  • the nominal sentence: this sentence starts with a noun. For example, الْقَلَمُ – الْبَيْتُ
  • the verbal sentence:  this sentence means that it begins with a verb.

In this lesson, we would like to discuss the nominal sentence – اَلْجُمْلَةُ الْاسْمِيَة.

Par example:

red broekn pen - definite article

اَلْقَلَمُ مَكْسورٌ

The pen is broken.

In this example, we can analyze the different aspect of the nominal sentence in Arabic:

  • the sentence’s composition is simple: only two words
  • There is no verb. In English, we used “is,” but here, it is understood.

Thus, a nominal sentence is correct in the Arabic language if the sentence’s meaning is completed. Here, we understand that we speak about “the pen,” and we know is the situation “is broken.”

If the sentence were only “The pen,” obviously the meaning in uncompleted, you would ask, “the pen what?”? this is not a nominal sentence in the Arabic language.

Consequently, there are important elements in the nominal sentence:

  • it starts with a definite noun or a pronoun
  • it has two parts. The first part is the subject – الْمُبْتَدَأُ and the second part is the predicate – اللْخَبَرُ.


Subject and predicate features:

  • The subject and the predicate are always in the nominative case. We can here recognize this case because of the presence of the dammah or the double dammah.
  • The subject is a definite noun with a definite article and absence of tanweenاَلْقَلَمُ
  • The predicate is an indefinite noun (presence of tanween): مَكْسورٌ


For examples:


the door is open - definite article


اَلْبَابُ مَفْتُوْحٌ

The door is open.



Note: In this example, the subject is: اَلْبَابُ and the predicate is مَفْتُوْحٌ.


arabic teacher - definite article

The child is sitting - definite article


اَلْوَلَدُ جَالِسٌ و اَلْمُدَرِسُ وَاقَفٌ

The child is sitting, and the teacher is standing.

open book

the pen is old - definite article


الكتابُ جَدِيْدٌ و الْقَلَمُ قَدِيمٌ.

The book is new, and the pen is old.


the donkey is small


grey horse


الحِمارُ صَغِيْرٌ و الْحِصَانُ كَبِيْرٌ

The donkey is small, and the horse is big.



a big house


mosque in casablanca


البَيْتُ قَرِيْبٌ و الْمَسْجِدُ بَعِيْدٌ

The house is close, and the mosque is far

the leaf is light

اَلْحَجَرُ ثَقِيْلٌ و الْوَرَقُ خَفِيْفٌ.

The stone is heavy, and the leaf is light.


the chair is broken


اَلْكُرْسِيُّ مَكْسُوْرٌ

 The chair is broken


the handerkerchief is dirty


اَلْمِنْدِيْلُ وَسِخٌ

The tissue is dirty


the water is cold

اَلْمَاءُ بَارِدٌ.

The water is cold

the moon is beautiful

اَلقَمَرُ جَمِيْلٌ


The moon is beautiful.


اَلْلَبَنُ حَارٌّ.

The milk is hot

blue shirt

اَلْقَمِيْصُ نَظِيْفٌ.

The shirt is clean

3. The lunar and the solar letters


The Arabic alphabet has 28 letters. We can divide it into two parts:

  • The solar letters – اَلْحُرُوفُ الْقَمَرِيَّةُ
  • The lunar letters – اَلْحُرُوفُ الشَّمْسِيَّةُ

We call lunar the group of letters that, if you add the definite article Alif lam before the noun, you will spell clearly the first letter of the noun.


For example:


اَلْ + بَيْتٌ = أَلْبَيتُ

The + house = The house.


Here you can hear very well “AL” and the sound “B.”


When the letter belongs to the group of solar letters, it is a bit different. When you add the definite article to the first letter of the noun starting with a solar letter, you will skip spelling the Lam of “AL.”


For example:

اَلْ + شَمْسٌ= اَلشَّمْسُ

The  + sun = The sun.


Here you hear the sound “ash-shamsu” We have not pronounced the letter lam. Also, you will have to stress on the first letter of the word after Alif lam. Thus, here the letter shin ش has a shedda on it.


Another example:

اَلْ + طَالِبٌ= اَلطَّالِبُ

The + student = The student.


sugar cube


اَلسُّكَّرُ حُلْوٌ.

The sugar is sweet.

the student is sick

اَلطَّالِبُ مَرِيضٌ.

The student is sick


the merchant is rich

اَلتَّاجِرُ غَنِيٌّ.

The merchant is rich.

open book

اَلدَّفْتَرُ جدِيْدٌ.

The notebook is new

the shop is open


اَلدُّكَّانُ مَفْتُوْحٌ.

The shop is open.

the child is poor

اَلْوَلَدُ فَقِيْرٌ.

The child is poor

the apple is delicious - definite article

اَلتُّفَاحُ لَذِيْذٌ.

The apple is delicious.

the student is sick - definite article

the docter is tall - definite article


اَلطَّبِيْبُ طَوِيْلٌ و الْمَرِضُ قَصِيْرٌ.

The medical doctor is tall, and the sick person is small.

The moon letters are:


اَلْأَبُ = أ

The father

اَلْبَابُ =ب

The door

اَلْجَنَّةُ = ج

The garden/paradise

اَلْحِمَارُ = ح

The donkey

اَلْخُبْزُ = خ

The bread

اَلْعَيْنُ = ع

The eye

اَلْغَدَاءُ = غ

The lunch

اَلْفِيْلُ = ف

The elephant

اَلْقَمَرُ = ق

The moon

اَلْكِتَابُ = ك

The book

اَلْمَسْجِدُ = م

The mosque

اَلْوَرَقَةُ = و

The leaf

اَلْهَاتِفُ = ه

The phone

اَلْيَدُ = ي

The hand



The lunar letters are:

اَلتَّاجِرُ= ت

The merchant

اَلثَوْبُ = ث

The garment

اَلدِّيْكُ = د

The rooster

اَلذَّهَبُ = ذ

The gold

الرَّجُلُ = ر

The man

اَلْزَّهْرَةُ = ز

The flower

اَلسَّمَكُ = س

The fish

اَلْشَمْسُ = ش

The sun

اَلصُّبْحُ = ص

The morning

اَلضَيْفُ = ض

The guest

اَلطَّالِبُ = ط

The student

اَلظَّهْرُ = ظ

The back

اَللَّحْمُ = ل

The meat

اَلنَّجْمُ = ن

The star




In this second lesson to learn the Arabic language, we have discovered many interesting points. Now we can:

  • Making a noun indefinite to definite with using the definite article Alif Lam ال.
  • Creating a nominative sentence.
  • Spelling the lunar and solar letters of the Arabic alphabet properly.
  • We have also learned a lot of new vocabulary words.


In the next lesson, inshAllah, we will discover how to use prepositions in Arabic.


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