“Relative clauses” are usually translated in English with the words “which“, “who”, “that”. In Arabic they are called الإِسماءُ الموصُولة
Relative sentences are made up of two parts : The antecedent and the relative clause.
The Antecedent will be a noun. The relative clause gives extra information about this antecedent noun. An example of this in English is :
This is the boy who studies Biology
The boy is the antecedent. In this case he is also the subject of the sentence, although the object could also be an antecedent. The relative clause is “who studies Biology” because that is the extra info about this antecdent.
In Arabic there are a group of words used in place of “who, which” etc and the correct one is chosen according to gender and number.
These are only used when the antecedent is DEFINATE
Here is the list :
for masculine singular
for feminine singular (including non human plural)
for masculine plural
for female plural
The dual ones will be given later when we cover that topic
Aswell as these special words, in arabic you also need to add a “returner” as a part of the relative clause. This is a pronoun which refers back to the antecedent. If the relative clause features a verb which is done by the antecedent, then the returner is considered to be shown by that verb and nothing else is necessary. However if the verb is done by anyone else the returner should be added in the form of a pronoun.
Now to get an idea of relative clauses here are some examples :
أين الكتابُ الّذي وجدته؟
ayn al kitaab ulladhee wajadtuhu?
where is the book which I found?
The antecedent is al kitaab (the book)
the relative clause is alladhee wajadtuhu
the word alladhee was chosen as kitaab is singular masculine
the returner is “hu” on the end of the verb, chosen because kitaab is singular masculine and hu is the singular masculine returner word
هو الولدُ الّذي يدرس هنا
huw al walad ulladhee yadrusu hunaa
he is the boy who studies here
the antecedent is al walad (the boy)
the relative clause is alladhee yadrusu huna
the word alladhee was chosen because it is singular masculine
the returner is “inside” the verb. When the relative clause is an action done by the antecedent, then you do not need to write the returner separately as the verb conjugation shows it
ضرب علي الكلبَ الّذي ذهب في المطبجِ
Daraba 3ali ul kalb alladhee dhahaba fil matbakh
ali hit the dog who went in the kitchen
antecedent is al kalb (the dog)
relative clause is alladhee dhahaba fil matbakh
alladhee is chosen because it is singular masculine
the returner is inside the verb.
أختي البنت التي تساعدُ المدرّسةَ
ukhtee al bint ullatee tusaa3id ul mudarrisa
my sister is the girl who helps the teacher
the antecedent is ukhtee (my sister)
the relative clause is allatee tusaa3id ul mudarrisa
allatee was chosen as antecedent is singular feminine
the returner is in the verb tusaa3idu
ذهب الأولادُ الّذين يلعبون كرة القدم
dhahab al awlaad alladheena yal3aboona kurat al qadam
the boys who play football went
the antecedent is al awlaad (the boys)
the relative clause is alladheen yal3aboona kurat al qadam
alladheena was chosen because its masculine plural
the returner is in the verb
If the antecedent is not definite then you do not need to use the special words such as “alladhee” etc but you STILL NEED the returner.
Here are some examples of indefinate relative sentences :
هذا رجلٌ ذهب إلى المسجد
hadha rajulun dhahaba ilal masjid
this is a man who went to the mosque
antecedent is rajulun which is indefinate
so no need for “alladhee”
the returner is in the verb
هي قطّة وجدتها في حديقتي
hiya qiTTatun wadajtuhaa fi Hadeeqatee
she’s a cat which I found in my garden
the antecedent is qittatun (indefinate)
so no need for allatee
relative clause is wajadtuhaa fi hadeeqati
the returner is haa, because the verb wajada was done by someone other than the antecedent.
قرأتُ كتاباً كتبه رجلٌ جميلٌ
qara’tu kitaaban katabahu rajulun jameelun
I read a book which a handsome man wrote
the antecedent is kitaaban (indefininte)
the relative clause is katabahu rajulun jameelun
the returner hu is written because someone other than the antecedent did this verb.
It is also possible to write vague relative sentences, with none of the “alladhee” words or a returner. These simply use the words “maa” and “man”
we have come accross these words before.
maa is used for objects, and translates as “what”
man is used for people and translates as “who”
قرأتُ ما كتب الولدُ
qara’tu maa katab al walad
I read what the boy wrote
أكل ما طبخ أمّه
akala maa Tabakha ummuhu
he ate what his mum cooked
ضربت نورة من أكل طعامها
Darabat Noora man akala Ta3amahaa
Noora hit the one who ate her food
In these examples you can not say exactly what is the antecedent because the name of the object is not given. For example in number one, the antecendent could really be : the letter, the book, the story etc but we are not told it by reading the sentence. That is why it is vague.
Sometimes you might want to write a relative sentence where the antecedent is a whole sentence, in that case you use the following special phrase :
al amr ulladhee
the matter which..
كنتُ مريضا الأمرُ الّذي منعني من الذهاب إلى الحديقة
kuntu mareeDan al amr ulladhee mana3anee min adh dhihaab ilal Hadeeqa
I was ill which prevented me from going to the park
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