root: ن-ك-ر / noun / definition: indefinite noun
It doesn’t feel like we’ve had a grammar explanations post in a while—perhaps because the last two were focused on less-discussed verb forms (interesting stuff for fellow grammar nerds) rather than syntactic structures.
So today, we’re going to look at what effect ما has on an indefinite noun in a particular formula.
If you read Small but Useful Arabic Phrases That You Need To Know, then you might remember the phrase لِدَرَجةٍ ما (“to a certain degree”).
I also gave the following examples in that post:
- لِسَبَبٍ ما = “for some reason”
- في مُجتَمَعٍ ما = “in a given society”
Notice how they all comprise an indefinite noun (درجة، سبب، مجتمع) followed by ما.
This construction (indefinite + ما) can often be translated as “a certain/given” or “some“.
(For those interested in the precise grammar here, ما is used as a relative pronoun in apposition (بدل) with the indefinite noun. This basically means that ما and the noun are referring to the same thing, and ما is specifying the noun.)
- لِأَمرٍ ما = “for some reason or other”
- لِحَدٍّ ما = “to a certain extent”
- يَوماً ما = “someday, sometime in the future”
- بَلَدٌ ما = “a given country”
- نَوعاً ما = “somewhat”
You can check out the posts in the small but useful phrases series here if you want to expand your lexicon and boost your fluency. The posts also contain a Quizlet link where you can revise all of the terms.
That’s all for now, I hope this was useful!
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