Arabic Headline Analysis #6

شَهر

root: ش-ه-ر / noun / plural: أَشهُر or شُهور / definition: month


Seeing as it’s the first week of Ramadan (!رمضان مبارك)—and hopefully it still is by the time I finish this post—I’ve chosen a fitting headline to analyse in our latest addition to the series.

Let’s begin our word-by-word vocabulary and grammar explanation of the following headline:

ـ 12 أبريل / نيسان 2021

غرة رمضان الثلاثاء في أغلب الدول العربية


Time for the analysis:

غرة

root: غ-ر-ر

noun

غُرّة = “the first day of”

e.g. غرّة الشهر = “the first day of the month”, غرّة العام = “the first day of the year”

this word is the first in a two-word إضافة (so it can’t take الـ or tanween), hence we’d pronounce it غُرّةُ

رمضان

root: ر-م-ض

noun

رَمَضان = “Ramadan”

this noun is a diptote (ممنوع من الصرف) which means that:

  • it doesn’t take tanween
  • when مرفوع, it takes a damma
  • when منصوب or مجرور, it takes a fatha

these rules apply to diptotes unless they have the الـ prefix or they’re the non-final word in إضافة (neither of which is the case here)

seeing as رمضان is the final word of an إضافة, its case is مجرور—but as it’s a diptote, it ends in a fatha

so غرّةُ رمضانَ = “the first day of Ramadan”

this phrase is the subject (مبتدأ) of the nominal sentence (جملة اسمية)

الثلاثاء

root: ث-ل-ث

noun

الثُّلاثاء or يَوم الثُّلاثاء = “Tuesday”

this is the start of the predicate (خبر) of the sentence, so it would be مرفوع by default and hence take a damma

(fun fact seeing as we’re talking about days: I only realised a matter of months ago that the word أُسبوع (week) is from the same root as سَبعة (seven)—because, if it hasn’t clicked yet, there are seven days in a week!)

في

preposition

في = “in”

أغلب

root: غ-ل-ب

superlative

أَغلَب = “most”

this word is مجرور as it directly follows a preposition

like رمضان, the word أغلب is a diptote—but this time, the word can take kasra because it’s the first word in a two-word إضافة

note: all superlatives/comparatives with the form أَفعَل are diptotes!

الدول

root: د-و-ل

plural noun

الـ = the definite marker

دُوَل = “countries” or “states” (plural of دَولة)

this is the second and final word in the إضافة, so it’s مجرور

في أَغلَبِ الدولِ = “in most countries”

العربية

root: ع-ر-ب

nisba adjective

عَرَبيّة = “Arab”

this adjective is describing the plural, definite noun الدول, hence it has to agree in gender, number, definiteness, and case:

  • gender/number: seeing as non-human plural nouns are treated as the feminine singular in terms of grammar, the describing adjective is feminine and singular
  • definiteness: the noun is definite, so the adjective also is definite (with the الـ prefix)
  • case: الدول is مجرور in this context, so العربية must be too

so الدولِ العربيةِ = “Arab countries”

(I’ve talked a lot about the zero article in previous headline analyses and step-by-step literature translations—it’s the reason why the الـ in الدول doesn’t get translated as “the” in English here!)


Let’s take a look now at the full translation:

غرة رمضان الثلاثاء في أغلب الدول العربية

The first day of Ramadan is Tuesday in most Arab countries


Ta daaa! That’s the literal translation but how would you make it more snappy? Let us know in the comments below!


Don’t forget to check out last week’s post about the three Arabic particles for “if”, and I’ll see you on my next post.

!إلى اللقاء


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2 thoughts on “Arabic Headline Analysis #6

  1. More snappy- Tuesday is the first day of Ramadhan in most Arab countries. ?

    Thanks- you made it so easy to understand and analyse!

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