Forming “Too X to X” Constructions in Arabic


root: ب-ع-د / adjective / definition: far, distant

How do we form constructions like “too far away to see” or “too young to understand” in Arabic? Let’s take a look!

So the formula is as follows:

the adjective in the أَفعَل pattern


مِن أَن


the verb (المضارع المنصوب)

Remember that words in the أَفعَل pattern are diptotes (ممنوع من الصرف)—so in the construction above, the أَفعَل words will end in a damma (when مرفوع) or a fatha (when منصوب or مجرور).


كانَ أَصغَرَ مِن أَن يُرى

it was too small to be seen

هي أَذكى مِن أَن تَفشِلَ في الامتحان

she’s too smart to fail the exam

اللُغزُ أَصعَبُ مِن أَن نَحُلَّه

the riddle is too difficult for us to solve

(In the example above, the subject of the verb is نحن (we). Seeing as the subject of the verb is not the same as what’s being described (اللغز), the verb has to have an attached pronoun referring back to it—so in this case, ـه is referring back to اللغز.)

هُم أَقَلُّ مِن أَن يَفوزوا على الفَريق الآخر

they’re too few in number to beat the other team

I hope you enjoyed this short little grammar post—there are lots more in the archives if you’re craving some more grammatical knowledge!

!إلى اللقاء

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