Arabic Grammar – 40

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►II.6. Terminal tȃʔ

The letter tȃʔ ت has two forms at the end of words:

  • An “open” form ت (joined ــت ), transliterated t.
  • A “tied” form ة (joined ــة ), transliterated ⋅t.

The tied tȃʔ (tȃʔ ligatum) التّاءُ الْمَرْبُوْطةُ occurs only in the suffix –a⋅t, which is found in nouns and adjectives. This means that the tied tȃʔ is always preceded by a short vowel a.

The open tȃʔ (tȃʔ apertum) التّاءُ الْمَفْتُوْحةُ can be part of a word’s root or part of an affix.

The difference between the tied tȃʔ and the open tȃʔ has to do with pronunciation. The open tȃʔ is always pronounced, but the tied tȃʔ is pronounced only if it is not the last thing you will say, that is, if it is not followed by a pause. This is somewhat similar to the French liaison.

Written form Pronunciation
at junction at pause
t ت t
⋅t ة t

Note that the pausal dropping of the tied tȃʔ did not exist in some dialects of Classical Arabic, and it does not exist in some of the modern vernaculars.

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