Arabic Grammar – 42

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►II.7. NŪNATION DIACRITICS

Most Arabic words (in their full forms) end with a suffix n(V), where V is a short vowel that is present only in dual and masculine sound plural substantives and non-finite verbs. In dual and masculine sound plural substantives and non-finite verbs the suffix nV is written with the letter nȗn ن , and the short vowel following this letter may be indicated with a diacritic as usual. However, in singular substantives and non-finite verbs and in feminine sound plural substantives and non-finite verbs the suffix n is almost unwritten, it is indicated only in the accusative case with a vowel-denoting ʔalif ا that represents the pausal pronunciation.

The following diacritics are used to indicate the suffix n (called nūnation) in the different cases:

Nūnation diacritics
Case Letter with diacritic Transliteration Sound

رَفْعٌ

rafʕuṋ

“raising”

Nominative

بٌ buṋ bun

نَصْبٌ

naṣbuṋ

“erecting”

Accusative

بًاْ baṋ ban

جَرٌ

ǵarruṋ

“dragging”

Genitive

بٍ biṋ bin

Note: In the orthographic tradition of the Maghreb the accusative nūnation diacritics are placed on the ʔalif rather than the letter preceding it. Thus, they would write باً instead of بًا .

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