Specifying People and Things
Are you confused by the terms definite article and indefinite article?
What are definite and indefinite articles? I saw a dog. The definite article in English is the. The is used with both singular and plural nouns. It is called definite because the is used to refer to specific, or definite, persons, places, or things. I saw the dog.
Articles refer to the words "a," "an," and "the." These words are used to mark, or describe, nouns.
Indefinite articles in English are "a" and "an." These words are used with singular nouns to refer to unspecific or indefinite things.
"A dog" refers to an unspecified dog.
I need a professor.
"A professor" refers to any professor.
"The dog" refers to a specific dog, not just any dog.
I need the professor.
"The professor" refers to a specific professor, and only that particular professor will fill the need.
I saw a dog.
The definite article in English is the. The is used with both singular and plural nouns. It is called definite because the is used to refer to specific, or definite, persons, places, or things.
I saw the dog.
The definite article الـ "the" is always affixed to the beginning of the word it describes. Furthermore, you may have noticed by now that indefinite articles "a" and "an" are absent in Arabic altogether.
Although the definite article is a vocabulary term in this lesson, you are not expected to become proficient in using it at this point in time. Usage of articles in Arabic differs significantly from usage of articles in English. Nevertheless, we think you should have a surface knowledge of the definite article, so that you can recognize it in context.
Pronouncing the Definite Article الـ
You may have noticed that the ل of the definite article isn't always pronounced "L" as one might think it should be; instead it is sometimes pronounced like the first letter of the word it is attached to. Unit 8 of Alif-Baa expounds further on the variations. For now, consider the default pronunciation "al," and then learn some common exceptions, including those listed below.