Arabic tanween is quite important in Modern Standard Arabic. You might have noticed that some important words in Arabic end with an “n” sound, although there is no actual letter noon ن at the end. For example, you can see this in words (shukran – thanks – شكرا) and (ahlan – hello – أهلا). This is because of tanween.
Tanween is a group of diacritics that come at the end of the word, to give the sound of noon /n/. It mainly exists for grammatical reasons.
It occurs at the end of undefined nouns and adjectives. It is combined with fat-hah, kasrah or dammah, which we explained in diacritics lesson #2. When combined with fat-hah, an alif is added before it. Now you should be able to understand and sound out almost all Arabic diacritics, and start to understand the grammatical significance for them.
What’s the function of the tanween? What’s the difference between the three versions?
The main function of tanween is to mark the grammatical case of indefinite words. The -un version ـٌ is for words in subject position, or by default. The -an version ـً is for the direct objects, and the -in version is for words after prepositions.
Therefore, tanween is quite important for both Arabic grammar and pronunciation.
Our lesson today is about Arabic sun and moon letters, which are important for pronouncing and understanding Arabic words. In Lesson # 3, we have seen how to use the article al- before words to make them definite, such as “the” in English. However, since al- becomes part of the word, its pronunciation sometimes changes according to the first letter of the word.
This pronunciation can change by removing the “L” sound from al-, and doubling the sound of the next letter, using shaddah, which we learned in Lesson # 2.
Example: al-nahr (the river) >> an-nahr
When does this happen? It happens when the first letter of the word belongs to a group of letters called al-huroof ash-shamseyyah (sun letters). However, if the first letter is from the other group (al-huroof al-qamareyyah), al- is pronounced normally.
In this lesson, we will see which letters are sun letters and which are moon letters, and we will show an example sentence for a word beginning with each letter, together with al- .
A phrase for memorizing moon letters:
ابغ حجك وخف عقيمه
(roughly meaning “pursue your pilgrimage, and be concerned about it being futile”)