Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Modern Standard Arabic Grammar: A Concise Guide

Modern Standard Arabic Grammar: A Concise Guide by Azza Hassanein

Primary Use:Reference guide to Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) grammar as per the curriculum at the Arabic Language Institute at the American University in Cairo
Format:43 very concise chapters
Meant For:Beginner/advanced beginner and up


This book is your classic no-frills reference guide to Arabic grammar. If you are looking for nothing more than the concise, bare-bones explanation of a grammatical concept in MSA then this is the book that you are looking for. The English is clear without any antiquated grammatical terminology. Arabic grammatical terminology is also given, which is a clear benefit for those wishing to continue their Arabic studies to the highest level. However, some concepts and tables are written entirely in Arabic, as are some of the examples, occasionally without English translations.

This book does not include an index and does not cross-reference other chapters, even though some concepts and terms that appear in early chapters may be explained further in later chapters. It does not include the meanings of the Arabic derived forms II-X. However, it does get into some intermediate grammatical issues not touched upon by other basic grammar books, such as conditional sentences and the different types of laa ل (the latter all in Arabic).

Many concepts are explained through the use of charts that are written entirely in Arabic, so this book is recommended particularly for those who are comfortable reading Arabic or wish to become immersed in Arabic grammatical terminology.

This book is divided into the following chapters (listed in both English and Arabic):

    Chapter 1: Derivation and the Pattern System
    Chapter 2: The Definite Article and Solar and Lunar Letters
    Chapter 3: Interrogative Particles
    Chapter 4: Case
    Chapter 5: Singular, Dual, and Plural
    Chapter 6: Demonstratives
    Chapter 7: Nasab Adjectives
    Chapter 8: Idaafa Construction
    Chapter 9: Pronouns: Separate Pronouns and Pronominal Suffixes
    Chapter 10: Prepositions
    Chapter 11: Followers
    Chapter 12: Types of Sentences
    Chapter 13: Verbs
    Chapter 14: Verb Conjugations
    Chapter 15: Kana and Its Sisters
    Chapter 16: Inna and Its Sisters
    Chapter 17: Kada and Its Sisters
    Chapter 18: Passive Voice
    Chapter 19: Jussive and Subjunctive
    Chapter 20: Negation
    Chapter 21: Relative Pronouns
    Chapter 22: The Five Nouns
    Chapter 23: Abbreviated and Defective Nouns
    Chapter 24: Diptotes
    Chapter 25: Verbal Nouns
    Chapter 26: Active Participles
    Chapter 27: Passive Participles
    Chapter 28: Nouns of Place
    Chapter 29: Accusative of State
    Chapter 30: Accusative of Cognate
    Chapter 31: Accusative of Cause or Purpose
    Chapter 32: Adverbials of Time and Place
    Chapter 33: Accusative of Specification
    Chapter 34: Comparatives and Superlatives
    Chapter 35: Exceptions
    Chapter 36: Vocative
    Chapter 37: Wonder Construction
    Chapter 38: Absolute Negation
    Chapter 39: Conditional Sentence
    Chapter 40: Sentences That Function as Words
    Chapter 41: Types of Laa
    Chapter 42: Types of Maa
    Chapter 43: Types of Hatta

How to Use It

In order to use this book to the fullest extent, one must already know the following:

  1. how to read Arabic
  2. command of basic Arabic vocabulary
  3. command of basic English grammatical terms

The chapters do move from the simple to the fairly complex, so it is possible to read this book straight through. However, it functions best as a reference guide, particularly considering that some chapters include grammatical concepts not introduced until later.

This book has no index, so the best way to look up a grammatical concept is by the table of contents. Here the reader might be stuck in a kind of Catch-22, as one has to know the name of the grammatical concept to look up a grammatical concept not formerly encountered. As such, it would be worthwhile for the new user to read the chapters with titles using unknown terms to acquaint him/herself with their meanings. The chapters are relatively short seldom more than two pages so doing this would not be too much of a hardship.


Hassanein, Azza. Modern Standard Arabic Grammar: A Concise Guide. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2006.