By ArabicTree | November 12, 2008
By now, midway through the second book of the Medinah Arabic books, we’ve come across three meanings of the word “maa” (ما). These three meanings are:
- Ismul Istifhaam: Also known as “the maa of asking.” This is the easiest, and probably the first thing to learn–as in:
Which means “what is this?” (The maa is the part that makes it a question.)
- Maa-u-Nahiy: Also known as “the maa of negating.” This is what you use to negate maadi verbs; for example, if you wanted to say “I didn’t go to the masjid,” you would say:
ما ذَهَبتُ ألى المَسجِدِ
Which means “I didn’t go to the masjid.” The maa here is a negation; without it, the sentence means “I went to the masjid.”
- The Maa of Alladhiy: This maa has virtually the same meaning as “alladhiy,” which means “that” or “which” or “the one that/which.” For example, the sentence:
رَأيتُ ما فَعَلتَ
Means “I saw what you did.” Notice here the maa means “what” or “the thing that.” And also notice, you could’ve replaced it with alladhiy, and it would still carry the exact same meaning.
And those are the three maas! In fact, Arabic has over 15 different meanings of “maa”–so don’t think you know it all! But of course, a gradual process of learning the meanings one by one will eventually lead to you knowing them all, what they mean, where and how to use them, and how to decipher which maa you’re looking at when you’re reading.
May Allah increase us in knowledge of this great language and help us use it for His sake, ameen yaa Rabbi!