'tun', 'un' at ends of words

I realize this may be a dumb question, or I probably missed the answer somewhere -- but what are all these 'tun' and 'un' sounds that are emerging at the end of words...? I asked a native speaker the other day who told me that they don't say it the way he speaks it, which just left me more confused. I'm a third through the course and still haven't encountered an explanation for this.

August 28, 2019


'tun' and 'un' are pronounced to describe indefinite nouns and adjectives. It's called Nunation. 'tun' for feminine nouns, 'un' for masculine nouns.

August 28, 2019
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These sounds are the noun cases found in Classical Arabic. The course doesn't teach them in a methodical way.

Classical Arabic has three cases (called الإعراب):

  1. Nominative (مرفوع), used for the subject;

  2. Accusative (منصوب), used for the direct object (and for some other verbal complements);

  3. Genitive (مجرور), used for denoting possession and after prepositions.

Those cases sound differently according to the noun's state: for nouns that are either definite or are in the construct state, the endings are -

Nom: /-u/, Acc: /-a/, Gen: /-i/.

Indefinite nouns have the same endings followed by /-n/ -

Nom: /-un/, Acc: /-an/, Gen: /-in/.

It must be stressed that these cases occur only with singular nouns and broken plurals. Sound plurals have a different way for displaying cases (the distinction between the suffixes /-uuna/ and /-iina/).

And here are some examples:

The pretty book: 2al-kitaabu 2al-jamiilu

A pretty book: kitaabun jamiilun

I read the book: qara2tu 2al-kitaaba

I read a book: qara2tu kitaaban

On the book: 3alaa 2al-kitaabi

On a book: 3alaa kitaabin

Hope that it helped!

September 1, 2019

In the Arabic grammar you need different endings for using cases and to make a noun definite or indefinite and so on. And what he was trying to tell is, that you do not speak the endings when there is a sign like a comma or it is the last word of a sentence. Then they leave them out in speaking. But for using the grammar you have to know about it. If you will get into grammar in some time then you will learn that words around the noun like to take on their endings (cases) too. In case you are already interested in grammar there are books available in internet for free.

August 28, 2019

But he doesn't use it, like at all. He didn't even know what it was.

August 28, 2019

Hello. Those added non-written sounds are actually the Arabic declension. Like Latin, Russian and many other languages, Arabic changes word endings depending on the function of the word in the phrase (aka cases, like subject or object etc.). But while this system still exists in Classical Arabic, it tends to disappear in spoken Arabic , in dialects and even Modern Standard Arabic. That's probably why your friend does not use it at all. It is the more formal, higher level, more ancient register of language. If you want to know more, you can start with Wikipedia under Arabic declension or I'rāb. If your goal is mostly to be able to speak with friends or colleagues, you can probably disregard that system at least in the beginning.
Hope this helps.

August 29, 2019
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