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To see the planets at midday: Proverb!

  • 1413

Hello everyone! It has been quite a while since I've posted something here. But now, after going through some incident, I think I might just have some proper time to dedicate to make posts like before.
Here, I'm going to talk about a proverb or a saying (both can be said about it actually), and I tried to pick a short one here, from my old book of Arabic proverbs. Even though they mention it as a proverb, but it is also a common saying which would change accordingly as I will mention below. Enjoy the ride!

رَأى الكَواكِبَ ظُهْراً

Translation: He saw the planets at midday.
Transliteration (phonetic): ra'á-l-kawákiba ďuhrá(n).
Transliteration (by word): ra'á al-kawákiba ďuhrá(n).
note: -(n) is added to note that the last syllable of the word here can be pronounced either as -á or -an.
*note: (ď) is a single phoneme or letter, I use it specifically to represent the sound of ظ *

Audio: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AtZbIhL2YUECgXDiuZavvAZxSLoX?e=ESlwX9

Moral: This proverb is said about someone who has been through so much in life and his life turning harsh, so much that it's like darkness surrounding him.


رَأى: he saw.
الكَواكِبَ: the planets.
ظُهْراً: at midday.


This saying has another version which is probably more common than the one I've found here in my old book, which goes like رَأى النُّجومَ ظُهْراً (ra'á-nnujúma ďuhrá(n): he saw the stars at midday). Also, the expression can be used as a threat between two people with enmity, like one of them would say to the other سأريك النجوم ظهرا (sa'uríka-nnujúma ďuhrá(n): I will show you the stars at midday). Needless to say, this saying also has dialectical versions. No need to delve into that I suppose. To change or dedicate this saying or proverb to a female, we have to change the verb of course, but I'll talk about that in the Remarks section below. I've picked this proverb for today/tonight for it's simplicity. I might pick something a bit complicated next time :)
If you listened to the audio, you will notice that I've recited the proverb or saying twice; Once without Tanwin, and once again with it. This is just to show the possibilities of various reading. Anyway, let's check the words with some details:


As mentioned, this verb simply translates to he saw. If this proverb or this saying is to be dedicated to a female, then we would have to use the feminine version of the verb: رَأَت (ra'at: she saw). In relation to that, the above example with سأريك (sa'uríka: I will show you/m) would change to سأريكِ (sa'uríki: I will show you/f) if the speech is dedicated to a female as well.
As we see, the verb here ends with Alif Maqcúrah ى. Do not mistaken this for ي ("y" or "í"). Alif Maqcúrah is dotless, and its presence in the word is merely orthographical and for some words it is related to grammatical cases. Personally, and as we were kids, we learned these verbs as they are and we didn't learn much about the orthographic reasons for writing them that way until later; By that time, we were already used to write it that way regardless of knowing the rules or not. The verb here, as it is, includes in itself the subject (or the doer) of the verb, and there is no need to add a subject (he هو) as it is the case with English. As I've showed above, if the verb is done by a 3rd singular female then we use رَأَت (ra'at), and again, no need to mention (she هي). And so on with the rest of declensions. In such instances, in Arabic grammar books, we would usually describe the subject as فاعل مستتر (fá3il mustatir), meaning hidden doer.


This word translates to (the planets). The singular form is الكَوْكَب (al-kawkab). This type of plural which changes the structure of the word is called جمع تكسير (Jam3 Taksír: breaking plural). The reason for that is obvious I presume. Also, the singular form is treated as a masculine noun, while the plural form is treated in a feminine manner (suppose I want to add an adjective after الكواكب, then the adjective must be in feminine form). In such occasion when we have such plural, the word goes through various declensions just as a word on its own (other systematic plurals or duals do have specific rules for declensions). Here, this word comes in the status of Accusative (which received the verb or action done), and its end must bear fatHa (-a to its end).


I think I've been making this whole document solely for this word. First of all, probably you've noticed from the audio how I recited the saying twice with different pronunciation for its end. Just to show that both are valid and correct. But probably the Tanwin (-an) would be added preferably if the speech is continuous after this word. However, you see here how that (-an), or Tanwin bil FatH تنوين بالفتح is the only Tanwin that must be written with Alif (unless in few exceptions like with Ta-Marbúta ة). Because of this, if I don't want to mention this Tanwin at the end of the sentence as (-an), then it has to be (-á) instead of just a silent consonant without a vowel, as it is the case with other flavors of Tanwin (-in and -un).
Probably you've noticed that I've translated this single word as at midday. This is because the grammatical status of this word is adverbial describing the time of the verb occurrence. Such status is called in Arabic ظرف زمان (ďarf zamán), which might be translated in English as adverb of time. Well, literal translation for the Arabic name would be more like (time envelope/condition) which might not make much sense in English anyway. Some Arabic books call this type of adverbs along with other types as مفعول فيه (maf3úl fíh), which kind of translates as In-Accusative (not sure of any official name of this term). Anyway, such term is kind of alien to me, as we always used ظرف زمان back in school days (along with ظرف مكان -ďarf makán-; spatial adverb).
Adverbs, typically, come with (-an) Tanwin to their endings (there are exceptions of course in very specific cases and complicated structures). Thus, we typically say that the adverb is منصوب (mancúb), meaning it bears the (-a) vowel to its end; whether with Tanwin or not. And by the way, the original word from which the adverb is derived is الظهر (aď-ďuhr: the noon), but I preferred translating this as at midday instead of at noon. I think it's more common in English to say at midday rather than at noon.


Well, I hope this short saying adds something to your knowledge about Arabic, and I hope it won't be the last as well. After stopping for some time, now I think I can dedicate some time to write such posts like before (specially with ignoring the contests and leagues on Duolingo, which took over me). Now, I have to say Good Night تصبحون بخير.

September 17, 2019



Thank you very much for coming back. And hopefully this crazy voting down without even having time to read the post might stop soon.

  • 1413

hehe danke

I don't think they are interested in reading the post.


Unfortunately you might be right. In this speed they down voted it it was impossible to read it completely.


Woah, that was amazingly helpful. You are a gifted writer. What's the best way to find your other posts, just search your name in the forums?

  • 1413

I'm not sure really but if this is possible, try it out, hope it works :)

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