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The Story of Hamza: Part III - The End.

Hello again!
It's time for the last (and probably easiest) part about our story of Hamza. Just to sum things up: Hamza is a glottal stop sound, but orthographically, writing it had been different across phases of the Arabic script development, and thus there is a difference between the Quranic orthography and how Hamza would be written in Quran, and Hamza in modern standard Arabic (MSA).
In the beginning of the word, we have Hamzat-Wacl (ا) and Hamzat-Qaŧ3 (أ).
In the middle of the word, Hamza can be written on various letters or on-line depending on the preceding vowel.
Finally, here, we have Hamza when it occurs at the end of the word, or what is typically called in Arabic همزة متطرفة (Hamza mutaŧarrifah: edging Hamza).

Another translation for متطرفة or متطرف (masculine adjective) would be "extreme". The word متطرف is exactly the same one used to describe an extreme person (extremist), in creed or politics.

I've mentioned this note previously in Part II, but just as a reminder I'll say it here again: The Hamza we are talking about is original in the word itself.
Unlike the story of the power scale in the story of the Middle Hamza, the way to write Hamza at the end of the word is quite easy, with less exceptions. The rule is simply: Look at the vowel on the letter before Hamza, and write the Hamza on a letter that matches that vowel. With a bit of detailing, it should be in this manner:

  • If the letter before Hamza bears Kasrah (i), then it's written as (ئ): لاجِئ (láji': refugee), لآلِئ (la'áli': pearls).
  • If the letter before Hamza bears Dhammah (u), then it's written as (ؤ): لُؤْلُؤ (lu'lu': pearl), تَنَبُّؤ (tanabbu': prediction).
  • If the letter before Hamza bears fatHa (a), then it's written as (أ): مَلَأَ (mala'a: to fill), خَطَأ (xaŧa': mistake).
  • If the letter before Hamza bears Sukún (no vowel) or long vowel (á í ú), then it's written on-line (ء): سَماء (samá': sky), شَيْء (šay': thing).

All these rules mentioned above do not put into consideration the vowel on Hamza itself (which is a subject to change because of the Arabic grammar as we know). However, there might be a little adjustment when it comes to the last rule for Hamza on-line, specially when a possessive suffix is attached; Mostly this Hamza would turn to ئ to attach it easily to the next letter, or to other forms as well if needed to fit into the grammatical case the word is in.

e.g. شيء (thing), شيئي (my thing), شيئه (his thing) - أشياء (things), أشيائي (my things), أشياؤه (his things), أشياءه (his things/accusative), أشيائه (his things/genitive or preceded by preposition).

Don't be surprised if you see some natives who write or type شيئ instead of شيء; It is a common mistake and I'm personally working on correcting everyone writing it that way, along with other words of similar structures (بريء مليء نيء... etc).

Try to copy the words into almaany.com and check out their meanings, if you like.

Now, there are instances when there are some adjectives that end with Hamza, and typically to convert them to feminine adjectives, one would simply add Ta-marbúta (ة). In such instances, the Hamza here can be considered as "middle" and not "on the edge" after the addition of Ta-Marbúta. Ta'-Marbúta is not considered a suffix on its own and thus the whole word in the feminine case is considered a separate word with Hamza being in the middle now. Be aware though that there are feminine adjectives which look completely different than their masculine counterpart, and people on Duolingo-Arabic did already see some of such instances (e.g. أزرق and زرقاء for masculine and feminine blue, respectively).
Another thing here, related to the Tanwin or Nunation. I wouldn't go through all the talk explaining what is Tanwin or Nunation, but some of you probably realize that Tanwin with fatHa flavor (-an) is the only Tanwin that is written with an addition Alif. However, this Alif is not written when the word ends in Ta-Marbúta (e.g. حقيبةً ħaqíbatun / a bag). Also, there are instances when this Alif is not written when the word originally ends with Hamza BUT only when this Hamza comes after Alif itself in the word.

An example is better: جُزْء (joz': part) can be written with Tanwin/fatHa as جُزْءاً (joz'an). But words like جَزاء (jazá': penalty/consequence/punishment) should not be written as جَزاءاً because the Hamza comes after Alif and now it is trapped between 2 Alifs. Thus, it should be written as جَزاءً (jazá'an); without Alif.


Well, I think this is it. The third and last part of the story of Hamza is here. And I hope I didn't forget anything, specially those exceptions that occur from time to time for one reason or another. When checking some of the detailed orthography pages, such topic do take a lengthy path, and I've tried here to organize things in points as much as possible. Now, to post this and sip my coffee! وداعاً

October 6, 2019



Indeed, this part looks at the first glance much easier than the second part. Thanks for giving us this big help. And in case you might come across another nice grammar topic and will find the time and being in the right mood please don't stop with these posts. ;-)


Hope it helps. I will try to make others whenever the time is available.
Just to note, it is a topic of orthography actually and not grammar.


So many cases! Or just is it easier than this? Can we have a map or a list in a summary?


I think I've seen some maps - in Arabic though.
However, your best guide is the letter before the Hamza. And I've stated in the early parts of this series, we typically, in time, memorize rather than think about it actually.
As for a list or a summary, that might be better done by the reader him/herself to make their own note down (I know some who do so here :) )


The English wiki has tables here
(I just came back here to see why أَدَاء, performance, becomes أداؤك, I guess it's because that is actually أَدَاؤُكَ)


Yes. The final Hamza is typically not stable. Meaning, it can change its shape when a suffix is added + the word status is changed.
As in your example above, أداؤك (your performance), the Hamza here is written on Waw because it is (-u-) glottal stop, and it is so because it is in a nominative status.
Now, let's suppose, this word (أداء) comes as accusative, means the ending must carry fatHa (-a), and we are still to add the suffix for (your) - Example: رأيتُ أداءك (I saw your performance). Hamza is written on-line here because it has to carry fatHa. Since it was preceded by Alif, we cannot write this one too on Alif, so we leave on-line, and the word is read as adá'ak.
On the same line if the word comes in Majrúr status (either in Genitive or preceded by the preposition), then the Hamza (which is the real end of the word) must take Kasrah (-i) and hence it must be written on Nabrah or Sinna. Example: لا شكّ في أدائك (lá shakka fí adá'ik) there is no doubt in your performance. Because of the preposition , the ending for أداء has to carry (-i), and when followed by (your) suffix, this Hamza becomes ئـ; adá'ik.

Notice that all these changes happen because some suffix is added to the original word. Otherwise, Hamza will remain unchanged whatever the status of the word.


It's surprising for me this even happens when text is not vocalized (like in the Arabic to English tree). For me not writing short vowels seems to imply you don't care about cases either, but apparently those cases can still bite in some situations, like here with hamza.


Well, if one (a native) is to write a proper Arabic in some good text, they must take care of grammar of course. In dialects, people don't really care about such cases and the last vowel is mostly absent or misplaced - people wouldn't care much about it as long as the idea is delivered.

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