Can someone please explain how important the cases are in Arabic?
I’m starting learning Arabic properly this year having dabbled in it last year and I want to use Duolingo alongside a few course books. I would like to learn to speak MSA to a decent level first (not fluent, but an A2/B1 level) and then learn Egyptian.
I’ve noticed in my books that there is no mention of Arabic’s case system (I have Teach Yourself Complete Arabic along with some Egyptian books).
If I want to learn Arabic to be fluent in MSA and Egyptian (I plan on studying it in university as part of my languages degree) to what extent should I care about the cases? How often are they used in everyday speech and what contexts would they would be used in?
Hey, generally speaking case endings are not really used in speaking but if you are reading poetry or the qur`an they are important.
They are not an issue in spoken dialects.
There are a few cases in standard arabic where the case is visible in the actual spelling of the word and not in the diacritical marks and in these cases should be pronounced.
1) adverbs ending w a tanwiin: words like shukran, marHaban, katheeran, aHyanan, 3adatan, qareeban etc. You probably heard a few of these before you started studying arabic.
2) What are called nisba adjectives in the masculine plural: these are words that are either adjectives or nouns referring to humans and end in either waw noon "oon" or ya noon "een" depending on their position in the sentence.
Numbers with similar endings like 3ashreen, khamseen, etc, are also affected by case but it`s less common for numbers to be said in a context where they would have an "oon" ending instead of "een" so its not often that this is a concern. But also not never!
3) nouns and adjectives in the dual form. They will end in alif noon "an" or kasra ya noon "ayn" depending on their position in the sentence:
4) A very small group of nouns actually write the case as a long vowel at the end of the word in MSA. The words for father and brother are two I know of.
If you are just starting out in Arabic though I wouldnt worry about them until a teacher brings them up. Theyll introduce them when the time is right.
If you are taking standard arabic in school, Case endings will be a big part of your education. Asking you to correctly vocalize a sentence is a really efficient way of finding out if you understood it correctly. But when you are actually using MSA to communicate, you wont be doing that.