Huruf al-Jarr Overview

Prepositions in Arabic (حُرُوف الجَرّ hurūf al-jarr) are generally used to show position as in فِى fī (in) and مِن min (from) or time as in فى السّاعة الخَامِسَة fī as-sā’a al-ẖamisah (at five o’clock)

Sometimes they refer to more abstract concepts as in the case of عَن ‘an (about) or عَلَى الأقَل ‘ala al-aqall (at least).

These particles have deeper meanings than their counterparts in English and are used in different contexts to express a wide range of meanings.

The most common حُرُوف الجَرّ hurūf al-jarr are:

من، إلى، حتى، في، عن، على، اللام، والكاف، والباء، 

مِن minFromجِئتُ مِنَ المَسجِدِI came from the masjid
إِلَى ilāTo إِلَى أَينَ تَذْهَبُ يا أَخِي؟(To) Where are you going, my brother?
فِي fīinأَسكُنُ في المَدِينَةِI live in the city
عَلَى ‘alāonنِمتُ عَلى السَّرِيرِI slept on the bed
لِ liForهَذَا الكِتَابُ لِزَيدٍThis is Zaid’s book
كَ kaLikeلَيسَ العَالِمُ كَالجَاهِلِThe scholar is not like the ignorant one
بِ biWith كَتَبْتُ بِقَلَمٍ أَحمَرَI wrote with a red pen
حَتَّى hattāTill, untilقَرَأتُ كِتَابِي حَتَّى نِمتُI read my book until I slept

Important Notes

  • The noun after a proposition is always genetive (it takes the state of Jarr)
  • The letters ب,ك,لا,م are always attached to the noun, unlike the other preposition letters which occur separately
  • Arabic prepositions are “mabni” which means that they have mostly fixed word-endings regardless of their position

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