The tanwin [ two fathahs ( ً ) , two kasrahs ( ٍ ) , two dammas ( ٌ ) ] is generally attached to a word that is indefinite. In this case, it is regarded as a particle that renders a noun indefinite ( حرف تنكير ) – this is similar to the letter ‘ a ‘ in English. It is translated as ‘a’ or ‘an’ in English, e.g. ( رَجُلٌ ) – a man, ( تُفَّاحٌ ) – an apple, ( ماَءٌ ) – water. There is no need to translate it everywhere as in the example of ( ماَءٌ ) – water.
Note 1: Sometimes a proper noun also has tanwin, e.g. ( مُحَمَّدٌ ) , ( عَمْرٌو ) , ( زَيْدٌ ). In such a case, the tanwin is not regarded as a ( حرف تنكير ).
The definite article of Arabic is ( اَلْ ) – It is similar to the word ‘ the‘ in English. It is also called ( لا التعريف ). When ( اَلْ ) is prefixed to any indefinite word, it becomes definite. Now the word is termed as ( معرف باللام ) – a word made definite by ( اَلْ ). Consequently, ( فَرْسٌ ) – a horse, is indefinite while ( اَلْفَرْسُ ) – the horse, is definite.
When ( اَلْ ) is prefixed to a word having tanwin, the tanwin falls off. Note the above example.
When any word precedes a word having ( اَلْ ), the first word is joined to the lam of the second word and pronounced (by joining). The hamzah of the ( اَلْ ) is known as hamzatul wasl – The initial hamzah of a word which is not pronounced when joined to the preceding word, e.g. ( وَرَقُ اْلكِتاَبِ ). It is not pronounced, e.g. ( باَبُ اْلبَيْتِ ) – the door of the house. To read ( باَبُ اَلْبَيْتِ ) here is incorrect.
Note 2: If there is a sakin letter before the ( اَلْ ), the sakin letter is normally read with a kasrah. However the word ( مِنْ ) is read with a fathah. Therefore, ( عَنْ اَلْبَيْتِ ) is read as ( عَنِ الْبَيْتِ ) and ( مِنْ اَلْبَيْتِ ) is read as ( مِنَ الْبَيْتِ ).
When a word having tanwin precedes the definite article, the nun of the tanwin5 is rendered a kasrah and joined to the lam. If after the word ( زَيْدٌ = زَيْدُنْ ), the word ( اَلْعاَلِمُ ) appears, it will be read as ( زَيْدُ نِ اْلعاَلِمُ ).
Note 3: The alif of ( ابْنٌ ), ( ابْنَةٌ ) and ( اِسْمٌ ) is also hamzatul wasl. It is not pronounced when joined to the preceding word.
( هُوَ اِبْنٌ ) is read as ( هُوَ ابْنٌ ) – He is a son;
( هٰذَا اِسْمٌ) is read as ( هٰذَا اسْمٌ) – This is a name;
( زَيْدٌ اِبْنٌ ) is read as ( زَيْدُنِ ابْنٌ ) – Zaid is a son;
( حاَمِدٌ اِسْمٌ ) is read as ( حاَمِدُنِ اسْمٌ ) – Hamid is a name.
When ( اَلْ ) is prefixed to ( اِبْنٌ ) and ( اِسْمٌ ), the lam of the ( اَلْ ) is rendered a kasrah and joined to the ( ب ) and ( س ). Therefore ( اَلْاِبْنُ ) is read as ( اَلِبْنُ = اَلْاِبْنُ ) and ( اَلْاِسْمُ ) is read as ( اَلِسْمُ= اَلْاِسْمُ ). This rule is overlooked in general conversation.
When ( اَلْ ) is prefixed to a word having one of the letters of ( الحرف الشمسية ) , the lām of the ( اَلْ ) is assimilated into the harf shamsī, that is, at the time of pronunciation, instead of reading the lām, the harf shamsī is pronounced. No jazm is written on the lām in such a case but a tashdīd is written on the harf shamsī, e.g. ( اَلْشمْسُ ) – the sun, ( اَلرَّجُلُ ) – the man, etc.
The ( الحرف الشمسية ) are:
ت ث د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ل ن
Besides these letters, the other letters are called ( الحرف القمرية ), e.g. ( اَلْقَمَرُ ) – the moon, ( اَلْجَمَلُ ) – camel.
Vocabulary List No. 1
Note 4: After prefixing the definite article to these words, pronounce them.
Note 5: When speaking, pause on the last letter, that is, do not read any harakah on the final letter. Read the word ( اَلْبَيْتُ ) as ( اَلْبَيْتْ ) and ( اَلزَّكاَةُ ) as ( اَلزَّكاَةْ ). If you are reading one word, pause on its last letter and if you are reading several words, pause on the last word, e.g. ( خُبْزُ وَ لَبَنْ ).