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Lesson 10c: Possession (New)

Lesson 10, Part A:
  • Intro
  • Dialogue
Lesson 10, Part B:
  • Overview
  • Possessive Pronouns (review)
  • iDaafa Phrase (review)
Lesson 10, Part C:
Possessive Prepositions
The 3 prepositions:
  • 3inda - عِندَ
  • Ma3a - مَعَ
  • Li - لِ

These three prepositions can be used to show possession, but each has its own nuances in meaning and usage. All 3 can be used with a definite noun as the possessor:

Jamal has a car
3inda jamal sayyaara
عِندَ جَمَال سَيّارة

or they can be used with endings similar to the possessive endings if the possessor is ةe, you, her, etc..:

I have a car
3indii sayyaara
عِندَي سَيّارة

As you will see, they also can be used in ways not directly related to possession.

3inda - عِندَ
This preposition comes the closest to the idea of "X owns Y". The subject must be a human and the object must be concrete. Here is an example of 3inda used with a definite noun as the possessor:

Jamal has a car
3inda jamal sayyaara
عِندَ جَمَال سَيّارة


3inda With endings: If the possessor is I, you, she, etc., then endings like the possessive pronouns can be used. Here is a table of 3inda with the endings:

عِندَ Endings
عِندي I
عِندَكَ You (masc.)
عِندَكِ You (fem.)
عِندَهُ He
عِندَها She
عِندَنا We
عِندَكُم You (plur.)
عِندَهُم They


And here is an example sentence:

We have a car
3indanaa sayyaara
عِندَنا سَيّارة



Alternate usage: Combined with the pronoun, this preposition also has the common meaning of "My house" or "Your house". Meaning is usually obvious from the context:

We went to his house
dhahabnaa ilaa 3indahu
ذَهَبنا إلى عِندَهُ


Ma3a - مَعَ
This preposition carries with it the idea that the object is physically "with" the owner. Here is an example:

The book is with the student
The student has the book with him
al-kitaab ma3a aT-Taalib
الكِتاب مَعَ الطّالِب


This literally means "The book is with the student" but you could also translate it as "The student has the book on him" or "The student is carrying the book".

ma3a with endings: If the carrier is I, you, she, etc., then endings like the possessive pronouns can be used. Here is a table of ma3a with the endings:

مَعَ Endings
مَعي I
مَعَكَ You (masc.)
مَعَكِ You (fem.)
مَعَهُ He
مَعَها She
مَعَنا We
مَعَكُم You (plur.)
مَعَهُم They


And here is an example sentence:

Do you have a pen
hal ma3aka qalam
هَل مَعَكَ قَلَم



Alternate usage: Combined with the endings this preposition also has the common meaning of "with me" or "with her".

I went with her
dhahabtu ma3ahaa
ذَهَبتُ مَعَها


Li - لِ
Of the 3 prepositions, this one is the most abstract. The subject can be non-human, like a government or a university, and the object can be abstract, like a Middle Eastern Studies Department. This preposition does have some overlap with عِندَ for sentences like "I have a sister". Howeverعِندَtends to be used for concrete possession whereas لِtends to be used for more abstract relationships.

Spelling rules: The spelling rules for Li are a bit different than the other two prepositions we've covered. First of all it connects with the noun:

Jamal has a sister
lijamal ukht
لِجَمَال اُخت


Secondly, if the noun after Li has the definite article, then Li + the definite article get changed to Lil:

لِ + ال = لِل


The student has a sister
lil-Taalib ukht
لِلطالِب اُخت


Li With endings: If the possessor is I, you, she, etc., then endings like the possessive endings can be used. Here is a table of Li with the endings:

لِ Endings
لي I
لَكَ You (masc.)
لَكِ You (fem.)
لَهُ He
لَها She
لَنا We
لَكُم You (plur.)
لَهُم They


And here is an example sentence:

I have a sister
lii ukht
لي اُخت

Alternate usage 1: In addition to showing possession by people, لِcan also be used when the subject is an inanimate object like "The university has a Middle Eastern department" or "The house has a porch".

The house has a porch
lilbayt shurfa
لِلبَيت شُرفة


Alternate usage 2: Another very common use of لِis to convey the idea of "for" or "in order to". This usage will be covered in TenguGo Arabic 2.