The definite article ("the" in English) is "al" (spelled ال alif, la'm). It is pronounced with the same sound as the name of the letter "L" (i.e. el). It basically does what the word "the" does; it goes before a definite noun. But it has two extra jobs, because in Arabic, small words like "of" and "is" are not used. To illustrate: the striked-out words in the following English sentences would not translate into an Arabic word once the sentence is translated.

   The boy is on the roof.
   The sky is blue.
   The girls are here.
   I am going away.
   We are there.
   The book of the boy is here.

Luckily, the definite article helps indicate where "is/are/am", and "of" would be. Whenever there are two words, one definite (i.e. starts with "L") and one indefinite (starts without "L"), if the first is definite then you know that "is/are/am" is implied between the two words. If the first is indefinite then you know that "of" is implied between the two words.



(Y) means some noun
(Z) means some other noun

→  means "translates to"

l- indicates the Arabic definite article

l-(Y)       →  the (Y)
l-(Y) (Z)   →  the (Y) is (Z)
(Y) l-(Z)   →  the (Y) of the (Z)

Translation Exercise

book   كِتابُ keetaab
airport مَطارُ Mataar
restaurant مَطعَمُ mat3am
title/address عُنوانُ  unwan
big كَبيرُ kabeer
small صَغيرُ sagheer
  1. الكتاب،al ketaab
  2. المطار، al mataar
  3. المطعم،al mat3am
  4. الكتاب صغير.al ketaab sagheer
  5. المطار كبير.al mataar kabeer
  6. المطعم صغير.al mat3am sagheer
  7. عنوان المطار
  8. عنوان المطعم
  9. عنوان الكتاب.


  1. The book.
  2. The airport.
  3. The restaurant.
  4. The book is small.
  5. The airport is big.
  6. The restaurant is small.
  7. The address of the airport.
  8. The address of the restaurant.
  9. The title of the book.