1. The WordReference Forums have moved to new forum software. (Details)

إِيَّا- direct object marker

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by ks20495, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. ks20495 Senior Member

    Hebrew and English
    Hebrew and Aramaic contain a preposition that precedes definite direct objects. (אֵת/et in Hebrew)

    I have read that, in Arabic, إِيَّا fills the same role. But, I have never seen it used.

    Is إِيَّا ever used? And, if so, how?
  2. AndyRoo Senior Member


    Yes, it is used as a direct object marker, but I think only if there is some reason the direct object can't be attached to the verb - e.g. because there is already an indirect object attached to the verb: أعطيتك إياه = "I gave it to you". Otherwise, the direct object is just attached to the verb e.g. كتبتُها I wrote it.

    Similarly, it is common to see it in constructions like:
    واصفًا إياه ب = "describing it as..."
  3. rayloom Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    These are the personal pronouns in Arabic. However, it's important to note these are non-clitic and they occur in this form if they were in the nominative (subject).

    The إيا pronoun is a non-clitic object personal pronoun. It has to have a clitic attached to it though.

    There are many rules on when to use a clitic vs non-clitic. Non-clitic pronouns also have an emphatic role in Arabic. Like the emphatic pronouns in French.

    I won't go into these rules here though, but back to my first point, in the example given by AndyRoo, you can't say أعطيتك هو because huwa is a nominative form, you should use إياه.
    Or anta na3bud, it should be iyyaka na3bud (we worship you). If it was anta man na3bud (you who we worship), then it's fine.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  4. ks20495 Senior Member

    Hebrew and English
    I understand that the nominative pronouns cannot be used in the accusative.

    Thank you both for clarifying the usage.

    In Hebrew, את/'et, the equivalent of إيا, is a regular preposition that conjugates with pronoun suffixes.

    It can, however, stand alone. (In fact, it must stand alone if the direct object is a noun and not a pronoun.) And "'et" is used MUCH more than attaching the direct object to the verb.

    I saw the house = ra'iti 'ET ha-bayit (ראיתי את הבית)
    I saw him = ra'iti 'OTO (ראיתי אותו)
  5. rayloom Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    Do you know if this is also the case in Biblical Hebrew? Did also precede the direct object if it were a noun?
  6. ks20495 Senior Member

    Hebrew and English
    In the Bible:
    1. if the direct object is a pronoun, it is usually attached to the verb - but not always (I saw her = r'itiha [ראיתיה])
    2. If the direct object is a noun, 'et (by itself) precedes the direct object almost always.

    In Modern Hebrew:
    1. if the direct object is a pronoun, it is almost always "'et + pronoun", except in the most formal of writing (I saw her = ra'iti 'ota, not r'itiha)
    2. 'et is always placed before the direct object that is a noun

    I hope that's not too confusing :)
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  7. rayloom Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Arabic (Hijazi Arabic)
    I found something interesting in Lisan al3arab (a classical Arabic dictionary). It says:
    ولو قلت إِيَّا زَيدٍ حدَّثت لكان قبيحاً لأَنه خُصَّ بالمُضْمَر
    Translation: It's ugly if you say "iyya zaydin 7addatht" because iyya is reserved for the pronouns.
    In the example listed listed, iyya precedes a noun. It's ugly but not wrong or unheard of at that time. The noun following iyya should be in the genitive though.
  8. ks20495 Senior Member

    Hebrew and English
    I see. These rules surrounding the "direct object marker" are so foreign to me.

    There's obviously a common origin to إِيَّا and to את ('et). But, the usage has diverged so much over the centuries.

    It's very interesting to see examples of that in the two languages.
  9. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    That's not quite true. :) It's only used before a direct object that is definite. :)

    ראיתי את הבית = I saw the house.
    ראיתי בית = I saw a house.

    As for إِيَّا, it doesn't occur as a free morpheme in Modern Standard Arabic. It is only used with an attached pronoun - and only under specific syntactical conditions.
  10. ks20495 Senior Member

    Hebrew and English
    True, כמובן. I left out the word "definite" in later posts...but you can see I wrote it in the original post.
  11. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Not wrong but quite rare perhaps precisely because it is so unattractive!

    iyya also serves to place the pronominal object at the start, e.g.

    إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وَإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ
    You we worship, and You we ask for help

    Also, إيَّا iyya when used with pronouns and followed byو is meant to be a تحذير (caution) and translates as: beware …!, take care not to …!
    إِيَّاْكَ وَالذَّهَابَ ![FONT=&quot]ه[/FONT]
    Beware of going!

    More on إيَّا here.

    … and I agree with this:
    I haven’t thus far seen إِيَّا ever as a stand alone in earlier forms of Arabic either.

Share This Page