شيء / شيء ما

relates

New Member
English
أهلا وسهلا بكم

I'm a long-time lurker and a first-time poster. I'm definitely still a beginner, so I apologize in advance for asking really obvious questions.

I've been studying Arabic independently, mostly through the Internet. It's a great tool, but without a conventional teacher, I can't directly ask questions about things that I don't understand.

Today's such problem is the phrase شيء "something" vs. the phrase شيء ما. I assume they serve different functions but I can't really figure it out just by context. For example, in the phrases

تقرأ المرأة شيئاً ما 'the woman is reading something (unspecified)'
تريد المرأة شيئاً لتقرأه 'the woman wants something to read.'

Also: هل لي بشيء ما لأقرأه؟ 'is there something for me to read?'

Why is ما sometimes necessary and sometimes not?
Thanks for your patience.
 
  • AndyRoo

    Senior Member
    English
    Hello :)

    I think that in all these sentences you could use شيء with or without ما, with a slight shift in meaning:

    شيء = "something"
    شيء ما = "something or other".
     

    Awlaadberry

    Member
    Arabic
    أهلا وسهلا بكم

    I'm a long-time lurker and a first-time poster. I'm definitely still a beginner, so I apologize in advance for asking really obvious questions.

    I've been studying Arabic independently, mostly through the Internet. It's a great tool, but without a conventional teacher, I can't directly ask questions about things that I don't understand.

    Today's such problem is the phrase شيء "something" vs. the phrase شيء ما. I assume they serve different functions but I can't really figure it out just by context. For example, in the phrases

    تقرأ المرأة شيئاً ما 'the woman is reading something (unspecified)'
    تريد المرأة شيئاً لتقرأه 'the woman wants something to read.'

    Also: هل لي بشيء ما لأقرأه؟ 'is there something for me to read?'

    Why is ما sometimes necessary and sometimes not?
    Thanks for your patience.
    شيء ما sounds more desperate - if you know what I mean.
     

    Awlaadberry

    Member
    Arabic
    تقرأ المرأة شيئاً ما 'the woman is reading something (unspecified)'
    تريد المرأة شيئاً لتقرأه 'the woman wants something to read.'

    تقرأ المرأة شيئاً ما 'the woman is reading something (unspecified)' - She's reading something, but I can't see what it is.

    تريد المرأة شيئاً لتقرأه 'the woman wants something to read.' - She wants something to read.
     

    jka

    New Member
    Arabic
    determined شيء ما
    and
    undetermined شيء
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    Actually, the ما here is called ما الإبهامية ( from إبهام = vagueness) and it's used with other indefinite nouns too. The point of it is to increase the indefiniteness of the noun in question. It makes the noun so indefinite that it's vague and unclear and not just undefined.

    So basically, شيء ما is more vague and unclear than شيء. Other examples of nouns used with it are: شخص ما \ مكان ما \ سيارة ما \ مثل ما \ حال ما basically anything that you want to make vague.
     

    relates

    New Member
    English
    شيء ما sounds more desperate - if you know what I mean.
    Thanks guys for the informative responses, especially Mahaodeh for the information about ما الإبهامية. :) I feel like I understand a lot better now.

    The impression I'm getting is that شيء ما is more like "anything," so asking someone هل لي بشيء ما لآكله would be a little more like begging... Am I on the right track?
     

    suma

    Senior Member
    USA
    English, USA
    For example:
    جاء رجل لزيارتك = A man came to visit you.
    جاء رجل ما لزيارتك = An undisclosed man came to visit you.

    Some man came to visit you.
    A certain man came to visit you.
     
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