The Meanings of the Arabic Preposition Bā

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Meanings of the Preposition الباء/ ب

The fifth حرف الجر mentioned by the author of Hidāyatun Naḥw is الباء .الباء gives a جر to both اسم الظاهر and اسم الضمير e.g. of اسم الظاهر is بِزيدٍ, example of اسم الضمير is بِه.

الباء has many different meanings:

  1. الإِلصاق To attach\connect:

This gives the benefit of a matter being attached to the مجرور of the الباء. The attachment is either going to be literally or metaphorically.

E.g. of literal attachment is بِه داءٌ ‘The man is sick,’ (the man is actually afflicted with the sickness).

E.g. of metaphorical meaning مررتُ بِزيدٍ ‘I passed by Zaid,’ (I didn’t actually attach myself to Zaid, however I passed close to him).

  1. الإِستعانة Seeking help:

Making the مجرور of الباء a helper of the فاعل in bringing the فعل into existence:

E.g.كتبت بالقلم  ‘I wrote with the pen,’ (the pen helped me write).

  1. التعليل Citing the reason: For example:

إِنَّكُمْ ظَلَمْتُمْ أَنفُسَكُم بِاتِّخَاذِكُمُ الْعِجْلَ

“You have certainly oppressed your selves because of taking the calf as your deity.”[i]

 بِاتِّخَاذِكُمُ means  بسبب اتخاذكم(because you took the calf)

  1. المصاحبة Companionship, in the meaning of مع (with), for example: خرج زيدٌ بِعشيرتِه (Zaid came out with his family)
  2. المقابلة Comparison/in exchange:

الباء gives the benefit of its مجرور being in comparison to something else e.g. بِعتُ هذا بِذلك ‘I sold this in exchange for that.’ Allah says:

أُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ اشْتَرَوُا الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالْآخِرَةِ

“Those are the ones who purchased the of this world in exchange of the hereafter.”[ii]

  1. التعدية Making a لازم word (which not in need of a مفعول به) into a متعدي (which is in need of a مفعول به) e.g.ذَهَبَ اللهُ بِنُوْرِهِمْ  “Allah snatches away their light.”[iii] (The verb ذهب was لازم and by الباء coming, it made it متعدي and gave it a مفعول بهe. النور.)
  2. الظرفية Making the مجرور of الباء a place for the فعل to happen g. جلستُ بِالمسجدِ ‘I sat in the masjid,’ (the فعل of siting happened in the masjid.) Allah says:
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وَإِنَّكُمْ لَتَمُرُّونَ عَلَيْهِم مُّصْبِحِينَ وَبِاللَّيْلِ

“You pass by them in the morning and in the nights.”[iv]

(The الباء is in the meaning of في (in).)

  1. زائدة Extra (This entails that the meaning of the sentence will not change with the falling off/dropping of the preposition.)

 الباء being زائد is either قياسي (according to the rules ) or سماعي (heard from the Arabs):

As for قياسي, then sometimes it comes in the خبر of a نفي (negation) e.g. ما زيدٌ بقائمٍ ‘Zaid is not standing,’ or sometimes in a question استفهام e.g. هل زيدٌ بقائمٍ ‘Is Zaid standing?’

As for سماعي, then sometimes it is placed on a word which is مرفوع due to الابتداء ‘starting a sentence,’ e.g.بِحَسْبِك زيدٌ . (Here the الباء is زائد and it came on a word which is مرفوع due to being the مبتدا. Without the الباء, it would read: حَسْبُك زيدٌ.)

Sometimes it is placed on a word which is مرفوع due to being the فاعل e.g. وَكَفىٰ بِاللَّـهِ شَهِيدًا “And sufficient is Allah as Witness.”[v] (Here the الباء is زائد and came on a word which is مرفوع, since Allah is the فاعل. Without the الباء, it would read: كَفىٰ اللَّـهُ.)

Sometimes it is placed on a word which is منصوب by being a مفعول به e.g. أَلْقى بِيدِه ‘He threw his hands,’ (here the الباء is زائد and came on a word which is the مفعول به of ألقى. Without the الباء, it would read: أَلْقى يدَه.) Allah says:

وَلَا تُلْقُوا بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ

“Do not throw your hands into destruction.”[vi]

(The الباء is زائد and the meaning does not change by removing it. أيديكم is the مفعول به of لاتلقوا. Without the الباء, it would read: ولاتلقوا أيديكم.)

[Siʿāyatun Naḥw Pg.211-2 H.1]

[i] Al-Baqarah: 54

[ii] Al-Baqarah: 86

[iii] Al-Baqarah: 17

[iv] Al-Ṣāffāt: 137-138

[v] Al-Fatḥ: 28

[vi] Al-Baqarah: 195

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