FuSHa to Shami 13: Object pronouns

Object pronouns

The object pronouns are pretty similar to fuSHa, especially if you’ve been taught the less literary variants used in many readings of MSA. They are also almost identical to the possessive pronouns:

ana: -ni
inte: -ak/k
inti: -ek/ki
huwwe: -o/h
hiyye: -(h)a
ni7na: -na
intu: -kon, -kum
hinne/hum: -(h)on, -hom

The forms -hom and -kum are only used in Jor/Pal, whilst -hon and -kon are not used in Jordanian. In Syr/Leb, -ha and -hon often lose their h.

-ak/k-ek/ki and -o/h are found in all regions, but have two forms depending on what they are attached to. The first form is used following a consonant: تركتك تركتك تركتو tarakt-ak tarakt-ek tarakt-o. The second form is used following a vowel: بينساك بينساكي بينساه byénsaak byénsaaki byénsaa(h)-h is not pronounced as an h, but has the effect of lengthening the final vowel of the word and shifting the stress: byénsa ‘he forgets’ is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, whilst byénsaa ‘he forgets it’ is stressed on the second syllable.

When suffixes beginning with vowels are added to a verbal form, they can trigger the expected vowel dropping:

بتشربو btéshrbo ‘you drink it’

ضاربو Daarbo ‘I’ve hit it’

Pronoun suffix and la-

Sometimes rather than just using a straightforward verb plus noun an object pronoun attaches to the verb and the object will instead follow la-:

ضربتو لاحمد Darabto la-2a7mad

This can even happen when the direct object is a pronoun:

ضربتو لالو Darabto la-2élo (or just élo)

This construction is sometimes used for emphasis, especially when the object is a pronoun, but often there is no clear reason why it is used as opposed to a simple direct object construction.

The l- suffixes

Completely unlike fuSHa, colloquial has a second set of suffixes derived from لـ ‘to’ which regularly appear attached to verbs and certain other expressions, usually in the meaning of ‘to’ or ‘for’:

ana: -li/élli
inte: -lak/éllak
inti: -lek/éllek
huwwe: -lo/éllo
hiyye: -élha, élla
ni7na: -élna
intu: -élkon, -ilkom
hinne, hum: -éllon, élhon, ilhom

The first four pronouns have alternative forms in -éll- which appear after consonant clusters: تركتلك tarakt-éllak but تركلك tarak-lak. When these four appear with hollow verbs, they (unlike normal object pronouns) cause a shortening of the long vowel:

ykuun-lak > ykén-lak 

bjiib-lak > bjéb-lak biira ‘I’ll get you a beer’

The usage of these pronouns is very wide but it is basically analogous to the additional objects we see in English expressions like ‘I got you a present’ or ‘I told you a story’ or, when the person it references is the same as the subject, as in expressions like ‘get you a guy who can do both’. There are also a large number of verbs (like 2aal ‘say’, da22 ‘ring’ etc) which typically take objects with la- when they are nouns but take these pronominal forms when they are pronouns.

The yaa- forms

As in modern fuSHa it is impossible for a verb to carry two object suffixes at a time. When two object pronouns occur with the same verb, one of them must be carried by a ‘holder’, yaa- (clearly derived from إيّاه in fuSHa):

عطيني ياه ‭3aTiini yaa ‘give me it’

عطيتو ياها ‭3aTeeto yaaha ‘I gave him it’

This is also used to carry object pronouns for a range of ‘semi-verbal’ constructions, most commonly بدي, which already takes attached pronouns to mark its subject:

بدي ياها béddi yaaha ‘I want it’

The -l- series of pronouns can also not, in Shami, coexist with object pronouns. Adding an -l- pronoun to a verb with a direct object pronoun forces the direct object off onto yaa-:

يا ريت تشفلي ياه yaa reet tshéf-li yaa ‘could you please have a look at it for me?’

The yaa forms are also used in conjunction with w- when coordinating pronouns:

منروح انا وياك méruu7 ana wiyyaak ‘you and me will go’

انا وياها ana wiyyaaha ‘me and her’


  1. Chris, While we’re at it, the l- that I just wrote to you about is also used in phrases with object pronouns to name the object, as in shuft-o la-bayy-a ‘I saw her father’. The speculation, reasonable in my opinion, is that this peculiar construction came about through contact with Syriac, which can mark both the direct and indirect objects with la-.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for your kind feedback! As for the la- construction, that does get a mention in a later post, although I didn’t think to mention it in the iDaafe post itself. It might be a good idea

      As for the Syriac influence, that’s also my feeling on it too although this is based on basically no knowledge of Syriac on my part other than that there is an equivalent construction. Doesn’t (didn’t?) some Aramaic dialects double-mark possessors like this too at least at some point?

  2. Chris, I’m just seeing this now, after your reference to it from بقعة ضو discussion. Yes, Syrian is a dialect of Aramaic, and other dialects like Biblical Aramaic utilize double object marking, too.

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