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Arabic Grammar: Al-Nisba Adjectives النسبة

Updated on May 13, 2017

What are al-nisba adjectives?

Al-nisba النسبة adjectives are adjectives of place; as such, these adjectives usually indicate origin or affiliation related to locale (country, institution, etc.). The process of forming a nisba adjective is one of turning a noun (such as a place noun) into an adjective. These nisba adjectives will always carry the suffix ـيّ or ـيّة

For example, with the nisba, we may change the sentence ...

1) My father is from Egypt / والدي من مصر

... into the sentence ...

2) My father is Egyptian / والدي مصريّ

OR we may change the sentence ...

1) My mother is from Palestine / والدتي من فلسطين

... into the sentence ...

2) My mother is Palestinian / والدتي فلسطينيّة

How to form al-nisba adjectives

There are some simple steps you may follow to form the nisba adjective:

Step 1

Remove any of the following characters if they appear at the beginning or end of the noun:

  • الـ
  • ة
  • Final alif (ـا) or yaa-alif (ـيا)

Step 2

Add the appropriate ending:

  • ـيّ for masculine agreement (that is if the adjective is modifying a masculine noun)
  • ـيّة for feminine agreement (that is if the adjective is modifying a feminine noun)


* noun: جامعة ("university")

1) subtract: ـة

  • جامعـ

2) add the proper ending ـيّ \ ـيّة

  • جامعيّ \ جامعيّة

Example sentence: هي طالبة جامعيّة / She is a University student.

* noun: الأردُن ("Jordan")

1) subtract: الـ

  • أردُن

2) add the proper ending ـيّ \ ـيّة

  • أردُنـيّ \ أردُنـيّة

Example sentence: الاستاذ أردُنـيّ / The (male) professor is Jordanian.

* noun: أمريكا ("America")

1) subtract: the final alif (ـا)

  • أمريكـ

2) add the proper ending ـيّ \ ـيّة

  • أمريكيّ \ أمريكيّة

Example sentence: السيارة أمريكيّة / The car is American.

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