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Quranic Grammar - The Circumstantial Accusative (حال)

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The circumstantial accusative in traditional Arabic grammar is known as hāl (حال). A word in this syntactic role describes the circumstances under which an action takes place. The dependent word in the hāl relation will be found in the accusative case manṣūb (منصوب). Often the circumstantial word will be an active participle that depends on a verb, although other non-derived nouns may also be used as with (100:5:3) below:

 (100:5:3)
jamʿan
collectively
 (100:5:2)
bihi
thereby
 (100:5:1)
fawasaṭna
Then penetrate (in the) center
 (100:4:1)
fa-atharna
Then raise

Fig 1. Circumstantial accusative in verse (100:5).

The head word for the circumsantial accusative may also be a pronoun. Verse (4:143) below starts with a circumsantial accusative that refers to an attached subject pronoun in the preceding verse (4:142:13):
 (4:143:3)
dhālika
that,
 (4:143:2)
bayna
between
 (4:143:1)
mudhabdhabīna
Wavering
 (4:142:13)
yurāūna
showing off

Fig 2. Circumstantial accusative in verse (4:143).

According to Salih's al-iʿrāb al-mufaṣṣal (Dar Al-Fikr, Beirut):

حال من واو الجماعة في يراءون الواردة في الآية الكريمة السابقة منصوب بالياء لأنه جمع مذكر سالم

The Circumstantial Accusative with Interrogatives

The word kayfa (كيف) may be used in an interrogative sense and take the position of a circumstantial accusative. In verse (89:6) below, the word (89:6:3) is related to its following verb through a hāl (حال) dependency:

 (89:6:6)
biʿādin
with Aad,
 (89:6:5)
rabbuka
your Lord
 (89:6:4)
faʿala
dealt
 (89:6:3)
kayfa
how
 (89:6:2)
tara
you see
 (89:6:1)
alam
Did not

Fig 3. Circumstantial accusative in verse (89:6).

See Also

Language Research Group
University of Leeds
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