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Quranic Grammar - The Particle inna (ان واخواتها)


The particle inna (ان) is known as an accusative particle (حرف نصب) because of its effect on the case ending of its subject. Like the verb kāna (كان), an accusative particle will take a subject and a predicate although with different case endings. Because of this similarity, these particles are considered to be verb-like (حرف مشبه بالفعل). Figure below 1 lists the group of accusative particles known as inna and her sisters (ان واخواتها).

Accusative Particle Arabic Translation*
inna إِنَّ indeed
anna أَنَّ that
laʿalla لَعَلَّ so that
lākinna لٰكِنَّ but
ka-anna كَأَنَّ as if
layta لَيْتَ wish

Fig 1. The accusative particle inna and related particles.
* precise meaning depends on context (see translation accuracy).

An accusative particle accepts a subject and a predicate through dependencies called ism inna (اسم ان) and khabar inna (خبر ان). The subject ism inna is always in the accusative case manṣūb (منصوب), and the predicate khabar inna is always in the nominative case marfūʿ  (مرفوع). The dependency graph for verse (100:6) below shows links for ism inna and khabar inna, with an accusative subject:

(is) surely ungrateful.
to his Lord,

Fig 2. The particle inna in verse (100:6).

Negative Particles Acting Like anna

The negative particle (لا) can behave like the accusative particle anna (أن). In this construction, the negative particle will take a subject and predicate, with the subject in the accusative case manṣūb (منصوب), An example may be found in verse (75:11):


(There is) no
By no means!

Fig 3. The particle in verse (75:11) with its accusative subject.

Preventive Particles

The preventive particle (ما) may come after an accusative particle to form a compound known as kāfa wa makfūfa (كافة ومكفوفة). In this construction, the accusative particle is prevented from modifying any case endings in the sentence. An example may be found in verse (79:13):

(will be) a shout
Then only

Fig 4. Preventive in verse (79:13).

See Also

Language Research Group
University of Leeds