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Types of ما and Their Translations

The particle ما can be used in many ways. They are listed as below.

مَا النَّافِيَة

This is used to create a negative meaning. It can be used in جملة إسمية and جملة فعلية. This can be translated in different ways.

An example of جملة إسمية is:

﴿مَا هَذَا بَشَرًا﴾

He is not a human being.

In جملة فعلية it can come on الماضي, this is more common, and on المضارع as well.

﴿وَمَا قَتَلُوهُ وَمَا صَلَبُوهُ﴾

They did not kill him, nor crucify him.

﴿وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي﴾

And I do not absolve my inner self of blame.

When ما comes on a مضارع, the مضارع can only be in the meaning of present. It cannot be in the meaning of future.

مَا الْإِسْفْهَامِيَّةُ

This is used to ask a question. It can be used in جملة إسمية and جملة فعلية. This is usually translated as what.

﴿وَمَا تِلْكَ بِيَمِينِكَ﴾

What is in your right hand?”

﴿مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ بَعْدِي﴾

What will you worship after me?”

مَا الْمَوْصُوْلَةُ

This is used to allow a sentence to become a part of the main sentence.

﴿لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ ۝ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ ۝ وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَا عَبَدْتُمْ﴾

I do not worship that which you worship, nor do you worship the One whom I worship. 1 (3) And neither I am going to worship that which you have worshipped,

مَا الشَّرْطِيَّةُ

This is followed by two sentences and both commence with a الفعل المضارع. Both will be in the state of جزم. The ما الشرطية is usually followed by a من بيانية which clarifies what is meant by the ما الشرطية.

﴿وَمَا تُقَدِّمُوا لِأَنْفُسِكُمْ مِنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ﴾

Whatever good you send forth for yourselves, you will find it with Allah.

ما لِتَوْكِيْدِ مَعْنَى الشَّرْطِ

This ما comes after the particle إذا. It creates emphasis in the meaning of إذا. This is not usually reflected in translation.

﴿إِذَا مَا أَتَوْكَ لِتَحْمِلَهُمْ قُلْتَ لَا أَجِدُ مَا أَحْمِلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ﴾

When they came to you so that you might provide them with a carrier you said “I find no carrier to give to you.”

مَا الْمَصْدَرِيَّةُ

This comes before a فعل. This is very similar to ما الموصولة. There is however a difference. The موصولة refers to a noun, whilst the مصدرية refers to an action. In simpler less technical terms we could say the صلة of موصولة is a noun and the صلة of the مصدرية is a verb.

﴿فَصَبَرُوا عَلَى مَا كُذِّبُوا﴾

They stood patient against their rejection.

مَا النَّكِرَةُ الْمَوْصُوْفَةُ

This is a very rare form of ما. It is brought after a نكرة word to emphasize its vagueness.

﴿ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي أَنْ يَضْرِبَ مَثَلًا مَا

Allah does not feel shy in citing any parable.

مَا الْكَافَّةُ

This comes after various حروف. It changes the meaning and/or the grammatical function of that particle.

﴿إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ﴾

﴿ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا﴾

﴿فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّمَا يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ أَنْ...﴾

﴿رُبَمَا يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَوْ كَانُوا مُسْلِمِينَ﴾

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