I am trying to count Arabic words in some verses in Quran. What is the universal rule to seperate words in Arabic, particularly in Arabic used in Quran?

My computer program uses empty character to seperate and count them. Is that correct?

For example is this "va huva" one word or two words in 9:129?



  • 1
    Is the definite article a separate word from what follows, or not? You have to first decide on the linguistic criteria for wordhood. – user6726 Nov 27 '19 at 5:42
  • I want to know the general rule in Arabic. I cannot decide any criteria as I am looking to learn the criteria in general already. – entropy Nov 27 '19 at 7:22
  • First determine what constitutes a word. For example, "El Salvador" is a word, right? since it's the name of a country. but the word-count on a word processor will count it as two because there's a space. This site is a about linguistics. It may be surprising, but there's no linguistic consensus on what a word actually is. – OmarL Nov 27 '19 at 9:13

According to traditional Arabic grammar a word (kalima) consists of at least two letters. wa و is thus not a “word” but a “letter” (ḥarf). You should not leave a space after the first و in وهو and you should not split this over two lines. Similarly, the article ال is always connected with the next word and does not count as a separate word. Of course, this is all just convention.

PS. The computer font used by this site leaves too much space between the first two letters of وهو. This is a software problem.

  • Is it correct then to count words in Quran's Arabic as separate words if there are "emtyp space character" like this " ". Because my computer does so and I am not sure if this is thw universal rule in Arabic language. – entropy Nov 27 '19 at 17:54
  • That is probably correct, but I am not an expert on computers. – fdb Nov 27 '19 at 18:17
  • I am looking for answer with respect to Arabic language rules in general. It is not about computers. If the "empty space character" is the criteria to separate the words in Arabic in general, then that is fine. But is it? – entropy Nov 27 '19 at 18:21
  • 1
    In classical Arabic manuscripts there are actually no spaces between words; the word boundaries are visible from the use of the non-connecting letter forms. But if I am typing on my keyboard I have to press the space bar at the end of every word. Otherwise the computer will not know that it needs to use the non-connecting forms. So yes, the empty space character does mark the end of a word. – fdb Nov 27 '19 at 18:28
  • But I have to say that most printed Qur'ans are reproduced from a hand-written text, so I am not sure how you are going to see any empty space character. – fdb Nov 27 '19 at 18:32

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