As far as I understand, according to the conventional grammar of Hebrew (and likely other Semitic languages), the definite article is typically only be attached to common nouns, but not to proper nouns. Yet, there are cases where it is even attached to a proper noun, like the Biblical word ha-bashan ("the Bashan") refers to a placename. Similarly, the Talmud (Bava Batra 109b) explains that ha-levi (Jud. 17:13) refers to the man named Levi, and the Talmud (Chullin 5a) also entertains that ha-orvim (I Kgs. 17:6) means "[the two men named] Orvim [or Orev]" -- in both cases, the definite article is applied to a given name, which seems contrary to the conventional understanding of Hebrew grammar.

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In Arabic all proper nouns are determined, but some take the definite article al-, and some do not. For example you say miṣr “Egypt”, but al-ˁirāq. There is no logic to this; it is lexicalised. Some personal names are used both with and without the article, e.g. ḥasan or al-ḥasan. Also, you have things like muḥammad (no article), but al-muḥammadũna fī t-tārīkh “the Muhammads in history”, that is: “the various men called Muhammad”, just as one can say “the Clintons” in English.

  • So you're answering that there is no rule? Jul 15, 2023 at 18:22
  • So it seems....
    – fdb
    Jul 15, 2023 at 19:43

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