Can وَ also express “when”, “with”, or “while”…?
Yes, this is possible.
Such constructions with وَ are often difficult to translate as we need different words in English.This happens in two situations:
- The وَ is a واو الْحال and part of a circumstantial description.
- The وَ is part of a مَفْعُول مَعَهُ, i.e., an object of accompaniment.
1. The Wāw is a واو الْحال.
.سافَرَ زَيْدٌ وَهُوَ طالِبٌ فِي كُلِيّةِ الطِّبِّ إِلَى مِصْرَ.
Zayd traveled to Egypt when he was a student in the Faculty of medicine.
Note: This sentence does not mean: Zayd, who is a student in the faculty of medicine, traveled to Egypt.
If you want to express that, you should use dashes (…- سافَرَ زَيْدٌ – وَهُوَ طالِبٌ).
Some more examples:
.جاءَ الطِّفْلُ وَهُوَ يَبْكِي
The child came crying.
.تَخَرَّجْتُ فِي الْجامِعةِ وَأنا فِي الثّانِيةِ وَالْعِشْرِينَ مِنْ عُمْرِي
I graduated from university when I was 22 years old.
2. The Wāw is part of the مَفْعُول مَعَهُ.
I walked along the river.
.اِسْتَيْقَظْتُ وَأذانَ الْفَجْرِ
I woke up with (at the same time of) the call to prayer.
A Wāw of accompaniment (واو المَعِيّة) can’t share the action with what’s before it.
We know that in our example, the وَ introduces an object which the subject (in our example: I) is doing actions next to. Hence, we call it an object in connection with which something is done (مَفْعُول مَعَهُ).
Nevertheless, the most common application of وَ is to convey the meaning of and (واو الْعطْف). Even if you don’t understand the words in a sentence, you can get closer to the meaning by looking at the cases.
I walked with Zayd.
I and Zayd walked.
Remark: In the book Arabic for Nerds 2, I deal with stuff like that extensively.
Note: This page was last updated on