Al Najaf, or Najaf..what is "Al"?

Looking at a map I see that a lot of these types of names have been “shortened” in the media. Could somebody please explain what the prefix Al means? How about those others, such as “As”, “An”, “Ar”, and “Ad”. Would this be like TV Iraq calling our cities Orleans, York, Angeles, or Diego…or is this just a minor thing? Well, it might be seen as a minor thing, anyway, in the scheme of things. :smiley:

Tells it all. In short, “Al” means “The.” So does “As,” “An,” “Ar,” and “Ad.” The change up has to do with the first letter of the following word - it’s a grammatical thing.

From my handy Teach Yourself Arabic, a Complete Course for Beginners, by J. R. Smart[sup]1[/sup], I quote the following:

I’ll go ahead and summarize the next part of the same lesson in Smart’s book:

Although the defininte article is always written as al, when it comes before a word which begins with any of the consonants listed below, the l of the article is deleted in pronunciation and the initial letter of the word is doubled.
Please note that DH and dh are different consonants, as Arabic does not have majiscules and miniscules.

[sup]1[/sup]TEACH YOURSELF BOOKS Arabic. J. R. Smart, Lincolnwood (Chicago): NTC/Contemporary Publishing. 1992.
[sup]2[/sup]The ellipsis takes the place of the Arabic letters for the bolded al since I don’t know how to insert those letters on this board.

Thank you very much for the quick responses. Being German, I understand how confusing “the” can get. :slight_smile:

Herrman the German?