Wrights GrammarW. Wright’s A Grammar of the Arabic Language, commonly known simply as Wright’s Arabic Grammar or Wright’s Grammar, has been the most advanced reference work of Arabic grammar generally available in English since its publication in the mid 19th century.

This work gives English-speaking students of Arabic unparalleled access to the oldest and most reliable reference works of the classical Arab grammarians, such as Ibn Mālik and al-Zamakhsharī.

With its frequent comparisons to Hebrew, Aramaic and other Semitic languages, Wright’s Grammar is not for the faint-hearted. Wright was classically educated, and his work is replete with Latinate terminology like ‘nomina vicis’ (for asmā` al-marrah), ‘nomina speciei’ (for asmā` al-naw’) and ‘nomina instrumenti’ (for asmā` al-ālah).

All of this has unfortunately given Wright’s Arabic Grammar an undeserved reputation of being inaccessible. That simply isn’t the case. The Latin terminology is always explained by Wright, and equivalent Arabic and sometimes also English grammatical terminology is given, and most students can just ignore the references to other languages. It certainly requires some patience, but once you become familiar with Wright’s style of writing, his work provides a fantastic first step to higher Arabic studies of the works of the classical Arab grammarians.

Another problem frequently encountered is the difficulty of following internal references in the book. This is because the book, somewhat confusingly, uses two different reference notations: the indexes at the back refer to the volume number (there are two volumes, each divided into two parts, but they’re usually bound and printed together), page number and paragraph (e.g. ii. 104 A means Volume 2, p104, paragraph A), whereas within the main body of book itself, references are to volume and section (e.g. ii. § 42 means Volume 2, Section 42).

Wright’s Grammar could certainly never be used as a textbook to teach oneself Arabic – it’s not intended for that purpose. But as a reference work, it’s immensely useful. As a final bonus, the first edition is now completely free to download from Google Books, although later editions are cover much more.