(2,282 words)

‘Theme’ and ‘rheme’ are terms of the Prague school taken over by various types of functional grammars and by pragmatic sentence analysis. They essentially refer to the two elements that make up an ordinary sentence with a binary structure: the ‘theme’ expresses old, familiar information, while the ‘rheme’ expresses new information (which, from another perspective, can be called ‘focus’). In Anglophone linguistics (including works on the Arabic language), the equivalents are sometimes considered to be ‘topic/comment’ (most often), or ‘theme/predicate’. The terminological pr…

Cite this page
Nadia Anghelescu, “Theme/Rheme”, in: Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Managing Editors Online Edition: Lutz Edzard, Rudolf de Jong. Consulted online on 17 October 2018 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004177024, 20090831

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