There are three uses of the harf لِ li in Arabic:
- With a noun – harf jarr حرف جر: Meaning “for” or “belongs to.” IE لِزيدٍ “for Zaid.” Note that when attached to a pronoun, it will take fatha, IE: لَكَ meaning “for you.”
- With a mazjum (مجزوم) verb it is the laam al-amr (لام الأمر): Meaning “should” or “let.” IE لِيَذْهَبْ “he should go” or “let him go.”
- With a mansub (منصوب) verb it is the lam al-ta’leel (لام التعليل): Means “in order to.” IE in the Glorious Qur’an: (وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ – 51:56) – “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” Here the verb لِيَعْبُدُونِ takes a kasra because there is a hidden ي at the end, which is where the “Me” comes from, but it is still in mansub status.
When the لام is preceded by another harf, such as the faa’ (ف), it becomes saakin. IE فِلْيَنْظُرْ.