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  Arabic Online

ARABIC ONLINE

        اللّغة العربيّة    

Arabic Online

 

• Welcome!

• Viewing Arabic Texts

• Introduction

• Alphabet

• Pronunciation
• Words
• Vowels
• Reading out

• Accent and Stress

• Rules of Pause

• Writing of Letter 'alif

• Roots

• Root Extraction

• Nouns

• Irregular Nouns

• Declension

• Noun Gender

• Feminine Markers

• Singular Nouns

• Dual Nouns

• Plural Nouns EDITED

• Masculine Plural Nouns EDITED

• Feminine Plural Nouns

• Irregular Plural Nouns
• Articles

• Case Inflection

• Case Endings

• The Six Nouns

• Noonation

• Adjectives

• Genitive Construction

• Am/Is/Are Sentences

• Verbs

• Irregular Verbs

• Verb Forms

• Perfective Verbs

• Perfective Conjugation

• Irregular Perfective Conjugation

• Imperfective Verbs

• Imperfective Conjugation

• Irregular Imperfective Conjugation

• Moods

• Subjunctive Mood

• Jussive Mood

• Mood Signs

• Energetic Mood

• Imperative Mood

• Passive Voice

• Passive Perfective Verbs

• Passive Imperfective Verbs

• Passive of Irregular Verbs

• Subject Pronouns

• Object Pronouns

• Demonstratives

• Relative Pronouns

• Sentences

• To Have

• Incomplete Verbs

• Frozen Verbs

• Verb-Like Particles

• Negation

• Present Negative

• Past Negative

• Future Negative

• Negation+Exclusion Style

• Interrogation

• Yes/No Questions

• Interrogative Pronouns

• Polite Request

• Introductory Particles

• Infinitival/Indefinite maa

• Prepositions

• Conjunctions

• Adverbs

• Inactive Particles

• Ablative Particles

• Vocative Particles

• Exclamatory Style

• Praise & Disparagement

• Derived Nouns

• Verbal Nouns

• Active Participles

• Passive Participles

• Participle-like Adjectives

• Comparatives

• Place-nouns

• Time-nouns

• Tool-nouns

• Attributives

• Diminutives

• Vocabulary

• Dialects

• Survival Phrases

• History & Culture

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Verbs

 

Tense

Verb

Simple Past

Perfective

Simple Present

Imperfective

Simple Future

 

Just like every other word in Arabic barring the particles, verbs are based on roots. Roots will be plugged into verbal structures to create verbs of different tenses and aspects.

The major two categories of verbal structures in Arabic are the perfective and the imperfective. The imperfective is used for both the simple present and simple future tenses, and the perfective is used for the simple past tense.

Imperfective verbs have different moods. There are five moods, four of which (the indicative, subjunctive, jussive, and energetic) share one structure but with different endings. The fifth mood, the imperative, has its own distinct structure. Perfective verbs have only one mood; but this mood has two different functions. It can be either indicative or subjunctive depending on the sentence. The subjunctive perfective verbs can be used for all tenses not only the past.

 

Verb

Moods

Perfective

(Past)

Indicative/subjunctive

Imperfective

(Present/Future)

Indicative

Subjunctive

Jussive

Energetic

Imperative

 

Perfective and imperfective verbs have also active and passive voices. We will cover the passive voice right after we finish with the active voice.

 

 

Perfective Structures

 

Triliteral Roots-Basic Structures

 

It is better in Arabic to begin by describing the past (perfective) verbs, because these are the simplest forms.

 

The majority of Arabic verbs have roots consisting of three letters. Some verbs have four-lettered-roots, but there are no verbs with more than four letters to their roots.

 

We will begin by talking about the structures of triliteral roots. Without adding any additional letters to them, triliteral roots can be structured in 3 different ways to give the three basic structures of perfective verbs in Arabic:

 

Basic Structures of Perfective Verb

(Active Voice)

(He) did

 (He) has done

fa"al(a)

فَعَلَ

fa"il(a)

فَعِلَ

fa"ul(a)

فَعُلَ

The perfective verb alone can mean either the simple past tense "(he) did" or the perfect present "(he) has done." Verb structures in Semitic languages are usually presented in the 3rd person singular masculine conjugation "(he) did" because this is the simplest and most basic form. It should be noted that there is no pronoun "it" in Arabic, so verbs conjugated in the "he" conjugation may also be referring to an "it" (i.e. an object/animal).

The blue letters are the root letters. Most of the roots are plugged into only one of the three structures, but some roots can be plugged into more than one. These three structures are called in western terms the "form I" of Arabic verbs, or the G-stem (G for "ground"). The difference between the three structures lies in the short vowel between the final two letters colored in green.

The three structures all express the same general meaning, which is "(he) did" or "(he) has done." However, there is a difference between the three in regard to "what" he actually did or has done.

 

1) Fa"al(a)

 

The first structure, fa"al(a), is generally a "dynamic" or "active" structure. It usually indicates a real action on the part of the subject that occurs over a period of time, like e.g. "(he) wrote," "(he) read," or "(he) ate."

 

Dynamic Verbs

(He) wrote

(He) has written

katab(a)

كَتَبَ

(He) read

(He) has read

qara'(a)

قَرَأَ

(He) ate

(He) has eaten

'akal(a)

أَكَلَ

(He) asked

(He) has asked

sa'al(a)

سَأَلَ

(He) made

(He) has made

sana"(a)

صَنَعَ

(He) went

(He) has gone

thahab(a)

ذَهَبَ

 

2) Fa"il(a)

The second structure, fa"il(a), is generally a "stative" structure. Rather than indicating real actions that occur over time, this structure usually refers to the state of the subject, e.g. "(he) knew," "(he) became tired," or "(he) became happy."

Stative Verbs

(He) knew

(He) has known

"alim(a)

عَلِمَ

(He) understood

(He) has understood

fahim(a)

فَهِمَ

(He) became tired

(He) has become tired

ta"ib(a)

تَعِبَ

(He) became happy

(He) has become happy

farih(a)

فَرِحَ

(He) became angry

(He) has become angry

radib(a)

غَضِبَ

(He) was safe

(He) has been safe

salim(a)

سَلِمَ

These verbs do not indicate real actions. You don't actually do something when you "know."

The stative verb "to know" can indicate two things:

  • It can indicate the simple being in the state of knowing.

  • It can indicate becoming in the state of knowing; or in other words, it can indicate changing from the state of unknowing into the state of knowing.

Thus, stative verbs can indicate either being something or becoming something. Most of the stative fa"il(a) verbs will primarily indicate the second meaning, i.e. "(he) became something." A few number of them will indicate "(he) was something" as a primary meaning.

 

Irregularities

The dynamic vs. stative distinction between fa"al(a) and fa"il(a) is a general rule but is not always true. There are verbs of the first structure that are stative, and vice versa.

Examples:

(He) knew

(He) has known

"araf(a)

عَرَفَ

(He) owned

(He) has owned

malak(a)

مَلَكَ

(He) worked

(He) has worked

"amil(a)

عَمِلَ

(He) drank

(He) has drunk

sharib(a)

شَرِبَ

(He) laughed

(He) has laughed

dahik(a)

ضَحِكَ

The primary reason for these irregularities is probably because the original meanings of the verbs were different. For example, the original meaning of the root ع ر ف is related to "succession" or "flowing." Also, the verb sharib(a), if understood literally, means "(he) became soaked."

 

3) Fa"ul(a)

The third structure, fa"ul(a), is a pure stative structure. It is always stative without irregularities, and unlike the previous one, the primary meaning of this structure in Classical Arabic is always "(he) was something" rather than "(he) became something."

Stative Verbs

(He) was small

(He) has been small

(He) became small(er)

(He) has become small(er)

sarur(a)

صَغُرَ

(He) was big

(He) has been big

(He) became big(ger)

(He) has become big(ger)

kabur(a)

كَبُرَ

(He) was easy

(He) has been easy

(He) became easy(er)

(He) has become easy(er)

sahul(a)

سَهُلَ

(He) was hard

(He) has been hard

(He) became hard(er)

(He) has become hard(er)

sa"ub(a)

صَعُبَ

Remember that "he" can also mean "it" in Arabic. The meaning "(he) has been"  colored in purple is the commonly meant one in Classical Arabic.

This structure is less common than the previous one. A main difference between the two is that this structure is usually used for simple attributes like "small," "easy," "tall," "good," "slow," "honorable," etc. Whereas the previous structure is generally used for more real states like "angry," "tired," "safe," "knowing," "forgetting," "saturated," etc.

Unlike the previous two structures, fa"ul(a) verbs are always intransitive verbs.

 

Notes

Transitive verb: a verb that can take a direct object.

e.g. he bought a book.

Intransitive verb: a verb that cannot take a direct object.

e.g. he slept (he can't "sleep something").

 

A summary of the structures we have talked about so far:

Form I of Arabic Verbs

(Active Voice)

Dynamic

(He) did

fa"al(a)

Transitive / intransitive

فَعَلَ

Stative

(He) became something

(primary meaning)

 

(He) was something

(secondary meaning)

 

fa"il(a)

Transitive / intransitive

فَعِلَ

Stative

(He) was something

(primary meaning in Classical Arabic)

(He) became something

fa"ul(a)

Intransitive

فَعُلَ

 

 

Pronominal Suffixes

So far we have been dealing only with the 3rd person singular masculine conjugation of the perfective verb "(he) did." This is the basic conjugation of verbs in Arabic.

In order to get the rest of the conjugations, we will add endings, or suffixes, to this basic form.

Here is the full conjugation scheme:

 

الْمَاْضِيْ Perfective  // ف ع ل Root

(Form I, Active Voice)

S

I

N

G

U

L

A

R

(I) did

fa"alt(u)

فَعَلْتُ

(You masc.) did

fa"alt(a)

فَعَلْتَ

(You fem.) did

fa"alti*

فَعَلْتِ

(He) did

fa"al(a)

فَعَلَ

(She) did

fa"alat

فَعَلَتْ

D

U

A

L

(You) did

fa"altumaa

فَعَلْتُمَاْ

(They masc.) did

fa"alaa

فَعَلا

(They fem.) did

fa"alataa

فَعَلَتَاْ

P

L

U

R

A

L

(We dual/plu.) did

fa"alnaa

فَعَلْنَاْ

(You masc.) did

fa"altum*

فَعَلْتُمْ*

(You fem.) did

fa"altunn(a)

فَعَلْتُنَّ

(They masc.) did

fa"aloo

فَعَلُوْا*

(They fem.) did

fa"aln(a)

فَعَلْنَ

*In perfect classical Arabic this would be fa"alt(i), but this is too perfect for our time.

*Another possibility in classical Arabic is:  fa"altum(u)   فَعَلْتُمُ.

*Theا   in  ــواis silent.

The red endings are considered in Arabic grammar subjects of the verbs to which they are attached. A subject of a verb refers to who did (active verb) or who received (passive verb) the action denoted by the verb.

The suffixes are called the "attached subject pronouns." This idea is important in Arabic grammar and has its implications when forming verbal sentences, as will be covered later.

However, the 3rd person singular endings, both the masculine and feminine (he & she), are the only endings that are not considered attached subject pronouns.

Conjugation of 3rd Person Singular Perfective Verbs

Masculine

(She) did / has done

Masculine

(He) did / has done

fa"alat

فَعَلَتْ

fa"al(a)

فَعَلَ

fa"ilat

فَعِلَتْ

fa"il(a)

فَعِلَ

fa"ulat

فَعُلَتْ

fa"ul(a)

فَعُلَ

 

The final -a of the masculine conjugation is not a pronoun. The -t at the end of the feminine conjugation is a feminine marker called "still feminine taa'< تَاْءُ التَأْنِيثِ السَّاكِنَةُ ."  Unlike the feminine taa'< attached to nouns, this one is always pronounced, hence the different figure in writing.

 

The fact that these two are not attached pronouns is important when making verbal sentences. Verbal sentences are the principal type of sentences in formal Arabic. In such sentences, the verb comes before the subject:

 

Nominal Sentence Verbal Sentence

The boys want to play

Want the boys to play

The woman was here

Was the woman here

An important rule regarding the formation of verbal sentences is the following:

When a perfective verb ending with a 3rd person attached subject pronoun is used in a verbal sentence (i.e. precedes its subject), the attached pronoun must be removed and replaced with -a for the masculine subject and -at for the feminine subject unless the subject is a separate pronoun.

More details about verbal sentences are available on this page.

 

The conjugation technique is the same for every perfective verb in Arabic. However, irregular verbs have irregular conjugation rules. Irregular verbs include doubled verbs; the verbs that end with a repeated letter, and weak verbs; the verbs whose roots include weak letters (w or y). Conjugation of irregular verbs will be explained soon.

The regular verbs are also called sound verbs. Example on the conjugation of a regular verb:

عَرَفَ

"araf(a)

 (he) knew, became acquainted with

(used for "being familiar with people, things, etc.," equivalent to the French connaξtre )

 

 

الْمَاْضِيْ Perfective  // ع ر ف Root

(Form I, Active Voice)

S

I

N

G

U

L

A

R

(I) knew

"araft(u)

عَرَفْتُ

(You masc.) knew

"araft(a)

عَرَفْتَ

(You fem.) knew

"arafti

عَرَفْتِ

(He) knew

"araf(a)

عَرَفَ

(She) knew

"arafat

عَرَفَتْ

D

U

A

L

(You) knew

"araftumaa

عَرَفْتُمَاْ

(They masc.) knew

"arafaa

عَرَفَاْ

(They fem.) knew

"arafataa

عَرَفَتَاْ

P

L

U

R

A

L

(We dual/plu.) knew

"arafnaa

عَرَفْنَاْ

(You masc.) knew

"araftum

عَرَفْتُمْ

(You fem.) knew

"araftunn(a)

عَرَفْتُنَّ

(They masc.) knew

"arafoo

عَرَفُوْا

(They fem.) knew

"arafn(a)

عَرَفْنَ

*A group of males and females will be referred to as a group of males. An unspecified or unknown gender will be referred to as male.

 

 

Exercise

 

(He) heard

سَمِعَ

(He) was/became bigger

كَبُرَ

 

Based on these two verbs, can you translate the following to Arabic?

(you need not to translate the pronouns in parenthesis)

 

(I) heard

(We) heard

(They dual fem.) heard

(They plu. fem.)  heard

(She) became bigger

(You plu. masc.) became bigger

(They plu. masc.) became bigger

(You plu. fem.) became bigger

(You sing. masc.) became bigger

(They dual masc.) became bigger

(You dual) became bigger

(You sing. fem.) became bigger

 

Answers

 

(I) heard

سَمِعْتُ

(We) heard

سَمِعْنَاْ

(They dual fem.) heard

سَمِعَتَاْ

(They plu. fem.)  heard

سَمِعْنَ

(She) became bigger

كَبُرَتْ

(You plu. masc.) became bigger

كَبُرْتُمْ

(They plu. masc.) became bigger

كَبُرُوْا

(You plu. fem.) became bigger

كَبُرْتُنَّ

(You sing. masc.) became bigger

كَبُرْتَ

(They dual masc.) became bigger

كَبُرَاْ

(You dual) became bigger

كَبُرْتُمَاْ

(You sing. fem.) became bigger

كَبُرْتِ

 

 

 

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