Arabic Verb Types

Familiarity with Arabic verb types is important for correct verb conjugation and usage. These types are based on the structure of the verb root, the component letters of the verb root, whether the verb requires a complement, and the tense or time of verb.

Verb Root Structure:

(1) The Simple Verb الفِعْل المُجَرَّد:
These are simple triliteral verbs. Their component letters can include weak letters. Each letter constitutes an integral part of the verb meaning. This kind of verbs make up the bulk verbs in Arabic. Through letter addition, many other related verbs can be derived from them.

(أ) ثُلاثِي:

كَتَبَ ، قَالَ ، فَتَحَ ، دَعَا ، ضَرَبَ ، جَرَى ، فَرِحَ ، وَعَدَ ، حَفِظَ ، صَامَ ، قَطَعَ ، نَسَى ، سَهَا ، شَرِبَ

 

These are simple four-letter verbs. Like the triliteral, each letter is essential for the verb meaning. This kind of verbs is few in Arabic, and they are rarely used.

(ب) رُبَاعِي:

زَلْزَلَ ، بَعْثَرَ ، خَلْخَلَ ، زَخْرَفَ ، وَسْوَسَ ، تَرْجَمَ ، غَرْبَل ، طَأطَأ

(2) The Complex Verb الفِعْلُ المَزِيْد:
These are triliteral complex verbs because their roots comprise only three letters. To the root, a letter, two letters, or three letters are added. This is what makes them complex.

 

The added letters add more meaning to the root; that is, the new meaning is different from that of the root but is still related to it. For example, اِسْتَوْقَفَ is from the root وَقَفَ which means ‘to stop’ while اِسْتَوْقَفَ means ‘to request someone to stop’.

(أ) ثُلاثي:

هَاجَمَ ، اِنْفَعَلَ ، خَمَّنَ ، تَحَدَّثَ ، اِسْتَفْهَمَ ، خَوَّفَ ، اِسْتَقَال ، أَوْجَد ، نَاهَضَ ، اِسْتَوْقَفَ ، اِجْتَمَعَ

·         هَجَمَ: هـ + ا + جَمَ = هَاجَمَ

·         فَعَلَ: اِنْـ + فَعَلَ = اِنْفَعَلَ

·         خَمَنَ: خَمْ + مَ + نَ = خَمَّنَ

·         وَقَفَ: اِسْتَ + وَقَفَ = اِسْتَوْقَفَ

These are four-letter complex verbs because their roots comprise only four letters. A letter or two are added to the root to form new verbs with slightly different meanings.

 

As mentions above, these verbs are few in Arabic, and they are rarely used.

(ب) رُبَاعِي:

تَدَهْوَرَ ، اِطْمَأَنَّ ، تَدَحْرَجَ ، اِقْشَعَرَّ

·         تَـ + دَهْوَرَ = تَدَهْوَرَ

·         ا + طَمْأَنَ + ن = اِطْمَأَنَّ

·         اِ + قَشْعَرَ + ر = اِقْشَعَرَّ

Verb Component Letters:

(1) The Regular Verb الفِعْلُ الصَّحِيْح:
The root of these verbs does not include a weak letter, so they are regular verbs (i.e. their conjugation is regular).

 

A regular verb can be a triliteral verb ثُلاثِي, as in (أ); a four-letter verb رُبَاعِي, as in (ب); a five-letter verb خُمَاسِي, as in (ج), or a six-letter verb سُدَاسِي, as in (د).

 

Note that the verbs شَاهَدَ, قَاتَلَ, and تَقَاتَلَ are regular because their roots are شَهَدَ and قَتَلَ.

(أ) ثُلاثي:  

كَتَبَ ، أَكَلَ ، شَرِبَ ، فَرَّ ، رَسَمَ ، سَأَلَ ، قَرَأَ

(ب) رُبَاعِي:

 أَنْزَلَ ، نَظَّفَ ، شَاهَدَ ، قَاتَلَ

(ج) خُمَاسِي:

اِنْكَسَرَ ، تَحَدَّثَ ، اِجْتَمَع ، تَقَاتَلَ

(د) سُدَاسِي:

اِسْتَغْفَرَ، اِسْتَخْدَم، اِسْتَخرَجَ

(2) The Irregular Verb الفِعْلُ المُعْتَل:
The root of these verbs includes a weak letter (i.e. و ، ا ، ي); therefore, they are irregular (i.e. have irregular conjugation).

 

The irregular verb can be a triliteral verb, as in (أ); a four-letter verb, as in (ب); a five-letter verb, as in (ج); or a six-letter verb, as in (د).

(أ) ثُلاثي:

وَصَلَ ، صَامَ ، رَمَى ، وَعَد ، جَرَى ، قَالَ

(ب) رُبَاعِي:

أَوْصَلَ ، وَاعَدَ ، وَصَّلَ ، قَوَّلَ ، أَقَامَ ، أَضَاعَ

(ج) خُمَاِسِي:

تَوَاضَعَ ، تَكَوَّنَ

(د) سُدَاسِي:

اِسْتَدْعَى ، اِسْتَقَامَ ، اِسْتَدَارَ

Verb Complement:

(1) The Intransitive Verb الفِعْلُ اللَازِم:
These verbs are intransitive because they do not require an object to form a meaningful sentence.

 

These sentences are meaningful without an object مَفْعُول. The are composed of a verb فِعْل followed by a subject فَاعِل.

جَلَسَ ، قَامَ ، وصَلَ ، ذَهَبَ ، حَضَرَ ، نَام ، تَكَلَّمَ ، اِنْكَسَرَ ، عَصَّبَ ، اِسْتَرَاحَ ، اِنْتَظَر ، تَكَاسَلَ

·         جَلَسْتُ I sat

·         اِنْصَرَفَ الأَوْلَاد the boys left

·         نَامَتِ الأُسِرَة the family slept

·         اِنْكَسَرَتِ النَّافِذِة the window broke

·         اِسْتَرَاحَ اللاعِبُون the players rested

·         تَكَاسَل الطَالِب the student slacked

(2) The Transitive Verb الفِعْلُ المُتَعَدِّي:
These verbs require an object مَفْعُول to make a meaningful sentence. They are transitive verbs.

 

 

شَكَرَ ، ضَرَبَ ، فَهَّمَ ، أَعْطَى ، أَحْضَرَ ، اِسْتَدَعَى ، فَتَحَ 

كَلَّمَ ، شَاهَدَ ، أَخْرَجَ ، اِسْتَخْرَجَ

·         شَكَرْتُ الأُسْتَاذ  I thanked the teacher

·         أَخْرَجَتُ الكِتَابَ  – I took out the book

·         فَتَحنَا البَاب we opened the door

·         أَعْطَىَ مُحَمَّد عَلِي كِتَابًا Mo gave Ali a book.

·         تُشَاهَد الأُسْرَة التِّلْفَاز  the family is watching TV

·         ضَرَبَ سَامَ أُخْتَهُ  – Sam hit his sister

Verb Tense:

(1) The Perfective (past) Tense الفِعْلُ المَاضِي:
These verbs are in the perfective (past) form. They express an action that took place in the past.

 

The subject الفَاعِل of these verbs is an attached pronoun which refers to a noun that is stated (in a context) before the verb. For example, with شَاهَدْنَا, the subject is ـنَا, and it refers to more one speaker mention before the verb.

كَتَبَ: (أَنَا ، نَحْنُ ، أَنْتَ ، أَنْتَ ، أَنْتُم ، أَنْتُنَّ ، هُوَ ، هِيَ ، هُم ، هُنَّ)  

كَتَبْتُ ، كَتَبْنَا ، كَتَبْتَ ، كَتَبْتِ ، كَتَبْتُم ، كَتَبْتُنَّ ، كَتَبَ

كَتَبَتْ ، كَتَبُوا ، كَتَبْنَ

قَالَ:

قُلْتُ ، قُلْنَا ، قُلْتَ ، قُلْتِ ، قُلْتُم ، قُلْتُنَّ ، قَالَ ، قَالَتْ

قَالُوا ، قُلْنَ

شَاهَدَ:

شَاهَدتُ ، شَاهَدْنَا ، شَاهَدْتَ ، شَاهَدْتِ ، شَاهَدْتُم

شَاهَدْتُنَّ، شَاهَدَ ، شَاهَدَتْ ، شَاهَدُوا ، شَاهَدْنَ

تَحَدَّثَ:

تَحَدَّتُ ، تَحَدَّثْنَا ، تَحَدَّثْتَ ، تَحَدَّثْتِ ، تَحَدَّثْتُم 

تَحَدَّثْتُنَّ ، تَحَدَّثَ ، تَحَدَّثَتْ ، تَحَدَّثُوا ، تَحَدَّثْنَ

اِسْتَغْفَرَ:

اِسْتَغْفَرْتُ ، اِسْتَغْفَرْنَا ، اِسْتَغْفَرْتَ ، اِسْتَغْفَرْتِ

اِسْتَغْفَرْتُم ، اِسْتَغْفَرْتُنَّ ، اِسْتَغْفَرَ ، اِسْتَغْفَرَتْ

اسْتَغْفَرُوا ، اِسْتَغْفَرْنَ

(1) The Imperfective (present) Tense الفِعْلُ المُضَارِع:
These verbs are in the imperfective (present) form. They express an action in the present or at the time of speaking.

 

 

As explained in previous lessons, the subject الفَاعِل of these verbs an overt attached pronoun or a covert pronoun indicated by the prefix on the verb.

كَتَبَ: (أَنَا ، نَحْنُ ، أَنْتَ ، أَنْتَ ، أَنْتُم ، أَنْتُنَّ ، هُوَ ، هِيَ ، هُم ، هُنَّ)

أَكْتُب ، نَكْتُب ، تَكْتُب ، تَكْتُبِين ، تَكْتُبُون ، تَكْتُبْنَ

يَكْتُب ، تَكْتُب ، يَكْتُبُون ، يَكْتُبْنَ

قَالَ:

أَقُوْل ، نَقُول ، تَقُول ، تَقُوْلِيْن ، تَقُوْلُون ، تَقُلْنَ

يَقُول ، تَقُول ، يُقُولُون ، يَقُلْنَ

شَاهَدَ:

أُشَاهِد ، نُشَاهِد ، تُشَاهِد ، تُشَاهِدِيْن ، تُشَاهِدُون 

تُشَاهِدْنَ ، يُشَاهِد ، تُشَاهِد ، يُشَاهِدُون ، يُشَاهِدْنَ

تَحَدَّثَ:

أَتَحَدَّث ، نَتَحَدَّث ، تَتَحَدَّث ، تَتَحَدَّثِيْن ، تَتَحَدَّثُون 

تَتَحَدَّثْنَ ، يَتَحَدَّث ، تَتَحَدَّث ، تَتَحَدَّثُون ، تَتَحَدَّثْنَ

اِسْتَغْفَرَ:

أَسْتَغْفِرُ ، نَسْتَغْفِرُ ، تَسْتَغْفِرُ ، تَسْتَغْفِرِيْن ، تَسْتَغْفِرُون ،  تَسْتَغْفِرْنَ ، يَسْتَغْفِر ، تَسْتَغْفِر ، يَسْتَغْفِرُون ، يَسْتَغْفِرْنَ  

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