The Basic Past Verbal Sentence in Arabic

The Basic Past Verbal Sentence in Arabic

The basic past verbal sentence in Arabic الْجُمْلَةُ الْفِعْلِيَّةُ الْبَسِيطَة can be a word or a group of words that express a completed action. It starts with a verb فِعْل which is always followed by a subject فَاعِل (i.e. the doer of the action). If the verb is intransitive لَازِم, it and the subject form a complete meaning. If the verb is transitive مُتَعَدِّي, it, besides the subject, requires an object مَفْعُول which completes the meaning of the sentence. So, the basic past verbal sentence in Arabic has two patterns: (1) verb (past/perfective form) + subject and (2) verb (past/perfective form) + subject + object. Both may be followed adverbial phrases of place, time, or manner.

In this lesson, the focus is on the sentences that begin with the perfective (i.e. completed)/past verb الْفِعْلُ الْمَاضِي. The sentences that begin with the imperfective (i.e. uncompleted)/present verb الْفِعْلُ الْمُضَارِع will be explained in the next lesson.

(1) The Intransitive Verb الْفِعْلُ اللَّازِم:

One-word Sentences (verb + subject+[adverbial])

(a) These are one-word sentences because the subject الْفَاعِل is an attached pronoun (in orange).

(b) In (3) and (8), the subject الْفَاعِل is covert مُسْتَتِر, that is هِيَ and هُوَ, respectively.

(c) The verb الْفِعْل and subject الْفَاعِل may be followed by adverbials: (4), (5), and (8).

(d) (m, pl) = masculine plural, (m, s) = masculine singular, (f, s) = feminine singular

(e) The تْ in (3) is a feminine marker (not the subject). 

(1)   خَرَجْتُ  - I went out

(2)   سَافَرْنَا – we travelled

(3)   نَامَتْ – she slept

(4)   جَلَسْنَا فِي غُرْفَةِ الْجُلُوسِ – we sat in the living room

(5)   حَضَرْتُم فِي الْوَقْتِ الْمُنَاسِبِ – you (m, pl) came in time

(6)   تَعِبْتَ – you (m, s) felt tired

(7)   ضَحِكْتِ – you (f, s) laughed

(8)   رَجَعَ عِنْدَ مُنْتَصَفِ اللَّيْلِ – he came back at midnight

Two-word Sentences (verb + subject +[adverbial])

(a) These are two-word sentences (verb + subject – فِعْل + فَاعِل) because the subject الفَاعِل is a noun (i.e. a separate word).

(b) Since the verb الْفِعْل precedes the subject الْفَاعِل, it does not agree with it in number. It agrees with it in gender only, as in (6) and (10). This is indicated by the feminine marker تْ.

(c) The verb الْفِعْل and subject الْفَاعِل may be followed by adverbials (i.e. a prepositional phrase) as in (8), (9), and (10).

(d) A pronoun does not appear separate after verbs. Instead, its corresponding attached pronoun is added to the verb, as you saw with one-word sentences above. So, we can't say جَلَسَ هُوَ, جَلَسَ هُم, رَقَصَتْ هُنَّ ... etc.

(1)   جَلَسَ الرَّجُلُ – the man sat

(2)   قَفَزَ اللَّاعِبُ – the player jumped

(3)   صَاحَتِ الْأُمُّ – the mother screamed

(4)   زَأَرَ الْأَسَدُ ­– the lion roared

(5)   صَفَّقَ النَّاسُ – people clapped

(6)   بَكَتِ الْبَنَاتُ – the girls cried

(7)   فَازَ اللَّاعِبُونَ – the players won

(8)   نَامَ الْمُسَافِرُونَ فِي الْمَطَارِ – the passengers slept in the airport

(9)   جَرَى الْأَوْلَادُ بِسُرْعَةٍ – the boys ran fast

(10)  رَقَصَتِ النِّسَاءُ فِي الْحَفْلَةِ – the women danced in the party

(2) The Transitive Verb الْفِعْلُ الْمُتَعَدِّي:

One-word Sentences (verb + subject + object +[adverbial])

(a) In these sentences, the verb الْفِعْل, the subject الْفَاعِل (in orange), and the object الْمَفْعُول (in green) are combined in one word. That is, subject connected pronouns and object connected pronouns are attached to the verb. Together, they form a one-word complete sentence.

(b) The subject الْفَاعِل may be covert مُسْتَتِر, as in (4) and (5). In (5), the تْ is not a subject; rather, it is the feminine marker.

(c) After the object الْمَفْعُول, an adverbial may be added (in bold), as in (8), (9), (10), and (11).

(d) (m, pl) = masculine plural, (f, sg) = feminine singular, (m, sg) = masculine singular, (f, pl) = feminine plural

(1)   ضَرَبْتُهُ – I hit him

(2)   سَمِعْنَاهَا – we heard her

(3)   قَتَلُوهُ – they (m, pl) killed him

(4)   قَابَلْنَا – he met us

(5)   قَابَلَتْنَا – she met us

(6)   شَجَّعْتُمْهُنَّ – you (m, pl) encouraged them (f, pl)

(7)   زُرْتُمْنَا – you (m, pl) visited us

(8)   دَعَوْتُكِ إِلَى الْعَشَاءِ – I invited you (f, sg) to dinner

(9)   وَعَدْتُمْنِي أَمْسِ – you (m, pl) promised me yesterday

(10)  اِشْتَرَيْنَهَا مِنَ الْيَمَنِ – they (f, pl) bought it from Yemen

(11)  كَتَبْتَهَا بِسُرْعَةٍ – you (m, sg) wrote it fast

Three-word Sentences (verb + subject + object + [adverbial])

(a) In these sentences, the subject الْفَاعِل and the object الْمَفْعُول are separate nouns, hence three-word sentences (verb + subject + object – فِعْل + فَاعِل + مَفْعُول).

(b) When the subject الْفَاعِل is a singular or plural feminine noun, the verb الْفِعْل must agree with it in gender, as in (2), (5), and (9). This is indicated by the تْ.

(c) The object الْمَفْعُول may be followed by an adverbial, as in (6), (7), (9), (10), and (11).

Hence, if the verb الْفِعْل is transitive مُتَعَدِّي, it will require a subject فَاعِل and an object مَفْعُول, so the pattern of the sentence becomes: verb فِعْل + subject فَاعِل + object مَفْعُول. The subject الْفَاعِل and/or the object الْمَفْعُول can be followed by an adjective صِفَة, as in (8) - لَذِيذًا

(1)   شَرِبَ الطِّفْلُ الْحَلِيبَ – the child drank the milk

(2)   نَظَّفَتِ الْأُمُّ الْبَيْتَ – the mother clean the house

(3)   شَاهدَ اللَّاعِبُونَ الْمُبَارَاةَ – the players watched the match

(4)   دَرَسَ خَالِدٌ الرِّيَاضِيَّاتَ – Khalid studies math

(5)   عَالَجَتِ الْمُمَرِّضَاتُ الْمَرْضَى – the nurses treated the patients.

(6)   ضَرَبَ عَلِيٌّ أُخْتَهُ بَالْعَصَا – Ali hit his sister with a stick

(7)   تَنَاوَلَ الْمُدَرِّسُونَ الْغَدَاءَ هُنَا – the teacher had lunch here

(8)   شَرِبَ الطُّلَّابُ عَصِيرًا لَذِيذًا – the students drank delicious juice

(9)   شَاهَدَتِ الْأُسَرَةُ فِيلْمًا عَنِ الْيَمَنِ – the family watched a film about Yemen

(10)  كَتَبَ سَامِي رِسَالَةً إِلَى صَدِيْقِهِ – Sami wrote a letter to his friend

(11)  تَكَلَّمَ نَاصِرٌ الْإِسْبَانِيَّةَ بِطَلَاقَةٍ – Nasser spoke Spanish fluently

Arabic leaner
Please fix this so it doesn't confuse the learner. In the chart you show the subject with blue colour and the object with orange, but in transitive verb explanation the colour code is the opposite. Thank you for your wonderful lessons. Keep up the good work.
Beautiful explanation, God bless you

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