The Basic Past Verbal Sentence

The Basic Past Verbal Sentences

The basic past verbal sentence in Arabic الجُمْلَة الفِعْلِيَّة [al-jumlah al-fi‘liiyah] can be a word or a group of words that express a complete action. It starts with a verb فِعْل [fi‘l] which is always followed by a subject فَاعِل [faa‘il] (i.e. the doer of the action). If the verb is intransitive لَازِم [laazim], it with the subject forms a complete meaning. If the verb is transitive مُتَعَدِّي [muta‘addii], it, besides the subject, requires an object مَفْعُول [maf‘uul] which completes the meaning of the sentence. So, the basic Arabic verbal sentence can be: (1) verb + subject or (2) verb + subject + object. Both may be followed adverbial phrases of place, time, or manner.

The Basic Past Verbal Sentence 

In this lesson, the focus is on sentences that begin with the perfective (past) verb الفِعْلُ المَاضِي [al-fi‘l al-maaDHii]. Sentences that begin with the imperfective (present) verb الفِعْلُ المُضَارِع [al-fi‘l al-muDHaari‘] will be explained in the next lesson.

(1) Intransitive Verb الفِعْلُ اللَّازِم:

One-word Sentences (verb + subject)

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

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

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

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

(1)   خَرَجْــتُ  - I went out

(2)   سَافَرْنَا – we travelled

(3)   نَامَتْ – she slept

(4)   جَلَسْــنَا فِي غُرْفَة الجُلُوس – we sat in the living room

(5)   حَضَرْتُم فِي الوَقْت المُنَاسِب – you (m, pl) came in time

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

(7)   ضَحِكْــتِ – you (f, s) laughed

(8)   رَجَعَ مُنْتَصَف اللَّيْل – he came back at midnight

Two-word Sentences (verb + subject)

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

b)      Since the verb الفِعْل precedes the subject, 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 الفِعْل and subject الفَاعِل may be followed by adverbials as in (8) and (9).

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.

(1)   جَلَسَ الرَّجُل – the man sat

(2)   قَفَزَ اللَّاعِب – the player jumped

(3)   صَاحَتْ الأُم – the mother screamed

(4)   زَأَرَ الأَسَد ­– the lion roar

(5)   صَفَّقَ النَّاس – people clapped.

(6)   بَكَتْ البَنَات – the girls cried

(7)   فَازَ اللَّاعِبُون – the players won

(8)   نَامَ المُسَافِرُون فِي المَطَار – the passengers slept in the airport

(9)   جَرَى الأَوْلَاد بِسُرْعَة – the boys ran fast

(10)  رَقَصَتْ النِسَّاء فِي حَفْلَة الزَّفَاف– the women danced in the wedding party

(2) Transitive Verb الفِعْلُ المُتَعَدِّي:

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

a)      In these sentences, the verb الفِعْل, the subject الفَاعِل (in orange), and the object المَفْعُول (in blue) are combined in one word. That is, one-word represents a complete sentence.

b)      The subject الفَاعِل 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 المَفْعُول, an adverbial may be added, as in (8), (9), (10), and (11).

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

(1)   ضَرَبَـتْــهُ – she beat him

(2)   سَمِعْـتُــهَا – I heard her

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

(4)   قَابَلَــنَا – he met us

(5)   قَابَلَتْــنَا – she met us

(6)   شَجَّعْــتُمــهُنَّ – you (m, pl) encouraged them - f, pl

(7)   زُرْتُمــنَا – you visited us

(8)   دَعَوْتُــكَ إِلَى العَشَاء – I invited you (m, s) to dinner

(9)   وَعَدْتُمْــنــي أَمْس – you (m, pl) promised me yesterday

(10)  اِشْتَرِيْــنَــهَا مِنَ اليَمَن – they (f, pl) bought it from Yemen

(11)  كَتَبْــتَــهَا بِسُرْعَة – you (m, s) wrote it fast

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

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

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

c)      The object المَفْعُول may be followed by an adverbial, as in (6), (7), (8), (10), and (11).

(1)   شَرِبَ الطِّفْل الحَلِيْب – the child drank the milk.

(2)   نَظَّفَتْ الأُم البَيْت – the mother clean the house

(3)   شَاهدَ اللَّاعِبُون المُبَارَاة – the players watched the match

(4)   دَرَسَ خَالِد الرِّيَاضِيَّات – Khalid studies math

(5)   عَالَجَتْ المُمَرِّضَات المَرْضَى – the nurses treated the patients.

(6)   ضَرَبَ عَلِي أُخْتَهُ بَالعَصَا – Ali hit his sister with a stick

(7)   تَنَاولَ المُدَرِّسُون الغَدَاء فِي مَطْعَم – the teacher had lunch in a restaurant

(8)   شَرِبَ الطُّلاب قَهْوَة بَعْد المُحَاضَرَة – the students drank coffee after the lecture

(9)   شَاهَدَتْ الأُسَرَة فِلْمًا عَنْ اليَمَن – the family watched a film about Yemen

(10)  كَتَبَ سَامِي رِسَالَة إِلَى صَدِيْقِه – Sami wrote a letter to his friend

(11)  تَكَلَّمَ نَاصِر الإِسْبَانِيَّة بِطَلَاقَة – 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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