Arabic verbs are noted for an unusual system of derivation. From any particular root various verb stems may be formed. Western scholars usually refer to these derivations as “form I”, “form II”, ... up through “form XV,” though these designations are not used indigenously, where they are referred to by derivations from the root ف ع ل (f-ʕ-l). Accordingly, form I would be فَعَلَ (faʕala), form II would be فَعَّلَ (faʕʕala), etc. These forms refer to triliteral roots (those made of three consonants). There are also quadriliteral roots, made up of four consonants, which come in four forms, “form Iq”, “form IIq”, “form IIIq” and “form IVq”. Triliteral forms XI through XV and quadriliteral forms IIIq and IVq are rare and tend to be intransitive, often stative, verbs (having the meaning “to be or become X” where X is an adjective).
These forms and their associated participles and verbal nouns are the primary means of forming vocabulary in Arabic. All of the examples shown here are the citation forms, which in Arabic means the 3rd-person masculine singular perfect (e.g., “he did”, “he wrote”).
Perfective فَعَلَ (faʕala), فَعِلَ (faʕila), فَعُلَ (faʕula), imperfective يَفْعَلُ (yafʕalu), يَفْعِلُ (yafʕilu), يَفْعُلُ (yafʕulu), active participle فَاعِل (fāʕil), passive participle مَفْعُول (mafʕūl), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَلْ (ifʕal), اِفْعِلْ (ifʕil), اُفْعُلْ (ufʕul)
- قَتَلَ (qatala, “to kill”, literally “he killed”)
- سَلِمَ (salima, “to be safe”, literally “he was safe”)
- ضَحِكَ (ḍaḥika, “to laugh”, literally “he laughed”)
- حَبَّ (ḥabba, “to love”, literally “he loved”)
When the middle vowel of the perfective is a, the middle vowel of the imperfective may be a, i, or u. When the perfective vowel is i, the imperfective vowel is usually a; when the perfective vowel is u, the imperfective vowel is also u.
|a||u||كَتَبَ (kataba)||يَكْتُبُ (yaktubu)||to write|
|i||غَسَلَ (ḡasala)||يَغْسِلُ (yaḡsilu)||to wash|
|a||ذَهَبَ (ḏahaba)||يَذْهَبُ (yaḏhabu)||to go|
|i||a||شَرِبَ (šariba)||يَشْرَبُ (yašrabu)||to drink|
|i||وَثِقَ (waṯiqa)||يَثِقُ (yaṯiqu)||to trust|
|u||u||كَرُمَ (karuma)||يَكْرُمُ (yakrumu)||to be generous|
- See also: Category:Arabic form-I verbs
Perfective فَعَّلَ (faʕʕala), imperfective يُفَعِّلُ (yufaʕʕilu), verbal noun generally تَفْعِيل (tafʕīl), in weak verbs necessarily and final-hamzated verbs facultatively تَفْعِلَة (tafʕila), with geminate verbs sometimes تَفْعَال (tafʕāl), in rare historical cases a فِعَّال (fiʕʕāl) verbal noun exists, active participle مُفَعِّل (mufaʕʕil), passive participle مُفَعَّل (mufaʕʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) فَعِّلْ (faʕʕil)
- كَتَّبَ (kattaba, “to cause to write”, causative)
- قَتَّلَ (qattala, “to massacre”, intensive)
- كَبَّرَ (kabbara, “to make big”, causative)
- مَرَّضَ (marraḍa, “to nurse the sick”, negative)
It is frequently used as a denominative formation to convert nouns or adjectives into verbs.
- See also: Category:Arabic form-II verbs
Perfective فَاعَلَ (fāʕala), imperfective يُفَاعِلُ (yufāʕilu), verbal noun مُفَاعَلَة (mufāʕala) or: فِعَال (fiʕāl) active participle مُفَاعِل (mufāʕil), passive participle مُفَاعَل (mufāʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) فَاعِلْ (fāʕil)
This stem is formed by lengthening the vowel after the first radical. The meaning of this form is associative, meaning the action of the root is either done with somebody or something else, or to somebody or something else, and it is usually transitive. The indirect object of form I is the direct object of form III. Thus, the object of the preposition إِلَى (ʔilā, “to”) in كَتَبَ إِلَى أَحْمَدَ (kataba ʔilā ʔaḥmada, “he wrote to Ahmad”) becomes the direct object of the verb in كَاتَبَ أَحْمَدَ (kātaba ʔaḥmada, “he corresponded with Ahmad”).
- كَاتَبَ (kātaba, “to correspond with”)
- قَاتَلَ (qātala, “to try to kill”)
- سَالَمَ (sālama, “to make peace with”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-III verbs
Perfective أَفْعَلَ (ʔafʕala), imperfective يُفْعِلُ (yufʕilu), verbal noun إِفْعَال (ʔifʕāl), active participle مُفْعِل (mufʕil), passive participle مُفْعَل (mufʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) أَفْعِلْ (ʔafʕil)
This stem is formed by prefixing أَـ (ʔa-) and dropping the vowel of the first radical. In the imperfect, the أَ (ʔa) disappears and the regular imperfect prefix takes the vowel u, and the characteristic is i: يُكْتِبُ (yuktibu). The meaning this form imparts is usually causative.
- أَكْتَبَ (ʔaktaba, “to dictate; to make someone write”)
- أَخْلَفَ (ʔaḵlafa, “to leave, to compensate”)
- أَسْلَمَ (ʔaslama, “to submit”)
Sometimes it has a declarative meaning: to say that someone has a certain quality.
Occasionally Form IV is derived from a noun and has an intransitive meaning:
- See also: Category:Arabic form-IV verbs
Perfective تَفَعَّلَ (tafaʕʕala), imperfective يَتَفَعَّلُ (yatafaʕʕalu), verbal noun تَفَعُّل (tafaʕʕul) or تِفِعَّال (tifiʕʕāl), active participle مُتَفَعِّل (mutafaʕʕil), passive participle مُتَفَعَّل (mutafaʕʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) تَفَعَّلْ (tafaʕʕal)
This stem is formed by prefixing تَـ (ta-) to form II. The meaning this form imparts is the reflexive or passive of form II. Out of the reflexive also arises the effective. This differs from the passive in that the latter indicates that the person is the object of, or experiences the effect of, the action of a another; whereas the effective implies that an act is done to a person, or a state produced in them, whether it is caused by another or themselves.
- تَفَرَّقَ (tafarraqa, “to scatter”, intransitive)
- تَخَلَّفَ (taḵallafa, “to hold back from”)
- تَسَلَّمَ (tasallama, “to receive the surrender”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-V verbs
In pre-classical language the formant can be تْـ (t-) instead of تَـ (ta-) and assimilates then to alveolars. Example: اِصَّدَعَ (iṣṣadaʕa) instead of تَصَدَّعَ (taṣaddaʕa), present يَصَّدَّعُ (yaṣṣaddaʕu) instead of يَتَصَدَّعُ (yataṣaddaʕu).
Perfective تَفَاعَلَ (tafāʕala), imperfective يَتَفَاعَلُ (yatafāʕalu), verbal noun تَفَاعُل (tafāʕul), active participle مُتَفَاعِل (mutafāʕil), passive participle مُتَفَاعَل (mutafāʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) تَفَاعَلْ (tafāʕal)
This stem is formed by prefixing تَـ (ta-) to form III. The imperfect has the vowel a throughout, except for the last: يَتَكَاتَبُ (yatakātabu), yatakātabu. The meaning this form imparts is reciprocal or one of pretence.
- تَقَاتَلَ (taqātala, “to fight with one another”)
- تَكَاتَبَ (takātaba, “to write to each other”)
- تَسَالَمَ (tasālama, “to make peace together”)
- تَنَاوَمَ (tanāwama, “to pretend to sleep”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-VI verbs
Perfective اِنْفَعَلَ (infaʕala), imperfective يَنْفَعِلُ (yanfaʕilu), verbal noun اِنْفِعَال (infiʕāl), active participle مُنْفَعِل (munfaʕil), passive participle مُنْفَعَل (munfaʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِنْفَعِلْ (infaʕil)
This stem is formed by prefixing نـ (n-) with a prothetic vowel (اِ (i)) where necessary (in-). The meaning this form imparts is reflexive or passive. Note: this form should not be made from roots whose first radical is ر (r), ل (l), ي (y), و (w), أ (ʔ), or ن (n), although some people do it.
- See also: Category:Arabic form-VII verbs
Perfective اِفْتَعَلَ (iftaʕala), imperfective يَفْتَعِلُ (yaftaʕilu), verbal noun اِفْتِعَال (iftiʕāl), active participle مُفْتَعِل (muftaʕil), passive participle مُفْتَعَل (muftaʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْتَعِلْ (iftaʕil)
This stem is formed by infixing ـتَـ (-ta-) after the first radical, and with a prothetic vowel (اِ (i)) where necessary. The meaning this form imparts is the reflexive or sometimes passive, of the first form.
- اِقْتَتَلَ (iqtatala, “to fight with one another”)
- اِكْتَتَبَ (iktataba, “to write to each other”)
- اِسْتَلَمَ (istalama, “to receive”)
When the first radical of the root is ط (ṭ) , ض (ḍ) , ص (ṣ) , ز (z) , ذ (ḏ) , د (d) , ث (ṯ) , ت (t) , or ظ (ẓ), the infixed ـتـ (-t-) is completely assimilated, or assimilated in voicing or emphasis:
- اِدَّرَكَ (iddaraka) = ت (t) + دَرَكَ (daraka) – complete assimilation
- اِزْدَحَمَ (izdaḥama) = ت (t) + زَحَمَ (zaḥama) – voicing assimilation
- اِضْطَرَبَ (iḍṭaraba) = ت (t) + ضَرَبَ (ḍaraba) – emphasis assimilation; formerly assimilation of both voicing and emphasis when ط (ṭ) was a voiced consonant
- See also: Category:Arabic form-VIII verbs
Perfective اِفْعَلَّ (ifʕalla), imperfective يَفْعَلُّ (yafʕallu), verbal noun اِفْعِلَال (ifʕilāl), active participle مُفْعَلّ (mufʕall), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَلَّ (ifʕalla)
This stem is formed by dropping the vowel of the first radical, adding a prothetic vowel (اِ (i)) where necessary, and doubling the final radical. This form is used by only a small number of verbs denoting color or bodily defect. This form has no passive participle. It is frequently connected to an adjective with the form أَفْعَل (ʔafʕal); see Appendix:Arabic nominals § Color or defect adjectives.
- اِحْمَرَّ (iḥmarra, “to turn red, to blush”) – أَحْمَر (ʔaḥmar, “red”)
- اِصْفَرَّ (iṣfarra, “to turn yellow, to pale”) – أَصْفَر (ʔaṣfar, “pale”)
- اِبْيَضَّ (ibyaḍḍa, “to turn white”) – أَبْيَض (ʔabyaḍ, “white”)
- اِزْرَقَّ (izraqqa, “to turn blue”) – أَزْرَق (ʔazraq, “blue”)
- اِعْوَجَّ (iʕwajja, “to be twisted”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-IX verbs
Perfective اِسْتَفْعَلَ (istafʕala), imperfective يَسْتَفْعِلُ (yastafʕilu), verbal noun اِسْتِفْعَال (istifʕāl), active participle مُسْتَفْعِل (mustafʕil), passive participle مُسْتَفْعَل (mustafʕal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِسْتَفْعِلْ (istafʕil)
This stem is formed by prefixing ـسْتَـ (-sta-), with a prothetic vowel (اِ (i)) where necessary, and dropping the vowel of the first radical. The meaning this form imparts is to ask or think that the sense of form I should be done.
- اِسْتَقْتَلَ (istaqtala, “to risk oneʼs life”)
- اِسْتَكْتَبَ (istaktaba, “to ask someone to write”)
- اِسْتَسْلَمَ (istaslama, “to submit, to keep to the middle of the road”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-X verbs
Perfective فَعْلَقَ (faʕlaqa), imperfective يُفَعْلِقُ (yufaʕliqu), verbal noun فَعْلَقَة (faʕlaqa) or: فَعْلَاق (faʕlāq), فِعْلَاق (fiʕlāq), فُعْلَاق (fuʕlāq), active participle مُفَعْلِق (mufaʕliq), passive participle مُفَعْلَق (mufaʕlaq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) فَعْلِقْ (faʕliq)
This is the simplest basic form of a quadriliteral verb. Most verbs are transitive, although a subset with reduplicated roots often are not. This form is similar to form II of triliteral roots.
- طَمْأَنَ (ṭamʔana, “to pacify”)
- تَرْجَمَ (tarjama, “to translate”)
- هَنْدَسَ (handasa, “to engineer”)
- قَهْقَهَ (qahqaha, “to laugh loudly”)
The formation is sometimes used to convert nouns into verbs.
- See also: Category:Arabic form-Iq verbs
Perfective تَفَعْلَقَ (tafaʕlaqa), imperfective يَتَفَعْلَقُ (yatafaʕlaqu), verbal noun تَفَعْلُق (tafaʕluq), active participle مُتَفَعْلِق (mutafaʕliq), passive participle مُتَفَعْلَق (mutafaʕlaq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) تَفَعْلَقْ (tafaʕlaq)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-IIq verbs
These forms were already rare in Classical Arabic, and are even more so in Modern Standard Arabic.
Perfective اِفْعَالَّ (ifʕālla), imperfective يَفْعَالُّ (yafʕāllu), verbal noun اِفْعِيلَال (ifʕīlāl), active participle مُفْعَالّ (mufʕāll), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَالَّ (ifʕālla)
This stem is formed from form IX by lengthening the vowel after the second radical. This form is very rare and it is usually used only for metrical purposes in poetry as an alternative to form IX. Some scholars  suggest the XI form may have a more volatile meaning than form IX, as well as one slightly more intensive.
- See also: Category:Arabic form-XI verbs
Perfective اِفْعَوْعَلَ (ifʕawʕala), imperfective يَفْعَوْعِلُ (yafʕawʕilu), verbal noun اِفْعِيعَال (ifʕīʕāl), active participle مُفْعَوْعِل (mufʕawʕil), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَوْعِلْ (ifʕawʕil)
- Example: اِحْدَوْدَبَ (iḥdawdaba, “to be or become humpbacked”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-XII verbs
Perfective اِفْعَوَّلَ (ifʕawwala), imperfective يَفْعَوِّلُ (yafʕawwilu), verbal noun اِفْعِوَّال (ifʕiwwāl), active participle مُفْعَوِّل (mufʕawwil), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَوِّلْ (ifʕawwil)
- Example: اِعْلَوَّطَ (iʕlawwaṭa, “to ride or mount a camel without a saddle”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-XIII verbs
Perfective اِفْعَنْلَلَ (ifʕanlala), imperfective يَفْعَنْلِلُ (yafʕanlilu), verbal noun اِفْعِنْلَال (ifʕinlāl), active participle مُفْعَنْلِل (mufʕanlil), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَنْلِلْ (ifʕanlil)
- Example: اِسْحَنْكَكَ (isḥankaka, “to be or become caliginous”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-XIV verbs
Perfective اِفْعَنْلَى (ifʕanlā), imperfective يَفْعَنْلَى (yafʕanlā), verbal noun اِفْعِنْلَاء (ifʕinlāʔ), active participle مُفْعَنْلٍ (mufʕanlin), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَنْلَ (ifʕanla)
- Example: اِسْرَنْدَى (israndā, “to vanquish”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-XV verbs
Perfective اِفْعَنْلَقَ (ifʕanlaqa), imperfective يَفْعَنْلِقُ (yafʕanliqu), verbal noun اِفْعِنْلَاق (ifʕinlāq), active participle مُفْعَنْلِق (mufʕanliq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَنْلِقْ (ifʕanliq)
- Example: اِحْرَنْجَمَ (iḥranjama, “to crowd”)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-IIIq verbs
Perfective اِفْعَلَقَّ (ifʕalaqqa), imperfective يَفْعَلِقُّ (yafʕaliqqu), verbal noun اِفْعِلْقَاق (ifʕilqāq), active participle مُفْعَلِقّ (mufʕaliqq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَلِقَّ (ifʕaliqqa)
- See also: Category:Arabic form-IVq verbs
Verbs are considered sound if none of the radicals is و or ي or ء, nor are the second and third radicals identical.
- See also: Category:Arabic sound verbs
Verbs are called hamzated if ء (hamza) is one of the root consonants (radicals). The phonetical pattern of the conjugation of these verbs doesn't differ from other verbs in all forms but because of the rules of positioning of hamza, the spelling is affected in some forms, e.g. the verb أَكَلَ (ʔakala) (ʾ-k-l) has the form يَأْكُلُ (yaʔkulu) in the imperfect masculine singular and the verb قَرَأَ (qaraʔa) (q-r-ʾ) has the form تَقْرَئِينَ (taqraʔīna) in the imperfect feminine singular.
- See also: Category:Arabic hamzated verbs
TO DO Weak verbs are verbs that have one of the radicals و or ي.
- Assimilated verbs (R1 = و or ي)
- Hollow verbs (R2 = و or ي)
- Final-weak verbs (R3 = و or ي), e.g. مَشَى (mašā) - "to walk", رَمَى (ramā) - "to throw", حَظِيَ (ḥaẓiya) - "to be in the good graces of, to enjoy", بَقِيَ (baqiya) - "to stay, to remain", دَعَا (daʕā) - "to call sb., to summon sb."., لَقِيَ (laqiya) - "to meet sb.".
- See also: Category:Arabic final-weak verbs
Other examples of weak verbs:
- عَلَا (ʕalā) - "to rise"
- عَلَى (ʕalā) - "to raise"
- وَلِيَ (waliya) - "to follow" (assimilated and final-weak)
- سَرُوَ (saruwa) - "to become honourable"
- غَنَّى (ḡannā) - "to sing" (form II)
- غَطَّى (ḡaṭṭā) - "to cover, to wrap" (form II)
- آمَنَ (ʔāmana) - "to have faith" (form IV, assimilated)
- آوَى (ʔāwā) - "to shelter" (form IV, hollow and final-weak (and initially-hamzated))
- تَغَيَّرَ (taḡayyara) - "to change" (form V)
- تَطَوَّعَ (taṭawwaʕa) - "to volunteer" (form V)
- اِتَّهَمَ (ittahama) - "to accuse" (form VIII, root w-h-m)
- اِحْتَاجَ (iḥtāja) - "to need" (form VIII)
- اِزْدَوَجَ (izdawaja) - "to be doubled" (form VIII)
- اِسْتَوْرَدَ (istawrada) - "to import" (form X)
TO DO Quadriliteral verbs are made from roots having four radicals, e.g. تَرْجَمَ (tarjama) - "to translate"; هَنْدَسَ (handasa) - "to engineer"; قَهْقَهَ (qahqaha) - "to laugh loudly"; تَبَلْوَرَ (tabalwara) - "to be crystalized" (form IIq); اِحْرَنْجَمَ (iḥranjama) - "to press one another" (form IIIq); اِطْمَأَنَّ (iṭmaʔanna) - "to be calm" (form IVq).
TO DO Geminate verbs are verbs that have the second and the third radicals the same, e.g. مَدَّ (madda) - "to stretch"; دَلَّ (dalla) - "to indicate"; ظَنَّ (ẓanna) - "to think"; حَاقَّ (ḥāqqa) - "to sue, to litigate" (form III); أَحَبَّ (ʔaḥabba) - "to love" (form IV); تَضَادَّ (taḍādda) - "to be opposed to one another" (form VI); اِنْشَقَّ (inšaqqa) - "to split" (form VII); اِحْتَلَّ (iḥtalla) - "to occupy" (form VIII); اِسْتَرَدَّ (istaradda) - "to demand back" (form X).
- See also: Category:Arabic geminate verbs