Appendix:Arabic verbs

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Derived stems (sound verbs)[edit]

Arabic Verbs
Arabic Nouns

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-ʿ-l). Accordingly, form I would be فَعَلَ (faʿala), form II would be فَعَّلَ (faʿʿala), 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”).

Form I[edit]

Perfective فَعَلَ (faʿala), فَعِلَ (faʿila), فَعُلَ (faʿula), imperfective يَفْعَلُ (yafʿalu), يَفْعِلُ (yafʿilu), يَفْعُلُ (yafʿulu), active participle فَاعِل‎ (fāʿil), passive participle مَفْعُول‎ (mafʿūl), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَلْ‎ (ifʿal)‎, اِفْعِلْ (ifʿil), اُفْعُلْ (ufʿul)

This is the simplest basic form of a verb; it gives the general idea of its root. Most verbs are triliteral, but there are a few quadriliteral ones.

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

Form II[edit]

Perfective فَعَّلَ (faʿʿala), imperfective يُفَعِّلُ (yufaʿʿilu), verbal noun تَفْعِيل (tafʿīl) or: تَفْعَال (tafʿāl), فِعَّال (fiʿʿāl), تَفْعِلَة (tafʿila), active participle مُفَعِّل (mufaʿʿil), passive participle مُفَعَّل (mufaʿʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) فَعِّلْ (faʿʿil)

This stem is formed by doubling the second radical. The meaning this form imparts is intensive, causative, or declarative.

It is frequently used as a denominative formation to convert nouns or adjectives into verbs.

Form III[edit]

Perfective فَاعَلَ (fāʿala), imperfective يُفَاعِلُ (yufāʿilu), verbal noun مُفَاعَلَة (mufāʿala) or: فِعَال (fiʿāl) active participle مُفَاعِل (mufāʿil), passive participle مُفَاعَل (mufāʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) فَاعِلْ (fāʿil)

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(ʾilā, to) in كَتَبَ إِلَى أَحْمَدَ (kataba ʾilā ʾaḥmada, he wrote to Ahmad) becomes the direct object of the verb in كَاتَبَ أَحْمَدَ (kātaba ʾaḥmada, he corresponded with Ahmad).

Form IV[edit]

Perfective أَفْعَلَ (ʾafʿala), imperfective يُفْعِلُ (yufʿilu), verbal noun إِفْعَال (ʾifʿāl), active participle مُفْعِل (mufʿil), passive participle مُفْعَل (mufʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) أَفْعِلْ (ʾafʿil)

This stem is formed by prefixing أَـ (ʾa-) and dropping the vowel of the first radical. In the imperfect, the أَ (ʾa) 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.

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:

Form V[edit]

Perfective تَفَعَّلَ (tafaʿʿala), imperfective يَتَفَعَّلُ (yatafaʿʿalu), verbal noun تَفَعُّل (tafaʿʿul) or تِفِعَّال (tifiʿʿāl), active participle مُتَفَعِّل (mutafaʿʿil), passive participle مُتَفَعَّل (mutafaʿʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) تَفَعَّلْ (tafaʿʿal)

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.

In pre-classical language the formant can be تْـ(t-) instead of تَـ(ta-) and assimilates then to alveolars. Example: اِصَّدَعَ(iṣṣadaʿa) instead of تَصَدَّعَ(taṣaddaʿa), present يَصَّدَّعُ(yaṣṣaddaʿu) instead of يَتَصَدَّعُ(yataṣaddaʿu).[1]

Form VI[edit]

Perfective تَفَاعَلَ (tafāʿala), imperfective يَتَفَاعَلُ (yatafāʿalu), verbal noun تَفَاعُل (tafāʿul), active participle مُتَفَاعِل (mutafāʿil), passive participle مُتَفَاعَل (mutafāʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) تَفَاعَلْ (tafāʿal)

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.

In pre-classical language the formant can be تْـ(t-) instead of تَـ(ta-) and assimilates then to alveolars (sun letters).[1]

Form VII[edit]

Perfective اِنْفَعَلَ (infaʿala), imperfective يَنْفَعِلُ (yanfaʿilu), verbal noun اِنْفِعَال (infiʿāl), active participle مُنْفَعِل (munfaʿil), passive participle مُنْفَعَل (munfaʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِنْفَعِلْ (infaʿil)

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(ʾ), or ن(n).

Form VIII[edit]

Perfective اِفْتَعَلَ (iftaʿala), imperfective يَفْتَعِلُ (yaftaʿilu), verbal noun اِفْتِعَال (iftiʿāl), active participle مُفْتَعِل (muftaʿil), passive participle مُفْتَعَل (muftaʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْتَعِلْ (iftaʿil)

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.

When the first radical of the root is ط() , ض() , ص() , ز(z) , ذ() , د(d) , ث() , ت(t) , or ظ(), the infixed ـتـ(-t-) is completely assimilated, or assimilated in voicing or emphasis:

Form IX[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَلَّ (ifʿalla), imperfective يَفْعَلُّ (yafʿallu), verbal noun اِفْعِلَال (ifʿilāl), active participle مُفْعَلّ (mufʿall), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَلَّ‎ (ifʿalla)

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 (ʾafʿal); see Appendix:Arabic nominals § Color or defect adjectives.

Form X[edit]

Perfective اِسْتَفْعَلَ (istafʿala), imperfective يَسْتَفْعِلُ (yastafʿilu), verbal noun اِسْتِفْعَال (istifʿāl), active participle مُسْتَفْعِل (mustafʿil), passive participle مُسْتَفْعَل (mustafʿal), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِسْتَفْعِلْ (istafʿil)

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.

Form Iq[edit]

Perfective فَعْلَقَ (faʿlaqa), imperfective يُفَعْلِقُ (yufaʿliqu), verbal noun فَعْلَقَة (faʿlaqa) or: فَعْلَاق (faʿlāq), فِعْلَاق (fiʿlāq), فُعْلَاق (fuʿlāq), active participle مُفَعْلِق (mufaʿliq), passive participle مُفَعْلَق (mufaʿlaq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) فَعْلِقْ (faʿliq)

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.

The formation is sometimes used to convert nouns into verbs.

Form IIq[edit]

Perfective تَفَعْلَقَ (tafaʿlaqa), imperfective يَتَفَعْلَقُ (yatafaʿlaqu), verbal noun تَفَعْلُق (tafaʿluq), active participle مُتَفَعْلِق (mutafaʿliq), passive participle مُتَفَعْلَق (mutafaʿlaq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) تَفَعْلَقْ (tafaʿlaq)

This is a quadriliteral root stem, formed by prefixing تَ (ta) to form Iq. The meaning this form imparts is the reflexive or passive of form Iq. This form is similar to form V of triliteral roots.

Other forms[edit]

These forms were already rare in Classical Arabic, and are even more so in Modern Standard Arabic.

Form XI[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَالَّ (ifʿālla), imperfective يَفْعَالُّ (yafʿāllu), verbal noun اِفْعِيلَال (ifʿīlāl), active participle مُفْعَالّ (mufʿāll), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَالَّ‎ (ifʿālla)

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 [2] suggest the XI form may have a more volatile meaning than form IX, as well as one slightly more intensive.

Example: اِحْمَارَّ(iḥmārra, to turn red, to blush)

Form XII[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَوْعَلَ (ifʿawʿala), imperfective يَفْعَوْعِلُ (yafʿawʿilu), verbal noun اِفْعِيعَال (ifʿīʿāl), active participle مُفْعَوْعِل (mufʿawʿil), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَوْعِلْ (ifʿawʿil)

Example: اِحْدَوْدَبَ(iḥdawdaba, to be or become humpbacked)

Form XIII[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَوَّلَ (ifʿawwala), imperfective يَفْعَوِّلُ (yafʿawwilu), verbal noun اِفْعِوَّال (ifʿiwwāl), active participle مُفْعَوِّل (mufʿawwil), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَوِّلْ (ifʿawwil)

Example: اِعْلَوَّطَ(iʿlawwaṭa, to ride or mount a camel without a saddle)

Form XIV[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَنْلَلَ (ifʿanlala), imperfective يَفْعَنْلِلُ‎ (yafʿanlilu), verbal noun اِفْعِنْلَال‎ (ifʿinlāl), active participle مُفْعَنْلِل‎ (mufʿanlil), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَنْلِلْ (ifʿanlil)

Example: اِسْحَنْكَكَ(isḥankaka, to be or become caliginous)

Form XV[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَنْلَى (ifʿanlā), imperfective ‎يَفْعَنْلَى‎ (yafʿanlā), verbal noun اِفْعِنْلَاء‎‎ (ifʿinlāʾ), active participle مُفْعَنْلٍ‎ (mufʿanlin), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَنْلَ‎ (ifʿanla)

Example: اِسْرَنْدَى(israndā, to vanquish)

Form IIIq[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَنْلَقَ (ifʿanlaqa), imperfective يَفْعَنْلِقُ (yafʿanliqu), verbal noun اِفْعِنْلَاق (ifʿinlāq), active participle مُفْعَنْلِق (mufʿanliq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَنْلِقْ (ifʿanliq)

Example: اِحْرَنْجَمَ(iḥranjama, to crowd)

Form IVq[edit]

Perfective اِفْعَلَقَّ (ifʿalaqqa), imperfective يَفْعَلِقُّ‎ (yafʿaliqqu), verbal noun اِفْعِلْقَاق‎ (ifʿilqāq), active participle مُفْعَلِقّ‎ (mufʿaliqq), imperative (2nd person, m, sg) اِفْعَلِقَّ (ifʿaliqqa)


Hamzated verbs[edit]

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(ʾakala) (ʾ-k-l) has the form يَأْكُلُ(yaʾkulu) in the imperfect masculine singular and the verb قَرَأَ(qaraʾa) (q-r-ʾ) has the form تَقْرَئِينَ(taqraʾīna) in the imperfect feminine singular.

Weak verbs[edit]

TO DO Weak verbs are verbs that have one of the radicals و or ي.

  1. Assimilated verbs (R1 = و or ي)
    Form I: وَجَدَ(wajada) - "to find", imperfective يَجِدُ(yajidu).
  2. Hollow verbs (R2 = و or ي)
    Form I: قَالَ(qāla) - "to say" قَالَتْ(qālat) "she said" but قُلْتُ (qultu, I said), قُلْتَ (qulta, you m said), قُلْتِ (qulti, you f said); imperfective يَقُولُ(yaqūlu) "he said", يَقُلْنَ(yaqulna) "they (f.) say".
  3. 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(daʿā) - "to call sb., to summon sb."., لَقِيَ(laqiya) - "to meet sb.".

Other examples of weak verbs:

Quadriliteral verbs[edit]

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(iṭmaʾanna) - "to be calm" (form IVq).

Geminate verbs[edit]

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(ʾaḥabba) - "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).


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fischer, Wolfdietrich (2006) Grammatik des Klassischen Arabisch (in German), 4th edition, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, →ISBN, § 47, page 26
  2. ^ Haywood, J.A.; Nahmad, H.M. (1962) A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language by Haywood, Harvard University Press, page 185

See also[edit]