THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO VERBS CONJUGATION IN ARABIC

Developing a thorough understanding of Arabic verbs is essential for constructing precise and accurate Arabic statements. In this article, I will provide you with a comprehensive guide to expedite your verb conjugation in Arabic .

A verbal sentence ( جُمْلَةٌ فِعْلِيَّةٌ) as I explained to you in a previous post is a sentence which begins with a verb.

These Arabic verbs are divided into three and they are:

الْفِعْلُ الْمَاضِي

الْفِعْل الْمُضَارِعُ

الْفِعْلُ الْأَمْرُ

The first, which is the basic, is called الْفِعْلُ الْمَاضِي.

 مَاضِي means past. Most of these past verb tenses have only three letters which are called radicals. The first radical is called Faau-l-f’il (فَاءُ الْفِعْل) while ‘Ain-f’il (عَينُ الْفِعْل)comes at the middle and lastly the letter Lam is the third radical of the threelettered verbs(لَامُ الْفِعْل)

The second form is الْفِعْل الْمُضَارِعُ. This is used for both the present and the future tenses but Mudori’ actually means present.

For the الْفِعْل الْمُضَارِعُ to be formed from the الْفِعْلُ الْمَاضِي, one from these four letters (Alif-Hamza, Nun, Taa, or Yaa[أَ, ن, ي, ت] must be prefixed to the verb.

For example, يَكْتُبُ which means he writes is formed from Kataba(كَتَبَ) with the prefix of Yaa.

The third type of the Arabic verb is الْفِعْلُ الْأَمْرُ. This means the imperative tense. An example is اُكْتُبْ.

CLASSIFICATION OF THE THREE-LETTERED VERBS

The Arabic verbs which are composed of three letters are categorized into seven (7) distinct forms based on their individual constituting letters. The composition of a verb then dictates its structure in the Mudari’.

  1. Mahmuz (الْمَهْمُوزُ): This is a verb which has hamza as one of its radicals. E.g: أَخَذَ (  hamzah as the first radical), سَأَلَ (hamzah as the second radical), قَرَأَ  (hamzah as the third radical)
  2. Mud’af(الْمُضَعَّفُ): This is a verb in which the second and the third radicals are identical. Examples are: صَبَّ، مَرَّ، حَجَّ.
  3. Mu’tall (الْمُعْتَلُّ): This is a verb which has waw or yaa as one of its radicals. Verbs in this category are further divided into three based on the position of the weak letter (i.e the waw or yaa).
    • Mithal (الْمِثَالُ): This is  also called .الْمُعْتَلُّ الْفَاءِ It is a verb which has waw or yaa as its first radical, e.g.: وَصَلَ, وَزَنَ, وَضَعَ, يَئِسَ
  4. Ajwaf (الْأَجْوَفُ): This is also called الْمُعْتَلُّ الْعَيْنِ. It is a verb which has waw or yaa as its second radical. Examples are: ذاق، نامُ، سار
  5. Naaqis (النَّاقِصُ): This is also called الْمُعْتَلُّ اللَّامِ. It is a verb which has waw or yaa as its third radical. Examples are:مْشى، شَكَى، دَعَا
  6. Lafiif (اللَّفِيفُ): This verb has waw or yaa as more than one radicals. Examples are: ، وعَى، كَوَى ،وَقَى
  7. Saalim (السَّالِمُ): This verb has no Hamza, waaw or yaa as one of its radicals. The second and the third radicals are also not identical. E.g: ذَهَبَ، قَتَلَ، ضَرَبَ

THE MAADII VERB CONJUGATION

The Maadi for the third person singular is the basic form of the verb conjugation in Arabic. An expression such as ‘he wrote’, for example is translated as Kataba (كَتَبَ), while she wrote is katabat (كَتَبَتْ). The Taa with sukoon in Katabat denotes its femininity. The ‘he’ and ‘she’ in both Kataba and katabat are hidden. A hidden pronoun is called Dominion mustatirun (ضَمِيرٌ مُسْتَتِرٌ).

So other pronouns such as I wrote (كَتَبْتُ), we wrote(كَتَبْنَا) you masculine are feminine (كَتَبْتَ/تِ), they wrote (كَتَبُوا) are added to the Kataba which I explained as the basis in the process called Al-isnaad. Study the table below:

FORMATION OF THE MUDARI’ OF THE SAALIM VERBS

In the formation of الْفِعْل الْمُضَارِعُ, after the prefixing of one of the letters [ (أ, ت, ن, ي (أنيت) ] the sign on the first radical that is فَاءُ الْفِعْل changes to sukun and that of the last radical i.e لَامُ الْفِعْل changes to dommah.

However, the sign of عَينُ الْفِعْل depends on the grammatical grouping called Baab (بَابٌ) and these groups are six in number:

  1.  The a – a group (sometimes called bab fatah/yaftahu: In this group, the second radical has ‘a’ in the māḏi and also in the muḏāri’. Examples are:
    • فَتَحَ ‘he opened’ يَفْتَحُ ‘he opens’ (fataha/ya-ftahu)
    • ذَهَبَ ‘he went’ يَذْهَبُ ‘he goes’ (dhahaba/yadhhabu)
    • قَرَأَ ‘he read’ يَقْرَأُ ‘he reads’ (qara’a/ya-qra’u)
  2.  The a – i group (bab jalasa/yajlisu): It is the group in which the عَينُ الْفِعْل takes a fathah ‘a’ in the Maadi while a kesro ‘I’ replaces the fathah in the Mudaari. It may be called ‘bab jalasa/yajlisu. Examples include:
    • جَلَسَ‘he sat’ يَجْلِسُ ‘he sits’ (jalasa/yajlisu)
    • ضَرَبَ ‘he beat’ يَضْرِبُ  ‘he beats’ (doraba/yadribu)
    • غَسَلَ ‘he washed’  يَغْسِلُ ‘he washes’ (ghosala/ya-ghsilu)
  3. The a -u group (bab kataba/yaktubu): In this group, the second radical has ‘a’ in the māḏi and ‘u’ in the muḏāri’. And by this, a previous fathah on the عَينُ الْفِعْل becomes dommah after the Mudari’ is formed. Examples include:
    • كَتَبَ ‘he wroteيَكْتُبُ  ‘he writes’ (kataba/ya-ktubu)
    • قَتَلَ ‘he killedيَقْتُلُ  ‘he kills’ (qatala/ya-qtulu)
    • سَكَنَ ‘he lived’يَسْكُنُ  ‘he lives’ (sakana/ya-skunu)
  4.  i-a group (bab semia’/yasma’u): In this group, the second radical has ‘i’ in the māḏi and ‘a’ in the muḏāri’. Some examples are:
    • سَمِعَ ‘he heard’يَسْمَعُ  ‘he hears’ (samia’/ya-sma’u)
    • شَرِبَ ‘he drank’يَشْرَبُ  ‘he drinks’ (shariba/ya-shrabu)
    • فَهِمَ ‘he understood’يَفْهَمُ  ‘he understands’ (fahima/ya-hamu)
  5.  The u-u group : In this group, the عَينُ الْفِعْل retains the dommah that it takes in the Maadi when eventually the modoria is formed. Examples are:
    • كَثُرَ -يَكْثُرُ  ( to multiply) (kathura/yakthuru)
    • عَظُمَ  – يَعْظُمُ  (to magnify) (‘aṯhuma/ya-’aṯhumu)
  6. The i-i group: In this group, the second radical has ‘i’ in the in the māḏi as well as in the muḏāri’.
    • وَرِثَ ‘he inheritedيَرِثُ  ‘he inherits’ (waritha/yarithu)
verb conjugation in arabic
Groups of the Mudoori’ Verb Conjugation

NOTE: As a student of knowledge, you have to learn the group of each new verb as there is no rule to determine the group of a verb. Dictionaries are good resources for learning the groups of verbs because both the Maadi and the Mudari’ are usually mentioned together.

For example in the screenshot below, the highlighted letter indicates that the second radical of the verb which is Meem will take a fathah in the Mudari’.  And according to the dictionary, the letters i and O each signifies a kesra and dommah respectively.

For an Arabic dictionary, a dommah sign (for example), in the bracket in front of a verb like سَكَنَ, denotes that the second radical takes a dommah.

arabic verb conjugation chart
Arabic Verb Conjugation Chart

FORMATION OF THE AMR OF THE SAALIM VERBS

The amr of an Arabic verbs is formed from the Mudari’ of the second person in the following order:

  1. The omission of the harful-mudari’ (which is the ta in this case) and the dommah sign on the third radical as explained below:
    • فْتَحْ   <-   تَفْتَحُ 
    • كْتُبْ   <- تَكْتُبُ 
    • غْسِلْ <- تَغْسِلُ
  2. The commencement of the residual form with hamzatul-wasl to offset the difficulty that will be encountered in the pronunciation of a word that now begins with a sukoon.
    • اِفْتَحْ <- فْتَحْ <- تَفْتَحُ
    • اُكْتُبْ <- كْتُبْ <- تَكْتُبُ
    • اِغْسِلْ<- غْسِلْ<- تَغْسِلُ
arabic verb chart
Formation of Amr Verbs

NOTE:

  • The hamzatul-wasl takes a dommah if the second radical of the amr has a dommah but takes a kesro in the two other cases.
  • The hamzatul-wasl is not pronounced when preceded by any word.
    • اُكْتُبْ   uktub
    • يَا سَعْدُ اُكْتُبْ   yaa Sa’du ktub (not: ya Sa’du uktub)
    • اِقْرَأْ وَكْتُبْ iqra’ wa ktub (not: iqra’ wa uktub)
  • The sign of hamzat al-qat’  (ء) should not be written above or below the Hamza as it is hamzat al-wasl.

Now that I have provided you with an in-depth description of the forms and varieties of Arabic verbs, see how well you know the verbs conjugation in Arabic, first by conjugating the three saalim verbs دَرَسَ، شَرِبَ، سَجَدَ using the three linguistic forms Maadi, Mudaari’ and Amr, and then proceed to conjugate the Maadi and the Mudaari’ of each with the 14 pronouns.

REFERENCE

  • Abdur Rahim, V., 2007. Madinah Arabic Reader Bks 4 & 5, New Delhi, India: Goodword Books.