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Appendix:Arabic verb forms

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Derived stems

Arabic verbs are noted for an unusual system of derivation. From any particular root, up to nine different verb stems may be formed, each with its own template (no one verb has all eleven stems). In the Western study of Arabic, these stems are referred to as “form I”, “form II”, ... up through “form XI,” though these designations are not used indigenously. 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

This is the simplest basic form of a verb. Most verbs are triliteral, but there are a few biliteral and quadriliteral ones.

  • قتل (qátala) — to kill (literally, he killed).
    كتب (kátaba) — to write (literally, he wrote).
    سلم (sálima) — to be safe (literally, he was safe).

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-fa3ala}}.

Form II

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

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-fa33ala}}.

Form III

This stem is formed by lengthening the vowel after the first radical. The meaning this form imparts is conative and always transitive. The indirect object of form I is the direct object of form III.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-fA3ala}}.

Form IV

This stem is formed by prefixing أ (ʼa-) and dropping the vowel of the first radical. In the imperfect, the أ disappears and the regular imperfect prefix takes the vowel u, and the characteristic is i: يكتب, yuktíbu. The meaning this form imparts is causative.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-af3ala}}.

Form V

This stem is formed by prefixing ت (ta-) to form II. The meaning this form imparts is the reflexive or passive of form II.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-tafa33ala}}.

Form VI

This stem is formed by prefixing ت (ta-) to form III. The imperfect has the vowel a throughout, except for the last: يتكاتب, yatakātabu. The meaning this form imparts is reciprocal or one of pretence.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-tafA3ala}}.

Form VII

This stem is formed by prefixing ن with liaison (ا) where necessary (in-). The meaning this form imparts is reflexive or passive. Note: this form should not made from roots whose first radical is ر, ل, ي, و, أ, or ن, although some people do it.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-infa3ala}}.

Form VIII

This stem is formed by infixing ت (-ta-) after the first radical, and with liaison (ا) where necessary. The meaning this form imparts is the reflexive or sometimes passive. Partial or complete assimilation of the infixed ت occurs in this form when the first radical of the root is: ط , ض , ص , ز , ذ , د , ث , ت , or ظ: e.g., اضطرب = ت + ضرب ; ازدحم = ت + زحم ; ادّرك = ت + درك.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-ifta3ala}}.

Form IX

This stem is formed by dropping the vowel of the first radical, adding liaison (ا) as necessary, and doubling the final radical. This form is used by only a small number of verbs denoting color or bodily defect.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-if3alla}}.

Form X

This stem is formed by prefixing ست (-sta-), with liaison (ا) 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.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-istaf3ala}}.

Form XI

This stem is formed from form IX by lengthening the vowel after the second radical. This form is very rare and used by only a small number of verbs denoting color.

To get this form, use {{ar-verb-if3Alla}}.

Other forms

  • ʼifʻawʻala إفْعَوْعَلَ
Example: اِغْرَوْرَقَ (ʼiġrawraqa).
To get this form, use {{ar-verb-if3aw3ala}}.
  • ʼifʻawwala إفْعَوّلَ
Example: اجلوذ (ʼiǧlawwaḏa).
To get this form, use {{ar-verb-if3awwala}}.
  • mafʻala مَفْعَلَ
Example: مَذْهَبَ (maḏhaba)
To get this form, use {{ar-verb-maf3ala}}
  • tamafʻala تَمَفْعَلَ
Example: تَمَذْهَبَ (tamaḏhaba)
To get this form, use {{ar-verb-tamaf3ala}}

See also