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The verb

As in many other Semitic languages, Arabic verb formation is based on a (usually) triconsonantal root, which is not a word in itself but contains the idea or meaning. The consonants k-t-b, for example, indicate 'write'.

Words are formed by supplying the root with a vowel structure and with affixes. Traditionally, Arabic grammarians have used the root f-ʿ-l 'do' as a template to discuss word formation. The personal forms a verb can take correspond to the forms of the pronouns, except that in the 3rd person dual, gender is differentiated, yielding paradigms of 13 forms.

Prefixes and suffixes

In Arabic, the grammatical person and number as well as the mood is designated by a variety of prefixes and suffixes. Most Arabic verbs are regular and follow a standard pattern.

Stem formation

A verb stem is derived from a consonantal root by using a verbal template known as a "form" or "measure". Each of these templates is associated with a range of meanings. In Western scholarship on Arabic, these templates are usually referred to by a Roman numeral. For example, the perfective of Form VI has the template taCaaCaC, and verbs of this form often have the meaning of a reciprocal action, such as takaatab- "to write to each other". Similarly, verbs of Form II have the perfective template CaCCaC and are often causative or intensive in meaning. Modern Standard Arabic has ten commonly used forms. The modern dialects generally preserve the bulk of these forms, but may lack some of them and also have forms which do not directly correspond to any of the MSA forms.

Ifaʿala
IIfaʿʿala
IIIfāʿala
IVʾafʿala
Vtafaʿʿala
VItafāʿala
VIInfaʿala
VIIIiftaʿala
IXifʿalla
Xistafʿala

Passive

Standard Arabic and the modern dialects use different strategies to form the passive of a verb. Standard Arabic verbs form their passives by changing the vowel pattern inside the verb stem, as in dafana "he buried" > dufina "he was buried". The modern dialects use a form which employs a passive prefix. For example, in Egyptian Arabic, dafan "he buried" > iddafan "he was buried".

Moods

The verb has a perfective conjugation to denote completed events, and an imperfective conjugation to denote uncompleted actions. Particles can be added to these forms to create a wider range of tenses. For example, the Standard Arabic imperfective verb form yaktubu "he writes" can be preceded by the particle sawfa to express the future tense, as in sawfa yaktubu "he will write". The varieties of Arabic differ in their use of particles. The imperfective conjugation of Standard Arabic has a system of moods (indicative, subjunctive, and jussive) not found in the modern dialects. Verbs also have active and passive participals and an imperative form. However, there is no infinitive.

Sample verb 'kataba' (to write)

Glossary look-up

Glossary look-upkataba
Rootktb

Active

Person Perfect stem: katab- Imperfect stem: -ktub-
Perfect Imperfect indicative Imperfect subjunctive Imperfect Jussive Imperative
Sg.1 katab-tu كَتَبْتُ a-ktub-u أَكْتُبُ a-ktub-a أَكْتُبَ a-ktub أَكْتُبْ
Sg.2 m katab-ta كَتَبْتَ ta-ktub-u تَكْتُبُ ta-ktub-a تَكْتُبَ ta-ktub تَكْتُبْ u-ktub أُكْتُبْ
Sg.2 f katab-ti كَتَبْتِ ta-ktub-īna تَكْتُبِينَ ta-ktub-ī تَكْتُبِي ta-ktub-ī تَكْتُبِي u-ktub-ī أُكْتُبِي
Sg.3 m katab-a كَتَبَ ya-ktub-u يَكْتُبُ ya-ktub-a يَكْتُبَ ya-ktub يَكْتُبْ
Sg.3 f katab-at كَتَبَتْ ta-ktub-u تَكْتُبُ ta-ktub-a تَكْتُبَ ta-ktub تَكْتُبْ
Dual 2 katab-tumā كَتَبْتُمَا ta-ktub-āni تَكْتُبَانِ ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا u-ktub-ā أُكْتُبَا
Dual 3 m katab-ā كَتَبَا ya-ktub-āni يَكْتُبَانِ ya-ktub-ā يَكْتُبَا ya-ktub-ā يَكْتُبَا
Dual 3 f katab-atā كَتَبَتَا ta-ktub-āni تَكْتُبَانِ ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا
Pl. 1 katab-nā كَتَبْنَا na-ktub-u نَكْتُبُ na-ktub-a نَكْتُبَ na-ktub نَكْتُبْ
Pl. 2 m katab-tum كَتَبْتُمْ ta-ktub-ūna تَكْتُبُونَ ta-ktub-ū تَكْتُبُوا ta-ktub-ū تَكْتُبُوا u-ktub-ū أُكْتُبُوا
Pl. 2 f katab-tunna كَتَبْتُنَّ ta-ktub-na تَكْتُبْنَ ta-ktub-na تَكْتُبْنَ ta-ktub-na تَكْتُبْنَ u-ktub-na أُكْتُبْنَ
Pl. 3 m katab-ū كَتَبُوا ya-ktub-ūn يَكْتُبُونْ ya-ktub-ū يَكْتُبُوا ya-ktub-ū يَكْتُبُوا
Pl. 3 f katab-na كَتَبْنَ ya-ktub-na يَكْتُبْنَ ya-ktub-na يَكْتُبْنَ ya-ktub-na يَكْتُبْنَ

Passive

Person Perfect stem: kutib- Imperfect stem: -ktab-
Perfect Imperfect indicative Imperfect subjunctive Imperfect Jussive
Sg.1 kutib-tu - In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab كَتَبْتُ u-ktab-u أُكْتَبُ u-ktab-a أُكْتَبَ u-ktab أُكْتَبْ
Sg.2 m- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab
kutib-ta كَتَبْتَ
 (:cell:) tu-ktab-u
تُكْتَبُ tu-ktab-a تُكْتَبَ tu-ktab تُكْتَبْ
Sg.2 f kutib-ti- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab
كَتَبْتِ tu-ktab-īna تُكْتَبِينَ tu-ktab-ī تُكْتَبِي tu-ktab-ī تُكْتَبِي
Sg.3 m kutib-a- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab
كَتَبَ yu-ktab-u يَكْتَبُ yu-ktab-a يَكْتَبَ yu-ktab يَكْتَبْ
Sg.3 f- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab
kutib-at- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab
كَتَبَتْ tu-ktab-u تُكْتَبُ tu-ktab-a تُكْتَبَ tu-ktab تُكْتَبْ
Dual 2 kutib-tumā

- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab

كَتَبْتُمَا tu-ktab-āni تُكْتَبَانِ tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا
Dual 3 m kutib-ā

- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab

كَتَبَا yu-ktab-āni يُكْتَبَانِ yu-ktab-ā يُكْتَبَا yu-ktab-ā يُكْتَبَا
Dual 3 f kutib-atā

- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab

كَتَبَتَا tu-ktab-āni تُكْتَبَانِ tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا
Pl. 1 kutib-nā كَتَبْنَا

- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab

nu-ktab-u نُكْتَبُ nu-ktab-a نُكْتَبَ nu-ktab نُكْتَبْ
Pl. 2 m kutib-tum كَتَبْتُمْ tu-ktab-ūna تُكْتَبُونَ tu-ktab-ū تُكْتَبُو tu-ktab-ū تُكْتَبُو
Pl. 2 f kutib-tunna كَتَبْتُنَّ

- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab

tu-ktab-na تُكْتَبْنَ tu-ktab-na تُكْتَبْنَ tu-ktab-na تُكْتَبْنَ
Pl. 3 m kutib-ū

- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab

كَتَبُوا yu-ktab-ūna يُكْتَبُونَ yu-ktab-ū يُكْتَبُو yu-ktab-ū يُكْتَبُو
Pl. 3 f kutib-na كَتَبْنَ

- In the Arabic script on the web page your are writing kutib as katab

yu-ktab-na يُكْتَبْنَ yu-ktab-na يُكْتَبْنَ yu-ktab-na يُكْتَبْنَ

External links

References

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