Arabic Language Blog

Active and Passive in Arabic: Practice and Examples Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in Grammar, Vocabulary

In the previous post, you learned about the passive voice المَبْنِي لِلْمَجْهُول in Arabic, and how an active مَعْلُوم sentence is changed into passive مَجْهُول. Besides leaving some words out from the active sentence, verbal internal (i.e. non-final) diacritical marks or short vowels must change. This is essentially the most obvious change in verb forms. Also, with irregular Arabic verbs, weak letters (i.e. ا, و, and ي) often change. In this post, you will have further practice and see more examples of how to change active sentences to passive.

Perfective Passive:

In the colored table above, you can see that changing regular perfective forms of the verbs from active to passive only entails a change in the internal diacritical marks (or short vowels) of the verb. That is, while the first letter in the active verb is always accompanied by fatHah مَفْتُوح, it must be accompanied by DHammah مَضْمُوم in the passive. Also, the pre-final letter of the passive form must be accompanied by kasrah مَكْسُور, yet it is almost always مَفْتُوح in the active.

In the case of irregular perfective forms, you can see that there is a weak letter in each verb, i.e. an alif, which is never accompanied by any of the three short vowels; instead, it is always سَاكِن, that is accompanied by sukuun. If this weak letter is pre-final, it is always changed into يْ yaa’ accompanied by sukuun in the passive. This yaa’ forces the preceding letter to be accompanied by kasrah. If the pre-final letter in the verb is not weak, then it must be accompanied by kasrah مَكْسُور. Still, if the weak letter is the second in a four-letter verb, as in عَاهَدَ, it must be changed to و waaw in the passive form. Essentially, this change is forced by the DHammah on the preceding letter.

Following is a list of sentences in the active and their equivalents in the passive:

  مَعْلُوم Active

Verb + subject + Object


Verb + Subject + Object

(1) نَزَعَ مُحَمَّد السَّرِيْرَ مِنَ الغُرْفَة.

Mohammed removed the bed from the room.

نُزِعَ السَّرِيْرُ مِنَ الغُرْفَة.

The bed was removed from the room.

(2) أَجْلَسَتِ الأُمُّ الطِّفْلَ عَلَى الكُرْسِي.

The mother made the kid sit on the chair.

أُجْلِسَ الطِّفْلُ عَلَى الكُرْسِي.

The kid was seated on the chair.

(3) عَلَّقْتْ زَوْجَتِي قَمِيْصِي فِي الدُّوْلَاب.

My wife hung my shirt in the cupboard.

عُلِّقَ قَمِيْصِي فِي الدُّوْلاب.

My shirt was hung in the cupboard.

(4) فَرَشَتِ الأُسْرَةُ الَبِيْتَ الجَدِيْدَ.

The family furnished the new house.

فُرِشَ البَيْتُ الجَدِيْدُ.

The new house was furnished.

(5) زَلْزَلَ اللهُ الأَرْضَ.

Allah shook the earth.

زُلْزِلَتِ الأَرْضُ.

The earther was shaken.

(6) قَادَ القَائِدُ الجَدِيْدُ الجَيْشَ.

The new leader led the army.

قِيْدَ الجَيْشُ.

The army was led.

(7) أَقَامَتِ الحُكُوْمَةُ جَامَعَةً جِدِيْدَةً.

The government established a new university.

أُقِيْمَتْ جَامِعَةٌ جَدِيْدَةٌ.

A new university was established.

(8) عَاتَبَ الرَّجُلُ الزَّوْجَةَ.

The man reproached the wife.

عُوْتِبَتِ الزَّوْجَةُ.

The wife was reproached.

(9) اِخْتَارَ الرَّئِيْسُ عَلِيًّا وَزِيْرًا.

The President chose Ali to be a minister.

اُخْتِيْرَ مُحَمَّدٌ وَزِيْرًا.

Mohammed was chosen a president.

(10) اِسْتَقْبَلَ الجِمْهُورُ الفَرِيْقَ.

The fans received the team.

اُسْتُقْبِلَ الفَرِيْقُ.

The team was received.

(11) اِحْتَلَّ الفَرِنْسِيُّونَ أَفْرِيْقِيَا.

The French occupied Africa.

اُحْتِلَّتْ أَفْرِيقِيَا.

Africa was occupied.

(12) هَزَمَ لِيْفَربُول مَانشِسْتَر يُونَايِتِد.

Liverpool beat Manchester United.

هُزِمَ مَانشِسْتَر يُونَايْتِد.

Manchester United was beaten.

Imperfective Passive:

In the colored table above, if you look at the passive imperfective forms, you will see that they differ from the active in the diacritical mark of the first letter, i.e. the يـ, and the pre-final letter. While the يـ is always accompanied fatHah مَفْتُوح in the active, except with four-letter verbs, it is always accompanied by Dhammah مَضْمُوم in the passive. Also, while the pre-final letter is almost always accompanied by kasrah مَكْسُور in the active, it must be accompanied by fatHah مَفْتُوح in the passive.

While changing the perfective active form of the verb that is a four-letter verb into an imperfective form, the first letter which indicates the present (i.e. أ, ن, ي, ت) must be accompanied by Dhammah مَضْمُوم, as in شَاهَدَ يُشَاهِدُ, صَاحَبَ نُصَاحِبُ, هَشَّمَ  أُهَشِّمُ and so forth.

With irregular imperfective forms, the firs letter is always accompanied by Dhammah مَضْمُوم, and the weak letter is always changed into an alif in the passive event if it is pre-final. For example, with يَجُوب, يُقِيْل, يَسْتَعِيْد, and يَقُود, the pre-final و waaw and ي yaa’ are changed into an alif, hence يُجَابُ, يُقَالُ, يُسْتَعَادُ, and يُقَادُ.

Following is a list of imperfective active sentences and their passive equivalents:

  مَعْلُوم Active

Verb + Subject + Object


Verb + Subject + Object

(1) يَحْمِلُ هَذَا القِطَارُ البَضَائِع مِنَ مَالِيْزِيا.

This train carries the goods from Malaysia.

تُحْمَلُ البَضَائِعُ مِنَ مَالِيْزِيَا.

The goods are carried from Malaysia.

(2) يَشْرَحُ الأسْتَاذُ الدَّرْسَ.

The teacher explains the lesson.

يُشْرَحُ الدَّرٍسُ.

The lesson is explained.

(3) تَرْفَعُ الحُكْومَة أَسْعَارَ البِتْرُولِ كُلَّ عَامٍ.

The government raises oil prices every year.

تُرْفَعُ أَسْعَارُ البِتْرُولِ كُلَّ عَامٍ.

Oil prices are raised every year.

(4) يَزْرَعُ النَّاسُ الأَفُوكَادُو فِي تِشْيلِي.

People grow avocado in Chile.

يُزْرَعُ الأَفُوكَادُو فِي تِشِيْلِي.

Avocado is grown in Chile.

(5) يَصُومُ المُسْلِمُونَ رَمضَان.

Muslims fast Ramadan.

يُصَامُ رَمَضان.

Ramadan is fasted.

(6) يَحْفَظُ الطُّلَّابُ المُسْلِمُونَ القُرآنَ الكَرِيْم.

Muslim students memorize the Holy Quran.

يُحْفَظُ القُرْآنُ الكَرِيْمَ.

The Holy Quran is memorized.

(7) تَزِيْدُ الشَّرِكَةُ الرَّوَاتِبَ كُلَّ سَنَةٍ.

The company raises salaries every year.

تُزَادُ الرَّوَاتِبُ كُلَّ سَنَةٍ.

The salaries are raised every year.

(8) تَسْتَهْجِنُ الأُمَمُ المُتَّحِدَةِ قَتْلَ المَدَنِيِيْن.

The UN denounces the killing of civilians.

يُسْتَهْجَنُ قَتْلُ المَدَنِيِيْن.

The killing of civilians is denounced.

(9) يُعِيْدُ القَاضِيُ الحَقَّ إِلَى أَصْحَابِهِ.

The judge restores the property to its owners.

يُعَادُ الحَقُّ إِلَى أَصْحَابِهِ.

The property is restored to its owners.

(10) يَشْرَبُ النَّاسُ هُنَا القَهْوَةَ فِي الصَّبَاح فَقَط.

People here drink coffee only in the morning.

تُشْرَبُ القَهْوَةُ هُنَا فِي الصَّبَاحِ فَقَط.

Coffee here is drunk only in the morning.

(11) تَصْنَعُ شَرِكَةُ سَامسُونج هَذَا الحَاسُوبَ في الصَّيْن.

Samsung makes this computer in China.

يُصْنَعُ هَذَا الحَاسُوبُ فِي الصَّيْن.

This computer is made in China.

(12) يَلْبَسُ الرِّجَالُ الجَنْبِيَّةَ فِي اليَمَن وعُمَان.

Men wear jambia in Yemen and Oman.

تُلْبَسُ الجَنْبِيَّة فِي اليَمَن وَعُمَان.

Jambia is worn in Yemen and Oman.

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About the Author: Ibnulyemen اِبْنُ اليَمَن

Marhaban! I am from Yemen. I am a language teacher. I teach English and Arabic. In this blog, I will be leading you through Arabic language learning in a sequential fashion. I will focus on Modern Standard Arabic. To learn more, you can also visit my website Ibnulyemen Arabic or my facebook page.


  1. Ahmadou Tidiane Balde:

    Thank you for your lessons which I greatly love

  2. Herman:

    this is very helpful for us beginners