Arabic Language Blog

Arabic Nominal Sentence: The Predicate Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in Grammar, Vocabulary

In an earlier post, you learned that the nominal sentence الجُمْلَة الاِسْمِيَّة gets it name from the word with which it starts—a noun اِسْم. It has two parts the subject or topic المُبْتَدَأ and the predicate الخَبَر. The first is derived from اِبْتَدَأ ‘to start with’ and the second from خَبَرَ ‘to tells something about someone/something else.’ So, the خَبَرَ depends on the مُبْتَدَأ, i.e. no خَبَرَ without a مُبْتَدَأ. The خَبَرَ mostly comes second, and it has different forms. This post is about the Types of Predicate أَنْوَاعُ الخَبَر.

The مُبْتَدأ is always a noun اِسْم, and is almost always definite مَعْرِفَة. If indefinite نَكِرَة, it consequently comes second in the sentence as elaborated up earlier. The خَبَر, on the other hand, can be an indefinite single noun اِسْمُ مُفْرَد, a semi-sentence شِبْهُ جُمْلَة, a verbal sentence جُمْلَة فِعْلِيَّة, or another embedded nominal sentence جُمْلَة اِسْمِيَّة.

The Single Predicate الخَبَر المُفْرَد:

الخَبَر المُفْرَد is a single-word (not singular) predicate. This word is a noun that is essentially derived from a verb. Take the word نَاجِح ‘successful’ which is derived from the verb نَجَحَ ‘to succeed’ and the word طَالِب ‘ a student / a requester’ which derived from طَلَبَ ‘to request’. This type of nouns is called اِسْمُ الفَاعِل ‘active participle noun.’

Active Participle noun اِسْمُ الفَاعِل:

It is the noun that indicates the doer of the action. It is derived from verb that has three consonants by adding alif after the first letter, hence it is نَاجِح, طَالِب, قَاتِل from نَجَحَ, طَلَبَ, and قَتَلَ, respectively. If the verb is composed of more than three consonants, it has a different derivation. Another post will deal with this.

This single-word predicate can also be a word like مَكْتُوْب ‘written’, مَكْسُور ‘broken’, and مَعْلُوم ‘known’ which are derived from كَتَبَ ‘to write’, كَسَرَ ‘to break’, and عَلِمَ ‘to know.’ This type of noun is called اِسْم مَفْعُول ‘passive participle noun.’

Passive Participle Noun اِسْمُ المَفْعُول:

It is the noun that indicates the receiver of the action, i.e. what is acted upon. It is derived from the verb that is composed of the three letters by adding مـ at the beginning and ـو before the last letter, hence كَتَبَ à مَكْتُوْب, كَسَرَ à مَكْسُور, and عَلِمَ à مَعْلُوم.

The single-word predicate may also be a word like كَبِيْر ‘big’, صَغِيْر ‘small/little’, and سَمِيْن ‘fat/plump’ which are derived from كَبُرَ ‘to become big’, صَغُرَ ‘to become small’, and سَمُنَ ‘to become fat’. This type of nouns is called صِفَة مُشَبَّهَة بِاسمِ الفَاعِل ‘adjective that resembles active participle noun.’

Active Participle Adjective الصِّفَة المُشَبَّهَة باسم الفَاعِل:

It is a noun that describes another; therefore, it is known as adjective (though there’s no adjective per se in Arabic, i.e. as a part of speech). It is derived from the verb that لازِم ‘intransitive, i.e. does not require an object) by adding ـيـ before the last letter of the verb, hence طَالَ ‘to become long’ à طَوِيْل ‘tall’, سَمُنَ à سَمِيْن, قَصُرَ ‘to become short’ à قَصِيْر ‘short.’ There are other forms of it, but this is the most common.


In (1) and (5) in the table above, مَفْتُوْحَة and مَاهِر are both خَبَر. The first is passive participle اِسْم مَفْعُول and the second is active participle اِسم فَاعِل. Here are more examples:

الحَارِس جَالِس.  ‘the security guard is sitting.’

الكَأس مَكْسُور. ‘the glass is broken.’

الأَكْل لَذِيْذ. ‘the food is delicious.’

الرَّجُل مَخْمُور. ‘the man is drunk.’

الغُرْفَة وَاسِعَة. ‘the room is spacious.’

The Semi-sentence Predicate الخَبَر الشِّبْهُ الجُمْلَة:

This type of predicate is called شِبْه جُمْلَة ‘prepositional/adverbial phrase’ because it is composed of two or more words that can’t stand alone; that is, it must be combined with مُبْتَدَأ to form a meaningful sentence. The first word is either a preposition, such as فِي ‘in’, عَلَى ‘on’, and تَحْتَ ‘under’ or adverb of time such يَوْم ‘day’, صَبَاح ‘morning’, and فَصْل ‘season’. The second word in the phrase is always a noun. Hence, فِي البَيْت ‘in the house’, عَلَى الطَّاوِلَة ‘on the table’, تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَة ‘under the tree’; يَوْمَ الجُمْعَة ‘the day of Friday’, صَبَاحَ الخَمِيْس ‘Thursday morning’, and فَصْلَ الصَّيْف ‘the summer season.’


In (2) and (6) above, مِنَ اليَمَن ‘from Yemen’ and دَاخِل غُرْفَة الجُلُوس ‘inside the sitting room’ are both prepositional phrases خَبَر. Here are other examples:

الحَاسُوب فَوْق الطَّاوِلَة ‘the computer is on the table.’

الحَفْلَ اللَّيْلَة. ‘the ceremony is tonight.’

الفِلُوس فِي جَيْبِي. ‘the money is in my pocket.’

الرَّجُل كَالأسَد. ‘the man is like the lion, courageous.’

The Verbal Sentence Predicate الخَبَر الجُمْلَة الفِعْلِيَّة:

This type of predicate is called جُمْلَة فِعْلِيَّة verbal sentence’ because it starts with a verb in which an implicit subject is embedded and refers to the مُبْتَدَأ. Its verb can be past tense فِعْل مَاضٍ (مَاضِي) or present tense فِعْل مُضَارِع. The verb can be followed by other words that add more meaning to the sentence.


In (3) and (7) above, تَرْسُم  and يَتَنَاولَون are both present tense verbs. They are both followed by an object مَفْعُول, that is وَرْدَة ‘follower’ and القَاَت ‘Qat leaves’ (Qat is a tree that most Yemenis chew its leaves for relaxation and passing time with others.’ Here are other examples:

الأُسْتَاذ شَرَحَ الدَّرْس. ‘the teacher explained the lesson.’

الطَّبِيْب سَوْف يَحْضُر غَدًا. ‘the physician will come tomorrow.’

أخِي يَتَكَلَّم الأَلْمَانِيَّة. ‘my brother speaks German.’

صَدِيْقِي سَافَرَ أَمس. ‘my friend travelled yesterday.’

The Nominal Sentence Predicate الخَبَر الجُمْلَة الاِسْمِيَّة:

This type of predicate is called جُمْلَة اِسْمِيَّة because it starts with another مُبْتَدَأ called مُبْتَدأ ثَانٍ (ثَانِي) as explained in an earlier post.


In (4) and (8), عَمَلُه مُمْتَاز ‘his work is excellent’ and سُمْعَتُهُ سَيَّئَة ‘his reputation is bad’ constitute separate nominal sentence inserted inside the main. In عَمَلُه مُمْتَاز, عَمَلُه à مُبْتَدَأ and مُمْتَاز à خَبَر. Similarly, سُمْعَتُه à مُبْتَدَأ and سَيِّئَة is خَبَر. Here are more examples:

الطَّالِب خَطُّهُ جَمِيْل. ‘the student, his handwriting is beautiful.’

اليَمَن مُشْكِلَتُهُ صَعْبَة. ‘Yemen, its problem is complicated.’

الخِيَار لَوْنُهُ أَخْضَر. ‘the cucumber, its color is green.’

Tags: , ,
Keep learning Arabic with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

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.