Arabic Language Blog

The Difference Between Arabic Verb Forms II and V Posted by on Aug 16, 2009 in Grammar

In this post, I explain the difference between 2 verb forms: form II (فعَّلَ) and form V (تفعَّلَ). Form II is always transitive, i.e. it must take an object at all times, so the sentence in which a form II verb is used must have a subject and an object, e.g.

كسّر الولد الزجاج.

“The boy broke the glass.”

علّمني أبي القرآن.

“My father taught me the Qur’an.”

Form V is always intransitive, i.e. it never takes an object, so the sentence in which a form V verb is used has only a subject, e.g.

تكسّر الزجاج.

“The glass broke.”

تعلّمت القرآن.

“I learned the Qur’an.”

Form V verbs have a range of meanings implied in them; some verbs imply that the action is done by the subject, e.g.

تعلّم (learned) =

تكلّم = (spoke)

Some verbs imply that the action is spontaneous, e.g.

تكسّر = (broke)

تطوّر = (developed/evolved)

Some verbs imply that the subject is irrelevant or unknown, and in this case we translate it into passive in English, e.g.

تشرّف = (was honored)

تعزّز = (was strengthened)

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  1. othmaan:

    sister! how many forms of verb are there in arabic?

  2. Aziza:

    Ahlan Othmaan,
    There are 10 verb forms altogether. There is brief explanation about them in previous posts.
    Salam, Aziza

  3. Juan:

    I am confused here:
    For verbs type II you say that they take an object,
    OK, you give the example:
    “The boy broke the glass”
    For verbs type V tou say they do not take object and you give the example:
    “I learned the Qur’an”

    Both sentences have the same structure!
    I think that the Qur’an here is also the object of my learning.

    In this example, the sentence do not have only subject as you say for type V verbs,

    Any view here?


  4. Aziza:

    Ahlan Juan,
    You have the right to be confused because I did not make my explanation explicit enough. In fact, I am talking about 2 verbs of the same root, e.g.
    كسّر is smashes, as broke something, while تكسّر is broke on its own.
    Likewise, علّم is taught someone, while تعلّم is learned.
    I hope this explains the matter to you.

  5. Juan:

    Thank you Aziza for your explanations.

    I think I got it, you are right.
    Probably the key word here to understand is “reflexive”. On type V the action of the verv seems to be acted on the same person/object:

    The glass broke on its own or
    I learned (I taught to myself)

    Thanks again, I like your posts.

  6. iami:

    syukran . i am very happy to have your web in my favorites. tq,

  7. Aziza:

    Shukran Iami,
    I am glad you like the Arabic blog. Welcome at any time!