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Deriving Nouns from Verbs in Arabic (1) Posted by on Jul 3, 2018 in Grammar, morphology, Vocabulary

A distinguishing feature of Arabic language is that it is a derivational language. Multiple words are derived from a single root word based specific morphological rules. Using the morphological measure, affixes (suffixes, prefixes, and infixes) are appended to the root word forming news words. For example, form the root كَتَبَ ‘write’, we derive كَاتِب ‘writer’, مَكْتُوب ‘letter’, كِتَابَة ‘writing’, and مَكْتَب ‘office.’ This post is about how to derive two types of nouns: the active participle اِسْمُ الفَاعِل and the exaggerated form of active participle صِيْغَةُ المُبَالَغة.

Active Participle اِسْمُ الفَاعِل:

Generally, the active participle (AP) is derived from conjugatable active verbs to indicate the doer of the action that happens at a specific point of time, just as the noun writer in English is derived from the verb write. For example, if we say مُحَمَّد يَكْتُب رِسَالَة ‘Mohmmed writes a letter,’ the AP of this action is مُحَمَّد كَاتِب ‘Mohammed is a writer.’ Certain rules are to be adhered to when doing the derivation, as follow:

Tri-consonantal Verbs:

When derived from tri-consonantal sound verb (i.e. the verb that does not include a weak letterحَرْفُ عِلَّةا, و, ي), the AP is morphologically weighed as فَاعِل. That is, we add alif after the fa’a of the word, hence كَـتَبَ ‘to write,’ جَلَسَ ‘to sit,’ and طَلَبَ ‘to request’ become كَاتِب, جَالِس, and طَالِب.

If the verb includes initial hamzah أ, it combines with the alif of the AP and becomes maddah آ, so أَخَذَ ‘to take’ becomes آخِذ and أَكَلَ ‘to eat’ become آكِل. If the hamzah is medial, it is written as ئـ, hence سَألَ ‘to ask’ becomes سَائِل. If the hamzah is final, it is written as ئ, hence قَرَأ becomes قَارِئ.

If the tri-consonantal verb includes a weak letter, the following procedure is followed. Verbs with initial weak letters, such as وَصَلَ ‘to arrive,’ وَجَدَ ‘to find,’ and وَعَدَ ‘to promise,’ undergo no change; hence, their respective APs are وَاصِل, وَاجِد, and وَاعِد. If the weak letter is medial, it generally changes to hamzah ئـ in the AP, hence قَالَ ‘to say’; نَامَ ‘to sleep’; and خَافَ ‘to fear’ become قَائِل, نَائِم, and خَائِف. If the weak letter is final, it is dropped from the AP in the nominative and genitive case, so جَرَى ‘to run’; رَمَى ‘to throw’; and وَقَى ‘to protect’ become جَارٍ, رَامٍ, and وَاقٍ, but retained in the accusative case, hence جَارِيًا, رَامِيًا, and حَامِيًا.

Non-tri-consonantal Verbs:

If the verb is not tri-consonantal, the AP is derived from the imperfective form of the verb الفِعْل المُضَارِع by replacing the يـ of the imperfective form with مُ (with DHammah) and adding a kasrah to pre-final letter, hence يُشَاهِد becomes مُشَاهِد; يَتَكَلَّم ‘to speak’ becomes مُتَكَلِّم; يَسْتَعِد ‘to be ready’ become مُسْتَعِد; يَسْتَغْفِر ‘to seek forgiveness’ becomes مُسْتَغْفِر; يُفِيْد ‘to benefit’ (from أَفَادَ) becomes مُفِيْد; and so forth.

Following are additional example of AP from tri-consonantal verbs:

شَكَرَ ‘to thank’ شَاكِر
صَنَعَ ‘to make/manufacture’ صَانِع
شَرَحَ ‘to explain’ شَارِح
ذَهَبَ ‘to go’ ذَاهِب
بَاعَ ‘to sell’ بَائِع ـا changes to ئـ
ضَرَبَ ‘to hit’ ضَارِب  
قَطَعَ ‘to cut’ قَاطِع  
دَعَى ‘to call’ دَاعٍ / دَاعِيًا the ya’a is dropped in genitive and nominative, but not in accusative.
غَلَبَ ‘to overcome’ غَالِب  
خَرَجَ ‘to go out’ خَارِج  
عَبَسَ ‘to frown’ عَابِس  

Following are additional examples of AP from non-tri-consonantal verbs:

أَخْرَجَ ‘to cause to exit’ مُخْرِج
تَعَلَّمَ ‘to educate oneself’ مُتَعَلِّم
عَاتَبَ ‘to blame’ مُعَاتِب
اِسْتَخْرَجَ ‘to extract’ مُسْتَخْرِج
اِسْتَقْبَلَ ‘to receive’ مُسْتَقْبِل
لاكَمَ ‘to box (sport)’ مُلَاكِم
رَاجَعَ ‘to review, revise’ مُرَاجِع
دَافَعَ ‘to protect’ مُدَافِع
شَارَكَ ‘to participate’ مُشَارِك
اِسْتَسْلَمَ ‘to surrender’ مُسْتَسْلِم

Exaggerated Form of Active Participle صِيْغَة المُبَالَغَة:

This type of AP is derived from the tri-consonantal verb only. It describes the doer who does a lot of one thing (i.e. does something repeatedly). It has five morphological measures: فَعَّال, مِفْعَال, فَعُول, فَعِيْل, and فَعِل.

(1) فَعَّال:

This exaggerated form of AP is the most commonly used in Arabic, as in these examples:

Verb الفِعْل Simple AP اِسْمُ الفَاعل Exaggerated AP صِيْغَة المُبَالَغَة
أَكَلَ ‘to eat’ آكِل أَكَّال ‘one who eats a lot.’
نَامَ ‘to sleep’ نَائِم نَوَّام ‘one who sleeps a lot.’
مَشَى ‘to walk’ مَاشٍ ، مَاشِيًا مَشَّاء ‘one who walks a lot.’
غَفَرَ ‘to forgive’ غَافِر غَفَّار ‘one who forgives a lot.’

(2) مِفْعَال:

The مِ has kasrah and the فْ has sukuun. While all APs forms are changed into feminine by adding the feminine marker, i.e. ـة al-ta’a al-marbuuTah, the same form of this type of exaggerate AP is used for both masculine and feminine, as in these examples:

Verb الفِعْل Simple AP اِسْمُ الفَاعل Exaggerated AP صِيْغَة المُبَالَغَة
سَمِعَ ‘to hear’ سَامِع مِسْماع
هَذَرَ ‘to prattle’ هَاذِر مِهْذَار
قَدِمَ ‘to come forward’ قَادِم مِقْدَام ‘bold, fearless’

(3) فَعُوْل:

This is another commonly used form of exaggerate AP. And the same form is used for both masculine and feminine (i.e. no need to add the feminine marker), as in these examples:

Verb الفِعْل Simple AP اِسْمُ الفَاعل Exaggerated AP صِيْغَة المُبَالَغَة
شَكَرَ ‘to thank’ شَاكِر شَكُوْر
صَبَرَ ‘to be patient’ صَابِر صَبُور
صَدَقَ ‘to say the truth’ صَادِق صَدُوْق

(4) فَعِيْل:

Unlike the above two Aps, this is made feminine by adding the feminine marker. It is not as common in the language, as in these examples:

Verb الفِعْل Simple AP اِسْمُ الفَاعل Exaggerated AP صِيْغَة المُبَالَغَة
عَلِمَ ‘to become familiar’ عَالِم عَلِيْم
قَدَرَ ‘to be able to’ قَادِر قَدِيْر
خَبَرَ ‘to know well’ خَابِر خَبِيْر

(5) فَعِل:

This type is fairly common in everyday Arabic. It is made feminine by adding ـة ta’a marbuuTah. Also, a simple AP cannot be derived from this type of root verbs, as in these examples:

Verb الفِعْل Simple AP اِسْمُ الفَاعل Exaggerated AP صِيْغَة المُبَالَغَة
فَرِحَ ‘to be happy at’ فَرِح
لَبُقَ ‘to be tactful’ لَبِق
حَذِرَ ‘to be cautious’ حَذِر
قَلِقَ ‘to worry’ قَلِق
يَقِظَ ‘to be vigilant’ يَقِظ
شَرِسَ ‘to be ill-tempered’ شَرِس

The adjective that resembles the AP الصِّفَة المُشَبَّهَة بِاسْمِ الفَاعِل will be explained in the next post.

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About the Author:Ibnulyemen

Marhaban! I am from Yemen. I am a language teacher. I teach English and Arabic. Besides Arabic and English, I speak French and some German. I have a strong flair for languages; most of my foreign language competency has been self-learning. For Arabic, I have a strong command of its formal aspects. So, if you have any question about Arabic grammar or morphology, feel free to ask any question you may have. In this blog, I will be leading you through Arabic language learning in a sequential and interactive fashion. I will focus on Modern Standard Arabic. Arabic dialectal expressions and vocabulary will be highlighted whenever pertinent to the topic of each post. Enjoy learning!


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