Arabic Language Blog

How to Order and Make Suggestions in Arabic (2) Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 in Grammar, Vocabulary

In a previous post, I showed how to give orders/instructions in Arabic. We almost always use the imperative form of the verb الفِعْلُ الأَمْر which is derived from the present form of the 3rd person singular masculine. This post focuses on conjugating the imperative form with the 2nd person singular feminine, dual, and plural. Also, it shows other forms of making suggestions. This includes how to use the present to give an order or form a suggestion.

2nd Person Feminine Singular أَنْتِ:

For the 2nd person feminine singular, to drive the imperative form of the verb, we simple add ـي (which is the corresponding attached pronoun for أَنْتِ) to the end of the imperative form of the 2nd person masculine singular, as you can see in the table above. Hence:

اُكْتُبْ becomes اُكْتُبِي

نَزِّلْ becomes نَزِّلِي

ضَعْ becomes ضَعِي        …. and so forth.

The diacritical mark on the letter of اُكْتُبْ, نَزِّلْ, and ضَعْ changes from sukuun to kasrah due to the ـي, which always triggers the placement of kasrah on the letter before in all Arabic words.

One obvious irregularity is the forms of قُلْ and بِعْ which become قُوْلِي and بِيْعِي. The reason for this is that the original form of قُلْ with the 2nd person masculine singular is قُوْلْ, and due to the having two sukuuns in a row, the rule stipulates that the first letter with sukuun must be dropped altogether, thus قُوْلْ becomes قُلْ.

In the case of the 2nd person feminine singular, the diacritical mark on the ل in قُوْلْ becomes kasrah instead of sukuun due to the ـي; therefore, it cannot be dropped, and the final form becomes قُوْلِي.

The same process of derivation can be applied with other similar verbs and with بِعْ which is originally بِيْعْ and then the ـيْـ is dropped due to the two sukuuns; after adding the ـي of the 2nd person feminine singular, the diacritic on the عْ changes to kasrah عِ, so the ـيْـ of بِيْعْ is retained, and the final form becomes بِيْعِي.

2nd Person Dual أَنْتُمَا:

As in the table above, to derive the imperative form for the 2nd person dual, we simply add ـا (i.e. the alif of the dual) to the end of the 2nd person masculine singular form. Hence:

اُدْرُسْ becomes اُدْرُسَا

اُعْبُرْ becomes اُعْبُرَا

نَزِّلْ become نَزِّلا            …. and so forth.

As for the internal diacritics, the final letter of the verb gets fatHah in the place of the sukuun due to the alif (i.e. alif always triggers fatHah on every letter that occurs before it). Another obvious change is that in the case قُوْلا and بِيْعَا and other similar verbs the dropped و and ي are retained due the change in diacritical marks, just as is the case with the 2nd person feminine singular.

2nd Person Masculine Plural أَنْتُم:

For the 2nd person masculine plural, we add ـو (i.e. masculine plural marker/ending) to the end of the 2nd person masculine singular verb. Also, we substitute DHammah for sukuun due to the ـو (which triggers DHammah on every letter occurring before it). Hence:

اُكْتُبْ becomes اُكْتُبُوا

اُعْبُرْ becomes اُعْبُرُوا

أَحْضِرْ become أَخْضِرُوا                …. and so forth.

As for the retention of و and ـيـ in قُوْلُوا  and بِيْعُوا and other similar verbs, it is due to the change in the internal diacritical marks. That is, in the original form قُوْلْ, the لْ has sukuun but after adding the ـو of the plural to it, it becomes لُ, so the وْ is retained, and so is the case with ـيْـ.

Also, you may wonder what the ا (the alif) after the ـو of the plural is for. It is called the differentiating alif الأَلِف الفَارِقَة. That is, it distinguishes between the ـو that is part of the verb and the ـو that is the plural suffix. For example, in the verbs يَدْعُو ‘he calls/invites’ and يَرْجُو ‘he hopes’, the ـو is part of the verb. However, in the verbs يَقْدِرُوا, ذَهَبُوا, and اُكْتُبُوا, the ـو is a plural suffix (ending), so an alif is added after it to signify that the ـو is a plural ending, not part of the verb.

2nd Person Feminine Plural أَنْتُنَّ:

For this person, we simply add its ending, which is نَ, to the end of the 2nd person masculine singular form. Hence:

اُدْرُسْ becomes اُدْرُسْنَ

أَكْمِلْ becomes أَكْمِلْنَ

قُلْ become قُلْنَ

اِرْمِ becomes اِرْمِيْنَ (ـيْـ is retained)                     …. and so forth.

Making Suggestions:

To make a suggestion in Arabic, we use certain particles أَدَوَات with the present or imperative form of verbs. These are لِمَ, هَيَّا, لِـ, and لَوْ.

  • لِمَ is composed of the preposition لِـ (which means for) and مَا ‘what’. The alif of مَا is dropped due to the preposition, so it becomes لِمَ. We use it with لا to form the expression لِمَ لا which means why not. So, we say:

لِمَ لا نَذْهَب إِلَى السُّوق. ‘why don’t we go the market?’

لِمَ لا تَذْهَب إِلَى السِّيْنَمَا! ‘why don’t you go to the cinema?’

لِمَ لا تَلْعَبُون كُرَة قَدَم! ‘why don’t you play football?’

  • هَيَّا is a particle that indicates an imperative. It means let’s. So, we say:

هَيَّا نَذْهَب! ‘let’s go.’

هَيَّا بِنَا! ‘let go.’

هَيَّا نَحْتَفِل! ‘let’s celebrate.’

هَيَّا يَا مُحَمَّد! or هَيَّا مُحَمَّد! ‘let’s go, Mohammed!’

  • لِـ is use with verbs for order or request. So, we say:

لِنَذْهَبْ إِلَى البَيْت. ‘let’s go home.’

لِنَشْرَب أَوَّلاً! ‘let’s drink first.’

فَلْتَكْتُب الوَاجِب قَبْل أَنْ تَنَام. ‘you must write the homework before you sleep’ (here we use فـ is the order or request is addresses to the 3rd person).

  • لَوْ is for giving an offer or suggestion. It means what if / how about. So, we say:

لَوْ نُسَافِر صَبَاحًا. ‘what if we travel in the morning.’

لَوْ تَذْهَب مَعِي، فَتُشَاهِد المُبَارَاة. ‘what if you go with me, so you watch the match. ‘

لَوْ تَتَمَشَّى مَعِي. ‘how about strolling with me.’

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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. Mariah:

    May Allah bless and reward you for this blog. I really appreciate and enjoy learning from your blog.