Arabic Language Blog

An Introduction to Verbs مقدمة فى الأفعال Posted by on Apr 15, 2011 in Arabic Language, Grammar, Vocabulary

  • In previous posts, we have discussed Nouns and learnt their basic terminology.
  • Today and in later posts, we are going to do the same with Verbs.
  • Most words (nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs) are derived from verbs.
  • The focus today will be on the basic terminology and categories of root verbs.

Verb Definition: 

It  is a part of speech that refers to something happening and Time is a part of it.

There are several forms of Root Verbs that can be studied in light of the following:

(1)   Verb Type نوع الفعل  : A verb falls into two main categories;

       a. Declinable متصرف : Verbs that can be used in many forms.

       b. Indeclinable جامد  : Verbs that have only ONE form.

(2)   Verb Tense الزمن : The form of the verbs depends on which tense it is.

        – A verb must agree with its subject in both number and gender.    

       – There are Three main tenses in Arabic:

      a. Past Tense الماضي : A verb which refers to a finished action in the past.

      b. Present Tense المضارع : A verb which refers to an unfinished action either at present or in the future.

(Note: Future is expressed by adding the letter س or the word سوف to the present verb.)  

      c. Imperative الأمر : A verb that refers to a request or a command.  

(3)   Verb Health صحة الفعل : Root verbs can be:

     a. Healthy صحيح : Verbs that don’t have any sick letters in their root.

        – Healthy Verbs have three types :

         i.  Mahmooz مهموز : Verbs that have a Hamza (أ ) in their stem.

        ii.  Doubled مضعّف : Verbs that have a doubled or repeated letter in their stem.

       iii.  Sound سالم : Verbs that don’t have a Hamza or a doubled letter in their stem.

   b. Unhealthy (Sick) معتل : Verbs that have one or two sick letters in their stem.

      – The sick letters are Waw (و ) , Alif (ا ) , Yaa (ى )

      – Unhealthy verbs have three types;

        1.  Mithaal مثال : Here the first letter of the verb is sick; e.g. وعد = promised

        2.  Agwaf أجوف : Here the second letter is a sick one; e.g. قال = said

        3.  Naaqis ناقص : Here the last letter of the root is sick; e.g. بنىَ = built

(4)  Verb effect أثر الفعل  : Verbs fall into two categories according to their effect.

     a. Transitive متعدى : It is the verb that takes and object and affects its object(s).

     b. Intransitive لازم : It is the Verb that do not take an object and affects only its subject.

(5)   Verb Voice : Verbs can be:

     a.  Active مبنى للمعلوم : A verb with a clear or mentioned subject.

     b. Passive مبنى للمجهول : A verb with a vague or unmentioned subject.


Next time, we will continue looking at Verbs in more and more detail.  

Check us back soon

Peace ســلام / Salam/ 

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About the Author: Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


  1. Juan:

    Thanks, I am waiting for the next episodes!

    One question, is there an arabic word to name the triliteral and quadriliteral verbs?


    • Fisal:

      @Juan Sure Juan, …. Triliteral means ثلاثى /Tholaathy/ an adjective refering to number three and Quadriliteral means رباعى /Robaaei/ an adjective referring to number four. Both these forms fall into the category of Mojarrad Verbs; those roots with minimum number of letters.

    • Fisal:

      @Juan Those will be discussed fully when we discuss conjugation and measures for derivation of new words. currently, I am much concerned with basic terminology of verbs.

  2. Juan:

    Thank you Fisal.