Arabic Language Blog

Some confusing words Posted by on Mar 27, 2011 in Grammar, Vocabulary

One day Katherine protested, I will never know the difference between mosque and university in Arabic! Why are they so confusing? Later on the same day, another student translated modern as event, and again he was very frustrated with the similarity between both words!

Arabic is a highly derivational language where most content words, i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are derived form roots, mostly from 3-lettered roots. In this post, I present some derivatives of the two roots that were confusing to my students (ج م ع) and (ح د ث)

جمع = gathered

جمّع = collected

تجمّع = came together

اجتمع = got together (convened, met)

جامع = mosque (also مسجد means mosque)

جامعة = university

مجتمع = society

اجتماع = meeting

اجتماعي = social

الجمعة = Friday


حدث (v) = happened, occurred

حدث (n) = event

حادث = accident

حديث = new, modern

حدّث = told

تحدّث = spoke

تحديث = modernization, renewing

الحداثة = modernization

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  1. Juan:

    Hello Aziza,

    I have had the same problem, those words are confusing to me.


  2. Juan:

    Hi again,

    Let me add to the list a new word I just found. Same root (ج،م،ع)

    جماعة = group, band, gang


    • aziza:

      @Juan Yes, thank you Juan. That’s a very useful word.
      Thank you!