Arabic Language Blog

The Verbal Sentence (Part 3) – Subject-Verb Agreement: Number Posted by on Oct 16, 2012 in Arabic Language, Culture, Grammar, Vocabulary

     Today we are going to continue our study of the Verbal Sentence الـجـمـلــة الـفـعـلـيـــة . We have already discussed the Verb in more detail and the Subject or doer of the verb. In this post we will discuss the subject-verb agreement; how the verb looks like with different subjects. To be more specific, what number and gender should the verb be in? Does the subject’s number and gender matter? Does the verb need to agree with its subject?

      The answer to such questions is simply and generally a yes. Any verb should agree with its subject in both number and gender. We will be looking at the rules for more details and we will start with the number-agreement.

A)    Verb-Subject Agreement: Number

 Rule: A Verb is always singular if its subject is Visible. It does not matter whether the subject is singular, dual or plural. The verb will always be singular.

  Ex.يكتبْ الطالبُ الدرسَ   = The student is writing the lesson.

        –  يكتبْ الطالبانِ الدرسَ  = The students (Dual, Masculine) are writing the lesson.

        – يكتبْ الطلابُ الدرسَ  = The students (Masculine Plural) are writing the lesson.

       Now, what do you notice about the three examples above? The verb is singular and all subjects are visible. By “visible” we mean that they are written and can be seen as clear nouns. In the first example, the subject is singular and the verb is likewise. So, they agree in number. In the second example the subject is dual but still the verb is singular. So, they don’t agree in number. The verb is always singular. In the third example, the subject is plural and still the verb is singular. So, they do not agree in number as the verb stays singular. The above three examples are all in the present tense (يكتب)  

      Now let’s look at some other set of examples:

           Ex.  – كتبَ الطالبُ الدرسَ  = The student wrote the lesson.

                   – كتبَ الطالبانِ الدرسَ  = The students (Dual, Masculine) wrote the lesson.

                   – كتبَ الطلابُ الدرسَ = The students (Plural, Masculine) wrote the lesson.

Ok, what is the difference between these three examples and the three previous ones? The Tense! The tense here is Past (كتبَ). Yes, the verb tense is the only difference. What about the verb Number? It is still singular regardless of the changing number of the subject.

      So, what can we conclude from the rule and examples above?

  • We are speaking about the verbal sentence that always starts with a verb.   
  • A verb always stays singular if its subject is a visible noun.
  • The number of the visible subject can change but still the verb-number is the same (singular).
  • Imperative verbs! They must agree with their subjects because their subject will not be visible nouns but rather, will be pronouns.

                Ex.اُكتبْ الدرسَ = Write (“you” singular, masculine) the lesson.

                        –  اُكتــُــبــَــا الدرسَ = Write (“you” dual masculine) the lesson.

                        –  اُكتــُــبــُــوا الدرسَ = Write (“you” plural masculine) the lesson. 

Gender! Oh, yes next time In Shaa’ Allah.

– Revise the Arabic Nouns!

– Revise the Arabic Pronouns!

– Revise the Arabic Verbs!

Revise the Nouns Number!


Check us back soon

Peace  ســـلام /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. Scheich Josef:

    مرحبا يا فيصل!

    One tiny hint: The imperfect vowel of the verb كَتَبَ is a “u”. The imperative forms of this verb start therefore with a “u” and not an “i”.

    مع السلامة


  2. Fisal:

    أهلا يا شيخ يوسف
    Thank you so much for your correction.
    Best 🙂