Arabic Language Blog

Verb Type نوع الفعل Posted by on Apr 16, 2011 in Arabic Language, Grammar, Uncategorized, Vocabulary

Today we are going to discuss the types of root verbs according to their form and ability to change form. The focus will be on the FORM and not the USE of these verbs. Uses of these special verb categories will come later. There are two main categories of verbs:

(1)   The Declinable Verb  الفعل المتصرف /Al-Fi’l Al-Motassaref/

 These are verbs that can be used in many forms. The verb here is not confined to one form. It falls into two types here:

a.  Fully Declinable Verb الفعل تام التصرف 

It is that which can be used in the three tense forms; past, present and imperative. Most verbs fall into this category.  

            Examples: كتبَ = (He) wrote ,  يكتُبْ = (He)writes , اُكتبْ = Write! (you).

                              شربَ = (He) drank , يشربْ = (He) drinks , اِشربْ = Drink!

                            زخرفَ = (He) decorated , يُزخْرِفْ = (He) decorates , زخرِفْ = Decorate!  

b.  Partially Declinable (Modal) Verb الفعل ناقص التصرف  

      –  The verb here can be used in the past and present only.

      – These verbs have special uses exactly like the English modals.

            1. Verbs of Continuousness أفعال الاستمرار that refer to a continuous action;

      ما زالَ was still , ما يزالْ = is still / ما برحَ , ما يبرحُ / ما فتىءَ , ما يفتأُ / ما انفكَّ , ما ينفك

                         Ex. ما تزالُ السياحة مهمةً لمصر = Tourism is still important for Egypt.  

            2. The two verbs كادَ / يكادُ and أوشكَ / يوشكُ meaning (was/is about/close to) 

                        Ex. كادَ المعلمُ أن يكون رسولاً  = A teacher was close to be a prophet.  

           3- The Two verbs طفقَ / يطفقُ and جعلَ / يجعلُ meaning to start or started.

                        Ex. طفقَ البترول يتدفق = Oil started to flow.

(2)   The Indeclinable (Modal) Verb  الفعل الجامد /Al-Fi’l Al-Jamid/

–  These are verbs that have only ONE form.

–  They can either be in the Past tense or in the Imperative. 

 – The meaning of the verb here doesn’t often refer to any time.  

  a. Verbs that are always in the Past Tense only :

         1)      ليس    = (no / not) and  ما دامَ = (as long as)  >>> Two Sisters of كانَ :

                   Ex.    –  ليس الامتحانُ صعباً = The exam was not hard.

                          –    تتقدم البشرية ما دامتْ جهود العلماءِ

                         = Humanity progresses as long as the scientists’ efforts continue.           

        2) The verbs of wishes or hopes أفعال الرجاء   : meaning (I hope)

                                  ( عسى  / حرى / اخلولقَ )

                            Ex. –  عسى طموحك أن يتحقق = I hope your ambition will come true.

        3) All verbs of starting except for طفق  and جعلَ

                                (أخذَ  / شرعَ / أنشاَ …… ) = started to

                  Ex. –  أخذَ الزهرُ يتفتّحْ = Flowers started to blossom.

                         –  شرعَ محمد فى العمل = Mohammad started to work.

       4) Verbs of Praise and Condemnation أفعال المدح و الذم

                               (نِعمَ  / حبّذا = “I praise” / بِئسَ  / لاحبّذا = “I condemn“)

                   Ex. نِعمَ الولدُ المجتهد = I praise the boy who works hard.

                       بِئسَ الطالبُ الكسلان = I condemn the lazy student.

       5) The two verbs of Exception أفعال الاستثناء  : خلا  / عدا = Except for   

                  Ex. كل الطلاب حضروا عدا محمدٌ  = All students attended except for Mohammad.

b. Verbs that are always in the Imperative :

       1- The verb هَبْ = Suppose e.g. هب نفسك غنياً = Suppose yourself rich.

       2- The verb تعلَّمْ = Know that , e.g. تَعَلَّم الحياة قصيرة = Know that life is short.


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

Check us back soon

Peace سلام   / 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:

    Hello Fisal,

    This classification comes very handy, in my notes I read somewhere that the verbs in the group (2) a. 3) in your post (ej. أخذ) are also called: أفعال الشرع .

    Is it correct?


    • Fisal:

      @Juan Hi Juan …. You are exactly right. These verbs are called أفعال الشروع with the meaning of setting off to do something or starting doing it. My classification here, is a broader classification relating to all Aarabic Verbs. Narrower detailed classifications of verb groups and uses will come later. These verbs will be studied when we are introduced to كان and its sisters and semi-sisters.