بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

When you begin to study the different Arabic verb forms, it looks very confusing, tedious, and difficult. But in reality, it is just like maths, and it depends on whether you know the rules or not.

If you haven’t a clue as to the formulas and steps necessary to solve a math problem, you will of course find it almost impossible to solve it. It will all look like Hebrew or Latin, and you will look with open-mouthed wonder at the ones who find it so easy to solve. But in fact, it is very easy.

All you need to do is look at it from the right angle. I will in sha Allah share with you some of the things which I learned the hard way about Arabic verbs. Although Arabic is quite a different kind of language than English, it’s very useful to relate the two in cases where relation is possible.

Most verbs in Arabic consist of three letter roots, such as ذَهَبَ, جَعَلَ, قَرَأَ, and so on. These root letters can be added to in order to change the meanings, just as we do in English. For example, if we add –ing to care, it becomes a noun: caring.

There are two levels where this change can take place. The first level is where you make changes in the verb to change its tense, or part of speech etc., while keeping the original root letters themselves intact.

For example, you can change the word take to took, takes, taking, taker etc. In Arabic, you can change the word ذَهَبَ (he went) to يَذهَبُ (he goes), ذَهاَب (going), ذاهِب (goer) and so on. This original form of the word is called mujarrad. Here are some more examples:

قَرَأَ يَقْرَأُ اقْرَأْ قِراءَةٌ قَارِءٌ مَقْروء
He read He reads Read! reading reader readable
قال يقول قُلْ قَول قائل مقول
He said He says Say! saying “Sayer” said (stated)

But the original essence of the verb is still intact, and so is the meaning. If on the other hand you add to the root a prefix such as par-, re-, in-, over-, under- the meaning changes, but still there is a connection to the original meaning: partake, retake, intake, overtake, undertake etc. In Arabic, you can add letters  ,ت أ, to the root of نَزَلَ (to come down) to make أَنزَلَ, تَنَزَّلَ etc. These are called mazīd verbs. Here are some more examples:

عَلِمَ عَلَّمَ تَعَلَّمَ
He knew He taught He learned
بَكَى تَبَاكى
He cried He pretended to cry
غَفَرَ استَغْفَرَ
He forgave He asked for forgiveness

You can take each of these mazīd verbs and make level-1 changes to them, just as we made changes to the mujarrad verbs. For example, you can change overtake to overtook, overtakes, overtaking, overtaker, etc. In the same way, in Arabic, we can change أَنزَلَ to يُنزِلُ, إنزال, مُنزِلٌ etc. Here are some more examples:

عَلَّمَ يُعَلِّمُ عَلِّم تَعليم مُعَلِّمٌ مُعَلَّمٌ
He taught He teaches Teach! teaching teacher taught
استَغْفَرَ يَستَغفِرُ استَغفِرْ استِغفار مُستَغفِرٌ
He asked for forgiveness He asks for forgiveness Ask for forgiveness! Asking for forgiveness The asker of forgiveness
تَذَكَّرَ يَتَذَكَّرُ تَذَكَّرْ تَذَكُّرٌ مُتَذَكِّرٌ
He remembered He remembers Remember! remembrance one who remembers

Just like mathematics, knowing the formulas and steps is half conquering the battle – but don’t forget the other half –practice!

Learning Arabic is easy! 50% of the Quran in 9 hours.

Tabassum Mosleh

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