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Basic Breakdown of Verbs

January 8, 2011

A Basic Breakdown of Verb Conjugations

(Regular verbs, Present tense)

I haven’t seen a book series for learning Arabic which I like better than the Madinah series when it comes to teaching verbs. Knowledge should be organized in such a way that it is easy for the student to memorize. What I have seen time and again is that when many different types of verbs (mujarrad and mazeed, regular and irregular, etc) are all mixed together, the student has a difficult time memorizing the many different conjugations. So this will be a basic breakdown of verb conjugations for regular verbs in the present tense – using this chart from Madinah Book 3 and Binaa al Af’aal as a guide. Irregular verb conjugations can be found here and here. Past tense conjugations can be found here and here . It is important to memorize these forms and patterns little by little. Get a notebook, divide it into sections, organize your verbs a little at a time (for example, memorize all 6 forms of thulaathee mujarrad verbs before you try to memorize thulaathee mazeed), then write out how to conjugate each verb.

Any verb charts included in this explanation are my own. I organized the conjugation in a way which made it easy for me to memorize it. To begin:

A verb is either Rubaa’ee (4 letter root) or Thulaathee (3 letter root).

An example of a Rubaa’ee verb is: بَعْثَرَ

So you would look it up in the Hans Wehr under these 4 letters

[In the Hans Wehr, words are arranged by their roots. Even though this can be more difficult for the student at first, it is more beneficial in its arrangement than the Mawrid (because the student learns how to find words by their roots – thus learning how to identify a word’s root)]

An example of a Thulaathee verb is: ذَهَبَ

So you would look it up in the Hans Wehr under these 3 letters

A Thulaathee verb is either Mujarrad (Bare) or Mazeed (Increased)

The thulaathee verb has 6 mujarrad forms and they are verbs on the patterns of:

  1. كَتَبَ، يَكْتُبُ (middle letter in past tense has fat-hah, in the present tense, the middle letter has dammah)

  2. جَلَسَ، يَجْلِسُ (middle letter in the past tense has fat-hah, in the present tense, the middle letter has kasrah)

  3. ذَهَبَ، يَذْهَبُ (middle letter has fat-hah in the past and present tense)

  4. سَمِعَ، يَسْمَعُ (middle letter in the past tense has kasrah, but in the present tense has fat-hah)

  5. كَثُرَ، يَكْثُرُ (middle letter has dammah in the past and present)

  6. حَسِبَ، يَحْسِبُ (middle letter has kasrah in the past and present)

Forms 5 and 6 are a bit more rare than forms 1-4. In Madinah Book 2, chapter 10, it lists forms 1-4, so this is a good lesson to look at:

http://old.iu.edu.sa/spages/edu/syukbah/du2_11.htm

(link updated 7/14/2014)

For verb charts for forms 1-4, look here.

You’ll notice when you look up a word in the Hans Wehr, that it will have a letter beside it. For example, if you wanted to look up درس، then you would see a “u” beside درس. That means that the present tense form of درس has a dammah (or “u” sound) over the middle letter – يَدْرُسُ . So if you see a Thulaathee Mujarrad verb and do not know which of these six ways it is conjugated in the present tense, then look it up in the Hans Wehr. If you see an “a”, this means the middle letter in the present tense has fat-hah, and “i” beside the word means the middle letter in the present tense has kasrah.

The masaadir (ج: مصدر ) of Thulaathee Mujarrad verbs have different patterns, but two common patterns are:

1.فُعُوْلٌ For example: خُرُوْجٌ (leaving), رُكُوْعٌ (bowing), سُجُوْدٌ (prostration)

2.فَعْلٌ and فِعْلٌ and فُعْلٌ For example: دَرْسٌ (lesson), فِعْلٌ (action), شُرْبٌ (drinking)

Forming the أمر (command) is somewhat simple for these verbs:

Take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation of the Thulaathee Mujarrad verb in the present tense, e.g.: يَدْرُسُ

Take off the ي and replace it with hamzatul – wasl (merging hamza): ادْرُسُ

If the middle letter in the present tense has a dammah, then hamzatul wasl will take a dammah: اُدْرُسُ

Give the last letter sukoon: اُدْرُسْ

And that is the command for the masculine singular – Study!

To make it feminine (sg), have the last letter take kasrah and add a ي to it, e.g.: اُدْرُسِي

Now, if the middle letter in the present tense has fat-hah or kasrah, then hamzatul wasl will take kasrah (only) Examples:

يَفْتَحُ

Take off the ي and replace it with ا e.g.: افْتَحُ

If the middle letter has fat-hah or kasrah, the ا (hamzatul wasl) will have kasrah, e.g.: اِفْتَحُ

Give the last letter sukoon: اِفْتَحْ Open! (m.sg)

Do the same thing for يَغْسِلُ

Look at the Madinah lesson (Book 2, dars 14) for further practice:

( http://old.iu.edu.sa/spages/edu/syukbah/du2_15.htm  )

The Thulaathee verb which is Mazeed will be increased by 1 letter, 2 letters or 3 letters

The three forms which are increased by 1 letter:

1.(II)عَلَّمَ، يُعَّلِمُ  (increased by a shaddah – a shaddah letter means two letters are present, one of which has sukoon, e.g.: مَرَّ is really 3 letters – مَ رَ رْ )

2.(III) سَافَرَ، يُسَافِرُ (increased by alif after the first letter)

3.(IV) أَسْلَمَ، يُسْلِمُ  (increased by hamzah [on top of alif] in front of the first letter)

In the Hans Wehr, the definition for verbs increased by shaddah (e.g. علّم ) are listed after Roman numeral II. The definition for verbs increased by an alif after the first letter (سافر ) are listed after Roman numeral III. The definition for verbs increased by a hamzah in front of the first letter (e.g. أسلم ) are listed after Roman numeral IV.

For example, the word قَبلَ . When you look it up in the Hans Wehr, you see:

qabila a

The “a” after “qabila” means that the middle letter in the present tense has fat-hah:

يَقْبَلُ

Then it gives the masdar for the thulaathee mujarrad form ( قَبُوْل or قُبُوْل )

Then it gives the definition of the thulathee mujarrad form: to accept (is one definition). After it lists the definitions for the thulathee mujarrad form, you see II and this is the start of the definitions of the thulathee mazeed forms. II is specifically the definition/s for the root increased by shaddah (like علّم، درّس، etc), which in the case of قبل is: قَبَّلَ

The definition of قبّل is: to kiss

Then you see III and this means it is giving you definitions for the thulaathee mazeed form which is increased by an alif after the first letter (قاتل، سافر etc), which in this case is قَابَلَ . The definition of قابل is : to meet (this is one of the definitions)

After listing all the definitions for form III, then you will see IV which means it is giving definitions for the thulathee mazeed form which is increased by a hamza in front of the first letter (like أسلم، أشرك ). In this case, it is أَقْبَلَ . The definition of أَقْبَلَ is: to approach.

The masaadir for the mazeed forms:

II عَلَّمَ، يُعَلِّمُ، تَعْلِيْمٌ

III قَاتَلَ، يُقَاتِلُ، قِتَالٌ

[This form actually has two masdars – the other is on the form of مُفَاعَلَة like مُقَابَلَةٌ (meeting/appointment)]

IV أَسْلَمَ، يُسْلِمُ، إِسْلَام

 

The Command for these:

For form II, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation (present tense): يُعَلِّمُ

Take off the yaa: عَلِّمُ

Give the last letter sukoon: عَلِّمْ

That is the masculine singular (3rd person) command. To make it feminine singular, add kasrah and yaa: عَلِّمِي

For form III, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation: يُقَاتِلُ

Take off the yaa: قَاتِلُ

Give the last letter sukoon: قَاتِلْ

For form IV, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation: يُسْلِمُ

Take off the yaa and replace it with hamzah (with fat-hah): أَسْلِمُ

Give the last letter sukoon: أَسْلِمْ    (“Aslim” if the kasrah doesnt show under ل )

[Note that this form’s command begins with hamzatul qat’ ( أَ) and not hamzatul wasl ( ا )]

For practice on conjugating these verbs (Mazeed by 1 letter) and the meanings of these forms, go here

The five forms which are increased by 2 letters:

1.(V) تَعَلَّمَ، يَتَعَلَّمُ (which is increased by a shaddah and a taa in the beginning)

2.(VI) تَعَاوَنَ، يَتَعَاوَنُ (which is increased by an alif and a taa in the beginning)

3.(VII) اِنْقَلَبَ، يَنْقَلِبُ (which is increased by an alif and noon in the beginning)

4.(VIII) اِجْتَمَعَ، يَجْتَمِعُ (which is increased by an alif and taa which comes after the first letter)

5.(IX) اِحْمَرَّ ، يَحْمَرُّ(which is increased by an alif and a shaddah on the last letter)

 

{This form is generally used to describe colors and defects. The two examples in Binaa al Af’aal for this form are:

اِحْمَرَّ زَيْدٌ (Zaid turned red) and اِعْوَرَّ زَيْدٌ (Zaid became one-eyed) }

 

The Roman numerals V – IX are representative of where you will find the definition of these forms in the Hans Wehr. So if you wanted to find the meaning of تعاون you would have to look it up by its root. To find its root, you simply take off the two increased letters – taa and alif. This give you the root – عون . So when you look up عون , you look at the definition after VI and you will see the definition of تعاون

If you are looking up definitions and you don’t find certain Roman numerals, e.g. you see a V but not a VII, then that may mean that the word does not have that particular form or it may mean that the dictionary does not have that particular definition in it.

The مصادر for these are formed on the following patterns:

V.تَعَلَّمَ، يَتَعَلَّمُ، تَعَلُّمٌ

VI. تَعَاوَنَ، يَتَعَاوَنُ، تَعَاوُنٌ

VII. اِنْقَلَبَ، يَنْقَلِبُ، اِنْقِلَابٌ

VIII. اِجْتَمَعَ، يَجْتَمِعُ، اِجْتِمَاعٌ

IX. اِحْمَرَّ، يَحْمَرُّ، اِحْمِرَارٌ

Note that forms VII, VIII, and IX begin with hamzatul wasl (the merging hamzah) and not hamzatul qat’ ( أ )

To form the command for form V, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation (present tense): يَتَعَلَّمُ

Take off the yaa: تَعَلَّمُ

Give the last letter sukoon: تَعَلَّمْ

To make it feminine singular, add a kasrah and yaa – تَعَلَّمِي

To form the command in form VI, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation (present tense): يَتَعَاوَنُ

Take off the yaa: تَعَاوَنُ

Give the last letter sukoon: تَعَاوَنْ

To for the command for form VII, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation (present tense): يَنْقَلِبُ

Take off the yaa and replace it with an alif with kasrah: اِنْقَلِبُ

Give the last letter sukoon: اِنْقَلِبْ

 

To form the command in form VIII, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation (present tense): يَجْتَمِعُ

Take off the yaa and replace it with an alif with kasrah: اِجْتَمِعُ

Give the last letter sukoon: اِجْتَمِعْ

To form the command in form IX, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation (present tense): يَحْمَرُّ

Take off the yaa and replace it with alif with kasrah: اِحْمَرُّ

You can’t give the last letter sukoon (since a shaddah means two letters, one of which already has sukoon, e.g. رُ + رْ and two letters with sukoon cant be beside each other) so the command (masc.sing.) when a verb ends with a double letter takes fat-hah: اِحْمَرَّ

(Which happens to be the same form as the infinitive. This is likewise how you form the command (m.sg) in thulaathee mujarrad verbs with a double letter (i.e. by putting fat-hah on it). For example, صَبَّ – to pour. The command (m.sg) is صُبَّ . Because if you give the last letter sukoon then you will have بْ + بْ and this is not possible. So it takes fat-hah instead. For more on these types of irregular verbs (called muda’af) click on the links for irregular verbs I included in the beginning.)

Note that the command for forms VII, VIII, and IX begin with hamzatul wasl (the merging hamza) and not hamzatul qat’ ( أ )

For practice on conjugating these verbs (Mazeed by 2 letters) and the meanings of these forms, go here

There are four forms which are increased by 3 letters

But I am only going to list one. My intent was not for this to be a long dissertation on verbs, but rather a basic foundation which can be built upon (the other three forms can be found here )

Form X (in the Hans Wehr): اِسْتَعْمَلَ، يَسْتَعْمِلُ which is increased by alif, seen , and taa. To find the definition in Hans Wehr, take off the mazeed letters – است and you have the root – عمل . Once you find the root in Hans Wehr, look at the definitions after number X (Roman numeral 10)

The masdar is formed on the pattern of اِسْتِعْمَالٌ

To form the command, take the 3rd person masculine singular conjugation (present tense): يَسْتَعْمِلُ

Take off the yaa and replace it with alif with kasrah: اِسْتَعْمِلُ

Give the last letter sukoon: اِسْتَعْمِلْ

To make it feminine (singular) add a yaa: اِسْتَعْمِلِي

Thus ends this basic breakdown of verbs. Once you have memorized these forms and patterns, you have a solid foundation in shaa Allah.