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Sarf – The Command Verb: constructing theامر

April 17, 2007

The command verb, or the امر , is different from other verb conjugations previously covered in the sense that a command is usually directed towards a second person e.g eat! or stop!; thus, the construction of 2nd person command verb in Arabic is different from that of other conjugations of the same. Also, at first, it seems rather odd that we can even have a command verb in 1stor 3rdperson conjugations. However, examples like He must eat! and They must abstain! do give us good examples of command verbs in persons other than second.

Based on the above information we see that the 2nd person active command verb requires special attention. In fact, it’s construction rules are a bit different than those of 1st & 3rd person active command verb. Below I give the general rules which govern the construction of active voice command verbs in Arabic:

  1. 2nd Person Active Command verb – constructed using active verb of the مضارع and applying 3 specific steps
  2. 1st& 3rd person active & passive and 2ndperson passive – constructed using the endings of the لم table and attaching لام of امر in front of each conjugation

Insha Allah we will see now how these rules are applied in practice.

As a first step we divide the لم table into two sections – 2nd person (left side) and 3rd & 1st persons (right side):

You (male) did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلْ
You (2 males) did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلاَ
You (group of males) did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلُوْا
You (female) did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلِيْ
You (2 females) did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلاَ
You (group of females) did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلْنَ
He did not do لَمْ يَفْعَلْ
They (2 males) did not do لَمْ يَفْعَلاَ
They (group of males) did not do لَمْ يَفْعَلُوْا
She did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلْ
She (2 females) did not do لَمْ تَفْعَلاَ
She (group of females) did not do لَمْ يَفْعَلْنَ
I did not do لَمْ أَفْعَلْ
We did not do لَمْ نَفْعَلْ

Constructing the 1st Person / 3rd Person Active command verb:

  1. Attach a لام with a kasra in front of each conjugation and keep the endings exactly as those in the لم table. This rule also applies to the passive construction. Here I will only give examples of the active voice:
He must do! لِيَفْعَلْْ
They (2 males) must do! لِيَفْعَلاََ
They (group of males) must do! لِيَفْعَلُوْا
She must do! لِتَفْعَلْ
She (2 females) must do! لِتَفْعَلاََ
She (group of females) must do! لِيَفْعَلْنََ
I must do! لأََفْعَلْ
We must do! لِنَفْعَلْْ

Constructing the 2nd Person Active command verb:

These conjugations are constructed from the مضارع verb as outlined below:

  1. Remove the sign of مضارع i.e. تَ from the verb
  2. After removing the sign of مضارع if the next letter (i.e. the ف position) has a vowel on it then simply make the last letter of the remaining word sakin and use the endings from the لم table . An example of this kind would be تَتَقبَّلُ . Since the second letter already has a fathah on it therefore the command verb would be تَقَبَّل .
  3. After removing the sign of مضارع if the next letter is sakin then it cannot be pronounced since words need to start with a vowel (dhamma, fatha, kasra). In this case, we add a hamza (اء) in front of the word to aid pronunciation, and then look at the ع position of the word: if this letter has a dhamma then we put a dhamma on the hamza which is at the front of the word. However, if this letter has either a fathah or a kasra we put a kasrah on the hamza. Examples of this construction are:
    • تَنصُرُ which changes to أُنصُرْ
    • تَضرِبُ which changes to إضرِبْ
    • تَسمَعُ which changes to إسمَعْ

A complete listing of the 2nd Person Active command verb is given below. Note that the endings remain that of the لم table:

You (male) do! إفْعَلْْ
You (2 males) do! إفْعَلاَ
You (group of males) do! إفْعَلُوْا
You (female) do! إفْعَلِيْ
You (2 females) do! إفْعَلاَ
You (group of females) do! إفْعَلْنَ

The Emphatic Command :

In addition to saying He must do! we can also give an emphatic command: Verily, he must do!, which is the addition of emphasis to the command verb. Since we know that emphasis in Arabic can be achieved either by using ن ثقيلة or ن خفيفة , therefore we can have command verb conjugations in the emphatic form. The table below lists these conjugations for the active voice. Notice that the endings are exactly those of the emphatic table and that the لام of امر (with a kasra) replaces the لام with a fatha at the start in the 3rd and 1st person conjugations (and also in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person passive conjugations). Plus, the 2 nd person active conjugations still start with اِف

ن ثقيلة conjugations for the command verb:

Verily [You (male)] do! اِفعَلَنَّ
Verily [you (2 males)] do! اِفعَلانِّ
Verily [you (group of males)] do! اِفعَلُنَّ
Verily [you (female)] do! اِفعَلِنَّ
Verily [you (2 females)] do! اِفعَلانِّ
Verily [you (group of females)] do! اِفعَلنانِّ
Verily he must do! ﻟﹻﻴﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻠﹷﻦﱠَ
Verily they (2 males) must do! ﻟﹻﻴﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻼﹶﻥﱢ
Verily they (group of males) must do! ﻟﹻﻴﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻠﹹﻦﱠَ
Verily she must do! لِتَفعَلَنَّ
Verily they (2 females) must do! لِتَفعَلانِّ
Verily they (group of females) must do! ﻟﹻﻴﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻠﹿﻨﹷﺎﻥﱢ
Verily I must do! لِاَفعَلَنَّ
Verily we must do! لِنَفعَلَنَّ

ن خفيفة conjugations for the command verb:

Verily [You (male)] do! اِفعَلَن
Verily [you (2 males)] do!
Verily [you (group of males)] do! اِفعَلُن
Verily [you (female)] do! اِفعَلِن
Verily [you (2 females)] do!
Verily [you (group of females)] do!
Verily he must do! ﻟﹻﻴﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻠﹶﻦﹾ
Verily they (2 males) must do!
Verily they (group of males) must do! ﻟﹻﻴﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻠﹹﻦﹾ
Verily she must do! لِتَفعَلَن
Verily they (2 females) must do!
Verily they (group of females) must do!
Verily I must do! لاِفعَلَن
Verily we must do! لِنَفعَلَن

  1. mujahid7ia permalink

    Jazak Alahu khayr, these notes seem very comprehensive.

  2. Baarak’Allaahu feeka, these are an excellent set of notes

  3. Sister Fajr Jazak Allah,
    This is nothing but Allah’s blessing and the motivation from friends like you which keep me going. Please remember me in your prayers

    May Allah bless you with what is best in the Hereafter and in this world!

  4. Thank god for your notes 🙂 I couldn’t find amr in my notes today, so this helped.

  5. Maher permalink

    These notes are wonderful, may you be rewarded for them! Is there a difference in meaning between the ن خفيفة and the ن ثقيلة?

  6. Maher,
    I am glad that you are finding the notes useful. As for your question: when one wants to put emphasis one uses ن ثقيلة as opposed to ن خفيفة . Much of their application is also found in Arabic poetry where rhyming is attained by using either one of them.

    Hope that helps,

    Jazak Allah!

  7. was an article I liked. Thanks for sharing.

  8. hesvinc permalink


  9. cademic literature. I don’t see this as good or bad, I’m just wondering if it’s a conscious choice. Will proceedings from the conference be publishe

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