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Sarf – ابواب الافعال – Introduction to Verb Groupings

June 8, 2007

Up until now we have been dealing with just one type of the base verb i.e. ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ . However, this is not the only way a base verb can occur in Arabic. In fact, the ﻣﺎﺿﻰ verb (and consequently the ﻣﹹﻀﺎﺭﹺﻉ verb) can occur in several different patterns depending upon the vowelling and number of letters in the base verb. In this post, I will, Insha Allah, explain about different patterns of Arabic verbs along with some of their examples.

To start with, we may be tempted to assume that any two verbs which have the same voice, same tense, and the same conjugation number will look alike and will rhyme with one another. However, this is not the case as can bee seen by looking at the following 3 examples:

  1. ﻧﹷﺼﹷﺮﹶ
  2. ﺳﹷﻤﹻﻊﹶ
  3. ﺩﹶﻫﹿﺮﹶﺝﹶ

The first verb, ﻧﹷﺼﹷﺮﹶ (to help), rhymes with ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ and has the same number of letters as ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ . The second verb, ﺳﹷﻤﹻﻊﹶ (to hear), although having the same number of letters as ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ , does not rhyme with it due to a kasra on the middle letter. Finally, the last verb, ﺩﹶﻫﹿﺮﹶﺝﹶ (to roll), does not rhyme with ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ , and also has 4 letters in it, rather than 3. As a rule of thumb, differences in Arabic verbs can occur due to one of 6 reasons:

  • 3 of these reasons relate to number of letters in the base verb and its vowelling pattern
  • 3 of these reasons relate to irregularities. These have nothing to do with number of base letters or the vowelling pattern of the verb. Rather, these difference in verbs are introduced by the presence of certain letters e.g. ﻭ , ﻯ , ﺀ

In this post I will deal with the first 3 rules which can be stated into the following expanded categories:

  1. Difference in number of base letters of a verb
  2. Difference in the way the verb is enhanced
  3. Difference in theposition vowelling of a verb

The minimum number of letters in a base verb is 3 and the maximum is 4. Each one of these two sets of verbs may comprise of only base letters (i.e. without any enhancement) or they may have addition of non-base, or extra, letters (i.e. enhanced), which provides us with 4 distinct verb groupings:

  1. Verbs with 3 base letters which are not enhanced, called ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﹹﺠﺮﹼﺩ e.g. ﻧﹷﺼﹷﺮﹶ
  2. Verbs with 3 base letters which are enhanced, called ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﺰﻳﺪ ﻓﻴﻪ e.g. ﺍﹶﻛﹿﺮﹶﻡﹶ
  3. Verbs with 4 base letters which are not enhanced, called ﺭﹸﺑﺎﻋﻲ ﻣﹹﺠﺮﹼﺩ e.g. ﺩﹶﻫﹿﺮﹶﺝﹶ
  4. Verbs with 4 base letters which are enhanced, called ﺭﹸﺑﺎﻋﻲ ﻣﺰﻳﺪ ﻓﻴﻪ e.g. ﺍﹺﻃﹿﻤﹷﻌﹷﻦﱠ

On top of this, verbs can differ in the way the vowel appears on theposition. Using the ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﹹﺠﺮﹼﺩ form of ﻣﺎﺿﻰ and switching the vowel on theposition, we get 3 distinct patterns:

  1. ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ
  2. ﻓﹷﻌﹻﻞﹶ
  3. ﻓﹷﻌﹹﻞﹶ

For each of these patterns of a ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﹹﺠﺮﹼﺩ verb, there will exist 3 corresponding ﻣﹹﻀﺎﺭﹺﻉ patterns with their own vowelling patterns, giving us 9 patterns in total which are listed in the table below:

# ﻣﹹﻀﺎﺭﹺﻉ ﻣﺎﺿﻰ
1 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ
2 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹻﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ
3 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹹﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹷﻞﹶ
4 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹻﻞﹶ
5 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹻﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹻﻞﹶ
6 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹻﻞﹶ
7 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹷﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹹﻞﹶ
8 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹻﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹹﻞﹶ
9 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﻌﹹﻞﹸ ﻓﹷﻌﹹﻞﹶ

The patterns 6, 7, and 8 do not exist in the Arabic Language, which means that you will never find a ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﹹﺠﺮﹼﺩ verb based on this pattern of vowelling. As for the remaining 6, each pattern is called a ﺑﺎﺏ (door) and can be defined as an etymological grouping which arises due to a difference in number of letters or theposition vowelling in both ﻣﺎﺿﻰ and ﻣﹹﻀﺎﺭﹺﻉ patterns of a verb. Every ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﹹﺠﺮﹼﺩ verb in Arabic will follow exactly one of these patterns. To ease memorization of these ﺍﺑﻮﺍﺏ the scholars of ﺻﺮﻑ have picked up the most widely used example from each of them and have named the ﺑﺎﺏ after it. These are listed in the following table in their order of popularity:

# ﻣﹹﻀﺎﺭﹺﻉ ﻣﺎﺿﻰ
1 ﻳﹷﻨﹿﺼﹹﺮﹸ ﻧﹷﺼﹷﺮﹶ
2 يَضْرِبُ ضَرَبَ
3 يَسْمَعُ سَمِعَ
4 ﻳﹷﻔﹿﺘﹷﺢﹸ ﻓﹷﺘﹷﺢﹶ
5 يَكْرُمُ كَرُمَ
6 يَحْسِبُ حَسِبَ

I post here another way of remembering these ﺍﺑﻮﺍﺏ , courtesy of IANT

The ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﺰﻳﺪ ﻓﻴﻪ ﺍﺑﻮﺍﺏ :

Enhancement to verbs can be done in various ways: duplication of theposition e.g. ﻋﹷﻠﹻﻢﹶ -> ﻋﹷﻠﳲﻢﹶ ( to know -> to teach), or adding a hamzah, called همزة الوصل (or the enabling hamza, which is added to ease pronunciation), at the front of the verb. This can be noticed with the ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﺰﻳﺪ ﻓﻴﻪ which has 14 ﺍﺑﻮﺍﺏ, out of which 5 do not have the enabling hamzah in front of them and all of these 5 are popular. The rest of the 9 have the enabling hamza in front of them and only 3 are popular from among theses nine. The 5 ﺍﺑﻮﺍﺏ of ﺛﹹﻠﺎﺛﻲ ﻣﺰﻳﺪ ﻓﻴﻪ without the همزة الوصل are given in the table below:

# ﻣﹹﻀﺎﺭﹺﻉ ﻣﺎﺿﻰ
1 يُكْرِمُ أَكْرَمَ
2 ﻳﹹﺼﹷﺮﱢﻑﹸ ﺻﹷﺮﱠﻑﹶ
3 يُقَاتِلُ قاتَلَ
4 يَتَقَبََلُ تَقَبََلَ
5 يَتَقَابَلُ تَقَابَلَ

I hope that this very brief introduction to ابواب الافعال will be a good starting point for further learning of this vast field of ﺻﺮﻑ . Insha Allah, I will write more about this topic once we go through it in the course.

  1. Can you please give a complete list of 14 abwab of salasi mazid?

    G. Raza

  2. Is there any grammar book available online?

  3. its a great post but the words have some linings in it why is tahat

  4. LearningQuranOnline,
    This is because of the rendering of Traditional Arabic Font by the browser. If you tweak your browser settings somewhat maybe the problem will go away

    Jazak Allah!

  5. Read online noorani qaida and Quran

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  1. Sarf - Categories of Irregular Verbs - هفتِ أقسام « Internals

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