Archive for the ‘Arabic Lessons’ Category

There are ten forms of Arabic Verbs. This means that when you take the three root letters, you may be able to use them in some of the ten different patterns. (All ten patterns are unlikely to be available for one verb! )

These patterns are useful, as they are quite regular so if you see a form three verb for example, you will straight away know how to form its verbal noun (once you learnt ur verb forms that is )

Also it will help you to recognise words and be able to pick out their roots in order to look them up in the dictionary (many good arabic dictionaries are organised by root, such as Hans Weir) (I will give the pattern represented by the root fa 3ayn lam, then an example) (verbs are given in their 3rd person masc singular form)

For beginners it will be a bit confusing to cover all ten patterns in one lesson, so we will start with forms 1 and 2


The most basic form of the verb. It is the only form were certain variations may occur (ie in middle vowel of the imperfect, and in verbal noun pattern)
EG (shariba) means to drink


Past tense (perfect) Fa3ala / Shariba
Present/future tense (imperfect) yaf3alu / yashrabu (form one is the only one were the middle vowel may vary, and must be learned for each verb)


Active participle faa3ilun / shaaribun


Passive participle maf3oolun / mashroobun


Verbal noun There are a few varying patterns of verbal noun for form one, the appropriate one can be found in the dictionary or learnt together with the verb


Is formed by placing a shadda on the middle root letter.
EG (darrasa) means to teach
Past tense (perfect) fa33ala / darrasa


Present/future tense (imperfect) yufa33ilu / yudarrisu


Active participle mufa33ilun / mudarrisun


Passive participle mufa33alun / mudarrasun


Verbal noun taf3eelun / tadreesun

Other words derived from verbs
Active Participle –
The person who does the action of that verb. If the verb was “write” then the activer participle is “writer”

Passive participle – The thing that has had the action done to it. If the verb was “choose” then the passive participle is “chosen”

Verbal noun – this is a naming word that had its origin in a verb. Often it names a concept rather than a specific thing. An example of this is the word “smoking” in the sentence “Smoking is bad for you.

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Kaana and Inna

Lesson twenty : كان وإنّ

We will deal with these in the context of “equational sentences” (see lesson four)
Both of these words can be placed at the start of an equational sentence and then slightly change the following grammar.
We will firstly take إنّ
This word does not really need to be translated, but if you want to you can translate it as “indeed” or “verily”. Its purpose is to add emphasis to a sentence.

This word is always followed by a noun, and will always put the noun into the accusative (ie it makes it carry fatha)


الْوَلَدُ جَميلٌ

إنّ الْوَلَدَ جميلٌ

If it was followed by a pronoun, then the pronoun changes into its accusative form which is the same as the possessive pronouns… EG

هُوَ فَقيرٌ

إنَّهُ فقيرٌ

As for كان
It could be said to have the opposite effect of Inna.
This word puts the meaning of the equational sentence in the past and can be translated as “was”. It is a verb, and all conjugations of it cause the same grammatical effect. [it is what’s known as a Hollow Verb, and that topic will be dealt with later]
The effect of Kaana is that it puts the predicate in the accusative.
الْوَلَدُ جَميلٌ

كانَ الْوَلَدُ جميلاً

This is a quite simple topic and the basic summary to remember is:
Inna : Subject in Accusative, predicate unaffected
Kaana : Subject unaffected, predicate in Accusative

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Root System

The Root System:

The following stuff in blue has been adapted from this site : Language Centre
If you wish, read the original page for more info but I have tried to make it a little bit easier to understand. This is more theory stuff, background to how the language works. If you are confused by it don’t worry too much.

  • Arabic belongs to the Semitic group of languages.
  • The characteristic feature of Semitic languages is their basis of consonantal roots (this means each word has a root made up of letters which are not vowels),
  • roots are mostly trilateral. (ie most roots are made up of Three letters
  • Variations in shade of meaning are obtained, first by varying the vowelling of the simple root, and secondly by the addition of prefixes, suffix and in-fixes.

An Arabic word is composed of two parts:

1) The root; which is usually formed of three (sometimes four) consonants.

2) The pattern; There are many “patterns” existing in the Arabic language which may be applied to a certain root to produce a meaningful word.

Because of the productive nature of the Arabic morphology, Arabic writing was mainly designed to convey primarily the root information. Hence, Arabic writing system represents mainly consonants. As we already learnt, vowels are added in by use of Harakaat (damma, kasra, fatha)

We previously touched upon this root and pattern system in the lesson on Broken Plurals. That is the kind of thing for which understanding about word patterns can be useful.

Patterns are normally shown by using the root فعل
as an example. If we wanted to symbolise the pattern of these following words:
then we would write : فاعِلٌ

As explained above in the Language centre peice, different yet similar words can be made by using the same root but changing the pattern. Look at the following words all from the same root :
he wrote
library or bookshop

All the words are on the topic of writing.

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Relative clauses

Relative clauses” are usually translated in English with the words “which“, “who”, “that”. In Arabic they are called الإِسماءُ الموصُولة

Relative sentences are made up of two parts : The antecedent and the relative clause.

The Antecedent will be a noun. The relative clause gives extra information about this antecedent noun. An example of this in English is :

This is the boy who studies Biology

The boy is the antecedent. In this case he is also the subject of the sentence, although the object could also be an antecedent. The relative clause is “who studies Biology” because that is the extra info about this antecdent.

In Arabic there are a group of words used in place of “who, which” etc and the correct one is chosen according to gender and number.

These are only used when the antecedent is DEFINATE

Here is the list :


for masculine singular


for feminine singular (including non human plural)


for masculine plural


for female plural

The dual ones will be given later when we cover that topic

Aswell as these special words, in arabic you also need to add a “returner” as a part of the relative clause. This is a pronoun which refers back to the antecedent. If the relative clause features a verb which is done by the antecedent, then the returner is considered to be shown by that verb and nothing else is necessary. However if the verb is done by anyone else the returner should be added in the form of a pronoun.

Now to get an idea of relative clauses here are some examples :

أين الكتابُ الّذي وجدته؟

ayn al kitaab ulladhee wajadtuhu?
where is the book which I found?

The antecedent is al kitaab (the book)
the relative clause is alladhee wajadtuhu
the word alladhee was chosen as kitaab is singular masculine
the returner is “hu” on the end of the verb, chosen because kitaab is singular masculine and hu is the singular masculine returner word

هو الولدُ الّذي يدرس هنا
huw al walad ulladhee yadrusu hunaa
he is the boy who studies here

the antecedent is al walad (the boy)
the relative clause is alladhee yadrusu huna

the word alladhee was chosen because it is singular masculine

the returner is “inside” the verb. When the relative clause is an action done by the antecedent, then you do not need to write the returner separately as the verb conjugation shows it

ضرب علي الكلبَ الّذي ذهب في المطبجِ

Daraba 3ali ul kalb alladhee dhahaba fil matbakh

ali hit the dog who went in the kitchen

antecedent is al kalb (the dog)
relative clause is alladhee dhahaba fil matbakh
alladhee is chosen because it is singular masculine
the returner is inside the verb.

أختي البنت التي تساعدُ المدرّسةَ
ukhtee al bint ullatee tusaa3id ul mudarrisa
my sister is the girl who helps the teacher
the antecedent is ukhtee (my sister)
the relative clause is allatee tusaa3id ul mudarrisa
allatee was chosen as antecedent is singular feminine
the returner is in the verb tusaa3idu

ذهب الأولادُ الّذين يلعبون كرة القدم
dhahab al awlaad alladheena yal3aboona kurat al qadam
the boys who play football went
the antecedent is al awlaad (the boys)
the relative clause is alladheen yal3aboona kurat al qadam
alladheena was chosen because its masculine plural
the returner is in the verb


If the antecedent is not definite then you do not need to use the special words such as “alladhee” etc but you STILL NEED the returner.

Here are some examples of indefinate relative sentences :

هذا رجلٌ ذهب إلى المسجد
hadha rajulun dhahaba ilal masjid
this is a man who went to the mosque
antecedent is rajulun which is indefinate
so no need for “alladhee”
the returner is in the verb

هي قطّة وجدتها في حديقتي
hiya qiTTatun wadajtuhaa fi Hadeeqatee
she’s a cat which I found in my garden
the antecedent is qittatun (indefinate)
so no need for allatee
relative clause is wajadtuhaa fi hadeeqati
the returner is haa, because the verb wajada was done by someone other than the antecedent.

قرأتُ كتاباً كتبه رجلٌ جميلٌ
qara’tu kitaaban katabahu rajulun jameelun
I read a book which a handsome man wrote
the antecedent is kitaaban (indefininte)
the relative clause is katabahu rajulun jameelun
the returner hu is written because someone other than the antecedent did this verb.

It is also possible to write vague relative sentences, with none of the “alladhee” words or a returner. These simply use the words “maa” and “man”
we have come accross these words before.
maa is used for objects, and translates as “what”
man is used for people and translates as “who”

Examples :

قرأتُ ما كتب الولدُ
qara’tu maa katab al walad
I read what the boy wrote

أكل ما طبخ أمّه
akala maa Tabakha ummuhu
he ate what his mum cooked

ضربت نورة من أكل طعامها
Darabat Noora man akala Ta3amahaa
Noora hit the one who ate her food

In these examples you can not say exactly what is the antecedent because the name of the object is not given. For example in number one, the antecendent could really be : the letter, the book, the story etc but we are not told it by reading the sentence. That is why it is vague.

Sometimes you might want to write a relative sentence where the antecedent is a whole sentence, in that case you use the following special phrase :

الأمرُ الّذي
al amr ulladhee
the matter which..

كنتُ مريضا الأمرُ الّذي منعني من الذهاب إلى الحديقة
kuntu mareeDan al amr ulladhee mana3anee min adh dhihaab ilal Hadeeqa
I was ill which prevented me from going to the park

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We have seen some “idafa” phrases already such as
غرفة الجلوس
some people might have wondered “why don’t we put AL on the front of the word ghurfa?” Well this topic basically explains why you can not do that


This is used for phrases that could usually be expressed in english in this format : “The… of the…..” (eg “The window of the car”, “the book of the boy”) which is equivilent to : “The …..’s ……” (eg the car’s window, the boy’s book.”

Grammatically this is a possessive construction. It takes the I case (genative), meaning that the second part of the construction should always take a kasra. The first part should not take a definite article, but it is defined by it’s relationship to the second part and therefore should not have tanween.


بابُ الْبيتِ
baab ul bayt(i)
the door of the house

كتابُ ابنِهِ
kitaab ubnihi
the book of his son

It is possible to qualify any of the nouns in the Idafa structure (to add an adjective to discribe them), but as the idafa should not be broken they will be placed at the end, whichever of the nouns they are qualifying. This means the case ending is important in showing which noun the adjective belongs to.

This means if you were to say “the big house of the boy / the boy’s big house” in Arabic the word order would be like this :

the house (subject) – the boy(who it belongs to) – the big (describing the subject, or who it belongs to depending on case ending)

سيارةُ البنتِ الصغيرةُ
sayyaarat ul bint is sagheera(tu)
the small car of the girl

سيارةُ البنتِ الصغيرةِ
sayyaarat ul bint is sagheera(ti)
the car of the small girl

There could be an idafa with more than two nouns (double idafa). In this case the 2nd, 3rd and any other nouns would all take kasra and as usual the first is determined by the function in the sentence.

example :

بابُ بيتِ الرجلِ
baabu bayt ir rajul(i)
the door of the man’s house

as above only the final noun will show a definite article.

In some cases if the Idafa construction will be too complecated, for example if the first noun was following a preposition and therefore in the genetive with kasra, and there was an adjective, you will not be able to tell which noun the adjective is referring to, so you might prefer to abandon this construction and express it a different way…

فى كتابِ الطالبِ الجديدِ
fi kitaab iT Taalib il jadeed(i)

is it…. in the book of the new student, or in the new book of the student? no way to tell! if you wanted to say in the new book of the student (just to choose one for example) it may be better to say
فى الكتابِ الجديدِ للطالبِ
fil kitaab il jadeedi lit taalib(i)

as this will avoid any ambiguity.

Sometimes you might see an idafa where the second part does not begin with definate article. This is known as “indefinate idafa”. Common examples of this are when the 2nd part is a person’s name which is grammatically seen as indefiniate (such as Mohammed) eg :

كتابُ محمّدٍ
kitaabu Mohammedin
Mohammed’s book / the book of Mohammed

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Free Time

In this topic we will talk about Hobbies, social activities and what ways we can spend our free time.

Look at the following pictures and the corresponding vocabulary.

The activities shown are :

مشاهدة برامج التلفاز
mushaahidatu buraamij at tilfaaz
watching tv programes

مشاهدة افلام

mushaahidatu aflaam
watching films
القراءة , المطالعة

al qiraa’a, al muTaala3a

الذهاب إلى المكتبة

adh dhahaabu ilal maktaba
going to the library

الاستماع إلى الموسيقى والاناشيد

al istimaa3u ilal muusiiqaa wal anaasheed
listening to music / nasheeds

الذهاب إلى المتاحف أو المسرح

adh dhahaab ilal mataahid aw al masrah
going to museums or the theater

التنزّه في الحديقة العامة أو على شطيء البحر
at tanazzahu fil hadeeqat il 3aamma aw 3ala shaTee’l bahr
walking in the park or at the sea side

العمل في الحديقة
al 3amal fil hadeeqa

ألعاب الكومبيوتر
al3aab ul kombyooter
computer games

al internet
ممارسة كرة القدم
mumaarisatu kurat il qadam
playing/practising football

مشاهدة كرة القدم
mushaahidatu kurat il qadam
watching football

aT Tabkh

ar rasm

ركوب الدرجات أو الخيل
rukoob ud darrajaat aw al khayl
riding bikes or horses

ممارسة العاب الطاولة كالشطرنج والسكرابل
mumaarisat al3aab at taawilata kash shaTranaj was skraabel
playing board games like chess and scrabble

كرة المضرب, التنس
kurat ul maDrab / at tennis


kurat ut taawila
table tennis

لعبة الريشة
lu3bat ur reesha

ممارسة كرة السلة
mumaarisatu kurat as salla
playing basketball

ممارسة السباحة
mumaarisat us sabaaHa
practising swimming

The following new words are also used in the exercises:

ذكر الله
dhikr ullah
remembering Allah / zikr

الاعمال الخيرية
al 3amaal ul khayriyya
doing things for charity

at tadkheen

شرب الكهول
shurb al kuhool
drinking alcohol

al lahw
lazing around

Also the following phrases will be useful when talking about what you like or dislike doing :

أحبّ أن أقضي أوقات فراغي في

(uhebbu an aqDiy awqaat faraaghee fi…)
I love / like to spend my free time doing…
أكره أن أقضي أوقات فراغي في

(akrahu an aqDiy awqaat faraaghee fi…)
I hate to spend my free time doing…

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So far we covered how to conguage verbs for the following : I, you, he and she.

These are all singular subjects (ie they refer to one person only). But what about if you wanted to talk about more than one person?

In that case we have to deal with the following : We, you lot, and they (for both male and female groups).

The pronouns to describe these sets of people are as follows:


you lot
(refers to a group of mixed gender, or a group of all males)

you lot
(refers only to an all female group)


(refers to a group of mixed gender, or a group of all males)

(refers only to an all female group)

Just like with the singular pronouns, each of these have their own special form of the verb. For the past tense these are…

we went


you lot went


you lot went (all girls)


they went


they went (all girls)

In the present tense the verb forms are as follows :


we go


you lot go


you lot go (all girls)


they go


they go (all girls)

The all girl forms are quite rare, so if the info in this lesson is alot for you, then concentrate on learning the verb forms for nahnu, antum and hum insha allah.

1.) In Arabic these plural “they” and “you lot” are only used for THREE or more people, not two. [there is a dual form for two people which will be learnt later]

2.) If the verb comes before the subject then the verb stays in the singular form… to understand please look at the following examples :

يذهب الأولاد


(yadhhab ul awlaad)
the boys are going
The subject (the boys) comes after the verb therefore it stays in singular, but note that the gender still matches the subject.

الأولاد يذهبونَ


(al awlaadu yadhhaboona)
the boys are going
The subject (the boys) comes before the verb so it must be condugated for the plural

ذهبت البنات


(dhahabat ul banaat)
the girls went
The subject (the girls) comes after the verb therefore it stays in singular, but note that the gender still matches the subject.

البنات ذهبن


(al banaat dhahabna)
the girls went
The subject (the girls) comes before the verb so it must be condugated for the plural

ذهب الأولاد ثمّ أكلوا


(dhahab al awlaadu thumma akaloo)
the boys went and then they ate
The subject at first comes after the verb so it did not have to be congugated in plural. For the second verb, the plural subject was already mentioned so it became necessary for it to be congugated for that plural subject.

Word Order
In Fus-ha Arabic sentences it is preferred to follow this order unless you have a reason not to:

1.) Verb
2. )Subject
3.) Object

This means that as above when talking about a plural subject you may not need to congugate the verb into the plural. Always think carefully whether you need to congugate it or not. The rule is:


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