What are the types of verbs in Arabic?

Learning the grammar of the language is one of the main keys to gaining fluency, therefore, we will learn about the various types of verbs in Arabic.

First let’s understand what the word verb means in Arabic grammar, it has the same meaning as in the English language. A verb is a word or words that refer to an action like the words “reading”, “writing”, and “eating”.

However, there is a huge difference between the English and Arabic languages, in the Arabic language, the verbs differ based on gender and plurality.

Let’s take the verb “eat= Yakul” for example when talking about a male the verb will be “Yakul”, when talking about a female it will become “Taakul” when talking about two males “Yakulan”, two females “Taakulan”, a group of males “Yaklun”, a group of females “Taakuln”.

You see how it changes from talking about one person, two, or a group of people and their gender. 

What are the 3 verbs in Arabic?

The three types of verbs are.

1-     Present tense.

2-     Past tense.

3-     command (imperative)

 

1-     What are present verbs in Arabic?

The present tense is used in the Arabic language to describe something happening right now or something that is done daily by the person. To differentiate between the two through the use of adverbs like:

الآن (al-ʾān)  “now” for something that is happening right now.

كُلَّ يَوم (Kulla Yawm)  “every day” for something that is done daily.

Here are some examples:

I go to the university every day.

أَذهَبُ إلى الجامِعَة كُلَّ يَوم.

ʾaḏhabu ʾilā al-ǧāmiʿah Kulla yawm.

 

“I am talking to my mom now.”

أَتَحَدَّثُ مَع أُمي الآن.

ʾataḥaddaṯu maʿ ʾumī al-ʾān

Here are some examples of the different Arabic verb forms in the Present tense:

  •       For male:

أَنا (ana) I

أَفعَل (ʾafʿal)

لا أَفعَل (la ʾafʿal)

أَنتَ (anta)  you

تَفعَل (tafʿal)

لا تَفعَل (la tafʿal)

هُوَ(Huwa) he

يَفعَل ( yafʿal)

لا يَفعَل (la  yafʿal)

هُم (hum) they

يَفعَلون (yafʿalūn)

لا يَفعَلون (la yafʿalūn)

هُما (Huma) them

يَفعَلان (yafʿalān)

لا يَفعَلان (la yafʿalān)

For plأَنتُم (ʾantum) you

تَفعَلون (tafʿalūn)

لا تَفعَلون (la tafʿalūn)

 

  •       For female:

أَنا (ana) I

أَفعَل (ʾafʿal)

لا أَفعَل (la ʾafʿal)

أنتِ (anti) you

تَفعَلين (tafʿalīn)

لا تَفعَلين (la tafʿalīn)

نَحنُ (naḥnu) we

نَفعَل (nafʿal)

لا نَفعَل (la nafʿal)

هِيَ  (hiya)  she

تَفعَل ( tafʿal)

لا تَفعَل (la  tafʿal)

أَنتُما (ʾantuma) you.

تَفعَلان (tafʿalān)

لا تَفعَلان (la tafʿalān)

(ʾantunna) أَنتُنَّ you

تَفعَلنَ (tafʿalna)

لا تَفعَلنَ (la tafʿalna)

 

2-     Past Tense verb in Arabic

You use the past tense in Arabic just like you use the past simple in English.

قَرَأَ الطَّالِبُ الكِتَابَ

The student read the book.

 

قَرَأَتْ الطَّالِبَةُ الكِتَابَ

The student (female) read the book

 

الطَّالباتُ قرأْنَ الكِتابَ

Students (female) read the book.

 

ذَهَبنا إلى الإسكَندَرِيَّة في السَنَةِ الماضِيَة

Last year we went to Alexandria.

  •       For male:

أَنا (ana) – “I”

فَعَلتُ (faʿaltu)

لَم أَفعَل (lam ʾafʿal)

أَنتَ (anta) – “you” masc.

فَعَلتَ (faʿalta)

لَم تَفعَل (lam tafʿal)

هُوَ (huwa) – “he”

فَعَلَ (faʿala)

لَم يَفعَل (lam yafʿal)

نَحنُ (naḥnu) – “we”

فَعَلنا (faʿalna)

لَم نَفعَل (lam nafʿal)

أَنتُم (ʾantum) – “you” pl.

فَعَلتُما (faʿaltuma)

لَم تَفعَلوا (lam tafʿalū)

هُم (hum) – “they”

فَعَلوا (faʿalu)

لَم يَفعَلوا (lam yafʿalū)

هُما (Huma) – “them” dual

فَعَلا (faʿala)

لَم يَفعَلا (lam yafʿalā)

 

  •       For female:

أَنا (ana) – “I”

فَعَلتُ (faʿaltu)

لَم أَفعَل (lam ʾafʿal)

أنتِ (anti) – “you” fem.

فَعَلت (faʿalti)

لَم تَفعَلي (lam tafʿalī)

هِيَ (hiya) – “she”

(faʿalat) فَعَلَت

لَم تَفعَل (lam tafʿal)

نَحنُ (naḥnu) – “we”

فَعَلنا (faʿalna)

لَم نَفعَل (lam nafʿal)

أَنتُما (ʾantuma) – “you” dual masc.

فَعَلتُم (faʿaltum)

لَم تَفعَلا (lam tafʿalā)

 (ʾantunna) أَنتُنَّ”you” pl. fem.

فَعَلتُنَّ (faʿaltunna)

لَم تَفعَلن (lam tafʿaln)

 

 

3-     command verb in Arabic (imperative).

The command verb or imperative verb is used to give orders to a second person, whether the second person is singular, dual, or plural. Below is a table showing the different forms of the imperative verb. This Arabic verb is constructed from imperfect conjugations. And here’s how to construct it.

1-     Write the imperfect verb like “hear” in Arabic “Tasmae” and remove the prefix to become “Smae”

2-     Add the letter Hamza at the beginning of the word and to decide how it is pronounced you should look at the second letter. If the second letter has a “dama” then put a dama on the Hamza. If the second letter has a “kasra” then so will the Hamza, and so on.

 

Imperative Active
لِيَسْمَعْ(he should listen)
لِيَسْمَعَا (they should listen)
لِيَسْمَعُوْا (they should listen)
لِتَسْمَعْ (she should listen)
لِتَسْمَعَا (they should listen)
لِيَسْمَعْنَ(they should listen)
اِسْمَعْ(listen)
اِسْمَعَا (listen)
اِسْمَعُوْا (listen)
اِسْمَعِيْ (listen)
اِسْمَعَا (listen)
اِسْمَعْنَ (listen)
لأَِسْمَعْ(I should listen)
لِنَسْمَعْ(we should listen)

 

Conclusion

We have learned that the word verb in Arabic has the same meaning as the word verb in English. And it means “the word or words that refer to the action like the words “reading”, “writing”, and “eating”.”

In the Arabic language the verb differs based on the gender of the person we are talking to/ about and if we are talking about a single, dual, or plural.

Additionally, we learned that there are three types of verbs in the Arabic language and they are, past tense, present tense, and the command verb.

Then, we took a few examples of each type and explained the difference between the three types. In each type, we saw how the verb changes based on gender and plurality. For the verb “eat= Yakul” for example, when talking about a male the verb will be “Yakul”, when talking about a female it will become “Taakul” when talking about two males “Yakulan”, two females “Taakulan”, a group of males “Yaklun”, a group of females “Taakuln”. 

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