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Deficient Verbs

What is this Tutorial About?

This tutorial deals with irregular verbs (as well as gerunds and derived nouns) whose final radical is a واو or a ياء. Such verbs are termed الأفعال الناقصة (sing. الفعل الناقص) and the rules that govern their conjugation are termed تعليل or إعلال.

 

For a more detailed picture of where this tutorial fits into Arabic morphology, consult the introduction to this section entitled Introduction to Arabic Morphology, and specifically the section on morphophonemic rules and weak verbs.

Introduction

In morphology, deficient verbs refers to those verbs whose final radical is a glide. Such verbs are termed ‘deficient’ because they instigate the application of very advanced rules brought about by the profuse occurrence of long vowels and diphthongs. These rules frequently result in the omission of letters from the verb; ergo the term ‘deficient’. Now the term ‘deficient verb’ should not be confused with its usage in grammar. In grammar, it refers to a class of sentential abrogators that are termed ‘deficient’ due to their inability to become the copula of a sentence.

 

In order to cover the chief rules associated with these verbs, we need only concern ourselves with deficient verbs from three verbal paradigms, as listed below. The rules given in the analysis of these examples will be sufficient in conjugating deficient verbs from any paradigm.

 

Specific Base Letters

Used as an Example

Paradigm

غ، ز، و

 

فعَل / يفعُل

ر، م، ي

 

فعَل / يفعِل

ر، ض، و

 

فعِل / يفعَل

 


 

The Perfect Conjugations

The first two paradigms given above are those in which the middle letter is vowelled with a فتحة, and the third paradigm as well as the passive forms of all three paradigms are such that the middle letter is vowelled with a كسرة. Hence غزو and رمى will be dealt with separately and رضو and perfect passives will be dealt with separately.

 

Group 1

Below is what we’d expect of the perfect active conjugations for غزو and رمي.

 

رَمَيَ

غَزَوَ

رَمَيا

غَزَوا

رَمَيُوْا

غَزَوُوْا

رَمَيَتْ

غَزَوَتْ

رَمَيَتا

غَزَوَتا

...

...

 

Notice, however, that in each conjugation is a vowelled glide preceded by a فتحة. This is exactly the situation described in Rule 1 of Hollow Verbs. Rule 1 says that the glide should be changed to an الف.

 

رَمى

غَزا

رَمَيا

غَزَوا

رَمَاوْا

غَزَاوْا

رَمَاتْ

غَزَاتْ

رَمَاتا

غَزَاتا

...

...

 

There are four points to note now. The first is that Rule 1 only applies (potentially) to these five conjugations; the rest of the tables are not affected by Rule 1 and are therefore exactly as we would expect. Consult Hollow Verbs for a refresher if needed.

 

رَمَيْنَ

غَزَوْنَ

...

...

 

The second point to note is that the second conjugation was also exempt from this rule. Recall Rule 6 from Hollow Verbs; it listed several exceptions under which Rule 1 would not apply. One of those exceptions was the case where the glide is followed by the الف of duality. And indeed the glide in conjugation two is followed by the الف of duality. Had it also changed to an الف, we would have two الف; one of them would have dropped and the resulting conjugation would look exactly like conjugation one.

 

The third point to note is that, once Rule 1 is applied, the rules of cluster reduction must take place. The resulting conjugations look as follows.

 

رَمى

غَزا

رَمَيا

غَزَوا

رَمَوْا

غَزَوْا

رَمَتْ

غَزَتْ

رَمَتا

غَزَتا

...

...

 

And the fourth point is that the rules of cluster reduction are also applied to غزتا and رمتا (the fifth conjugation) despite the fact that there seems to be no cluster. The reality of the matter, however, is that the ت in both the fourth and fifth conjugations of the perfect verb is in fact ساكنة. The rules of cluster reduction were applied to both conjugations. The difference is that, in conjugation five, a pronominal suffix was added after the verb was formed. This suffix was an الف and الف requires a فتحة on the letter before it. This is a basic rule of phonology. So when the الف was added to conjugation five, the ت was given a فتحة. Now, once cluster reduction is applied, it is never reverted. Therefore, even though the cluster was alleviated in conjugation five by the الف of duality, the reduction rule had already been applied and so it was not reverted. Similar is the case with conjugation four when followed by a ساكن letter:

 

عَنَتِ الوجوه

 

Notice that the ت in the above example has a كسرة (it is vowelled and so there is in fact no cluster), yet that vowel was a result of something that occurred once the verb عنت had already been formed. Since عنت had already been formed and had already undergone cluster reduction internally (from عنات to عنت), that reduction was not reverted.

 

Aside: One will notice that the verb غزا has an الف written as it should be, but that رمى has an الف written as a ياء without its dots. This is purely a script issue and is done to indicate that the الف in words like غزا has been changed from a واو and the الف in words like رمى has been changed from a ياء.

 

Group 2

Rule 1

 

 

if a واو is the last letter of a verb and is preceded by a كسرة, it will change to a ياء

 

Below is what we’d expect of the verb رضو and the passives for all three examples.

 

رُضِوَ

رُمِيَ

غُزِوَ

رَضِوَ

 

However, Rule 1 above sees that in all but one of the four cases there is a واو which is a base letter of the verb. The واو is occurring at the very end of the verb and it is preceded by a كسرة. Rule 1 requires that the واو change to ياء, and the following conjugations result.

 

رُضِيَ

رُمِيَ

غُزِيَ

رَضِيَ

 

Rule 2

 

 

if a glide is preceded by a matching short vowel and followed by any glide,
it will give its vowel to the letter before it then drop

 

The above rule should be understood very thoroughly. In the current context, it applies to the third conjugation of the above four verbs. Consider the originals (after Rule 1 has been applied of course):

 

رُضِيَ

رُمِيَ

غُزِيَ

رَضِيَ

رُضِيا

رُمِيا

غُزِيا

رَضِيا

رُضِيُوْا

رُمِيُوْا

غُزِيُوْا

رَضِيُوْا

 

Notice very carefully that there is a glide (a ياء in these cases) preceded by a matching short vowel – in other words, the letter before the ياء has a كسرة. Notice moreover that there is a glide following this ياء. The following glide in all of the above cases is a long ـُوْ. Rule 2 dictates that the vowel on the ياء should be given to the preceding letter and that the ياء should subsequently drop. The resulting conjugations follow.

 

رُضِيَ

رُمِيَ

غُزِيَ

رَضِيَ

رُضِيا

رُمِيا

غُزِيا

رَضِيا

رُضُوْا

رُمُوْا

غُزُوْا

رَضُوْا

 

Exercise:

1.       Write the conjugation for the three example verbs in both the active and passive voice. Juxtapose the conjugations and look for patterns or similarities. What do you notice (if anything)?

a.       (Optional): In what percentage of these 14 x 6 = 84 conjugations is there absolutely no change from the original patterns?

b.      (Optional): In what percentage does only Rule 1 apply?

c.       (Optional): In what percentage does only Rule 1 of Hollow Verbs apply?

d.      (Optional): In what percentage do Rule 1 and Rule 1 of Hollow Verbs both apply?

e.      (Optional): What percentage have long vowels and what percentage have diphthongs?

2.       Are ياء more often changed to واو, or vice versa?

3.       Conjugate the verb حَلُوَ; be mindful of Rule 2

The Imperfect Conjugations

In the imperfect conjugations, too, we will deal with يغزو and يرمي separately and يرضو and all the passives separately. We do this here because يرضو and the passives have a فتحة before the glide and the other two do not and thus the two groups are treated differently.

 

Group 1

Rule 3

 

 

if a مضموم glide is preceded by a matching short vowel in the same word, then the vowel on the glide will drop

 

Consider below the original forms of the imperfect verb for our two examples. These are the conjugations without any pronominal suffix.

 

 

 

#

يَرْمِيُ

يَغْزُوُ

1

تَرْمِيُ

تَغْزُوُ

4

تَرْمِيُ

تَغْزُوُ

7

أَرْمِيُ

أَغْزُوُ

13

نَرْمِيُ

نَغْزُوُ

14

 

Rule 3 sees a واو and a ياء, both مضموم. Furthermore, the واو is preceded by a ضمة and the ياء is preceded by a كسرة. Hence both the واو and ياء will lose their vowels, resulting in the following.

 

 

 

#

يَرْمِيْ

يَغْزُوْ

1

تَرْمِيْ

تَغْزُوْ

4

تَرْمِيْ

تَغْزُوْ

7

أَرْمِيْ

أَغْزُوْ

13

نَرْمِيْ

نَغْزُوْ

14

 

Now, there is no change in the dual conjugations nor the feminine plural conjugations since none of the mentioned rules apply to these. This leaves conjugations 3, 9, and 10. One will notice that conjugations 3, 9, 10 are the source for much of what happens when conjugating deficient verbs in the imperfect tense.

 

 

 

#

يَرْمِيْ

يَغْزُوْ

1

يَرْمِيَانِ

يَغْزُوَانِ

2

 

 

3

تَرْمِيْ

تَغْزُوْ

4

تَرْمِيَانِ

تَغْزُوَانِ

5

يَرْمِيْنَ

يَغْزُوْنَ

6

تَرْمِيْ

تَغْزُوْ

7

تَرْمِيَانِ

تَغْزُوَانِ

8

 

 

9

 

 

10

تَرْمِيَانِ

تَغْزُوَانِ

11

تَرْمِيْنَ

تَغْزُوْنَ

12

أَرْمِيْ

أَغْزُوْ

13

نَرْمِيْ

نَغْزُوْ

14

 

Rule 2, which was used in the perfect verb, applies to 3, 9, and 10. The originals look as follows.

 

 

 

#

يَرْمِيُوْنَ

يَغْزُوُوْنَ

3

تَرْمِيُوْنَ

تَغْزُوُوْنَ

9

تَرْمِيِيْنَ

تَغْزُوِيْنَ

10

 

Notice that there is a glide in each of the above six conjugations. Before the glide is a short vowel that matches it (ضمة for واو and كسرة for ياء). Furthermore, after the glide is another glide. Rule 2 dictates that the vowel of the glide should be transferred to the preceding letter and the glide should then drop. We see the following as a result.

 

 

 

#

يَرْمُوْنَ

يَغْزُوْنَ

3

تَرْمُوْنَ

تَغْزُوْنَ

9

تَرْمِيْنَ

تَغْزِيْنَ

10

 

Group 2

Rule 4

 

 

if a واو occurs as the fourth letter (or beyond) of a verb and the short vowel before does not match, the واو will change to ياء

 

The following is what we would expect of the imperfect conjugations for the verb يرضو as well as all passive forms.

 

 

 

 

 

#

يُرْضَوُ

يُرْمَيُ

يُغْزَوُ

يَرْضَوُ

1

تُرْضَوُ

تُرْمَيُ

تُغْزَوُ

تَرْضَوُ

4

تُرْضَوُ

تُرْمَيُ

تُغْزَوُ

تَرْضَوُ

7

أُرْضَوُ

أُرْمَيُ

أُغْزَوُ

أَرْضَوُ

13

نُرْضَوُ

نُرْمَيُ

نُغْزَوُ

نَرْضَوُ

14

 

But Rule 4 sees that in three of the four cases there is a واو which occurs as the fourth letter in the verb and it is preceded by something other than ضمة. Rule 4 dictates that the واو should become a ياء and we get the following.

 

 

 

 

 

#

يُرْضَيُ

يُرْمَيُ

يُغْزَيُ

يَرْضَيُ

1

تُرْضَيُ

تُرْمَيُ

تُغْزَيُ

تَرْضَيُ

4

تُرْضَيُ

تُرْمَيُ

تُغْزَيُ

تَرْضَيُ

7

أُرْضَيُ

أُرْمَيُ

أُغْزَيُ

أَرْضَيُ

13

نُرْضَيُ

نُرْمَيُ

نُغْزَيُ

نَرْضَيُ

14

 

Now, notice also that again the infamous Change To Aleph rule (Rule 1 from Hollow Verbs) applies here. But the duals and feminine plurals do not change beyond the application of Rule 4.

 

 

 

 

 

#

يُرْضَى

يُرْمَى

يُغْزَى

يَرْضَى

1

يُرْضَيَانِ

يُرْمَيَانِ

يُغْزَيَانِ

يَرْضَيَانِ

2

يُرْضَوْنَ

يُرْمَوْنَ

يُغْزَوْنَ

يَرْضَوْنَ

3

تُرْضَى

تُرْمَى

تُغْزَى

تَرْضَى

4

تُرْضَيَانِ

تُرْمَيَانِ

تُغْزَيَانِ

تَرْضَيَانِ

5

يُرْضَيْنَ

يُرْمَيْنَ

يُغْزَيْنَ

يَرْضَيْنَ

6

تُرْضَى

تُرْمَى

تُغْزَى

تَرْضَى

7

تُرْضَيَانِ

تُرْمَيَانِ

تُغْزَيَانِ

تَرْضَيَانِ

8

تُرْضَوْنَ

تُرْمَوْنَ

تُغْزَوْنَ

تَرْضَوْنَ

9

تُرْضَيْنَ

تُرْمَيْنَ

تُغْزَيْنَ

تَرْضَيْنَ

10

تُرْضَيَانِ

تُرْمَيَانِ

تُغْزَيَانِ

تَرْضَيَانِ

11

تُرْضَيْنَ

تُرْمَيْنَ

تَغْزَيْنَ

تَرْضَيْنَ

12

أُرْضَى

أُرْمَى

أُغْزَى

أَرْضَى

13

نُرْضَى

نُرْمَى

نُغْزَى

نَرْضَى

14

 

Notice that, in conjugations 3, 9, and 10, the glide was dropped as a result of clusters.

 

Exercise:

1.       Consider each of the six imperfect tables covered in this tutorial separately. For each table, indentify which conjugations look exactly alike.

2.       For each table, identify the rules that were applied in order to arrive at the final table. How many of those rules were applied to the entire table, and how many applied to specific conjugations only?

3.       Now consider the tables together; which conjugations from any one table rhyme with conjugations from another table (e.g. يغزون and يرمون)?

4.       For each of the six tables, form the subjunctive verbs.
(Hint: start with the indicative conjugations and use Arabic Reflection to help you form the subjunctives.)

5.       Form the jussive verbs.
(Hint: start with the indicative conjugations and use Arabic Reflection to help you form the jussives.)

6.       Form the emphatic conjugations.
(Hint: start with the indicative conjugations and use Verb Conjugation to help you form the emphatics. Pay special attention to conjugations 3, 9, and 10 in both the active and passive tables, and use Cluster Reduction to help you with those.)

7.       Form the active participles.
(Hint: use Derived Nouns and Arabic Reflection to help you.)

8.       Form the passive participles.
(Hint: use Rule 2 judiciously)

9.       Use a dictionary to find other derived nouns of these three verbs.

10.   Conjugate the base letters ل، ه، و in all the advanced paradigms except انفعال and استفعال.

a.       When conjugating the active imperfect verb, which rules are being used? Answer this for each paradigm separately.

 



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