What is an Assimilated Verb in Arabic?
This tutorial deals with verbs (as well as gerunds and derived nouns) whose first base letter is a واو or a ياء. Such a verb is termed فعل المثال and there are some morphophonemic rules that need to be considered when conjugating it.
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.
There are a number of roots in the language that have واو as the first base letter. There are only a few, however, that have ياء as the first root letter – approximately half a dozen. Both of these types of verbs follow the same rules for conjugation.
There will be no change in the past tense tables for basic 3-lettered verb paradigms.
In the imperfect active tense, the واو or ياء will drop if the verb is from one of the following paradigms.
· فعَل – يفعَل
· فعَل – يفعِل
· فعِل – يفعِل
There is only one exception to this rule: The verb وَنَّ – يَوِنّ does not lose its واو despite being from one of the three mentioned paradigms. This is to avoid unnecessary complications in the verb due to it having a double نون.
Now because the imperative verb is formed using the imperfect, the changes in the imperfect verb will carry over.
Up to this point, we have only discussed a single rule and it has only applied to 3-lettered verbs with no extra letters. That is because most advanced verb paradigms do not experience many changes by virtue of the first root letter being weak. The following chart lists some examples. Notice that the conjugations are quite regular and well behaved.
There are only two rules to remember with regards to advanced verbs. The first is that when a ياء ساكنة is preceded by a letter with a ضمة, the ياء will change to a واو. This regulation is realized in paradigm إفعال for the imperfect tense as well as the active and passive participles.. The chart below gives some examples.
Also, if a واو or ياء is in the first root position of a verb in paradigm افتعال, the واو or ياء will be changed to a تاء. Based on other rules, this new تاء will geminate with the تاء from the paradigm. Some examples follow.
One should be careful not to always associate this doubled تاء with assimilated verbs. In the examples below, there is a doubling of تاء in this paradigm much like the doubling in the above examples. In these instances, however, the causes are different.
The active, passive, and resembling participles, as well as the comparative/superlative noun do not experience any changes by virtue of the first root letter being weak. The only fact to note is that the active and passive participles for the إفعال and افتعال paradigms will have some change, as already noted.
In the hyperbolic participle, the noun of usage, and certain gerunds, however, there are instances when a واو ساكنة can be preceded by a letter with a كسرة. In such a situation, the واو will change to ياء. Some examples follow.
Moreover, when a gerund is formed from an assimilated verb, the initial واو or ياء is sometimes dropped. The drop is then compensated with the تاء of femininity at the end of the word.
Summary of Regulations for Assimilated Words
Below is a list of the rules mentioned through the course of this tutorial. Along with each rule are the most common situations under which it will be applied. In order to practice and apply these rules, one is encouraged to recite conjugation tables aloud. Several ideal verbs for practice can be found from the Practice Verbs page.
If an imperfect active is from one of the following paradigms
· ضرَب – يضرِب
· فتَح – يفتَح
· حسِب – يحسِب
then the weak base letter at the front of the verb will drop
· verbs from one of the three mentioned paradigms in the imperfect active tense
· or the 2nd-person active imperative tense
A ياء ساكنة preceded by a letter with a ضمة will change to واو
· verbs from the إفعال paradigm in the active imperfect tense
· or the active and passive participles derived from such verbs
A واو ساكنة preceded by a letter with a كسرة will change to ياء
· the hyperbolic participle, specifically the pattern مِفْعال
· the noun of usage
· the gerund for the إفعال paradigm
Certain gerunds for basic 3-lettered verb paradigms may optionally drop the weak letter from the front of the verb. The drop must then be compensated by a تاء of femininity
· certain gerunds for basic 3-lettered verb paradigms