What is a Verb Form or a Verbal Paradigm?
A given set of base letters taken from a dictionary will have a specific meaning. Wherever those base letters are found, so too will that meaning be found. For example, the letters ن، ص، ر are associated with “helping”; wherever we find these base letters in this order, the meaning of “helping” will be present.
Now these letters themselves do not constitute a word. So in order to utilize them, they need to be inaugurated into a pattern from the morphological system. One such pattern is فَاعِل which is used for the active participle. We replace the ف، ع، ل of the pattern with ن، ص، ر and get نَاصِر, which then means “helper”.
When it comes to verbs, we also find a set of patterns which we call verb paradigms. The basic verbal paradigm is فعل; so نصر is a verb which simply means “he helped”. And from previous lessons we learn how to conjugate this verb to inflect for gender, plurality, person, voice, tense, etc.
But there are more advanced paradigms. These are achieved by adding extra letters to the basic paradigm. Each of these gives the base letters some extra connotation. For example, استفعل gives the sense of “seeking” and so استنصر means “he sought help”. Of course, each of these verbal paradigms conjugate in the same way the basic paradigm conjugates, inflecting for gender, plurality, tense, etc in the same way and using the same rules.
This tutorial deals with verbs that are enhanced by the addition of extra letters. Although the purpose of these extra letters is to enhance the meaning, this tutorial only discusses the effects they have on the word. The meanings and subtle connotations afforded by these enhancements are discussed later at Learn Arabic Online in the tutorial entitled Paradigm Connotations.
This tutorial does not approach this topic in an introductory or explanatory fashion. Instead, this is a summary and a reference for those who have already studied this aspect of Arabic morphology. We summarize here all the verbal paradigms, giving the perfect tense, imperfect tense, imperative, popular gerunds, some derived nouns, and we also discuss the morphophonemic rules that are particular to a given paradigm.
For practice purposes, one is encouraged to visit the Practice Verbs page.
Division of the Paradigms
At the topmost level, verbal paradigms are divided into two groups
· those that work with 3-base-lettered verbs
· those that work with 4-base-lettered verbs
Each of these is then further divided into two categories
· those in which the base letters are the only letters
· those with extra letters apart from the base, used to enhance the verbs’ meanings
The paradigms that work on 3-lettered verbs that have extra letters are further divided as follows.
· the general: those whose extra letters do not cause them to resemble 4-lettered paradigms
· the resembling: those whose extra letters cause them to resemble 4-lettered paradigms
The hierarchy looks something like this:
works with 4-lettered verbs
works with 3-lettered verbs
extra letters added
only base letters
extra letters added
only base letters
3-Lettered with no Extra
All of these fall under Form I in the Hans Wehr dictionary.
Active Part. or Common Substitutes
فِعَال، فَعَلاَن، فُعَال، فُعُوْل، فَعِيْل
فَعِل، فَعْلاَن، أَفْعَل
فَعِيْل، فَعْل، فَعَل، أَفْعَل
3-Lettered with General Extra
تَفْعِيْل، فِعَّال، فِعَال، تَفْعِلَة
3-Lettered with Resembling Extra
Verbs from these paradigms are to be looked up alphabetically in Hans Wehr.
4-Lettered with no Extra
4-Lettered with Extra
Paradigm Specific Rules
Now we take the interesting paradigms from above and analyze them a bit further. Some of these paradigms necessarily elicit morphophonemic changes in their verbs. Others have restrictions as to which verbs they may include. Yet others have other interesting features. We will take a look at each of these idiosyncrasies.
· Most verbs are such that either their first base letter or second base letter is one of the six throat letters: ء، ه، ع، ح، غ، خ.
· All verbs are intransitive and connote qualities (e.g. being happy).
· This paradigm contains very few verbs; only a couple dozen or so.
If the verb which is being considered is اجوف
then the gerund of this paradigm will be altered in the following way: The
weak letter will change to match the letter before it (إِقوام
The changed letter then drops (إقام).
The deletion is then mitigated by the addition of a تاء
Sometimes this تاء
is omitted (إقام).
The همزة of the pattern
drops in all places except the perfect tense and the active second-person
command. This is due to the fact that the همزة
would gather with the sign of the imperfect tense in conjugation #13. So the همزة
of this verb paradigm was dropped. It was dropped from almost every other
conjugation as well due to the grammatical rule which dictates that if one
instance of something causes trouble, then the solution will be applied to
all instances, whether they cause trouble or not.
· This paradigm should be counted amongst those that resemble the four-lettered verbs, but it isn’t because the condition for those paradigms is that their gerunds must match the gerund of the verb which they resemble.
· The تفعلة pattern for the gerund is used mostly when the verb is مهموز or ناقص. Sometimes even a normal verb can adopt this pattern (تجربة).
· When the verb being considered is اجوف يائي (e.g. ميز) and the gerund is on the تفعيل pattern (تمييز), then the following rule may be (and according to some, must be) applied: The base letter ياء will transfer its vowel to the preceding letter, ridding itself of the vowel. Now there is a gathering of ساكن so the base letter ياء will drop and we end up with one ياء (تميز).
· The verbs of this paradigm (like many others with multiple gerunds) will not adopt one of the gerunds but both of them simultaneously (e.g. جدال and مجادلة). The difference is that جدال, for example, indicates on a particular occurrence while مجادلة is abstract.
· The الف in the passive form of this paradigm for the imperfect tense will become a واو (قوتل).
· Those conjugations of the imperfect tense that start with a تاء are such that they cause two same letters to follow; the sign of the imperfect tense and the تاء of the paradigm. In this case, it is permissible to drop one of the two تاء (تتنزل becomes تنزل). Which تاء exactly is dropped is disputed.
· If the same situation as above occurs, it is also permissible (but highly rare) to merge the two تاء, in which case there would be the need for a همزة الوصل. For example تتجلى becomes اتجلى. This is the only instance in which there is an initiating همزة in the imperfect tense.
· If the first base letter of a verb from this paradigm is تاء, ثاء, جيم, دال, ذال, زاى, سين, شين, صاد, ضاد, طاء, or ظاء then the تاء of this paradigm may be changed to match that letter. The two would then gather and a joining همزة would be needed. For example تطهر may become اطَّهَّر.
· The الف in the passive form of this verb for the imperfect tense will become a واو ((تقوبل.
· If the first base letter of a verb from this paradigm is تاء, ثاء, جيم, دال, ذال, زاى, سين, شين, صاد, ضاد, طاء, or ظاء then the تاء of this paradigm may be changed to match that letter. The two would then gather and a joining همزة would be needed. For example تثاقل may become اثَّاقل.
· If the verb being considered is مثال (e.g. وحد) then the weak letter will change into a تاء to match the تاء of the paradigm. The two will then join (اتحد). This weak letter must be original and not changed from a همزة (e.g. اكل in this paradigm is اأتكل which becomes ايتكل which will not become اتكل). This restriction has some counterexamples (e.g. اتخذ).
· If the first base letter of the verb is a دال, ذال, or زاى then the تاء of the paradigm will become a دال (e.g. ازتان become ازدان). In the case where the first base letter is a دال, the two دال will of course mix (e.g. اددخل becomes ادخل). In the case where the first base letter is a ذال, the ذال may change to match the دال of the paradigm then the two will mix (e.g. اذتكر must change to اذدكر which may then become اددكر which necessarily becomes ادكر).
· If the first base letter of the verb under consideration is one of the اطباق letters (صاد، ضاد، طاء، ظاء) then the تاء of the verb paradigm must change to a طاء (e.g. اصتاد must become اصطاد, and اضتجع must become اضطجع).
· If the second base letter of the verb is a ذال, دال, or زاى then the تاء of the paradigm may change to match it (e.g. اهتدى may become اهددى). The two will then mix (اهدى). The first base letter and the new changed letter will both be ساكن thus the first base letter (the هاء in our example) should be made مكسور (اهِدَّى) but it is actually made مفتوح and there will thus be no need for the initiating هزة. The final product will be هَدَّى، يَهِدِّيْ، هِدَّاء. Notice the resemblance between this altered verb and the تفعيل paradigm.
· If the second base letter of the verb is one of the اطباق letters then the تاء of افتعال may change to match (e.g. اختصم becomes اخصصم which mixes to become اخْصَّم). Similar to the previous rule, the first base letter will be given a فتحة and the initiating همزة will be removed resulting in خَصَّم، يخِصِّم، خِصَّام.
· If the second base letter of the verb is a تاء then the two may mix and what happened in the two previous rules will take place here as well. So استتر, for example, becomes سَتَّر.
· If the verb which is being considered is اجوف (e.g. استقام) then the gerund of this paradigm will be in a manner similar to that of the gerund of افعال (e.g. استقامة). This تاء may not drop.
· If the first base letter of the word being considered is one of the letters of يرملون then the verb may not be inaugurated into this paradigm; rather the connotation of this paradigm will have to be reflected by افتعال.
· The verbs from these paradigms are either colours or bodily defects.