Tag Archives: Arabic

Arabic Forms Chart (Verb Forms I-X) Poster

At the very heart of Arabic grammar are the ten forms, or “measures”, on which the vast majority of verbs are based. These essential forms work as a master key for unlocking the Arabic language. Below is a brand new poster providing these 10 forms in a clear and easy-to-use grammar table.


Available as a high-quality poster at the official Nigel of Arabia store!

The Arabic Forms Chart poster lists the three main “tenses” in each of the 10 forms, both in the active and passive:

  • perfect (used for the past tense)
  • imperfect (used for the present tense)
  • future (a modified form of the imperfect used for the future tense).

The active and passive participles are also given, as well as the imperative (used for issuing an order or giving directions), along with the verbal nouns for each form.

The verbal noun for Form I verbs varies significantly, with at least a dozen different patterns found among Form I verbs, including:

فِعْل ، فَعْل ، فُعْل ، فَعَل ، فُعُول ، فُعْلَان ، فَعَالَة ، فَعَال ، فِعْلَة …etc.

Further notes:

  • Although Form VII is already primarily passive in meaning, some Form VII verbs are able to be conjugated in the passive form. Therefore, the chart provides both the active and passive for Form VII, when other posters may choose to omit the passive entirely.
  • Form IX, mainly used to describe colors or defects, does not have a passive form, and therefore n/a is written in the relevant parts of the table.

For more Arabic learning materials and posters, visit the official Nigel of Arabia store at Zazzle.com.



Arabic Form 1 Verbs Venn Diagram

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

It turns out there are at least 28 kinds of Form 1 verbs in Arabic, and what better way to visualize them than a colorful Venn diagram!


For SALE as a poster at my official store: www.Zazzle.com/NigelofArabia

A little background information… Arabic verbs fall under two main categories, which also have their own subcategories:

  1. Sound الفعل الصحيح (the verb does not have a و or ي as one of the root letters)
    1. Doubled الفعل المضعف (the verb’s second and third root letters are the same)
    2. Hamzated الفعل المهموز (one of verb’s root letters is a ء “hamza“)
  1. Weak الفعل المعتل (the verb has a و or ي as one of the root letters)
    1. Assimilated الفعل المثال (the verb begins with و or ي)
    2. Hollow الفعل الأجوف (the verb’s second root letter is either a و or ي and in the perfect it is replaced by an ا “alif”)
    3. Defective الفعل الناقص (the verb’s final root letter is either و or ي)

So what does this mean exactly? Well, this means that each type of Form 1 verb will have slight variations in how they are conjugated, both in the perfect and imperfect. So it’s important to be aware of these differences so that you vowel verbs correctly, and also omit, change, or double certain letters where applicable.

This can make things rather complicated, but fortunately there are resources available that lay out all of these conjugations in full, including the book “501 Arabic Verbs”, available on Amazon.

501 Arabic Verbs

501 Arabic Verbs: Fully Conjugated in All Forms (paid link) by Raymond Scheindlin (Barron’s Educational Series, 2007)

For more recommendations on useful books for Arabic learners, see my other post:


Top 10 Must-Have Books for Arabic Learners!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

1. The Hans Wehr Dictionary

Hans Wehr Arabic Dictionary

Arabic-English Dictionary: The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (paid link) by Hans Wehr, J. Milton Cowan (Snowball Publishing, 2011)

No Arabic learner’s library would be complete without a copy of Hans Wehr. This trusty dictionary is a culmination of many years of dedication and attention to detail. There are certainly other Arabic-English dictionaries out there, such as the Merriam-Webster’s Arabic-English Dictionary (paid link), but none quite as detailed or exhaustive as the Hans Wehr dictionary, making it an ideal dictionary for academic work.

Beginners of Arabic may find navigating the dictionary a little tricky, since the words are given in alphabetical order by root, not by whole word. As you progress in your Arabic learning, however, you quickly start to see the advantages of having the words grouped by root, since the root letters form the basis of most words in Arabic and largely follow set patterns for different types of words.

2. A Frequency Dictionary of Arabic

Frequency Dictionary of Arabic

A Frequency Dictionary of Arabic: Core Vocabulary for Learners (paid link) by Tim Buckwalter, Dilworth Parkinson (Routledge, 2010)

Click here to read a more detailed post focusing on this book, in which I describe this amazing resource. This book answers the very important question: “Which Arabic words should you learn?” by providing the top 5,000 most common words, in order of frequency!

3. 501 Arabic Verbs

501 Arabic Verbs

501 Arabic Verbs: Fully Conjugated in All Forms (paid link) by Raymond Scheindlin (Barron’s Educational Series, 2007)

Picturing the structure of Arabic as a whole can be very difficult due to its complexity, but this book goes a long way in presenting the most important foundation of Arabic – its verbs. This book covers all of the major verb types found in Arabic, from both regular and irregular verbs, and provides an instant insight into the recurring patterns found in the conjugations of the verbs. It also includes between two to six example sentences for each of the verbs given.

The book does require that you be familiar with the various grammatical terms associated with the verbs and their uses, such as the difference between the perfect and imperfect, the active and passive, the subjunctive, jussive, and imperative. Also, it does not include transliteration for those that are still learning to read the Arabic script. So although it may not be immediately accessible to newcomers of Arabic, it is well worth using in conjunction with a textbook, and is certainly a great resource as you progress in Arabic.

4. Arabic: An Essential Grammar

Arabic An Essential Grammar

Arabic: An Essential Grammar (paid link) by Faruk Abu-Chacra (Routledge, 2007)

To me, the real attraction of this book is its clarity and ease-of-use. It covers all major parts of the Arabic language, including an in-depth section devoted to the script – its form, pronunciation, and rules. It also includes its own reading and translation exercises for the reader to reinforce their understanding of the grammar covered in each chapter.

It may not be as detailed in its analysis of Arabic as you may find in books such as Modern Arabic: Structures, Functions, and Varieties (paid link) by Clive Holes, but it will certainly take you to a sufficiently advanced level of grammar. It also makes use of transliteration alongside the Arabic, for those still learning to read the script.

Arabic: An Essential Grammar is available for purchase on Amazon. I would recommend this book mainly as a supporting resource, used alongside a core language textbook, such as “Complete Arabic” or  “Al-Kitaab” (see below). (paid links)

5. The “Al-Kitaab” Series

Al Kitaab Part One

Al-Kitaab fii Ta’allum al-‘Arabiyya Part One: A Textbook for Beginning Arabic: Third Edition (paid link) by Kristen Brustad, Mahmoud Al-Batal, Abbas Al-Tonsi (Georgetown University Press, 2011)

This two-part textbook series, with a separate introductory book for learning the script, called Alif Baa: Introduction to Arabic Letters and Sounds  (paid link) is simply referred to by most as “Al-Kitaab”, and forms the core syllabus for many Arabic language courses taught around the world, including at Durham University, England, where I first studied Arabic.

Despite the prominence of negative reviews surrounding this book series, it will always remain close to my heart. Even those frustrated with the structure of “Al-Kitaab” cannot help being filled with nostalgia as they remember their first steps in Arabic, made with the beloved “Al-Kitaab” characters, Maha and Khaled.

Students who were used to using the black and white second edition will be impressed by this color version, which includes grammar and vocabulary from the Egyptian and Levantine dialects set out very clearly, as well as a new integration with online resources.

6. Using Arabic Synonyms

Using Arabic Synonyms

Using Arabic Synonyms (paid link) by Dilworth Parkinson (Cambridge University Press, 2005)

From the same author ofA Frequency Dictionary of Arabic: Core Vocabulary for Learners (paid link) comes another tremendously useful resource; Using Arabic Synonyms.

With so many synonyms in Arabic, it can be quite a challenge sometimes to choose the most appropriate word for the context – something which comes naturally to a native Arabic speaker. This book, however, helps Arabic learners get one step closer to the level of a native Arabic speaker by providing key information on synonyms in Arabic.

It provides information on the frequency of each synonym, so you know which is more commonly used. It indicates their use in both MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) and in the dialects, and also demonstrates each synonym in context, providing a lengthy paragraph of Arabic for each synonym. Unfortunately, the example paragraphs given to demonstrate the use of each synonym in context are given only in Arabic and not translated. So the book assumes an advanced knowledge of Arabic vocabulary. This book is ideal, however, for those who are already very advanced in Arabic but wish to push their Arabic to the next level.

7. Media Arabic

Media Arabic An Essential Vocabulary

Media Arabic: An Essential Vocabulary (paid link) by Elisabeth Kendall (Edinburgh University Press, 2007)

This book is the perfect companion for deciphering Arabic newspapers and other media. It lists the most common words and phrases used in the media, making it a great translation resource.

When used alongside A Frequency Dictionary of Arabic: Core Vocabulary for Learners (paid link) these two books combined can give your Arabic vocabulary learning tremendous focus, so that you are learning only the most relevant and useful words for understanding real-life Arabic. 

8. Complete Arabic

Complete Arabic Teach Yourself Arabic

Complete Arabic (Teach Yourself Complete Courses) (paid link) by Jack Smart, Frances Altorfer (Teach Yourself, 2015)

For those seeking a friendly and approachable Arabic course book, which is not as intimidating as others, this book is ideal. Taking you right from the start of the language, Complete Arabic introduces new concepts and vocabulary step by step at a comfortable pace. The book also incorporates MP3 audio support (available separately).

The book’s black and white format and illustrations do feel a little dated, but the course content is of a high quality, and includes clear text in both Arabic script and transliteration for those still learning to read the script. It also contains varying types of practice exercises throughout the book to reinforce the material covered, as well as useful verb tables and a dictionary at the back of the book.

9. Modern Arabic Short Stories

Modern Arabic Short Stories A Bilingual Reader

Modern Arabic Short Stories: A Bilingual Reader (paid link) by Ronak Husni, Daniel L. Newman (SAQI, 2008)

This book is particularly close to my heart because the author, Daniel L. Newman, was actually one of my Arabic professors at Durham University, and it was an honor to be taught by him.

A big highlight of this book is that the Arabic text is printed opposite the English translation, so you can easily compare the original Arabic with its translation as you read through each story. There are also detailed language notes at the end of each story, explaining the translation of specific parts and giving the meaning of individual words in the text.

Naturally this book is geared more toward advanced Arabic learners, who can handle translating whole paragraphs of literature. That being said, even a beginner can appreciate the literature in translation, and can also start to develop a sense of how the Arabic language is structured and what kind of vocabulary is used in literature.

10. Arabic-English Visual Dictionary

Arabic English Bilingual Visual Dictionary

Arabic-English Bilingual Visual Dictionary (paid link) by Simon Tuite (Senior Editor), Samir Salih, (DK, 2015)

This fully packed, pocket-sized visual dictionary makes an excellent addition to any Arabic learner’s library. Full-color, in high-quality glossy print, this dictionary successfully brings Arabic vocabulary alive and engages the visual sense, adding a lively dimension to vocabulary learning.

Clearly labelled alongside illustrations and grouped by category, the Arabic terms and their English meanings also come with transliteration to help with pronunciation. This book is definitely a handy resource for when you are out and about using Arabic with locals in an Arabic speaking country. At the very least you can always find what you are trying to say and point at the picture!



Arabic Learners’ Most Important Question Answered!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Exactly which Arabic words should you learn? Learning a language, especially one as broad and complex as Arabic, is no small commitment. Mastering Arabic, or even just achieving a working knowledge of the language, demands a great deal of time and effort. So it makes sense that you would want to make your learning time as efficient as possible. This can only be achieved if you know with confidence what it is that you should be learning.

Thankfully, there is a book that tells you exactly which words are the most useful to know in Arabic; it is called “A Frequency Dictionary of Arabic: Core Vocabulary for Learners” (paid link) by Tim Buckwalter and Dilworth Parkinson.

Frequency Dictionary of Arabic

Unlike other dictionaries, this book lists the vocabulary in order of frequency.

The dictionary covers the 5,000 most frequently used words in Arabic. It also contains thematically organized lists of the top words from a variety of key topics such as weather, sports, clothing, and family terms.

Something that I have found most useful about this book is that it also includes an index of different parts of speech. So, for example, if I wanted to know what the most common verbs in Arabic were, I can refer to the book’s list of the most common verbs, given in order of frequency. It also lists in order of frequency the most common conjunctions, interrogatives, numbers, prepositions, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and nouns. For those that wish to use the book more as a conventional dictionary, it also includes a section that lists the words in alphabetical order.

The book focuses primarily on MSA (Modern Standard Arabic), but also includes words from several of the most widely spoken Arabic dialects, and where relevant are indicated in the word entries.

The book’s preface successfully highlights its usefulness when it states:

“Nation (1990) showed that the 4000 – 5,000 most frequent words account for up to 95 percent of a written text and the 1,000 most frequent words account for 85 percent of speech.”

Nigel of Arabia with Arabic Dictionary

I highly recommend this book and consider it an essential part of any Arabic learner’s book collection. A Frequency Dictionary of Arabic: Core Vocabulary for Learners (paid link) is available in paperback, hardback, and in Kindle form on Amazon.

Poster: Arabic Numbers Made Easy!

You won’t find anything clearer or more easy to use than this guide to numbers in Arabic, which successfully breaks down one of the most complex parts of Arabic grammar, making it as easy as 1, 2, 3…!

I created this poster with the learner in mind and have designed it to be as user-friendly as possible. Suited to all levels of Arabic, it covers all cardinal numbers, along with Arabic numerals, example nouns and essentials of grammar, such as which case the noun should be in. To help with pronunciation, the Arabic has been fully vowelled and English transliteration has been provided for each number.

Never again be frustrated by the grammar of Arabic numbers…

Available as a high-quality 24″ x 24″ poster at: Nigel of Arabia’s Store

Numbers in Arabic Poster by Nigel of Arabia


Ideal for both reference at home or on the classroom wall. For this and other original Arabic designs for sale, visit: www.Zazzle.com/NigelofArabia


Your New Go-To Arabic Bookmarks!

Anyone that has studied Arabic will know that looking up words in an Arabic dictionary can be tricky… Firstly, the standard format for Arabic dictionaries is to list words in order by root. This makes being able to recognise the root of a word essential. On top of that, you are expected to know how to construct the verb forms derived from the root. What does that mean? Well, let’s say you come across the following entry:

Arabic Dictionary Entry Example

In this example, taken from the widely used Hans Wehr dictionary, it states that form IV of the given root برد (b-r-d) has the meaning “to send by mail”. This means that you are expected to know how to arrange the root letters to create form IV. This would be done using form IV’s pattern, أَفْعَلَ (af’ala), producing the verb أَبْرَدَ (abrada). So, without knowing the patterns for each of the verb forms you will be lost!

In an effort to make life a whole lot easier for you while reading, studying or translating Arabic, I came up with these new designs… two fantastic quick-reference bookmarks!

Available now at Nigel of Arabia’s Store! 

High-quality wooden bookmarks:

  • The Arabic Verb Forms (I-X). As highlighted in the example above, this bookmark will help you produce the various derived verb forms with ease!
  • The Arabic Alphabet. So when you forget, for example, where the letter ظ is found in the dictionary – one quick glance at this bookmark and you’re good to go!

As an added bonus, the Arabic alphabet bookmark also gives the initial, medial and final forms of each letter – providing you with a quick and handy guide to handwriting in Arabic. These bookmarks will quickly become your go-to reference while looking up words in the dictionary. They also serve as a great way to revise these essential parts of Arabic!

Get yours today at: www.Zazzle.com/NigelofArabia

– Thanks!

An Arabic clock… like you’ve never seen before!

Inspired by the unusual and creative clocks that you often see shared on Facebook, like the handful below, I wondered how I might apply the same kind of creativity to an Arabic-themed clock face…

I knew it wouldn’t be anything new or novel simply to use Arabic numbers, or to write out the numbers as words in Arabic (…although that’s not a terrible idea). So, I came up with something infinitely more original, as well as practical for those learning Arabic… a clock made from the Arabic “verb forms”!

Arabic Verb Forms Clock by Nigel of Arabia

The Arabic “Verb Forms” (I-XII)

Click here to view the clock for sale on Zazzle.com!

For those unfamiliar with the Arabic verb forms or “awzaan” of the verb, they are a set of different verb forms (or patterns) derived from a single root, and each verb form carries its own distinct meaning, which is a slight variation on the base meaning of the root.

There are actually up to fifteen verb forms, but Arabic textbooks normally focus on only forms 1-10, as the others are extremely rare.

In the case of this clock, the verb forms I have used are based on the trilateral root “f-ع-l” (ف – ع – ل), which carries the meaning “to do”. This root is the root that is most commonly used in Arabic grammar references and textbooks to present all of the different word forms possible in Arabic.

Another example of a root in Arabic is the three consonants ك – ت – ب (ktb), written in that order, which carries the meaning of “writing” and produces various words, such as كتاب (kitaab) = “book”, مكتبة (maktaba) = “library”, and أكتب (aktub) = “I write”. For a fully comprehensive and user-friendly map of this root, see my post: The Arabic Verb Map …Revamped!

It is important to note that if the order of the root letters is changed then the meaning will also change completely. When the “verb forms” are generated, the order of the root letters never changes. Instead, there may be a doubling of a root letter, as in form numbers 2, 5, 9 & 11, or the addition of other letters, such as ت (), ا (alif), س (sīn), and even و (wāw), as in the rare verb form number 12. Whether used as a clever way to revise Arabic grammar, or used as a unique conversation piece, this novel design for a clock is sure to draw attention.

For more designs available by Nigel of Arabia, visit: www.Zazzle.com/NigelofArabia


Arabic Verb Forms Clock

The Arabic Verb Map… Revamped!

Encouraged by the success of my last Arabic verb map (which has made it to 1st place in Google search results and has been viewed in over 80 countries), I decided to build on the valuable feedback you gave me and take the time to perfect an even bigger, more comprehensive and accessible infographic for you. So, I am proud to present to you the new Arabic Verb Map… 2.0!

This time I chose the more frequently used verb “to write” and rearranged the design, packing in lots of new content, including:

  • Transliteration of the Arabic – allowing even beginners to read the Arabic script. Colour-coded to highlight the conjugation around the root.
  • English translation – providing the meanings of the words, including the different “Forms” derived from the root.
  • Negation of verbs – a handy guide on how to make verbs negative.
  • Nouns – providing the most relevant examples of nouns derived from the verb and their meanings.
  • The future tense – something that was not included in the last map.
  • A key – a quick guide to the colour-coding used.

I have made an effort to make this map relevant and accessible to both advanced learners of Arabic and beginners. If you have any questions about the map or about Arabic language in general, just send me a message and I will respond as soon as I can – I look forward to helping you out!

Please note that this image of my verb map is only a preview of the high-quality map for sale as a poster (see below for details).

Arabic Verb Map 2.0 by Nigel NaumannNOW AVAILABLE AS A HIGH-QUALITY POSTER! 

…Whether for home, or posted on the classroom wall, this unique Arabic verb map poster will prove to be an invaluable resource, worthy of the incredible effort and time that has gone into its research and creation.

Click here to view the poster on sale in my official Zazzle store.


An Arabic “Word Tree”: Quarrelling Like a Forest?

One of the best ways to grasp the complex yet elegant structure of Arabic is to unlock its system of roots. To illustrate this system I have created an Arabic “word tree” – another kind of word map – to demonstrate how a single root in Arabic produces many distinct yet related words. In this case I have presented a tree made from the triliteral root ش – ج – ر (shjr).

These three Arabic consonants (“sh”, “j” and “r”), when they appear in that sequence, carry with them a particular meaning and can produce different words related to that meaning. If the order of the root letters is changed then the meaning will also change completely.

I thought it would be fun to use the root ش – ج – ر (shjr) in particular for a word tree since this root actually produces the Arabic word for “tree”.

Another example of a root in Arabic is the three consonants ك – ت – ب (ktb), written in that order, which carries the meaning of “writing” and produces various words, such as كتاب (kitaab) = “book”, مكتبة (maktaba) = “library”, and أكتب (aktub) = “I write”. There is also the root د – ر – س  (drs), which carries the meaning of “studying” and produces words like درس (dars) = “lesson”, مدرسة (madrasa) = “school”, and أدرس (adrus) = “I study”.

Interestingly, as well as words to do with trees, the root ش – ج – ر (sh – j – r) also produces words associated with quarrelling and unrest. I have coloured the words associated with trees in green and those about quarrelling in dark red.

One might speculate that the two seemingly unrelated offshoots of the same root are in fact connected. Perhaps the breaking out of unrest or a quarrel erupting and spreading is analogous to the growth of a forest that begins with only a few trees and expands outwards, getting ever bigger and more tangled. I would be very interested to hear other theories or explanations anyone else might have about the possible link between the two groups of words produced from this single root.

The Arabic words presented in this tree, along with their English translations, have been taken from A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic by Hans Wehr. These are not the only words that I could have included, but are the ones that I felt were most relevant for the purposes of this illustration.

It was great to see so many people interested in my last infographic of an Arabic Verb Map, which has received over 4,700 views and counting, from over 80 different countries, since its posting on January 21st! So I hope you enjoy this one too. Feel free to share with others and please do let me know if you have any feedback. Thanks!

An Arabic Word Tree by Nigel of Arabia


This creatively designed and detailed word tree is now available as a poster – perfect for use as a resource in the classroom or at home, or simply used as decoration – also making an intriguing conversation piece!

Click here to view the poster on sale in my official Zazzle store.


Map: What an Arabic Verb Looks Like!

This verb map (available at the official Nigel of Arabia Store) I created in order to demonstrate both the complexity and elegance of the Arabic verb. In this case, I have illustrated the verb ‘to do; to affect’ (فَعَلَ), which is a “Form I” verb (derived from the triliteral root ف-ع-ل).

I chose to illustrate this root in particular as it is the root that is most commonly used in Arabic grammar references and textbooks to present all of the different word forms possible in Arabic.

Although very detailed, this map is by no means exhaustive, as I have not included all of the various verb conjugations and words derived from Forms II-XIV. I have also not given the different forms of the active and passive participles.

To make the most of the map, I recommend you begin from the root, which is given in the large red box and is the heart of the verb map. From there the map provides a quick glimpse of Forms II-XIV of the root (next to the grey boxes), before proceeding to the main subject of the map – the Form I verb فَعَلَ (given in the blue box).

It is important to note that not all Form I verbs in Arabic have the same voweling as the verb فَعَلَ. For example, many Form I verbs are voweled using the pattern فَعِلَ such as the verb شَرِبَ (‘to drink’), and a relatively rare number of Arabic verbs use the pattern فَعُلَ , such as the verb كَثُرَ (“to be numerous”).

In order to conserve space I have omitted the terms ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. Instead, I have colour-coded words where relevant; blue for ‘masculine‘ and red for ‘feminine‘. The ordinal numbers refer to the person (e.g. 2nd = second person, “you”). For those unfamiliar with the “dual” – it is a form used in Arabic when addressing or referring to two people or things.

The grammatical terms I have chosen to use in my map are not the only ones used to describe those parts of the verbs. For example, the “imperfect” form of the verb in many contexts could be described as the “present” tense; the “perfect” is sometimes called the “aorist”; and the “verbal noun” is sometimes referred to as the “infinitive” or “gerund”. Therefore, I have included the corresponding Arabic terms to avoid possible confusion.

I hope you enjoy the map and also find it to be a useful resource. To get your own copy, visit the official Nigel of Arabia store!  – Thanks!

Arabic Verb Map To Do by Nigel of Arabia Nigel Naumann


…Whether for home, or posted on the classroom wall, this unique Arabic verb map poster will prove to be an invaluable resource, worthy of the incredible effort and time that has gone into its research and creation.

Click here to view the poster on sale in my official Zazzle store.