Tag Archives: verbs

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

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.com:

501 Arabic Verbs

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

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


Arabic Learners’ Most Important Question Answered!

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” 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 is available in paperback, hardback, and in Kindle form at: Amazon.com 


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

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.