Instance nouns are unpredictable and used arbitrarily?


Senior Member
Russian - Russia
Even though instance nouns (مصدر مرّة) should in theory be used for an instance of an action, in truth it seems regular nouns are used instead in their place even when you expect an instance noun. E.g. I remember playing a video game (first person shooter) unofficially translated into Arabic, and when changing key bindings, the hotkey to use a chosen item (medkit, flashbang grenade, etc.) from player's inventory was still translated as استخدام instead of استخدامة, even though since you can use several in a row, an instance noun would make more sense in this context as you could have several items.

Another atrocious example is constitutional amendments: each amendment is individual and unique (as opposed to the abstract "ammending" process). So I also expected an instance noun. Then I go to Arabic, and guess what?

التعديل الأول لدستور الولايات المتحدة - ويكيبيديا

Once again, I see a regular noun! التعديل الأول instead of expected التعديلة الأولى!

It seems problematic to me, I don't really know how to reasonably deal with it. It seems like outside a few widespread well-established cases (like ضربة for a single hit/strike and ضرب for beating, or انتفاضة for an uprising), مصدر مرّة itself is theoretical and remains unused in practice in real language. Either that, or I misunderstand something. Help, please?

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  • The noun of instance only straightforwardly exists for Form I verbs. All other measures/forms use the simple maSdar for both. There might be occasional exceptions to this where ـة is added to a non-Form I maSdar - it certainly happens in dialect - but it's not regular or enormously common.