Verb forms

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Timmy123, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. Timmy123 Senior Member

    May I ask how you learn them? Is it just as you go along naturally so to speak?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 12, 2010
  2. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English
    The Roman numerals are also obviously not used by Arabs. A more intuitive system called awzaan (patterns) are used, which uses فعل as a base (since it has the basic meaning of verb/do). So any given "form" is known in Arabic by it's conjugation of the base verb فعل.

    I think most other Semitic languages classify them like this, as it just makes so much more sense than coming up with a whole new system consisting of numbers which just don't relate to the conjugations at all. Hebrew from memory uses the verb pa`al which is cognate with fa3ala.
  3. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    I also prefer using فعل، فعّل، استفعل etc. instead of using numbers. It's definitely easier for me. In fact, after number IV, I actually don't remember what the other numbers stand for:eek:. When I look up something in Hans Wehr (which uses the numbers), I always have to go back to the introduction to see what the remaining numbers refer to:D.
  4. Ghabi

    Ghabi AL/OL/Ar/Zh mod

    Hong Kong
    I think it's not a matter of using numbers or awzaan, but a matter of whether ones memorises the morphology stuff at all (I guess that's what Timmy means, no?:confused:). A native knows the correct form of the verb because she has heard or read that many many times, not because she conjugates the verb in her head, as a foreigner (well, at least a beginner like me:D) does.
  5. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    Well sometimes yes, sometimes no. I mean, native speakers learn how to conjugate verbs in school based on the awzaan and morphological rules, am I wrong? So if you encounter a verb, especially a wazn uncommon in colloquial, like أفْعَلَ, a native speaker may conjugate it based on the morphology they've learned in school. I hope a native speaker can comment about this. However, a native speaker by the time they've finished early schooling and are competent at reading and writing - I'm sure verb conjugation is just as "natural" or "intuitive" as it would be in colloquial for them. Perhaps this depends on how easy or natural fus7a is for someone, and level of education.

    Anyway, I was mostly just commenting based on the numbers vs. names issue. I never took Arabic formally in a Western country, but I've heard they use the numbers thing a lot. When I took Arabic class in Jordan, we were taught just with the names of the awzaan, so perhaps that's another reason I have problems remembering the numbers. I can really only remember what I, II, III and IV stand for:D.
  6. Josh_ Senior Member

    the phrontistery
    U.S., English
    Yes, I agree with Ghabi, it may not be so much a matter learning the awzaan or the numbers, since knowing that a verb is of the form IV / أَفْعَل، يُفْعِل pattern may not be of much help if you are only used to conjugating verbs with sound letters (حروف صحيحة), such as أَعْرَبَ، يُعْرِبُ. In the case of verbs that have defective lettrers (حروف علة), such as أَيْقَنَ، يُوْقِنُ, you would also need to know rules of إعلال. In the case of أَيْقَنَ، يُوْقِنُ you would need to know that تُقلَب الياء واوًا إذا سُكِّنَت بعد ضمة (yaa2 is converted to a waaw if it (the yaa2) has a sukuun over it after a Damma). So that means that the regular (perhaps intuitive) conjuagtion of يُيْقِنُ becomes يُوْقِنُ because the combination يـــُـيــْــقن (Damma, yaa2, sukuun) is not allowed (probably due to the difficulty that would create in pronunciation).

    At any rate, to answer Timmy's question:

    The best way to learn it is to just memorize the conjugational pattern of أَفْعَل، يُفْعِل / form IV verbs that have a defective first root letter (either waaw or yaa2). what you could do is just replace the ف in أَفْعَل، يُفْعِل with either و or ي depending on what the first root letter is, like this:

    If the first root letter is و, then:

    أَوْعَلَ، يُوعِلُ

    And if the first root letter is ي, then:

    أَيْعَلَ، يُوعِلُ

    Or better yet (as the above may seem a bit strange), just use two real verbs as your "go-to verbs," so to speak, to help you remember the pattern, such as أَوْقَف، يُوقِفُ (to stop) for waaw and أَيْقَنَ، يُوْقِنُ (to be certain) for yaa2. And then, for example, when you see another verb such as أيسر you will know that it is conjugated like أَيْقَنَ.

    As far as the numbers vs. awzaan thing, I like both. I imagine the number system arose to act as kind of a shortcut in lieu of saying out the entire pattern. This may helpful for those (non-natives) who may have difficulty is pronouncing or aurally recognizing the patterns (when they first start out learning) or it may just be a way to categorize the verb patterns. This may also be useful to the linguist who is only interested in a theoretical understanding of Arabic, but who does not want to learn the language. For the untrained ear it can be difficult to perceive the difference between فَعَلَ (fa3ala) and فَعَّلَ (fa33ala), let alone pronouncing the 3ayn. So in this sense, it may make sense to refer to them in a different way as a shortcut, such as using form I and form II. Perhaps the creation of the number system was unnecessary, but so what. I think that there is room for new/different ways of thinking about about things. Thinking about something in a different way may also help us to understand it better or understand it in a different way. I think we also must bear in mind that different peoples organize and process information in different ways. Perhaps those who came up with the number system thought it was easier to assign numbers to the different conjugations and categorize them that way. Who knows. The point is, new ideas about old things that may seem superfluous or unnecessary are not necessarily bad.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2010
  7. Timmy123 Senior Member

    Thanks everyone. As you have correctly gathered, I was refferring not to the method of labelling awzaan e.g.form I II III etc but rather jus the actual knowing of what verb form is suitable where and also understanding/recognising the different verb forms. As in my study emphasis has not really been on being able to label the verb form with a number - the aim has always been to select the correct verb form and also be able to understand a form.

    The only reason a verb form labelling is necessary is not only for ease but also to remind yourself of the actual form and what it means. But sometimes it can be more confusing especially if your not good with numbers :)

    (My experience is very limited so this is just my opinion based on my experience).

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