Verb forms

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by paieye, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. paieye Senior Member

    English - British
    I have been given what I regard as the alarming news that, to be fluent in Arabic, I must be familiar with the verb forms.

    I have found various sites that attempt to explain the forms, for example:

    However, all of the sites have in common that they list the forms for a single verb -- in this case and for some reason in most cases فعل -- but then proceed to explain the forms by reference to completely different verbs.

    1. Taking فعل purely as an example, does this mean that this particular verb does not occur in any form but Form 1 ?

    2. If it does occur in the other forms, why might its varied meanings not be given ?

    3. If it does not occur in the other forms, why can a verb that does seem to occur in the other forms -- خرج or جمع for example -- not be used instead for the explanatory list ?

    4. Is there anywhere else where I could find a more helpful explanation of the forms ?
  2. ayed

    ayed Senior Member

    The verb "fa3ala" is commonly used as a scale form for all verbs. If your teacher asked you to give them a verb in the scale of "fo3ila" فُعِلَ , you could say "zori3a"--it was planted/زُرِعَ . He might ask you to give them a verb in the scale of فاعل you might say زارع
    I hope this helps
  3. paieye Senior Member

    English - British
    Thank you, Ayed, but my 1st question is why use this verb as the standard example without telling the struggling beginner what it could possibly mean in Forms II et al ?
  4. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).

    I'll try to answer some of your questions.
    Using fa3ala as a base for explaining verb forms is the traditional way verb forms are explained. And, if you get to read some of the explanations, you'll find that it is actually very practical.
    I understand that some foreigners go for CV (Consonant - Vowel) instead, but it is much easier (well, at least to me) to learn the traditional way.

    For example, knowing that fa3al means (he did) and that faa3il means (doer) and maf3uul (done) helps understand the meaning of words you haven't studied in a particular form, just by comparing it to the pattern.
    It is not that simple, of course, but it does help a lot.
    I'm not sure I understand what you mean here. Could you please elaborate?
    You mean use another verb than fa3ala? Well, maybe because فعل in itself indicates an action (doing something). Besides, if it were another form, you would also be asking why this and not another. No? :)
    Try searching the forum. There are many previous threads about verb forms.

    But the meanings are given in the link you provided in post # 1. :confused:
  5. Tracer

    Tracer Senior Member

    Wadi Jinn
    American English
    Misleading information. "To be fluent in Arabic" means that you can speak Arabic at an advanced level. If this is what you want to do, then you don't have to even know how to read Arabic. You just have to learn a colloquial variety of the language and go on your merry way.

    In fact, that's how I learned Arabic. I could swear and cuss like a sailor in Arabic long before I could read anything.

    (Of course, that's true in any language. If you want to speak fluent English, for example, you don't necessarily have to know how to read English). In other words, what I'm saying is that READING and SPEAKING are two different skills: they often "merge", but you don't have to know both to be considered "fluent".

    ADVICE: If all you want to do is to SPEAK Arabic so you can use it in your daily life (wherever you might be in the Arab world), then skip the study of the written language and find yourself a colloquial Arabic course (good luck there). Later on, if you're still interested, you can take up the formal, written variety of Arabic.

    Studying all the "verb forms" you're talking about won't get you a glass of water in downtown Cairo.

    No, it doesn't mean that. In fact, the vast majority of verbs have more than 1 form (although none of then appear in ALL 14 forms). What it does mean is that if a verb has a Form l, that Form will be listed first. (a few verbs do not appear in Form l and so, often, the first listing is Form ll).

    Actually, they are. Look for example in Hans Wehr's dictionary...the forms of the verb are written in after the numbers l ll lll Vl etc. along with their meanings.

    But I think you're working under a misconception here. You probably think that each "form" has a specific "meaning" applicable to each and every verb.
    But it doesn't work that way.

    Except in a very general (and useless) sense, the FORM of a verb is detached from what it actually MEANS. In other words, if you see several verbs in FORM V, for example, that doesn't mean that these verbs have anything in common with each other EXCEPT that they appear in Form V.

    Bottom line: each verb, regardless of its FORM, has to be learned separately as an individual unit along with its (English) meaning. Learning the verb forms, while an interesting project, is, in my opinion, nearly useless to gain a practical skill in spoken Arabic. (Naturally, what I'm saying here is anathema to many involved in the field, especially academics.).
    There's no reason other verbs (any verb, actually) cannot be used instead of fa3ala. As previous commentators have mentioned, fa3ala has become the standard verb for this type of analysis, but any verb could be used. I would have preferred another verb, like kataba, because the problem with fa3ala for foreigners is that deadly 3 sound of fa3ala. Adds an unnecessary complication, in my opinion.
    There is nothing to "explain" more than what you already seem to know (unless you're making a deep academic study of the forms). ADVICE: go to Hans Wehr dictionary and actually SEE how the forms are given and how they work. Actually, this same book has a good explanation of the Forms in the Introduction.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2013
  6. paieye Senior Member

    English - British
    Perhaps I could answer both of your kind and helpful messages compendiously:

    1. When I wrote my original posting, I had of course forgotten the ف - ع -- ل convention of analysing Arabic verbs -- a beginner's error, I am afraid.

    2. I want to learn Arabic to a standard that would enable me to give an academic lecture as well as to communicate with a taxi-driver, hence the need to explore the Forms.

    3. If all or most verbs may be used in different Forms, it occurred to me that it would be helpful to start by learning perhaps 12 verbs that are both in daily use and that are used in at least most of the Forms.

    4. If I could construct a chart for the Arabic words for such common verbs as eat, drink, sleep, go, like, hope, intend, want, remember, &c. showing how each Form might (or might not) apply to that verb, and what the resulting word would mean, that would help to equip me as a beginner to recognise and understand other verbs in Forms II et seq.

    5. Do you think that there might be a ready-made such chart available ?

    Thank you again !
  7. paieye Senior Member

    English - British
    "5. Do you think that there might be a ready-made such chart available ?" Here is just such a chart for فعل:

    Perfect, just what I wanted !
  8. paieye Senior Member

    English - British
  9. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
  10. paieye Senior Member

    English - British
    I have been wondering about the translation, but I am sure that you see my difficulty.
  11. paieye Senior Member

    English - British
    Also most helpful is "Arabic Verbs & Essentials of Grammar" (Wightwick & Gaafar).

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