If you have been studying Arabic for a while you are probably aware that there are 10 main forms of verbs in the in the Arabic language. Each of these forms have letters and vowels that are added to the root form which alters the meaning of the root verb in variety of different ways. Knowing that many students of Arabic struggle with the correct pronunciation of the different forms and tenses we put together this detailed interactive sound chart for all of the 10 Arabic forms across 9 different tenses & patterns. Arabic students should be able to use this chart along with their course materials to refine their ability to pronounce and correctly hear the different verb forms. Students who have a strong understanding these verb forms typically find that it becomes much easier to acquire and understand new vocabulary. We have used the verb فعل, to do, as a model. It should be noted that most verbs do not have each form across all patterns but it is still a very useful tool for the Arabic student.
Professor Ghada Osman at San Diego State University was kind enough to record all the verb sounds for us.
Note: this chart is quite large and will take a few moments to load all the sound files for most connections. Also, since the chart loads in Flash it may not work on some mobile devices.
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Below are some brief explanations of how each of the form variations differ from and relate to the meaning of the root form. Further resources on this topic can be found at the bottom of this page.
Form 1 فَعَلَ
This form conveys the standard or basic meaning of the root verb. It is roughly similar to the English infinitive.
Form 2 فَعَّلَ
The second form is causative or intensive (makes stronger or more intense) of form 1. To know علم in form 1 becomes to teach علّم in form 2. To smash كسّر in form 2 is the more intense version of the root verb to break كسر.
Form 3 فاعَلَ
This verb form is transitive or relates to another. For example the root verb to be safe سلم in the third form becomes to make peace with someone سالم. To become known علن in form 1 becomes to disclose something to someone عالن in form 3.
Form 4 أفْعَلَ
The fourth form is causative or transitive (requires an object) of form 1. To dictate أكتب in form 4 instead of just to write كتب in form 1. To be good صلح in form 1 versus to put in the order أصلح in form 4. This form can also be related to different parts of the day.
Form 5 تَفَعَّلَ
Form five is reflexive (i.e. the subject and the direct object are the same) or passive of form 1 or 2. To observe رقب in form 1 becomes to anticipate ترقب in form 5. To be destroyed تنقض in form 5 versus to destroy نقض in Form 1.
Form 6 تَفاعَلَ
The sixth form is reflexive or passive of form 3. The verb to be fast سرع in form 1 becomes to rush or to hurry تسارع in form 6. To work عمل in form 1 becomes to do business with تعامل in form 6.
Form 7 اِنْفَعَلَ
The seventh form is passive of form 1. To tie عقد in form 1 becomes to be knit together اعقد in form 7. To break فجر becomes to explode or detonate انفجر in Form 7.
Form 8 اِفْتَعَلَ
The eighth form is reflexive for nuances and can convey doing something with detail or intentionally. For example to hear سمع in form 1 becomes to listen استمع in form 8. To acknowledge اعترف in form 8 instead of just to know عرف in form 1.
Form 9 اِفْعَلَّ
This verb form is actually quite rare, but is used with a meaning of acquiring a color or a defect (as in the case of physical defects). Examples include احمر which means to turn red and اعوج which means to be twisted.
Form 10 اِسْتَفْعَلَ
The tenth form conveys a meaning of seeking an action or quality of form 1. It can also mean to consider something to be such. To increase زاد in form 1 becomes to try to achieve more استزاد in form 10. To be safe سلم in form 1 becomes to surrender استسلم in form 10.
If you are interested in learning more about the 10 Arabic verb forms below are the references used for creating this page. Please also note that the above chart is based on Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), Arabic verb conjugations are slightly different in some Arabic speaking countries due to dialectic differences.
Atitarev. “Appendix:Arabic verbs.” Wiktionary. Wikipedia, 01 07 2013. Web. 19 Aug 2013. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Arabic_verbs.
Haddad, Yousif, and Jack Ingle. Simple Arabic: A Comprehensive Course. London: Saqi, 2002. Print.
Haywood, John A., and H. M. Nahmad. A New Arabic Grammar of the Written Language. London: Lund Humphries, 1965. Print.
Boshers, Jordan D. Arabic Verb Form Compilation. For EMEA (Europe, Middle East, & Africa). 2013
Wehr, Hans, and J. Milton. Cowan. A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic: (Arabic-English). Ithaca, NY: Spoken Language Services, 1994. Print.