. 22
( 23)


The opposition did not have a presence [worth] mentioning.

¤™’cCÉŸG ¤ÉHhô°»ŸG
al-ma√kuulaat-u al-mashruubaat-u
edibles, foods refreshments (˜drinkables™)

3 Passive with derived forms of the verb
Derived forms of the verb, especially V, VII, VIII, and IX may indicate a passive or
passive-like meaning, and may sometimes be used in this way. However, this is not
always the case. These derivational verbs need to be learned as separate lexical
Passive and passive-type expressions 669

items in order to know if their meaning is equivalent to a passive expression in
English. For more detailed analysis of these verb forms, see the separate chapters
on each derivational form.

3.1 The Form V verb: tafa¬¬al-a / ya-tafa¬¬al-u oπs©˜nànj / πs©n˜nJ
Form V verbs may function as the reflexive of the Form II verb. This is sometimes
referred to by grammarians as “mediopassive.”10 Form V may also be resultative of
Form II, showing the result of the Form II action, e.g., kassar-tu-haa fa-takassar-at
r¤nôs°ùnµnàna É¡oJrôs°ùnc ˜I broke it (Form II) and it broke (Form V).™11
to disintegrate, break apart tafakkak-a/ya-tafakkak-u o‚sµn˜nànj / n‚sµn˜nJ
be fragmented tamazzaq-a/ya-tamazzaq-u o¥sµnªnànj / n¥sµnªnJ
3.2 The Form VII verb: infa¬al-a/ya-nfa¬il-u oπp©n˜r¦nj / nπn©n˜rfpG
The Form VII verb may be analyzed as ergative, that is, the subject of the Form VII
verb is the same as the object of the transitive Form I verb.12 Form VII verbs are
also referred to as reflexive, resultative, passive or mediopassive in meaning. In
Arabic they are described as muTaawi¬ ˜obeying, corresponding with™ “ that is,
Form VII verbs show the result of Form I action.13

.q»FÉHô¡µdG oQÉq«àdG n„n£n¤rfpG .¢ùeCG o´ÉªàL™G nón¤n©rfpG
inqaTa¬-a l-tayyaar-u l-kahrabaa√iyy-u. in¬aqad-a l-ijtimaa¬-u √ams-i
The electric current was cut off. The meeting was held yesterday.

.ᤣ¦e Iô°»Y ¢ùªN ¤EG O“‘dG º°ùn¤¦J
op rn
ta-nqasim-u l-bilaad-u √ilaa xams-a ¬ashrat-a minTaqat-an.
The country is divided into fifteen regions.

3.3 Form VIII
Form VIII may also have mediopassive meaning.14 Some examples include:

be spread out intashar-a/ya-ntashir-u oôp°»nàr¦nj / nôn°»nàrfpG
to be related, linked intasab-a/ya-ntasib-u o–p°ùnàr¦nj / n–n°ùnàrfpG
“No grammatical distinction is made in Arabic verbs between “reflexive” acts and spontaneous
developments “ what one does to one™s self and what simply happens to one are equally accommo-
dated by the mediopassive” (Cowell 1964, 238).
For more on the Form V verb and its meanings, see Chapter 26.
Ergative verbs are sometimes referred to as “unaccusative” verbs, especially in relational grammar.
See Crystal 1997, 138“39 and Mahmoud 1991.
For more on muTaawi¬ ´hÉ£e see section 1.1 in this chapter and also Chapter 26, note 4.
One reason for the existence of mediopassive verbs in Form VIII is the phonological restriction in
Form VII against lexical roots beginning with the consonants hamza, waaw, yaa√, raa√, laam, or
nuun. Form VIII or Form V take over the mediopassive function for those roots.
670 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

to rise, be raised irtafa¬-a/ya-rtafi¬-u o„p˜nJrônj / n„n˜nJrQpG
to be healed ilta√am-a/ya-lta√im-u oºp„nàr∏nj / n„¦nCÉnàrdpG
to be completed iktamal-a/ya-ktamil-u oπpªnàrµnj / nπnªnàrcpG
ÚeÉY ò¦e rπpªnàrµnJ rºnd l¤ÉM“°UEG
√iSlaaHaat-un lam ta-ktamil mundh-u ¬aam-ayni
renovations that haven™t been completed in two years

ó©H º„à∏J rºnd l¬hôL
juruuH-un lam ta-lta√im ba¬d-u
wounds that have not been healed yet
Conditional and optative expressions

Conditional propositions are ones in which hypothetical conditions are specified
in order for something else to take place. Usually there are two clauses, one that
specifies the condition (typically starting with “if . . .”) and one that specifies the
consequences or result of those conditions (typically starting with “then . . .”). In
traditional English grammar the clause that specifies the conditions (the “if-
clause”) is termed the protasis and the second clause (the “then-clause”) is termed
the apodosis. In Arabic the equivalent terms are sharT •ô°T (for the condition
clause) and jawaab ÜG’L (for the consequence clause).
Arabic often uses a past tense verb in the conditional clause or protasis (sharT
•ô°T). However, the jussive mood of the present tense verb may also be used in the
protasis. The apodosis or consequence clause ( jawaab ÜG’L) may be in the same
tense as the previous one, or it may be different. If there is a tense switch between
clauses, the particle fa- normally precedes the apodosis; in practice in current
MSA, however, it is often omitted.1
Some conditions are reasonably realizable (“If you wait, I™ll go with you”), but
others are simply expressions of impossible or “contrary to fact” conditions (“If I
were your fairy godmother, I would grant your wish”). Arabic uses different par-
ticles to express possible conditions and impossible conditions.2

1 Possible conditions: idhaa GPEG and √in r¿EG
To express possible conditions, Arabic uses two conditional particles: √idhaa or √in
to start the protasis or sharT conditional clause. In the texts covered for this study,
√idhaa occurred much more frequently than √in.3 The use of √idhaa is considered to
imply probable conditions.4
See Taha 1995, 180“82 on this topic.
For a book-length description of conditional structures in Arabic, see Peled 1992, which contains
an extensive bibliography on the topic as well. See also Cantarino 1975, III: 311“69, Blachère and
Gaudefroy-Demombynes 1975, 450“68, and Fischer 2002, 227“36 for discussion of conditional
structures in classical and literary Arabic.
Note that √idhaa does not always translate as ˜if.™ Sometimes it is used in the adverbial sense of
˜when.™ See Cantarino 1975, III:297“302.
“√in is a straight hypothesis “ ˜if, if it is the case that . . ., if it should be that . . .™ while √idhaa ˜if ™
implies some degree of probability and sometimes implies ˜when, whenever.™” Abboud and McCarus
1983, Part 2:176.

672 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.1 √idhaa GPEG ˜if™ past tense
When √idhaa is used as the conditional particle in the sharT clause, the verb is in
the past tense. In the jawaab, a tense switch may or may not happen. This type of
conditional is the most frequent in MSA.

.π˜°SC™G ¤EG ´ô¡J ™ ,áqj’∏©dG ≥HG’£dG ˜ â¦c GPEG
√idhaa kun-ta fii l-Tawaabiq-i l-¬ulawiyyat-i, laa ta-hra¬ √ilaa l-√asfal-i.
If you are on the upper floors, do not rush to the lower [floors].

.É¡b“ZEG ¤EG ´QÉ°S , áM’à˜e ‚«HÉ‘°»dG âfÉc GPEG
√idhaa kaan-at-i l-shabaabiik-u maftuuHat-an, saari¬ √ilaa √ighlaaq-i-haa.
If the windows are open, hasten to close them.

.kɤq‘°ùe „aóJ ¿CG ‚«∏©a ,IôcòJ µ©M ˜ â‘ZQ GPEG
√idhaa raghib-ta fii Hajz-i tadhkarat-in, fa-¬alay-ka √an ta-dfa¬-a musabbaq-an.
If you want to reserve a ticket, (then) you must pay in advance.

1.1.1 Negative conditional: √idhaa lam „ GPEG
A negative condition may be expressed with lam jussive verb.

.¬∏gÉ©àj ¬qfEÉa...¿’fɤdG p≠∏j „ GPEG
idhaa lam ya-lghi l-qaanuun-a . . . fa-√inna-hu ya-tajaahal-u-hu.
[Even] if he hasn™t abolished the law . . . he ignores it.

1.1.2 Negative conditional wa-√illaa . . . fa- ˜if not; or else™
Another type of negative condition is expressed through the used of wa-√illaa
(a contraction of wa-√in-laa), which introduces a consequence clause. Sometimes
it is accompanied by fa- :

ÉgQhO ˜ â∏°»a ¿’µà°ù`a ,™EG h
wa-√illaa, fa-sa-ta-kuun-u fashal-at fii dawr-i-haa
and if not, it will have failed in its role

.‘’°ü°UÉb q™EG h ô°†ÿG πc
kul-i l-xuDar-a wa-√illaa qaaSaS-uu-ka.
Eat the vegetables or else they [will] punish you.

1.1.3 Reversal of clause order
Most of the time, the sharT clause comes first, before the jawaab or apodosis, but
sometimes the order is reversed. This is referred to as a “postposed condition,”
and the normal rules for the result clause do not apply. The particle fa- is omitted
and the verb in the first clause may vary as to tense.
Conditional and optative expressions 673

.≥HÉ°ùàdÉH º¡d ⫪°S ób ᦩ∏dG âfÉc GPEG R’˜«°S ≥jô˜dG ¿Éc
kaan-a l-fariiq-u sa-ya-fuuz-u √idhaa kaan-at-i l-lajnat-u qad samaH-at la-hum
The team would have won if the committee had permitted them to

1.2 Conditional with √in + perfect or √in + jussive
The conditional particle /√in/ may be followed by either verbs in the perfect or
verbs in the jussive in both the condition and the result clauses. If the jussive
is used in the conditional clause, then the verb in the result clause may also be
jussive.5 For this reason, the particle /√in/ is called in Arabic grammar one of the
“particles that require the jussive on two verbs”: al-√adawaat-u llatii ta-jzim-u
fi¬l-ayni Ú∏©a „¦µ’ »àdG ¤GhOC™G. If, however, the verb in the result clause is part
of a nominal clause (i.e., a clause that starts with a noun), then it is in the
imperfect indicative.6 The verb in the result clause may also be in the past
The use of √in with conditional clauses is less frequent in Modern Standard Ara-
bic than in literary and classical Arabic.

.¿B™G Gòg qπc G’∏cCG ¿EG ¿’°Vôª«°S
sa-ya-mraD-uuna √in √akal-uu kull haadhaa l-√aan-a.
They will get sick if they eat all that now.

.ºµàeôcCG Ê’“QR ¿EG .¬q∏dG AÉ°T ¿EG
√in zur-tum-uu-nii √akram-tu-kum. √in shaa√-a llaah-u.
If you (pl.) visit me I shall honor you. If God wills.

See Abboud and McCarus 1983, Part 2:178: “If the verb in the condition clause is jussive, the verb
in the result clause must also be jussive.” See also ¬Abd al-Latif et al., 1997, 307ff. for more exam-
ples. But note that in Haywood and Nahmad 1962, 291, they list under possibilities for the condi-
tional sentence: “The Jussive is used in the Protasis, the Perfect in the Apodosis:
.¬©e oâ‘gP lójR r–gòj ¿EG
√in ya-dhhab zayd-un dhahab-tu ma¬-a-hu.
˜If Zayd goes I will go.™ (their example)
The condition clause may also be in the imperative, without a conditional particle, and followed
immediately by a verb in the jussive in the result clause. Abboud and McCarus 1983 give the fol-
lowing example (Part 2:178):
rín©r¦nJ r¢SoQrOoG
u-drus ta-njaH.
Study [and] you [will] succeed.
See Ziadeh and Winder 1957, 162.
From Abboud & McCarus 1983, Part 2:182.
674 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

.ô°ùµoJ ¬q¦°ùa ,ôNBG qø°S ¿É°ùfEG ô°ùµj ¿EG
√in ya-ksir √insaan-un sinn-a √aaxar-a, fa-sinn-u-hu tu-ksar-u.8
If a person breaks the tooth of another, (then) his tooth shall be broken.

.‚¦e kÉeôc ‚dP ¤OóY ,‹’°Uh âbh QÉ£ŸG ˜ Êrô¶à¦J ¿EG
√in ta-ntaZir-nii fii l-maTaar-i waqt-a wuSuul-ii, ¬adad-tu dhaalika
karam-an min-ka.9
If you would wait for me at the airport at the time of my arrival, I would
consider that a kindness from you.

1.2.1 wa-√in r¿EGnh ˜although; even though™

.¤AÉL É¡qfCG q™EG ¤ôqNCÉJ ¬àjGóH âfÉc ¿EGh
wa-√in kaan-at bidaayat-u-hu ta√axxar-at √illaa √anna-haa jaa√-at.
Although his start was late, nevertheless it came.

.áqj µfhôH âfÉc ¿EGh áq«dGó«e ˜ º∏—G ≥q¤M
Haqqaq-a l-Hulm-a fii miidaaliyyat-in wa-√in kaan-at biruunziyyat-an.
He realized the dream of a medal although it was bronze.

2 Conditional expressed with -maa Ée ˜ever™
The adverbial suffix -maa can be suffixed to an adverb or a noun to shift its mean-
ing to ˜-ever,™ such as “whenever” or “wherever.” These expressions are considered
conditionals in Arabic and follow the rules for conditional sentences. Cowell 1964
refers to clauses using these particles as “quasi-conditional” clauses.10

2.1 mahmaa ɪr¡ne ˜whatever™
.Ió«qàŸG ¤Éj™’dG âdÉb ɪ¡e ,∞qb’àà°S É¡qfCG ó¤àYCG ™
laa √a-¬taqid-u √anna-haa sa-ta-tawaqqaf-u, mahmaa qaal-at-i l-wilaayaat-u
I don™t think it will stop, whatever the United States says.

2.2 √ayn-a-maa ɪn¦rjnCG ˜wherever™
.„ªà°ùJ ¿CG ‚¦µÁ , nâ¦c ɪ¦jCG
√ayn-a-maa kun-ta, yu-mkin-u-ka √an ta-stami¬-a.
Wherever you are, you can listen.

From Ziadeh and Winder 1957, 160.
Ibid., 164.
Cowell 1964, 337“38. Cowell is describing types of conditional clauses in Syrian Arabic but deals
with similar particles.
Conditional and optative expressions 675

2.3 kull-a-maa ɪq∏c ˜whenever™
This connective also specifies a condition and therefore requires the use of the
past tense verb in the clause that it introduces.

.ô£ÿG Oqó’ ɪq∏c ÉgQGôµJ øµÁ
yu-mkin-u takraar-u-haa kull-a-maa tajaddad-a l-xaTar-u.
It can be repeated whenever danger recurs.

2.4 √idhaa + maa Ée GPEG ˜if ever™
Occasionally, even √idhaa will be followed by the particle -maa. In this sense, -maa
is not used as a negative particle but implies ˜if ever™ or ˜if and when.™

QG’—G ÜÉH íàoa Ée GPEG
√idhaa-maa futiH-a baab-u l-Hiwaar-i
if the door of discussion is ever opened

2.5 man røne ˜whoever™
The pronoun man, meaning ˜who™ or ˜whoever™ may be followed by a conditional
clause in the jussive. This kind of conditional is often found in proverbs.

.kÉc’°T ó°ü«j kÉc’°T ´Qµj øe
man ya-zra¬ shawk-an ya-HSid shawk-an.11
He who sows thorns [will] reap thorns.

.πà¤oj πà¤j øe
man ya-qtul yu-qtal.12
He who kills, shall be killed.

3. Contrary-to-fact conditionals: la- `n d law r’d
Some conditional sentences express impossible or unreasonable conditions. The
conditional particle used to introduce contrary-to-fact conditions is law r’nd, fol-
lowed by either a past tense verb or lam plus the jussive for the negative. The con-
trary-to-fact condition is usually followed by a result clause (jawaab) that is pre-
ceded by the particle la- n`d; there are some exceptions, however. The la- n`d is
omitted when the result clause precedes the condition clause as in:

.¤QÉW ’dh Iµ¦Y
¬anzat-un wa-law Taar-at.
It is [still] a goat even if it flies.13

Cited in ¬Abd al-Latif et. al., 1997, 308.
From Ziadeh and Winder 1957, 160.
This Arabic saying is cited in McLaughlin 1988, 82.
676 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

.Ú°üdG ˜ ’dh º∏©dG GhH∏WG
uTlub-uu l-¬ilm-a wa-law fii l-Siin.
Seek knowledge even if it be in China.

or if the result clause is understood or implied, and therefore not specified:
.⫪°S ’d
law samaH-ta.
If you permit.

3.1 ˜even if™ ’d ≈qàM Hattaa law and Hattaa wa-law ’dh ≈qàM
The addition of Hattaa to law, yields the meaning of ˜even if.™ It is usually followed
by a past tense verb or negated past tense through the use of lam plus the jussive.
iôNCG πFÉ°Sh ≈∏Y áe’µ—G ¤ÌY ’dh ≈qàM
Hattaa wa-law ¬athar-at-i l-Hukuumat-u ¬alaa wasaa√il-a √uxraa
even if the government discovers other means
‚dòH ±Î©f „ ’d ≈qàM
Hattaa law lam na-¬tarif bi-dhaalika
even if we don™t acknowledge that

4 Optative constructions
Wishes, blessings, and curses are often expressed in the past tense in Arabic, just
as the past tense is used in many hypothetical expressions. There is no need for a
particular particle, just the expression phrased in the past tense.

.‚«a ¬q∏dG ‘QÉH .¬q∏dG ¬¶˜M
baarak-a llaah-u fii-ka. HafiZ-a-hu llaah-u.
May God bless you. May God preserve him.
.¬q∏dG ¬ªMQ .¬q∏dG ‘óqjCG
raHam-a-hu llaah-u. √ayyad-a-ka llaah-u.
May God have mercy on him. May God help you.

!‚∏ŸG ¢TÉY .‘ôªY «ÉW
Taal-a ¬umr-u-ka.
¬aash-a l-malik-u!
[Long] live the king! May you live long.
(˜May [God] lengthen your life.™)

4.1 Optatives in the present tense
The past tense is not always used in optatives. Some of them are in the present tense:

.‚ªq∏°ùj ¬q∏dG !‚∏ŸG ≈««j .ºµ«∏Y „¦“°ùdG
allaah-u yu-sallim-u-ka. ya-Hyaa l-malik-u! al-salaam-u ¬alay-kum.
May God keep you safe. [Long] live the king! Peace be upon you.
Appendix I: How to use an Arabic dictionary

Using an Arabic dictionary
The organization of Arabic dictionaries is based on word roots and not word
spelling. Word roots are listed alphabetically according to the order of letters in
the Arabic alphabet. For example, the root k-t-f comes after k-t-b because /f / comes
after /b / in the Arabic alphabet. Therefore, in order to find the root, one has to
know the order of the alphabet. This system applies to genuinely Arabic words or
words that have been thoroughly Arabized.
Loanwords, however, ” words borrowed from other languages ” are listed in an
Arabic dictionary according to their spelling (e.g., haliikubtar Αµ«∏g ˜helicopter™).
Instead of relying on the exact orthography of a word, therefore, Arabic dic-
tionaries are organized by the root or consonant core of a word, providing under
that initial entry every word derived from that particular root. The root is there-
fore often called a “lexical root” because it is the actual foundation for the
lexicon, or dictionary. The lexical root provides a semantic field within which
actual vocabulary items can be located. In this respect, an Arabic dictionary
might be seen as closer to a thesaurus than a dictionary, locating all possible
variations of meaning in one referential domain or semantic field under one
Most often, Arabic words can be reduced to three radicals or root consonants
(e.g., H-m-l ˜carry™), but some roots have more or less than three. There are a
number of biliteral (y-d ˜hand™), quadriliteral (t-r-j-m ˜translate™), and quinquiliteral
(b-n-f-s-j ˜violet™) roots in Arabic, and there are even some monoliteral roots (for
function words such as the preposition ka- ˜as, like™).
The verb citation form for dictionary use is the third person masculine singu-
lar past tense. There is no infinitive form of the verb in Arabic.
For example, all the following words having to do with “studying” are found in
the dictionary under the root d-r-s, even though some begin with ma- or mu-,
because all of them are located within the semantic field of d-r-s.

lesson dars ¢SQO
lessons duruus ¢ShQO

678 Appendix I

school madrasa á°SQóe
teacher mudarris ¢SqQóoe
studying diraasa á°SGQO
he studied daras-a (the citation form)
Because of this major difference in dictionary organization, it is necessary for
Western learners of Arabic to learn rules of Arabic word structure in order to be
able to make sense of an Arabic or Arabic“English dictionary. Learners must be
able to identify the root consonants in a word in order to find the main diction-
ary entry; then they need to know generally how the word pattern fits into the
overall system of derivational morphology in order to locate that particular word
within the abundant and sometimes extensive subcategories provided within the
semantic field of the entry. The root-pattern system is fundamental for Arabic
word creation and accounts for about 80“85 percent of Arabic vocabulary.

Using the Wehr Dictionary
In the most widely used Arabic“English dictionary, the Dictionary of Modern Written
Arabic (DMWA) by Hans Wehr and edited by J. Milton Cowan, fourth edition (1979),
the compilers assume that the users know and understand the system of Arabic
derivational verb morphology based on the roman numerals I“X (or sometimes
even up to XV). Wehr lists verbs first, in the I“X order, marked only by the roman
numeral, not giving the actual verb spelling except for Form I.1
For example, under the root q-b-l, are listed roman numerals II, III, IV, V, VI, VIII,
and X, and after each roman numeral are definitions for each of these forms of
the verb. Thus, if the user is looking up an inflected verb form, such as istaqbal-
at, the user needs to know that this is a Form X verb, that the root is q-b-l, and that
it is inflected for third person feminine singular past tense. In this manner, the
user can locate the verb root, find the roman numeral X and see that the listed
definitions for this form include ˜to face, to meet, to receive.™ By putting together
the lexical meaning from the dictionary information, contextual meaning from
the text being read, and the grammatical meaning from the inflectional suffix,
the user can deduce that the word istaqbal-at means ˜she received.™
Note that the DMWA provides the present tense or imperfective stem vowel for
Form I because it is not predictable. It does not do this for the derived forms,
because they are predictable. It therefore includes, in romanization, after the
Arabic script, under the entry for k-t-b, for example:

kataba u ( katb, kitba, kitaaba)

Wehr provides a useful summary of the arrangement of entries in his introduction (1979, pp.
How to use an Arabic dictionary 679

That is, it gives the voweling for the past tense citation form, the present tense
stem vowel, and, in parentheses, the most common verbal nouns for the Form I
verb, all in romanization. The DMWA does not include short vowels in the Arabic
script spelling of the entries; short vowels are indicated only by the romanization
that directly follows the dictionary entry.
To look up the word istiqbaal «É‘r¤pàr°SpG, it is helpful to know that it is a verbal
noun of Form X, since the DMWA lists nouns (including nouns of place and nouns
of instrument, for example), adjectives, adverbs, and verbal nouns immediately
after the verb definitions, in the I“X order. After that are listed active participles
I“X and then passive participles, also in the I“X order. Note, however, that the
DMWA does not identify the nouns or participles by number; it assumes that the
user knows the derivational system.
It is also important for users to be able to recognize noun, adjective, and par-
ticiple plurals because plurals are not listed as separate items in the dictionary,
even though their word structure may differ substantially from the singular
form, especially with broken plurals. Thus, coming across a word such as
mashaakil πcÉ°»e, the reader needs to know how to determine the root, sh-k-l, but
also needs to recognize that this is a broken plural pattern, and will not be listed
as a separate entry, but as a plural under the entry of mushkila á∏µ°»e, ˜problem™ (a
Form IV active participle).
Particular challenges emerge when lexical roots are weak or irregular in some
way, that is, if they are geminate, hamzated, assimilated, hollow, defective, or
doubly defective. In these cases, the nature of a root consonant may shift (from a
long vowel to a hamza, for example as in the word zaa√ir ôFGR ˜visitor™ derived from
the root z-w-r) or a root consonant may simply disappear (for example, the noun
thiqa ˜trust, confidence™ from the root w-th-q). It is therefore crucial for learners to
practice using the dictionary and to gain an understanding of the system of Ara-
bic word structure in order to have quick and efficient access to vocabulary items.
Having a knowledge of the basic derivational systems and the logic and rules
within these systems is key to building vocabulary and to gaining access to the
full range of the abundant Arabic lexicon.
Naturally, it is not possible for learners at the early stages to recognize all pos-
sible root variants, but understanding the logic of dictionary organization will
help right from the beginning. While it is possible to simply scour all the entries
under a particular root without knowing the I“X system or the part-of-speech
information that tells one where to look, it takes a great deal more time, and can
be very frustrating, if not defeating.
This reference grammar includes extensive analysis of the permutations of
regular and irregular lexical roots, in the I“X system. Please consult these
sections for analysis of word structure, paradigms, and examples of words in
680 Appendix I

Thus, to summarize, the DMWA lists entries for a lexical root in the following

1. the root (which resembles the third person masculine singular past tense
Form I verb)
2. verbal nouns of Form I (listed directly after the root in romanization)
3. verbs I“X listed numerically by roman numeral only
4. nouns and other parts of speech derived from Form I
5. nouns derived from other forms of the verb (in II“X sequence)
6. active participles from Forms I“X
7. passive participles from Forms I“X

Using an Arabic“Arabic dictionary
Arabic-Arabic dictionaries are likewise organized by lexical roots and the roots are
listed in alphabetical order. Note, however, that Arabic lexicons do not use the I“X
roman numeral system and make no reference to it.
For example, a standard reference work in Arabic is al-Munjid fii l-lugha wa-l-
√a¬laam, a combination of dictionary and concise encyclopedia. In the dictionary
part, it lists verb derivations in the I“X order by listing them as they are spelled.
It also introduces verbal nouns, especially of Form I, in context, used in a short
sentence, for example:

.nÜÉàµdG káHÉàch kán‘ràpch kÉHÉàch É‘rànc n–nànc
katab-a katb-an wa-kitaab-an wa-kitbat-an wa-kitaabat-an-i l-kitaab-a.
Literally: ˜He wrote writing and writing and writing and writing the book.™

It is standard practice in Arabic reference works to use the verbal noun/s in a
sentence with the verb in order to illustrate what they are (even though the exam-
ple might not make logical sense). In the above example, there are four different
verbal nouns displayed in boldface type.
This procedure is used with Form I verbs, but the verbal nouns of the derived
forms II“X are not separately indicated because they are predictable. The al-Munjid
fii l-lugha wa-l-√a¬laam has an excellent introductory section summarizing Arabic
derivational and inflectional morphology (pp. haa√ to faa√).
Arabic dictionary structure has evolved over time, and some older dictionar-
ies are organized in different ways.2 Note also that some modern Arabic dic-
tionaries are referred to as “√abjadiyy” or ˜alphabetical,™ meaning that their

See Haywood 1965 for a history of Arabic lexicography. See also Shivtiel 1993 for a comparison of
Arabic root dictionaries and alphabetical dictionaries.
How to use an Arabic dictionary 681

entries are organized by word spelling (for example, al-Munjid al-√abjadiyy, 1968).
Although this type of organization eases use somewhat for those who do not
understand the derivational system of Arabic word structure, it is much less use-
ful in helping the learner grasp semantic fields, word structure patterns, and
meaning relationships among lexical items.
Appendix II: Glossary of technical terms

1. Glossary of Arabic grammatical terms
These entries are transliterated and organized in English alphabetical order with
¬ayn and hamza discounted as orthographic elements.

syntactic governor or ˜operator™
√abjad; √abjadiyya
verbs (plural of fi¬l)
√af ¬aal
√af¬aal al-quluub/ verbs of perception or cognition, in particular,
√af¬aal qalbiyya of emotions and intellect
√af¬aal taHwiil verbs of transformation (of something from
one state to another)
syntactic government; regime
imperative; command
nouns (pl. of ism)
√asmaa√ al-√ishaara demonstrative pronouns
“sisters” “ words similar in class and in
governing effect

badal apposition

Damiir/Damaa√ir personal pronoun
Damaa√ir munfaSila independent personal pronouns, subject
Damma short vowel /u/

faDla ˜extra™ or ˜surplus™ parts of the sentence rather
than the kernel or core of the predication
faa¬il subject of a verbal sentence; agent; doer of the
fatHa short vowel /a/
fi¬l / √af¬aal verb; action

Glossary of technical terms 683

fi¬l √ajwaf hollow verb
fi¬l ghayr muta¬addin intransitive verb
fi¬l laazim intransitive verb
fi¬l lafiif mafruuq assimilated and defective verb
fi¬l lafiif maqruun hollow and defective verb
fi¬l mahmuuz hamzated verb
fi¬l mithaal assimilated verb
fi¬l muDa¬¬af geminate verb, doubled verb
fi¬l muta¬addin transitive verb
fi¬l naaqiS defective verb
fi¬l SaHiiH saalim sound verb; regular verb
fuSHaa literary Arabic, classical Arabic

Haal circumstantial accusative
hamzat al-qaT¬ strong hamza
hamzat al-waSl elidable hamza
Haraka/-aat short vowel
Harf / Huruuf letter (of the alphabet); particle, function word
Huruuf qamariyya “moon” letters; word-initial sounds that do
not assimilate the laam of the definite
Huruuf shamsiyya “sun” letters; word-initial sounds that assimi-
late the laam of the definite article
annexation structure, noun construct, genitive
√iDaafa ghayr Haqiiqiyya “unreal” √iDaafa, adjective √iDaafa
desinential (word-final) inflection
ishtiqaaq derivational etymology
ism / √asmaa√ noun; name
ism al-faa¬il active participle
ism al-√ishaara demonstrative pronoun
ism al-maf¬uul passive participle
ism maqSuur indeclinable noun
ism mawSuul relative pronoun
ism al-tafDiil elative adjective; comparative or superlative
istithnaa√ exception, exceptive
684 Appendix II

jam¬ plural
jam¬ mu√annath saalim sound feminine plural
jam¬ mudhakkar saalim sound masculine plural
jam¬ al-taksiir broken plural
jarr genitive case
jazm jussive mood
jawaab answer; the apodosis, consequence clause
jumla sentence
jumla fi¬liyya verbal sentence
jumla ismiyya equational sentence; noun-initial sentence

kasra short vowel /i/

laa nafy-i l-jins-i the laa of absolute or categorical negation
laam al-√amr permissive or hortative imperative

maa l-ta¬ajjub the maa of astonishment
maaDii past, past tense; perfective aspect
madda/ √alif madda hamza followed by a long /aa/; the symbol that
indicates this sound ( ˜ )
maf¬uul bi-hi direct object of transitive verb; the accusative of
direct object
maf¬uul fii-hi accusative adverb of time, manner, or place
maf¬uul li-√ajl-i-hi / accusative of purpose
maf¬uul la-hu
maf¬uul muTlaq cognate accusative
majhuul the passive voice
mamnuu¬ min-a l-Sarf diptote
majruur genitive
manSuub accusative/subjunctive
manquuS defective
marfuu¬ nominative/indicative
maSdar verbal noun
maSdar miimii a verbal noun whose initial consonant is a
prefixed miim
mustaqbal future tense
maziid “augmented”; extended verb form (II“X)
Glossary of technical terms 685

mu√annath feminine
mubtada√ subject of equational sentence
muDaaf the first term of an √iDaafa, or annexation
muDaaf √ilay-hi the second term of an √iDaafa, or annexation
muDaari¬ present tense; imperfective aspect
mudhakkar masculine
mufrad singular
mujarrad base form verb; Form I; literally ˜stripped™
mu¬rab triptote; fully inflectable
muTaabaqa agreement or concord
muTaawa¬a ˜obedience; conformity™; verbal noun referring to
verbs that are resultative, reflexive, passive, or
semi-passive in meaning
muTaawi¬ ˜obedient, conforming™ “ that is, conforming
with a particular, lexically related action;
passive, resultative, reflexive, or semi-passive
muthannaa dual

naaqiS defective
nafy negation
naHw grammar; syntactic theory
naHt compounding into one word
naa√ib al-faa¬il subject of a passive verb
naSb accusative case (on substantives)/subjunctive
mood (on verbs)
na¬t adjective
nawaasix lexical items that convert substantives to the
accusative case
nidaa√ vocative
nisba relative adjective

raf¬ nominative case (on substantives)/indicative
mood (on verbs)
rubaa¬iyy quadriliteral (root)
686 Appendix II

Sarf derivational morphology and inflectional
morphology that does not include case and
mood marking
shadda symbol that indicates doubling of a consonant ( q )
sharT condition; protasis, conditional clause
Sifa adjective
sukuun absence of vowel; quiescence, symbolized by a
small circle ( r )

tamyiiz accusative of specification
tanwiin nunation; pronunciation of an /n/ sound after
the case-marking short vowel on a noun, adjec-
tive, or adverb
tarkiib compounding
tashdiid doubling of a consonant; the use of shadda (q.v.)
thulaathiyy triliteral (root)

waaw al-¬aTf conjoining waaw; conjunction waaw
waSf descriptive adjective
waSla symbol used to mark elision of hamza
wazn/ √awzaan Form/s of the verb (I“X and XI“XV)

xabar predicate of an equational sentence
xafD genitive case (see also jarr)

Zarf adverb generally derived from a triliteral lexical
Zarf makaan adverb of place
Zarf zamaan adverb of time

2. Glossary of English grammatical terms
Many of these brief definitions are elaborated upon in various parts of this book.
See the index for page and section references for more extended explanations and
accusative one of the three cases in Arabic noun and adjec-
tive declensions; it typically marks the object of a
transitive verb but also serves to mark a wide
range of adverbial functions
Glossary of technical terms 687

affix an inflectional or derivational feature added to a
word stem
agreement a relationship between words where one word
requires a corresponding form in another (e.g.,
agreement in gender or in case)
allophone a contextually determined variant of a phoneme
annexation structure a genitive noun construct; an √iDaafa
assimilated referring to lexical roots, those whose initial
phoneme is waaw or yaa√
assimilation a phonological process wherein one sound
acquires features of another (usually adjacent)

biliteral having only two root phonemes

case a form of word-final inflection on nouns and
adjectives that shows their relationship to other
words in a sentence
clause a unit of sentence structure that includes a
construct phrase a structure in which two nouns are juxtaposed
in a genitive relationship; an annexation
structure; an √iDaafa
cryptofeminine a feminine noun not overtly marked for femi-
nine gender
cryptomasculine a masculine noun not overtly marked for
masculine gender
circumfix a combination of prefix and suffix used with a
stem to create a lexical item, such as the English
word “enlighten,” or an Arabic verb such as
ta-drus-uuna ˜you (m.pl.) study™.

defective a term applied to lexical roots referring to those
with a final waaw or yaa√
desinential inflection word-final marking for syntactically determined
case or mood
diptote a term applied to certain indefinite nouns that
do not take either kasra or nunation
688 Appendix II

elative refers to the comparative and superlative forms
of Arabic adjectives

geminate a term applied to lexical roots wherein the
second and third root consonants are identical
gemination the process of doubling the length or strength of
a consonant
genitive one of the three cases in Arabic noun and
adjective declensions; it typically marks the
object of a preposition and also the second noun
in the construct phrase
government a syntactic principle wherein certain words
(“governors”) cause others to inflect in particular

including the consonant hamza (glottal stop) as
part of the root morpheme (e.g., √-k-l , s-√-l or q-r-√)
hollow verb a verb whose lexical root contains a semi-vowel
in the medial position (e.g., q-w-l or S-y-r)

imperative a mood of the verb expressing command
imperfect as applied to a verb, denoting an incomplete
(also “imperfective”) action or referring in a general way to incom-
plete, ongoing actions or states
indicative a mood of the verb that is ungoverned by a syn-
tactic operator (¬aamil ); it is characteristic of
statements of fact and of questions
infix an affix inserted into the body of a word stem
intransitive describes verbs whose action or process involves
only the doer

jussive a mood of the Arabic verb required by certain
governing particles (e.g., lam)

morphology the study of word structure and word formation
morphophonemics the study of how word structure interacts with
phonological rules

nominative one of the three cases in Arabic noun and adjective
declensions; it typically marks the subject of a
Glossary of technical terms 689

nunation the pronunciation of an /n/ sound after the
marker of case inflection; typically it denotes

object a syntactic term that describes the recipient of
an action (the object of a verb, also referred to as
a “direct object”), or the noun or pronoun that
follows a preposition
optative expressing wish or desire

participle a deverbal adjective that may function as a noun
active participle describes the doer of the action
passive participle describes the recipient or object of the action
pattern the morphological framework into which an
Arabic lexical root fits in order to form a word
perfect as applied to a verb, denoting a completed action
(also “perfective”) in the past
phoneme a distinctive language sound that carries a differ-
ential function
phonology the study of the sound system of a language
phonotactics the study of the rules of sound distribution in a
phrase a group of words that forms a syntactic unit but
does not include a predication (noun-adjective
phrase, prepositional phrase, demonstrative
phrase, etc.)
prefix an affix attached at the beginning of a word stem

quadriliteral containing four root consonants
quinquiliteral containing five root consonants

radical a root consonant
resultative referring to a verb form expressing the result of
an action
root the most elemental consonant structure of an
Arabic word
a waaw or yaa√; also referred to as “semi-vow-
els”; consonants that have some of the properties
of vowels or which serve as vowels in certain con-
690 Appendix II

sound (adj.) regular in inflection or structure (see also
stem; word stem the base form of a word without inflections
stem vowel the vowel that follows the second root consonant
in a verb stem
strong (see also “sound”) regular in inflection or structure
subjunctive a mood of the Arabic verb typically used after
expressions of wishing, desire, hoping, necessity,
or other attitudes expressed toward the action of
the verb
suffix an affix attached at the end of a word stem
syntax the relationship among words in a phrase,
clause, or sentence

triliteral containing three root consonants
triptote a term applied to nouns meaning that they
inflect for all three cases
transitive describes verbs whose action affects an object
(often referred to as “direct object”)

verbal noun a noun derived from a particular verb that
(also “deverbal noun”) describes the action of that verb (e.g., acceptance
“ qubuul; departure “ mughaadara; swimming “
sibaaHa); Arabic: maSdar or ism fi¬l

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√aaxar, √uxraa 248“49 of manner 173, 281“87, 369“70 (bi-), 374“75
academies, Arabic 7“8, 95“96 (ka-maa), 376 (fii)
accusative case 172“82 numerical adverbials 295
absolute negation 179“80, 645“46 as speech acts 297
adverbial use 165, 173“74, 276“97, 282“83, 289 Afro-Asiatic 1
in apposition 225 agreement 57, 59, 64, 65“66
of astonishment 181 adjectives 239“40, 241“44
circumstantial (Haal) 112“113, 174“75, 283“85, gender polarity (or reverse agreement) 334“39,
454 341“43, 345“46
cognate accusative (maf¬uul muTlaq) 79, 83, quantifier agreement 235“36
174, 285“86 √alif 25“29
coverters to accusative (nawaasix) 176“79, spelling variants 26
422“28, 645“46 maqSuura 28“29
direct object (maf¬uul fii“hi) 172“73, 207 otiose 28 (footnote), 443 (verbs)
of purpose or cause (maf¬uul li“√ajl“i“hi) 175, 296 qaSiira 28
of specification (tamyiiz) 175, 225, 249, 295“96, Tawiila 26“28
340“44 (with counted nouns), 402 (with with accusative ending 163
kam) alphabet 10“12
of time 292“93 ¬amal (governance, regime) 57“58
verbs with double accusative 308 √anna 425“26
with teens numbers 180, 339, 341“42 annexation structure (see also √iDaafa) 81,
¬adam 217“18, 650 205“24
adjectives 239“75 apposition 224“27, 286
adjective √iDaafa 221“23, 253“54, 274, 649“650 aspect 51 (see also verbs)
agreement features 241 assimilated roots/verbs 431 (see also verbs: root
attributive 239“40 types)
colors 270“73 assimilation 24“25
compound 274“75, 649“50 of laam of definite article 40“41, 157
comparative244“50 of taa√ in Form VIII verbs 570
derivation 254“58 progressive 566
inflectional categories of 241“53 regressive 567
nisba, or relative adjective 261“69 auxiliary verbs 176“77, 446“49,
non-gendered 244 636“37
participles as adjectives 103, 105“07, 258“61 √ayy(see also specifiers) 237“38, 402
predicative 240
as substantives 240“41 ba¬D(see also quantifiers) 231
superlative 244, 250“53 bal 651
with nonhuman plurals 243 biD¬(see also quantifiers) 232
adverbs 276“97 biliteral roots 47
circumstantial (Haal) 283“85 borrowed words 51, 95“96, 123, 204
of degree 277“81 nisbas from 266“67
locative (Zuruuf makaan and Zuruuf zamaan) plural 134, 138, 148“49
172“73, 289“95, 366“67, 386“400 as quadriliterals 599, 601

702 Index

case 54, 56, 165“204 √inna-maa / wa-√inna-maa ˜but,™ ˜but more-
accusative 172“82; 276, 278, 282, 286, 289 over,™ ˜but also,™ ˜rather™ 412
(adverbials), 339, 341“42 (teens numerals) disjunctives 417“18
genitive 171“72, 212, 366“67 explanatory 412
nominative 169“71 √ay ˜that is,™ ˜i.e.™ 412
case markers 167, 183“84 fa- ˜and so,™ ˜and then,™ ˜yet,™ ˜and thus™
case and mood 56 410“11
circumfix 441 resultive 412
citation form √idh ˜since,™ ˜inasmuch as™ 412
of nouns 119, 171 √idhan ˜therefore,™ ˜then,™ ˜so,™ ˜thus,™ ˜in that
of verbs 435, 437 (see also verbs) case™ 412“13
Classical Arabic 2“4 Hattaa ˜until™ 413
comparative adjective (see also adjective) 245“50 sentence-starting 419“21
periphrastic comparative 249“50, 296 wa- ˜and™ waaw al-¬aTf 409“10
compound or complex words 50, 99“101, 268, consonants 12“16
274“75, 293“94, 339, 341“43, 345“46, 348, construct phrase (see annexation structure and
446“48, 599“601, 647 √iDaafa)
concord (see agreement) copula pronoun 61“62, 300“301, 319
conditional sentence 449, 671“76
apodosis (jawaab) 671 Damma 31 (see also vowels, short)
contrary to fact 675“76 on adverbs 170, 277, 289 (Hayth-u), 291 (ba¬d-u)
with maa 674“75 as indicative mood marker 441, 607
particles 671“72 as nominative case marker 183
protasis (sharT) 671 as stem vowel 457
conjunctions 411“17 days of the week 159, 362“63
adverbial 413“17 declensions of nouns 54 (see also case), 167“68,
contrastive 411“12 182“204
coordinating 410 declension one (triptote) 183“87
explanatory 412 declension two (see also dual) 187“89
resultative 412“13 declension three (sound masculine plural)
subordinating 177 (see √inna and her sisters 189“91
422“28) declension four (sound feminine plural)
connectives 407“21 191“92
adverbial 413“17 declension five (diptote) 192“97
bayn-a-maa ˜while,™ ˜whereas™ 414 declension six (defective) 197“99
ba¬d-a-maa ˜after™ 414 declension seven (indeclinable) 199“200
ba¬d-a √an ˜after™ 415 declension eight (invariable) 200“204
ba¬d-a √idhan ˜after that,™ ˜then,™ ˜subsequently™ defective roots/verbs 432 (see also verbs: Forms
415 I“X: root types)
Hasab-a-maa ˜according to,™ ˜in accordance definite article 40“42, 156“60
with,™ ˜depending on™ 417 generic use 158
Hayth-u ˜where™ 413 definiteness 54“55, 156“60
Hiin-a-maa, Hiin-a ˜when,™ ˜at the time when™ and adjective inflection 241
415 definite marker, spelling and pronunciation
¬ind-a- √idhan ˜then,™ ˜at that point in time,™ 40“42
˜at that time™ 416 indefinite marker, nunation 42“43, 161“65
ka-maa ˜just as,™ ˜similarly,™ ˜likewise,™ ˜as™ 416 through annexation 160
mithl-a-maa ˜like,™ ˜just as,™ ˜as™ 416 through pronoun suffix 160“61
qadr-a-maa ˜as much as,™ ˜just as,™ ˜as . . . as™ demonstrative pronoun 214“15, 315“21
417 of distance (“that”/“those”) 316
rubb-a-maa ˜perhaps,™ ˜maybe,™ ˜possibly™ 417 haa ˜this™ 320
thumm-a ˜then,™ ˜and then,™ ˜subsequently™ in √iDaafa 212, 214“15, 317“18
416 locative demonstratives (hunaa, hunaaka,
contrastive 411“12 humaalika) 320“21
bal ˜rather,™ ˜but actually™ 411, 651 of proximity (“this”/“these”) 315
Index 703

desinential inflection 165“66 (see also case and markers of the genitive 183“84
mood) with prepositions and semi-prepositions 171,
dhaat 313, 320 289, 367
dhuu 312 on second term of √iDaafa 172, 212
dialects (see vernacular Arabic) ghayr 223“224, 274“75, 648“650
dictionary government (¬amal) 57“58
organization 49“50
use 435, 677“81 Haal 112“13, 174“75, 283“85, 454
diglossia 5“6 hamza 13, 16“21
diphthongs 33 chair/seat rules (spelling) 16“21
diptote 122, 167, 279 (√ajma¬-a) in definite article 40, 156
broken plural patterns 150“55, 164 hamzat al-waSl 19“21, 322 (relative pronouns),
comparative adjective 247 322 (on ithnaan)
declension 187, 192“97 imperative 623“25
defective 197“99 insertion in plurals 152, 154
words not taking nunation 164 in nisba adjective 262, 266
disjunctives 417“18 hamzated root/verbs 431 (see also verbs: Forms
doubling (of consonant) 24“25, 40, 48, 105, 154, I“X: root types)
157 (sun letters), 430 (in geminate verb/root) Harakaat (see vowels: short)
dual 53“54, 129“31 Hayth-u 289
dual quantifiers “both” 230, 334 helping vowels (see also vowels: short), 32“33, 303
in counting 332“33 (plural pronoun suffix), 306 (second person
plural helping vowel)
Educated Spoken Arabic (Formal Spoken Arabic) 6, 8 hollow root/verb 431 (see also verbs: Forms I“X:
elative 195 (see also comparative adjective), 244“53 root types)
equational sentence (see also nominal sentence) humanness 125“29
59“63 as an agreement feature 125“27
ergative 669 hunaa/hunaaka 288, 320“21 (locative and
exceptive expressions 181“82, 650“56 existential)
exclamations 171, 181, 518“19
existential ˜there™ 61, 288“89, 321 √i¬raab (case and mood marking) 53“54, 56
√iDaafa 205“24 (see also annexation structure)
fatHa 31, 33 (see also short vowels) adjective √iDaafa (“false” or “unreal” √iDaafa)
as accusative case marker 184 221“23, 253“54
as subjunctive mood marker 608“609 complex (multi-term) 215“16
fa¬al- as model root 436 compositional 209
contents 209“10
geminate (doubled) root 430 (see also verbs: demonstrative pronoun in 214“15, 317 (in
Forms I“X: root types) second term), 317“18 (in first term)
gemination/consonant doubling 24“25, 40, 48, ghayr as first term of √iDaafa 223“24
105, 154, 157, 430 joint annexation 217“18
gender 53, 119“25 modification of 213“14, 221
adjectives 241“44 partitive 206“207
of cities 122 possessive 206
of countries 120, 122 purpose 210
cryptofeminine 124 rules for first term 211“12, 130“31, 141 (the
cryptomasculine 120“21 five nouns), 186“87, 289, 317“18
feminine 120“24 rules for second term 172, 212“13
masculine 120“21 verbal noun in 207“208
in nouns 119“25 ¬idda 226, 232“33
in pronouns 298 (personal), 315 (demonstrative) √illaa 651“653
322 (relative) imperative mood 444“45, 622“33
in verbs 438 negative imperative 632, 645
genitive case 54 (see also case), 171“72, 289“90 (in permissive imperative 632
relation to adverbs) imperfect/imperfective aspect 53, 439“42
704 Index

indefiniteness 54, 156, 161“65, 324“28 (with rela- differences from Classical Arabic 4


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