. 4
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Arabic noun types 79

earthquake zilzaal «GµrdpR
evidence burhaan ¿ÉgrôoH
1.2.2 Form II: tafa¬lal-a nπn∏r©n˜nJ
The Form II quadriliteral verbal noun pattern is tafa¬lul πo∏r©n˜nJ:

oscillation tadhabdhub ÜoòHòJ
decline tadahwur Qo’rgnónJ
serial tasalsul πo°ùr∏n°ùnJ
1.2.3 Form III: if¬anlala nπn∏r¦n©rapG
The quadriliteral Form III verbal noun pattern is: if¬inlaal «“r¦p©rapG. It is extremely

1.2.4 Form IV: if¬alalla qπn∏n©rapG
The form IV verbal noun pattern is if ¬ilaal «“p©rapG:

serenity iTmi√naan ¿É¦r„pªrWpG
shuddering ishmi√zaaz RGµ„pªr°TpG
1.3 Special characteristics of verbal nouns in context
The function and distribution of verbal nouns parallel that of other nouns except
that in addition to those functions, the verbal noun may retain some of its verbal
force. There are three ways in which verbal nouns are distinctive in their use:

(1) they may serve as the equivalent of an infinitive;
(2) when the verbal noun is from a transitive verb and serves as the first term
in an √iDaafa áaÉ°VEG structure, it may take an object in the accusative case;
(3) they may be used as verb intensifiers in the cognate accusative (maf¬uul
muTlaq ≥n∏r£oe «’©r˜e) construction.
1.3.1 Verbal noun as equivalent to gerund or in¬nitive
The verbal noun may be used as the object of a verbal expression where the Eng-
lish equivalent would be either a gerund or an infinitive.9

.A’°V AɤdEG «hÉMCÉ°S
sa-√u-Haawil-u √ilqaa√-a Daw √-in.
I shall try to shed/shedding light.

In such constructions, the verbal noun is normally interchangeable with the particle √an plus a
subjunctive verb.
80 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

.ó«∏¤àdG ô°ùc âdhÉM
Haawal-at kasr-a l-taqliid-i.
She tried to break/breaking tradition.

.πLQ IÉ«M PɤfEG «hÉM
Haawal-a √inqaadh-a Hayaat-i rajul-in.
He tried to save/saving a man™s life.

.¬¦e Üô¡àdG øµÁ ™
laa yu-mkin-u l-taharrub-u min-hu.
It is inescapable (˜it is not possible to escape/escaping from it™).

¬«a ø∏ª©j ¤É©j ôÿG π©L ±ó¡H
bi-hadaf-i ja¬l-i l-xariijaat-i ya- ¬mal-na fii-hi
with the aim of having (˜making™) the graduates (f.) work in it

.ó«cCÉàdG »µjôeC™G –fÉ©∏d í«àJ
tu-tiiH-u li-l-jaanib-i l-√amriikiyy-i l-ta√kiid-a.
It grants the American side assurance.

1.3.2 Verbal nouns in √iDaafas or with pronoun suf¬x
The verbal noun may be used in any part of an √iDaafa, as the first or second term: VERBAL NOUN AS FIRST TERM OF CONSTRUCT:
¤GQ™hódG Új“H Qɪãà°SG ÚdhD’°ùŸG «É¨°»fG
istithmaar-u balaayiin-i l-duulaaraat-i inshighaal-u l-mas√uul-iina
the investment of billions of dollars the preoccupation of the officials

IÉ°†¤dG Ú«©J ô°ü¤dG IQÉj R
ta¬yiin-u l-quDaat-i ziyaarat-u l-qaSr-i
the appointing of judges visiting the castle AS SECOND TERM:
IQÉj µ`dG á°Uôa ¿ÉeCG „¦GµM
furSat-u l-ziyaarat-i Hizaam-u √amaan-in
the chance to visit safety belt OR EVEN AS BOTH TERMS:
¢†j ’©àdG „aO A’©∏dG ≥M
daf¬-u l-ta¬wiiD-i Haqq-u l-lujuu√-i
the payment of compensation the right of asylum
Arabic noun types 81

.¿hÉ©àdG µjµ©J ¤EG ÉYO
ºgɘàdG µj µ©J
ta¬ziiz-u l-tafaahum-i da¬aa √ilaa ta¬ziiz-i l-ta¬aawun-i.
strengthening of understanding He called for strengthening cooperation. VERBAL NOUNS FROM TRANSITIVE VERBS: SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS. When
a verbal noun derived from a transitive verb is the first term of an √iDaafa, a
number of possibilities exist for expressing both the doer of the action (the
subject of the verb underlying the verbal noun) and the recipient of the action
(the object of the underlying verb).
(1) The first term of the √iDaafa is a verbal noun and the second term is the
subject of the underlying verb:
¢ù«FôdG «É‘¤à°SG ’˜°ùdG IQOɨe
istiqbaal-i l-ra√iis-i mughaadarat-u l-safiir-i
the president™s reception the departure of the ambassador
(the president is receiving) (the ambassador departs)
(2) The second term of the √iDaafa may be the object of the underlying verb.
Here the first term of the √iDaafa is a verbal noun derived from a transitive
verb and the second term is the object of the verb.
raf c-u l-¬alam-i
the raising of the flag º∏©dG „aQ
entering the church duxuul-u l-kaniisat-i á°ù«¦µdG «’NO
playing a role la¬b-u dawr-in QhO –©d
by using its tail bi-stixdaam-i dhayl-i-hi ¬∏jP „¦Gó®à°SÉH
.¢»«L π«µ°»J ¤EG ÉYO .ÜÉàµdG „¦e ¤EG iOCG
da¬aa √ilaa tashkiil-i jaysh-in. √addaa √ilaa man¬-i l-kitaab-i.
He called for the formation of an army. It led to banning the book.

(3) Verbal noun subject and object: When the subject of the underlying verb
is the second term of the √iDaafa, or when it takes the form of a pronoun
suffix on the verbal noun, the object of the underlying verb may still be
mentioned. It follows the √iDaafa or the verbal noun plus pronoun and is in
the accusative case. Thus the verbal noun retains some of its verbal force in
making the object noun accusative.
In most cases in the data covered for this work, the subject of the underly-
ing verb takes the form of a pronoun suffix on the verbal noun.
᪰UÉ©dG ¬JQOɨe π‘b
qabl-a mughaadarat-i-hi l-¬ aaSimat-a
before his leaving the capital
82 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

øjO’¤˜ŸG ‹ÉgCG øe Góah ¢ùeCG ¬dÉ‘¤à°SG «“N
xilaal-a stiqbaal-i-hi √ams-i wafd-an min √aahaalii l-mafquud-iina
during his meeting yesterday a delegation of families of the missing

‚dP º¡°†aQ iódh
wa-ladaa rafD-i-him dhaalika
upon their refusal of that/their refusing that

¤hC™G É¡JµFÉL É¡∏«f ò¦e
mundh-u nayl-i-haa jaa√izat-a-haa l-√uulaa
since her winning her first prize

áeÉ©dG IÉ«—G øe ÜÉ«°ùf™G ¬f“YEG –¤Y
¬aqib-a √ i¬laan-i-hi l-insiHaab-a min-a l-Hayaat-i l-¬aammat-i
just after his announcing [his] withdrawal from public life

¤G’°UC™G º¡Yɪ°S
samaa¬-u-hum-u l-√aSwaat-a
their hearing the sounds DOUBLY TRANSITIVE VERBAL NOUN: The verb underlying the verbal noun in
an √iDaafa may be doubly transitive, taking two objects, one of which becomes the
second term of the √iDaafa, and the other of which remains in the accusative case,
coming after the √iDaafa:

IôFGó∏d Gôjóe AG’∏dG Ú«©J
ta ¬yiin-u l-liwaa√-i mudiir-an li-l-daa√ irat-i
appointment of the general [as] director of the department

øeC™G ¤G’¤d GóFÉb OGôe Ú«©J
ta¬yiin-u muraad-in qaa√id-an li-quwwaat-i l-√amn-i
appointing Murad [as] leader of the security forces

1.3.3 Verbal noun and preposition
If a verbal noun derives from a verb-preposition idiom, the preposition is still part
of the verbal noun expression:

á°SÉFôdÉ`H R’˜∏`d
li-l-fawz-i bi-l-ri√aasat-i
in order to win the presidency
(faaz-a bi- ˜to win s.th.™)

ᤫ¤M ¤EG º∏—G πj ’“
taHwiil-u l-Hulm-i √ilaa Haqiiqat-in
Arabic noun types 83

transforming the dream into reality
(Hawwal-a √ilaa ˜to transform s.th. into s.th.™)

.„¦“°ùdG ≥«¤“ ˜ √O“H á‘ZQ ¢ù«FôdG –FÉf ócCG
√akkad-a naa√ ib-u l-ra√ iis-i raghbat-a bilaad-i-hi fii taHqiiq-i l-salaam-i.
The vice-president affirmed the desire of his country for achieving peace.
(raghib-a fii ˜to desire s.th.™)

.¤G’°ù˜J øY å«‘dG ˜ Ghôªà°SG
istamarr-uu fii l-baHth-i ¬an tafsiiraat-in.
They continued to search for explanations.
(baHath-a ¬an ˜to search for s.th.™)

1.3.4 The cognate accusative: al-maf¬uul al-muTlaq ≥∏£ŸG «’©˜ŸG
The cognate accusative emphasizes or intensifies a statement by using a verbal
noun derived from the main verb or predicate (which may also be in the form of
a participle or verbal noun). The verbal noun and any modifying adjectives are
usually in the indefinite accusative. For more on this topic, see Chapter 7, section

.Gójó°T É‘°†Z –°†Z .Gójó°T Éa’N G’aÉNh
ghaDib-a ghaDb-an shadiid-an. wa-xaaf-uu xawf-an shadiid-an.
He became extremely angry. They became extremely afraid.

.á«Hô©dG «hódG ídÉ°üà ɤ«Kh ÉWÉ‘JQG ᣑJôe ɦ—É°üe
maSaaliH-u-naa murtabiTat-un √irtibaaT-an wathiiq-an bi-maSaaliH-i l-duwal-i
Our interests are firmly entwined with the interests of the Arab states.

2 Active and passive participle (ism al-faa¬il πYɘdG º°SG,
ism al-maf¬uul «’©˜ŸG º°SG)
Arabic participles are descriptive terms derived from verbs. The active participle
describes or refers to the doer of the action and the passive participle describes or
refers to the object of the action. An entire chapter (Chapter 6) is devoted to these
multifunctional words but they are also included briefly here in order to provide
examples of yet another noun type in Arabic.
In terms of their structure, participles are predictably derived according to the
ten forms of the verb and have characteristic shapes. They may occur as masculine
or feminine. When participles refer to human beings, they reflect the gender of
the individual referred to. Some participles have acquired specific noun mean-
ings and may be either masculine in form (e.g., shaari¬ ´QÉ°T ˜street™) or feminine
(qaa√ima áªFÉb ˜list™).
84 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

Arabic verbs have both active and passive participles.10 This section lists exam-
ples of both, but more extensive descriptions of base and variant forms are found
in Chapter 6 and in the chapters on each form (I“X) of the verb.

2.1 Form I active participle (AP): faa¬il πpYÉa
The Form I AP has the typical pattern of faacil or faacila. For AP nouns, the form of
the plural depends on whether the AP refers to a human being or not. APs refer-
ring to humans take either a sound plural or the broken plural fuccaal; those refer-
ring to nonhuman entities often take the fawaacil plural but may take other
plurals as well.

rider/s raakib/rukkaab ÜÉqcoQ / –pcGQ
spokesman/men naaTiq/naaTiquuna ¿’¤pWÉf / ≥pWÉf
street/s shaari¬/shawaari¬ ´pQG’n°T / ´pQÉ°T
circle/s daa√ira/dawaa√ir ôpFGhnO / InôpFGO
base; rule/s qaa¬ida/qawaa¬id ópYG’nb / InópYÉb
suburb/s DaaHiya/DawaaHin m¬G’n°V/ án«pMÉ°V

2.2 The extended Form II“X AP nouns
Form II“X APs are typified by having a prefix /mu-/ and a stem vowel kasra (/-i/).
Hollow and defective forms have special patterns described in Chapters 22“31. As
a general rule, the plurals for nonhuman referents are formed with the sound
feminine plural and for human referents with either the sound masculine or the
sound feminine plural.

II: mufa¬¬il πpq©n˜oe
coordinator munassiq drug, narcotic muxaddir
po Qqpón®oe
inspector mufattish singer mughannin
¢»pqàn˜oe qm øn¨oe
III: mufaa¬il πpYɘoe
assistant musaa¬id lecturer muHaaDir
ópYÉ°ùoe ôp°VÉ«oe
IV: muf ¬il πp©r˜oe
supervisor mushrif Muslim muslim
±pôr°»oe ºp∏r°ùoe
V: mutafa¬¬il πu©n˜nàoe
volunteer mutaTawwi¬ specialist mutaxaSSiS
´qp’n£nàoe ¢üqp°ün®nàoe

For the most part, only transitive verbs have passive participles.
Arabic noun types 85

VI: mutafaa¬il πpYɘnàoe
synonym mutaraadif ±pOGônàoe
VII: munfa¬il πp©n˜r¦oe is rarely used as a noun.

VIII: mufta¬il πp©nàr˜oe
listener mustami ¬ elector muntaxib
„pªnàr°ùoe –p®nàr¦oe
X: mustaf¬il πp©˜à°ùoe
orientalist mustashriq importer mustawrid
¥pôr°»nàr°ùoe OpQr’nàr°ùoe

2.3 Quadriliteral AP nouns: mufa¬lil πp∏r©n˜oe
Quadriliteral active participles of Form I are also characterized by a prefix /mu-/
and a stem vowel kasra (/-i-/). QPPs with human referents take either the sound
masculine or sound feminine plural; with those referring to nonhuman entities,
the sound feminine plural is usually used. Further discussion of quadriliteral par-
ticiples is found in Chapter 33.

engineer/s muhandis/muhandisuuna n¿ ’°Spór¦n¡oe/¢Spór¦n¡oe
translator/s (m.) mutarjim/mutarjimuuna n¿’ªpLrônàoe/ ºpLrônàoe
translator/s (f.) mutarjima/mutarjimaat ¤ÉªpLrônàoe / ánªpLrônàoe
explosive/s mufarqi ¬/mufarqi¬aat ¤É©pbrôn˜oe / „pbrôn˜oe

2.4 Passive participles (PP)
Passive participles that have evolved into use as nouns have a wide range of mean-
ings, and it is not always possible to see immediately how their form relates to
their meaning. In the derived forms (II“X), the passive participle often functions
as the noun of place for that particular form of the verb (e.g., Form X PP: mustash-
fan ˜hospital, place of healing™ or Form VIII PP: muxtabar ˜laboratory, place of

2.4.1 Form I: maf¬uul «’©r˜e
The PP of Form I has the typical pattern of maf¬uul or maf¬uula. The plural for
non-human PP nouns in this form is often mafaa¬iil or the sound feminine plural;
for human referents, the sound plural is usually used.

concept/s mafhuum/mafaahiim º«gɘne / „¦’¡r˜ne
plan; project/s mashruu¬ /mashaarii¬ ¤ÉYhôr°»ne „jQÉ°»ne/´hôr°»ne
86 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

group/s majmuu¬a /majmuu ¬aat ¤ÉY’ªr©ne / ánY’ªr©ne
delegate/s manduub/ manduubuuna n¿’Hhór¦ne / Ühór¦ne
official/s (n.) mas √uul/mas√uuluuna n¿’dhD’r°ùne / «hD’r°ùne

2.4.2 Forms II“X
The PPs of the extended forms used as nouns have a /mu-/ prefix and fatHa (/-a-/) as
their stem vowel:

Form II: mufa¬¬al πs©n˜oe
organization munaZZama volume (book) mujallad
ánªs¶n¦oe ós∏n©oe
Form III: mufaa¬al πnYÉn˜oe is rare

Form IV: muf ¬al πn©r˜oe
attach© mulHaq lexicon mu¬jam
ro ºn©r©oe
Form V: mutafa¬¬al πs©n˜nàoe
requirements ¤É‘s∏n£nàoe
Form VI: mutafaa¬al πnYÉn˜nàoe
availability; reach mutanaawal « nhɦnàoe
Form VII: munfa¬al πn©n˜r¦oe
slope munHadar lowland munxafaD
Qnón«r¦oe ¢†n˜n®r¦oe
Form VIII: mufta¬al πn©nàr˜oe
society mujtama¬ laboratory muxtabar
„nªnàr©oe ôn‘nàr®oe
Form X: mustaf¬al πn©˜à°ùoe
future mustaqbal hospital mustashfan
πn‘r¤nàr°ùoe k≈˜r°»nàr°ùoe

2.4.3 Quadriliteral PP nouns: mufa¬lal πn∏r©n˜oe
These PPs have the same characteristics as the derived form triliteral PPs: a pre-
fixed /mu-/ and stem vowel fatHa (/-a-/).

camp mu¬askar series musalsal
ônµr°ùn©oe πn°ùr∏n°ùoe

3 Noun of place (ism makaan ¿Éµe º°SG)
Certain noun patterns refer to the place where the activity specified by the verb
occurs. These nouns are systematically related to triliteral verbs.

Usually occurs in the plural.
Arabic noun types 87

3.1 Form I nouns of place: maf¬al πn©r˜ne
For Form I, most nouns of place are of the pattern maf¬al πn©r˜ne or maf¬ala án∏©˜e,
n rn
or, in some cases maf ¬il πp©r˜ne. The plural of this type of noun is most often of the
mafaa¬il πpYɘne pattern or mafaa¬iil π«Yɘne pattern.

English Arabic English Arabic

µncrône án‘nàrµne
center markaz library maktaba

πnNróne án°SnQróne
entrance madxal school madrasa

ênôr®ne óp©°ùne
exit maxraj mosque masjid

–n©r∏ne Üpôr¨ne
playground mal¬ab (Arab) west maghrib

ºn©r£ne ¥pôr°»ne
restaurant maT¬am (Arab) east mashriq

ín‘°r ùne ±pô°üne
swimming pool masbaH bank maSrif

Some nouns of place have both maf¬al and maf¬il forms:

foothold mawTi√ and mawTa√ CÉnWr’ne / …pWr’ne

3.2 Forms II“X nouns of place
For nouns of place from derived forms (II“X), the passive participle is used. The
most common derived nouns of place are from forms VII, VIII and X. The sound
feminine plural is used for the plural of these nouns.

lowland munxafaD VII ¢†n˜n®r¦oe
level mustawan VIII ki’nàr°ùoe
colony X Inônªr©nàr°ùoe
settlement mustawTana X án¦nWr’nàr°ùoe
future mustaqbal X πn‘r¤nàr°ùoe
hospital mustashfan X k≈˜r°»nàr°ùoe

4 Noun of instrument (ism al-√aala ádB™G º°SG)
A specific derivational pattern is used to denote nouns of instrument, i.e., nouns
that denote items used in accomplishing a certain action. The patterns are mif¬aal
«É©r˜pe, mif¬al πn©r˜pe, and mif¬ala án∏n©r˜pe. See also section 5.2 below.
88 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

Some examples include:

key miftaaH elevator
¬Éàr˜pe ón©r°üpe
broom miknasa scissors miqaSS
ánSn¦rµpe q¢ün¤pe
scale miqyaas refinery miSfaat
¢SÉ«r¤pe Iɘr°üpe

5 Nouns of intensity, repetition, profession
A special noun pattern exists to denote intensity of action or repeated action:
fa¬¬aal «Éq©na.12 For human beings the nouns usually denote profession, for example:

artist (m./f.) fannaan/fannaana ánfÉq¦na /¿Éq¦na
baker (m./f.) xabbaaz/xabbaaza InRÉq‘nN/RÉq‘nN
tailor (m./f.) xayyaaT/xayyaaTa ánWÉq«nN/•Éq«nN
weightlifter (m./f.) rabbaa¬/rabbaa¬ ánYÉqHnQ/´ÉqHnQ
5.1 Nouns of profession
The abstract noun denoting the name of a profession is often of the verbal noun
pattern fi¬aala ándÉ©pa, as follows:

beekeeping niHaala surgery jiraaHa
ándÉ«pf ánMGôpL
carpentry nijaara InQÉ©pf
5.2 Nouns of intensity as nouns of instrument
Occasionally, the pattern for nouns of intensity ( fa¬¬aal «Éq©na or fa¬¬aala ándÉq©na) is
used to denote an instrument. For machines or instruments that perform speci-
fied tasks, the feminine form of the noun of intensity is often used:

opener fattaaHa freezer thallaaja
ánMÉqàna ánLq“nK
dryer nashshaafa car sayyaara
ánaÉq°»nf InQÉq«n°S
washer ghassaala ándÉq°ùnZ

6 Common noun (al-ism º°S™G)
This is a vast category. Common nouns derived from triliteral lexical roots
include an extensive range of items which can be of either gender. These nouns
may or may not be related to lexical roots that generate verbs.
Nouns of intensity usually have a shadda on the middle radical, just as the Form II verb doubles
the middle radical in order to denote frequency or intensity. A certain iconicity appears to exist in
Arabic between doubling the strength of a consonant and reference to intensity or frequency of
action. For more on iconicity and sound symbolism in Arabic see E. K. Wright 2000.
Arabic noun types 89

basket salla coffee qahwa
áq∏n°S In’¡b
man rajul fog Dabaab
πoLnQ ÜÉ‘n°V
homeland waTan horse; mare faras
ønWnh ¢Snôa n
bridge jisr tree shajara
ôr°ùpL Inôn©n°T
saddle sarj book kitaab
êrôn°S ÜÉàpc

7 Generic noun (ism al-jins ¢ù¦·G º°SG) and noun of instance
(ism al-marra IôŸG º°SG)
Generic nouns refer to something in general, such as “laughter” or “agriculture.”
Sometimes they refer to something that can be counted and sometimes it is not
possible to pluralize the noun because it is an abstraction and a generality. It can
be said that the concept of “generic” contrasts with “specific.”13 Examples of
generic nouns in Arabic would be:

dancing raqS support da¬m
¢ürbnQ ºrYnO
safety victory fawz
¿ÉenCG Rr’na

Nouns that refer to actions in general, such as “laughing” or “dancing,” can be
contrasted with a singular occurrence or instance of that action, such as “a short
laugh” or “a traditional dance.” The generic term is often masculine singular,
whereas the individual instance is often feminine singular, marked by taa√ mar-
buuTa. This is a general rule, but sometimes the generic term comes to be used to
refer to individual, concretized instances (e.g., binaa√ “ see below).

dancing raqS waves mawj
¢ürbnQ êr’ne
a dance raqSa a wave mawja
án°ürbnQ ánLr’ne
shipping shaHn building binaa√
ør«n°T AɦpH
a shipment shaHna a building binaa√ binaaya
án¦r«n°T ánjɦpH AɦpH
The plural used for counting or referring to a number of these instances of action
is often the sound feminine plural, but may also be a broken plural, especially if the
feminine singular is not used as the instance noun (e.g., binaa√ ˜a building™).

many laughs DaHkaat-un kathiirat-un In’ãnc ¤Éµr«n°V
traditional dances raqSaat-un taqliidiyyat-un ásjpó«∏r¤nJ ¤É°ürbnQ
heat waves mawjaat-un Haarrat-un IsQÉM ¤ÉLr’ne
See Hurford 1994, 81“82, for good examples of generic nouns and noun phrases in English.
90 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

sound waves √amwaaj-un Sawtiyyat-un ás«pJr’n°U êG’renCG
new buildings √abniyat-un jadiidat-un InójónL án«p¦rHCG
There is thus a formal distinction in Arabic between a noun that denotes a
generic activity or state and a semelfactive noun, that is, a noun that denotes a
single occurrence or instance of that activity and which is usually feminine. The
units or instances can be pluralized or counted using a plural form of the “noun
of instance.”

8 Diminutive (al-taSghiir ’¨°üàdG)
There are specific noun patterns used to denote smallness or endearment. These
nouns can refer to small things such as a pocket dictionary, a short period of time,
or to people and people™s names.14 The main pattern is CuCayC or CuCayyaC.
very small state duwayla d-w-l án∏rjnhoO
little garden junayna j-n-n án¦r«n¦oL
little tree, sapling shujayra sh-j-r Inôr«n©o°T
lake (˜little sea™) buHayra b-H-r Inôr«n«oH
a little before qubayl-a q-b-l nπr«n‘ob
electron kuhayrib k-h-r-b Üpôr«n¡oc
a little while (adv.) hunayhat-an h-n-h án¡r«n¦og
little daughter bunayya b-n ás«n¦oH
Hussein Husayn H-s-n ør«n°ùoM
9 Abstraction nouns ending with -iyya
Although many nouns with abstract meaning exist in Arabic, there is a morpho-
logical process for creating even more through suffixing the feminine nisba end-
ing -iyya (áj) to an already existing word stem. In this way, new concepts can be
readily created, and this category is an important one in MSA.15 In fact, its preva-
lence has led the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo to declare that this type of
noun may be derived from any word at all.16 Nouns created with this process take

The diminutive can also express contempt, but no examples of this occurred in the data.
For a survey of these types of nouns in modern Arabic, see Monteil 1960, 124“26.
¬Abd al-Latif, ¬Umar, and Zahran 1997, 91: “li-kathrat-i haadhaa l-naw¬-i min-a l-maSaadir-i
wa-√ahammiyyat-i-hi √aSdar-a majma¬-u l-lughat-i l-¬arabiyyat-i bi-l-qaahirat-i qaraar-an bi-qiyaasiyyat-i-hi
min √ayy-i kalimat-in.”
Arabic noun types 91

the sound feminine plural if they are count nouns. Some examples include the

9.1 Derivation from a singular noun
This noun can be of any sort, derived or non-derived:
theory naZariyya Christianity al-masiiHiyya
pn n ás«p««°ùnŸG
diversification ta¬addudiyya operation
ásjpOoón©nJ áq«p∏nªnY

legitimacy shar¬iyya terrorism
ás«pYrôn°T ás«pHÉgrQpG

diary yawmiyya ás«per’nj
Sometimes from a noun stem which is otherwise not regularly in use:
divinity oneness, unity waHdaaniyya
ás«pg’doCG á«fGórMh

9.2 Derivation from a plural noun
stardom nujuumiyya horsemanship furuusiyya
ás«pe’©of ás«p°Shôoa

9.3 Derivation from an adjective
The adjective can be in the comparative form as well as in the base form.

importance √ahammiyya priority
ás«uªngnCG ás«∏n°†ranCG
majority effectiveness fa¬¬aaliyya
ássjônãrcnCG ás«pdÉq©na

minority priority
ás«u∏nbnCG ásjp ’ndrhnCG ás«pdshnCG
√aqalliyya √awwaliyya
.ºgCG ¤Éj’dhCG ‘ɦ¡a
fa-hunaaka √awlawiyyaat-un √ahamm-u.
There are more important priorities.

.áj µ«∏µfE™G á¨∏dG ó«©j øŸ á«∏°†aCG ‘ɦg
hunaaka √afDaliyyat-un li-man yu-jiid-u l-lughat-a l-√ inkliiziyyat-a.
There is a preference for those who have mastered English.

9.4 Derivation from a particle or pronoun
identity huwiyya quantity kammiyya
ásjp’og ás«uªnc
quality kayfiyya ás«p˜r«nc

9.5 Derivation from a participle
responsibility mas√uuliyya majority ghaalibiyya
ás«pdhD’r°ùne ás«p‘pdÉZ
92 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

9.6 Derivation from a borrowed word
chauvinism shuufiiniyya diplomacy diibluumaasiyya
ás«p¦«a’°T ás«°pSÉe’∏‘jO
transcendentalism tiraansindantaliyya ás«p∏nàrfnór¦p°ùrfGôJ
10 Nouns not derived from verb roots

10.1 Primitive nouns
Certain nouns in Arabic are not derived from verb roots. Some of these are what
Wright (1967) and others refer to as “primitive,”17 i.e., well-attested substantives
that form part of the core lexicon of the language but are not verbal derivatives.18
In certain dictionaries, verbs may be listed with these nouns, but the verbs are
usually denominative “ derived from the noun.

10.1.1 Triliteral

man rajul trap faxx
πoLnQ ïa
eye day yawm
ør«nY „¦r’j n
head ra√s panther; fahd
¢SrCGnQ ór¡a

10.1.2 Biliteral primitives
A few archaic nouns in Arabic have just two consonants (sometimes just one) in
the root. These often refer to basic family relationships, body parts, or essential
physical or social concepts. Some of the most frequently used ones include:

mother hand yad
q„¦oCG ónj
father mouth fam/fuu
ÜnCG ’a / ºna
brother name ism
±nCG ºr°SpG
son ibn/bin water maa√
øpH / øHG AÉe
father-in-law Ham possessor dhuu
ºnM hoP
blood dam „¦nO
10.1.3 The ¬ve nouns (al-√asmaa√ al-xamsa á°ùªÿG Aɪ°SC™G)
A subset of five of these nouns (√ab, √ax, fuu, Ham, dhuu)19 inflect for case by using
a long vowel instead of a short vowel when they are the first term of an
annexation structure or when they have a personal pronoun suffix.20
See Wright 1967, I:106; Lecomte 1968, 64, and Holes 1995, 127.
As Lecomte states (1968, 64) “Certains noms sont irr©ductibles à une racine verbale, et paraissent
bien constituer le glossaire fondamental de la langue concrète.”
In some cases, a sixth noun is included. It did not occur in the corpus consulted for this text.
For more information on these nouns and their inflectional paradigms, see Chapter 7, section 5ff.
Arabic noun types 93

»‘X ’HCG É¡«NCG øe Éf’HCG
√ab-uu Zabiyy min √ax-ii-haa √ab-uu-naa
Abu Dhabi from her brother our father

kiµ¨e GP ¿Éc ¢SG’f »HCG ¿G’jO
kaan-a dhaa maghz-an diiwaan-u √ab-ii nuwaas-in
it was significant the collected poetry of Abu Nuwas
(˜possessing significance™)

11 Common nouns from quadriliteral and quinquiliteral roots:
(√asmaa√ rubaa¬iyya wa xumaasiyya á«°SɪNh á«YÉHQ Aɪ°SCG )

11.1 Quadriliteral
A number of Arabic common nouns are quadriliteral. Some of these words are of
Arabic origin, and some of them derive from other languages. These quadriliteral
nouns rarely have corresponding verb forms. For example:

eternity sarmad hedgehog qunfudh
ónerôn°S òo˜r¦ob
scorpion crocodile timsaaH
Ünôr¤nY ¬É°ùrªpJ
bomb qunbula dagger xanjar
án∏o‘r¦ob ôn©r¦nN
box Sanduuq wasp zunbuur
¥hór¦n°U Q’‘rfoR
noise; uproar DawDaa√ amulet; talisman Tilsam
AÉn°Vr’n°V ºn°ùr∏pW

11.2 Reduplicated quadriliterals
Certain quadriliteral noun roots consist of reduplicated pairs of consonants. These
often refer to naturally occurring phenomena. Some of these nouns are associated
with quadriliteral verbs that denote a particular repetitive sound or motion.

skull jumjuma pepper filfil
ánªo©rªoL πp˜r∏pa
sesame simsim pearl lu√lu√
ºp°ùrªp°S D’odrD’od
mint na¬na¬ bat (animal) waTwaaT
„n¦r©nf •G’rWnh

11.2.1 Nouns from quadriliteral reduplicated verbs

«GµrdpR náanôranQ
zilzaal earthquake (to shake: zalzal-a «µdR) rafrafa fluttering (to flutter: rafraf-a ±ôaQ)
n nrn n nr n
94 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

waswasa rustling, whispering (to whisper: waswas-a ¢Sn’°Snh)
11.3 Nouns from quinquiliteral roots
Some common nouns are based on quinquiliteral (five-consonant) roots.21

chess shaTranj èrfô£°T
nr n
program barnaamaj èneÉfrôH n
parsley baqduunis ¢ùpfhór¤Hn
spider ¤’‘nµr¦nY

violet banafsaj èn°ùr˜n¦nH
quince safarjil πpLrôn˜n°S
salamander samandal samandar Qnór¦nªn°S «nór¦nªn°S
cauliflower qarnabiiT §«‘nfôbrn
ginger zanjabiil π«HnLrfnR
12 Collective nouns, mass nouns, and unit nouns (ism al-jins ¢ù¦·G º°SG;
ism al-waHda IóM’dG º°SG)
Certain Arabic nouns are terms that refer to groups of individual things in general
(grapes, bananas, trees) or to something which occurs as a “mass,” such as wood or
stone. Normally, these nouns refer to naturally occurring substances and forms of
life. In these cases, reference can also be made to an individual component of the col-
lection or the mass, and so Arabic provides a morphological way of noting this dis-
tinction through use of a “unit” noun (ism al-waHda IóM’dG º°SG). Most mass nouns or
collective nouns are masculine singular, whereas most unit nouns (or “count”
nouns, as they are sometimes called) are feminine singular. Here are some examples:

12.1 Collective/mass term
chicken(s) dajaaj eggs bayD
êÉLnO ¢†r«Hn
owls buum fish samak
„¦’H ‚nªn°S
bees naHl stone Hajar
πr«fn ôn©nM
almonds lawz feathers riish
Rr’nd ¢»jQ
Many of these nouns have a peculiarity in that in the plural, in order to fit into the Arabic broken
plural system, they actually lose a consonant, for example, ¬ankabuut /¬anaakib ˜spider/s™. See
Chapter 7, section 3.2.3 for more detail.
Arabic noun types 95

12.2 Unit term
a chicken dajaaja an egg bayDa
ánLÉLnO án°†r«nH
an owl buuma a fish samaka
áne’H ánµnªn°S
a bee naHla a stone Hajara
án∏r«nf Inôn©nM
an almond lawza a feather riisha
InRr’nd án°»jQ
12.3 Plural of unit nouns
If there is a need to count individual nouns or units, or imply variety, the counted
noun takes a specific kind of plural that refers not to the generic grouping, but to
a number of individual units. That countable plural is often the sound feminine
plural, but it may also be a broken plural.

five chickens xams-u dajaajaat-in m¤ÉLÉLnO o¢ùrªnN
six owls sitt-u √abwaam-in m„¦G’rHnCG tâp°S
three eggs thalaath-u bayDaat-in m¤É°†r«nH o§“nK
types of fish √anwaa¬-u l-√asmaak-i p‘ɪr°SnC™G o´G’rfnCG
13 Borrowed nouns
In addition to incorporating terms from other Middle Eastern languages, over the
centuries Arabic has incorporated words from European languages, such as Latin
and Greek. In recent times, much of the borrowing has been from English and
French. Most of these borrowed nouns are considered solid-stem words, not ana-
lyzable into root and pattern.

music muusiiqaa camera kaamiiraa
≈¤«°S’e G’ªGc
comedy kuumiidiyaa doctor duktuur
Éjó«e’c Q’àcO
petroleum batruul ton Tann
«hÎH øW
computer kumbiyuutir film film
ôJ’«‘ªc º∏a
television talfizyuun bank bank
¿’jµ˜∏J ‚¦H
telephone talifuun ¿’˜∏J
Certain common everyday terms, such as “telephone,” “camera,” and “doctor,”
also have Arabic-based equivalents (loan translations) (e.g., haatif, √aalat taSwiir,
Tabiib, respectively), most of which have been coined by consensus of authorities
on Arabic language in the Arabic language academies in Cairo, Baghdad, and
96 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

Damascus. These academies are scholarly research institutes whose primary goal
is to maintain the accuracy, richness, and liveliness of the Arabic language
through defining standards, prescribing correct usage, and setting procedures for
the coining of new terms.
The actual choice of using the borrowed term or the Arabic term varies from
country to country, author to author, and from publication to publication. The
largest category of current loanwords is in rapidly developing technology fields
such as biology, medicine, and computer science. Efforts have been made to keep
coining Arabic-based equivalents to these technical terms, but it is a challenge to
keep pace with the amount of technical data used in the media every day. Here are
just a few terms found in current Arabic newspapers:

video fiidyuu hormones hurmuunaat
’jó«a ¤Éf’eôg
cassette kaasitt cocaine kuukaayiin
â°SÉc ÚjÉc’c
radar raadaar viruses fiiruusaat
13.1 Borrowed acronyms
Arabic newspaper writing in particular also borrows acronyms for international
bodies and uses them as individual words, spelled in Arabic:
UNESCO al-yuuniiskuu ’µ°ù«f’«dG .’µ°ù«f’«dG ¬¦∏YCG
√a¬lan-a-hu l-yuuniiskuu.
UNESCO announced it.

daaxil-a √uubiik wa-xaarij-a-hu
inside OPEC and outside of it
UNICEF al-yuuniisiif ∞«°ù«f’«dG
14 Arabic proper nouns
Proper nouns include names of people and places. These come from a variety of
sources, many of them Arabic, but some non-Arabic.

14.1 Geographical names
Names of cities, countries, geographical features. Sometimes these include the
definite article, sometimes they do not. If the name does not have the definite
article, then it is diptote.

Tunisia tuunis The Nile al-niil
¢ùf’J π«¦dG
Morocco al-maghrib Jidda jidda
The Euphrates al-furaat Cairo al-qaahira
¤Gô˜dG IôgɤdG
Arabic noun types 97

14.2 Personal names
Arabic personal names are a rich source of cultural information.22 Most given
names consist of one word, but some names are actually phrases that include
family information (e.g., “son of,” “mother of,” “father of,” “daughter of ”) or else
reference to religious concepts (e.g., “servant of the merciful,” “light of the reli-
gion”). The structure of Arabic family names is highly complex and may include
reference to family information, place of origin (e.g., bayruutiyy q»Jh’H, ˜from
Beirut™), profession (e.g., Haddaad, OGqóM ˜blacksmith™), religion (e.g., nuur-u l-diin
øjódG Q’f ˜light of religion™), or even physical characteristics (e.g.,√aHdab ÜóMCG
˜humpbacked™). Moreover, naming practices vary throughout the Arab world.23
Because of the absence of capitalization in Arabic script, learners of Arabic
sometimes find it challenging to distinguish proper names from ordinary adjec-
tives and nouns within a text.

14.2.1 Women™s given names
Women™s names may be Arabic or borrowed from another language; if Arabic,
they are usually nouns or adjectives denoting attractive qualities. Sometimes a
mother will be known by a matronymic, referring to her as the mother of her
eldest child.

Karima ˜generous™ kariima áÁôc
Farida ˜incomparable™ fariida Iójôa
Afaf ˜chastity™ ±É˜Y

Yasmine ˜jasmine™ yaasamiin øjª°SÉj
Susan ˜lily of the valley™ sawsan ø°S’°S MATRONYMICS: Arabic uses teknonymics “ names derived from a child™s
given name. It is not uncommon for an Arab mother to acquire a female
teknonym or matronynmic once she has had a child.

Umm Hasan Mother of Hasan √umm-u Hasan-in ø°ùM „¦CG
Umm Ahmad Mother of Ahmad √ umm-u Ahmad-a nónªrMCG „¦CG
14.2.2 Men™s given names
Men™s names include descriptive adjectives and nouns, but also include a wide
selection of phrasal names. Here are just a few examples:

See Nydell 2002, 57“61, for a succinct description of Arab naming systems and traditions.
See Badawi et al. 1991, for a comprehensive Arabic reference work on Arab names.
98 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

(1) Adjectives:
Sharif ˜noble™ shariif ∞jô°T
Karim ˜generous™ kariim Ëôc
Said ˜happy™ sa¬iid ó«©°S
(2) Nouns:

Raad ˜thunder™ ra¬d óYQ
Leith ˜lion™ layth å«d
Fahd ˜panther™ fahd ó¡a
(3) Participles:

Mahmoud ˜praised™ maHmuud O’ª¬
Adil ˜just™ «OÉY
Mukhtar ˜chosen™ muxtaar QÉଂ
Nisba adjectives:

Shukri ˜thankful™ shukriyy q¦ôµ°T
Lutfi ˜kind™ luTfiyy q»˜£d
(5) Traditional Semitic names: These are names shared within the Semitic lan-
guages and traditions.

Ibrahim (Abraham) º«gGôHEG
Yousef (Joseph) yuusuf ∞°S’j
Younis (Jonas) yuunus ¢ùf’j
Suleiman (Solomon) sulaymaan ¿Éª«∏°S
Musa (Moses) muusaa ≈°S’e
(6) Inflected verbs: These names are actually inflected verb forms:

Yazid ˜he increases™ ya-ziid ójµj
Ahmad ˜I praise™ óªMCG

(7) Phrase names: Arabic has phrasal names, usually in the form of construct

Aladdin ˜nobility of the religion™ ¬alaa√ -u l-diin øjódG A“Y
Abdallah ˜servant of God™ ¬abd-u llaah ¬∏dG ó‘Y
Abdurahman ˜servant of the merciful™ ¬abd-u l-raHmaan ¿ªMôdG ó‘Y
Arabic noun types 99

(8) Teknonymics: The Arabic term for this kind of name is kunya ᫦c. It is com-
mon in many parts of the Arab world for a man to acquire a teknonym once
he has had a child, especially a male child, and he is often known by the
name of his first male child.

Abu Hassan ˜Father of Hassan™ √abuu Hasan-in ø°ùM ’HCG
Abu Bakr ˜Father of Bakr™ √abuu bakr-in ôµH ’HCG
(9) Patronymics: A patronymic is a name derived from the father™s given name:

Ibn Fadlan ˜Son of Fadlan™ ibn-u faDlaan ¿“°†a øHG
Ibn Khaldoun ˜Son of Khaldoun™ ibn-u xalduun ¿hó∏N øHG
Ibn Saud ˜Son of Saud™ ibn-u sa¬uud O’©°S øHG

15 Complex nouns, compound nouns, and compound nominals
(naHt â«f and tarkiib –«côJ)
Sometimes there is a need to express semantically complex concepts in noun
form. This area of noun formation in Arabic is not as clear-cut as the other areas.
“The debate on compounding in Arabic has long been bedeviled by failure to
define terms precisely and apply consistent criteria. There are two fundamental
definitional problems: the term for compounding itself, and the status of the
components of a compound” (Emery 1988, 34).
Here three categories are distinguished: complex nouns, compound nouns, and
compound nominals (phrases). Complex nouns are created from parts of words
fused into one word. Compound nouns are created by combining two full words
into one, and compound nominals are phrases of two words that are used to refer
to one concept. In general in Arabic, the term naHt refers to complex and com-
pound nouns, whereas the term tarkiib refers to compound nominals.

15.1 Complex nouns
Complex nouns are created through fusing two (or more) word stems into one.
This is called naHt (literally ˜chiseling™) in traditional Arabic grammar. There are
several sub-processes or variations on this procedure, and although it is not com-
mon in traditional Arabic morphology, it tends to be used in MSA for recently
coined items and for loan translations, especially technical terms.

15.1.1 Blending word segments into one word
In this process, parts of words are segmented and re-blended into a word that
combines parts of two word stems:
100 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

boulder julmuud jalmad óª∏L O’ª∏L
(from jalida ó∏L ˜to freeze™ and jamuda óªL ˜to harden™)

supranationalism al-fawqawmiyya á«e’b’˜dG
(from fawq-a ¥’a ˜above™ and qawmiyya á«e’b ˜nationalism™)

amphibian barmaa√iyy »FÉeôH
(from barr ôH ˜land™ and maa√ AÉe ˜water™ with nisba suffix -iyy)

15.1.2 Formula nouns
This word-formation process consists of using the initial letters or syllables of a
string of words in a traditional, formulaic saying to create a quadriliteral noun,
usually ending with a taa√ marbuuTa.

basmalah á∏ª°ùH
the act of saying: bi-ism-i llaah-i ¬∏dG º°SÉH (˜in the name of God™)

Hawqalah á∏b’M
the act of saying: laa Hawl-a wa-laa quwwat-a√ illaa bi-llaah-i ¬∏dÉH ™EG I’b ™h «’M ™
(˜There is no power and no strength save in God™)

15.2 Compound nouns
Compounding refers to combining two complete word stems into one syntactic
unit. The classic MSA example is the word ra√s-maal « ɪ°SCGQ ˜capital™ formed from
conjoining the words ra√s ˜head™ and maal ˜money.™24 Another example is laa-
markaziyya ájµcôe ™ for ˜decentralization,™ from the words laa ˜no™ and markaziyya
˜centralization.™ Other examples include:

invertebrate laa-faqaariyy ¦Qɤa ™
(˜no spinal column™)
invertebrates al-laa-faqaariyyaat ¤ÉjQɤa “dG
petition, application «É«°VôY
(˜presentation of situation™)
petitions ¤™É«°VôY

course of events maa jaraa iôL Ée
(˜what flows™)
courses of events maa jarayaat ¤ÉjôL Ée
lottery yaa-naSiib –«°üf Éj
(˜O chance! O fate! O luck!™)

The plural of ra√s-maal is found both as rasaamiil π«eÉ°SQ and as ru√uus √amwaal «G’eCG ¢ShDhQ.
Arabic noun types 101

the lottery al-yaa-naSiib –«°üf É«dG
lottery ticket waraqat-u yaa-nasiib –«°üf Éj ábQh
Note that compound nouns function as word stems and may receive plurals or
definite articles.

15.3 Compound nominals: (tarkiib –«côJ): Coherent composite phrases
Sometimes the noun concept is not expressed as a single word in Arabic, but as a
noun phrase, usually an √iDaafa, such as ¬adam-u wujuud-in O’Lh „¦óY ˜nonexis-
tence™ or kiis-u hawaa√-in AG’g ¢ù«c ˜airbag.™ In such cases, the dual or plural is usu-
ally made by adding the dual suffix to or pluralizing the head noun, the first
noun in the phrase.

bedroom ghurfat-u nawm-in „¦’f áaôZ
two bedrooms ghurfat-aa nawm-in „¦’f ÉàaôZ
bedrooms ghuraf-u nawm-in „¦’f ±ôZ
reaction radd-u fi¬l-in π©a qOQ
two reactions radd-aa fi¬l-in π©a GqOQ
reactions: ruduud-u fi¬l-in π©a OhOQ
passport jawaaz-u safar-in ô˜°S RG’L
two passports jawaaz-aa safar-in ô˜°S GRG’L
passports: jawaazaat-u safar-in ô˜°S ¤GRG’L

¤GAGóàY“d π©a Oôc „¦’f ±ôZ ¢ùªN
ka-radd-i fi¬l-in li-l-i¬ tidaa√ aat-i xams-u ghuraf-i nawm-in
as a reaction to the attacks five bedrooms
Participles: active and passive

Arabic participles are descriptive words derived from particular stem classes, or
Forms, of a verbal root. The active participle (ism al-faa¬ il πYɘdG º°SG) describes the
doer of an action and the passive participle (ism al-maf ¬ uul «’©˜ŸG º°SG) describes
the entity that receives the action, or has the action done to it.1 Arabic participles
therefore describe or refer to entities involved in an activity, process, or state.
Arabic participles are based on a distinction in voice: they are either active or
passive. This contrasts with English, where participles are based on tense (present
or past) and are used as components of compound verb forms. Arabic participles
are not used in the formation of compound verb tenses.2
In form, participles are substantives, that is they inflect as nouns or adjectives
(for case, definiteness, gender, number).3 In terms of their function, however, they
may serve as nouns, adjectives, adverbs or even verb substitutes.4 As Beeston notes
(1970, 34), “it may be impossible when quoting a word out of context to assert that
it is either [substantive or adjective], this being determinable only by the syntac-
tic context.” This is particularly true for Arabic participles. They are distinguish-
able by their form, but their syntactic functions are multiple.5

According to Holes (1995, 122) “The basic difference between the two types of participle is that the
active describes the state in which the subject of the verb from which it is derived finds itself as a
result of the action or event which the verb describes, while the passive refers to the state in
which the object or complement of the verb from which it is derived finds itself after the comple-
tion of the action/event.”
“The participles have no fixed time reference “ this has to be interpreted from the context” (Holes,
1995, 122). Also, as Kouloughli states in this context, “Il est plus ©clairant de penser que le participe
actif renvoie au sujet du verbe actif alors que le participe passif renvoie, lui, au sujet du verbe passif”
(1994, 217) rather than associating either participle with any sort of temporal notion.
Lecomte (1968, 95) refers to Arabic participles as “the hinge between the verb and the noun”
(“la charnière entre le verbe et le nom”) because of their noun form combined with verbal qualities.
“The active participle can function syntactically as a noun, verb or attributive adjective . . . while
the passive participle is often used predicatively as quasi-verbal adjective to indicate the result or
present relevance of a completed action” (Holes, 1995, 122“23).
The description of Arabic participles varies substantially because of their wide-ranging functional
nature. For example, they are referred to by Depuydt (1997, 494) as “adjectival verb forms,” whereas
Beeston (1970, 35) states that “the participle is a noun (substantive or adjective) which like the verbal
abstract [i.e., verbal noun], matches the verb.” Arabic grammar classifies both nouns and adjectives
under the term ism ˜noun; name™ and thus refers to the participles as ism al-faa¬il and ism al-maf¬uul.

Participles: active and passive 103

The meanings of active and passive participles are directly related to their
descriptive nature and the verb from which they derive. However, within that
semantic range participles have a wide range of meanings. “Many words which
have the pattern of a participle contain highly specialized senses within their
semantic spectrum, in addition to the fundamental value” (Beeston 1970, 35).
The derivational rules for participles are described in greater detail in the chap-
ters on the individual forms (I“X, XI“XV, and quadriliteral).

1 Active participle (AP): (ism al-faa¬ il πYɘdG º°SG)
When an active participle is used as a substantive to refer to the doer of an action,
often the English equivalent would be a noun ending in /-er/ or /-or/, such as ˜inspec-
tor™ or ˜teacher.™ In Arabic, the term for ˜teacher™ (mudarris ¢SqQóe), for example, is an
active participle, as is the term for ˜visitor™ (zaa√ir ôFGR). As a noun, when the AP refers
to or describes a human being, it takes the natural gender of the person; when refer-
ring to something abstract, it may be either masculine or feminine. Also as a noun,
it will take a particular form of the plural, which is not always predictable.
Used as an adjective, the active participle acts as a descriptive term, as, for
example, the AP jaaff ˜dry™ in the phrase jaww-un jaaff-un ˜dry air.™ It may also cor-
respond to an English adjective ending in /-ing/, such as the Form VIII AP mubtasim
˜smiling™ in the phrase bint-un mubtasimat-un, ˜a smiling girl.™ As a predicate adjec-
tive, it may serve as a verb substitute. For example, using the Form III AP musaafir
˜traveling™: huwa musaafir-un ˜He is traveling.™ 6
The active participle (AP) can be derived from any form (stem class) of Arabic
verbs, from I“X. AP™s can be derived from quadriliteral verbs as well as triliteral.
They describe the doer of the action.7 They have predictable and distinctive forms.

1.1 Form I AP
The pattern of the active participle in Form I of the triliteral verb is CaaCic (faa¬il
πYÉa). This pattern shows slight modification when used with irregular root types,
as described in Chapter 22, section 10.

1.1.1 Form I AP nouns
APs that refer to human beings take either a sound plural or a plural of the fu¬¬aal
pattern. The nonhuman AP noun may be masculine or feminine and it may take
the sound feminine plural or a broken plural, usually fawaa¬il.

Note, however, the temporal and aspectual ambiguity of the AP in context. It may refer to a state of
current activity, or of having accomplished a certain activity. As Depuydt notes, “the inability to
distinguish unambiguously between simultaneity and anteriority may occasionally be an impedi-
ment to using a participle” (1997, 494).
In terms of meaning, note that an active participle (e.g., raaD-in ˜satisfied™ from raDiya ˜to be
satisfied™) may have an English equivalent that ends in /-ed/, but it is still an active participle.
104 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

Strong/regular root: faacil πpYÉa

guard/s Haaris/Hurraas ¢SGqôoM/¢SpQÉM
researcher/s baaHith/-uuna ¿’ãMÉH/åpMÉH
rider/s; passenger/s raakib/rukkaab ÜÉqcoQ/–pcGQ
coast/s; shore/s saaHil/sawaaHil πpMG’n°S/πpMÉ°S
floor/s; storey/ies8 Taabiq/ Tawaabiq ≥pHG’nW/≥pHÉW
side/s jaanib/jawaanib –pfG’nL/–pfÉL
rule/s; base/s qaa¬ ida/qawaa¬id ópYG’nb/InópYÉb
fruit/s faakiha/fawaakih ¬pcG’na/án¡pcÉa
university/ies jaami ¬a/-aat ¤É©peÉL/án©peÉL
Geminate root:
material/s qOG’ne/IqOÉe
pilgrim/s Haajj/Hujjaaj Hajiij è«©M êÉq©oM/qêÉM
Hamzated root:
reader/s qaari√/qurraa√ AGqôob/ÇpQÉb
accident/s; emergency/ies Taari√a/ Tawaari√ ÇpQG’nW/án„pQÉW
Assimilated root:
mother/s waalida/-aat ¤GópdGh/InópdGh
father/s waalid/-uuna n¿hópdGh/ópdGh
import/s waarid/-aat ¤GOppQGh/OpQGh
duty/ies; homework waajib/-aat ¤É‘pLGh/–pLGh
Hollow root:
visitor/s zaa√ir/zuwwaar QGqhoR/ôpFGR
leader/s qaa√id/quwwaad OGq’ob/ópFÉb
fluid/s; liquid/s saa√il/ sawaa√il πpFG’n°S/πpFÉ°S
being/s kaa√in/-aat ¤É¦pFÉc/øpFÉc
Of a building. Also pronounced Taabaq.
The plural mawaadd is the form that the plural pattern fawaa¬il takes in geminate nouns because
of the phonological restriction on sequences that include a vowel between identical consonants.
*mawaadid “> mawaadd.
Participles: active and passive 105

menu/s; list/s qaa√ima/-aat qawa√im ºpFG’nb ¤ÉªpFÉb/ºpFÉb
circle/s; department/s daa√ira/dawaa√ir ôFGhnO/InôpFGO
Defective root:

judge/s qaaD-in/quDaah IÉ°†ob/m¢VÉb
club/s naad-in/nawaadin mOG’f/mOÉf
corner/s zaawiya/zawaayaa ÉjGhnR/ánjphGR
Examples of Form I APs as nouns in context:

.’N ˜ O’d’ŸGh IódG’dG »Hô©dG ¦OɦdG
al-waalidat-u wa-l-mawluud-u fii xayr-in al-naadii l-¬arabiyy-u
Mother and child are well (˜in goodness™). the Arabic club

áµ∏ŸG º°SÉH ≥WÉf
naaTiq-un bi-ism-i l-malikat-i
a spokesman in the name of the queen

1.1.2 Form I APs as adjectives
APs functioning as adjectives reflect the gender of the noun that they modify. In
context they may function either as noun modifiers or predicate adjectives.

Strong/regular root:

able, capable qaabil former saabiq
πpHÉb ≥pHÉ°S
frowning; stern unable
¢ùpHÉY µpLÉY
¬aabis ¬aajiz
ruling Haakim next, coming qaadim
ºpcÉM „¦pOÉb
Assimilated root:

wide, broad waasi¬ clear waaDiH
„p°SGh íp°VGh
Geminate root:
This form of AP creates a unique monosyllabic stem consisting of a long
vowel followed by a doubled consonant: CVVCC.10

dry jaaff harmful Daarr
q±ÉL qQÉ°V
important haamm special; private xaaSS
q„¦Ég q¢UÉN
hot Haarr poisonous saamm
qQÉM q„¦É°S
See also Chapter 2, note 34.
106 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

Hamzated root:

sorry, regretful calm, peaceful haadi√
∞p°SBG ÇpOÉg
final; last ôpNBG
Hollow root:

visiting zaa√ir frightful; amazing haa√il
ôpFGR πFÉg
Defective root:
growing naam-in satisfied; pleased raaD-in
m „¦Éf m¢VGQ
high last; past maaD-in
m«ÉY m¢VÉe
remaining baaq-in m¥ÉH
Examples of APs in context as adjectives:

»°VÉŸG AÉK“ãdG ‹É©dG –K’dG
al-thulaathaa√-a l-maaDiy-a al-wathab-u l-¬aalii
last Tuesday the high jump
áeOɤ`dG IqôŸG ≥HÉ°ù`dG qÊOQC™G OÉ°üàb™G ôjRh
al-marrat-a l-qaadimat-a waziir-u l-iqtiSaad-i l-√urduniyy-u
the next time
the former Jordanian minister of

á«bÉ‘`dG „jQÉ°»ŸG .¢VGQ ¬fEG ÜQóŸG «Éb
al-mashaarii¬-u l-baaqiyat-u qaal-a l-mudarrib-u √inna-hu raaD-in.
the remaining projects The coach said that he was satisfied.

á„«‘dÉH QÉ°†`dG „¦Gó®à°S™G .á©°SGh ¤™É› íà˜j
al-istixdaam-u l-Daarr-u bi-l-bii√at-i ya-ftaH-u majaalaat-in waasi¬at-an.
use injurious to the environment It opens wide fields.

¤GQ’£àdG ôNBG ¿hó°TGô`dG Aɘ∏ÿG
al-xulafaa√-u l-raashid-uuna
√aaxir-u l-taTawwuraat-i
the latest developments the orthodox caliphs

áeR“`dG ¤Ée’∏©ŸG ÜÉgQ“d áªYGó`dG «hódG áªFÉb ˜
fii qaa√imat-i l-duwal-i l-daa¬imat-i
al-ma¬luumaat-u l-laazimat-u
the necessary information li-l-√irhaab-i
on the list of countries supporting
From the hamzated root √-x-r; the initial hamza followed by the long /aa/ of the faa¬il pattern create
/√aa/, spelled with √alif madda.
Participles: active and passive 107

1.1.3 Identical noun and adjective AP
It may happen that the AP for a particular verb is used both as a noun and as an adjec-
tive. In that case, they look identical in the singular, but the plurals usually differ. AP NOUN PLURAL: The Form I AP masculine human noun takes a broken
plural of the form (fu¬¬aal «Éq©oa). The feminine human noun takes the sound
feminine plural.
visitor/s (m.) zaa√ir/zuwwaar QGqhoR/ôpFGR
visitor/s (f.) zaa√ira/-aat ¤GôpFGR/InôpFGR
worker/s (m.) «ÉqªoY/πpeÉY
¬aamil/ ¬ummaal

worker/s (f.) ¤“peÉY/án∏peÉY

writer/s (m.) kaatib/kuttaab ÜÉqàoc/–pJÉc
writer/s (f.) kaatiba/-aat ¤É‘pJÉc/án‘pJÉc
ruler/s (m.) Haakim/Hukkaam „¦ÉqµoM/ºpcÉM
ruler/s (f.) Haakima/-aat ¤ÉªpcÉM/ánªpcÉM AP ADJECTIVE PLURAL: The Form I AP adjective takes the sound masculine
or the sound feminine plural if it modifies or refers to a human plural noun.

visiting zaa√ir/-uuna zaa√ira/-aat ¤GôpFGR/InôpFGR n¿hôpFGR/ôpFGR
working ¤“peÉY/án∏peÉY n¿’∏peÉY/πpeÉY
¬aamil/-uuna ¬aamila/-aat

writing kaatib/-uuna kaatiba/-aat ¤É‘pJÉc/á‘pJÉc n¿’‘pJÉc/–pJÉc
ruling Haakim/-uuna/ Haakima/-aat ¤ÉªpcÉM/ánªpcÉM n¿’ªpcÉM/ºpcÉM
1.2 Derived form active participles (II“X)
As with Form I, the derived form AP may refer to humans or nonhuman entities and
may function either as a noun or adjective, many of them doing double-duty. When
referring to or denoting human beings, the plural is either masculine sound plural
or feminine sound plural, depending on the natural gender of the head noun.
If, however, the participle noun refers to a nonhuman entity, such as muxaddir
Qpqón®oe ˜drug,™ its plural is sound feminine plural, muxaddir-aat ¤GQpqón®oe ˜drugs.™

1.2.1 Form II AP: mufa¬¬il πpq©n˜oe
coordinator munassiq/-uuna n¿’¤pq°ùn¦oe/≥pq°ùn¦oe
inspector mufattish/-uuna n¿’°»pqàn˜oe/¢»pqàn˜oe
108 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

teacher mudarris/-uuna n¿’°SpqQnóoe/¢SpqQnóoe
hors d™oeuvres ¤“qp‘n¤oe
drug, narcotic muxaddir/-aat ¤GQpqón®oe/Qpqón®oe
note; reminder mudhakkira/-aat ¤Gôpqcnòoe/Iôpqcnòoe
historian mu√arrix /-uuna n¿’NpqQnD’oe/±pqQnD’oe
distinctive feature; mumayyiza/-aat ¤Gµpq«nªoe/Inµpq«nªoe

singer mughann-in/mughannuuna n¿’q¦n¨oe/ qmøn¨oe
person praying muSall-in/muSalluuna ¿’q∏n°üoe/mqπn°üoe
Form II AP™s in context:

Üô©dG ÚNQD’ª`dG øe OóY Iȵe á°SóY
¬adad-un min-a l-mu√arrix-iina l-¬arab-i ¬adasat-un mukabbirat-un
a number of Arab historians magnifying glass (˜lense™)

Ió«àŸG ·C™G ¤ÉWÉ°»f ≥°ù¦e
munassiq-u nashaaT-aat-i l-√umam-i l-muttaHidat-i
coordinator of the activities of the United Nations

1.2.2 Form III AP: mufaa¬il πpYɘoe

assistant musaa¬id citizen muwaaTin
ópYÉ°ùoe øpWG’oe
lecturer muHaaDir on duty munaawib
ôp°VÉ«oe Üphɦoe
lawyer muHaam-in traveler/traveling musaafir
m„¦É«oe ôpaÉ°ùoe
observer muraaqib neutral muHaayid
–pbGôoe ópjÉ«oe
Form III APs in context:

.ôaÉ°ùe »¦HG Iójɬ ádhO
ibn-ii musaafir-un. dawlat-un muHaayidat-un
My son is traveling. a neutral country

1.2.3 Form IV AP: muf¬il πp©r˜oe
Muslim muslim rainy mumTir
ºp∏r°ùoe ôp£rªoe
ocean muHiiT snowy muthlij
§««oe èp∏rãoe
This expression usually occurs in the plural.
Participles: active and passive 109

manager mudiir boring mumill
ôjóoe qπpªoe
sunny mushmis possible mumkin
¢ùpªr°»oe øpµrªoe
Form IV APs in context:

á°ùª°»ª`dG „¦Éjn C™G kGqóL ∞°SD’e A»°T
al-√ayyaam-u l-mushmisat-u shay√-un mu√sif-un jidd-an
the sunny days a very distressing thing

øµ‡ âbh ÜôbCG »°ù∏WC™G §«™G
√aqrab-a waqt-in mumkin-in al-muHiiT-u l-√aTlasiyy-u
the soonest possible time the Atlantic Ocean

áaô°»ŸG ᦩ∏dG á°»©¦ŸG ºFÉ°ù¦dG
al-lajnat-u l-mushrifat-u al-nasaa√im-u l-mun¬ishat-u
the supervisory committee the refreshing breezes

1.2.4 Form V AP: mutafa¬¬il πqp©n˜nàoe

volunteer mutaTawwi¬ sorry muta√assif
´qp’n£nàoe ∞qp°SnCÉnàoe
specialist mutaxaSSiS abundant mutawaffir
¢üqp°ün®nàoe ôqpan’nàoe
extremist mutaTarrif diverse, various mutanawwi¬
±qpôn£nàoe ´qp’n¦nàoe
Note that some Form V APs can have passive meanings:
married mutazawwij êqphnµnàoe
late; delayed muta√axxir ôpqNnCÉnàoe
frozen mutajammid óqpªn©nàoe

Form V APs in context:

.ÚLqô˜àŸG ¢SɪM ’ãJ
tu-thiir-u Hamaas-a l-mutafarrij-iina.
It arouses the excitement of the spectators.

áe’µ—G º°SÉH §qó«àŸG
al-mutaHaddith-u bi-sm-i l-Hukuumat-i
the spokesperson in the name of the government

‹Éª°»dG óqª©àŸG §«™G
al-muHiiT-u l-mutajammid-u l-shimaaliyy-u
the Arctic Ocean (˜the frozen northern ocean™)
110 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.2.5 Form VI AP: mutafaa¬il πpYɘnàoe

successive mutataal-in equal, mutakaafi√
m«Éànàoe …paɵnàoe

increasing mutazaayid optimistic mutafaa√il
ópjGµnàoe πpFɘnàoe
scattered mutanaathir pessimistic mutashaa√im
ôpKɦnàoe ºpFÉ°»nàoe

Form VI APs in context:

á«dÉààe ¤G’¦°S IôKɦàe –∏Y
sanawaat-un mutataaliyat-un ¬ilab-un mutanaathirat-un
successive years scattered containers

„¦“°SE™ÉH ójGµàŸG „¦Éªàg™G á„aɵàe IGQÉ‘e
al-ihtimaam-u l-mutazaayid-u bi-l-√islaam-i mubaaraat-un mutakaafi√at-un
the increasing interest in Islam an equal contest

1.2.6 Form VII AP: munfa¬il πp©n˜r¦oe
No noun forms were encountered in the data, only adjectival APs of Form VII:

sliding munzaliq isolated mun¬azil
≥pdnµr¦oe «pµn©r¦oe
originating munbathiq notched, indented munba¬ij
≥pãn‘r¦oe èp©n‘r¦oe
≥dµ¦e ÜÉH
baab-un munzaliq-un
a sliding door

1.2.7 Form VIII AP: mufta¬il πp©nàr˜oe

listener mustami¬ respectful muHtarim
„pªnàr°ùoe „¦pônàr«oe
waiting muntaZir smiling mubtasim
ôp¶nàr¦oe ºp°ùnàr‘oe
agreeing muttafiq moderate mu¬tadil
≥p˜sàoe «pónàr©oe FORM VIII AP WITH PP MEANING: A Form VIII AP may occasionally have the
meaning of a passive participle:
full of; filled with mumtali√ (bi-) (Ü) …p∏nàrªoe
united muttaHid óp«sàoe


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