Arabic, Standard

Conjugate Verbs


  • Language: Arabic, Standard
  • Alternate names: High Arabic, Al Fus-Ha, Al Arabiya
  • Language code: arb
  • Language family: Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, West Semitic, Central Semitic, Arabian, Arabic
  • Number of speakers: 206000000
  • Script: Arabic script

More information:

    The verb

    As in many other Semitic languages, Arabic verb formation is based on a (usually) triconsonantal root, which is not a word in itself but contains the idea or meaning. The consonants k-t-b, for example, indicate 'write'.

    Words are formed by supplying the root with a vowel structure and with affixes. Traditionally, Arabic grammarians have used the root f-ʿ-l 'do' as a template to discuss word formation. The personal forms a verb can take correspond to the forms of the pronouns, except that in the 3rd person dual, gender is differentiated, yielding paradigms of 13 forms.

    Prefixes and suffixes

    In Arabic, the grammatical person and number as well as the mood is designated by a variety of prefixes and suffixes. Most Arabic verbs are regular and follow a standard pattern.

    Stem formation

    A verb stem is derived from a consonantal root by using a verbal template known as a "form" or "measure". Each of these templates is associated with a range of meanings. In Western scholarship on Arabic, these templates are usually referred to by a Roman numeral. For example, the perfective of Form VI has the template taCaaCaC, and verbs of this form often have the meaning of a reciprocal action, such as takaatab- "to write to each other". Similarly, verbs of Form II have the perfective template CaCCaC and are often causative or intensive in meaning. Modern Standard Arabic has ten commonly used forms. The modern dialects generally preserve the bulk of these forms, but may lack some of them and also have forms which do not directly correspond to any of the MSA forms.



    Standard Arabic and the modern dialects use different strategies to form the passive of a verb. Standard Arabic verbs form their passives by changing the vowel pattern inside the verb stem, as in dafana "he buried" > dufina "he was buried". The modern dialects use a form which employs a passive prefix. For example, in Egyptian Arabic, dafan "he buried" > iddafan "he was buried".


    The verb has a perfective conjugation to denote completed events, and an imperfective conjugation to denote uncompleted actions. Particles can be added to these forms to create a wider range of tenses. For example, the Standard Arabic imperfective verb form yaktubu "he writes" can be preceded by the particle sawfa to express the future tense, as in sawfa yaktubu "he will write". The varieties of Arabic differ in their use of particles. The imperfective conjugation of Standard Arabic has a system of moods (indicative, subjunctive, and jussive) not found in the modern dialects. Verbs also have active and passive participals and an imperative form. However, there is no infinitive.

    Sample verb 'kataba' (to write)

    Glossary look-up

    Glossary look-upkataba


    Person Perfect stem: katab- Imperfect stem: -ktub-
    Perfect Imperfect indicative Imperfect subjunctive Imperfect Jussive Imperative
    Sg.1 katab-tu كَتَبْتُ a-ktub-u أَكْتُبُ a-ktub-a أَكْتُبَ a-ktub أَكْتُبْ
    Sg.2 m katab-ta كَتَبْتَ ta-ktub-u تَكْتُبُ ta-ktub-a تَكْتُبَ ta-ktub تَكْتُبْ u-ktub أُكْتُبْ
    Sg.2 f katab-ti كَتَبْتِ ta-ktub-īna تَكْتُبِينَ ta-ktub-ī تَكْتُبِي ta-ktub-ī تَكْتُبِي u-ktub-ī أُكْتُبِي
    Sg.3 m katab-a كَتَبَ ya-ktub-u يَكْتُبُ ya-ktub-a يَكْتُبَ ya-ktub يَكْتُبْ
    Sg.3 f katab-at كَتَبَتْ ta-ktub-u تَكْتُبُ ta-ktub-a تَكْتُبَ ta-ktub تَكْتُبْ
    Dual 2 katab-tumā كَتَبْتُمَا ta-ktub-āni تَكْتُبَانِ ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا u-ktub-ā أُكْتُبَا
    Dual 3 m katab-ā كَتَبَا ya-ktub-āni يَكْتُبَانِ ya-ktub-ā يَكْتُبَا ya-ktub-ā يَكْتُبَا
    Dual 3 f katab-atā كَتَبَتَا ta-ktub-āni تَكْتُبَانِ ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا ta-ktub-ā تَكْتُبَا
    Pl. 1 katab-nā كَتَبْنَا na-ktub-u نَكْتُبُ na-ktub-a نَكْتُبَ na-ktub نَكْتُبْ
    Pl. 2 m katab-tum كَتَبْتُمْ ta-ktub-ūna تَكْتُبُونَ ta-ktub-ū تَكْتُبُوا ta-ktub-ū تَكْتُبُوا u-ktub-ū أُكْتُبُوا
    Pl. 2 f katab-tunna كَتَبْتُنَّ ta-ktub-na تَكْتُبْنَ ta-ktub-na تَكْتُبْنَ ta-ktub-na تَكْتُبْنَ u-ktub-na أُكْتُبْنَ
    Pl. 3 m katab-ū كَتَبُوا ya-ktub-ūn يَكْتُبُونْ ya-ktub-ū يَكْتُبُوا ya-ktub-ū يَكْتُبُوا
    Pl. 3 f katab-na كَتَبْنَ ya-ktub-na يَكْتُبْنَ ya-ktub-na يَكْتُبْنَ ya-ktub-na يَكْتُبْنَ


    Person Perfect stem: kutib- Imperfect stem: -ktab-
    Perfect Imperfect indicative Imperfect subjunctive Imperfect Jussive
    Sg.1 kutib-tu كَتَبْتُ u-ktab-u أُكْتَبُ u-ktab-a أُكْتَبَ u-ktab أُكْتَبْ
    Sg.2 m
    kutib-ta كَتَبْتَ tu-ktab-u تُكْتَبُ tu-ktab-a تُكْتَبَ tu-ktab تُكْتَبْ
    Sg.2 f kutib-ti
    كَتَبْتِ tu-ktab-īna تُكْتَبِينَ tu-ktab-ī تُكْتَبِي tu-ktab-ī تُكْتَبِي
    Sg.3 m kutib-a
    كَتَبَ yu-ktab-u يَكْتَبُ yu-ktab-a يَكْتَبَ yu-ktab يَكْتَبْ
    Sg.3 f
    كَتَبَتْ tu-ktab-u تُكْتَبُ tu-ktab-a تُكْتَبَ tu-ktab تُكْتَبْ
    Dual 2 kutib-tumā

    كَتَبْتُمَا tu-ktab-āni تُكْتَبَانِ tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا
    Dual 3 m kutib-ā

    كَتَبَا yu-ktab-āni يُكْتَبَانِ yu-ktab-ā يُكْتَبَا yu-ktab-ā يُكْتَبَا
    Dual 3 f kutib-atā

    كَتَبَتَا tu-ktab-āni تُكْتَبَانِ tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا tu-ktab-ā تُكْتَبَا
    Pl. 1 kutib-nā كَتَبْنَا

    nu-ktab-u نُكْتَبُ nu-ktab-a نُكْتَبَ nu-ktab نُكْتَبْ
    Pl. 2 m kutib-tum كَتَبْتُمْ tu-ktab-ūna تُكْتَبُونَ tu-ktab-ū تُكْتَبُو tu-ktab-ū تُكْتَبُو
    Pl. 2 f kutib-tunna كَتَبْتُنَّ

    tu-ktab-na تُكْتَبْنَ tu-ktab-na تُكْتَبْنَ tu-ktab-na تُكْتَبْنَ
    Pl. 3 m kutib-ū

    كَتَبُوا yu-ktab-ūna يُكْتَبُونَ yu-ktab-ū يُكْتَبُو yu-ktab-ū يُكْتَبُو
    Pl. 3 f kutib-na كَتَبْنَ

    yu-ktab-na يُكْتَبْنَ yu-ktab-na يُكْتَبْنَ yu-ktab-na يُكْتَبْنَ


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