•  Teacher •

noun / mudarris / • pl. ûn teacher (general); instructor; teacher at a higher school; (Eg.) lecturer

root • درس


Arabic is relatively straightforward when it comes to tenses. Some languages have many tenses and are very specific about the time of an action and whether or not the action has been completed. Arabic grammar is vague about time and there are only two basic tenses:

  • The past (or perfect) الماضي
  • The present (or imperfectالمضارع

The Past

In a simple regular verb, the basic past tense will look like this:

كَتَبَ (kataba): (he) wrote

شَرِبَ (shariba): (he) drank

حَملَ (Hamala): (he) carried

The three root letters are all followed by a vowel. In most cases this is all fatHas (kataba/Hamala), but sometimes the second vowel is a KaSra (shariba). (In rare cases, the second vowel is a Damma (u), but you can ignore these verbs since you are not likely to see or use them.)

If we take off the final vowel, this هُوَ (“he”/“it”) part of the verb (third person masculine singular) becomes the base, or stem of the past tense. Different endings can be added to this past stem depending on who is carrying out the action (the subject of the verb). So, كَتَبَ (kataba) is “he wrote” and كَتَب (katab) is the past stem. If we add the ending تُ (tu) to the stem, it becomes كَتَبْتُ (katabtu) – “I wrote”; if we add نَا (naa), it becomes كَتَبْنَا (katabnaa) – “we wrote,” etc. Here is a table showing all the endings for the past tense:

singular                                         ending                                                     example

أنا     I                                                   تُ  (tu)                                                    (katabtu) كَتَبْتُ

أَنْتَ you (masc.*)                             تَ (ta)                                                          كَتَبْتَ (katabta)

أَنْتِ you (fem.*)                                تِ (ti)                                                          كَتَبْتِ (katabti)

هُوَ he/it                                               _َ (a)                                                          كَتَبَ (kataba)

هِيَ she/it                                          ـَتْ (at)                                                            كَتَبَتْ (katabat)


نَحْنُ we                                                   نَا (naa)                                                     كَتَبْنَا (katabnaa)

أَنْتُمْ you (masc. pl)                             تُمْ (tum)                                                    كَتَبْتُمْ (katabtum)

أَنْتُنَّ you (fem. pl)                               تُنَّ (tunna)                                              كَتَبْتُنَّ (katabtunna)

هُمَ they (masc.)                                 ـُوا** (uu)                                                 كَتَبُوا (katabuu)

هُنَّ they (fem.)                                   نَ (na)                                                         كَتَبْنَ (katabna)

**An extra alif (ا) is written after the waaw (و) but is silent.

Note that you will not meet or need the feminine plurals as often as the masculine plurals. This is because you only use the feminine plural if all the people in a group are female. If the group is mixed male and female, the masculine is used. Therefore, this form is the most important to learn and become familiar with in the first place. There are also different endings for two people (the dual). To make it easier to absorb the basics first, an explanation of the dual and its associated verb endings has been separated.

You do not have to use the personal pronouns (he, she, etc.) before the verb as you do in English. If you see an Arabic sentence like this:

كَتَبَت رِسالة لأُمِّهَا

(She) wrote a letter to her mother.

you can tell it is “she” because of the ending of the verb (katabat). The sentence could be more specific and say exactly who wrote the letter (the subject of the verb). Then you would see:

كَتَبَت فاطمة رِسالة لأُمِّهَا

Faatimah wrote a letter to her mother.

Notice that in written Arabic the subject (Faatimah) usually comes after the verb (wrote).

  • Transcribed from: Arabic Verbs & Essentials of Grammar | Jane Wightwick, Mahmoud Gaafar

To be continued inshaaAllaah..


• Washing machine

noun [إسم] • / gassāla / • pl.  -āt washing machine; washerwoman, laundress.

root • غسل

The key to understanding how Arabic grammar works is in its system of roots. Once you understand how roots work, you can start to identify which are the root letters of a word and understand the patterns they produce. You will then be able to form the different structures following the patterns and use your knowledge to pronounce words correctly and to guess at the meaning of vocabulary.

We can begin by looking at some English words:


As a speaker of English, you can see that these words are connected in meaning. You see the combination of letters “necess” and you know that this word is connected with the meaning of “needing.” You can recognize the extra letters on the beginning and end of the word as additional to the meaning: un- meaning “not”; the ending -ity showing that the word is a noun; -ly that it is an adverb, etc.

Now look at these Arabic words:

كتب (kataba) he wrote
كتاب (kitaab) book
مكتب (maktab) office
يكتب (yaktub) he writes
كاتب (kaatib) writer

Can you spot the three Arabic letters that appear in each of the words? You should be able to see that these letters appear in all the words: (more…)


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