Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and is an official language of the United Nations. Because of the increasingly important role it plays in world affairs, the number of Arabic learners worldwide is rapidly increasing. Some educators claim that "there is not much irregularity in the grammar," while others argue that since the system of roots and patterns is logical it is easy to learn. The Arabic verb system does indeed have a logical structure, so that many of the numerous inflected forms can be predicted by those who make the supreme effort required to master the complex rules, subtle subrules, and numerous exceptions.
The fact is that the complexities and irregularities of the Arabic verb system are difficult to master. The number of non-native speakers who have mastered the system is no doubt small, and it is well known that even educated Arabs often do not have a full command of the system.
The major reasons for these difficulties are:
Mastering a verb system as complicated as the Arabic one is a burdensome process that requires years of effort. Traditional tools for learning Arabic verbs, like grammar books and printed paradigm tables, make learning a chore so tedious that it often demotivates the learner from ever mastering the system. In fact, paradigm tables present long and boring lists of verbs, often in barely legible print and with poorly designed indexes, making learning laborious and ineffective.
Although recent years have seen a sharp surge in the number of Arabic language learners throughout the world, effective learning aids for mastering the Arabic verb system have not been available. Never before has there been such a compelling need for a new, pedagogically effective tool for mastering the Arabic verb system.
The CJK Dictionary Institute (CJKI) is proud to present to the world the ultimate tool to master the complexities of the Arabic verb system: the CJKI Arabic Verb Conjugator, or CAVE for short.
CAVE is a bilingual verb conjugator with a complete set of features that provides instant access to a wealth of clear, accurate and exhaustive information on 182 conjugation paradigms for over 1630 of the most common verbs used in contemporary Arabic. It comes with a user friendly interface as well as with clearly pronounced audio for each of the over 400,000 inflected forms covered by CAVE.
CAVE was developed on the basis of the author's several decades of experience in learning fourteen languages and in compiling several popular learners dictionaries that have become standard reference works, and also draws heavily on extensive experience in developing various linguistic tools such as verb conjugators and transcription systems. The developers have spared no effort to ensure that the process of looking up verb paradigms is not only easy and fast, but also enjoyable and motivating.
CAVE provides several search modes and various other search features to enable even complete beginners to quickly and effortlessly locate the conjugation paradigm for any verb from any of its inflected forms, from the dictionary form, from the root, or from the English meaning.
The functionally designed clean user interface has been streamlined to ensure maximum user-friendliness and rapid access.
CAVE offers several convenient filtering features that limit the display to a specific subset of inflected forms based on various criteria. This helps avoid screen clutter and gives quick access to the desired forms only. Four filters are available.
CAVE has been designed from the ground up to be a highly effective learning aid that promotes understanding and stimulates a desire to learn. The ease of use, richness of content and functional user interface provided by CAVE give the learner instant access to detailed information on every inflected form of verbs used in contemporary Arabic, including clearly enunciated audio for each form. Just typing an inflected form in Arabic or in any common romanization immediately displays a list of candidate matches.
Memorizing the detailed rules and exceptions for hundreds of verb conjugation patterns is a daunting task. Though it is a good idea to learn the major rules for the most common patterns, the advantage of using CAVE is that it provides the learner with a quick way to access all inflected forms and their meanings without knowing any rules. As the learner is increasingly exposed to Arabic using CAVE as a learning aid, he or she gradually internalizes the rules by osmosis, rather than through a conscious process of rote memorization. Eventually, producing the correct form becomes an automatic, mostly unconscious, process.
CAVE puts at the user’s fingertips a wealth of detailed information on every aspect of Arabic verb conjugation. In fact, Arabic teachers have praised CAVE as a powerful learning tool that is likely to revolutionize Arabic pedagogy for both native and non-native speakers alike.
(See also the CAVE website at www.cjk.org/arabic/cave.)
A detailed description of the of the Arabic verb system is beyond the scope of this document. Various books and papers are available on this subject. For an overview, see the Wikipedia article on Arabic verbs. For a more detailed treatment we recommend the book Arabic Verbs and Essential Grammar by John Mace and the excellent A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic by Karin C. Ryding.
Some basic concepts related to Arabic verbs are briefly described below, with links to more detailed descriptions. Other concepts are explained in other sections.
Roots and patterns constitute the foundation of the Arabic verb system. A root consists of three or four letters called radicals. There are two major classes of roots: triliteral roots, which consist of three radicals, and quadriliteral roots, which consist of four radicals. A root is not a word in its own right but conveys an abstract meaning shared by the verbs, adjectives and nouns derived from it. For example, the root ك-ت-ب k⋅t⋅b denotes the concept of 'writing'.
Patterns are created by inserting vowels between the radicals and adding prefixes or affixes to the roots. For example, the pattern CāCiC (where C is any consonant) serves as a template to create actual words and inflected forms, such as kā́tib 'writer'. Such words are (at least in theory) conceptually related to the concept denoted by the root, as for example in سَيَكْتُبُونَ sayaktubū́na 'they will write', كِتَابَ kitā́ba 'writing' and مَكْتَب máktab 'office'.
A stem is the base form to which vowels, suffixes and prefixes are added to form inflected forms and derived words. For example, the stem of the active perfect tense كَتَبَ kátaba is كَتَب kátab. Adding the suffix tu, which indicates the first person male singular, results in كَتَبْتُ katábtu 'I wrote'. On the other hand, the stem of the active imperfect for this verb is كْتُب ktub. Adding the prefix يَ ya and vowel u, which indicate the third person male singular, results in يَكْتُبُ yáktubu 'he writes'.
The perfect stem vowel refers to the medial vowel of the active perfect tense, while the imperfect stem vowel refers to the medial vowel of the active imperfect tense. For example, a is the perfect stem vowel of كَتَبَ kátaba and u is the imperfect stem vowel of يَكْتُبُ yáktubu.
Each subtype has its characteristic stem vowels, which are listed in Appendix 2. A knowledge of the stem vowels for the most common subtypes can help in predicting inflected forms without looking them up. Nevertheless, the user normally need not memorize such details since the correct forms can be easily accessed in CAVE. However, for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Arabic conjugation patterns, knowing the imperfect stem vowel of Form I sound verbs is useful since it enables one to predict the imperfect tense from the perfect tense. On the other hand, for unsound verbs it is difficult to apply the stem vowel information since some of the radicals disappear in many of the inflected forms.
Arabic letters can be classified into three classes:
Verbs whose roots consist of sound letters only are regular and are referred to as sound verbs. Verbs that have at least one weak letter or a hamza in their root are called unsound verbs. Verbs that have at least one weak letter in their roots, with or without an additional hamza, are called weak verbs.
These are of four types of weak verbs, depending on the position of the weak radicals in the root: assimilated, hollow, defective and doubly weak, each of which is described in Section 13. It should be noted that weak verbs are difficult to conjugate as they undergo various phonological and orthographical changes that differ significantly from sound verbs.
Inflected forms of verbs are formed by filling the root template, or pattern, with vowels, prefixes and suffixes to form a family of semantically interrelated words and forms. For example, three vowels are added to the root ك-ت-ب k⋅t⋅b to form such inflected forms as كَتَبَ kátaba 'he wrote' and يَكْتُبُونَ yaktubū́na 'they write'. The ability to search for inflectional forms is very convenient for learners and is one of the major features of CAVE.
The top category of the Arabic verb system is traditionally referred to as Forms, which are classes of conjugation patterns. These are further subclassified into types and subtypes. All these categories, which are important to understand, are described in Section 11 Verb Categories.
Arabic does not have the exact equivalent of the infinitive form of the verb (though the verbal noun comes close). That is, every form of the verb is actually an inflected form. Traditionally, when referring to an Arabic verb in isolation or listing it in a dictionary, the third person singular masculine of the active perfect tense is used, and is referred to as the dictionary form (also called the citation form or lemma). For example, كَتَبَ kátaba literally means 'he wrote' as an inflected form but when used as a dictionary form it is translated as 'write' or 'to write'.
A convenient subset of inflected forms are referred to to as Basic Forms. This consists of the six forms listed below:
The basic forms are extremely useful since they are the inflected forms that the user is most likely to search for. Though only the most basic form is provided (e.g. third person masculine of the perfect active), users with some familiarity of conjugation rules can often derive the other forms, duch as كَتَبْتُ katábtu from كَ/تَبَ kátaba, without referring to the Paradigm Screen.
The buttons to the left and right of the search box are used jointly to control the way CAVE interprets the input text. The table below lists the four available combinations, and examples are given here.
|This mode allows input of any inflected form in Roman or Arabic script. This mode is very convenient if for users who don't know the dictionary form, and it is recommended that this mode be used most of the time.|
|This mode allows the same input as the Full mode, but only returns a subset of inflected forms referred to as basic forms. This is very useful since it displays only those forms that the user is most likely to search for and serves as an excellent starting point for studying a specific conjugation pattern or verb.|
|This mode allows input of three or four root letters (radicals) in Roman or unvocalized Arabic script to display all the dictionary forms derived from that root. To avoid ambiguity, use spaces to separate the radicals and, unlike in other input modes, you must use the apostrophe to represent the hamza explicitly. For convenience of the learner, the results are displayed with tiny labels to indicate the Form.|
|This mode enables the user to locate an Arabic verb from any of its English meanings (infinitive form), or from the past or present participles of the principal meaning.|
|Input mode||Input string||Search result|
|katabta, كَتَبْتَ, كَتَبت, كتبت||كَتَبْتَ katábta 'write'|
|yaktubuuna||يَكْتُبُونَ yaktubū́na 'they write'|
|kata, كَتَ||كَتَبَ kátaba 'he wrote'|
كَتَمَ kátama 'he kept secret'
|ktb, كتب||كَتَبَ kátaba 'write'|
|' th r, أ ث ر||أَثَرَ ʾáthara 'transmit'|
أَثَّرَ ʾáththara 'influence'
آثَرَ ʾā́thara 'prefer'
تَأَثَّرَ taʾáththara 'be affected'
|live, exist||عَاشَ ɛā́sha 'he lived'|
|write, written, writing||كَتَبَ kátaba 'write'|
Note that when typing in the Arabic script, in the FULL and VERB modes fully vocalized, partially vocalized and unvocalized Arabic is accepted but in the ROOT mode only unvocalized Arabic is allowed.
This application introduces a new Arabic romanization system, The CJKI Arabic Romanization System or CARS. This innovative system, designed from the ground up for ease of use by learners, represents Arabic pronunciation unambiguously. All Arabic inflected forms appearing in CAVE are displayed in both Arabic script and in CARS. The new system has several unique features not found elsewhere, especially the indication of word stress and vowel neutralization (shortening of long vowels). Various other features distinguish CARS as an easy-to-use, highly accurate phonemic transcription system.
Here is a quick glimpse of how CARS works:
the Japanese government
Long vowels, as in kū, are shown by a macron over the vowel. Word stress is indicated by the accent mark, as in níy and kū́ above. For the first time in any system, neutralized (shortened) long vowels are shown by a macron below the vowel (as in a̱ above) to remind the reader that they are written, but not pronounced, as long vowels.
For more details, see the author's academic paper on CARS presented at an international conference in the United Emirates. Appendix 1 provides a table explaining CARS symbols.
The CARS romanization system, though it is easy to read, is difficult to input because it uses various diacritics, such as the underdot under t to represent ط ṭ. The user can of course search by inputting CARS symbols directly, but this is not convenient.
To facilitate input, CAVE accepts some of most common romanization systems. For example حَلَقَ ḥálaqa 'shave' can be input as Halaqa or halaqa, سَاءَ sāʾa 'deteriorate' as saaa or saa'a, and دَخَلَ dákhala 'enter' as dakhala or daxala. Some input examples are always displayed in the Search Screen when starting a new search. A detailed table of input symbols appears in Appendix 1.
Search result items that are also basic forms display a blue badge on the right side of the screen. Besides being a hint that the form is inherently important, this button also opens the Basic Forms screen. Navigation can continue from this screen to a specific Paradigm Screen and other related screens.
The Paradigm Screen is the main screen of the application that displays the conjugation paradigm, or inflected forms, for the Arabic verb selected. Any spot on this screen is tappable. Tap around here and there to discover the abundant information provided under the hood on every aspect of the verb selected, including its pronunciation, orthography, root, conjugation patterns, English meanings, and more. The Paradigm Screen consists of the following elements.
Tapping on this displays the main Search Screen.
Tapping on the Tense Arrows displays the previous or the next tense in the Paradigm Screen. To navigate only one or two tenses up or down the tense list, the tense arrows are more convenient than the Tense Selector
The Tense Selector displays the tense name for the verb currently displayed in the Paradigm Screen. Tapping on this button displays a list of tenses that allows the user to quickly select and display the conjugation paradigm for the desired tense. The first item of the list gives immediate access to the list of basic forms for the verb.
The gray bar of the Paradigm Screen is the Verb Title. This consists of the dictionary form of the verb in Arabic followed by the principal meaning when in ENG mode or the CARS romanization when in the Roman mode. Tapping on the blue badge displays the Verb Info Screen.
Tapping on the play button on the left plays the pronunciation of all the inflected forms currently displayed in the Paradigm Screen. Tapping on this button again will stop or resume the audio.
The Category Button displays the current Form and type code separated by a colon. Tapping on this button displays the Verbs List, a list of verbs of the same category as the current verb, which is very convenient for comparing the behavior of verbs that conjugate in a similar manner. For example, if the current category is II:S1, pressing this button will list all verbs of Form II, type S, subtype 1.
The most important information provided by this application is the full conjugation paradigm for each Arabic verb. This consists of a full list of inflected forms for each tense. Tapping anywhere on a line where an inflected form is displayed highlights that line and opens a detailed Form Info Screen. Tapping on a line and holding it down for a second plays the Arabic pronunciation for that form. The following information is provided for each inflected form.
|The first item on the left is the person code. For example "3 S M" stands for "third person singular masculine."|
|In the ENG mode, the English personal pronoun and the principal meaning are displayed.|
|In the Roman mode, the inflected form is displayed in CARS romanization.|
|The personal pronoun and the inflected form are displayed in fully vocalized Arabic script.|
Note that if a particular tense does not exist for a verb, it is marked by This tense does not exist. On the other hand, some tenses can have more than one alternative paradigm. For example, the negative of the active perfect can be formed with لَمْ lam + the active imperfect (e.g. لَمْ أَكْتُبْ lam ʾáktub 'I didn't write'), or with مَا ma̱ + the active perfect (e.g. مَا كَتَبْتُ ma̱ katábtu 'I didn't write'). In such cases when in the Paradigm Screen it is necessary to keep scrolling down to the bottom of the screen to see the second alternative.
The default order of the inflected forms is shown in the leftmost column of the table below. This is based on the Western convention of presenting conjugated forms according to their number, person and gender, in that order. Optionally, the other two orders shown in the table can be selected from the settings menu (accessed via the hamburger icon).
|Western||Traditional Arabic||Ahlan wa Sahlan*|
*Used in the textbook "Ahlan wa Sahlan: Functional Modern Standard Arabic for Beginners" by Mahdi Alosh, Yale University Press.
Forming the negative of Arabic verbs is far from trivial, with different negation particles used for different tenses and modes, e.g. لَا la̱ is used in لَا أَكْتُبُ la̱ ʾáktubu 'I don't write', but لَن lan is used in لَن أَكْتُبَ lan ʾáktuba 'I will not write'. The Polarity Button operates as follows:
|displays the affirmative forms|
|displays the negative forms|
Tapping on the Number Button toggles between the following modes:
|displays all 13 personal forms|
|displays only the five singular forms|
|displays only the three dual forms|
|displays only the five plural forms|
|displays only the 8 most common forms|
|displays only the 5 not so common forms|
Applying this filter helps avoid screen clutter and makes it easier to quickly find the desired form. Beginners, especially, need not yet learn the dual forms and could benefit from displaying only the common forms in the early stages of study.
A major feature of this application is that it is bilingual. Tapping on the Language Button toggles between the English and Roman modes, as follows:
|displays the CARS romanization of the Arabic form|
|displays the principal meaning of the Arabic form|
The English mode is very useful because it displays the English meaning for each specific inflected form individually, rather than the English infinitive (which of course appears in the Verb Title bar).
The CARS romanization in the Roman mode shows the precise pronunciation of the Arabic form with more detailed information than can be obtained from the vocalized Arabic, including such features as word stress and vowel neutralization.
The Verb Info Screen provides detailed grammatical information and English meanings for each verb in large, easy-to read fonts. It can be accessed by tapping on the Verb Title in the Paradigm Screen.
The upper pane of the Verb Info Screen displays the dictionary form (third person singular masculine) of the verb in large Arabic characters followed by the CARS romanization and the English meaning(s). Tapping on the play button plays the Arabic pronunciation.
The lower pane of the Verb Info Screen consists of the following elements.
|The name of the verb's Form is given in the traditional Roman numerals for triliteral verbs (I, II...X) and as QI, QII, QIII and QIV for quadriliteral verbs.|
|The root of the verb in the Arabic and Roman scripts.|
|The name of the verb's type in English.|
|The type code (code for type + subtype) is followed by the subtype name.|
|The imperfect stem vowel.|
|The perfect stem vowel.|
|The imperfect form of the verb in the third person singular masculine in the Roman and Arabic scripts.|
The Forms button gives access to a list of all verbs that share the same root, grouped by Form. Tap on any item to jump to the Verb Info screen for that verb.
The Category Button displays the current Form and type code separated by a colon. Tapping on this button displays the Verbs List, a list of verbs of the same category as the current verb, which is very convenient for comparing the behavior of verbs that conjugate in a similar manner. For example, if the current category is II:S1, pressing this button will list all verbs of Form II, type S, subtype 1.
The Form Info Screen provides more information for each inflected form in large, easy-to read fonts. It can be accessed by tapping on any inflected form in the Paradigm Screen. This is the most convenient screen for studying a particular inflected form, but to get a bird's eye view of the entire paradigm it is best to return to the Paradigm Screen.
|Displays the tense name followed by the person description. Tap on the play button to hear verb's pronunciation in a clear voice.|
|Displays the selected inflected form in the Arabic and Roman scripts, followed by the principal meaning in an extra large font for easy viewing (see English Meanings for format).|
|Displays the dictionary form (third person singular masculine) for the selected inflected form in the Arabic and Roman scripts.|
The category selector is an easy-to-use, convenient interface for quickly finding verbs of a specific category (Form, type and subtype). This is extremely useful for gaining quick access to all the verbs classified under each category, and for studying the behavior of verbs sharing the same features (i.e., the same subtype). The category selector consists of the following elements.
The Category Selector Screen presents three views of the category information in the top panel of the screen:
The selector on the top cycles can be used to switch mode. Spinning the wheels of the Category Selector at the bottom of the screen will dynamically refresh the content of the top panel.
|CATEGORY INFO||The Info button displays grammatical details about the current category in the panes; that is, about the Form, the Type and the Subtype of the selected category. The element names are given in English, Roman and Arabic scripts. The perfect and imperfect forms for the category selected are also given for quick reference.|
|VERB PATTERN|| The Pattern button displays the conjugation pattern for the current category; that third person masculine singular of the active perfect (dictionary form). The radicals are shown as dotted circles, and an example is given in Arabic and Roman script.|
Please note that if your iOS device has a longer screen, then this panel won't be available, and the pattern will be shown together with the category information described above.
|VERB LIST||The Verbs button displays a list of verbs belonging to the current category and whose conjugation paradigms are available in CAVE. When the list is scrolled the Category Selector wheels disappear and reveal the full list: to bring it back tap on the Category Selector icon on the top right, or switch to another view.|
This consists of three spinning wheels for quickly selecting a verb category: that is, the Form, type and subtype. As you spin the wheels the content of the top panel changes dynamically according to the category you selected. Each of the three wheels is described below.
|LEFT WHEEL||Displays the Form name in the traditional Roman numerals for triliteral verbs (I, II...X) and as QI, QII, QIII and QIV for quadriliteral verbs.|
|CENTER WHEEL||Displays the English name of the verb's type.|
|RIGHT WHEEL||Displays the type code (code for the type + subtype) for the selected Form.|
Arabic has thirteen grammatical persons, as opposed to six in many other languages, requiring a greater effort on the part of learner. In the Paradigm Screen, the first item on the left is the person code for each inflected form, as described below.
|1 S||first person singular common|
|2 S M||second person singular masculine|
|2 S F||second person singular feminine|
|3 S M||third person singular masculine|
|3 S F||third person singular feminine|
|2 D||second person dual common|
|3 D M||third person dual masculine|
|3 D F||third person dual feminine|
|1 P||first person plural common|
|2 P M||second person plural masculine|
|2 P F||second person plural feminine|
|3 P M||third person plural masculine|
|3 P F||third person plural feminine|
Arabic has only two basic tenses: the perfect tense (كَتَبَ kátaba 'he wrote') and the imperfect tense (يَكْتُبُ yáktubu 'he writes'). The imperfect tense comes in five flavors called moods. The Arabic verb also has two voices. In addition, there are nouns derived from verbs referred to as nominals. These are of three kinds: active participles, passive participles and verbal nouns. These various categories are briefly described below but it is highly recommended that the user refer to a detailed Arabic grammar.
Though tense, mood, voice and nominals are distinct grammatical categories, for convenience in this application they are lumped together under the label "tense." Thus the user interface has such objects as the Tense Selector Button in which "tense" is used in this extended sense.
Mood (or mode) refers to certain morphological and syntactic properties of the verb that express the attitude of the speaker to the action expressed by the verb. The imperfect tense is used in all five moods shown in the table below. The perfect tense has only one mood, the indicative mood.
|Indicative||This is the basic mood, characteristic of factual statements and questions.|
|Subjunctive||Used after certain particles such as أَنْ ʾan to express desire, hope or necessity.|
|Jussive||Used mostly to form the imperative and with the particle لَمْ lam to negate the active perfect tense.|
|Energetic||This archaic mood, not included in this application, is used in classical Arabic to express extra emphasis.|
|Imperative||Used to express commands to the second person.|
In grammar, voice is a category used to indicate the relation of the verb to the performer of the action or to the beneficiary of its action. There are two basic voices: the active voice and the passive voice. (Forms V, VII and VIII are sometimes referred as the mediopassive, but this is not a formal grammatical distinction). The relation between voice, tense and mood is shown in the tables below.
Tense refers to the point of time at which the action denoted by the verb occurs. This differs from aspect, which typically indicates completion or duration of the action. Some grammarians argue that Arabic distinguishes between aspects rather than tenses, but for practical purposes what is normally called the perfect tense (كَتَبَ kátaba 'he wrote') indicates past action, while the imperfect tense (يَكْتُبُ yáktubu 'he writes') refers to an incomplete action in the present or the near future or to an ongoing action.
The perfect and imperfect tenses are called simple tenses because they consist of a single word inflected to indicate tense. There are also various compound tenses, which consist of a particle or an auxiliary verb added to the main verb, such as the future (سَيَكْتُبُ sayákyubu 'he will write'), the continuous perfect (كَانَ يَكْتُبُ kána yáktubu 'he was writing') and the plueperfect (كَانَ كَتَبَ kána kátaba 'he had written').
CAVE covers all the simple tenses, except for the two archaic energetic moods, which are very rare in contemporary Arabic. In addition, it covers one compound tense, the future, which behaves like a simple tense since the forms consists of a single orthographical word. The table below shows the tenses covered by CAVE.
|Passive Perfect||كُتِبَkútiba||was written|
|Passive Imperfect||يُكْتَبُyúktabu||is written|
|Passive Subjunctive||يُكْتَبَyúktaba||be written|
|Passive Jussive||يُكْتَبْyúktab||be written|
To master the complexities of the Arabic verb system it is important to properly understand the various categories and subcategories into which Arabic verbs can be classified. From a grammatical point of view, Arabic verbs can be divided into 19 major categories called Forms. Each Form can consist of up to seven minor categories we refer to as types, and each type can consist of up to 12 subcategories we refer to as subtypes. These various categories are described in detail in the sections below.
If we count all the Forms, types and subtype combinations we get a total of 182 categories, and if we take into account the subcategories (not explicitly marked in CAVE) into which the subtypes can be divided we get a total of over 220 categories (excluding the five archaic Forms). The conjugation paradigm for each of these categories is different. Sometimes the differences are very minor, but on the whole they are significant enough to make it necessary for the learner to memorize the details of each category individually.
The sheer quantity of the many types and subtypes presents a daunting challenge to the learner. Fortunately, CAVE makes it easy to instantly access any category and to study the various features that distinguish it. The best way to get a feel for the different features of the various categories is to play around with the Category Selector, which gives quick access to lists of verbs of the same subtype.
For a full list of Forms, types and subtypes with examples see Appendix 2.
The top category of the Arabic verb system is traditionally referred to as the Form (in this sense always capitalized) or أَوْزَان ʾawzā́n in Arabic. To understand this concept, which constitutes the foundation of the Arabic verb system, it is first necessary to understand how roots and patterns work, briefly described in Section 3.1.
The Forms are classes of conjugation patterns, or templates, that define the major inflectional features of the conjugation paradigm. Form I is considered the base form (فِعْل مُجَرَّد fíɛl mujárrad), while the others are considered to be derived forms (أَفْعَل مَزِيدَة ʾafɛā́l mazī́da) (literally "augmented verbs").
The derived forms are not just inflections of Form I -- they are independent verbs in their own right. For example, عَرَفَ ɛárafa 'know', a Form I verb, has a Form II derived verb عَرَّفَ ɛárrafa 'introduce, define', a distinct but etymologically related verb with its own full paradigm of inflected forms.
The nineteen Forms are listed in the table below, using the traditional way of indicating verb templates with the root ف-ع-ل f⋅ɛ⋅l. There are ten triliteral Forms in common use, traditionally labeled by the Roman numerals I to X, and another five Forms that are extremely rare in contemporary Arabic, labeled XI to XV (not covered in CAVE). In addition there are four quadriliteral Forms, identified by QI, QII, QIII and QIV, as shown in the table below.
Each Form of the Arabic verb can be further classified into seven categories referred to as types, listed in the table below.
Each type is conjugated according to rules that differ from each other. There are seven types, subclassified into up to 12 subtypes, which are explained in 14. Verb Subtypes. CAVE identifies each type by a code, as shown in the table. A brief description of the seven types is given below. (For a more detailed treatment refer to Arabic Verbs and Essential Grammar by John Macea.)
To understand the features that distinguish one type from another it is necessary to understand the composition of the root letters, called radicals, especially weak letters and sound letters, as well as the verb classes sound verbs, unsound verbs and weak verbs as explained in Section 3.3.
The seven verb types for triliteral verbs are described below.
Each Arabic verb type can be further classified into up to 12 subcategories referred to as subtypes. It is at the subtype level where the conjugation pattern for each inflected form is actually determined. A difference in subtype means that the conjugation patterns differ somewhere, though sometimes the differences are minor or affect only a small number of forms. These differences are determined by such factors as the root composition (which radicals compose the root), a difference in stem vowels, and the position of weak letters.
For example, the Form I verbs كَتَبَ kátaba 'he wrote' and فَتَحَ fátaḥa 'he opened' both consist of sound letters and both have exactly the same pattern in the active perfect (CaCaCa). But since the imperfect stem vowel of these verbs is u for the former and a for the latter, they belong to a different subtype, i.e., S1 and S3 respectively. As a result, the active imperfect forms conjugate differently, i.e., يَكْتُبُ yáktubu 'he writes' (middle vowel u) but يَفْتَحُ yáftaḥu 'he opens' (middle vowel a) respectively.
Each type + subtype combination is identified by a type code. This is a two letter code that identifies the type by a letter followed by a number or letter that identifies the subtype. For example, in the type code S2 the "S" stands for "sound verb" and the "3" for subtype 3. A full list of types and their letter codes is given in the Verb Types table.
A full list of the 182 types + subtype combinations, along with their type codes and examples, is given in Appendix 2. The subtypes can be further divided into minor subdivisions, resulting in a total of 220 subcategories. These represent very minor differences in form, all of which are of course shown in the conjugation paradigms of CAVE but for simplicity they are not assigned their own type code.
A distinctive features of CAVE is that it is a bilingual conjugator; that is, carefully selected concise English meanings (translational equivalents) are given for each Arabic form. It is important to note that though English meanings are given, CAVE is not an Arabic-English dictionary so that the treatment of English meanings is necessarily limited to the most important ones while such grammatical details as verb transitivity and which prepositions follow Arabic verbal phrases are omitted.
The following points need to be noted about English meanings.
In this application, the term nominals refers to three categories of nouns derived from verbs: active participles, passive participles and verbal nouns.
Participles are essentially adjectives derived from verbs, whereas verbal nouns are essentially nouns that can also be used as verbs. The grammar rules governing the behavior of nominals are different from those for verbs. For example, participles are inflected for gender, number and case, but not for person, while the plural of participles used as nouns may be different from their plural as adjectives. As for verbal nouns, they are inflected just like any other noun, but in addition can take pronoun affixes with verbal force. Though the basic functions of nominals are described below, they have other functions not mentioned here. It is recommended that the user refer to an Arabic grammar for more details.
Since CAVE is a verb conjugator, it naturally focuses on the forms and meanings of verb forms while coverage for nominals is more limited. For both participles and verbal nouns, it provides the singular masculine form in the nominative case, but not any other inflected forms such as plurals and feminine forms. For participles, it provides their meanings as adjective and verbs but not as nouns. Since the principal function of verbal nouns is as nouns, CAVE provides their meanings both as nouns and as verbs.
Participles and verbal nouns are displayed in the Nominals section of the Paradigm Screen. Nominals for Form II and beyond are mostly regular while there are many irregular forms for Form I. For some verbs, both the regular and irregular forms are used. In such cases they are displayed in order of importance.
The active participle (اِسْم اَلفَاعِل ʾism ʾalfā́ɛil) can function as an adjective, as a noun, or as a verb. As a verb it denotes the process of the action and corresponds mainly to the present progressive or present tense in English, as for example كَاتِبٌ kā́tibun 'I am writing' or 'I write'. It can also denote action in the recent past, like the present perfect in English ('I have written'), or action in the near future ('I am going to write'). As an adjective, it is used like the present participle adjective in English to modify a noun, as in رَجُلٌ نَائِمٌ rájulun nā́ʾimun 'a sleeping man'. As a noun it denotes the doer of the action described by the verb and loses its verbal force, as in كَاتِبٌ kā́tibun 'writer, author'.
CAVE gives the meaning of the active participle used an adjective or as a verb, but not as a noun (keep in mind that CAVE is a verb conjugator, not a dictionary). It is always translated by the English progressive form, as in كَاتِبٌ kā́tibun 'writing', though it could have other meanings.
The passive participle (اِسْم اَلمَفعُول ʾism ʾalmafū́l) is used mainly as an adjective or as a noun. Typically it is used as an adjective modifying a noun and denotes the result of the action described by the verb, as for example in مَكْتُوبٌ maktū́bun 'written'. This is similar to the past participle in English, as in اَلسَّرِقَةُ ٱلْمُنَظَّمَةُ ʾassriqatu lmunaẓẓamatu 'organized theft'. As a noun, the passive particle loses its verbal force and behaves just like an ordinary noun, as in مَكْتُوبٌ maktū́bun 'letter'.
CAVE gives the meaning of the passive participle used as an adjective, but not as a noun (keep in mind that CAVE is a verb conjugator, not a dictionary). It is always translated as the English past participle, as in مَكْتُوبٌ maktū́bun 'written', though it could have other meanings.
The formation of participles for sound verbs is mostly regular for all Forms and relatively easy to learn based on rules, as shown in the table below. However, there are some exceptions for sound verbs of Form I, as for example the active participle of فَرِٓحَ fáriḥa 'be happy' is فَرْحٌ fárḥun, not the expected فَارِحٌ fā́riḥun. The formation of participles of many unsound verbs, not shown in the table below, follows a different set of rules.
|Form||Active Participle||Passive Participle|
Verbal nouns (مَصْدَر maṣdar) are basically used in two ways: as a gerund and as a normal noun. As a gerund, they refer to the action denoted by the verb, as in سُؤَالٌ suā́lun 'asking' (the act of asking), which is derived from the verb سَأَلَ sáʾala 'ask, inquire, request'. As a normal noun, they denote a concrete or abstract meaning, as in سُؤَالٌ suā́lun 'question', with no verbal force.
The meaning of verbal nouns often consists of two parts, as shown below.
سُؤَالٌ suā́lun asking; question, inquiry
The part before the semicolon is the gerund, which means that it can be translated to English as a gerund ("asking"), as an infinitive ("to ask") or as a bare infinitive ("ask"), as for example in the sentence أَسْتَطِيعُ ٱلسُّؤَالَ ʾastaṭíɛu ssuʾā́la 'I can ask'. The part after the semicolon is the meaning of the verbal noun as a normal noun, which behaves exactly like any other noun. If there is no semicolon, as in
سِبَاحَةٌ sibā́ḥatun swimming
حَيْنٌ ḥáynun approaching
either the verbal noun in question is only used as a gerund or its meaning as a normal noun is not yet available in the current version.
Note that sometimes a grayed out RARE appears to the left of the verbal noun, which means that it is rarely used. Occasionally, the grayed out words not available replace the English meaning if it is not available in the current version.
Some verbs have multiple verbal nouns. For example سَأَلَ sáala has two verbal nouns:
In such cases, it is only the first verbal noun that is used as gerund; the others are only used as normal nouns
The formation of verbal nouns for Form I is highly irregular and there are more than forty patterns. Basically the only way to learn these is to memorize them individually for each verb. But for the other Forms it is quite straightforward to form the verbal noun based on rules, as shown in the table below (but note that Form II and Form III occasionally have multiple forms).
A new feature in CAVE 2.0 is the ability to test you knowledge of Arabic inflected forms.
CAVE lets you check your knowledge of a verb's paradigm via configurable tests. You start a session by tapping on thebutton, and CAVE will generate a randomized sequence of questions covering only the persons visible in the paradigm screen for the tense selected. You can take advantage of the filtering mechanism to build a custom testing session.
For each question you are presented with the description of a conjugated form and a list of options from which you need to select the one that matches the description. After picking an answer and receiving visual feedback on its correctness, you will be able to move to the next question by tapping on the Next question button on the bottom of the screen.
CAVE will keep track of your correct answers and show you a brief summary at the end of the session. You can discard the session and quit any time by tapping the Quit button.
CAVE introduces a new Arabic romanization system, The CJKI Arabic Romanization System or CARS, designed from the ground up for ease of use by learners. The Romanization table below shows how Arabic consonants and vowels are represented in CARS, and how to input these from the keyboard. A brief description of CARS appears in Section 4.3, while a detailed description is given in an academic paper. A table of CARS display and input symbols is found below.
It is important to keep in mind that CARS is a phonemic system that accurately represents pronunciation, rather than a transliteration system, whose goal is to represent characters directly. That is, when using Roman script you must type Arabic words based on how they are pronounced, not based on how they are spelled in Arabic.
For example, مَخَافَة makhā́fa is input as makhaafa. The aa represents the long vowel ā, not the fatḥa and ʾalif directly. The ṭā' marbū́ṭa (ة) is omitted entirely since it is not pronounced. If you do want input Arabic exactly as it is spelled, you can of course type Arabic directly, rather than romanized Arabic (see Arabic/Roman Input Mode).
The table below shows how to input Arabic consonants (INPUT column) and how they are displayed (CARS column). The input of vowels and of letters marked by an asterisk in the table below is explained at Input Guidelines.
|ع||ɛayin||e, E, c||ɛ|
The table below brings together all the Forms, types and subtypes of the Arabic verb system. The table consists of the following four columns.
For example, for Form I subtype S1 "a:u" means that the perfect and imperfect stem vowels are a and u respectively, as can be seen in the middle vowels of the perfect كَتَبَ kátaba 'he wrote' and the imperfect يَكْتُبُ yáktubu 'he writes'. For Form I sound verbs this is useful for predicting the perfect from the imperfect and vice versa.
For unsound verbs, as for example Form I subtype WA, the "A/u:w/u" means that the perfect stem vowel can be either a long ā as in قَالَ qā́la 'he said' or a short u as in قُلْتُ qúltu 'I said', while the imperfect stem vowel can be either a long ū as in يَقُولُ yaqū́lu 'he says' or a short u as in يَقُلْنَ yaqúlna 'they say'. The user can basically ignore the stem vowel information for unsound verbs as it is difficult to apply in practice. Just use CAVE and see the results in the conjugation paradigm.
|I:S7||fatḥa ḍamma kasra||i:u/i||عَكَفَ|
|I:S8||fatḥa fatḥa ḍamma||a:a/u||صَلَحَ|
|I:Z1||hamza initial I||a:u||أَكَلَ|
|I:Z2||hamza initial II||a:u||أَمَلَ|
|I:Z3||hamza initial III||a:i||أَسَرَ|
|I:Z4||hamza initial IV||i:a||أَنِفَ|
|I:Z5||hamza medial I||a:a||لَأَمَ|
|I:Z6||hamza medial II||a:a||سَأَلَ|
|I:Z7||hamza medial III||u:u||بَؤُسَ|
|I:Z8||hamza medial IV||i:a||بَئِسَ|
|I:Z9||hamza final I||a:a||قَرَأَ|
|I:ZA||hamza final II||u:u||بَطُؤَ|
|I:ZB||hamza final III||i:a||بَرِئَ|
|I:ZC||hamza medial V||i:a||يَئِسَ|
|I:G2||fatḥa fatḥa I||a/i:a||ظَلَّ|
|I:G3||fatḥa kasra I||a:i||قَلَّ|
|I:G4||fatḥa fatḥa II||a/i:a||وَدَّ|
|I:G5||fatḥa kasra II||a:i||أَنَّ|
|I:A1||waw fatḥa kasra||a:i||وَصَلَ|
|I:A2||waw fatḥa fatḥa||a:a||وَقَعَ|
|I:A3||waw kasra kasra||i:i||وَرِثَ|
|I:A4||waw kasra fatḥa||i:a||وَجِعَ|
|I:A5||waw ḍamma ḍamma||u:u||وَسُعَ|
|I:A6||yāʾ kasra fatḥa||i:a||يَقِظَ|
|I:A7||waw kasra fatḥa||i:a||وَسِعَ|
|I:H1||medial waw I||A/u:w/u||قَالَ|
|I:H2||medial waw II||A/u:w/u||آبَ|
|I:H3||medial waw III||A/i:A/a||نَامَ|
|I:H4||medial yāʾ I||A/i:y/i||بَاعَ|
|I:H5||medial yāʾ II||-:-||لَيْسَ|
|I:H6||medial yāʾ III||A/i:A/a||هَابَ|
|I:D2||yāʾ defective I||y/i:Y/a||نَسِيَ|
|I:D3||yāʾ defective II||Y/a:y/i||رَمَى|
|I:D4||yāʾ defective III||Y/a:Y/a||سَعَى|
|I:W1||assimilated & defective I||y/i:y/i||وَلِيَ|
|I:W2||assimilated & defective II||Y/a:y/i||وَقَى|
|I:W3||hollow & defective I||Y/a:y/i||نَوَى|
|I:W4||hollow & defective II||y/i:Y/a||سَوِيَ|
|I:W5||hollow & defective III||y/i:A/a||حَيِيَ|
|I:W6||hollow & hamzated I||A/i:y/i||جَاءَ|
|I:W7||hollow & hamzated II||A/i:A/a||شَاءَ|
|I:W8||hollow & hamzated III||A/u:w/u||سَاءَ|
|I:W9||hamzated & defective I||Y/a:Y/a||رَأَى|
|I:WA||hamzated & defective II||Y/a:y/i||أَتَى|
|I:WB||hamzated & defective III||Y/a:Y/a||أَبَى|
|II:A1||wā fatḥa kasra||a:i||وَصَّلَ|
|II:A2||yāʾ fatḥa kasra||a:i||يَسَّرَ|
|II:W1||hollow & defective I||a:i||سَوَّى|
|II:W2||hamzated & defective||a:i||أَدَّى|
|II:W3||hamzated & hollow||a:i||أَيَّدَ|
|II:W4||hollow & hamzated I||a:i||بَوَّأَ|
|II:W5||assimilated & defective||a:i||وَلَّى|
|II:W6||hollow & defective II||a:i||حَيَّا|
|II:W7||hollow & hamzated II||a:i||هَيَّأَ|
|III:A1||waw fatḥa kasra||a:i||وَافَقَ|
|III:A2||yāʾ fatḥa kasra||a:i||يَاسَرَ|
|III:W1||hollow & defective||a:i||سَاوَى|
|III:W2||hamzated & defective||a:i||آتَى|
|IV:A1||waw fatḥa kasra||a:i||أَوْجَبَ|
|IV:A2||yāʾ fatḥa kasra||a:i||أَيْقَظَ|
|IV:W1||assimilated & defective||a:i||أَوْلَى|
|IV:W2||hollow & hamzated||A/a:y/i||أَضَاءَ|
|IV:W3||hamzated & defective I||a:i||أَرَى|
|IV:W4||hamzated & defective II||a:i||آتَى|
|IV:W5||hollow & defective||a:i||أَحْيَى|
|V:A1||waw fatḥa fatḥa||a:a||تَوَسَّعَ|
|V:A2||yāʾ fatḥa fatḥa||a:a||تَيَقَّظَ|
|V:W1||assimilated & defective||a:a||تَوَلَّى|
|VI:A1||waw fatḥa fatḥa||a:a||تَوَاجَهَ|
|VI:W1||assimilated & defective||a:a||تَوَالَى|
|VI:W2||hollow & defective||a:a||تَسَاوَى|
|VII:W1||hollow & defective||a:i||اِنْزَوَى|
|VIII:S4||fatḥa kasra I||a:i||اِزْدَحَمَ|
|VIII:S5||fatḥa kasra II||a:i||اِصْطَنَعَ|
|VIII:S6||fatḥa kasra III||a:i||اِضْطَرَبَ|
|VIII:S7||fatḥa kasra IV||a:i||اِطَّلَعَ|
|VIII:S8||fatḥa kasra V||a:i||اِظَّلَمَ|
|VIII:S9||fatḥa kasra VI||a:i||اِدَّخَرَ|
|VIII:Z1||hamza initial I||a:i||اِئْتَمَرَ|
|VIII:Z2||hamza initial II||a:i||اِتَّخَذَ|
|VIII:A1||waw fatḥa kasra||a:i||اِتَّفَقَ|
|VIII:H1||medial waw I||A/a:A/a||اِحْتَاجَ|
|VIII:H2||medial waw II||a:i||اِزْدَوَجَ|
|VIII:H3||medial yāʾ I||A/a:A/a||اِمْتَازَ|
|VIII:H4||medial yāʾ II||A/a:A/a||اِزْدَادَ|
|VIII:H5||medial yāʾ III||A/a:A/a||اِصْطَادَ|
|VIII:D2||yāʾ defective I||a:i||اِشْتَرَى|
|VIII:D3||yāʾ defective II||a:i||اِدَّعَى|
|VIII:W1||assimilated & defective||a:i||اِتَّقَى|
|VIII:W2||hollow & defective||a:i||اِحْتَوَى|
|VIII:W3||hollow & hamzated||A/a:A/a||اِسْتَاءَ|
|X:A1||waw fatḥa kasra||a:i||اِسْتَوْرَدَ|
|X:A2||yāʾ fatḥa kasra||a:i||اِسْتَيْقَظَ|
|X:H1||medial waw I||A/a:y/i||اِسْتَرَاحَ|
|X:H2||medial waw II||a:i||اِسْتَجْوَبَ|
|X:H3||medial yāʾ I||A/a:y/i||اِسْتَفَادَ|
|X:W1||assimilated & defective||a:i||اِسْتَوْفَى|
|X:W2||hollow & hamzated||A/a:y/i||اِسْتَضَاءَ|
|X:W3||hollow & defective||a:i||اِسْتَحْيَا|