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Arabic Language Lessons

B: Form IV Verbs

The following discussion of Form IV is based largely on the active voice. For the passive conjugations, which you should be able to predict anyway once you know the active, see the charts at the end of this book. You need to familiarize yourself with the passive conjugations – the drills on Form IV in this chapter will include use of the passive voice.

Form IV verbs are characterized by I prefixed to the root and a sukuun placed over the first radical.For exampled أَكْرم , أخْبر and أَجْلًس Form IV verbs are almost always transitive and often have a causative meaning. For example, جلس means “to sit” whereas أَجْلًس means “to seat (someone).”

In the past tense they conjugate just like all verbs you have seen. You can refer to the charts at the end of this book if you need to.

In the present tense, these verbs have a voweling pattern close to those of Forms II and III. The vowel on the prefix is a dhamma and the stem vowel is a kasra. The sukuun remains on the first radical. Here are the present-tense conjugations for the verb يُكملُ , أَكملَ (“to complete”). Note that the أَ prefix for the past tense is dropped entirely in the present.














هما (m)






هما (f)
















These conjugations probably seem pretty easy to you by now, and I do not think you need me to go through an explanation of the conjugations above. You should note, however, that a present-tense Form IV verb, when it is unvocalized, will look like a Form I and a Form II. So, when you are reading a text and come across a new verb in the imperfect which has only three consonants after the prefix, you will have to decide what form it is by using your dictionary along with the context. For example يعلم can mean “to know,” “to teach,” or “to inform” depending on whether it is Form I, II, or IV (يَعْلمُ , يُعَلِّمُ , or يُعْلِمُ ) There will be more on this after I have finished discussing Form IV verbs.

The command conjugations are formed from the jussive, as is the case with all verbs. أكْمل means “to complete.” To tell someone to complete a lesson, we first derive the jussive تُكمِلْ Then we drop the تُ prefix and are left with كْمِلْ. Thus, we have a word which begins with a consonant followed by a sukuun, so we need to add a prefix., In Form IV the prefix is a fatha over a hamza which is seated on an alif. So we add أَ to كْمِلْ and get أكْمِلْ. This hamza never elides. Form IV is the only form whose commands begin with أَ.

Below you will read discussions of the kinds of Form IV verbs (hollow, defective, etc.). Note that for all of them, the command form always has the prefix of أَ added to it, even if the process by which the command is derived yields a consonant followed by a vowel. You will see what I mean below.

The verbal noun of أكمل is إكْمال . All Form IV sound verbs will have the same pattern. Thus, the verbal noun of أَسْلَمَ “to submit” is إسْلام

The active participle of a Form IV is formed just as in Forms II and III. Thus “one who submits” (from أسلم) is a مُسلم which must always be mispronounced on the evening news. (“Moslem” is not an Arabic pronunciation; it should be “Muslim” with the u short and not ever pronounced with great stress as in “Mooslim.” A “Mooslim” is a Muslim with antlers.)

The passive participle is formed by changing the stem vowel from a kasra to a fatha just as in Forms II and III. The passive participle of أدْرج (“to include”) is مُدْرَج (“included”).

The pattern for the passive voice in the past tense is أُكْمٍلَ, and in the present passive it is يُكْمَلُ

Hollow Verbs

Form II and III hollow verbs are completely regular. Form IV hollow verbs present some of the difficulties that their Form I counterparts do. However, Form IV hollow verbs all conjugate the same way regardless of whether the middle radical is a و or a ي. The principle of shortening the hollow radical applies in Form IV for both tenses exactly as it applies in Form I, so Form IV hollow verbs should not be too difficult to master. For example, أَقام “to reside” and “to build” is the form IV of the verb قامَ. For أَقام, we shorten its alif in the past tense whenever the Form I قام would shorten its alif. However, in Form IV the alif is always shortened to, a fatha regardless of the identity of the middle radical. Thus “I resided” is أَقَمْتُ, whereas “I stood” is قُمْتُ. The latter word has a dhamma for the stem vowel because of the category to which the verb belongs. But the former, like all Form IV hollow verbs, will always have the alif replaced by a fatha whenever shortening is required. Remember that the middle radical is shortened in Form IV for the same conjugations and for the same reasons as Form I.

In the imperfect, all Form IV verbs have as stem vowel of a ي or a kasra if the ي needs to be shortened. The ي will be shortened exactly as the middle radicals are shortened in Form I. The present tense of أقام is يُقيمُ for هو but is يُقِمْنَ for هن. This parallels the Form I situation precisely. The only difference is that in

Form I the radical can be represented by a و or a ي or by an alif, depending on the category of the Form I verb. This is not the case in Form IV.

The shortening occurs in both tenses and in all moods, just as in Form I. Below are the past tense, imperfect indicative, and jussive conjugations for the Form IV يُقيمُ , أَقامَ

































هما ((m




هما ((f
































Now try to derive the imperative for أقام for أنتَ , then read what follows to see if you did it correctly.

To form the imperative, we take the jussive for the second person (in this case masculine singular), and get تُقِمْ When we drop the prefix we get قِمْ This gives us a word which begins with a consonant followed by a vowel. Normally قِمْ would therefore be the command. However, ALL FORM IV VERBS HAVE THE SAME PREFIX IN THE COMMAND CONJUGATIONS NO MATTER WHAT. Thus we add أ and get أَقِمْ The prefix avoids the possibility of mistaking the command of a Form IV hollow for a Form I hollow. For example, the command for قام is قُمْ and when unvocalized it could otherwise be mistaken for a Form IV command.

Now, try to derive the other commands for أَقامَ and then look at the answers below.



















Make sure you understand why these commands are formed the way they are before you go on.

The verbal noun of أقامَ is إقامة. All Form IV hollow verbs will have the same pattern.

The active participle of this verb is مُقيم and the passive participle is مُقام

In the passive voice, the verb becomes أُقيم in the past tense and يُقام in the present.




Assimilated Verbs

Assimilated verbs in Form IV are regular with respect to their conjugations in both tenses. The only irregularity they have is with respect to the derivation of their verbal nouns.

أوْجَدَ is the Form IV of وَجَدَ and means “to create.” In the past tense it conjugates like any verb. In the imperfect it is يُوجِدُ The و of the root remains, as does the first radical in any Form IV, and is followed by a sukuun, just as the ك is in يُكمِلُ. The remaining conjugations for Form IV assimilated verbs are in the charts.

The active participle is مُوجِد and the passive participle is مُوجِد The verbal noun is إيجاد The و of the root and the kasra of the prefix do not go together in Arabic, and thus the verbal noun has a ي where the و would normally be.

The passive voice in the past tense is أُوجِدَ and in the present it is يُوجَدُ

Doubled Verbs

أعَدَّ is a Form IV doubled verb meaning “to prepare.” Note that the ع, the first consonant of the root, is not followed by a sukuun as is normally the case in Form IV.

Form IV doubled verbs are like their Form I counterparts with respect to the breaking apart of the doubled radical for certain conjugations. Do you remember this from the discussion of Form I?

In the past tense, certain conjugations begin with consonants. Whenever that is the case, the second and third radicals are separated. Thus, to say “I prepared,” we say أعْدَدْتُ . Here we have a completely normal Form IV conjugation. All three radicals appear, and we even have a sukuun over the first radical. Whenever the suffix begins with a vowel, the second and third radicals are written as one letter with a shadda. Thus, “they prepared” is أَعدّوا

In the imperfect there is also the issue of when to break up the last two radicals and when to write them as one. Again, in Form IV the rules for writing the last two radicals are the same as for Form I. يُعِدُّ is the imperfect for هو Note that the vowel of the prefix is a dhamma, as it is for all Form IV verbs. Note also that the stem vowel is a kasra and that it is written one space earlier than it would be if this were not a doubled verb. The two د’s are written as one, since the suffix begins with a vowel. If we conjugate the same verb for هن, we will break up the last two radicals, since the suffix will begin with a consonant. Thus we get يُعْدِدْنَ Now the stem vowel is between the second and third radicals.

In the jussive, the same rules apply as for Form I doubled verbs. You can either use the true jussive (which nobody does anymore – making you the only one -See note 1 below- ), or you can use the subjunctive-like endings for the big five. If you use the jussive (don’t), remember when to break up the last two radicals just as you would in Form I. Thus “he did not prepare” can be written two ways: لم يُعْدِدْ (and لم يُعِدَّ ) The latter is much more common.

Check your verb charts at the end of the text if you have any questions.

The commands are formed along the same lines as they are for Form I doubled verbs. You can use either the jussive or the subjunctive to form the command. You must add as a prefix. Thus, “prepare” is أعْدِدْ or أَعِدَّ.

The verbal noun is إعْداد

The active participle is مُعِدّ and the passive participle is مُعَدّ

The passive voice pattern in the past tense is أُعِدَّ and in the present it is يُعَدُّ

Defective Verbs

Form IV defectives conjugate just like their Form II and III counterparts in both tenses. أجْري “to hold or conduct (talks)” is a common such verb. For أنا in the past tense, the verb is أَجْريْتُ and for the imperfect indicative it is أُجْرى (يُجْري for the pronoun هو).

In the jussive do not forget to shorten the ي to a kasra when necessary. The same is true for the commands.

The verbal noun for أجرى is إجراء

The active participle is مُجرٍ and the passive participle is مُجْرى

In the passive voice in the past tense is أُجرِيَ and in the present يُجْرى .





إعْلان هام An Important Announcement

You have covered by now a considerable amount of the grammar which you need to know in order to be able to read, write, speak, and understand Arabic. This book, of course, will basically be of help to you in reading and to a lesser extent in writing the language. I would like to take some time at this point to highlight some points about reading Arabic based upon my experience as a student and teacher of the language.

Most American students do not achieve real proficiency in reading Modern Standard Arabic. On a scale of 1 to 10, with I being inept and 10 being able to read literature for pleasure, most students of the language after three or four years of university study would be between 1 and 3 with respect to their ability to read. Even the front page of a newspaper is essentially beyond them. Of course, this is not true of all students, especially those who go off to Middlebury for intensive study in the summer or those who go to the Center for Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo, but it is true of the vast majority, even those who do very well in class.

I believe that there are essentially three reasons for this problem.

The first reason, as you must be aware, is that students are often notoriously weak in grammar and thus cannot even begin to deal with an authentic text. This book is aimed in large part at alleviating that particular problem.

The second reason is technique. The typical American student, when confronted with a new text, reads each word as if he or she is terrified of the next word. Normally, the student will grab a dictionary and begin to read each word in isolation, and as soon as he sees a new word (that is, immediately), he rushes through the dictionary to find its meaning, write it down, either in list form, on flash cards, or on the text itself. Usually, he writes down the wrong definition. Then, after misunderstanding that word, he reads one word at a time until he finds another new word (usually the very next word) and proceeds to misunderstand it. Several hours later (if the student has not just given up and gone off to do something more rewarding and less painful) the student has a long list of words, or flash cards, or an Arabic text so filled with English that both the Arabic and English are illegible (which is a good thing, actually, since the English definitions are probably wrong anyway).

The third reason is that Arabic has a very large lexicon. Therefore the student faced with an authentic text is often going to find new words even if he is at a relatively advanced level.

Thus poor grammar, poor technique, and the fact that Arabic has a very large vocabulary, combine to kill the student’s self confidence and his interest in the language.

You, that means YOU, are now in the process of overcoming the first hurdle, the grammar. As you can see, it takes effort, but it is not beyond the capacity of the average congressman to learn the grammar (journalists maybe, but not congressmen). If, and only if, your grammar is strong,you can learn to over-come the other two hurdles.




Reading for Comprehension

In order to learn to read authentic Arabic texts you need to practice reading in a certain way. Let’s say that you are trying to read a two-paragraph article on the front page of a newspaper. What should you do first?

First, read the headline even if you do not understand it. Read the headline and then go to the first paragraph. Usually most of the words in the headline will be repeated in the first paragraph, and often synonyms are given.

So, now you have read the headline, you may not be sure what it says, but you have bravely gone on to the first paragraph without having used your dictionary.

Read the entire first paragraph twice before you even think of using your dictionary. The first paragraph will be anywhere from one to three sentences long in most articles. After you have quickly read the paragraph twice, decide whether or not you understand it. If you do not (you probably won’t), decide who or what is the subject of each sentence, what the verb is, and what the object is, if there is one. If you locate the subject, your grammar should give you a good idea of how to look it up in the dictionary if you need to. The same will be true for the verb. But if your grammar is weak, you will have a horrible time looking up the words you need to know. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. (All to no avail, I might add.)

Once you have identified the subject, verb, and object of each sentence and have looked them up if they are new words, skip the other new words in the first paragraph and go on to the second paragraph. Read the second paragraph exactly as you read the first.

Then look at the headline again and see if it makes more sense to you now. By now you should have at least a good general understanding of what the article is about.

Read the article again, this time all the way through, and see how much you now understand. Then, if you wish, look up some of the remaining words you do not know. Unless the number of new words in an article is very few – do not look up every single word you do not know. You will not remember them all anyway. Your time would be better spent doing more reading.

The entire process should not take more than fifteen minutes.

I strongly advise you never to make word lists or use flash cards, or write down the English meanings on the text. This takes a great deal of time. Furthermore, you will never sit down and try to memorize your lists of words in isolation, and if you did, you would not remember them very long (i.e., more than a day at most). Instead of trying to memorize the new words, your time would be better spent either rereading the same text for a third or fourth time or reading a new text using the same method So as you go through a text in the manner I outlined above, do not write down the meanings of the words you lookup and lookup as few words as you possibly can. Instead of carrying flash cards with you on the bus or to meetings or whatever, take an Arabic newspaper and read something in it.

This method will help you retain new words without the need for memorizing lists. Furthermore, since the vocabulary of newspapers is limited, you can teach yourself to read the front page of Arabic newspapers in three to six months if you follow this method and read at least one or two articles every day. Of course, there will always be some new words, but the essential vocabulary can be learned in three to six months.

This method will not work if your grammar is weak. This is especially true due to the nature of the writing system which often spells very different words in the same way when these words are unvocalized. When you read the words in context, your knowledge of the grammar will greatly help you to decipher the text. For example, look at the sentences below. Read them and try to translate them. Then look at my discussion which follows.

لم يعد الرئيس قراءة التقرير.

لم يعد الرئيس قراءة التقرير هامة.

The verb in the first sentence is the jussive of أعاد, which is a Form IV hollow verb. The verb means “to return (something)” but when used with a verbal noun it means to redo whatever the verbal noun is. The verbal noun in question is قراءة which means “reading.” The subject of the sentence is الرئيس The sentence reads: The president did not reread the report.” You should have seen that تقرير is a Form II verbal noun from قرّر and means either “decision” or “report.” Here it means report and it is the second term of an idaafa.

You might ask, “Now Jim, how do you know that the verb يعد is the jussive of the Form IV أعاد and not something else”? I would answer that no other rendering of يعد. makes sense. It could not be يَعُد “he did not return,” for example, because that reading does not make sense here even though it is a legitimate reading of the three letters. The same is true for any other possible reading of those letters. None of them makes sense in the sentence, so only one reading is possible. It is the context, THE CONTEXT, THE CONTEXT, THE CONTEXT which gives the word its meaning.


Now let’s look at the second sentence. The typical student will read it and think that the only difference between it and the first sentence is the word هامة at the end. If that were the case, what would the sentence mean? هامة is an adjective (the active participle of the verb هَمَّ “to be important”) meaning “important.” What is it doing in the sentence? What is or is not important? You cannot just add “important” to your translation without making a significant change in your English sentence. Thus, maybe there just might be something different about sentence two in addition to the word هامة. Look at the verb. It is no longer يُعِدْ So what can it be? The answer is that the verb is the jussive of عَدَّ which is a Form I doubled verb meaning “to consider (something to be something).” Since the verb is doubled, the subjunctive is used with لم in place of the actual jussive. The sentence is “The president did not consider the reading of the report important.”

Sentence two cannot be understood until the last word has been read. Therefore, if you do not read for context, you will not understand it. If you look up each word in isolation you will never figure it out. I hope I have made my point.

Incidentally, here are some of the possible readings of يعد . fully vocalized.يُعِدَّ , يَعُدَّ , يُعَدَّ , يُعِدْ , يُعَدْ , يَعُدْ, يُعْدِ , يَعِدْ , يَعْدُ and يُعْدَ. All of these are actually words which have meaning. Other readings are possible but not all of them have meaning when applied to the combination يعد with the jussive.

By the way, the two sentences above, with which you have just struggled, were given to two friends of mine, both of whom are native speakers of Arabic and both of whom teach Arabic for a living. Each of them had difficulty, especially with the second sentence, which they had to read two or three times. They both said that the word هامة in the second sentence is what clued them in on the meaning of the verb and thus gave them their proper understanding of the sentence. So even native speakers have to read for context. If even they have to do so, then what about you?


If you adopt the method I outlined above, you will be forever free from memorizing lists of words. Read every day and your vocabulary will begin to stick with you. Many words you will only have to look up once or twice. Some words may have to be looked up on a number of occasions before the brain commits them to long-term memory, but these will only be about ten per cent of the new words you learn. But for this method to work you have to work. No language is learned overnight. You need to work on Arabic each day. Not for 12 hours, but for about an hour and sometimes less. In six months, if you do this, and if you learn the grammar, the front page of newspapers will be no big deal to you. You can speed up the process by working harder. Once you get comfortable with the descriptive front-page articles (or even before then), try your hand at editorials and opinion pieces. They will be more difficult, but in a relatively short time they will cease to be a problem if you follow the same method.


More on the subject of learning to use Arabic is presented in Part III of this book.




Note 1 – You may occasionally see the jussive used in poetry, but rarely if eveer in prose.

6 comments… add one
  • Yolanda

    Thank you so much for this lesson, especially for the part about how to learn without wasting my time.
    Now I’ve got new motivation to work hard!
    شكرا جزيلا

  • Shaikh Rahman

    Alhamdulillah, your lesson notes are excellent — they are indeed designed keeping the needs of new students. I would suggest that, for every word, kindly include the vowel marks on each letters in the word including the last letter.

  • Sarah

    Shukran jazeelan. I wish that I had known about this website back when I was studying Arabic in university. Definitely a great resource for students. Thanks for you work.

  • Abdullah

    Whats the difference between present subjunctive verb and form 4 arabic verb? How can u differentiate?

  • Aijaz

    Salam, Will appreciate if you can let me know the table of nouns formed from the root س ل م

  • Benjamin Hakim

    why are the arabic forms II-IV are the only arabic verbs with a dhamma as the first vowel in the present tense? What does it means to have dhamma prefixed to the first letter and the other forms have a fatha vowel?

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