Defective Verbs, Form I

American students generally consider defective verbs to be the most difficult verbs in the language to master. Furthermore, although defective Forms II-X are simpler than those for Form I, most students are not aware of any difference in difficulty. In all seriousness, defective verbs are not any more difficult than hollow verbs in terms of understanding the conjugations. In terms of learning the conjugations, however, they are slightly more difficult than hollow verbs, but only slightly. If you can learn the defective conjugations for Form I, you will have no trouble with the conjugations for the derived forms. (Forms II-X are referred to as the “derived forms”).

 

Defective verbs are those verbs whose last radical is either a waaw or a yaa’. You will see that, just as for hollow verbs, there is a principle of shortening the defective radical. However, due to the nature of the suffixes of Arabic verb conjugations, sometimes the suffix and the final radical will blend together. This is a major part of the difficulty that students have with defective verbs.

 

Past Tense

 

Defective verbs, like hollow verbs, are divided into three sub-classes for the purposes of conjugation: those whose last radical is a waaw, those whose last radical is a yaa’, and those whose last radical is a waaw or a yaa’ but whose conjugations do not reflect the identity of the last radical.

 

The verb نَجا (to be rescued) has a last radical of waaw. In theory, the verb exists as نَجَوَ This gives us the pattern of fatha-waaw-fatha, which does not exist in Arabic. Thus, as with hollow verbs, the two fathas obliterate the waaw and form an alif. The conjugation for this verb for the pronoun هي  would be, in theory, نًجَوَتْ which would also give us the fatha-waaw-fatha combination. In this case, the waaw and the second fatha are dropped and the ت  of the third person feminine is added. The result is نَجَتْ


You could also look at the هي conjugation in the following way. Since the هو conjugation is نجا , the feminine conjugation should yield نجاتْ . However, the alif has a hidden sukuun نجاتْ giving you two sukuuns in a row. Thus, the first sukuun is dropped along with the long vowel, just as we have seen so many times before. The fatha, the short counterpart of the alif, remains. Thus the result is نَجَتْ.

 

For any conjugation whose suffix begins with a consonant, these verbs are regular. For example, for the first person singular, انا , the conjugation is نَجوتُ  Here the past stem shows up as  نجوْ, and the suffix تُ is added. The same will be the case for any suffix beginning with a consonant. Reflect on the conjugations on the next page.

 

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَجَوْنا

نَحْنَ

نَجَوْتما

أنتُما

نَجَوْتُ

أنا

نَجَوْتُم

أنتُم

نَجَوا

هما (m)

نَجَوْتَ

أنتَ

نَجَوْتُنَّ

أنتُنَّ

نَجَتا

هما (f)

نَجَوْتِ

أنتِ

نَجَوْا

هم

نَجا

هو

نَجَوْنَ

هنَّ

نَجَتْ

هي

 

You can see here that whenever the suffix beings with a consonant, you have no problem. For example, look at the conjugation for هن. It consists of the stem نَجَوْ with the suffix نَ attached. It is pronounced “najawna.”

 

When the suffix begins with a vowel, however, as is the case with هم, there is a problem (except in the dual). Theoretically the conjugation would be نَجَووا. This would sound absolutely ridiculous. Also, it includes a combination of a fatha followed by two waaws, which does not exist in Arabic. Therefore, the first waaw is dropped to eliminate the forbidden sequence and to prevent you from sounding silly. This leaves you with نَجَوْا, pronounced “najaw.” Remember that the final alif is merely a spelling convention and is not pronounced.

 

In the dual conjugations, you see that the conjugation for أنتُما is regular since the suffix begins with a consonant. For هما (f) we lose the last radical just as we do for هي and for the same reason. For هما (m) we have an interesting situation. I told you that the combination of fatha-waaw-fatha does not exist in Arabic and that the two fathas will combine and obliterate the waaw. For هما (m) we have a fatha-waaw-alif combination. This combination, for a change, is permissible; thus the conjugation is نَجَوا  which is perfectly regular. It is pronounced “najawa” and should not be confused with the third person masculine plural نَجَوْا, which is pronounced “najaw.”

 

In the past tense, five pronouns have a suffix which begins with a vowel, هو, هي , هما (m), هما (f) and هم. Of these five, one pronoun, هما (m) yields a regular conjugation. The other four are irregular as you have now seen. All of the remaining conjugations (those whose suffix begins with a consonant) are all quite regular. So out of thirteen conjugations, nine are regular.

 

Now we come to defectives which have a yaa’ as their final radical. The verb جرى. is an example. This verb will conjugate exactly as نجا except that a yaa’ will show up in the conjugations instead of a waaw. Ponder the conjugations in the past tense for جرى, below.

 

Plural

Dual

Singular

جَرَيْنا

نَحْنَ

جَرَيْتما

أنتُما

جَرَيْتُ

أنا

جَرَيْتم

أنتُم

جَريَا

هما (m)

جَرَيْتَ

أنتَ

جَرَيْتُنَّ

أنتُنَّ

جَرتَا

هما (f)

جَرَيْتِ

أنتِ

جَرَوا

هم

جَرى

هو

جَرَيْنَ

هنَّ

جَرتْ

هي

 

Notice that the conjugations for هو and هي are the same for this verb as for نجا, whose final radical is a waaw. For the . هو conjugation, the only difference is that instead of writing an alif, an alif maqsuura is written, indicating the presence of a yaa’ as a final radical. Notice also that all of the other conjugations for this verb follow the exact same pattern as نجا, with the exception that the yaa’ appears whenever the waaw does for نجا. With practice, these defective verbs should be no more difficult than any other verb in the language.

Unfortunately, as I have noted previously, Albert Einstein did not invent this language. So not only do defective verbs exist, as we have just reviewed, but there is also a category of defective verbs, which, like hollow verbs, do not indicate the identity of the last radical in their conjugations. For example, the verb نَسِيَ (to forget) has a yaa’ as its last radical and رَضِيَ (to be pleased) has a waaw as its last radical.These two verbs will conjugate the same way. Below is a chart for the past tense conjugations of نَسِيَ

See if you can draw inspiration from it.

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَسِينا

نَحْنَ

نَسِيتُما

أنتُما

نَسِيتُ

أنا

نَسِيتُم

أنتُم

نَسِيا

هما (m)

نَسِيتَ

أنتَ

نَسِيتُنَّ

أنتُنَّ

نَسِيتَا

هما (f)

نَسِيتِ

أنتِ

نَسوا

هم

نَسِيَ

هو

نَسِينَ

هنَّ

نَسِيَت

هي

First, let’s take a look at the conjugations for هو and هي . For both of these conjugations we see the pattern kasra-yaa’-fatha which, lo and behold, is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE in Arabic. Therefore this verb is completely regular for those two conjugations. Likewise, both third-person dual conjugations are regular.

Now, look at all of the conjugations which have a consonant as the first letter of the suffix. These conjugations are also completely regular. For example, the conjugation for أنا is نَسيتُ. Here you see all three radicals of the root of the verb, just as you would for a sound verb such as درس. Remember also that any long vowel in Arabic always has a sukuun immediately following it. Therefore, the theoretical conjugation emphasizes the regularity of this verb for such conjugations as نَسيتُ

 

The only conjugation which is irregular is the conjugation for هم. Here we would have a combination of يو which does not exists in Arabic. This is because the letter ي in this situation tends to take on its vowel quality. This would give you two long vowels in a row, which is not permitted in Arabic. Here the ي drops and the waaw of the suffix remains. This conjugation is pronounced “nasu.” Remember that the alif is just a spelling convention.

Note:

Sometimes students become confused between the rules governing the ي in verbs such as نَسِيَ and the rules for the يّ which is used in nisba adjectives. When a word ends with a nisba ending it has two yaa’s. The two yaa’s are indicated by the writing of one yaa’ and placing a shadda above it, i.e. يَ. The letters و and ي can be added to the nisba ending as you have seen previously in such words as مصريّونَ and مصريّينَThe nisba ending does not drop out – unlike the ي in نَسِيَ  which does drop if a و is added to the end of a verb.

 

You will see in Chapter Two of Part II that any word ending with a ي with a shadda such as مَبْنِيّ (“built”), or ending with a و and a shadda such as مَدْعُوّ (“invited”) will never lose the final يّ or وّ no matter what may be appended to the word.

 

 

Defective Verbs. Form I. Present Tense


No doubt by this point you are probably getting a little tired of conjugating verbs with waaws and yaa’s as part of their root. Keep in mind that hollow and defective verbs form a surprisingly large number of verbs which are commonly used in newspapers and in everyday speech. The more control you have over them, the more control you will have over the language as a whole.

 

At the end of this section, there will be another exercise using authentic Arabic. You will have an article and will identify all of the hollow and defective verbs included in it. This may help drive home the point about how important these verbs are. In fact, if you have an Arabic newspaper at hand, you ought to take a few minutes on your own and scan the front-page articles for these kinds of verbs and see how many you find.

 

Another thing to keep in mind, is that Form I verbs as a class are the most difficult to master. Once they have been learned (and you are almost there now) you will find that Forms II-X are much easier. This is even and especially true with Forms II-X of hollow and defective verbs. If you master these verbs in Form I, they’ll be an awful lot easier for you in the derived Forms.

 

Anyway, the show continues. On to the present tense.

 

In the present tense, defective verbs of the first two classes indicate the identity of the last radical in their conjugations. However, the final radical for some of the conjugations blends with the suffixes. For the third group, the final radical is an alif maqsuura which tends to disappear when suffixes begin with long vowels.

 

Final Radical Waaw

Take a look at the present tense conjugations for يَنْجو , نجا  below.

 

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَنْجو

نَحْنَ

تَنْجوانِ

أنتُما

أنْجو

أنا

تَنْجونَ

أنتُم

يَنْجوانِ

هما (m)

تَنْجو

أنتَ

تَنْجونَ

أنتُنَّ

تَنْجوانِ

هما (f)

تَنْجينَ

أنتِ

يَنْجونَ

هم

يَنْجو

هو

يَنْجونَ

هنَّ

تَنْجو

هي

 

Look at the conjugation for the pronoun أنا In theory, the conjugation should be أنجُوُ. However, the final dhamma blends into the waaw and disappears. Another way to look at it is that the two dhammas on either side of the waaw combine into a waaw. In either case, the final dhamma which we usually see in the present tense is gone. The same thing happens for the pronouns هي , هو , أنتَ, and نحن (These are the five conjugations which normally end in a dhamma in the present tense and which I have asked you to try to associate together.) For the pronoun أنتِ the waaw disappears completely.

 

The dual conjugations are regular. The ending انِ does not cause problems when appended to the last radical of any defective verb.

 

Now look at the conjugations for هم and هن The theoretical conjugation for هم is يَنْجوونَ Here the two waaws blend into one waaw and give us يَنْجونَ For هن the conjugation is actually regular. The suffix نَ simply follows the waaw of the root. All you are doing is taking the imperfect stem يَنْجو and adding نَ The result is a regular conjugation يَنْجونَ . So the two third person plural conjugations look and sound exactly the same. However, the roads to their production are different.

 

For the pronouns أنتم and أنتن exactly the same processes take place that we have just seen for هم and هن herefore, these two conjugations also look and sound alike.

 

Final Radical Yaa’

Look at the conjugations for the verb يَجْري , جرى  below. Ruminate on their inner significance. Then read the comments below.

 

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَجْري

نَحْنَ

تَجريانِ

أنتُما

أجْري

أنا

تَجْرونَ

أنتُم

يَجْريانِ

هما (m)

تَجري

أنتَ

تَجْرينَ

أنتُنَّ

تَجريانِ

هما (f)

تَجرينَ

أنتِ

يَجْرون

هم

يَجْري

هو

يَجْرينَ

هنَّ

تَجري

هي

Do I have to go through the conjugations for this verb as I did for يَنْجو , نَجا or can I just give you a brief synopsis? Let’s try the brief synopsis.

 

Notice that for ALL conjugations which resulted in a waaw for يَنْجو , نَجا  we now have a yaa’. So far no problem. Note also that for أنتِ the yaa’ of the root and the yaa’ of the suffix combine, leaving only one yaa’. Note that this gives the same conjugation as we had for ينجو , نجا

Now look at the conjugations for هم and هن . For the theoretical conjugation would be يَجْريْون. This would give us two long vowels in a row, which is not possible. Therefore the ي drops completely. The result is pronounced “yajruuna.” For  هن the conjugations is regular. The suffix نَ is appended to يَجْري giving us يَجْرينَ, which is pronounced “yajriina.” For the pronouns أنتم and أنتن the same principles are applied.

If you are using EMSA (the orange books) as a reference, you should be aware of an error on page 134 of volume two. On that page the verb يبني , بنى, is used as model for verbs with a yaa’ for the final radical. For the second and third person feminine plural pronouns they give the conjugations as having a diphthong (تَبْنيْنَ and يَبْنيْنَ which would be pronounced “tabnayna” and “yabnayna”) instead of the correct conjugations which I have just given you. For verification see both Wright and Cowan.

 

Verbs With a Final Radical of Waaw or Yaa’ (Schizophrenic Defective Verbs)

The final category of defective verbs is made of those verbs whose final radical is either a waaw or a yaa’ but whose conjugations do not necessarily reflect the identity of the final radical. These verbs all have a kasra for the stem vowel in the past tense. The verb  نَسِيَ is an example. In the present tense, the stem vowel becomes a fatha.  (Remember, earlier I pointed out that if a verb has a kasra as a stem vowel for the past tense, it will have a fatha in the present tense.) The fatha causes the final radical to be written as an alif maqsuura in the present tense. For your consideration, here are the present tense conjugations of يَنْسى , نَسِيَ

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَنْسَى

نَحْنَ

تَنْسَيانِ

أنتُما

أَنْسى

أنا

تَنْسَوْنَ

أنتُم

يَنْسَيانِ

هما (m)

تَنْسى

أنتَ

تَنْسَيْنَ

أنتُنَّ

تَنْسَيانِ

هما (f)

تَنْسيْنَ

أنتِ

يَنْسَوْنَ

هم

يَنْسَى

هو

يَنْسَيْنَ

هنَّ

تَنْسَى

هي

 

Observe that for the five conjugations which yielded either a final waaw or a final yaa’ in the previous two categories, we now have an alif maqsuura. This is the result of a fatha-yaa’-dhamma pattern. For our model verb, for example, the conjugation for أنا is theoretically أَنْسَيُ. This gives us the pattern of fatha-yaa’-dhamma (fatha-waaw-dhamma if the last radical is a waaw) which is not possible in Arabic. In such cases neither a yaa’ nor an alif is the result. Instead we get a sort of average between the two, the alif maqsuura, which is an alif that looks like a yaa’.

For أنتِ we have a combination of تَنْسَى and the suffix ينَ . The alif maqsuura is dropped, but the fatha remains. When the ينَ suffix is added you get نَنْسَينَ which gives you a diphthong so a sukuun confirming this is written over the ي. The result is pronounced “tansayna.”

 

The dual conjugations are regular. The last radical will always be written as a yaa” with the dual suffixes attached. Note that the stem vowel is a fatha and that the combination of fatha-yaa’-alif works just as the combination of fatha-waaw-alif we saw using the model verb ينجو , نجا

 

Now look at the conjugation for همTheoretically the conjugation is يَنْسَيونَ. This theoretical conjugation gives us a suffix as an independent syllable beginning with a vowel. In Arabic, no word or syllable begins with a vowel. So the ي with its sukuun and the و starting the suffix are incompatible. The yaa’ and the sukuun are dropped. The fatha over the middle radical remains. The result is يَنْسَوْنَ (“they forget”) which is pronounced “yansawna.” Don’t forget this. The same thing happens for the conjugation for the pronoun أنتم.

 

On the feminine plural side, the conjugations are regular. We add the suffix نَ to either يَنْسَى or تَنْسَى The alif maqsuura becomes a ي when attached to a consonant (the same principle as we saw putting pronoun suffixes onto على and إلى) so we get يَنْسَيْنَ and تَنْسَيْنَ

 

There is also a fourth category of Form I defectives. These verbs conjugate in the past tense just like جرى . However, in the present tense they conjugate like the verb نسيَ These verbs are few in number. The most common of them is the verb يسعى , سعى (to strive). You will also encounter .يَرعى , رَعى and يَطغى , طغى and a couple of others. If you read classical texts you will encounter more verbs of this category.

Now, before you go on to the next section which deals with the jussive of defective verbs, take a break and look through the article on the next page and follow the directions which accompany it.

 

The Jussive of Form I Defectives

You are going to love this. Below is a chart for the jussive conjugations for each of the three defective verbs we have used as models. Afterward there is an explanation of what is going on. In all seriousness, the principles are quite simple and can easily be internalized. Once you get this down nothing else in this book will seem difficult.

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَنْجُ

نَحْنَ

تَنْجوا

أنتُما

أَنْجُ

أنا

تَنْجوا

أنتُم

يَنْجوا

هما (m)

تَنْجُ

أنتَ

تَنْجونَ

أنتُنَّ

تَنْجوا

هما (f)

تَنْجي

أنتِ

يَنْجوا

هم

يَنْجُ

هو

يَنْجونَ

هنَّ

تَنْجُ

هي

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَجْرِ

نَحْنَ

تَجْرِيا

أنتُما

أجْرِ

أنا

تَجْروا

أنتُم

يَجْرِيا

هما (m)

تَجْرِ

أنتَ

تَجْرينَ

أنتُنَّ

تَجْرِيا

هما (f)

تَجْرِي

أنتِ

يَجْروا

هم

يَجْرِ

هو

يَجْرينَ

هنَّ

تَجْرِ

هي

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَنْسَ

نَحْنَ

تَنْسَيا

أنتُما

أَنْسَ

أنا

تَنْسَوْا

أنتُم

يَنْسيَا

هما (m)

تَنْسَ

أنتَ

تَنْسَيْنَ

أنتُنَّ

تَنْسَيا

هما (f)

تَنْسَىْ

أنتِ

يَنْسَوْا

هم

يَنْسَ

هو

يَنْسَيْنَ

هنَّ

تَنْسَ

هي

 

Let’s first look at the conjugations for the pronouns هي , هو , أنتَ , أنا  and نحن.  These are the pronouns which always give us a long vowel at the end of the present tense conjugations for defective verbs. As you have seen, that long vowel is either a waaw, a yaa’, or an alif maqsuura, depending upon the type of the verb. In theory, all of those conjugations end with an unwritten sukuun placed after the final long vowel. Now in the jussive, as you know, a sukuun replaces the final dhamma when we are dealing with sound verbs (as in لم يَدْرُسْ ). Here there is no final dhamma, but we still add a sukuun and the principle of shortening still applies.

 

For example, the imperfect indicate of the نجا for the pronoun هو is يَنْجو . The final waaw in the word is a long vowel and thus is actually followed by a sukuun . Thus if the word were completely vocalized it would appear as يَنْجو  In the jussive we are adding, in theory, a second sukuun to the end of the word. This gives us two sukuuns in a row. The first sukuun and its long vowel are then removed with a dhamma now in place of the و. Thus the jussive conjugation is يَنْجُ Another way to look at it is to say that we have moved the unwritten sukuun of the present tense of these defectives over one space to the right. This eliminates the long vowel and leaves its short counterpart. Whichever way you look at it, the point is that those defectives which end in a waaw in the present tense end in a dhamma for the jussive.

 

The same principle applies to the other two groups of defective verbs. Thus for the verb يَجْري , جرى we see the yaa’ shortened to a kasra just as the waaw is shortened to a dhamma for  يَنْجو , نجا Likewise, the alif maqsuura for the schizophrenic defective verb is shortened to its counterpart, the fatha, for the same conjugations that require shortening with the other two verbs. With this principle in mind, learning the jussive conjugations for these verbs is not too difficult.

 

Now look at the conjugations for the pronoun أنتِ The final nuun and fatha are cut off just as they are for sound verbs. What remains after the cutting off is the conjugation for the second person feminine singular.  (Note the diphthong for the third group of verbs.)

 

The dual conjugations are derived in regular fashion. Merely drop the final نِ as you would with any
verb.

 

Now let’s look at the masculine plural pronouns هم and أنتم. The jussive is derived herein regular fashion as well. The final nuun and fatha are again cut off and are here replaced by an unpronounced alif. Thus, we now have the ending of waaw and alif that we are accustomed to seeing with sound and hollow verbs. Of course, the way the waaw and alif come into being with the defectives is somewhat different than for sound verbs, but at least the conjugations look somewhat normal. Note that for the third class of verbs, the masculine plural conjugations contain a diphthong. The diphthong should be pronounced. In other words, the verb in this case should be pronounced “yansow”” and not “yansu.”

Now look at the feminine plural conjugations. Just like sound verbs, the plural feminine conjugations are the same for the jussive as they are for the present tense. So there is nothing new to learn for them in the jussive.

 

 

Time to Preach
One way to help get these conjugations down is to pick up a pen and paper from time to time (maybe each day for a while), and write down the conjugations for these defectives from memory. If you get stuck, refer to the charts in this text or to those in other texts. It only takes about three minutes to write out the present tense and jussive conjugations for one verb. So if you spend ten minutes or so you can go through the conjugations of all three types of defective verbs. This is exactly what I did when I had to learn this stuff.

Another way to get used to these verbs, aside from doing drills, is to read texts which contain them and write paragraphs in which you use them as much as possible. This text will incorporate reading materials which use these verbs to a considerable extent. You must get used to dealing with them. These verbs are very, very common. If you ever want to be able to read an Arabic text with any degree of fluency, you must learn them. You cannot just ignore them and hope that you will not see them very often. You will see them very often regardless of the kind of texts you wish to read. There will be more on this subject in a later chapter.

1 comment… add one
  • Thank u so much for helping us.

    Reply

Don’t Be Shy » Leave a Comment!

« LAST POST

NEXT POST »