E: Active and Passive Participles Forms I and II

The active participle is known in Arabic as اسم الفاعل The word فاعل refers to the form the participles take when derived from a Form I verb. The active participle (AP) is essentially an adjective closely related in meaning to the meaning of the verb. However, active participles are often also used as nouns. For the moment do not worry about how the APs are used. You need to learn how these participles are derived. First we will study the derivations of the APs. Then we will look at how they are used.

Deriving Form I Active Participles

Sound Verbs

As indicated by the name of the AP in Arabic, اسم الفاعل, the AP is formed by inserting an alif between the first and second radicals and a kasra between the second and third radicals. For example, the AP of دَرَسَ is دارِس Likewise, the AP of كَتَبَ is كاتِب The APs of all sound Form I verbs are derived in this way. They are all made feminine by adding ة. As adjectives referring to human beings, they will usually take sound masculine or feminine plurals. However, when used as nouns, either referring to human beings or to non-human things, they often take broken plurals. For each AP you learn, you will have to learn its plural(s).

Hollow Verbs

Hollow verbs follow the same pattern as sound verbs. A hamza is inserted in place of the middle radical. For example, the AP for قال is قائل and the AP for زار is زائر They are made feminine with ة and their plurals follow the same rules as the APs of sound verbs. Again, for each AP you learn, you will have to learn its plural(s). The identity of the middle radical as a و or ي is irrelevant in forming the AP of a hollow verb. They are all done the same way.

Assimilated Verbs

These verbs are completely regular in forming the AP. The AP of وَلَدَ is والِد. So these verbs are no problem at all.

Doubled Verbs

When the AP for a doubled verb is formed, the second and third radical remain together. For example, the verb رَدَّ has an AP of رادٌّ (and not رادِد). Note that when we form the AP of a doubled Form I verb we have a long vowel followed by a consonant in the same syllable. In other words, there are two sukuuns in a row for the AP, the hidden sukuun after the alif and the sukuun after the first daal. The sound plural of this AP is رادّونَ Except for the doubling of the second and third radicals, the APs of doubled verbs are quite regular.

Defective Verbs

The active participle of the verb نجا is ناجِ. Every defective Form I verb, regardless of whether the final radical is a و or a ي, has an active participle of exactly the same pattern. The AP for قضى is قاضٍ and the AP for نَسِيَ is ناسٍ. Note that these APs end with two kasras. This is the ending for both the nominative and genitive indefinite forms. The accusative form for all of them will look like ناجِياً

When these words are made definite, they all end in a long yaa’ pronounced as a long vowel, القاضي (“judge”) for example. In the nominative and genitive, when these words are definite, there is no inflection for case. In the accusative, a fatha is added as it would be to any noun or adjective. For example, the accusative of القاضي is القاضِيَ

Any adjective or noun whose last radical is either a و or a ي, and which ends in two kasras is known as a defective noun or adjective. Many defective nouns and adjectives are not participles. In this section I will focus only on those that are. For more on defective nouns and adjectives see the appropriate section in Part III, Chapter Two, of this book.

Look at the chart for singular masculine and feminine defective APs below.

Masculine Singular
Feminine Singular

You can see from the charts that the feminine forms are perfectly regular. The feminine forms take regular feminine sound plurals as well. The masculine forms can take either a sound plural if they are adjectives, or they will take a broken plural if they are being used as nouns referring to human beings. I will show how this is done presently.

For Form I defectives, if the AP is used al a noun referring to masculine human beings, the plurals are all formed like that for قاضٍ. Its plural is قضاة. All of the other Form I defective masculine plurals have the same pattern. The pattern takes normal case endings, just like the plural word اساتذة does.

If the AP is being used as an adjective modifying a human plural, it will usually have a sound plural. Whenever a sound plural ending is added to the defective masculine singular AP, the ي of the singular is dropped and the sound plural ending is attached. For example, we have قاضٍ. We wish to make it a sound plural. Theoretically we should have قاضيونَ However, the ي (represented by the two kasras), will be dropped leaving us with قاضونَ. Look at the chart below.

Masculine Plurals for Defective Form I APs

Plural (Nom.)
Plural (A/G)
Human Noun
قُضاةٍ \ قُضاةً
Human Adjective

What Does This All Mean?

With respect to defective active participles, here is what you will usually see. You will see them usually in the definite masculine singular, i.e. القاضي . You will also see them in the definite feminine singular and you will see them occasionally in the indefinite masculine and feminine singular accusative (قاضيا and قاضية ) when these words are used in what are called “haal” constructions (see Chapter Six). The human plural forms will be rare, and the plural forms modifying human nouns will be rarer still.

When you look these words up in the dictionary, you should be aware that all you will see will be something like قاض . You will not see the two kasras nor the yaa’. In fact, look up the word القاضي right now (it is on page 904 of the fourth edition of Hans Wehr). All you find here is قاض. Next to it, in Latin letters, you will see “qadin” indicating the two kasras. Further on you will see the plural قضاة. Keep this little quirk in mind when you think you are looking up such a word.

For a full discussion of defective nouns and adjectives see Chapter Two of Part III.

Deriving Form II Active Participles

Form II APs, are all formed with the prefix مُ placed before the imperfect stem of the verb. The imperfect stem of , يُدَرِّس is دَرَّس We attach the prefix to the stem and get مُدَرِّس. So you always start off with مُ and you always have a kasra as the stem vowel. The Form II AP takes regular masculine sound plural endings when used as a noun and as an adjective. This will be the case with all derived active participles. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are few in number. The feminine form مُدَرِّسة. takes regular feminine sound plural forms. The APs of Form II hollow, assimilated, and doubled verbs are all completely regular.

The AP of a defective Form II verb is also (surprise) a defective word. The AP of سَمّى is مُسَمِّ When made feminine it is perfectly regular (مُسَمِّية) and will take a feminine sound plural. In its masculine form, it takes case endings in the singular and plural exactly as a Form I defective AP does. The plurals of the masculine will always be sound plurals and not broken. Here are charts for both sound and defective Form II APs.

Active Participles Form II

Sound Verbs (and all others except defectives)

Plural (Nom.)
Plural (A/G)


Active Participles of Defective Verbs Form II

Plural (Nom.)
Plural (A/G)

Remember that the masculine AP of a Form II defective will have a final yaa’ when made definite, just like a Form I defective AP. Thus our model above becomes .المُسَميّ just as is the case for القاضي Also, in the indefinite accusative, the yaa’ and nunation appear – مُسَمّيا – just as we saw with قاضياً


طالب is the active participle derived from the Form I verb طَلَبَ All other sound Form I APs are derived the same way. That is, an alif is inserted between the first two radicals, and a kasra is the stem vowel. The AP of دَرَسَ is دارِس, the AP of سَكَنَ is ساكن and the AP of بَحَثَ is باحِث Active participles are made feminine by adding ة, as in طالبة and ساكنة

مُدَرِّس is the active participle derived from the Form II verb دَرَّس. All other Form II APs are derived the same way. That is,مُ is always added as a prefix and the ,stem vowel is always a kasra. The AP of صَدَّق is مُصدَّق , the AP of مَثّلَ is مُمَثل , and the AP of عَلَمَ is مُعُلّم Like all active participles, these are made feminine by adding ة.

The APs of Form II hollow, assimilated, and doubled verbs are all regular. The AP of صَوَّر is مُصَوِّر, the AP of وكل is موكل, and the AP of جدَّدَ is مُجَدِّد

The pattern of adding and making the stem vowel a kasra is not just used in Form II, but also is the pattern for forming the APs of all verbs in Forms III-10. This will be mentioned when we deal with each form in future chapters.

This is core of what you need to know. For items not covered above, refer to the two previous sections, preferably while you do Drill 30.

The Use of the Active Participle

The AP is essentially an adjective which refers to the action of the verb. In many cases, it may also become a noun which is closely related in meaning to the action of the verb. Presently I will give you some guidelines on how the AP is used and what it can mean. Practically speaking, however, you will have to learn the uses of any particular AP as you come across it. Almost always, the meaning is clear from context.

First of all, the AP can be used as a regular adjective modifying a noun. In such circumstances the AP will take a sound masculine or feminine plural if the noun it modifies is a plural human noun. Look at the examples below.

  1. I know the man living in this house.
  ١. أَعرِفُ الرجلَ الساكن في هذا البيت.
  2. I met the students studying Arabic.
  ٢. قابلتُ الطلاب الدارسينَ اللغةَ العربيةَ.
  3. These are the women (who are) going to the conference.
  ٣. هؤلاء هن النساءُ الذاهباتُ الى المؤتمر.

Note that in all three sentences the active participles have a sort of verbal quality to them, although they are clearly adjectives. In fact, sometimes active participles are referred to “verbal adjectives.” Sentence two shows that an AP can even take a direct object in the accusative case, if the verb from which it is derived is transitive, as in the second sentence.AP’s often function as the predicate of an equational sentence. Again, the AP will take a sound masculine or feminine plural if it refers to a human plural. Again, APs from transitive verbs can take direct objects.

  1.  I am writing an article about the future of the Middle East.
  ١. انا كاتبٌ مقالةً عن مستقبل الشرق الاوسط.
  2.  They (f pl.) are working in the factory.
  ٢. هن عاملات في المصنع.

Some active participles, when used as adjectives with a verbal meaning, can have present progressive meaning; some will have present tense meaning; some may have future meaning; some will have present perfect meaning. You will have to learn the meaning(s) of each one. Again, more often than not the meaning will be clear from the context.

Normally, verbs referring to motion, location, or the passage of time, have APs which are present progressive in meaning. These are verbs such as ذهب , مشى , جلس , سكن , and انتظر See examples 1-3 below.

APs with future meaning are rare, but they often refer to motion as well. The most common example is from سافر which is a Form III verb. See example 4 below.

APs which refer to physical or mental states, sometimes called “stative” verbs, can often have normal present tense meaning. For example, the verb عَرَفَ has an AP of عارف . which can mean simply “to know” and which will not be noticeably different in meaning from the verb used in the present tense. See example 5 below.

A few APs have present perfect meaning; most commonly حاصِل and ناجِح are used as examples. Also the verb دَفَعَ when used to mean “to pay” has an AP which is used in the present perfect. See example 6 below.

Below are more examples of how APs are used as adjectives with a verbal meaning.

  1. We are going to the library.
١. نحن ذاهبون الى المكتبة
  2. They (f) live in Amman.
٢. هن ساكنات في عمان
  3. I have been waiting here for an hour. (The AP مُنتَظِر is from a Form VIII verb meaning “to wait.”)
٣. كنت منتظراً هنا لمدة ساعة
  4. We are traveling to Sudan next week.
٤. نحن مسافرون الى السودان الاسبوع القادم
  5. Do you know that man?
٥. هل انت عارف ذلك الرجل؟
  6. My daughter has obtained a degree and I have paid the tuition, so now I am broke.
٦. بنتي حاصلة على شهادة وانا دافع رسومها فانا مٌفْلس الآن

APs can also be used as common nouns. Normally the AP then refers to the doer of the action meant by the verb. When this is the case, the AP of a Form I verb will have a broken plural most, but not all, ,of the time. If the AP is referring to hurpan beings, the broken plural pattern will be pattern will be فعال. Examples of such APs are سُكان , ساكِن , طلاب , طالب and عمال , عامل However, some APs when used this way and which refer to human beings will not used the فُعال pattern, but will instead use a sound plural. دارس is an example.

Derived APs (active participles of verbs in Forms II-X), when referring to human beings, will usually have a sound plural regardless of whether they are being used as adjectives or nouns.

Below is a brief list of examples of APs used as nouns for Forms I and II.

AP Singular
AP Plural


Sometimes an AP may have more than one meaning, as is the case with عامل above. In such cases you will have to learn each plural as you learn each AP.

Passive Participles Form I

The passive participle refers to something having undergone the action of the verb. Like the AP, it can be either a noun or an adjective, but it usually will not have the verbal meanings of the AP. If it refers to human beings, the passive participle will have a regular sound plural most (but not all) of the time. If it is used as a plural noun referring to non-human things (like graduate students), it will usually take a feminine sound plural. However, some of these will have broken plurals. You will have to learn the plurals of each passive participle as you would with any other noun or adjective in this language,

The Form I passive participle is of the pattern مَفْعول. Thus for كَتَبَ we get مكتوب meaning “written” or “a letter.” From حَكَمَ we get مَحكوم meaning “one who has been judged.”

For hollow verbs, if the middle radical is a و, the و will appear in the passive. For example, for زارَ we get مَزور “visited.” If the middle radical is a ي you will see it in the passive participle. Thus for باعَ we get مَبيع “sold.”

The passive participles of assimilated verbs are completely regular. وَجَد َ gives us مَوجود .

The passive participles of doubled verbs are also completely regular. رَدَّ gives us مَردود (“return” or “yield”).

The passive participles of defectives are also easy to derive. If the verb belongs to the first category of defectives, such as يَدعو , دعا then the passive participle is like مَدْعُوُّ “invited.” Note the shadda over the final و.

Verbs belonging to categories two and three form their passive participles differently from the first type. The passive participle of يقضي , قضى is مَقضيُّ “decreed.” The passive participle for يَنسى , نَسِيَ is مَنسِيَ “forgotten.” Again, note the shadda over the final ي on these passive participles. Also, again note that the third category here, for which we have used يَنسى , نَسِيَ as a model, can have either a و or a ي as its final radical. However, the passive participle will always show a ي. Thus the mere presence of the ي in the passive participle does not necessarily indicate the identity of the third radical.

The reason that I stress that the final و or ي of the passive participles of these verbs has a shadda is because that shadda means that these final letters do not disappear when these words are made plural. The plural of the three verbs discussed above are  مَقضيّونَ , مَدعُوّونَ and مَنْسيّون

Passive Participles Form II

Passive participles of derived verbs take the مُ prefix just like the APs of these verbs. The prefix is then attached to the passive stem of the verb. The passive voice has not yet been covered, but another way to look at it is this: The active participle always has a kasra as a stem vowel. For the passive participle the kasra is always changed to a fatha. Thus the passive participle for دَرَّسّ is مُدَرّس “taught.”

Or, you can say that to form the passive participle, you just add مُ to the verb in the past-tense stem. The only spelling difference between the AP and the passive participle of this verb is in the stem vowel. Consequently, the unvocalized active and passive participles of derived verbs look exactly the same. The meanings, of course, are very different. You will have to determine from context which participle is being used.

The passive participles of derived verbs take regular sound plurals in the same way the active participles of these same verbs do.

Passive Participles of Defective Verbs in Form II

The passive participles of derived defective verbs always end in an alif maqsuura with two fathas written above it. These words are called “indeclinable” nouns or adjectives . An indeclinable does not show a case ending. For example, the passive participle of the verb سَمّى is مُسَمّىّ“named.” The two fathas do not represent case. All they represent is that the word should be pronounced with nunation. So this word should be pronounced “musamman.” In reality, the nunation on these words is almost never pronounced, and of course, the two fathas are seldom written. This word will appear the same no matter what case it is in.

When a Form II defective passive participle is made definite, as in الْمُسَمَّي the two fathas are dropped. Again, this word will appear the same for all three cases.

Now gaze at the chart below showing the various manifestations of the defective passive participle of a Form II verb.

M. Sing.
M. Plural
F. Sing.
F. Plural

As I said above, the masculine singular مُسَمَّى will not show a case ending. The plural is a sound plural and will show the case ending of a sound plural just as the ACTIVE PARTICIPLE of the defective will. Note, though, the diphthong which appears in the nominative plural due to the stem vowel being a fatha. The genitive/accusative مُسَمَّيْنَ will also have a diphthong.

The feminine singular shows all case endings and feminine plural is a regular feminine sound plural. Note that in the feminine singular, the alif maqsuura becomes a regular alif.

That is it for passive participles for now. We will look at other uses for the passive participle in Chapter Four. Below are a few examples of how they are used according to what has been presented so far. Look at them and then do the drill which follows.

  1. This letter is written in Arabic
  ١. هذه الرسالة مكتوبةٌ بالعربية.
  2. You are not invited to this party
  ٢. لست مدعوا الى هذه الحفلة.
  3. It was a matter so decreed. (Quran, S.19, vs.21)
  ٣. وكان امرا مَقْضِيّاً.
  4. The students are not present in the class
  ٤. ليس الطلاب موجودين في الصف.
  5. These are the languages taught in this university.
  ٥. هذه هي اللغات المُدَرَّسة في هذه الجامعة.
  6. His daughter is named Samiira.
  ٦. بنته مُسَماة سميرة.

3 responses to “E: Active and Passive Participles Forms I and II”

  1. herry Avatar

    Hi! Just wondering,
    I am living in Sydney Australia. Is there any store selling this book. At my local area?
    What is the book title and author.
    Thank you regard herry

  2. Jim Avatar

    “hurpan beings” is now my favorite typo ever

  3. Sophia Avatar

    Have been studying Arabic informally since marrying an Egyptian 38 years ago. I can chit chat all day (not saying my verbs are conjugated correctly!) but gave up on verbs about 20 years ago after looking at one more enormous chart and being instructed to memorize it. This is amazing, like a lightbulb going off, I think I finally got it!

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