Arabic/Basics of Conjugation

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The basics of Conjugation

A verb is a word that indicates an action, or an existence.

Conjugation is all about how verbs change between sentences depending on a number of factors. The three most important factors are person, gender, and number.

Unlike English, in Arabic gender matters, and there are three numbers singular, dual, and plural (where plural means more than 2). In Arabic words have gender which effects conjugation.

                       Singular     Plural
FIRST PERSON           I            we
SECOND PERSON          you          you
THIRD PERSON           he, she, it  they

The Persons of the Verb in Arabic

In the first Person Arabic works Exactly the same as English, I corresponds to ana and we corresponds to nahnu.

                       SINGULAR          PLURAL
FIRST PERSON          نَحْنُ                    أنا   

In the Second Person, Arabic does not use the same word for singular and plural. Instead they are different.

                           Singular     Plural
SECOND PERSON                  أَنْتُم      أَنْتَ 

Therefore if you were talking to one person you address him with anta but if you were talking to a group you would use antum.

                           Singular            Plural
SECOND PERSON              أَنتُنَّ, أَنتُم          أَنتِ, أنتَ  

In Arabic it is important to distinguish genders properly in the second person. One reason is that purposely using the wrong gender can show great disrespect to a person. So use anti when talking to a girl. antunna however is special because you must only use it when speaking to a group of exclusively females.

The dual however doesn't have a gender. Mainly because

                           Singular            Dual               Plural
SECOND PERSON                أَنتُنَّ, أَنتُم          أَنتُما           أَنتِ,أَنتَ


But There is also a dual, so if you were talking to 2 people you would not say antum but rather antumaa.

                        Singular           Dual          Plural

THIRD PERSON huwa,hiya humaa hum[u],hunna

Notice that in the English third person singular there were three pronouns: he , she , and it . In Arabic there are only two because Arabic has no word that works as a pronoun like it does. Because Arabic words have gender there is no need for it. huwa corresponds to he and hiya corresponds to she . huwa corresponds to it when the noun replaced is masculine. hiya corresponds to it when the noun is feminine.

In English we use it for inanimate things only. In Arabic when there are 3 or more inanimate things they must be treated like the third person feminine singular in all grammatical respects.


                         SINGULAR   PLURAL

FIRST PERSON an‰ naxynu SECOND PERSON anta,anti antumaa antum,antunna THIRD PERSON huwa,hiya humaa,humaa hum[u],hunna

Using Plurals to show respect: Although in expressions like "el-salaamu rhalaikum" where the pronoun used is plural no matter who you are addressing, Arabic tends to not use plurals to show respect. The most commonly known is the use of "we" instead of "I" when one thinks one is extremely great. To show respect to someone you avoid using the personal pronouns, and address the persons presence instead.

+possessive pronouns

Titles also work: سَيِّد, سَيِّدة حاجّ, أُستاذ



Verb Classes

Arabic Verb classes are numbered from 1-15. Class 11 is very rare, classes 11-15 are for the most part theoretical. Verb class 1 is the simplest and most common. The general function of most verb classes is well understood. For example,verb class 7 usually gives a reflexive/intransitive meaning. Class 2 gives an emphatic meaning, Class 3 gives the meaning of trying. However these are abstract meanings or functions and serve better as mnemnomic tools to a user of Arabic than anything else.

These Verb Classes do not change the set of endings, they only change the root form.