Arabic roots

Thanks to the root system, you will be able to learn Arabic words much faster.

We start by looking at these examples:

to write
kataba
كَتَبَ
book
kitaab
كِتَاب
office
maktab
مَكتَب

An office is a place where you write and a book is a result of writing. These words are related by meaning, but also by the root. You can hear and see that three letters are the same in all the words:

The words "to write", "book" and "office" have the root letters k (ك), t (ت) and b (ب)

Most Arabic words have a root of three letters. Words that share the same root very often have related meaning.

Challenge

Look at these words and guess the three letters in their root:

to live
sakana
سَكَنَ
inhabitant
saakin
سَاكِن
residence
maskan
مَسكَن
See the answer
The words "to live", "inhabitant" and "residence" have the root letters s (س), k (ك) and n (ن)

Learn more

Most Arabic words have three letters in the root. But some words have roots with four letters. And a lot of words does not have any roots.

The root system is something Arabic has in common with other Semitic languages, like Hebrew.

For all the words on this website that has a root, you can see a root information box with the letters of the root, plus links to other words with the same root. For example for the verb "to write" that we first learned, the information box looks like this:

I love systems and consistency. And if you do too, you will be glad to hear this: Arabic words not only have roots, they also have patterns.