Sentences with verbs

In this lesson, we will build Arabic sentences that start with verbs. We will only build simple sentences, the most simple ones contain only one verb.

One verb - one sentence

You do not need more than one verb to build a complete Arabic sentence.

ﺭَﻗَﺺَ
raqaSa
he danced

Using only one Arabic verb - raqaSa - we have the sentence he danced. We do not need to write he in Arabic, since the conjugation of the verb shows that he (masculine singular) danced. If we instead want to build the sentence she danced, we change the ending of the verb.

رَقَصَت
raqaSat
she danced

We can choose another Arabic verb, and we get another complete sentence.

ﺩَﺭَﺱَ
darasa
he studied

The Arabic word darasa means he studied. If we instead want to say she studied, we change the ending of the verb.

دَرَسَت
darasat
she studied

You can probably guess by now that Arabic verbs in present tense ends with a if the subject is "he", and at if the subject is "she".

Verb and subject

We will build upon the verb raqaSa that means he danced. If we want to be more specific about who danced, we can add a subject to the sentence. If the man that danced is named Khaled, we can write:

Khaled danced.

The sentence Khaled danced is pronounced raqaSa khaalidun in Arabic. Note that it literally says danced Khaled since Khaled is placed after the verb. That is the normal word sequence in Arabic, the subject (the doer) is placed after the verb.

We can recall that raqaSa means he danced and raqaSat means she danced. If we want to write the grandmother danced in Arabic, we write raqaSat al-jaddatu. Note that it literally says danced the grandmother.

The grandmother danced.

The subject always has nominative case, which often means that it ends with u or un. In our sentences it says khalidun with un in the end and al-jaddatu with u in the end, since Khaled and the grandmother are subjects. Here you can read more about subject and nominative.

Verb and object

We will now build upon the verb darasa that means he studied. If we want to specify what he studied, we can add an object. Perhaps he studied medicine, then we can write darasa T-Tibba.

He studied medicine.

We can recall that darasa means he studied and darasat means she studied. If we want to write she studied medicine in Arabic, we write darasat aT-Tibba.

She studied medicine.

If she instead studied engineering, we write darasat al-handasata.

She studied engineering.

Objects always have accusative case, which often means that the word end in a or an. In the sentences above, it says T-Tibba and l-handasata with a in the end, because medicine and engineering are objects. Here you can read more about object and accusative.

Verb and time

The Arabic word for morning is SabaaH.

ﺻَﺒَﺎﺡ
SabaaH
morning

If a man danced in the morning, we can express it in two ways in Arabic. The first way is to use the preposition fii which means in.

He danced in the morning.

The sentence he dance in the morning can, as we have seen, be written raqaSa fii S-SabaaHi in Arabic. Note that S-SabaaHi ends in i. That is because the word comes after a preposition, and words that follow prepositions have genitive case which often means that they end in i or in. Here you can read more about preposiions and genitive.

Now, we will see the other way to express that a man danced in the morning. That is by using accusative, which often means that the word ends in a or an.

He danced in the morning.

The sentence he danced in the morning can, as we have seen, also be written raqaSa SabaaHan in Arabic. In English, a object is someone or something that is affected by the action. In Arabic, however, there are different kinds of objects, and the morning in the sentence above is called object of time. Here you can read more about object for time and accusative.

The two Arabic sentences raqaSa fii S-SabaaHi and raqaSa SabaaHan both mean he danced in the morning. Some people say that there is a nuance of difference between the two sentences (one indicates that it happened one time and the other indicates that it happens continuously), while others say that the two sentences mean exactly the same thing.

Verb and place

The Arabic word for nightclub is marqaS.

ﻣَﺮﻗَﺺ
marqaS
nightclub

The verb raqaSa and the noun marqaS are related. They have the three root letters r, q and S in common.

If a man danced in the nightclub, we can express it like this in Arabic:

He danced in the nightclub.

The sentence he danced in the nightclub is raqaSa fii l-marqaSi in Arabic. Note that l-marqaSi ends in i. We know that fii is a preposition and that the word after a preposition should have genitive case which often means the ending i or in.

The Arabic word for palm tree is nakhla.

ﻧَﺨﻠَﺔ
nakhla
palm tree

If we want to express in Arabic that a man danced under the palm tree, we can write raqaSa taHta n-nakhlati.

He danced under the palm tree.

You may note that n-nakhlati has genitive case. The word taHta that means under is classified as a preposition in English. But in Arabic it is classified as an object for place and belong to the same category as objects of time. You may notice that taHta ends in a, that is because it is an object and therefore has accusative case which often means a or an in the end.

Conclusion - sentences with verbs

An Arabic verb can constitute a complete sentence. Arabic verbal sentences do not have to have a subject, because the conjugation of the verb shows who the doer is.

The subject (the doer) should have nominative case, which often means that the word ends in u or un. The object (that is affected by the action) should have accusative case, which often means that the word ends in a or an.

Time and place can be expressed with preposition + noun. Time and place can alse be expressed with accusative since there in Arabic are objects for time and place.

Details - verbal sentences

In Arabic grammar, there is something called jumla fi3liyya, that can be translated to verbal sentence.

verbal sentence

One can easily believe that an Arabic verbal sentence is a sentence that contains a verb. But that is only partly true. An Arabic verbal sentence is (in most case) a sentence that starts with a verb. It is very common though that Arabic sentences that contains a verb start with the verb, since the default word sequence in Modern Mtandard Arabic is verb, subject, object (VSO).

Learn more about Arabic verbal sentences