Colour

Many Arabic words that describe colors follow the pattern 'af3al. For example, 'aHmar that means red and 'azraq that means blue.

ﺃَﺣﻤَﺮ
'aHmar
red
ﺃَﺯﺭَﻕ
'azraq
blue

If you look at all the words on this webiste site that follow the pattern 'af3al, you will see that most of them are colors.

Inflection of Arabic color words

If you listen to the recordings for the color words above, you will hear the man say 'aHmar, Humr about red and 'azraq, zurq about blue. The pattern I mentioned, 'af3al, applies when the color word is in the singular masculine. When the word is in the plural masculine, fu3l is used.

If you click on the eye symbol below the words, you will see that there are two more inflectional forms. When the color word is in singular feminine, the pattern fa3laa' is used.

حَمرَاء
Hamraa'
red (feminine)
زَرقَاء
zarqaa'
blue (feminine)

There are also some Arabic words that are not colors and that have the pattern fa3laa' as their basic form.

If you listen to the recordings for the colors in the feminine, you will hear the man say Hamraa', Hamraawaat about red and zarqaa', zarqaawaat about blue. When the color words are in the feminine plural, the pattern fa3laawaat is used.

Arabic colors with nisba

If you look at all the words on the site within the category color, you will see that most adjectives that describe colors follow the pattern 'af3al. Other adjectives that describe colors are formed according to the nisba pattern.

Discover more patterns

There are many patterns for Arabic words. Among the easiest to recognize are time and place nouns, instrument nouns and professions.

Arabic word patterns

Arabic words follow certain patterns. The patterns make it easier to recognize, memorize and figure out the meaning of Arabic words.

Most Arabic words have a root consisting of three letters. In addition to the root letters, the words contain vowels and sometimes extra letters. The patterns show how the three root letters should be combined with vowels and sometimes extra letters to form words.

To represent the root letters of the word, the letters f, 3 and l are usually used. The letter f (fa) represents the first root letter, 3 (ayn) represents the second root letter and l (lam) represents the third root letter. Some words really have the root f,3 and l. But most words have different root letters.

Using Arabic patterns

As an example, we can look at the root k,t and b. That is, the first root letter is k (kaf), the second root letter is t (ta) and the third is b (ba).

The pattern fa3ala is a common Arabic pattern for verbs. This means that the verb is created by adding the short vowel (a) after each root letter. With the root (k,t,b), the verb becomes kataba that means to write.

The pattern maf3uul is a passive participle, that means that words with this pattern often describe the object of an action. The word is build by of the prefix (ma), the first root letter, the second root letter, the long vowel (uu) and the third root letter. With the root (k,t,b), the verb becomes maktuub that means written.

The patternmaf3al is used for words that describe places or times. You get the words by combining the prefix (ma), the first root letter, the second root letter, the short vowel (a) and the third root letter. With the root (k,t,b), the verb becomes maktab that means office.

Do I need to learn Arabic patterns?

If you think Arabic word patterns seem boring or hard to learn, then just ignore them. Most native Arabic speakers I have talked to about Arabic word patterns, have little or no knowledge of them. It is only at the university in Sweden where I read Arabic, and in textbooks by Western authors, that I have noticed interest in the Arabic word patterns.

Personally, I find the patterns very useful. I can guess the meaning of words I have never heard before, thanks to the patterns and the root letters. Above all, I think that Arabic word patterns are interesting and pleasant, actually therapeutic. When life feels chaotic and insecure, it's nice that every new Arabic word I encounter fits into the patterns I know.

More about Arabic patterns

On this website, you will find the most important Arabic patterns for forming words, and many more in addition to them. See all Arabic word patterns

This site contains thousands of words and each word has a page with detailed information about the word. Among many other things, you can see the pattern of the word. Learn more about Arabic word patterns