Instrument noun

Arabic words that describe tools and instruments start with mi. They are called instrument nouns. There are three patterns to form these words in Arabic: mif3aal, mif3al and mif3ala.

Instrument nouns are easy to recognize. In addition to starting with mi, they have the vowel a between the second and third root letters. The difference between them is that mif3aal has a long vowel (aa), mif3al has a short vowel (a) and mif3ala is in the feminine and ends in a.

Examples of place and time nouns that follow the pattern mif3aal are miftaaH meaning key and miSbaaH meaning lamp.


Examples of place and time nouns that follow the pattern mif3al are milqaT meaning tweezer and minkash meaning rake.


Examples of place and time nouns that follow the pattern mif3ala are miTraqa meaning hammer and miknasa meaning broom.


Other words starting with mi

The fact that the word starts with mi is an indication that it is an instrument noun. It is importent to now that the beginning mi is not part of the root of the word but a prefix. Some Arabic words such as salt (milH) and profession (mihna) also start with (mi), but the m in these words are not a prefix but part of the root of the word.


Discover more patterns

Words that describe time and place are reminiscent of instrument nouns, but they start with ma instead of mi.

There are many patterns for Arabic words. Among the easiest to recognize are words that describe colors and words that describe 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