Have you noticed that many of the common adjectives in Arabic follow the pattern fa3iil? For example, kabiir that means big and jamiil that means beautiful.
Some of the Arabic words that follow the pattern fu3aal describe physical problems. For example, duwaar that means dizziness and zukaam that means cold.
Some of the words on the pattern fu3la have to do with color. For example, Humra that means redness and Sufra that means yellowness.
The patterns we just listed are examples of verbalnomen för verbform 1. Verbal nouns are words that are used, for example, to describe an action, a state or a property.
Verbal nouns in verbform 1 is a fairly large and scattered group of patterns. It is not something that one usually learn by heart. Verbalnomen verbform 2 till 10, on the other hand, is easier to recognize.
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