CHAPTER 1 – TYPES OF WORDS IN ARABIC
The smallest unit in language is the letter. Letters come together to form words, words come together to form fragments, and fragments come together to form sentences. We will begin our study by learning about the unit that is second from the bottom on the hierarchy – words. There are THREE TYPES of WORDS in Arabic:
Every word in Arabic falls into one of these three categories. Let us learn the definition of each.
An اسم is defined as A PERSON, PLACE, THING, IDEA, ADJECTIVE, ADVERB, and MORE. Let us look at examples of each.
Ø A few examples of a PERSON would be:
Notice that the name of the person can be specific (Muhammad/Maryam) or general (teacher/writer).
Ø A few examples of a PLACE would be:
Notice again that the name of the place can be specific (Egypt/Arabia) or general (school/store)
Ø A few examples of a THING would be:
A thing is a material object that can be touched (see the examples above).
Ø A few examples of an IDEA would be:
Ideas are different than things in that they are abstract and intangible – things that cannot be touched (see the examples above).
Ø A few examples of an ADJECTIVE would be:
Adjectives are words that are used to describe other words.
Ø A few examples of an ADVERB would be:
Adverbs are words that describe how an action took place. They usually end in –ly.
The “MORE” category will be discussed in a later chapter.
A فعل is defined as A WORD THAT HAS A TENSE. A فعل can be in the past, present, or future tense.
Ø A few examples of a PAST-TENSE فعل would be:
o He stopped.
o He gave.
The action is complete; it is something that occurred in the past.
Ø A few examples of a PRESENT-TENSE فعل would be:
o He searches.
o He learns.
The action is ongoing; it is something that is occurring in the present.
Ø A few examples of a FUTURE-TENSE فعل would be:
o He will succeed.
o He will give up.
The action has not yet occurred; it is something that will occur in the future.
To test whether a word is a فعل or not, place the word “I” before it. If it makes sense, it is a فعل. Otherwise, it is not.
Let us put the word “came” to the test. → I came → This makes sense, so “came” is a فعل
Let us put the word “ice cream” to the test. → I ice cream → This does not make sense, so “ice cream is not a فعل.
الحَرْ فُ Harfs
A حرف is defined as A WORD THAT IS INCOMPLETE UNLESS IT IS FOLLOWED BY EITHER AN اسم OR A فعل. Another definition for a حرف is a word that is neither an اسم nor a فعل.
Ø A few examples of a حرف would be:
For instance, “I came from” is an incomplete thought. The word “from” is a حرف. For this reason, it makes no sense on its own and requires either an اسم or فعل after it. “I came from home,” on the other hand, is a complete thought because the حرف is followed by an اسم.
➢ DRILL 1 Determine whether the words below are اسم (I) or فعل (F) or حرف (H).
We invited guests for dinner. They arrived early. I told my son to give them fruits and drinks and I put the chicken in the oven hurriedly. He dropped the tray on the white carpet and the drinks spilled. Guests are coming again today. I will remind him to carry the tray carefully this time.