December 8, 2019 0

Arabic Grammar: 15. Weak Verbs in Imperative

Arabic Grammar: 15. Weak Verbs in Imperative


Mar7aba! I want to talk a little bit more about imperatives in formal Arabic, and some important exceptions that occur when we were working with verbs whose root, whose جذر contains a vowel or a ‘hamza.’ Sometimes we refer to vowels that are part of roots in Arabic as ‘weak letters,’ because of their tendency to disappear or be modified, and that’s what I want to address, because some interesting and exceptional things happen in the imperative. For this video, I’m going to assume that you’ve spent some time studying the basic structure of the imperative. Feel free to go check that out if you need a refresher before you continue here. So if we have a Form I verb who’s جذر, whose root begins with a ‘waaw’ or a ‘hamza,’ we’re going to drop that letter. And we’ll have no helping ballad the beginning, and we’ll retain the vowel of the present tense conjugation of the verb in the imperative. Then we would just keep our regular مجزوم ending or, think of it differently, we would add these regular imperative endings to what’s left of our verb. So let’s take a look at some examples. We have this verb أخذ, ‘take,’ in the past tense. So if I want to tell someone “take! “take this book!”, for example, in the present tense, we conjugate أخذ– let’s go with هو conjugation– يأخذ, well, we know that in the imperative I’m going to drop that prefix, and because the ‘hamza’ is the first letter of the root, I’m going to drop the ‘hamza,’ and so I’m just left with خُذ and that’s our imperative for masculine singular. خُذ الكتاب خذ الأكل, take whatever you want. And then if I were going to conjugate it for a subject other than أنتَ, masculine singular second person, I would just add a regular ending. So أنتِ my ending is ـي, so خذي, or ‘all of you take something,’ I could say خذوا, same principle. Another situation, same thing: وضع is a fuS7a verb meaning ‘to put,’ in the sense of putting something in a place, on a table, on the ground, etc. So in the present tense, we actually drop the ‘waaw’ as well. So it’s sort of taken care of for us if we’re going through the steps from the past, to the present, to the imperative. We just need to drop that ‘yaa,’ but we’re not going to replace the ‘waaw’ in the imperative, and we’re just going to wind up with ضِع Same thing if we wanted to say you, أنتِ, feminine, put something, put the book on the table, ضعي الكتاب على الطاولة, etc. If we have a verb whose middle letter– whose middle root letter, I should say– is a vowel, then sometimes we’re going to need to leave that vowel out of the imperative. For example قال, if you have a present tense of قال you’ll know that this ‘alif’ is actually a stand-in for a ‘waaw,’ which is the root letter. ‘alif’ is never a letter of a جذؤر. It’s never really a root letter. It might represent one, but in this case the جذر of this verb is ‘qaaf-waaw-laam.’ So if we’re making our imperative, we drop the prefix– or I suppose for أنتَ it would be تقول, not يقول– Here we have قول, and it you might be thinking this looks okay, this is good. We can work with this. But there is an issue. Because this verb is conjugated, Is based off of the مجزوم, the ‘laam’ is going to have a ‘sukuun’ on it. And the ‘qaaf’ is going to have a ‘Dhamma,’ leading into that ‘waaw,’ but then the ‘waaw’ has a ‘sukuun’ too. And in formal Arabic we have a rule that we can’t have two consecutive letters right next to each other that both have ‘sukoon,’ so something has to give. And the solution is that we just drop that ‘waaw.’ We retain the sound of the ‘waaw’ in that ‘Dhamma,’ but for the imperative masculine singular, we would say قُل short, with no long ‘uu’ sound. Just قُل, not قول. Notice though, that in any of the other conjugations of the imperative, since we’re going to have some sort of vowel at the end, excuse me, most of them, not all of them, the ones with vowels here, we can replace the ‘waaw’ again, because we have more vowel sounds afterwards. For example, if we want to say, feminine singular, ‘you, say something!’ We add that ـي at the end, and because We have this ‘kasra’ leading into the ‘yaa,’ we can retain the ‘waaw,’ it’s not the ‘two-sukuun-problem’ again. The one exception would be if we were addressing a group of grammatically feminine individuals, where we would have ـنَ, as our conjugation, and once again, we would have the same problem: if we started with قول and then added ـنَ, well, the ‘waaw’ and the ‘laam’ both have ‘sukuun,’ so something has to give once again. So we would drop the ‘waaw.’ Main takeaway, again, is that two ‘sukuuns’ can’t be next to each other on two consecutive letters in formal Arabic. Let’s take another example. This is getting a little bit messy. But if we wanted to use نام instead, well, in present tense, we would say أنتَ oops, excuse me, أنتَ تنام, for example. And if we drop the ‘taa’ we have the same issue, Too many ‘hamzas,’ so we retain the sound of that ‘alif’ but we don’t leave it visually in there. And we just say نَم! ‘Sleep!’ Once again, though, if we were going to conjugate it for most other subjects, we could retain you that alif, we just need to think about ‘sukuuns.’ Finally, if we were going to work with a verb that has the last letter of its جذر as a vowel we might need to change and modify that vowel. حكى is a past tense verb meaning ‘tell,’ in the sense of ‘tell a story,’ or sometimes ‘speak’ in a colloquial, and in the present tense, it’s يحكي But when we’re dealing with the masculine singular and plural conjugations, that ‘yaa’ is going to disappear. We’re going to drop our prefix and because the ‘7aa’ has ‘sukoon,’ we need–again, if you review the imperative, you remember that we need a vowel at the start of a word, we can’t have a letter that starts with ‘sukuun’– so we’re going to add a ‘kasra’ here, and for the masculine conjugation, we’re going to drop that ‘yaa’ and you just have a ‘kaaf’ with a short ‘kasra’: اِحكِ, not اِحكي, that would be our feminine conjugation, أنت احكِ أنتِ اِحكي If we’re addressing someone feminine, so visually we can tell the two apart. One other thing though, if we’re talking to أنتُم and saying ‘all of you, tell me the story,’ for example, we’re going to drop that ‘yaa’ once again and add our plural conjugation of ـوا, so we wind up with اِحكوا Oop! I forgot my ‘alif’ there. احكوا Remember that Arabic does not like ‘eww’ as a vowel combination. It sounds gross to us in English, right? ‘Eww!’ So if we had our ‘yaa’ in there, we would have that unpleasant vowel combination, and the solution is just to drop it. اِحكوا In colloquial Arabic, in speech, things tend to be a bit simpler, we can get away with leaving the middle vowel in a verb like قال/يقول for example, and I can say قول in ‘shaami’ or ‘maSri,’ and similarly, I can address a man in Levantine Arabic and say Talk with me. اِحكي معي, and we’re going to hear that longer vowel. But when we are writing in formal Arabic, these are the rules that we need to know in order to compose our words correctly and spell them accurately.

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