September 7, 2019 0

Arabic Grammar: An Introduction to the ‘maSdar’ (Verbal Noun) and Form I patterns المصدر, Part 1


Marhaba! Right now we’re going to talk
about the مصدر. المصدر literally means ‘the source’ in Arabic as
in the ‘source of a verb.’مصادر is the plural, and مصادر are a class of
word that we don’t really have an exact equivalent for in English. Sometimes
people refer to them as ‘verbal nouns,’ which is about as accurate a translation
as we’re going to get, but it sounds a bit silly, so it’s a good idea to just
get into the habit of referring to a مصدر as a مصدر. ‘Masdars.’
are words that express the abstract idea of an action, something close to, but not
identical to, the infinitive in English. Or the gerund form of a noun, the ‘-ing’
form. One مصدر that you might have encountered already is السفر, which we
could refer, which we might translate, depending on context, as ‘to travel,’ or
‘traveling,’ the idea of traveling, the abstract concept of traveling. Now we
can’t always render an ‘-ing’ word in English as a مصدر. Think about the
difference between these two sentences in English. We could say ‘working is hard.’ we could also say ‘I am
working for the government.’ In one of these sentences, ‘working’ is a noun.
This thing that is work, ‘work is hard.’ We could swap in ‘work,’ we might choose to
skip the ‘-ing’ altogether, right? So we’re discussing an idea, an abstract concept.
but if I say ‘I am working,’ even though I have the ‘-ing’ it’s really kind of a
verbal meaning, right, I’m using the present continuous.
So in Arabic, we might use the مصدر form to translate this sentence, we could
say العمل صعب. Full stop. ‘Work is hard.’ This thing that is work, it’s hard. One thing we also
notice is that since these are abstract concepts that we express with مصادر,
they’re almost always definite, sometimes as the term of an إضافة. But if I
want to say ‘I am working,’ we might be tempted to use this مصدر: أنا العمل
But that would mean that I am somehow the literal physical embodiment of the
act of working, which sounds as strange in Arabic as it does in English. So to
express this idea, ‘I am working,’ I would just use a conjugated verb. I would say
أنا أعمل للحكومة مصادر are something… well, we’ve seen in
our other video about patterns, that verbs have different patterns in Arabic. We
typically number them as learners from I to X, and Form I verbs tend to have
مصادر that are very variable. Forms II through X, we have a very fixed pattern.
With very few exceptions, we can usually take a verb, if we identify its form it’s
وزن, in Arabic, then we can sort of deconstruct it and reconstruct it as a
مصدر, but with form I verbs, which constitute a majority of the verbs we
know at this point, it does tend to be highly variable. For example ,the verb for
‘to live,’ يسكن the مصدر of يسكن, this thing that is
living, is السَّكَن. The verb for ‘to know,’ يعرف, in present tense is المَعرِفَ.
the verb for ‘studying’ يدرس, our مصدر pattern is الدّراسة.
The verb for ‘getting something, acquiring something,’ يحصل, the مصدر is الحصول, and this is
not an exhaustive list, right? So here we have السكن المعرفة الدراسة الحصول, we have different vowel patterns all along. But you shouldn’t let
this intimidate you too much, because even though we have a large number of
variable patterns, there are patterns. Right? And we can use those patterns
again, that sort of musical sense, that rhythmic stress, as an aid for
remembering مصدر patterns. For example العَمَل, we know that verb to work يعمل, عمل, which has exactly the same kind
of vowel pattern as السكن or with الدراسة يدرس, our verbs for reading
and writing,يقرأ and يكتب fit into exactly the same pattern: القراءة، الكتابة right, we have
these stresses. So as you are learning new verbs, and it’s a good idea to learn
the مصدر form as you learn a verb, be sure to memorize the مصدر as
well, and think about if that مصدر fits into any of the other patterns, مصدر
patterns that you have encountered previously. as I said for verb forms II through X, things become a lot more regular, and we can predict very very
accurately what the مصدر form is going to be, and that’s what we’ll see in
our next video.

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