November 7, 2019 0

Arabic Grammar: Constructing and Using Active Participles in Arabic اسم الفاعل

Arabic Grammar: Constructing and Using Active Participles in Arabic اسم الفاعل

Marhaba! Right now we’re going to talk about a structure called اسم الفاعل, or what we sometimes call in english the ‘active participle,’ right, the doer of an action. If you’ve studied الجملة الفعلية you can remember that when we diagram a verbal sentence in Arabic, فاعل is the subject of a sentence, right, the doer of the verbal action in the sentence. And in colloquial Arabic, and sometimes in formal Arabic too, we can actually use that وزن, right, that pattern of vowels and consonants, فاعل, with other verbs. We can use it in the place of a conjugated verb, right, we can take our root, and substitute it in for ‘faa-‘ayn-laam’ to come up with a meaningful active participle. So let’s take an example. For example in formal Arabic, we might use the verb ‘to live,’ the conjugated verb, هو, let’s say ‘he lives,’ هو يسكن. So if we wanted to make a whole sentence, let’s say ‘he lives in Egypt,’ right, يسكن في مصر Now, we could probably say that in Egyptian or Levantine dialect as well, but we might also hear this verb substituted out for an اسم فاعل version of the same thing. Instead of saying هو يسكن في مصر with that conjugated verb, we would figure out what the root is, right, the جذر, that tri- consonantal root, and in this case it’s ‘siin-kaaf-nuun,’ and then we would substitute those letters in for each of those placeholder letters, right ‘faa- ‘ayn-laam,’ so instead of saying هو يسكن في مصر we could also say هو ساكن في مصر Literally, what we’re saying, is ‘he is a liver in Egypt,’ right, he is ‘doing living’ in Egypt. Now since this is اسم فاعل it’s an اسم, it’s a noun, right we have a noun describing this verbal action, or what we think of as a verbal action, taking place. And since it’s a noun if we want to refer to someone else, say a woman, instead of هو we might want to talk about a هي, and in that case we would need to make this اسم فاعل agree in terms of gender, right, so if we were talking about a female or a woman, we would put that feminine marker, ‘taa marbuuTa,’ on the end so هو ساكن في مصر هي ساكنة في مصر right, she is a liver in Egypt, she’s doing living in Egypt, and if we wanted to talk about a group of people, we would add that sound regular plural ending that we have in dialect, هم ساكنين في مصر right So let’s take another example, suppose that someone is sharing information with you that you happen already to be aware of, and and this is tiresome to you and you want to say okay, already, I know. We could use a conjugated verb, we could just say أعرف, ‘I know,’ or in Levantine or Masri dialect, we might choose to say, I suppose I, as a man, I would say alright I am ‘a knower,’ right, ‘I know,’ and to do that, again, we would take we would isolate this root, we know that ‘alif’ is part of the conjugated verb, so we would take our ‘ayn, raa, faa,’ and pop them into the places of ‘faa-‘ayn-laam’ here, right and we would retain that vowel structure that exoskeleton that we have and I could just say أنا عارف, I know, I am a knower of what you are telling me, so please do not waste my time, right? Or if you were a woman and you wanted to say that أنا عارفة Or maybe as a class, your instructor is telling you something that you’ve already reviewed last week, and you feel you have a grip on it so you could all say نحن عارفين They’re pretty equivalent in meaning. Sometimes اسم فاعل used this way in colloquial is a little bit closer to the kind of present continuous that we can use in English, right, ‘I am going, I am seeing I am living,’ as opposed to the simple present, ‘I go, I see, I live.’ These are very much shades of grey, right, in Arabic, we’re not concerned with those exact equivalencies so much, and they don’t really, those those precise shades of tents are not really something we can express as easily in formal Arabic, and we don’t really need to. But sometimes, sometimes اسم فاعل used this way in the place of a verb conveys more of that present continuous ‘-ing’ gerund form, right? A couple of points before we finish up: first of all اسم فاعل is definitely not uniquely a colloquial structure, in fact a lot of words that are used all the time in فصحى, formal Arabic, and dialects come from this form, are اسم فاعل For example, a few, one that you might already know is طالب, right, and again we need to listen for that rhythmic stress, the music of the word: طالب, which comes from the root ‘Taa-laam-baa,’ which has to do with… طالب means student, and ‘Taa-laam-baa, that root has to do with ‘requesting or demanding,’ right, you’re you’re seeking information from someone. Or you might know the verb يكتب, to write, ‘he writes,’ يكتب, and from the same root ‘kaaf, taa, baa,’ we get the اسم فاعل كاتب, which is the word that we see most often for a ‘writer,’ right someone who writes novels or magazine articles. كاتب. Another point is that in all these examples, we have used form I verbs, right, the simplest form. There are derived forms as well: if you go look at the videos on مصدر, you’ll see some of those forms written out in charts, and each of those derived forms has its own slightly different, but fairly intuitive form of اسم فاعل. That’s not something you need to worry about controlling so much right now, but be aware as you learn more verbs and gain more control over them that any verb, really, can be put into this structure depending on the context and depending on the sentence, it is a possibility.

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