Understanding the "Arabic Word"

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

In this blog post, we will briefly discuss the Arabic word or "al-kalima" الكلمة. According to Arabic Grammar, there are three types or categories of words: nouns, verbs and particles. A noun is called "Ism" اسم; a verb "Fi'l" فغل, and a particle "Harf". Understanding these three categories is important as a basic introduction into Arabic grammar.

To simplify things, we can say that a noun or "ism" is not a verb or tense, and carries a significant meaning on its own; the English equivalent of: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs. "Ism" also literally means "name" in Arabic. A noun, can name or refer to something that is concrete or abstract, definite or indefinite, singular or plural, masculine or feminine. It can be used to name a person, thing, animal or abstract idea. A noun would typically function as a subject or object in an Arabic sentence.

Let's give some examples on Arabic nouns: the name of a person is "Ism", such as Maha or Mousa. The name of a city or country is "Ism" too, such as "Beirut" or "Canada". The words tiger "Nimr" نمر, cat "Qitta" قطة, dog "Kalb" كلب, book "Kitaab" كتاب, and wall "Haa'it" حائط are "Asmaa'" أسماء. So are the words: day "Yawm" يوم, week "Osbou'"أسبوع, independence "Istiqlaal" إستقلال, beautiful "Jameel" جميل, artist "Fannaan" فنّان, doctor "Tabeeb" طبيب, student "Tilmeez" تلميذ morning "Sabaah"صباح etc... Pronouns as well: he "Howa" هو, you "Anta" أنت, this "Haza" هذا, my car "Sayyaaratee" سيارتي.. Nouns can also be singular, dual, or plural: car "Sayyaara" سيّارة, two cars "Sayyaarataan" سيّارتان, three cars "thalaath Sayyaaraat" ثلاث سيّارات etc...

A verb or "Fi'l" فعل denotes an action, in either: Past, Imperfect Tenses: Present, Future, Prohibition and all other variations, and Imperative or Command)


أكلَ Akala” Ate"

(Past Tense)

يأْكُلُ Ya’kolo” Is Eating"

(Imperfect Tenses: Present, Future, Prohibition and all other variations)

كُلْ Kol” Eat"

(Imperative/ Command)

A particle or "Harf" حرف does not have a meaning on its own and is understood from the context of the sentence and words in it. Particles or "Hurouf" حروف are what is equivalent in English to prepositions, prefixes, conjunctions, articles and others.


و Wa” And"

لا Laa” No"

مِنْ Min” From"

"Ila" To إلى

"Na'am" Yes نعم

"Yaa" O يا (when calling someone; vocative particle)

ثُمَّ Thumma” Then"

سوْف Sawfa” Will"

The following flashcards would hopefully be useful to summarize the information:

Flashcard: Understanding the Arabic word: nouns, verbs and particles
Understanding the Arabic word: nouns, verbs and particles

Flashcard: Understanding the Arabic Word: nouns, verbs and particles
Understanding the Arabic word: nouns, verbs and particles

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