; An English Guide to Classic Qur'anic Arabic: 3.1 - Types of Nouns


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3.1 - Types of Nouns


Section 3.1 - Types of Nouns - Introduction


1)     All Arabic words whether Nouns or Verbs come from a three-alphabet root. A root is called an empty trilateral root mu-jar-radulthu-laa-thi الْثُلَاثيْمُجَرَّدُ. There are three alphabets which are faa ف, ain ع, and laam ل which are used as radicals to define all rules. The simplest word one can make with these alphabets will be فَعَلَ fa-a-la which means he did. We will learn more about these when the topic of Verb is covered in a later section.


2)     Using these three root letter words, additional alphabets are added and Verbs are constructed and these are called مَزِيْدٌ فِيْهِ Mazee-dunFihi Verbs. The extra alphabets can be one, two, or three. This topic is covered in Chapter 12.


Let us take as an example, the three root letters from right to left (ع، ل، م). From these alphabets, we can make many words (Verbs and Nouns) by changing them using rules that will be covered later as Verbs or Nouns:


1.     عَلِمَ (ali-ma) meaning he knows which is a ثُلَاثيْ (thu-la-thi) Verb,

2.     أَعلَمَ (aa’-la-ma). is a mazeed fihi Verb with one extra alphabet meaning he informed.

3.     عَلًّمَ (alla-ma) is mazeedfihi Verb with one extra alphabet meaning he taught.

4.     تَعَلَّمَ (ta-alla-ma) is a mazeed fihiVerb with 2 extra alphabets) meaning he learned (Verb)

5.     عَالِمٌ (aali-mun) meaning a scholar is a Noun.

6.     عَلِيْمٌ (alee-mun) meaning most knowing is a Noun.

7.     تَعْلِيمٌ (ta-lee-mun) meaning education is a Noun.


Then there is a small number with 4 alphabets (quadri-lateral) called rubaa-ee (رُبَاعِيْ) and with 5 alphabets (penta-lateral) called a khumaa-si (خُمَاسِيْ).


Quadri-lateral root example: The basic quadri-literal Verb form with four radical root letters (ف ع ل ل) is فَعْلَلَ fa’la-la which means “he rolled” with the example (و س و س) used in Qur’an as (وَسْوَسَ) was-wasameaning “to whisper”. Another would be (ز خ ر ف) and the Verb زَخْرَفَ zakh-raf, meaning “to decorate” something. The quadri-literal root (د م د م) occurs only once in the Qur’an, as Verb dam-dama (دَمْدَمَ) dam-dama meaning destroyed.


There is a very small number of Nouns that have 5 root letters. However, no Verbs have 5 root letters.


Nouns are divided into three types:


a.     The Source (Verbal Noun) اَلْمَصْدَرُ

b.     The Derivative اَلْمُشْتَقُّ

c.      Rigid اَلْجَامِدُ.


A.     The Source اَلْمَصْدَرُ


The source is similar to an infinitive in the English language. The infinitiveis a grammar term that refers to a basic Verb form that acts as a Noun and is often preceded by the word "to". Exceptions do occur though and It is not always preceded by to.


The source is that which defines the work that is being performed like “to listen (سَمِعٌ sami-un) ”. We know that its root is (س م ع) with form I (س) as you will find out later.


To define the Source (Verbal Noun) اَلْمَصْدَرُ al-mas-da-ru, a brief description of the Verb will be given here. A detailed study of Verbs follows after Noun.


Unlike other languages, Arabic has a past tense فِعْلُ الْمَاضِيْ feil-ulmaa-di but combines the present/present continuous/future tense into one called imperfect tense فِعْلُ الْمُضَارِعِ feil-ulmudaa-ri-yee. The Verbs are usually defined with three attributes: its past tense الْمَاضِيْ al-maa-di, imperfect tense al-mu-daa-riu (الْمُضَارِعُ) and its Verbal Noun or Source اَلْمَصْدَرُ almas-da-ru. For example, with the root (س م ع) the way the Verbs and the source are written is as follows (reading from right to left):



             (Sa-mi-an) (Yas-ma-u) (Sami-aa)

To listen   he is listening/will listen   he listened

 (The Source-Noun) (Imperfect tense-Verb) (Past tense-Verb)


There are two other classes of Nouns besides the Source. Some words are made with certain rules using the root alphabets. These are called the Derivates or اَلْمُشْتَقَّاتُ al-mush-taq-qaa-tu. And then there are some words which have no particular rules and are taken as spoken by native speakers.These are called The Rigid الْاِسْمُ اَلْجَامِدُ (ism-ulJamid).  The Derivatives اَلْمُشْتَقَّاتُ(al-mush-taq-qaa-tu) are of most interest for us. A brief introduction will be provided here. Please refer to chapter 13 for a more detailed discussion of these Derivatives اَلْمُشْتَقَّاتُ al-mush-taq-qaa-tu.


B. The Derivative اَلْمُشْتَقُّ (al-mush-taq-qu)


This Noun comes from the past tense Verb اَلْفِعْلُ الْمَاضِيْ (al-feil-ulmaa-di) according to Basri scholars and from the sourceاَلْمَصْدَرُ al-mas-da-ruaccording to Kufi scholars.


Below are some of the commonly used Nouns in this category.


1)        Subject Noun اِسْمُ الْفَاعِلِ (Ism-ul faa-ili)

2)        Object Noun (Ismul Maf-uli) اِسْمُ الْمَفْعُوْلِ

3)        The noun of Circumstance (IsmulZarfi) اِسْمُ الْظَرْفِ

a) Noun for Time اِسْمُ الزَّمَانِ Ismuz-za-maa-ni also called ظَرْفٌ الزَّمَانِ zarf-uz-za-maani. This is a Noun that defines the time at which a Verb/act is happening.

b) Noun for Place Is-mulma-kaa-ni اِسْمُ الْمَكَانِ also called zar-ful ma-kaa-ni ظَرْفٌ الْمَكَانِ.

4)        Adjective Noun (IsmusSif-fati) اِسْمُ الْصِفَّةِ and Colors and Deficiencies اَلْوَانُ و عُيُوْبُ (al-waa-nu wa ouyoo-bu).

5)     Preferential/Superlative Noun (Is-mut taf-zeeli) اِسْمُ التَّفْضِيْلِ.

6)     Exaggerative Noun (Is-mul muba-la-gha-ti) اِسْمُ الْمُبَالَغَة.

7)     Diminutive Noun (Ismut tas-ghee-ri) اِسْمُ الْتَّصْغيْرِ

8)     Tool Noun (Ismul Aa-la-ti) اِسْمُ الْآلَةِ


C. The Rigid (Is-mul Jamid-u) اَلْاِسْمُ اَلْجَامِدُ


The rigid is a Derivative اَلْمُشْتَقُّ (al-mush-taq-qu) which does not follow any rules and used as spoken by the Arabic native speaker. Note that the source also sometimes does not follow a fixed rule. Rigid is other than what is similar to Verbal Source (al-mas-da-ru) اَلْمَصْدَرُ. The rigid does not have a source. Examples of this would be رَجُلٌ raj-lun meaning a man and this does not have a root, and (جَعْفَرٌ) Jaa-far-un which is a male name (a definite Noun) which also does not have a root.




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