Four Common Words for “to Become” in Arabic


root: ش-ي-ع / adjective, active participle of form I / definition: common, widespread

When you’re learning a new language, it’s all too easy to get comfortable with the core set of words you learnt at the very start, without even letting your mind venture into the realm of synonyms.

But, here, we like lexical variety. So let’s venture.

The verb “to become” is one of those core verbs that are almost ubiquitous—so here are four different Arabic verbs that you can use to express its meaning:

أَصْبَحَ / يُصْبِح

(This is most likely the first (and, sometimes, only!) word that Arabic students learn for “to become”.)

root: ص-ب-ح

form: IV

صار / يَصير

root: ص-ي-ر

form: I

بات / يَبيت

root: ب-ي-ت

form: I

أَضْحَى / يُضْحي

root: ض-ح-ي

form: IV

Note: the four verbs above are “sisters of كان”, meaning that the predicate must be منصوب in terms of its case.

For example:

سَتَصِيرُ مُهَنْدِسَةً

“she will become an engineer”


بات الشَابُّ رَئِيسَ البَلَدِ

“the young man became the president of the country”

(Note that اً is not used here because the predicate “رئيس البلد” is a two-word إضافة construction. So, there is a fatHa, rather than the fatHatayn, on the end of the word “رئيس”.)

(If you’re a little confused about إضافة and how it affects the cases, I explain it step-by-step within this post.)


يُصبِحُ الأَمْرُ صَعْباً

“the matter is becoming difficult”

I hope this little glimpse into the realm of synonyms was interesting, and perhaps also a motivation to discover and use synonyms of other Arabic words you learnt long ago and confined yourself to using.

Don’t let your Hans Wehr dictionary go unexplored!

See you on my next post, إلى اللقاء!

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