Seven Arabic Verbs Meaning “to Happen”


root: ح-د-ث / noun / plural: أَحْداث / definition: event, occurrence

*Inhaling the scent of dictionary pages* Ahh… vocabulary! You’ve got no choice but to love expanding your mental lexicon, and learning synonyms of words you already know and use is a great way to do it!

So here we have seven Arabic verbs for “to happen, occur, take place”, starting with…

حَدَثَ / يَحدُثُ

form I

root: ح-د-ث

This verb shares its root with حَدَث (an occurrence) as well as many words related to being new. Makes sense: something that happens is something new occurring.


ما الَّذي يَحدُثُ هنا؟

what’s happening here?

صارَ / يَصيرُ

form I

root: ص-ي-ر

We’ve actually come across this verb in Four Common Words for “to Become” in Arabic and Arabic Observations: Time of Day and “to Become” Synonyms (you have to check this one out if you haven’t already), as well as exploring it in context in Step-by-Step Arabic Literature Translation #2.

This verb is commonly used in Spoken Arabic (Levantine, at least), instead of حدث / يحدث.


ثُمَّ صارَ شَيءٌ مُفاجِئ

then something unexpected happened

حَصَلَ / يَحصُلُ

form I

root: ح-ص-ل

Many of us are also likely to know this verb as “to obtain”, when it’s followed by the preposition على.


يُعتَبَرُ ما حَصَلَ يَومَذاكَ مَأساة

what occurred on that day is considered a tragedy

دارَ / يَدورُ

form I

root: د-و-ر

We’re looking at an interesting derivation here, in my opinion.

If you look at the dictionary entry for this verb, we see its definitions shift from “to rotate” to “turn” to “change its direction” to “become different” to, finally, “take place”. Cool stuff to reflect on.


دارَت المُناقَشات خِلالَ الأَيّامِ الثَّلاثة

the discussions took place over the three days

جَرى / يَجري

form I

root: ج-ر-ي

This root is related to the flow of water (my mind is exploring the implications of this metaphorical derivation, but I’ll refrain from writing an essay here).

We also get the noun ماجَرَيات (course of events) from this verb, which is the plural form of ماجَرى (just an intermediate step in the derivation process). ماجَرى is literally the phrase ما جَرى pushed together and packaged as a noun.

(We’ve seen some other interesting phrase-to-word transformations in Arabic Observations: the Abstract Noun of a Question? and Arabic Observations: Root Derived From Phrase!)


قالَت إنَّ ما يَجري جَريمة

she said that what’s happening is a crime

تَحَقَّقَ / يَتَحَقَّقُ

form V

root: ح-ق-ق

This verb comes from the same root as حَقيقة (truth, reality). تحقّق essentially means “to come into reality”.


لَن يَتَحَقَّقَ أَبَداً

it’s never going to happen

وَقَعَ / يَقَعُ

form I

root: و-ق-ع

A similar derivation occurs here, as this verb shares its root with الواقِع (reality). It also means “to fall”


وَقَعَ حادِثٌ فَأُغلِقَ الشّارِع

an accident occurred so the road was closed

There we go, seven little synonyms to diversify the language we use!

If you found this useful, you’ll probably want to peruse the other posts in the synonyms series—and don’t forget the Arabic Observations posts for some seriously amazing linguistic gems.

Bye for now, مع السلامة!

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