Active Participles of Defective Roots

مُمارَسة

root: م-ر-س / verbal noun of form III / definition: practice


So I got the chance to practise speaking Arabic today and it’s safe to say that I’m… rusty. I shouldn’t be overly surprised seeing as it’s somehow been three and a half months since my final Arabic oral exam in Jordan, and I’ve only had sprinklings of small talk since then.

It’s always frustrating to have to deliberately think before uttering a sentence. Is the grammar okay? Is that the best word for this context? Is there an easier way to phrase this? But no one ever got good at anything without practice anyway. I’ll persevere.

To unwind from the anxiety of speaking, I’m taking refuge in some grammar with this post. Specifically, we’re going to take a look at active participles of defective roots.

If you read Arabic Roots: the Different Types, you might remember that defective roots are those that have a و or ي as their final letter. So, roots like ن-د-و and غ-ن-ي.

And we know that each verb form has a different pattern for active participles:

  • Form I: فاعِل
  • Form II: مُفَعِّل
  • Form III: مُفاعِل
  • Form IV: مُفعِل
  • Form V: مُتَفَعِّل
  • Form VI: مُتَفاعِل
  • Form VII: مُنفَعِل
  • Form VIII: مُفتَعِل
  • Form IX: مُفعَلّ
  • Form X: مُستَفعِل

But with defective roots, active participles look a bit different:

  • Form I: فاعٍ / فاعي
  • Form II: مُفَعٍّ / مُفَعّي
  • Form III: مُفاعٍ / مُفاعي
  • Form IV: مُفعٍ / مُفعي
  • Form V: مُتَفَعٍّ / مُتَفَعّي
  • Form VI: مُتَفاعٍ / مُتَفاعي
  • Form VII: مُنفَعٍ / مُنفَعي
  • Form VIII: مُفتَعٍ / مُفتَعي
  • Form IX: (too rare!)
  • Form X: مُستَفعٍ / مُستَفعي

As you can see, active participles can either end in kasratayn or ي as a realisation of the final weak root letter—which ending we use depends on the grammatical role of the participle in context, and whether it’s definite or indefinite.

For indefinite defective active participles:

  • if it is مرفوع or مجرور, it ends in kasratayn
  • if it is منصوب, it ends in a ي (followed by اً as per usual)

And for definite defective active participles:

  • if it is مرفوع or مجرور, it ends in ي
  • if it is منصوب, it ends in a يَ

Ryding has a great table illustrating this, using the form III active participle مُحامٍ / مُحامي (“lawyer”) from the defective root ح-م-ي:

When defective active participles are feminine though, we keep the ي and add the ة—then it’s business (i.e. case endings) as usual. So for a female lawyer, we’d see مُحامية (note that there’s no shadda on the ي—this isn’t a nisba adjective).

But when we have the masculine plural, the ي is removed. So, “lawyers” is مُحامون or مُحامين, depending on the case.

Need some examples in context?

Form I

كان القَميصُ غالِياً

(indefinite, منصوب)

Form II

تَعَرَّفَ على المُصَلّينَ

(definite, مجرور, plural)

Form III

سَمِعتُ المُناديَ

(definite, منصوب)

Form IV

يوجد مُفتٍ في القرية

(indefinite, مرفوع)

Form V

أين المُتَحَدّيةُ الأخرى؟

(definite, مرفوع, feminine)

Form VI

كان بِشكلٍ مُتَتالٍ

(indefinite, مجرور)

Form VII

حدّوا من السلوك المُنطَوي على المخاطر

(definite, مجرور)

Form VIII

المُشتَرونَ إسبانيون

(definite, مرفوع, plural)

Form X

كانت مُستَغنيةً عنه

(indefinite, منصوب, feminine)

And that’s it!

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments below, and don’t forget you can brush up on your grammar with all the grammar-related posts here.

!إلى اللقاء


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