Verbal Nouns of Hollow Roots


root: ص-د-ر / noun / plural: مَصادِر / definition: verbal noun, source

Back in June, when we looked at the different types of Arabic roots, we mentioned that hollow roots are those with either و or ي as the middle letter. Like ق-و-ل and غ-ي-ر.

Verbal nouns (مصادر) derived from hollow roots sometimes follow a different pattern to those derived from sound (regular) roots.

First, let’s remind ourselves of the regular مصدر pattern for each verb form:

  • Form I: (varies)
  • Form II: تَفْعيل
  • Form III: مُفاعَلة
  • Form IV: إفْعال
  • Form V: تَفَعُّل
  • Form VI: تَفاعُل
  • Form VII: اِنْفِعال
  • Form VIII: اِفْتِعال
  • Form IX: اِفْعِلال
  • Form X: اِسْتِفْعال

For hollow roots—represented by either ف-و-ل or ف-ي-ل (instead of the usual ف-ع-ل as we can see above)—the مصدر patterns corresponding to certain verb forms look a little different.

Seeing as the form I مصادر vary, we’ll leave those one out.

For most of the ten forms—specifically forms II, III, V, VI, VIII, IX—the verbal nouns of hollow roots look pretty much like those for sound roots. The weak letter (و or ي) acts like any other consonant:

Form II: تَفْويل / تَفْييل


تَكْوين (to form, root: ك-و-ن)

تَغْيير (to change, root: غ-ي-ر)

Form III: مُفاوَلة / مُفايَلة


مُحاوَلة (to try, root: ح-و-ل)

مُعايَنة (to inspect, root: ع-ي-ن)

Form V: تَفَوُّل / تَفَيُّل


تَطَوُّع (to volunteer, root: ط-و-ع)

تَغَيُّب (to be absent, root: غ-ي-ب)

Form VI: تَفاوُل / تفايُل


تَناوُب (to alternate, root: ن-و-ب)

تَزايُد (to intensify, root: ز-ي-د)

Form VIII: اِفْتِوال / اِفْتِيال


اِزْدِواج (to be double, root: ز-و-ج*)

اِخْتِيار (to choose, root: خ-ي-ر)

*ازدواج is an example of form VIII assimilation, where the ت of the verb form pattern (افتعل/يفتعل/الافتعال) turns into a د for phonological reasons—here it’s because of the ز in the root. We discussed form VIII assimilation here, and looked at the lesser-discussed form VII assimilation in this post!

Form IX: اِفْوِلال / اِفْيِلال


اِعْوِجاج (to be crooked, root: ع-و-ج)

اِبْيِضاض (to become white*, root: ب-ي-ض)

*ابيضاض can also refer to leukemia, I’ve just found out.

For the verbal nouns of forms IV and X, the middle root letter (the و or ي) disappears, and a ة is added at the end to make up for the missing letter:

Form IV: إفْالة


إدارة (to manage, root: د-و-ر)

إذاعة (to broadcast, root: ذ-ي-ع)

Form X: اِسْتِفْالة


اِستِجابة (to respond, root: ج-و-ب)

اِستِقالة (to resign, root: ق-ي-ل)

And for our last form, form VII, the verbal noun always has a ي in the place of the middle root letter, regardless of whether the root contains a و or ي:

Form VII: اِنْفِيال


اِنْهِيار (to collapse, root: ه-و-ر)

اِنْهِيال (to be heaped up, root: ه-ي-ل)

Many of the examples above, by the way, are taken from A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic—the first thing I open for anything grammar-related! You can see some of my other go-to books for Arabic in this post.

I hope this was helpful, إلى اللقاء!

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