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Arabic Verbs and Essentials of Grammar

Arabic Verbs & Essentials of Grammar by Mahmoud Gaafar and Jane Wightwick

Primary Use: Study aid for the basics of Arabic Grammar
Format:28 chapters with some charts and summaries at the end of most chapters and 3 appendixes
Meant For:Beginner to intermediate


This book focuses on the basics of modern Arabic grammar, with an emphasis on verbs. No grammatical terms in Arabic are presented, but it makes no assumptions about the reader’s knowledge of English grammatical terminology. It clearly describes what is meant by the various English grammatical terms utilized, such as ‘demonstratives’ and ‘superlatives,’ making the book far easier to learn from than many other grammar books on the market today.

This book explains the nuances of verbs and verb patterns extremely well, as well as a basic explanation of the root system and how an Arabic dictionary based on the root system works. It provides plenty of examples of the irregular verb patterns as well as easy-to-follow rules for conjugating some of the more difficult patterns. Anyone looking to learn how to conjugate Arabic verbs, particularly those with a weak sense of English grammar, would find this book extremely helpful. It also provides the common meaning patterns of the derived roots. It does not, however, provide information on verb form IX.

As for Arabic grammar outside of verbs, the book includes only the most basic information. It provides simple explanations on the basic concepts of grammar, such as genders and plurals. As such, it is a good way to get acquainted with these grammar rules either for the first time or as a way to brush up on a basic concept not understood very well; however, it is not intended as a complete reference guide by any means. The appendix on numbers for example barely gets into the complex grammatical rules that govern numbers and does little more than spell them out in Arabic.

The book is divided into the following sections and chapters:

          Chapter 1: The Arabic Root System
    Part 1: Arabic Verbs
          Chapter 2: Regular Verbs: The Basic Tenses
          Chapter 3: Irregular Verbs: Introduction
          Chapter 4: Irregular Verbs: Verbs With waaw or yaa’ as a Root Letter
          Chapter 5: Irregular Verbs: Doubled Verbs
          Chapter 6: Irregular Verbs: Verbs With hamza as a Root Letter
          Chapter 7: Derived Forms of Verbs: Introduction
          Chapter 8: Derived Forms II-IV
          Chapter 9: Derived Forms V-VI
          Chapter 10: Derived Forms VII-X
          Chapter 11: Essentials of Making Sentences with Verbs
          Chapter 12: Verbs in the Subjunctive
          Chapter 13: Verbs in the Jussive (Incl. Imperative)
          Chapter 14: Making Verbs Negative
          Chapter 15: Making Verbs Passive
          Chapter 16: Verbal Nouns and Other Verbal Constructions
          Chapter 17: Verbs in the Dual
          Chapter 18: Verbs With Four Root Letters (quadrilaterals)
          Chapter 19: Some Very Unusual Common Verbs
    Part Two: Essentials of Grammar
          Chapter 20: The Article and Personal Pronouns
          Chapter 21: Genders
          Chapter 22: Sentences Without Verbs
          Chapter 23: Describing Things (Adjectives and Comparatives)
          Chapter 24: Describing Position (Prepositions of Place)
          Chapter 25: Plurals
          Chapter 26: Describing Possession
          Chapter 27: Questions & Relative Clauses
          Chapter 28: The Dual
          i.  Guide to Pronunciation/Transliteration
          ii.  Grammatical Case Endings
          iii.  Numbers

How to Use It

In order to use this book, one must know the Arabic script. However, the book assumes little knowledge of anything else, making the lessons extremely clear and easy to follow. A basic knowledge of the structure of the Arabic language as well as some vocabulary words would probably help the reader to use the book to the fullest extent.

This book can be read either from front to back as a way to learn grammar, or as a reference book. The chapters build on each other and are cross-referenced to other chapters if a concept comes up that has not yet been discussed. However, as there are no exercises included, some may find it difficult to learn Arabic grammar solely from this book alone.

This book can also serve as a reference guide to the basics or as a way to “brush up on a particular area” as it says in the introduction. There is no index or glossary of terms however, so one using this book as a reference must go by the chapter titles.


Gaafar, Mahmoud and Jane Wightwick. Arabic Verbs & Essentials of Grammar. Chicago: Passport Books, 1998.