The Resembling Participle

The Resembling Participle


The resembling participle is that noun derived from a gerund which indicates on the root meaning being an attribute. And this attribute is usually perpetual or intrinsic. For example, if we want to translate the word “murdered one”, we would not use the passive participle for “to kill”. That is because death is an attribute, not an action. So we would use this resembling participle (قَتِيْل). An example of an intrinsic attribute is “the all-knowing” when applied to God.

This participle is used to indicate on an attribute for both the active voice as well as the passive. In other words, it is used in place of the active participle as well as the passive. For example, the word قَتِيْل from the example above means “murdered”, but it could theoretically have meant “killer” as well. Below is a list of some examples through which we can see that both active and passive voices are used. Which one is used is dependent on the individual word and a dictionary will have to be consulted, but it is more often the active voice that is intended.

Translation Resembling Participle
injured جَرِيْح
miser/miserly بَخِيْل
strong قَوِيّ
difficult صَعْب

Some points to note about the resembling participle have already been detailed in our discussion on the active participle:

  • it can occupy any grammatical positioning in a sentence
  • the meaning might not always be obvious
  • it can be used as both an adjective and a noun
  • not all gerunds have an associated resembling participle, but many do

Notice, from the chart above, that the word “miser” is a noun and “miserly” is an adjective. This is a clear illustration of the resembling participle’s capacity to function as both.

Moreover, when a given set of root letters happens to have both an active/passive participle as well as a resembling participle, there is typically a difference between the two. Remember, active/passive participles indicate on an action or occurrence, whereas the resembling participle indicates on an attribute. Compare the participles in the following chart to identify whether there is a difference between the two or not.

Meaning Resembling Meaning Active/Passive Root
knower عَلِيْم scholar/scientist عَالِم ع، ل، م
prisoner سَجِيْن prisoner مَسْجُوْن س، ج، ن
embryo جَنِيْن possessed/insane مَجْنُوْن ج، ن، ن


This participle only exists for trilateral roots with no extra letters (see Verb Paradigms). It is constructed by placing the root letters on one of many patterns. The patterns are so many, in fact, that we will only list the most common ones along with some of their most popular plural forms:

Example Some Common Broken Plurals Pattern
كَرِيْم فُعَلاَء، أَفْعِلاء فَعِيْل
صَعْب فِعَال فَعْل
حَسَن ؟ فَعَل
أَحْمَر فُعْل أَفْعَل
تَعْبَان فَُعَالى، فَعْلى فَعْلاَن

Unlike the participles we have seen thus far, these are typically not well-behaved. Their feminine forms are not necessarily regular, most do not use sound pluralisation, and a broken plural may be shared between both the masculine and feminine singulars.

Another point to note is that those resembling participles that indicate on the passive voice do not have a separate form for the singular masculine and singular feminine; the same (masculine) word is used for both. The table below gives some examples of this.

Feminine Masculine Voice Resembling Participle
عَدِيْلة عَدِيْل active عَدِيْل
قَتِيْل passive قَتِيْل
جَرِيْح passive جَرِيْح


Derived Nouns

Nouns in Arabic – we actually mean the broader part of speech known as اسم – can be divided into categories based on many considerations such as gender, plurality, grammatical inflection, and more. For example, if we want to divide nouns based on gender, we get the two categories Masculine and Feminine; every noun is either masculine or feminine, but not both and not neither.


Similarly, we can divide nouns based on derivation. There are words which are not derived from any other word and there are words that are basically made by adding letters to already existing words. These are called derived nouns.

There are seven types of derived nouns. Each one of these is a class of noun that comes with a set of patterns (and perhaps some morphological rules) that tell us how to construct it, as well as a connotation that it adds to the base meaning which helps us understand its meaning.

We will discuss each of these seven nouns in turn by explaining how to take a set of base letters and construct the noun, and we will precisely define the connotation the noun adds to the base meaning. Here we give an overview and loose definitions as a gentle introduction.

  • اسم الفاعل (active participle): the one that enacts the base meaning
  • اسم المبالغة (hyperbolic participle): the one that enacts the base meaning exaggeratedly
  • اسم المفعول (passive participle): the one upon whom the base meaning is enacted
  • الصفة المشبهة (resembling participle): the one who enacts (or upon whom is enacted) the base meaning intrinsically
  • اسم الآلة (utilitarian noun): the thing used to enact the base meaning
  • اسم الظرف (locative noun): the time when or the place where the base meaning is enacted
  • اسم التفضيل (comparative & superlative): the one who enacts (or upon whom is enacted) the base meaning the most

Below is a table of examples that will help bring these definitions into perspective. For each type of noun, we have chosen a particular pattern from its inventory of patterns as well as a sample gerund. We place the gerund on that pattern and explain the meaning of the resulting word.


Example Derived Noun
Meaning Resulting Word Sample


One of the Patterns
one who hits
i.e. hitter
ضَارِب ضرب
فَاعِل اِسْم الفَاعِل
one who travels a lot

i.e. globetrotter

رَحَّالَة رحيل
فَعَّالَة اِسْم المُبَالَغَة
that which is understood

i.e. concept

مَفْهُوْم فهم
مَفْعُوْل اِسْم المَفْعُوْل
one who knows ipso facto
i.e. the all-knowing
عَلِيْم علم
فَعِيْل الصِفَة المُشَبَّهَة
thing that is used to open
i.e. key
مِفْتَاح فتح
مِفْعَال اِسْم الآلَة
place where people play
i.e. playground
مَلْعَب لعب
مَفْعَل اِسْم الظَرْف
more/most far
i.e. further/furthest
أَقْصى قصو
being far
أَفْعَل اِسْم التَفْضِيْل


Below is a very similar chart. Here, however, we use the same base letters to illustrate all of the derived nouns. This gives a clear picture of the function of each of them.


Example Derived Noun
Meaning Resulting Word Gerund One of the Patterns
one who knows
(scholar, scientist)
عَالِم علم
فَاعِل اِسْم الفَاعِل
one who knows a lot
عَلاَّمَة فَعَّالَة اِسْم المُبَالَغَة
that which is known
(known, fixed, determined)
مَعْلُوْم مَفْعُوْل اِسْم المَفْعُوْل
one who knows intrinsically
(the all-knowing)
عَلِيْم فَعِيْل الصِفَة المُشَبَّهَة
that through which we know (God)
(the world)
عَالَم فَاعَل اِسْم الآلَة
where/when we know
مَعْلَم مَفْعَل اِسْم الظَرْف
one who knows the most
(most learned)
أَعْلَم أَفْعَل اِسْم التَفْضِيْل


Sahih, Mu’tall, Muza’af, Mahmouz, Salim

In last lesson we talked about the root letters. We learnt that each word in Arabic has a root and that often this root has three letters. Now, based on what these letters are, they can have different names.

  1. Mu’tall: If any of the letters و – ی – ا are among the letters of a root that root is called Mu’tall (unsound). For example: ورد has و as the first letter of its root and so is considered a Mu’tall.
  2. Mahmouz: If a root has the letter ء among its letters it is called Mahmouz. For example: أکل that has ء as its first letter.
  3. Muza’af: If in a root there are repititve words we call it Muza’af or reduplicated. For example: ددن in which there are two letter د or مدّ (originally مدد) which has again two letter د.

Word Structure

One of the unique features of Arabic is that all words have a root. for example all the words عالم، معلم، تعلیم، اعلام، علامه all share the same root of ع-ل-م.

In this example our root has only three letters

1 ع

2 ل

3 م

And then additional letters are added to it to make new words. In Arabic Most of the words you will come accross have three-letter roots حمد – سجد – عبد – خرج – خلق . But there are some four-letter and five-letter roots too.

Four letter root: ج-ع-ف-ر and د-ح-ر-ج

Five letter root: س-ف-ر-ج-ل


Transitive and Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive verb :a verb that suffices itself with its actor. For example (Sat). 
So, for example, if one said:
جَلَسَ زَیدٌ
(Zayd sat) it would be a complete sentence.
Transitive verb: a verb that does not suffice itself with its actor. For example:
(he broke).
So, if one said:
کَسَرَ الخادِمُ
(the servant broke) it would be an incomplete
sentence unless one mentions the objective compliment afterwards.
For example:
کَسَرَ الخادِمُ إبریقاً
(the servant broke a pitcher.)

Morphology vs Syntax

Ok, so before we start learning Arabic, we need to know an introductory point. A word can be analysed in two ways. Sometimes, we analyse a word on its own regardless of any other words and some other times, we analyse a word in a sentence and its relation with other words.

To make this clear: think of John. We can study John’s life in two ways (at least). We can think of John as an individual and study his career, his education, his sense of fashion. Or we can think of John as a member of a family and study his role in the family i.e. he is a husband, a father, an uncle etc.

In the same way, words are either studied on their own or as a member of a sentence. I hope the following example makes this clear. Think of the word عالم. Right now, it is not in any sentence. It’s on its own and lonely.


Let’s see what are some of the things we can say about عالم as it is:

We know it comes from root ع – ل – م the same room from which علم (knowledge) is made. So its meaning has something to do with knowledge.

We also know its wazn is فاعل. That tells us this word is not a verb (فعل). Because فاعل is a wazn that only a noun (اسم) can have. That also tells us that عالم should be the doer/possessor of the root. In our case since the root is knowledge so possessor of knowledge, knowledgable.

We can also change it slightly to get a new meaning. For example if we add ان to عالم it becomes عالمان which is a new word and it means two scholars:

عالم + ان = عالمان

Ok, these are all things we can say about عالم on its own and out of a sentence. These are studied in Morphology or as Arabs call it علم الصرف.


Now let’s put it into a sentence.

کتب العالمُ الکتابَ لالطالب (The scholar wrote the book for the student.)

Ok, now our word has joined some other words to form a sentence (like John joined other people to form a family). So, now عالم has new roles in this sentence. It is the doer of the action (i.e. writing). What do we call the doer of an action in Grammar? Subject. In Arabic we call it فاعل.

Now a question: Could عالم be the Subject, if it wasn’t in a sentence?

– No. Duh!

Exactly, so being a sentence gave our word new roles. What other role can عالم take in a sentence. Well, we can change the sentence slightly to make it:

کتب الطالب الکتاب لالعالم  (The student wrote the book for the scholar.)

Now as you can see the عالمis no longer to the doer of the action. Rather, it is the student الطالب who has written the book and is now the Subject of the sentence or فاعل.

These new roles that a word takes in a sentence are studied in Arabic Syntax or as Arabs call it: علم النحو.



جمله اسمیه

Subject of predicate, mubtada (مُبتَدا ) and predicate khabar (خَبَر )

  1. 25. What is a subject of predicate and what is a predicate?

A subject of predicate and a predicate are nouns that make up a complete sentence. For example: . صادِقُونَ  المومنُونَ (The believers are truthful.)


  1. 26. How many kinds of predicates are there?

There are three kinds of predicates:

  • Noun: فاطمةُ طالبةٌ (Fatimah is a student.)
  • Sentence (both ismiyyah and fi‘liyyah):

        حَسَنٌ یَکتُبُ.  (Hasan writes.)

         علیٌ ابوه مُعَلِّمٌ. (Ali’s father is a teacher.)

  • Prepositional phrase, shibh-u jumlah, (شبه جملة) which is either comprised of an adverb of time or place or a word preceded by a jar preposition

(حرف الجرّ):

علیٌ فی البیتِ.          (Ali is in the house.)

القَلَمُ تَحتَ الکتاب.          (The pen is under the book)


  1. 27. What is a sentence comprised of a subject of predicate ( مُبتَدا )and a predicate (خَبَر ) called?

A sentence comprised of a subject of predicate (مُبتَدا )and a predicate( خَبَر ) is called al-jumlah al-ismiyyah (الجُملَة الإسمیَّة).

A sentence comprised of a verb and a subject (فاعل) or a verb and a representative of subject (نائب فاعل )  is called al-jumlah al-fi‘liyyah (الجُملَة الفِعلیَّة).


Arabic (Arabic: العَرَبِيَّة‎‎, al-ʻarabiyyah [ʔalʕaraˈbij.ja] ( listen) or Arabic: عَرَبِيّ‎‎ ʻarabī [ˈʕarabiː, ʕaraˈbij] ( listen)) is a Central Semitic language that was first spoken in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world.[4] Arabic also is a liturgical language of 1.7 billion Muslims.[5][6][7] It is one of six official languages of the United Nations.[8] It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living from Mesopotamia in the east to the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, and from northwestern Arabia to the Sinai in the south.


Arabic is considered, in its standard form and dialects, a single language; it is spoken by perhaps as many as 422 million speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world,[9] making it one of the six most-spoken languages in the world.


The modern written language (Modern Standard Arabic) is derived from the language of the Quran (known as Classical Arabic or Quranic Arabic). It is widely taught in schools and universities, and is used to varying degrees in workplaces, government, and the media. The two formal varieties are grouped together as Literary Arabic, which is the official language of 26 states and the liturgical language of Islam. Modern Standard Arabic largely follows the grammatical standards of Quranic Arabic and uses much of the same vocabulary. However, it has discarded some grammatical constructions and vocabulary that no longer have any counterpart in the spoken varieties, and has adopted certain new constructions and vocabulary from the spoken varieties. Much of the new vocabulary is used to denote concepts that have arisen in the post-Quranic era, especially in modern times.


Arabic is written with the Arabic alphabet, which is an abjad script and is written from right-to-left although the spoken varieties are sometimes written in ASCII Latin from left-to-right with no standardized orthography.


Arabic has influenced many languages around the globe throughout its history. Some of the most influenced languages are Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Kurdish, Bosnian, Kazakh, Bengali, Hindi, Malay, Maldivian, Indonesian, Pashto, Punjabi, Tagalog, Sindhi and Hausa and some languages in parts of Africa. During the Middle Ages, Literary Arabic was a major vehicle of culture in Europe, especially in science, mathematics and philosophy. As a result, many European languages have also borrowed many words from it. Many words of Arabic origin are also found in ancient languages like Latin and Greek. Arabic influence, mainly in vocabulary, is seen in European languages, mainly Spanish owing to both the proximity of Christian European and Muslim Arab civilizations and 800 years of Arabic culture and language in the Iberian Peninsula, referred to in Arabic as al-Andalus. Balkan languages, including Greek, have also acquired a significant number of Arabic vocabulary through contact with Ottoman Turkish.


Arabic has also borrowed words from other languages including Greek and Persian in medieval times, contemporary European languages such as English and French in modern times.