Egyptian Arabic Grammar


Verbs: Root and Stem

A verb is made up of a root (a set of consonants) and a stem (a prefix and the vowels between). There may be more than one verb derived from the same root- for example, starting with fhm, you can make fihim (to understand) and fahhim (to make somebody understand).

Most roots have three consonants: some have either two or four. For the purposes of this explanation, I have used the letters DKST- all uppercase- for consonants, and lowercase letters for all vowels except Y - alif layena. You can say these words if you wish, but they don't actually mean anything. Remember that Ain is a consonant.

There are five main roots, and each of these can make three main stem types, as per the following table.

ABCDE
1 DaaK
DyK
DwK
DaKy
DaKY
DaKaa
DaKKDaKaS
DaKis
DiKis
DaKSaT
DaKSiT
2 DayyiK
DawwaK
DaKKY
DaKKy
DaKKaKDaKKaS
DaKKiS
3 DaayiK
DaawiK
DaaKy
DaaKY
DaaKiS

From any of these main stems, it is possible to derive more stems by adding prefixes. Here are some examples:

Prefix Main stemDerived stemMeaning
iit- DaKaSiitDaKaS
yitDaKaS
passive (be *-ed)
reflexive (* oneself)
iit- DaKKaSiitDaKKaS
yitDaKKaS
passive (be *-ed)
reflexive (* oneself)
iit- DaaKiSiitDaaKiS
yitDaaKiS
each other
iiDt-DaKaS iiDtaKaS
yiDtaKaS
as iit-
iin- DaKaSiinDaKaS
yinDaKaS
as iit-
iista- DaKaSiistaDaKaS
yistaDaKaS
consider or seek

There are also some verbs that are derived from classical arabic- the perfect generally begins with 'aaac أ or tata_ تـَ.


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