Arabic Grammar – 150

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Intensive stem (Ⅲ)

Stem Ⅲ fȃʕala, yufȃʕilu فاعَلَ، يُفاعِلُ (called the L-stem, L for “lengthened vowel”) has an intensive or causative meaning. Verbs of this stem are always transitive, even if derived from intransitive verbs.


Following are examples of intensive Stem Ⅲ verbs.

Stem Ⅰ Stem Ⅲ
saʔala سَأَلَ sȃʔala ساءَلَ
he asked (tr.) he asked for a long time, he interrogated (tr.)
dafaʕa دَفَعَ dȃfaʕa دافَعَ
he pushed, repelled (tr.) he defended against [obj.] (tr.)
ǵahida جَهِدَ ǵȃhada جاهَدَ
he was/became exhausted, he struggled (intr.) he struggled against [obj.] (tr.)


The intensity of duration or frequency expressed by Stem Ⅲ gave rise to a secondary meaning of mutuality, whereby both the subject and object of the verb are thought to be engaged in the action.

Stem Ⅰ Stem Ⅲ
qatala قَتَلَ qȃtala قاتَلَ
he killed (tr.) he fought with (tr.)
araʕa صَرَعَ ȃraʕa صارَعَ
he threw to the ground (tr.) he wrestled with (tr.)
ǵalada جَلَدَ ǵȃlada جالَدَ
he hit (tr.) he fought with (tr.)
qabala قَبَلَ qȃbala قابَلَ
he fronted (tr.) he met with (tr.)



Causative Stem Ⅲ verbs are denominal.

Noun Stem Ⅲ
iʕfuṋ ضِعْفٌ ȃʕafa ضاعَفَ
an equal additional amount he doubled, he multiplied (tr.)
ʕuqȗba·tuṋ عُقُوْبةٌ ʕȃqaba عاقَبَ
a punishment he punished (tr.)
wafquṋ وَفْقٌ wȃfaqa وافَقَ
same [thing] he agreed with (tr.)

The last example has a middle-voice meaning because, like we said, causative verbs are frequently middle-voice.


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