Last updated: February 21, 2022
There is almost no difference in meaning. Both mean question. So when do we use which word? And what kind of words are they? Let’s have a look
The difference between the masdar mimy and masdar asly
- سُؤَالٌ is the original masdar of the verb سَأَلَ. It is the so-called الْمَصْدَرُ الْأَصْلِيُّ.
- مَسْأَلةٌ is the so-called al-Masdar al-Mimy (الْمَصْدَرُ الْمِيمِيُّ).
A مَصْدَرٌ مِيمِيٌّ basically means the same as the standard مَصْدَرٌ. So, what is it good for? Well, the poets needed it.
The extra م changes the length of the word. It has more rhythm and melody as the original مَصْدَرٌ. But that’s not all. The مَصْدَرٌمِيمِيٌّ may also indicate a stronger meaning and reinforce the original مَصْدَرٌ. If you find a ة at the end of a مَصْدَرٌمِيمِيٌّ, it may signal a slight exaggeration or widening of the action or a special focus on the abundance/frequency of the action.
Remark: If you are not familiar with the word مَصْدَر scroll down to the end of this blog! (Excursus).
In daily talk and especially in newspapers, you will find many examples for the الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ – and most of the time, it basically has the same meaning as the original مَصْدَر:
singular and plural
|existence, life||مَعايِشُ||مَعِيشةٌ||عِيشةٌ or عِيشٌ||عاشَ|
Hot to build the الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ
I-form verbs (الثُّلاثيّ)
You use the patterns of the اِسْمُ الْمَكانِ and the اِسْمُ الْزَّمانِ:
- مَفْعِلٌ – especially for verbs starting with و. For example, the verb to promise (وَعَدَ) → مَوْعِدٌ
- مَفْعَلةٌ – making the word feminine by the تاءُ التَّأْنِيثِ
Verb forms II – X (غَيْر الثُّلاثيّ)
- You use the same pattern as the اِسْم الْمَفْعُول
Watch out if you have to identify a مَصْدَرٌ مِيمِيٌّ. In the following table, the word مُسْتَخْرَج occurs in every sentence. But does it have the same meaning and function? Not at all!
|The well is the place of extraction for petroleum.||الْبِئْرُ مُسْتَخْرَجُ النَّفْطِ||اِسْمُ الْمَكانِ|
|Petroleum is extracted from the well.||النَّفْطُ مُسْتَخْرَجٌ مِن الْبِئْرِ||اِسْمُ الْمَفْعُولِ|
|The extraction of the oil is in the morning.||مُسْتَخْرَجُ النَّفْطِ صَباحًا||اِسْمُ الزَّمانِ|
|I extracted petroleum quickly.||اِسْتَخْرَجْتُ النَّفْطَ مُسْتَخْرَجًا عَجِيلًا||الْمَصْدَرُ الْمِيمِيُّ|
Let us see some examples to understand it better:
Masdar Mimy and plural forms
|pl.||الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ||plural||الْمَصْدَر الأَصْلِيّ||meaning||root|
What is a masdar (مَصْدَر)?
The Arabic word مَصْدَر means source. It is the most basic, abstract meaning of the root.
In Arabic, a مَصْدَر is a noun (اِسْم) which is derived from a verb (فِعْل). It describes the action without giving you information about the time of the event, nor about the person who is doing the action.
The corresponding English grammar term depends on the function of a مَصْدَر in an Arabic sentence. A مَصْدَر can function as a verbal noun (noun of action), as an infinitive, etc. But don’t forget: A مَصْدَر is not a verb!
A مَصْدَر is a so called اِسْم مَعْنى; something, that is abstract, that has no color, no size – but that is connected to an action, like writing, reading, swimming.
All the other nouns are called اِسْم ذات and can be recognized with your senses – you can see, smell, taste, hear them. For example: a river – نَهْر – or mountain – جَبَل – or chair – كُرْسِيّ. These words can’t be a مَصْدَر.
A مَصْدَر doesn’t have a body, nor a concrete shape or form. How can you describe the word reading? You can’t say it is big, blue or loud. Every مَصْدَر needs a هَدَف (goal) and you can only grasp it with your mind.
Do you know other masdar types in Arabic? For example, the ism al-Marra?
Still energy to digest some more Arabic grammar?
- A crash course in the conditional sentence in Arabic: ف and tenses (3/3)
- A crash course in the conditional sentence in Arabic: particles and words (2/3)
- A crash course in the conditional sentence in Arabic: the basics (1/3)
- The word كَتَبُوا – What is the function of the Aleph at the end of an Arabic verb?
- What does the vowel on the second root letter of an Arabic verb tell us?
picture credit: Image by Tumisu from Pixabay