Last updated: July 14, 2022
The second radical is the most important component of the past tense. Only the second root letter can have any of the three vowels (a, i, u) in the past tense whereas the first and third must have فَتْحةٌ.
The second vowel can help us understand verbs better and may tell us more about the character and meaning of the verb. Let’s see why.
|2nd vowel||pattern||What does it denote?|
|“a”||فَعَلَ||an act; someone initiates something|
|“i”||فَعِلَ||a transitory state;|
|“u“||فَعُلَ||a permanent state;|
|“a”||فَعَلَ||to do; to act|
|“u“||حَسُنَ||to be beautiful|
|“u“||كَبُرَ||to be big|
This is generally but not universally true. There are exceptions because neighboring consonants have influenced the vowels (or the other way round). There is a rule of thumb for verbs of category 3 (فَعُلَ):
They usually don’t form an active participle – but a pseudo, quasi participle that describes the state of things (صِفةٌ مُشَبَّهةٌ). For example: big (ٌكَبِير), nice (لَطِيفٌ).
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