Arabic Root System Overview

The Arabic root or مصدر refers to a three or four consonant base-word which represents a core meaning or concept. Most roots in Arabic are made up of three consonants. A large number of words can be derived from each root. 

For example, the root k-t-b كَتَبَ carries the meaning ‘writing’.

Various words are derived from this root, all associated with the idea ‘writing’ literally or abstractly.

Words are formed from these roots by addition of vowels (short and double) and consonants (like hamza, t, s, y, m, n, w).

He wrotekatabaكَتَبَ
writerkātibكَاتِب
He correspondedkātabaكَاتَبَ
bookkitābكِتَاب
office;deskmaktabمَكْتَب
librarymaktabaمَكْتَبَة
writingkitābaكِتَابَة
Write! uktubuاُكْتُبْ
I write aktubuأَكْتُبُ

The root system is a unique and amazing concept in the Arabic language which allows you to rapidly expand your vocabulary. Once you start recognising these patterns, it will be very easy for you to remember the meanings of new words.

Practice

Let’s try to identify the roots of some frequent words in the Qur’ān.


knowledge-root-arabic

The Root R-S-L

ر-س-لr-s-lsending
رَسُولrasūlmessenger
أَرْسَلَarsalaHe sent
رِسَالَةrisālamessage
مُرْسَلmursalThat which was sent

The Root Kh-L-Q

خ – ل – قkh-l-q creation
خَلَقَ khalaqa He created
خَلْق khalq creation
خَالِق khāliq creator
مَخْلُوق makhlūq creation
خَلَّاق khallāq One who creates repeatedly
اِخْتِلَاق ikhtilāq Fabrication (lies that are made up)
خُلُق khuluq Character (what a person is made of)

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Abdul Aleem

Founder, Arabic For Beginners

Abdul Aleem is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Fiqh from the Medina Islamic University Malaysia. He loves Arabic and wants to help others learn it.

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