“State” and not motion - the active participle


Also see: Active participle explained, Active participles in Egyptian colloquial, Compare active participles to verbs, Be careful, Masc. & Fem. & plural active participles


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Describe in an Unexpected Way.


 What is a participle?

Participles as adjectives:

Use participles as adjectives to modify nouns.

growing business

business = noun
= participle

give a verb "feel of action" to the noun but act as adjectives.

Since verbs can not modify nouns we use participles to modify nouns.

Participles are derived from verbs.

But why not just call participles adjectives? Because participles are derived from verbs to modify nouns.

Examples of participles:
Smiling people

Smiling = present participle -ing
 = past participle -ed

'Smiling' and 'rented' modify their adjacent nouns with a verb "feel of action."

'Smiling' is derived from the verb "to smile."
'Rented' is derived from the verb "to rent."

What is an active participle?

An Active participle is an adjective which describes motion.


The active participle explained with examples

This module is challenging conceptually because you are required to understand the difference between an active participle and a verb.

Active participles and verbs are sometimes used interchangeably or one is preferred over the other.

Idiomatically MSA/Classical prefers verbs and Egyptian Colloquial/Spoken Arabic prefers active participles.

You will need to recognize the active particle as an adjective and not a verb. Active participles describe motion without being a verb.

Frequently we use active participles and not verbs when we are not even aware. We think we are using a verb but it is really an adjective.

Let’s take a closer look…

If we use the simple verb this means we are referring to one moment in time in which motion occurs.

But if we use the active participle we are describing motion which continues over a period of time.


Let's do a close up:

In the Arabic language:

I understood
- Is a verb which refers the past tense.

I understand - Is an active participle (adjective) which refers to the state of realization.  

In the English language:

understood = past tense verb
understand = present tense verb

This module examines cases in which MSA/Classical prefers verb usage while Egyptian Colloquial/Spoken prefers active participle (adjective) usage to express the same thought.


أنا فَهِمْتُ

أنا فِهِمْتْ
 1 Ana fihimt - I understood (verb)



أنا أفْهَمُ

أنا فاهِمْ
 2 Ana faahim - I understand (active participle)

In the above example MSA/Classical uses
أنا فَهِمْتُ  (the verb form) while Egyptian Colloquial/Spoken prefers أنا فاهِمْ  (the active participle form) and can also use أنا فِهِمْتْ  (the verb form).        

If someone is explaining something you can stop them abruptly to say:

"I understood you."


In other words, no need to explain further I understood this yesterday or an hour ago. Here you use a VERB.

Also, if someone is explaining something you might interrupt to tell them:

"I understand."

In other words, please don’t keep explaining I am in the state of understanding. Here you use an ACTIVE PARTICIPLE to give the feel of the present tense. 




Beware: The present progressive verb is "motion" over a period of time while the active particle is "state of being" over a period of time.

Active participles in Egyptian Colloquial/Spoken Arabic are frequently used instead of the present progressive verb and the simple verb.

For instance, the active participle
naayim - asleep is preferred to the verb biynaam - sleeping when the emphasis is more on the “state of being asleep” rather than the actual “motion of sleeping.”  


Confusing? If yes, read it all again!

You will get it on the second round.







Keep going! You're almost there.

But what do we mean by "motion" and what do we mean by "state of being"?

"Motion" is moving from point A to point B.

For example, from not knowing to knowing in the case of "fihimt."

However, "state of being" is sitting still on a comfy chair, looking at the clear blue sky, and getting it --
"ana faahim."

In other words, not moving from point A to B but being at point B for some time in the "state" of knowing.

This "state" of knowing is a description or an adjective or active participle.




  Read more on the active participle



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