Alternations of Modern Standard Arabic

Alternations
Alternation name Description Examples Verbs
C
y Stem shape (i)nCaCaCa (stem VII), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa (stem I). The derived form expresses the passive of the base form event. In the process of passivization the object of the verb (accusative noun phrase or prepositional phrase) is deleted.
(60)
ʾInbanâ lmanzil-u ʿalâ ʾasāsin ḍaʿīfin.
ʾinbanâ
build.VII.PASS.PRF.3SG.M
l-manzil-u
ART-house.M-NOM
ʿalâ
on
ʾasās-in
basement.M-GEN.IDEF
ḍaʿīf-in
weak-GEN.IDEF
‘The house was built on weak foundations.’
7
C
y Stem shape (i)CtaCaCa (stem VIII), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa (stem I), and marginally from verbs with stem shape 'aCCaCa (stem IV). The derived form expresses the reflexive meaning of the base form event. In the process of this derivation the object of the verb (accusative noun phrase or prepositional phrase) is deleted (see examples 47, 102 and 200). In some cases the direct object of the base form becomes an oblique (prepositional phrase) (see example 104).
(47)
Iġtasala lwaladu.
iġtasala
wash.VIII.REFL.PRF.3SG.M
l-walad-u
ART-boy.M-NOM
‘The boy washed (himself).’
3
C
y Stem shape aCCaCA (stem IV), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa/CaCuCa (stem I).
The derived form expresses causation of the base form event. The valency of the base verb is extended by an accusative object.
(32)
ʾaḫāfat albintu ṭṭifla.
ʾaḫāfat
fear.IV.CAUS.PRF.3SG.F
al-bint-u
ART-girl.F-NOM
ṭ-ṭifl-a
ART-child.M-ACC
‘The girl frightened the child.’
14
U
n the prepositional phrase in the construction:
1. V.subj[A] A-nom L-acc
bi+T
is upgraded to a second direct object:
2. V.subj[A] A-nom L-acc T-acc

The 2nd construction is more neutral, in the 1st construction the PP is stressed.
(21)
Malaʾa rraǧulu lkaʾsa māʾan.
malaʾa
fill.PRF.3SG.M
r-raǧul-u
ART-man.M-NOM
l-kaʾs-a
ART-glass.F-ACC
māʾ-an
water.M-ACC.IDEF
‘The man filled the glass with water.’
2
C
y Stem shape taCāCaCa (stem VI), derived from verbs with stem shape CāCaCa (stem III) and marginally from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa/CaCuCa (stem I).
The derived form expresses reciprocal actions which are performed by two (see examples 27, 37, 57, 90, 101, 129) or more subjects (see examples 24, 27, 35, 212) who act upon each other. If the subject is a singular NP the second agent of the action can be introduced by the preposition
maʿa 'with' (see example 70). In this case the second agent is marked by genitive (all prepositions in MSA govern the genitive case). Two subject noun phrases are coordinated by the prefix-conjunction wa- 'and' attached to the second subject noun phrase (see examples 37, 57, 90, 101, 129).

As the result of the derivation the valency of the basic verb is reduced > a direct object is deleted.
(24)
Taʿānaqnā.
taʿānaqnā
hug.VI.RECP.PRF.1PL
‘We hugged each other.’
9
C
y Stem shape taCāCaCa (stem VI) derived from verbs with stem shape CāCaCa (stem III) and marginally from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa/CaCuCa (stem I) or from verbs with stem shape 'aCCaCA (stem IV).
The derived form expresses the reflexive meaning of the base form event.
In the process of reflexivization the object of the verb (accusative noun phrase or prepositional phrase) is deleted.
(55)
Tasāʾala rraǧulu ʿammā sayaḥdut̠u lahu.
tasāʾala
ask.V.REFL.PRF.3SG.M
r-raǧul-u
ART-man.M-NOM
ʿammā
after.what
sa-yaḥdut̠u
FUT-happen.IPFV.3SG.M
la-hu
for-3SG.M
‘The man asked himself what will happen to him.’
1
U
n With verbs that undergo this alternation, two constructions are possible: one with an object of preposition:
V.subj[1] 1-nom
min+2
and one with a direct object:
V.subj[1] 1-nom 2-acc
The two constructions have identical meaning. In case of
ġādara 'leave' the one with the accusative object is more basic.
(5)
ʾAlā taḫāfu min alḥarbi?
ʾa-lā
Q-NEG
taḫāfu
fear.IPFV.2SG.M
min
from
al-ḥarb-i
ART-war.F-GEN
‘Aren't you afraid of the war?’
2
C
y Stem shape CaCCaCa (stem II), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa/CaCuCa (stem I). The derived form expresses causation of the base event.
In some cases, when both - causatives of stem II and stem IV - are derived from a verb of stem I, stem II has an intensive meaning in addition to causation. The valency of the base verb is extended by an accusative object
(31)
Ḫawwafat albintu ṭṭifla.
ḫawwafat
fear.II.CAUS.INT.PRF.3SG.F
al-bint-u
ART-girl.F-NOM
ṭ-ṭifl-a
ART-child.M-ACC
‘The girl scared the child.’
11
C
y Stem shape taCaCCaCa (stem V), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCCaCa (stem II) marginally from stem shape CaCaCa (stem I). The derived form expresses the anticausative of the base form event. As the result of the derivation the direct accusative object of the base verb is deleted.
(59)
Tasammâ muḥammadun.
tasammâ
name.V.PASS.PRF.3SG.M
muḥammad-un
Muhammad-NOM.IDEF
‘He was named Muhammad.’
4
C
y Stem shape taCaCCaCa (stem V), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCCaCa (stem II), marginally from stem shape ʾaCCaCa (stem IV).
The derived form expresses the reflexive of the base form event. As the result of the derivation the direct accusative object of the base verb is deleted.
(199)
Taḫaffâ lliṣṣu warāʾa ǧidārin.
taḫaffâ
hide.V.REFL.PRF.3SG.M
l-liṣṣ-u
ART-thief.M-NOM
warāʾa
after
ǧidār-in
wall.M-GEN.IDEF
‘The thief hid behind a wall.’
4
C
y Stem shape taCāCCaCa (stem VI), derived from verbs with stem shape CāCaCa (stem III) and marginally from stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa/CaCuCa (stem I). The derived form expresses the passive of the base form event. In the process of passivization the object of the verb (accusative noun phrase or prepositional phrase) is deleted.
(43)
Taʾākalat assayyāratu min aṣṣadaʾi.
taʾākalat
eat.VI.PASS.PRF.3SG.F
as-sayyārat-u
ART-car.F-NOM
min
from
aṣ-ṣadaʾ-i
ART-rust.M-GEN
‘The car has been eaten away by rust.’
1
C
y Stem shape (i)CtaCaCa (stem VIII), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa/CaCuCa (stem I). The derived form expresses reciprocal actions which are performed by two or more subjects (see example 216) who act upon each other. The second agent of the action can be introduced by a noun phrase which is coordinated with the subject noun phrase by the prefix-conjunction wa- (see examples 67, 105), or it can be introduced by the prepositions maʿa 'with' (example 71) or bi- 'with' (example 76).
The verb
iʿtanaqa 'hug each other' is derived from ʿānaqa (III) 'hug so./sth.', because the verb of stem I does not exist.
(71)
Iqtatala maʿa ʾaʿdāʾihi.
iqtatala
kill.VIII.RECP.PRF.3SG.M
maʿa
with
ʾaʿdāʾ-i-hi
rival.M.PL-GEN-3SG.M
‘He fought/killed his rivals (and they fought him). / He fought with his rivals.’
6
U
n The prepositional phrase in the construction:
V.subj[A] A-nom T-acc
li+R (examples 86, 88)
is upgraded to a direct object:
V.subj[A] A-nom R-acc T-acc (examples 87, 206)
According to a native speaker the construction
V.subj[A] A-nom T-acc
li+R
is more common and therefore it is to be considered as basic (at least for the purpose of the database). The meaning of the two constructions is identical.
(206)
ʾArâ lmuʿallimu lʾaṭfāla lkitāba.
ʾarâ
see.IV.CAUS.PRF.3SG.M
l-muʿallim-u
ART-teacher.M-NOM
l-ʾaṭfāl-a
ART-child.M.PL-ACC
l-kitāb-a
ART-book.M-ACC
‘The teacher showed the book to the children.’
2
U
n The basic form
V.subj[A] A-nom T-acc
ʿalâ+L (partitive meaning)

alternatives with the derived form
V.subj[A] A-nom L-acc
bi-T (holistic meaning)

The second coding frame is identical to the basic form of the Locative alternation 1.
(93)
Ḥammala rraǧulu lǧamala bilqišši.
ḥammala
carry.II.CAUS.PRF.3SG.M
r-raǧul-u
ART-man.M-NOM
l-ǧamal-a
ART-camel.M-ACC
bi-l-qišš-i
with-ART-hay.M-GEN
‘The man loaded the camel with hay.’
2
C
y Stem shape (i)staCCaCa (stem X), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa/CaCuCa (stem I). The derived form expresses causation of the base form event. The valency of the base verb is extended by an accusative object
(135)
Istaḍḥakahu ṣadīquhu.
istaḍḥaka-hu
laugh.X.CAUS.PRF-3SG.M
ṣadīq-u-hu
friend.M-NOM-3SG.M
‘His friend made him laugh (against his will).’
3
U
n With verbs that undergo this alternation, two constructions are possible: one with an object of preposition:
V.subj[1] 1-nom
bi+2
and one with a direct object:
V.subj[1] 1-nom 2-acc
This alternation is possible with verbs of recognition and experience (know, hear, comprehend). For the semantic difference of this alternations see examples 4 and 210, 177 and 209, 207 and 208.
(210)
ʿArifa lwaladu bilbinti.
ʿarifa
know.PRF.3SG.M
l-walad-u
ART-boy.M-NOM
bi-l-bint-i
with-ART-girl.F-GEN
‘The boy knew about the girl.’
3
C
y Stem shape (i)nCaCaCa (stem VII), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa (stem I). The derived form expresses the anticausative meaning of the base form event. In the process of this derivation the object of the verb (accusative noun phrase or prepositional phrase) is deleted.
(66)
Inkasara-t lkaʾsu.
inkasarat
break.VII.PASS/ACAUS.PRF.3SG.F
l-kaʾs-u
ART-glass.F-NOM
‘The glass was broken. / The glass broke.’
3
C
y Stem shape (i)CtaCaCa (stem VIII), derived from verbs with stem shape CaCaCa/CaCiCa (stem I), and marginally from verbs with stem shape 'aCCaCa (stem IV). The derived form expresses the anticausative meaning of the base form event. In the process of this derivation the object of the verb (accusative noun phrase or prepositional phrase) is deleted.
(3)
Imtalaʾat alkaʾsu māʾan.
imtalaʾat
fill.VIII.ACAUS.PRF.3SG.F
al-kaʾs-u
ART-glass.F-NOM
māʾ-an
water.M-ACC.IDEF
‘The glass filled up with water.’
3
U
n With verbs that undergo this alternation, two constructions are possible:
V.subj[A] A-nom P-acc <->
V.subj[A] A-nom X-acc
min+P
(197)
Qaššara lwaladu qušūran min assamakati.
qaššara
peel.II.PRF.3SG.M
l-walad-u
ART-boy.M-NOM
qušūr-an
scale.M.PL-ACC.IDEF
min
from
as-samakat-i
ART-fish.F-GEN
‘The boy peeled some scales off the fish.’
1
U
n Verbs denoting movement towards a goal or arrival e.g. ʾatâ ‘come to’, ǧāʾa ‘come to’, ḥaḍara ‘attend sth.’, waṣala ‘arrive at’, daḫala ‘enter sth.’, allow the alternation:
V.subj[A] A-nom
ʾilâ+G
V.subj[A] A-nom G-acc
with no significant semantic difference. The preposition
ʾilâ often flags a noun phrase expressing inanimate and non-human goal whereas accusative is used predominantly with human arguments.
The Verb
d̠ahaba 'go' does not allow this alternation.
(249)
Ǧāʾa lwaladu lbayta.
ǧāʾa
come.PRF.3SG.M
l-walad-u
ART-boy.M-NOM
l-bayt-a
ART-house.M-ACC
‘The boy came to the house.’
1
U
n With verbs that undergo this alternation, two constructions are possible:
V.subj[A] A-nom P-acc <->
V.subj[A] A-nom
In this group of verbs, we find action verbs with an agent as subject and patient or theme as object:
ʾakala ‘eat (sth.)’(ex. 7 and 218), šariba ‘drink (sth.)’, ḥalaqa ‘shave (sth.) (ex. 48 and 202)’, ṭabaḫa ‘cook (sth.)’ (ex. 180 and 213), nabaḥa ‘bark (at so./sth.)’ etc.
(254)
Ḫāfat albintu.
ḫāfat
fear.PRF.3SG.F
al-bint-u
ART-girl.F-NOM
‘The girl was afraid.’
5
U
n With verbs that undergo this alternation, tree constructions are possible:
V.subj[A] A-nom T-acc
V.subj[A] A-nom SOURCE-acc
V.subj[A] A-nom
min+SOURCE

If both THEME and SOURCE are expressed in the sentence the only available construction is:
V.subj[A] A-nom T-acc
min+SOURCE

For the purpose of the database the
V.subj[A] A-nom T-acc
min+SOURCE
coding frame is to be considered as basic.
(224)
Saraqa lliṣṣu lmarʾata.
saraqa
steal.PRF.3SG.M
l-liṣṣ-u
ART-thief.M-NOM
l-marʾat-a
ART-woman.F-ACC
‘The thief stole from the women.’
1
C
y The multipurpose preposition bi- serves productively as a transitivizer of motion-verb constructions. It occurs only with verbs of stem I. If it marks a human noun phrase it can be analysed as comitative: ǧāʾa bi- ‘come with’, d̠ahaba bi- ‘go with’, but it is used with inanimate entities as well.

The coding frames of the alternation are:
V.subj[A] A-nom <->
V.subj[A] A-nom
bi-T
(251)
Ǧarâ lwaladu bilkitābi ʾilâ lbinti.
ǧarâ
run.PRF.3SG.M
l-walad-u
ART-boy.M-NOM
bi-l-kitāb-i
with-ART-book.M-GEN
ʾilâ
to
l-bint-i
ART-girl.F-GEN
‘The boy brought the book to the girl. / The boy run with the book to the girl.’
3
U
n With verbs that undergo this alternation, two constructions are possible:
V.subj[A] A-nom P-acc <->
V.subj[A] A-nom
In this group of verbs, we find action verbs with an agent as subject and patient or theme as object:
ʾakala ‘eat (sth.)’(ex. 7 and 218), šariba ‘drink (sth.)’, ḥalaqa ‘shave (sth.) (ex. 48 and 202)’, ṭabaḫa ‘cook (sth.)’ (ex. 180 and 213), nabaḥa ‘bark (at so./sth.)’ etc.
(122)
Ġannat alʾummu ʾuġniyata liṭṭiflihā.
ġannat
sing.II.PRF.3SG.F
al-ʾumm-u
ART-mother.F-NOM
ʾuġniyat-an
song.F-ACC.IDEF
li-ṭ-ṭifl-i-hā
for-ART-child.M-GEN-3SG.F
‘The mother sang a song for her child.’
3