السلام عليكم و رحمة الله
In 7 types of nouns in رفع, we learned that they are 7 situations when an Arabic noun will be in raf’. Today we’re going to look at the first one: the فاعل (or doer) of a sentence
The فاعل (doer)
الفاعِلُ هُوَ: الاسْمُ المَرْفْوْعُ المَذْكُوْرُ قَبْلَهُ فِعْلُهُ
The فاعِل (doer) is: The raf’-ized noun whose verb is mentioned before it.
The word فاعِل has two meanings, one that goes back to the normal meaning in the language and one that is specifically when we’re talking about grammar. In the language, it just means “whoever made the فِعْل (action) happen”. When we’re talking about grammar, the meaning is exactly what’s above: “The raf’-ized noun whose verb is mentioned before it”.
That means three things when we’re looking for what could be the doer in a sentence:
- It has to be a noun (so it can’t be a verb or a particle). It can be:
- an outright noun, as in قالَ نُوْحٌ (“Noah said”) and وَإذْ يَرْفَعُ إبراهِيمُ (“And when Abraham raised”)
- something that’s not a noun, but can be interpreted as one. Three quick examples:
- أوَلَمْ يَكْفِهِمْ أنَّا أنْزَلْنا (“Hasn’t it sufficed them that we sent down…?” – The word أنَّا (“that we”) together along with the verb أنْزَلْنا (“We sent down”) could be understood as the verbal noun إنْزالُنا (“our sending down of …”). If we set that as the doer, then the we can understand it to mean “Hasn’t our sending down sufficed them?” If you don’t understand this one fully, just move on because we’ll be talking more about the إنََ family more when we talk about the situations when a noun will be nasb-ized.
- يَسُرُّنِيْ أنْ تَتَمَسَّكَ بِالْفَضائِلِ (“It makes me happy that you adhere to virtues”) – We see the nasb-izer أنْ along with the verb تَتَمَسَّكَ (“you adhere”). Together they are understood as the noun تَمَسُّكُكَ (“your adherence”), and that will be the doer. The meaning can be “Your adherence to virtues makes me happy”.
- أعْجَبَنِيْ ما صَنَعْتَ (“What you manufactured amazed me”) – We can take ما (“what”) and صَنَعْتَ (“you manufactured”) together to mean صُنْعُكَ (“your manufacturing”) and set that as the doer. The meaning can be “Your manufacturing amazed me”.
- It has to be in raf’ (i.e. it can’t be in nasb or jarr)
- Its verb has to be before it (i.e. the doer has to come after the verb) – If you find a raf’-ized noun before the verb, then you’re not looking at a verbal sentence. It’s a nominal sentence, which has a mubtada` (or whatever modifies it) and a khabar.
The intent of “verb” here also includes whatever resembles a verb such as the:
- اسم الفعل (noun that acts like a verb), like هَيهاتَ العَقِيق (“how far off is the canyon!”) and شتّانَ زَيدٌ وَعَمْروٌ (“How different are Zayd and `Amr!”) – The words العقيق and زيد (along with عمرو who’s connected to زَيد) to it are all doers.
- اسم الفاعل (noun with the meaning of the doer of an action), like أقادِمٌ أبُوكَ (“Is your father standing?”) – The word أبوك is the doer of قادِمٌ (“one who stands”)
Divisions of the فاعِل
وَهُوَ عَلى قِسْمَيْنِ: ظاهِر وَمُضْمَر. فَالظاهِرُ نَحْوُ قَوْلِكَ: قامَ زَيْدٌ وَيَقُوْمُ زَيْدٌ, قامَ الزَيْدانِ وَيَقُومُ الزَيْدانِ, وَقامَ الزَيْدُوْنَ وَيَقُوْمُ الزَيْدُوْنَ, وَقامَ الرِجالُ وَيقُوْمُ الرِجالُ وَقامَتْ هِنْدٌ وَتَقُوْمُ هِنْدٌ, قامَتِ َالهِنْدانِ وَتَقُوْمُ الهِنْدانِ وَقامَتِ الهِنْداتُ وَتَقُوْمُ الهِنْداتُ وَتَقُوْمُ الهُنُوْدُ وَقامَ أخُوْكَ وَيَقُوْمُ أخُوْكَ وَقام غُلامِيْ وَيَقُوْمُ غُلامِيْ, وَما أشْبَهَ ذَلِكَ
And it (the doer) is based on two divisions, apparent and obscured. The apparent is like your saying: ٌقامَ زَيد (“Zayd stood”), ٌيَقُوْمُ زَيْد (“Zayd stands”), قامَ الزَيْدَان (“The two Zayds stood”), يَقُوْمُ الزَيْدانِ (“The two Zayds stand”), َقام الزَيْدُوْن (“The Zayds stood”), َيَقُوْمُ الزَيْدُوْن (“The Zayds stand”), قامَ الرِجالُ (“The men stood”), ُيَقُوْمُ الرِجال (“The men stand”), قامَتْ هِنْدٌ (“Hind stood”), ٌتَقُوْمُ هِنْد (“Hind stands”), قامَتِ الهِنْدانِ (“The two Hinds stood”), تَقُوْمُ الهِنْدانِ (“The two Hinds stand”), قامَتِ الهِنْداتُ (“The Hinds stood”), ُتَقُوْمُ الهِنْدات (“The Hinds stand”), ُتَقُوْمُ الهُنُوْد (“The Hinds stand”), َقامَ أخُوْك (“Your brother stood”), َيَقُوْمُ أخُوْك (“Your brother stands”), ْقامَ غُلامِي (“My boy stood”), يَقُوْمُ غُلامِي (“My boy stands”) and whatever resembles that.
The فاعِل falls into two divisions, the apparent and the obscured. The apparent (ظاهِر) is whatever gives its meaning without needing something else to come with. The obscured (مُضْمَر) indicates the intended meaning with something alongside it, in either the first, second or third person.
The apparent فاعِل
The apparent doer has different variations, as it can vary in:
- number (singular, dual, sound plural or broken plural)
- gender (masculine or feminine)
- showing its status explicitly or implicitly
- means of taking status (Either using a dhammah or one of its substitutes)
- tense of the action ( Past – ماض or present/future – مُضارِع)
Examples of apparent doers:
|Past||سافَرَ مُحَمّدٌ (Muhammad traveled)
حَضَرَ خالِدٌ (Khalid attended)
(the two friends attended)
(the two brothers traveled)
w/ the masculine
|Past||َحَضَرَ المُحَمَّدُوْن (the Muhammad’s attended)
حَجَّ المُسْلِمُوْنَ (the Muslims made pilgrimage)
w/ the masculine
|Past||حَضَرَ الأصْدِقاءُ (the friends attended)
سافَرَ الزُعَماءُ (the leaders traveled)
|Past||حَضَرَتْ هِنْدٌ (Hind attended)
سافَرَتْ سُعادُ (Suad traveled)
|Past||حَضَرَتِ الهِنْدانِ (the two Hind’s attended)
سافَرَتِ الزَينَبانِ (the two Zaynab’s traveled)
w/ the feminine
|Past||حَضَرَتِ الهِنْداتُ (the Hind’s attended)
سَافَرَتِ الزَيْنَباتُ (The Zaynab’s traveled)
w/ the feminine
|Previous examples for singular,
broken plural and feminine plural
|Past||حَضَرَ الفَتَى (the youth attended)
سافَرَ القاضِيْ (the judge traveled)
أقْبَلَ صَدِيْقِيْ (my friend approached)
|Previous examples for duals
and sound masculine plural
|The 5 Nouns||Past||حَضَرَ أبُوْكَ (your father attended)
سافَرَ أخُوْكَ (your brother traveled)
The obscured فاعِل
وَالمُضْمَرُ اثنا عَشَرَ, نَحْوَ قَوْلِكَ: ضَرَبْتُ وَضَرَبْنا وَضَرَبْتَ وَضَرَبْتِ وَضَرَبْتُما وَضَرَبْتُمْ وَضَرَبْتُنَّ وَضَرَبَ وَضَرَبَتْ وَضَرَبَا وَضَرَبُوْا وَضَرَبْنَ
The obscured doer is 12 (kinds), like one’s saying ضَرَبْتُ (“I hit”), ضَرَبْنا (“We hit”), ضَرَبْتَ (“You hit”), ضَرَبْتِ (“You [f.] hit”), ضَرَبْتُما (“Both of you hit”), ضَرَبْتُمْ (“You all hit”), ضَرَبْتُنَّ (“You[f.] all hit”), ضَرَبَ (“He hit”), ضَرَبَتْ (“She hit”), ضَرَبَا (“They both hit”), ضَرَبُوْا (“They all [masc.] hit”) and ضَرَبْنَ (“They all [fem.] hit”).
Sometimes you see a verb, but you don’t see a raf’-ized noun after it. That’s because the doer is obscured inside the verb, so we have to stop and note a few things here before moving on:
- Every verb has a built-in default doer hidden inside it. That means an Arabic verb is a complete sentence by itself.
- If you don’t see a raf’-ized noun after a verb that could be a doer, then the doer is inside the verb.
- If you do see a raf’-ized noun, then that’s the doer and you ignore the hidden doer.
An obscured doer can be one of 12 types, as it can be:
- first person:
- singular (“I”)
- more than one (“We”)
- second person or third person
- singular masculine (“you” or “he”)
- singular feminine (“you[f.] or “she”)
- dual (“you both” or “they both”) – comes in the masculine and feminine
- plural masculine (“you all” or “they all”)
- plural feminine (“you[f.] all” or “they[f.] all”)
Examples of these types, using ضَرِبَ (“he hit”), حَفِظَ (“he memorized”) and اجْتَهَدَ (“he strove”) as samples:
|First person||Singular (“I”)||ضَرَبتُ (“I hit”)
حَفِظتُ (“I memorized”)
اجتَهَدتُ (“I strove”)
(or singular speaker magnifying himself)
|ضَرَبْنا (“We hit”)
حَفِظنا (“We memorized”)
اجتَهَدنا (“We strove”)
|Second person||Singular masculine (“You”)||ضَرَبْتَ
|Singular feminine (“You[f.]”)||ضَرَبْتِ
|Dual (“You both”)||ضَرَبْتُما
|Plural masculine (“You all”)||ضَرَبْتُمْ
|Plural feminine (“You[f.] all”)||ضَرَبْتُنَّ
|Third person||Singular masculine (“He”)||ضَرَبَ
|Singular feminine (“She”)||ضَرَبَتْ
|Dual (“They both”)||ضَرَبَا (feminine = ضَرَبَتَا)
حَفِظَا (feminine = حَفِظَتَا)
اجتَهَدَا (feminine = اجْتَهَدَتَا)
|Plural masculine (“They all”)||ضَرَبُوْا
|Plural feminine (“They[f.] all”)||ضَرَبْنَ
You might notice that there is no real difference between this chart and what we have in Conjugating past tense verbs. This makes sense if you remember that a verb is an action and a hidden doer together in one. I strongly advise taking some time to memorize them.
Let’s take a look at a few simple sentences to get a feel for how to think about sentences. For each word, we note its role in the sentence, what state it’s in, and what it’s using to show it.
حَضَرَ مُحَمَّدٌ (“Muhammad arrived”)
- حَضَرَ (“arrived”) – past tense verb that is built on fathah. Remember that particles and past tense verbs do not have state.
- مُحَمَّدٌ – It’s the doer of حضر. We know it’s the doer because it’s a noun, it’s in raf’, and it’s after the verb. It uses a dhammah to show its status.
سافَرَ المُرْتَضَى (“the contented one traveled”)
- سافَرَ (“traveled”) – past tense verb that is built on fathah
- المُرْتَضى (“the contented one”) – It’s the doer of سافَرَ. It’s a noun, it’s in raf’, and it’s after the verb. It uses an implied dhammah to show its status. The dhammah is implied because it’s impossible to put a vowel on an ا or ى
سَيَزُوْرُنا القاضِيْ (“The judge will visit us”)
- سَ – a particle that delays a present tense verb into the future
- يَزُوْرُ (“he visits”) – present tense verb that is in raf’. There is nothing there that will change it to nasb or jazm. It shows its status using a dhammah
- نا (“us”) – This is an attached pronoun (so it won’t ever change its ending). It’s in the position of nasb because it’s the object of the action يَزُوْرُ. We’ll learn other situations when a noun will be nasb-ized later إن شاء الله, but for now, if you see a pronoun attached to a verb, it’s an object and will be in nasb
- القاضِيْ – The doer of يزُوْرُ. It’s in raf’ and comes after the verb like the doer should. It takes status using an implied dhammah because it’s easier to pronounce it with a sukoon on the ي.
أقْبَلَ أخِيْ (“My brother drew near”)
- أقْبَلَ (“he drew near”) – past tense verb that is built on fathah
- أخ (“brother”) – It’s the doer of أقْبَلَ. It’s in raf’ and comes after the verb . It takes status using an implied dhammah. It’s attached to the ي of “me”, which means that the خ has to take a kasrah on it, and that kasrah will block a dhammah from going on top of it. To review implied status, you can see see Implied status and fixed words. This word is the first part of an idhafah and is mudhaaf to the ي after it
- ي (“me”) – It’s a pronoun, so it doesn’t change its ending. However because it’s mudhaaf ilayhi we say that it is in the position of jarr.
In all of the examples, if we hadn’t found a doer after the verb, the doer would have been the pronoun inside the verb.
From the Quran
Below, I’ve highlighted all the apparent doers from 9:69-72.
- الأنهارُ (“rivers”) is the doer of تَجْرِيْ (“she flows”). From this we learn that the doer does not have to come immediately after the verb. As long as it comes somewhere after, it doesn’t matter how far after.
- Also, if the doer is a broken plural of inanimate objects, we refer to them as a singular female. That’s why we see a feminine تَجْرِيْ instead of a masculine يَجْرِيْ
- All the other doers on this page come right after their verbs
- What does the word فاعل mean, linguistically and grammatically?
- Into how many divisions does the فاعل break into?
- What’s meant by the apparent doer?
- What’s meant by the obscured doer?
- How many kinds of obscured doers can we have?
Until next time, السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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