I have begun to learn Arabic, and the difference between following terms confuse me.

There is this topic of ʾirāb—the science which deals with how the Arabic noun inflects with respect to its grammatical function within a given phrase, clause, or sentence. Within this topic comes rafʿ, naṣb, and jar. And then there is marfūʿ, manṣūb, and majrūr.

Taking, for example, rafʿ and marfūʿ, I understand that these are similar terms. But what is the exact difference?

Is this a correct understanding:rafʿ is the concept itself, and marfūʿ is the description of the noun which is a particular case of that concept?

Both rafʿ and marfūʿ are translated to English as nominative case. Perhaps this is the source of my confusion (that both are translated using the same words, because English does not differentiate between them): rafʿ is the name of nominative case as a “concept”, and marfūʿ is an actual noun in nominative case. If I am wrong, please explain.

  • You have spotted that the longer terms are all derived from the respective shorter terms, yes? And are all in the same grammatical form - probably a participle, but my Arabic grammar is very shaky.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 27, 2020 at 18:48
  • Having looked it up, they appear to be mafʿūl, which is the passive participle from Stem I
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 27, 2020 at 18:53

1 Answer 1


rafʿ is a noun and it means(among other things) "nominative case". marfūʿ is an adjective (passive participle) from the same root; it refers to a noun which is put in the nominative case.

  • 2
    @blackened Arabic has a tendency to "nounify" adjectives. Another noun/passive participle pair you'll eventually run into is كِتَاب‎ (kitab) which means writing as in a book, script or a body of writing and مَكْتُوب‎ (maktub) "that which has been written", which typically refers to a letter (as in mail). Oct 27, 2020 at 18:37

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