I am currently trying to learn Arabic but think that instead of learning vocabulary piece by piece, it would be better to learn the root consonants for nouns, adjectives and verbs and rules for vowels to change their gender, tense, voice etc.

Is there any source that can be suggested where I could comprehensively learn this? Either free online or as a popular paid book....

  • These roots are not "words". They are usually called just "roots" or "triliteral roots" or sometimes "radicals". Aug 8, 2014 at 9:14
  • It's probably best to learn one form of the words and then learn how to transform them, rather than the vowelless roots by themselves.
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 8, 2014 at 10:01
  • I realize the roots are not words. But they are the basic forms which can be modified to form words if you know the rules for modification. And those are the rules I want to learn. Aug 8, 2014 at 11:51
  • @user1278255: I just wanted to let you know why I was editing your question title where you used the term "root words". Aug 9, 2014 at 7:30

2 Answers 2


I think this is definitely the best way to learn Arabic. When I was a student (many many years ago) I learned a lot from the “Cours de langue arabe” by D’Alverny, which follows exactly this principle from the outset. (I do not know, however, whether you can read French). After you have acquired the basic grammar you can of course start using Wehr’s dictionary (either in its German or its English version) which, like all good Arabic dictionaries, is arranged strictly by roots.

  • Sadly, I do not know French. Do you know any other sources? It seems strange to me that such an excellent system is not more publicly available. I saw the Shariah Program but it is too expensive even with the discounts. Aug 8, 2014 at 11:56

I found this page useful: http://arabic.desert-sky.net/verbs.html (Googling "basic Arabic verbs" led me to a number of similar useful pages.)

I copied a bunch of these into Anki for drill. By reading actual Arabic (in small doses such as on Twitter, as I always need a dictionary or auto-translate) I get to see how the basic verbs are used.

Hope this helps.

  • Welcome to Linguistics SE, and thanks for your answer! Nov 30, 2015 at 2:42

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