Excellent Sarf Reference Book

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

First of all, I apologise for the severe delay as I did aim to post this some months back.  Since then I’ve totally changed this ‘review’ and feel it’s about time I put it out…

Practicing sarf (morphology) is a very important aspect of learning Arabic that I’ve noticed many neglect early on.  It requires a degree of time, practice, memorisation and revision.  Alhamdulillâh, while for some I may have jumped the gun, one of my first and most important purchases when I took my Arabic studies seriously was a dictionary called, “A Dictionary of Arabic Verb Conjugation” (معجم تصريف الأفعال العربية) by Ambassador Antoine El-Dahdah and reviewed by Dr. Georges M. Abdul-Massih.  I now recommend this dictionary to pretty much everyone who is learning Arabic.

The dictionary has two rather popular smaller sisters, “A Pocket Dictionary of Verb Conjugation” and “An Intermediate Dictionary of Verb Conjugation”.  The name of the latter is rather misleading as there is nothing ‘intermediate’ about this edition except it’s size.  It’s larger than the pocket but smaller than the standard.  The name seems more like a bad translation or choice of words; it has nothing to do with content.

The dictionary is basically a reference utility for checking how to conjugate any given fi`l (verb).  However, this is by no means a meaty dictionary that contains a conjugation table for pretty much every verb.  Instead it contains select examples (using common words) which represent each verb conjugation pattern or wazn, to which you plug-in the verb you’re having difficulties with.  Each pattern is given it’s own unique number for easy identification.

To make matters easy, an alphabetical listing/index is provided which boasts over 15,000 verbs.  So if you’re unsure as to which wazn a verb should follow it can be looked up and easily identified.  The standard edition contains an extra index (as well as more examples and other useful tables) which orders verbs according to their patterns, a tool which I found very helpful early on.  Overtime, I’ve noticed that the latter index is more useful for sahîh verbs and the former for those that are mu`tall.  This is only the case if you’ve memorised each pattern since it speeds things up.  As a student of the Arabic language you should have these memorised anyway.

There are some extras included, such as a list of some of the more rare/unique verbs, listings pertaining to the i`râb and binâ’ (the i`râb tables are omitted in the non-standard editions) of verbs and tables which show their tasrif.  It would be useful if the pocket and intermediate editions contained the same extras as the standard, as its larger size is rather impractical in a class-room environment.  Speaking of the class-room, my teachers would at times consult my copy for the really tricky and rare verbs.

As a final note, if you’re under the impression that the dictionary is too advanced for you given the features I’ve mentioned, then you’re probably wrong.  The basic function of the dictionary is useful at any level really.  The rest falls in place as you learn.  In a strange way, this book felt more like a piece of software than a book.  The more you use it and learn, the quicker you can work things out and accomplish your tasks, which in this case is conjugation.

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6 comments so far

  1. Amatullah on

    Jazaak Allahu khayran, I definitely agree. I saw this book with my brother at the cairo book fair and we immediately bought it. It is a terrific resource for students and teachers. I thought it was a bit expensive at first, but it’s definitely worth the price. Alhamdulillah we saw it and bought it.

  2. Amatullah on

    hmm, on second thought I actually think we got the waseet version. (I don’t have it with me at the moment since my brother took it) Baarak Allahu feek for mentioning the differences, I’ll have to buy the standard version now inshaAllah.

    • Abû `Uthmân on

      Wafîki Bârak Allâh.

      I got mine from a maktabah called Dâr ul-Fikr ul-`Arabî, in Madinah Nasr, Cairo. Not a ‘great’ bookshop for Islamic studies, but they had an array of books published by Maktabah Lubnân/Librairie du Liban, which is why I went there. The standard edition costed me 81EGP a year ago, which is pretty pricey but I wasn’t too worried because of its immense benefit.

      There are more differences between the editions. The pocket and intermediate differ from one another in size and ink colours, nothing more (from wha I’ve observed). I totally forgot to make mention of two other great features omitted in the non-standard editions. The first is a twenty page chapter covering the qawâ`id of Arabic verbs, and the second is a hundred page table which shows the mazîdât/derivations of the mujarradah verbs. For example, for أخر it lists أَخَرَ، أخَّر، تأخر، استأخر.

      I will in shâ’ Allâh, update this post to list the differences in content between the standard and smaller editions.

      • Amatullah on

        Jazaak Allahu khayran. I saw it at Dar us Salam in Madinat Nasr but it’s not there anymore. Is Dar al-Fikr the one near the Enppi building on Dhakir Hussein? I hope it’s not too much to ask for directions, I’m leaving Egypt soon and I’d like to buy it inshaAllah.

      • Abû `Uthmân on

        Baarak Allaahu feeki. Yeah Dar us-Salam did stock it. No its not near Enppi. Dar Al-Fikr is located on Abbas El-Akkad, only a shop or two from At-Tawhid wan-Nur. It seems not many people are aware of that branch as even a taxi driver once denied its existence till I made him park right opposite. It’s on the early stretch of the street on your right-hand side if your coming via Mostafa El-Nahas. The address (taken from their site) is:

        فرع مدينة نصر و ادارة التسويق
        94 شارع عباس العقاد
        ت : 2752984 – 2752794
        فاكس : 2752735

  3. Amatullah on

    Jazaak Allahu khayran!

    I also found it here: http://www.neelwafurat.com/itempage.aspx?id=lbb107880-68037&search=books

    InshaAllah i’m going to order it from here if I can’t find it in Egypt.


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