3 questions on Levantine


I was wondering if anyone here could help me with a quick question:

I was listening to this song by Autostrad (https://www.talkinarabic.com/autostrad-ana-bokra-m3attel/) and I don’t understand why the verbs m3attel (being off work) and madaoui (going to work) start with a “mim”. What type of tense/mode/conjugation is it? The notes mention that: “Both words are اسم فاعل which indicate a continuous action.”, but I haven’t found more information on this.

Also I would be very grateful for any recommendation on a good book / site to study Levantine grammar.

Mille grazie

Hello Jens,

You are correct both are the اسم فاعل, which can be considered the active participle. The اسم فاعل is in fact a noun and not a verb and should be thought of as the person who does the action. The اسم فاعل is used in both MSA and all of the colloquial forms of Arabic in a variety of ways. One of these ways is to express the present continuous. As it is considered a noun rather than a verb it is not conjugated, but rather acts at the predicate (خبر) and should agree with the subject of the sentence مبتدأ, in number and gender (and case in MSA).

In stem one the اسم فاعل is form out of the فاعل pattern with an alif between the first and second radical. So كتب becomes; كاتب (i.e writer), or in the case of hollow verbs such as نوم a hamza fills the place of the second radical, and becomes نائم (i,e sleeper or sleeping). You might here وين أحمد؟ هو نائم هلا.

In all other verb stems, the اسم فاعل is formed by adding a meem to the present tense form of the verb. So درّس become مُدرّس (i,e teacher). استمع (to listen) becomes مستمع (listener), on radio you will often hear صباح الخير مستمعين.

I hope this helps with your question, and is an instance where a little background in MSA can go a long way.

All the best,