8 July 2016

Arabic Verb Form VI 6 Tafaa'ala تَفَاعَلَ Tafaa3ala

Meaning shades of Arabic Verb Form VI

Also see posts on Other Arabic Verb Forms

This post is on The Meanings of Arabic Verb Form VI تَفَاعَلَ . Usually one or multiple (more than one) of the following meaning shades are applicable in an Arabic Verb Form VI and applicable meaning shades may differ from verb to verb.

Last edited on : 8-July-2016 


1 (w) . Can be made from Form III فَاعَلَ by prefixing تَ before ف due to which it becomes تَفَاعَلَ .

2 (n) .  Can be made from the root by prefixing the augmentative letter ت before the ف of the root and ا after the ف of the root and giving it pattern تَفَاعَلَ .

3 (n) . The ت appears to be basically indicating oneself. (To oneself, by oneself etc.)

4 (n) . The ا after ف appears to be basically indicating the active participle role.

5 (n) . So the ت at beginning and the ا after ف seem to be indicating in Form VI some meaning shades like:
i. When only 1 person is involved:
a. Making oneself do or be doer of or doing something.
b. Making oneself do or be doer of or doing something to oneself. (e.g. making oneself stronger, making oneself stronger by building strength in oneself)
c. Making oneself do an act or make an effort or attempt or try to perform an act.
d  Becoming or being possessor of some quality by oneself.
e. Making oneself be pretending to do something or be possessing something not actually possessed.
ii. When more than 1 persons are involved or a collective noun is expressed:
a. Each person or entity or part of the collective making itself do or be doer of or doing the act on the other or others.
b. Each person or entity or part of the collective making itself do or be doer of or doing the act on something on which the others are also doing the act at the same time.
iii. For both the above types, since in many cases, this is a doing effort, a kind of gradualism and intensity are added.

6 (n) . Due to the active participle role, the effort or attempt or try in perfect of form VI is usually not a did but rather a was doing or was doer of kind and in imperfect of form VI for future sense is not a will do kind but rather will be doing or will be doer of kind. The noun that is doing the action is behaving as active participle during the duration of the action. When more than one persons is involved, each of them is behaving as an active participle and each is either doing the action on the other or others or each of these is doing the action on some common thing. Usually the action is not a 1 time action but an ongoing effort, attempt or try during the duration of the action OR consecutive set of efforts, attempts or tries during the duration of the action.

Since this is a continuous and doing effort a kind of gradualism and intensity are added.
This can also explain why form VI is sometimes said to indicate:
i. Consecutive actions, 1 action following the other during the duration of the action, consecutive or continuous set of efforts, attempts or tries during the duration of the action.
ii. Extensiveness or Muchness. (Possibly due to similar reason of continuous action or consecutive actions during the duration of the act.)

If the action is such that it is completed quickly or the doer of the action is such who can do the action instantly, then instead of was doing or was doer of, he did or he made himself do, or he was or became by himself is used.

7 (w) . When referring to ALLAH , usage of Form VI means HE is by HIMSELF .
تَعَالَىٰ He is by Himself The Absolutely Exalted, The Absolutely High and Above all beyond any comparison.

8 (w)(n) . Arabic Verb Form VI is also used to indicate making oneself do something, or become something or become possessor of some quality or thing.
تَعَاظَمَ الْأَمْرُ The matter made itself become of great significance (due to requirements or situation or passage of time etc).

9 (w) . Arabic Verb Form VI is مُطَاوِع of Arabic Verb Form III. The idea of effort and attempt, when transitive in Form III, becomes reflexive in Form VI. (made himself, by himself etc.)
(a) . مُطَاوِع is a verb whose (grammatical) agent receives the effect of the action of the agent of another verb.
(w) . The مُطَاوِع expresses the state into which the object of the action denoted by the verb of which it is مُطَاوِع is brought by that action, as its effect or result.
بَاعَدْتُهُ فَتَبَاعَدَ I kept or was keeping him aloof and he kept or was keeping himself aloof.

Form VI can also have the Mutual Participation meaning shade. There are 2 possibilities:
10 (k)(q)(n) 2 or more than 2 persons or things participating in mutual action, with all participants considered acting as subjects and objects at the same time.
تَضَارَبُوا They were beating each other. They were contending in beating. 

11 (k) 2 or more than 2 persons or things participating in some mutual action, each acting as subject, but the object is something else.
تَرَافَعَا شَيْئًا They (both) raised a thing.  They (both) participated in raising a thing.

Reciprocal Signification :
12 (w) . The possible reciprocity of Arabic Verb Form III becomes a necessary reciprocity in Arabic Verb Form VI, in as much as Arabic Verb Form VI includes the objects of Arabic Verb Form III among the subjects that exercise an influence upon one another.
تَقَاتَلَا They (both) were contending to kill the other.

13 (w) . As the reciprocal signification requires at least 2 subjects, the singular of Arabic Verb Form VI in this reciprocal meaning shade is always collective.
تَسَامَعَ بِهِ النَّاسُ The people heard of it from one another. 

14 (w) . The idea of reciprocity may be confined to the parts of one and the same thing.
تَمَاسَكَ He withheld or restrained himself. He held or kept pulling himself together. He remained in possession of his strength and compose. 

15 (w) . Hence, Arabic Verb Form VI is appropriate to actions that take place bit by bit, or by successive (or painful) efforts.
تَسَاقَطَ It fell piece by piece. It fell in consecutive portions.

16 (k)(q) . Gradualism. Subject/subjects getting possession of the quality or thing gradually, step by step or in stages OR subject/subjects doing the action gradually, step by step or in stages.
تَوَارَدُوا They arrived successively, one after the other. 

17 (h) . The agent or subject shows you that he is in a state that he is not in. (pretending, feigning etc.)
(k)(n)(a) . The agent showing to possess the quality indicated in the root or the quality or thing indicated in the root or word from the same root that is neither there, nor actually wanted by the agent, nor a quality deemed recommended or liked for possession etc.
تَمَارَضَ He feigned or made a false show of disease or illness in himself.

18 (k) Introducing new meaning in Form VI which is not present form I.

19 (k) Form VI verb can also come for a root for which no Form I verb has been used.

20 Its verbal noun comes on pattern تَفَاعُل .

21 (w) . Table 1

22 (q) . Table 2


Important Note: 
Best examples for analyzing and verifying the level of applicability or non-applicability of above mentioned meaning shades and for finding additional meaning shades is by studying all occurrences of the Form in The Qur'an and for that you can check relevant examples for this Form in Pattern Wise Concordance PDF by visiting the post:
Pattern wise, Root wise & Letter wise Concordance of The Qur'an
& downloading the concordance documents freely. You can check relevant examples of most of the patterns used in the Qur'an by using concordance documents.

References: When multiple references mentioned for a point, it means material selected from all quoted references more from some and less from others and all quoted references do not necessarily agree on everything. Material is not exactly copied but based on the reference quoted and I have made additions, editions & changes where required :   

h = Howell Arabic Grammar English
w = Wright Arabic Grammar English
t = Arabic notes on tripod site by Hani Deek
k = Aasaan Khaasiyyaat e abwaab Urdu
q = Qawaid Zaban e Qur'an Urdu
n = new indication by me.
a = Derived from other tools like arabic almanac or some other book.