Arabic Introduction to the Templatic System


Introduction to the Templatic System

Each word in the language (noun or verb) is a combination of a set of base letters plus a given template. For example, the word إقْطاعis the base letters ق، ط، ع on the pattern إفْعال. The base letters give us a base meaning (cutting) and the pattern gives us a certain connotation (to do something to someone or something). Hence we get the meaning of ‘to cut something’. More specifically, the word means ‘fief’ which is a plot of land that has been cut or divided.


So we can think of each word in the language as an instantiation of a template using a set of base letters. But there are far too many templates in the language. So we have a layer of abstraction above templates which we call ‘template sets’.


For example, the words


مِلْعَقَة, مِفْتاح, عالَم


are instantiations of the patterns


مِفْعَلَة, مِفْعال, فاعَل


using the base letters


(ع، ل، ق), (ف، ت، ح), (ع، ل، م)


respectively. And all of the templates belong to a set called اسم الآلة (nouns of utilization).


Final Meaning Template Set Template Base Meaning Base Letters Word
spoon (that with which you lick) اسم الآلةnoun of usage مِفْعَلَة to lick ل، ع، ق مِلْعَقَة
key (that with which you open) مِفْعال to open ف، ت، ح مِفْتاح
world (that through which you learn (about God)) فاعَل to know ع، ل، م عالَم



  •  the meanings cannot be directly inferred; but this templatic system is extraordinarily useful in a) guessing meanings to words, and b) providing a framework for creating new words
  •  templates may be shared across several template sets