Lesson 83 – الدَّرْسُ الثَّالِثُ والثَّمانون

The style of astonishment - أُسْلُوبُ التَّعَجُّبِ

The conditions of the two patterns of astonishmentشُرُوطُ فِعْلَي التَّعَجُّبِ

  • We are still in lesson eighty three of our free Arabic language course. This Arabic course with images and audios will help you learn Arabic.
  • We learnt earlier that the astonishment style in Arabic can be expressed by many ways that are not specific to astonishment, and we also learnt that there are two specific Arabic astonishment patterns, and they are both verbal patterns.
  • The question now is: can we form the astonishment pattern from any verb? The answer is: no, there are many conditions under which we form the astonishment pattern of the verb. These conditions are supposed to be learnt in this part, as follows:

1-    The astonishment has to be made of verbal pattern, i.e. it is not allowed to be formed of a noun or an adjective as (ما أَقْمَرَهُ - ما أَشْمَسَهُ) from the nouns (قمر - شَمس). Therefore it has to be formed of verb as (ما أجْمَلَ - ما أَكْبَرَ).

2-    The verb has to be of three letters root, augmented with an initial hamzah, as follows:










Augmented stem

To be happy

To be big

To be pretty

To be good


3-    The astonishment verb has to be affirmative (i.e. not negative). Therefore if the verb is preceded by a negating article, we cannot make a verbal astonishment. We learnt the negating articles in lesson 31.

4-    The astonishment verb has to be in the active voice form. It is not allowed to form the astonishment pattern of a passive voice verb.

5-     It is also not allowed to form the astonishment pattern of a deficient verb (i.e. the verb from which we don’t form all tenses, as the annuller verbs). We learnt the groups of annuller verbs in lessons 59, 62, and 63.

6-    The meaning of the verb is supposed to be of those verbs happening gradually, not definitely, so that some people are better or worse than others in doing the action of the verb as كَبُرَ  - صَغُرَ. Therefore we cannot form the astonishment pattern of verbs like (ماتَ) because death is equal for all, so it is wrong to say (ما أَمْوَتَ الرَّجُلَ).

7-    The first pattern of astonishment (ما أفعل) has to be verbal pattern, not nominal pattern. We learnt earlier that the first form of the astonishment is a verbal form, on the pattern (ما أفعل).

  • We also learnt that (أفعل) is a pattern of past verb which consists of three consonants and augmented with an initial hamzah. The same pattern in Arabic can be a pattern of an adjective (adjectives in Arabic are considered types of noun). If this pattern is an adjective, its feminine form will be (فَعْلاء) as in the following examples:















  • From the above mentioned adjectives it is not allowed to form the astonishment pattern, because they are not verbs, rather they are nouns which have the feminine of the pattern (فَعْلاء).
  • Therefore it is mistaken to say (ما أَحْمَرَ وَجهَهُ).
  • How to express astonishment of verbs which are incompatible with one or more of the above mentioned seven conditions?

1-            To use another verb which is compatible with all the seven conditions as (أشدَّأكْبرَأقوى - أعْظمَ) and put it after (ما) in the first pattern of astonishment.

2-            To derive the original noun (المَصْدر) of the word that is incompatible with the conditions of the astonishment pattern, and put this (مصدر) after the above mentioned verb.

3-            To put the noun which is the object of astonishment after the (مصدر).

  • Consider the following examples: 

Not allowed forms

Reason of incompatibility


The pattern is nominal

ما أذْرَعَ مُحَمَّدًا

The pattern is nominal

ما أَوْجَهَ فاطِمَةَ

The verb is not of the type which people vary in its action

ما أَيْمَنَكَ

The verb is not of the type which people vary in its action

ما أَسْلَمَكَ

The pattern is nominal (adjective)

ما أَحْمَرَ الوَرْدَةَ

The verb is more than three consonants

ما أنْتصَرنا عَلَى الْعَدُوِّ

The verb is not of the type which people vary in its action

ما أَمْوَتَ خالِدٍ


Allowed forms


Alternative verb of astonishment


How strong is Muhammad’s arm!


ما أَقْوَى ذِراعَ مُحَمَّدٍ

How beautiful is the face of Fatima!


ما أَجْمَلَ وَجْهَ فاطِمَةَ

How strong is your faith!


ما أَشَدَّ إِيْمانَكَ

How great is your Islam!


ما أَعْظَمَ إِسْلامَكِ

How bright is the red color of the rose!


ما أَشَدَّ إِحْمِرارَ الْوَرْدَةِ

How big is our victory against  the enemy!


ما أَكْبَرَ اِنْتِصَارِنا عَلَى الْعَدُوِّ

How grievous is the death of Khalid!


ما أَصْعَبَ مَوْتَ خالِدٍ