Fiil Madhi: Its Definition, Indicators, Types, and Examples

In the study of Arabic grammar and morphology, one important component of the verb is the fiil madhi, or the past tense verb. Understanding its meaning, characteristics, and examples is essential to grasp the Arabic language’s intricacies.

Verb Past Tense (Fiil Madhi) is one of the verb forms in a sentence. Besides madhi, there are mufhari’ and amar verbs. There are a total of three verb forms. These three verb forms have their own signs/characteristics, forms, functions, and specificities.

In principle, the difference between madhi verb and mudhari’ and amar verbs can be categorized into two aspects:

  • Tense aspect: Madhi verb indicates the past tense.
  • Form aspect: This verb is the base/original form, unlike mudhari’ and amar verbs.
  • Furthermore, madhi and amar verbs are verbs that maintain their original rules, called “mabni.” Whereas, mudhari’ verb follows the rule of “mu’rob” except for some that are “mabni.”
  • So, what is the complete explanation of fiil madhi? How many divisions are there, and what are the examples of fi’il madhi? This article will help you find the answers.
  • But before diving deeper, we will provide you with some brief terms and their meanings related to fiil madhi to make it easier for you to understand.
  • Sighat (صِيغَة): It means sentence form.
  • Fi’il (الفعل): It means verb.
  • Madhi (الماضي): It means past tense.
  • Dhomir: Pronoun.
  • Mabni: It means the stability of vowel movements at the end of a word.
  • Mabni ma’lum (المعلوم): It refers to active verbs.
  • Mabni fa’il: It means the same as mabni ma’lum, a verb with a subject.
  • Mabni majhul (المجهول): It refers to passive verbs.
  • Mabni maf’ul: It means the same as mabni majhul, a verb with a passive object.
  • Tashrif: It means change of form.

These are some of the basic terms used in the study of fiil madhi. The accuracy and details of these terms will depend on the specific sub-topic being discussed.

Definition of Fiil Madhi

From a linguistic perspective, fiil madhi consists of two elements: fi’il and madhi. Fi’il means action, while Madhiy ماضِي is the ism fail (ماضٍ) that accompanies it with ya’ for feminine reference. Madhi derives from the word madha (مَضَى), which means to go, pass, or have passed. So, fiil madhi means a past tense verb.

In the field of grammar, fiil madhi refers to a sentence that expresses an action and is associated with the past tense. For example, “كَتَبَ” means “he has written.”

Another definition of fiil madhi is a term that indicates the successful completion of an action (hadats) before it is explicitly mentioned or written. In the example given above, it means that the act of writing has already been completed before the word “kataba” is spoken or written.

The term “wadho'” here can refer to several meanings of “wadho'” in the study of Kalam. In simpler terms, wadho’ means intentional or original purpose/destination.

Signs of Fiil Madhi

The signs or characteristics of fiil madhi are the acceptance of ta’ tanknis sakinah (تاء التأنيثِ الساكنةَ) like “كَتَبَتْ” (she wrote). Ta’ tanknis sakinah is a ta’ that is pronounced with a sukun (no vowel). This letter is found at the end of the word in fiil madhi, indicating a singular feminine subject (fail mufrad muannats).

The way to pronounce ta’ tanknis sakinah is with a kasrah if it meets a silent letter, such as “قَامَتِ الصَّلاَةُ” (the prayer stood). It is pronounced with a kasrah to avoid the combination of two silent letters (sukun) and is considered to lighten the fathah vowel.

However, it is emphasized again that this is only a sign. It does not mean that fiil madhi must have that sign. However, if there is a madhi sign, it can be confirmed that it is a fiil madhi.

The Rule of Fiil Madhi

The basic rule of the verb sentence is “mabni,” which is the opposite of “mu’rob.” The mabni rule for fiil madhi is mabni fathah.

Mabni fathah is the original form of its stability. Additionally, fiil madhi can also be mabni sukun and mabni dhommah. Here’s the explanation:

Mabni Fathah

Fiil madhi is mabni fathah in all cases, whether it is tsulasti-ruba’i, mujarrod-mazid, lazim-muta’adi, binak shahih-mu’tal, with the condition that the madhi verb does not meet the plural waw pronoun or the moving nominative pronoun. Here are some examples of mabni fathah fiil madhi: “فَتَحَ” (to open), “اَكْرَمَ” (to honor), “اِسْتَغْفَرَ” (to seek forgiveness).

Mabni Dhommah

Fiil madhi is mabni dhommah if the last letter of the madhi verb meets the plural pronoun. Plural pronouns are plural pronouns. Here are some examples of mabni dhommah fiil madhi: “فَتَحُوْا” (they opened), “اَكْرَمُوا” (they honored), “اِسْتَغْفَرُوا” (they sought forgiveness).

Mabni Sukun

Fiil madhi is mabni sukun if the end of the madhi verb meets the moving nominative pronoun, which is a pronoun that simultaneously becomes the subject and is vowelized.

Here are some examples of mabni sukun fiil madhi: “فَتَحْتَ” (you opened), “فَتَحْتِ” (you opened), “فَتَحْتُ” (I opened), “فَتَحْنَ” (we opened).

Mabni Ma’lum and Majhul

From the aspect of its fa’il (subject), fiil madhi is divided into mabni ma’lum and mabni majhul. The term “mabni” here has a different meaning from the previous mabni, such as mabni fathah, etc.

If the previous mabni in the rules of verb focused on the stability of vowel movements/letters at the end of a word, contrasting with mu’rob, the meaning of mabni in this context refers to the structure/form of the verb. There are mabni ma’lum fiil madhi and mabni majhul fiil madhi.

Fiil Madhi Mabni Ma’lum

It is a fiil madhi that mentions its fa’il (subject) in the sentence. For example, “فَعَلَ” (he did), “قَالَ” (he said). Simply put, mabni ma’lum fiil is an active verb.

Fiil Madhi Mabni Majhul

It is a fiil madhi that does not mention its fa’il (subject) (the subject is omitted for a specific reason) but instead assigns maf’ul bih (the object) as its replacement (called na’ibul fail). For example, “فُعِلَ” (it was done), “قِيْلَ” (it was said). In short, mabni majhul fiil is a passive verb.

How to Convert Ma’lum to Majhul

The original form of the verb is mabni ma’lum. However, if the meaning of majhul (passive) is desired, there are several ways to convert mabni ma’lum to mabni majhul. Generally, it is done by pronouncing the first letter with a dhommah and the letter before the end with a kasrah.

ضُمَّ أوَّلُهُ وَكُسِرَ مَا قَبْلَ آخِرُهُ

For example, the ma’lum “فَعَلَ” (fa’ala) is pronounced with a dhommah on the letter “fa’,” becoming “fu.” Before the end (“‘ain”), it is pronounced with a kasrah, becoming “‘i.” So, the complete form is “فُعِلَ” (fu’ila).

However, the result may differ if the ma’lum verb is of the binak ajwaf and others, such as in “قَالَ,” which becomes “قِيْلَ.” The rule is the same, but there is an i’laal process within it.

Tashrif of Fiil Madhi

Tashrif (التّصريفُ) means change (التَّغييرُ) in language. In nahwu terminology, tashrif is the change/transformation from one form to another to achieve the desired meaning.

In shorof science, there are two types of tashrif, lughowi and istilahi. However, when it comes to the relationship between the verb and the pronoun used, it refers to tashrif lughowi.

Tashrif lughowi is the transformation of the verb form while considering two aspects: mufrod (singular), tasniyah (dual), plural, and also paying attention to the aspect of masculine and feminine.


To summarize, fiil madhi in Arabic grammar refers to the past tense verb that indicates an action or event that took place in the past. It carries specific characteristics and can be identified by certain signs, such as the presence of ta’ tanknis sakinah. Fiil madhi can be categorized into various types, including mabni fathah, mabni dhommah, and mabni sukun. Examples of fiil madhi include verbs like “kataba” (wrote) and “shara’a” (bought). Developing a strong understanding of fiil madhi is crucial for mastering the Arabic language and effectively communicating in various contexts.