Wikipedia tells us that the family V is the reflexive form of family II. Thus, family V verbs are:

  • causative
  • intensive
  • denominative
  • transitive
  • reflexive

of the family I verb forms.

Now, in the Quran, 2:234 we see that the verb يُتَوَفَّوْنَ is used.

Based on that analysis from Wikipedia, this should denote emphasis or repetition or intensity or something that makes it different from the simple present verb.

Yet in almost all translations that I look at, I see no clue at all. They are all translated as a simple present verb. They are all translated either as who die or who are taken by death. Not as who are died a horrible death, or who are died, but then returned to life by Allah, then died, ....

Thus my question is:

  • How can we know that a given verb has the typical properties of its family (because it makes a huge difference in the interpretation of the verses)
  • Why a simple form is not used if it really is simple?
  • First of all when we check verbs in Arabic we check the Infinitiv form which is the past in the third person masculine singular وزن فعل توفى and therefore the wazn وزن of the verb for any grammatical analysis is تَفَعَّلَ which is V in wikipedia. I don't see how this is on-topic here as it is mainly a question about Arabic language and how to use/understand it.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 7:45

1 Answer 1


Simple short answer for

Your second question

Unlike artificial languages, almost in all cases the languages people speak have grown long before a grammar was settled.

As a matter of fact Arabic grammar was only defined and settled after the revelation of the qur'an and the first steps the qur'an and the copying of Moshafs have gone through. The qur'an predates the Arabic grammar by at least one century and the different high Arabic dialects or languages which were called Faseeh predated it with several centuries.
Nevertheless there are basically two opposite schools of grammar the school of Basra which is closer to Hijaz and its typical conservative linguistic influences and that of al-Kufa which is known for some singularities.
And due to several historical reasons the language in the middle east has developed in a different manner to that in north Africa and al-Anadolus which until today is a bit more conservative. The modern Arabic is highly influenced by the originally -at least for the wide public- unknown qir'a of Hafs 'an 'Asim which includes high influence of ibn Mas'uds hudhali dialect because it is the only qira'a with a high use of hamza, which was not regarded as fasih nor as a letter by all other known fasih dialects. In fact there's a dispute about the amount of Arabic letters based on whether shiddah (which has low amount of supporters) is a letter or not and hamzah (which is regarded as a part of al-Alif) is a letter or not between 28, 29 or 30 letters.

The first question
A detailed answer in my humble opinion doesn't belong here, but as stated in the comments, analysis of verbs must start from the "Infinitiv" form which is the third person masculine singular in the past form. Anything else stated on Wikipedia actually can be true, but must not and it is only general statement and to be capable to distinguish different grammatical rules etc. one must practice the language and have a certain experience which cannot be built by simply reading rules or self-study -> external input and validation is certainly needed.

Your example

The verb: توفى is certainly neither of what you've mentioned in your analysis:

Now, in the Quran, 2:234 we see that the verb يُتَوَفَّوْنَ is used.

Based on that analysis from Wikipedia, this should denote emphasis or repetition or intensity or something that makes it different from the simple present verb.

In fact you missed to mention the only applicable option it is causative, as توفى means causing death.

  • thank you for the answer. But regarding your statement about expertise in the Arabic language, my problem is that I see different translations from Arab translators. Who can be more expert than them? Their mother tongue is Arabic, and yet they translate verses sometimes with HUGE difference. That's my problem. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 18:41
  • @SaeedNeamati the issue with translations is that they are interpretation, some may try to translate literally, some may try to have a focus on the beauty or eloquence of the language, but most already rely on existing interpretations of the text. And you can only understand when you have all information at hand. As for understanding the original text itself a good or better deep knowledge of the language would resolve 80-90% of the understanding issues the rest is the (for example historical) background which is left unmentioned.
    – Medi1Saif
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 8:39
  • I totally agree that a Muslim should learn Arabic. And I am doing the same (thanks Allah for this opportunity). But I'm very confused by many many different interpretations I see. Thus I tend to understand Quran directly. Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 2:57

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