Each Arabic root might lead you to an exciting route

Towards simplifying the learning & teaching of Arabic vocabulary through rootwords

  • In Roots&Routes, we have uncovered many roots and each Arabic root might lead you to many exciting routes within the infinite horizons of the Arabic language

What is the OERabic Project?

  • OERabic is an ambitious initiative that aims to enhance the mastering of Arabic by creating online bespoke learning (and teaching) resources. OERabic encompasses several projects which have been in development over the course of the last year and a half and have involved a number of students of Arabic from the University of Edinburgh, as well as colleagues from Edinburgh and universities across the UK.
  • With OERabic, we are hoping to kick-start an ambitious long term OER project to promote the learning and teaching of Arabic language & culture (ALC) and foster a culture of student-teacher partnership, collaboration and co-authorship at UoE

What is Roots & Routes?

  • On a quest to improve the quality of learning/teaching Arabic vocabulary, Roots&Routes is an ambitious collaborative open-access publishing project which aims to simplify and modernise the learning of Rootwords and their derivatives for learners of Arabic as a foreign language.
  • Roots & Routes presents learners with must-know roots related to a particular topic and expounds the richness of derivatives that each root gives rise to, providing plenty of context phrases and collocations.
  • Roots & Routes is a learning resource that builds up vocabulary in a wide range of topics, while showcasing a singular feature of Arabic – the majority of words derive from three-letter roots.

Key Features & Benefits

Some key features and benefits of Roots&Routes are:

Thematically Organised (1)

Arabic roots/stems are organised and grouped together into 10 thematic sets or volumes. See all volume sets here & Thematic Sets Index

Thematically Organised (2)

Each thematic set (of the 10 volume sets above) includes a growing number of sub-sets ranging from generic topics such as daily routine, food & drink, travel & tourism and politics to more specialised themes such as orientalism, the Arab Spring, the Palestinian Issue and prejudice & stereotyping. See Top 10 Thematic Sets

Individual Rootword Posters

  • Pronunciation Support: Arabic derivatives are provided with minimal vocalisation (تشكيل) to learners aid with correct pronunciation
  • Organised by skill level: each rootword resource is clearly labelled with colour-coded sections of derivatives and reordered by skill-level:
    • 🔵 Beginner
    • 🍏 Intermediate
    • 🔴 Advanced
  • Brief & Concise: Each rootword resource includes only must-know derivatives and phrases, leaving out archaic and less-commonly used words.
  • Translation: English translations of each derivative is kept to the necessary minimum
  • Vocabulary In context: Brief context phrases are provided to contextualise commonly used derivatives in a real life context [COMING SOON]
  • Grammatical Abbreviations: Each derivative is abbreviated to indicate their grammatical form and pattern, such as:
    • n – noun  
    • vn. –  verbal noun
    • ap. – active participle
    • pp. – passive participle
    • I – X  Verb forms

See INDEX 2 | Roots Library

A well connected language!

A brief Introduction to the Arabic Root Word System

Among the fascinating aspects of Arabic is its root word system and how the vocabulary is remarkably and logically connected, both in root-words and meaning.  Once you are familiar with how the roots work you will be able to unleash the meaning of a huge body of vocabulary and untangle many unknown words, especially if studied in context.  In fact, you can easily start guessing the meaning of numerous derivative words and patterns of one single root-word (some roots have as many as 40 derivatives – See example of Arabic Root #1a5 | علم) and you may even produce words correctly from an established set of patterns. 

Verbs are formed from a tri-consonantal root or radical combined with patterns which consist of prefixes and suffixes. For each root, one can derive up to fifteen verb forms. These forms are referred to by Western grammarians as “form I-X”. From these forms, there are many derivative participles and verbal nouns which are the main source of constructing vocabulary in Arabic. 

To illustrate this concept in English, let us look at the following example.

In English, from the verb “Read”, we may get:

  • read (past tense)
  • reading
  • reader
  • readership
  • read-out
  • read-in
  • etc…

In Arabic, however, if we take the example of the tri-consonantal root (K-T-B كتب ),we can derive at least 15 words All these words share the three consonants (k-t-b) (ك ت ب ) and all connected to the meaning of writing.


All our resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) licence

You are free to:

  • Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
    • (المشاركة — نسخ وتوزيع ونقل العمل لأي وسط أو شكل)
  • Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material
    • (التعديل — المزج، التحويل، والإضافة على العمل.)

Under the following terms:

  • Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
    • نَسب المُصنَّف — يجب عليك نَسب العمل لصاحبه بطريقة مناسبة، وتوفير رابط للترخيص، وبيان إذا ما قد أُجريت أي تعديلات على العمل. يمكنك القيام بهذا بأي طريقة مناسبة، ولكن
  • NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
    • غير تجاري — لا يمكنك استخدام هذا العمل لأغراض تجارية

Our Sponsors

The OERabic project is currently (2019-20) supported by alumni and friends of the University of Edinburgh through the Student Experience Grants scheme.

Supporting us

OERabic is supported by the U. of Edinburgh in order to keep our high- quality resources free for all to enjoy. We would like to thank you all for visiting, your support and your comments. If you like our resources, please recommend them to everyone who may find them useful

Thank you! شكرا جزيلا


To search & download our resources, go to the master indexes below and search (in Arabic or English) by resource name, root, theme, or keyword. All of our resources have been labelled with a code so if you know the code of the resource you need (see resource title), you can just search by code (e.g. #1a, #2a, #2a1, etc.)


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All our resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) licence