Do سُؤال and مَسْألة both mean the same?
Yes, there is almost no difference in meaning. Both mean question. So when do we use which word? And what kind of words are they? Let’s have a look:
- The word سُؤال is the original مَصْدَر of the verb سَأَلَ – so called الْمَصْدَر الأَصْلِيّ
- The word مَسْأَلة is the so called الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ. It is mainly used to make the pronunciation of a word easier. Sometimes, however, it indicates a stronger meaning (regarding the action/event of happening) than the original مَصْدَر.
Notice: Occasionally, you find a ة at the end of the الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ – which can indicate an exaggeration of the action or a special focus on the abundance/frequency of the action. For example: مَسْأَلة does not only mean question. It also means issue, problem; matter, affair, case.
(If you are not familiar with the word مَصْدَر scroll down to the end of this newsletter! (Excursus))
In daily talk and especially in newspapers, you will find a lot of examples for the الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ – and most of the time, it basically has the same meaning as the original مَصْدَر:
الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ جَمْع
عِيشة or عِيش
These are the patterns which are used to build the الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ:
1. I-form verbs (الثُّلاثيّ): Same as the pattern for the اِسْم الْمَكان or the اِسْم الْزَّمان
- or مَفْعِل (especially for verbs starting with a و, for example: مَوْعِد).
2. All other verb forms II – X (غَيْر الثُّلاثيّ):
- same pattern as the اِسْم الْمَفْعُول
Watch out if you have to identify the الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ. You will find the word مُسْتَخْرَج in every sentence in the following table – with a different meaning.
The well is the place of extraction for petroleum.
البِئْرُ مُسْتَخْرَجُ النَّفْطِ.
Petroleum is extracted from the well.
النَّفْطُ مُسْتَخْرَجٌ مِن الْبِئرِ.
The extraction of the oil is in the morning.
مُسْتَخْرَجُ النَّفْطِ صَباحًا.
I extracted petroleum quickly.
اِسْتَخْرَجْتُ النَّفْطَ مُسْتَخْرَجًا عَجِيلاً.
So why is there a مَصْدَر مِيمِيّ in Arabic?
The الْمَصْدَر الْمِيميّ is a special form of a مَصْدَر –because the poets needed it.
Since it always starts with the letter م, it is called مِيميّ
Usually, it has more rhythm and melody as the original مَصْدَر. It can indicate (somehow) a stronger meaning (compared to the original مَصْدَر). And there is another reason: The plural form is not so complicated as it is usually formed by the same pattern: مَفاعِل.
Let us see some examples to understand it better:
|pl.||الْمَصْدَر الْمِيمِيّ||plural||الْمَصْدَر الأَصْلِيّ||meaning||root|
ض – ر– ر
ن – ف – ع
Excursus: What is a مَصْدَر?
The Arabic word مَصْدَر means source. It is the most basic, abstract meaning of the root.
In Arabic, a مَصْدَر is a noun (اِسْم) which is derived from a verb (فِعْل). It describes the action without giving you information about the time of the event, nor about the person who is doing the action. The corresponding English grammar term depends on the function of a مَصْدَر in an Arabic sentence. A مَصْدَر can function as averbal noun (noun of action), as an infinitive, etc. But don’t forget: A مَصْدَر is not a verb!
A مَصْدَر is a so called اِسْم مَعْنى; something, that is abstract, that has no colour, no size – but that is connected to an action, like writing, reading, swimming.
All the other nouns are called اِسْم ذات and can be recognized with your senses – you can see, smell, taste, hear them. For example: a river – نَهْر – ormountain – جَبَل – or chair – كُرْسِيّ. These words can’t be a مَصْدَر.
A مَصْدَر doesn’t have a body, nor a concrete shape or form. How can you describe the word reading? You can’t say it is big, blue or loud. Every مَصْدَر needs a هَدَف (goal) and you can only grasp it with your mind.