The active “intensive” form:
You can identify the פיעל form by applying these basic rules of thumb:
There is almost always a dot of emphasis – a דָּגֵשׁ – that appears in the second letter of the root. Two exceptions: when the root is composed of four letters (usually a foreign root), and when the second root letter makes a guttural sound, making such emphasis difficult for native speakers to pronounce (such as the letter ע in פִּעֵל).
In the past tense, the three letters of the root appear first in the word, but unlike the קל form, there is almost always a דגש in the second letter of the root. For example, in סִדַּרְתִּי אֶת הַבָּיִת (I tidied up the house), the three root letters appear (ס.ד.ר), and only afterwards, the suffix indicating I (תי). Likewise, the second letter of the root – the ד – hosts a דגש.
In the present and future tenses, there is an eh-ah or eh-oh rhyming sequence. Note this pattern in the word מְמַלְּאִים, as in, אֲנַחְנוּ מְמַלְּאִים אֶת הַטּוֹפֶס (we are filling out the form).
Witness these patterns as you review the chart below, which lays out all the possibilities of the verb לְדַבֵּר (to speak) in past, present, future and imperative (command) tenses:
ציווי – imperative
עתיד – future
הווה – present
עבר – past
As in any spoken language, things that are difficult for native speakers to pronounce get altered. So there will be roots that don’t fit into the neat table of פיעל above.