The Conditional Tense
Like Standard Arabic, Moroccan Arabic has two conditional tenses. The first describes possible conditional actions and uses the particle ila - إلا - translated as "if". The second describes impossible conditional actions and uses the phrase lo kan - لو كان - translated as "if… were".
Possible Conditional Actions
In English, conditional sentences have two parts: the "if" which is answered by a "then". The same is true in Moroccan Arabic. The particle ila is the "if" and should be followed immediately by a past tense verb. The "then" which responds to ila is a verbal phrase that can be in the past, present, future or imperative tenses:
إلا مشيتي ل البرة جيبني شي كادو
ila mshiti l lbrra, jibni shi cadeaux
If you go abroad, bring me a souvenir.
إلا بغيتي تشري شي زربية غنمشي معك
ila bghiti tshri shi zirbiyya, sir 3nd sa7bi
If you want to buy a carpet, I'll go with you.
إلا كنتي مريضة غنسوني الطبيب
ila kunti marida ghansone attabib
If you're sick, I'll call the doctor.
Impossible Conditional Actions
Impossible conditional actions follow the same two-part form, also like what we have in English. However, unlike ila, lo kan is used at the beginning of both parts of the sentence and is always followed by a past tense verb:
لو كان عرفت بلي أنت للي سنيتي عليّ لو كان جوّبتك
lo kan 3rft blli anta lli soniti 3lya lo kan jawwabtik
If I'd known it was you who was who called me, then I would have answered.
لو كان باغي يزورني لو كان زرني
lo kan baghi yzurni lo kan zarni
If he had wanted to visit me, then he would have visited me.
لو كان كنت خدّام لو كان جمعت شي فلوس
lo kan kunt khaddam lo kan jma3t shi fulus
If I had been working I would have saved some money.
Want more? Click here for a list of all of our Moroccan Arabic lessons.