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Moroccan Arabic Review: Present Tense Verbs

Grammar Review: The Present Tense

Verb conjugation in Moroccan Arabic is almost identical to Standard Arabic, with a notable exceptions. 

The first is that present tense verbs have two prefixes. One is either the letter ta - ت - or ka - ك . Both are interchangeable and their usage irregular. This prefix is always at the beginning of the verb, before the subject prefixes. These letters are like the ba used in Egyptian Arabic.

The subject prefixes are the letters we all know that indicate the subject of the present tense verb. These are all identical to those in Standard Arabic, except for the First Person which uses n - ن - instead of alif. 

Regular Verbs

Regular verbs are verbs that have three consonant letters as their root. Here is a chart showing the present tense conjugation using the verb safara - سافر - "to travel". 

I travel: ana kansafr - أنا كنسافر
You (m.) travel: anta katsafr - أنت كتسافر
You (f.) travel: anti katsafri - أنت كتسافري
She travels: hiya katsafr - هي كتسافر
He travels: howa kaysafr - هو كيسافر
We travel: 7na kansafro - حنا كنسافرو
You (pl.) travel: antuma katsafro - أنتما كتسافرو
They travel: homa kaysafro - هما كيسافرو

As mentioned above, you could also use ta in the place of ka.

All regular verbs are conjugated along these lines.

Irregular Verbs

There are three types of irregular verbs in Moroccan Arabic: verbs that end in a long vowel, verbs whose middle letter is an alif, and verbs with two letters with shedda.

Group 1

The long vowel of verbs in this group, like qra - قرى - "to study", msha - مشى - "to go", and shra - شرى - "to buy", it becomes either an alif - ا - or ya - ي - in all singular verb forms. These differences can be learn through practice. In the plural forms - "we", "you all", "they" - the long vowel is merged with waw - و :

msha - مشى - "to go" 

I go: ana kanimshi - أنا كنمشي
You (m.) go: anta katimshi - أنتَ كتمشي
You (f.) go: anti katimshi - أنتِ كتمشي
She goes: hiya katimshi - هي كتمشي
He goes: howa kayimshi - هو كيمشي
We go: 7na kanimshiaw - حنا كنمشيو
You (pl.) go: antuma katimshiaw - أنتما كتمشيو
They go: homa kayimshiaw - هما كيمشيو

Group 2

The alif in these verbs becomes either a waw - و , ya - ي , or remains an alif - ا. This corresponds to the short vowels used in these verbs' past tense forms. These differences can be learned through practice:

shaf - شاف - "to see"

I see: ana kanshuf - أنا كنشوف
You (m.) see: anta katshuf - أنتَ كتشوف
You (f.) see: anti katshufi - أنتِ كتشوفي
She sees: hiya katshuf - هي كتشوف
He sees: howa kayshuf - هو كيشوف
We see: 7na kanshufo - حنا كنشوفو
You (pl.) see: antuma katshufo - أنتما كتشوفو
They see: homa kayshufo - هما كيشوفو

Group 3

Verbs with a doubled last letter - shedda - behave like regular verbs in the present tense:

7ass - ّحس - "To feel"

I feel: ana kan7ass - أنا كنحس
You (m.) feel: anta kat7ass - أنتَ كتحس
You (f.) feel: anti kat7assi - أنتِ كتحسي
She feels: hiya kat7ass - هي كتحس
He feels: howa kay7ass - هو كيحس
We feel: 7na kan7asso - حنا كنحسو
You (pl.) feel: antuma kat7asso - أنتما كتحسو
They feel: homa kay7asso - هما كيحسو

The Subjunctive Mood

Present tense verbs go into the subjunctive when they come after certain prepositions, like bash, particles, or come after other verbs. In the subjunctive (and sometimes elsewhere), the ta or ka prefix is dropped:

بغيت ناكل دبا
bghit nakol dba

I want to eat now.

غنسوني عليك باش نتعرف عليك
ghansone 3laik bash nt3rraf 3laik

I'm going to call you so we can get to know each other.

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