Moroccan Arabic Lesson: Past Tense Verbs

The past tense in Moroccan Arabic is almost identical to the past tense in Standard Arabic with these exceptions:

  • The first person - "I" - ending is silentThe 3rd person male - "he" - ending is also silent.
  • Both the male and female 2nd person - "you" - endings have a long sound. So in the 2nd person, verbs are conjugated the same for both men and women.
  • The 3rd person male - "he" - ending is also silent.
  • The plural "you" ending - "you all" - is too.
Regular Verbs

Here is the regular verb safara - سافر - conjugated in the past tense:

I traveled: ana safart - أنا سافرتْ
You (m.) traveled: anta safarti - أنتَ سافرتِ
You (f.) traveled: anti safarti - أنتِ سافرتِ
She traveled: hiya safarat - هي سافرت 
He traveled: howa safar - هو سافر
We traveled: 7na safarna - حنا سافرنا 
You (pl.) traveled: antuma safarto - أنتما سافرتو 
They traveled: homa safaro - هما سافرو

All regular verbs are conjugated along these lines. Regular verbs are verbs that have three consonant letters as their root.

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

Verbs in this group, like qra - قرى - "to study", msha - مشى - "to go", and shra - شرى - "to buy", 'lose' their final long vowel in 1st and 2nd person past tense forms, where it becomes a ya - ي :

msha - مشى - "to go" 

I went: ana mshit - أنا مشيت
You (m.) went: anta mshiti - أنتَ مشيتِ
You (f.) went: anti mshiti - أنتِ مشيتِ
She went: hiya mshat - هي مشات
He went: howa msha - هو مشى
We went: 7na mshina - حنا مشينا
You (pl.) went: antuma mshito - أنتما مشيتو
They went: homa msho - هما مشو

Group 2

Verbs in this group, like shaf - شاف - "to see" and khaf - خاف - "to be afraid", lose their alif in the 1st and 2nd person past tense forms. The alif becomes either a short a, i, or u sound depending on the verb. These differences can be learned through practice.

In the verb shaf, the long vowel becomes a short :

shaf - شاف - "to see"

I saw: ana shuft - أنا شُفت
You (m.) saw: anta shufti - أنتَ شُفتِ
You (f.) saw: anti shufti - أنتِ شُفتِ
She saw: hiya shaft - هي شافت
He saw: howa shaf - هو شاف
We saw: 7na shufna - حنا شُفنا
You (pl.) saw: antuma shufto - أنتما شُفتو
They saw: homa shafo - هما شافو

Whereas, with khaf it becomes a short :

khaf - - "to be afraid"

I was afraid: ana khift - أنا خِفت
You (m.) were afraid: anta khifti - أنتَ خِفتِ
You (f.) were afraid: anti khifti - أنتِ خِفتِ
She was afraid: hiya khaft - هي خافت
He was afraid: howa khaf - هو خاف
We were afraid: 7na khifna - حنا خِفنا
You (pl.) were afraid: antuma khifto - أنتما خِفتو
They were afraid: homa khafo - هما خافو

Group 3

Verbs in this group have two of the same letters 'joined' by shedda, like dhanna - ظنّ - "to think (i.e. to believe)" and 7ass - حسّ - "to feel". Unlike Standard Arabic, in Moroccan Arabic the shedda is maintained in the past tense and a long ya - ي - is added before the 1st and 2nd person verb endings:

7ass - حسّ - "to feel"

I felt: ana 7ssit - أنا حسّيت
You (m.) felt: anta 7ssiti - أنتَ حسّيتِ
You (f.) felt: anti 7ssiti - أنتِ حسّيتِ
She felt: hiya 7ssat - هي حسّات
He felt: howa 7ass - ّهو حس
We felt: 7na 7ssina - حسّينا
You (pl.) felt: antuma 7ssito - انتما حسّيتو
They felt: homa 7asso - هما حسّو


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