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Arabic Subordinating Conjunctions Posted by on Apr 19, 2018 in Grammar, Vocabulary

A subordinating conjunction is a word that connects two simple and unequal clauses—simple as they only have one verb and unequal as one can stand alone (called main) while the other (called subordinate) needs to be linked to another to be fully meaningful. In Arabic, subordinating conjunctions can be single-word, two-word, or three-word. This post is about nine single-word subordinating conjunctions أَدَوَاتُ الرَّبْط.

(1) إِنْ ‘if’

إِنْ is used to express condition, forming a conditional sentence جُمْلَة شَرْطِيَّة. It always occurs at the start of the sentence followed by a present verb فِعْل مُضَارِع in both clauses, the subordinate and the main.

إِنْ تُذَاكِر جَيْدًا تَنْجَح. If you study well, you will pass.
إِنْ يَلْعَب مِيْسِي يَفُوْزْ بَرْشَلُونَة. If Messi plays, Barcelona will win.
إِنْ نَعْمَلْ اليَوْم نَرْتَاح غَدًا. If we work today, we will rest tomorrow.
إِنْ تَأْتُوا فِي الصَّبَاح تَسْتَطِيْعُوا مُقَابَلَة المُدِيْر. If you come in the morning, you can meet the manager.

 (2) كُلَّمَا ‘whenever / every time’

كُلَّمَا has a conditional meaning. It is used with past tense verbs in both clauses, and it indicates repetition of action.

كُلَّمَا دَخَلْتُ الغُرْفَة وَجَدْتُ سَام نَائِمًا. Whenever I came into the room, I found Sam sleeping.
كُلَّمَا شَاهَدُوا فِيْلمًا أَكَلُوا فُوْشَار. Whenever they watched a movie, they ate popcorn.
كُلَّمَا قَرَأتْ قِصَّة شَعَرَتْ بِالنَّوْم. Whenever she read a story, she felt sleepy.
كُلَّمَا ذَهَبَ إِلَى حَفْلَةٍ تَذَكَّرَ حَبِيْبَتَهُ. Every time he went to a party, he remembered his love.

(3) لَوْ ‘if’

لَوْ also has a conditional meaning. While the verb in the main clause must be in the past, it may be present or past in the subordinate clause (i.e. the clause that begins with لَوْ). The verb in the main clause may be preceded by لـ, which means ‘for sure’

لَوْ لَعِبْنَا جَيْدًا لَفُزْنَا. If we played well, we surely could have won.
لَو أَمْلُكُ المَال لَاشْتَرِيْتُ هَذِهِ السَّيَّارَة. If you I have money, I would certainly buy this car.
لَوْ نُسَافِر الآن لَوَصَلْنَا غَدًا صَبَاحًا. If we travel now, we would surely arrive tomorrow morning.
لَوْ عَمِلْنَا بِجْدّ كَسِبْنَا الكَثِيْر مِنَ المَال. If we worked hard, we could have earned a lot of money.

(4) مَتَى ‘when’

مَتَى begins the (subordinate) adverbial clause of time. The verbs in both clauses (the subordinate and the main) must be in the present form.

مَتَى أَذْهَبْ إِلَى السِّيْنَما آخُذْ أُسْرَتِي مَعِي. When I go the cinema, I take my family with me.
مَتَى يَحْضُر علَي نَبْدَأ المُحَاضَرَة. When Ali arrives, we begin the lecture.
مَتَي تَصِل جِنِيفَر إِلَى العَمَل تَشْرَب قَهْوَة أَوْلاً. When Jennifer arrives at work, she first drinks coffee.
مَتَى تُكْمِل الوَاجِب تَسْتَطِيْع مُشَاهَدَة التِّلْفَاز. When you finish the homework, you can watch TV.

(5) عِنْدَمَا ‘while’

عِنْدَما begins the (subordinate) adverbial clause of time. The verbs in both clauses must be in the same tense (i.e. both in the present or in past). It indicates that both actions happen in the same tense, but one must precede the other.

عِنْدَمَا كِنْتُ نَائِمًا سَمِعْتُ اِنْفَجَار كَبِيْر. When I was sleeping, I heard a loud explosion.
عِنْدَمَا تُشْرِق الشَّمْس نَذْهَب إِلَى النَّهْر. When the sun rises, we go to the river.
عِنْدَمَا لَعِبُوا جَيْدًا فَازُوا بِالمُبَارَاة. When they played well, they won the game.
عِنْدَما تُكْمِلُون هَذهِ الدَّوْرَة تَسْتَطِيْعُون الحِصُوْل عَلَى وَظِيْفَة. When you finish this course, you can find a job.

(6) بَيْنَمَا ‘as’ ‘yet/however’

بَيْنَما has two meanings: time and contract. When used for time, it connects a nominal sentence with a verbal. The nominal is subordinate, and verbal is main. For contract, it is used to express opposing attributes.

بَيْنَمَا هُوَ جَالسٌ فِي البَيْت رَنَّ الهَاتِف. As he was sitting at home, the phone rang.
يَتَحَدَثُ عَنْ الصِّدْق بِيْنَما هُوْ كَذَّاب. He speaks about honesty, yet he is a liar.
بَيْنَمَا كُنَّا نَسْبَح فِي النَّهْر رَأَيْنَا سَمَكَة كَبِيْرة. As we were swimming in the river we saw a big fish.
تَتَحَدَّث أَمْرِيكَا عَنْ حُقُوْق الإِنْسَان بَيْنَمَا تُعَارِض حُقُوق الفِلِسْطِيْنِيِيْن. America talks about human rights; however, it opposes the rights of Palestinians.

(7) حِيْنَما ‘when’

حِيْنَمَا is used at the start of the subordinate adverbial clause of time, which can occur at the start of the sentence or in the middle. If the verb in the subordinate clause is in the past, it must also be in the past in the main. Likewise, if it in the present, I must be in the present or future.

حِيْنَمَا كُنْتُ صَغِيْرًا كُنْتُ أَلْعَب كُرَة قَدَم. When I was young, I was playing football.
تَسْتَطِيْع المُغَارَة حِيْنَما تُكْمِل عَمَلَك. You can leave when you finish your work.
سَأَتَنَاوَل الغَدَاء حِيْنَمَا أَعُوْد. I will have lunch when I come back.
حِيْنَمَا عَادَ إِلَى البَيْت وَجَد صَدِيْقَهُ يَنْتَظِرُه. When he returned home, he found his friend waiting for him.

(8) لِأَنَّ ‘because’

لِأّنَّ is used at the start of the adverbial clause of reason, which can be at start of the complex sentence or in the middle. Tense in both clauses must be in the same tense, past or present (or present with future particle سَـ / سَوْفَ).

غَابَ عَلِي أَمْس لِأَنَّه كَانَ مَرِيْضًا. Ali was absent yesterday because he was sick.
لِأَنَّ الجَوْ بَارِد يِجْلِس النَّاس فِي مَنَازِلِهم. Because the weather is cold, people stay in their homes.
سَأَزُوْرُكَ غَدًا لِأَنِّي مَشْغُول اليَوْم. I will visit you tomorrow because I am busy today.
سَقَطَ الطُّلاب كُلُّهُم لِأَنَّ الاِمْتِحَان كَانَ صَعْبًا. All the students failed because the exam was difficult.
سَوْفَ يُسَافِر إِلَى بِرِيْطَانِيَا لِأَنَّ زَوْجَتَهُ بَرَيْطَانِيَّة. He will travel to Britain because his wife is British.

(9) لِذَلِك ‘so’

لِذَلِك is used to express a consequence. It used at the in the middle of the complex sentence.

كَانَ عَلِي مَرِيْضًا أَمْس لِذَلِك غَابَ. Ali was sick yesterday, so he was absent.
الجُو بَارِد لِذَلِك يَجْلِس النَّاس فِي بِيْوْتِهِم. The weather is cold, so people stay in their homes.
أَنَا مَشْغُول اليَوْم لِذَلِك سَأزُوْرُكَ غَدًا. I’m busy today, so I will visit you tomorrow.
الاِمْتِحَان كَانَ صَعْبًا لِذَلِك سَقَطَ الطُّلابُ كُلُّهُم. The exam was difficult, so all the students failed.
زَوْجَتُهُ بِرِيْطَانِيَّة لِذَلِك سَوْفَ يُسَافِر إِلَى بِرِيْطَانِيَا. His wife is British, so he will travel to Britain.

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About the Author: Ibnulyemen اِبْنُ اليَمَن

Marhaban! I am from Yemen. I am a language teacher. I teach English and Arabic. In this blog, I will be leading you through Arabic language learning in a sequential fashion. I will focus on Modern Standard Arabic. To learn more, you can also visit my website Ibnulyemen Arabic or my facebook page.


  1. Ghani Senik:

    systematic and easy to follow.