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Kana and Sisters; Verb Types Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in Arabic Language, Grammar, Language, Vocabulary

      The verb Kana كان   and its sisters are special verbs in the Arabic language. They start the Nominal sentence and case the subject to be their noun (Ism اســـْـــم) with a dammah and cause the predicate to be their Predicate (Khabar خـــَــبـــَــر) with a Fat’ha on its end.

      Now the question is what are the different forms (conjugations تــَـصــْـريــفـــَــــات) of the verb Kana and its sisters? Can these verbs change their form like most other normal verbs? In today’s post, we will answer this question.                

      We have learnt before that all Arabic verbs fall into two main categories. They are all either Declinable Verbs أفــْـــعــَـــال مـُـــتــَــصــَـــرِّفـــَــة  or Indeclinable Verbs أفــْـــعـَـــال جــَـــامــِـــدَة . The first category means that the verb can be used in different forms or can be conjugated or used in all tenses whereas the second category means that the verb is solid or can not be conjugated to other forms other than itself, so the verb has only one form.

       The following table shows the verb Kana and its Sisters and their possible conjugations;

  Kana and Sisters كـان و أخــواتــهـــا

الأمر Imperative

المضارع Present

الماضي Past


























ما يــَــزالُ

مـا زال


ما يـــَــبــرح

مـا بـرح


ما يــَـــنـــفــــَــــكُ

مـا انـفـك


ما يــَـــفـــْــــتـــَـــأ

مـا فـتـئ 



مـا دام

        From the table above, we notice that Seven verbs only of kana and sisters can be used in the past, present and imperative and they are called Fully Declinable Verbs أفــْـــعـــَــــال تـــَـــامــَــــة الـــتـــَّـــصــَـــرُّف   

   Ex. – كـــَـــانَ الــجـــَـــوُ مُــمــْــطـــِـــرَاً بــِــالأمـــْــــسِ = It was rainy yesterday. (Past)

        –  يــَــكـــُــونُ الــجــَــوُ جــَـمــِــيـــلاً فــِـي الــرَّبــيــــع = The weather is beautiful in spring.  (Present)

       – كـــُـــنْ لـــَـــطــِــفــَـــاً مــَــعَ الآخــَــريـــن = Be nice to others.  (Imperative)

      From the above table also, we notice that there are Four verbs of Kana’s sisters that are used in the past and present only. These verbs are those of continuation and are called Partially Declinable Verbs أفـــْــعــَــال نــَــاقــِـــصـــَـــة الـــتـــَّـــصــَـــرُّف  .

     Ex.  – مــَــا زالَ مـُــحــَــمَّــدً مــُـــســْــتــَــيــقــِــظــــاً حــتــَّــى الـــصــَّـــبــَـــاح  

             = Muhammad was still awake till morning.  (past)

             –  لا يــَــزَالُ الــنــِّـــيــــلُ يــَــجـــرى .  = The Nile is still running. (Present)

        Finally, the above table has Two verbs of only One form; ليس  /ما دام  . These two verbs are used only in the past tense and they are called; Indeclinable Verbs أفــْـــعــَـــالٌ جــَـــامـــِـــدَة  .

To learn more about the Declinable and Indeclinable verbs, click on the following link; https://blogs.transparent.com/arabic/verb-type-%d9%86%d9%88%d8%b9-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%81%d8%b9%d9%84/

For meanings of kana and sisters, click the following link; https://blogs.transparent.com/arabic/kana-and-sisters-part-3/


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Peace سلام /salam/

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About the Author:Fisal

Well, I was born near the city of Rasheed or Rosetta, Egypt. Yes, the city where the Rosetta Stone was discovered. It is a small city on the north of Egypt where the Nile meets the Mediterranean. I am a Teacher of EFL.


  1. zainab:

    Is there any reference,books where I can get the syntax and semantics of these verbs? Thanks in advance.

  2. Waseem:

    Thank you so much! This is very helpful for my arabic class!

  3. IGLU:

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thank you for providing this info.

  4. Aysha:

    salam. thanx . can I get forms of present tense ? that is al-javaazim,al-nawasib..?

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