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Two obvious differences between Arabic dialects and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) are the parsing marks and certain affixes. In MSA, the time of the action of the present verb is indicated through the parsing marks. In dialects, it is known through prefixes. Likewise, MSA sentences are negated using separate negative particles. In dialects, the original form of these particles is reduced, while at the same time it is augmented with a suffix. This post is about tense and negative markers in Egyptian, Levantine, and Yemeni dialects as opposed to MSA.
Tense Markers in MSA:
In MSA, the aspect (time) of the present form of the verb is indicated by the parsing mark. If it ends in DHammah, i.e. indicative, it means the time of the action is the present; if it ends in fatHah, i.e. subjunctive, the time of the action is future; and if it ends in sukuun, i.e. jussive, the time of the action is also future, as in these examples:
|أَشْرَبُ القَهْوَةَ كُلَّ صَبَاح.||.I drink coffee every morning||Present – fact|
|لَنْ أَشْرَبَ القَهْوَةَ اليَوْمَ.||.I will not drink coffee today||Future|
|لا تَشْرَبْ القَهْوَةَ اليَوْمَ.||.Don’t drink coffee today||Future|
|أَبِي يُشَاهِدُ التِّلْفَاز.||.My father is watching TV||Present – progressive|
|أَبِي يُرِيْدُ أَنْ يُشَاهِدَ التِّلْفَاز.||.My father wants to watch TV||Future|
|إِنْ يُشَاهِدْ أَبِي التِّلْفَاز يَشْعُرْ بِالنُعَاس.||If my father (will) watch TV, he will feel .sleepy||Future|
Progressive Markers in Dialects:
In Egyptian, namely Cairene, بـِ is added to the start of the present form of the verb to indicate that the action is ongoing, as in these examples:
|فَادِي بِيِكْتِب رِوَاِية.||.Fadi is writing a novel|
|بِتِشْرَب إِيْه؟||?What are you drinking|
|هَنَادِي بِتِطْبَخ كُوْشَرِي.||.Hanadi is cooking kushari|
|اِحْنَا بِنِبْنِي البَلَد.||.We are building the country|
In Levantine, the affix عَمْـ (which may be considered a particle if separated from the verb عَمْ) is added to the start of the present verb to indicate that the verb is in the present continuous.عَمْ may also be use with prefix b- or bi- to the indicate the continuity of the action, as in these examples:
|بَشَّار عَمْ بِيِكْتِب رِوَاِية.||.Bashar is writing a novel|
|بَشَّار عَمْيِكْتِب رِوَايِة.||.Bashar is writing a nove|
|شُوْ عَمْتِعْمَل؟||?What are you doing|
|شُوْ عَمْ بِتِعْمَل؟||?What are you doing|
|رُوَيْدَة عَمْ تُطْبُخ.||.Ruwaida is cooking|
|نَحْنَا عَمْ نِقَاتِل الإِرْهَابِيِيِن.||.We are fighting the terrorists|
In Yemeni, بِـ is added to the start of the present tense verb to indicate the continuity of the action, just like the Egyptian dialect, as in these examples:
|عَلِي بِيْبِيْع قَات.||.Ali is selling qat|
|مَا بِتِشْرَب؟||?What are you drinking|
|بِلْقِيس بِتِطْبَخ سَلْتِة.||.Bilqees is cooking salta|
|اِحْنَا بِنْقَاتِل الإِرْهَابِيِيْن.||.We are fighting the terrorists|
Future Marker in Dialects:
In Egyptian, the future is marked by adding حَـ to the start of the present tense form of the verb. This prefix literally means ‘will’, as in these examples:
|حَأَتَّصِل لَك بَالمَسَاء.||.I will call you in the evening|
|حَيِشْتِرِي فَلافِل.||.He will buy falafel|
|حَتِعْمَلِي إِيْه؟||.What will you (female) do|
|حَنْصُوْم يَوْمَ الإِتْنِيْن.||.We will fast on Monday|
In Levantine, حَـ may be used as is the case with the Egyptian. However, the particle رَحْ is more common. Both mean ‘will’, as in these examples:
|رَحْ اِقْرَأ الأَخْبَار.||.I will read the news|
|حَقْرَأ الأَخْبَار.||.I will read the news|
|شُوْ رَحْ تِعْمِل؟||?What will you do|
|شُوْ حَتِعْمِل؟||?What will you do|
|رَحْ نْصُوْم يَوْمَ التَنِيْن.||.We will fast on Monday|
In Yemeni, one of two prefixes may be used to express the future. These are عَـ or شَـ. However, عَـ is more common. They are added to the start of the present form of the verb. Both literally mean ‘will’, as in these examples:
شَأَتَّصِل لَك بَالمَسَاء. / عَأَتَّصِل لَك بِالمَسَاء.
|.I will call you in the evening|
عَيِشْتَرِي قَات. / شَيِشْتَرِي قَات.
|.He will buy qat|
مَا عَتِعْمَلِي؟ / مَا شَتِعْمَلِي؟
|?What will you (female) do|
عَنِصُوْم يَوْمَ الإِثْنَيْن. / شَنِصُوْم يَومَ الإثْنَيْن.
|.We will fast on Monday|
Negative Markers in Dialects:
In Egyptian, the negative particle for the nominal sentence is مِشْ. It is normally place before the predicate الخَبَر, as in these examples:
|أَنَا مِشْ مُوَافِق.||.I am not ok with that|
|هُوَ مِشْ طَالِب.||.He is not a student|
|هُمَّ مِشْ زَعْلَانِيْن.||.They are not angry|
|الغُرْفَة مِشْ مُرَتَّبَة.||.The room is not tidy|
مُشْ is also to negate the future form of the verb, as in these examples:
|مِشْ حَأَتَّصِل لَك بَالمَسَاء.||.I will not call you in the evening|
|مِشْ حَيِشْتِرِي فَلافِل.||.He will not buy falafel|
|مِشْ حَنْصُوْم يَوْمَ الإِتْنِيْن.||.We will not fast on Monday|
The verbal sentence is negated using a prefix and a suffix with the same verb. The prefix is مَـ, and the suffix is ـش, as in these examples:
|فَادِي مَبِيِكْتِبش رِوَاِية.||.Fadi is not writing a novel|
|مَبِتِشْرَبش لِيِه؟||?Why aren’t you drinking|
|هَنَادِي مَبِتِطْبَخش كُوْشَرِي.||.Hanadi is not cooking kushari|
|اِحْنَا مَبِنِبْنِيش البَلَد.||.We are not building the country|
In Levantine, the nominal sentence is negated using مِشْ or مُو. However, مُو is more common. Both literally mean ‘not’, as in these examples:
أَنَا مِشْ مُوَافِق. / أَنَا مُوْ مَوافِق.
|.I am not ok with that|
هُوِ مِشْ طَالِب. / هُوِ مُوْ طَالِب.
|.He is not a student|
هُمِّ مِش زَعْلَانِيْن. / هُمِّ مُو زَعْلَانِيْن.
|.They are not angry|
الغُرْفَة مِشْ مُرَتَبِة. / الغُرْفِة مُوْ مُرَتَبِة.
|.The room is not tidy|
The verbal sentence in Levantine is negated using the separate particle مَا, as in these examples:
|مَا رَحْ اِقْرَأ الأَخْبَار.||.I will not read the news|
|بَشَّار مَا عَمْ بِيِكْتِب رِوَاِية.||.Bashar is not writing a novel|
|نَحْنَا مَا عَمْ نِقَاتِل الإِرْهَابِيِيِن.||.We are not fighting the terrorists|
In Yemeni, مَشْ (with faHah on the مـ) is used to negate the nominal sentence, as in these examples:
|أَنَا مَشْ مُوَافِق.||.I am not ok with that|
|هُوْ مَشْ طَالِب.||.He is not a student|
|هُم مَشْ زَعْلَانِيْن.||.They are not angry|
|الغُرْفَة مَشْ مُرَتَّبَة.||.The room is not tidy|
The verbal sentence in Yemeni dialect is negated using the negative particle مَا before the verb, and, like the Egyptian, the suffix ـش is added to the end of the verb, as in these examples:
مَا شَأَتَّصِلش لَك بَالمَسَاء.
مَا عَأَتَّصِلش لَك بِالمَسَاء.
|.I will not call you in the evening|
|بِلْقِيس مَا بِتِطْبَخش سَلْتِة.||.Bilqis is not cooking salta|
|اِحْنَا مَا بِنْقَاتِلش الإِرْهَابِيِيْن.||.We are not fighting the terrorists|
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