Sound Verbs, Form I

by mohamed on August 9, 2012

You have already learned the past tense for sound, Form I verbs. In this section you will learn the imperfect indicative (present tense) and jussive conjugations.

The Arabic imperfect requires that a prefix and a suffix be attached to the radicals of the verb. Let’s take the verb دَرَسَ. The third person masculine singular conjugation for that verb in the imperfect is يَدْرُسُ Here your prefix is a yaa’ followed by a fatha. Your suffix is a dhamma. Note two other changes. First, note the sukuun over the first radical. Now look at the short vowel over the second radical. The short vowel is a dhamma. In the perfect tense, the short vowel over the middle radical was a fatha. The vowel that goes over the middle radical in the perfect or imperfect is called the “stem” vowel. The stem vowel for a Form I verb in the imperfect cannot be predicted. You must memorize the stem vowel for the imperfect for each new Form I verb. A common way to do this is to think of each verb as a combination of the perfect and imperfect third person singular conjugations. What do I mean by this?

 

Let’s say the verb دَرَسَ is a new verb to you. You need to know this verb in the perfect and imperfect. From now on, whenever you learn a new Form I verb, the stem vowel for the imperfect will be provided at the same time.  When  you  memorize the verb , think of the verb  not just as دَرَسَ  but as  دَرَسَ ,يَدْرُسُ This will help you remember the stem vowel for that verb. This is often done in the Arab world as well when children are taught Modern Standard Arabic.

 

Now look at the chart below for all of the conjugations for the verb دَرَسَ;  يَدْرُس in the imperfect indicative (which we will simply call the imperfect or refer to as the present tense from now on).

 

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَدْرُسُ

نَحْنَ

تَدْرُسانِ

أنتُما

أَدْرُسُ

أنا

تَدْرُسونَ

أنتُم

يَدْرُسانِ

هما (m)

تَدْرُسُ

أنتَ

تدْرٌسْنَ

أنتُنَّ

تَدْرسانِ

هما (f)

تَدْرُسينَ

أنتِ

يَدْرُسونَ

هم

   

يَدْرُسُ

هو

يَدْرُسْنَ

هنَّ

   

تَدْرُسُ

هي

 

Let’s examine the conjugations above more closely. First, we will look at the prefixes attached to the conjugations. Each prefix is composed of a consonant and a vowel. The consonants used as prefixes are ت ي , ن , and أ (a hamza, which is a consonant, seated on an alif which here has no phonetic value.) The أ is the prefix for the pronoun أنا. This will be the case for every present tense conjugation for every verb in the language, regardless of the Form of the verb or whether it is sound, hollow, defective, assimilated or doubled.

 

The ت is the consonant used as a prefix for هما , انتما , هي , أنتِ , أنتَ.” in the feminine, أنتم, and أنتنَّ This same ت will be used for the conjugations for these pronouns for every verb in the language.

 

The ي is the prefix for the pronouns هو , هما in the masculine,هم , and هنَّ. The ي will be used as the prefix for the conjugations for these pronouns for every verb in the language.

 

The ن is used a the prefix for the pronoun نحن .This ن will be used for this conjugation for every verb in the language.

In Form I verbs, a fatha is used as the vowel which goes with each of these prefixed consonants. In this book, I will refer to the vowel on the prefix as the prefix vowel. The fatha is the prefix vowel for all Form I verbs and for all verbs in Forms V-X. In Forms II-IV, as you will see, the prefix vowel is always a dhamma.

 

The first radical in the chart above always has a sukuun. This will be the case for the first radical on every present tense Form I sound verb.

 The stem vowel in the chart above is a dhamma. As previously stated, for other verbs, the stem vowel could be a kasra and for others it could be a fatha. For example يَرْجِعُ , رَجَعَ has a stem vowel of kasra and يَذْهّبُ , ذَهّبّ has a stem vowel of fatha.

 

Remember, the imperfect stem vowel of a Form I verb can rarely be predicted. You must learn the imperfect stem vowel for each verb as you learn the verb. The only time you can predict the stem vowel for the imperfect is when the stem vowel for the perfect is a kasra. For such verbs the imperfect stem vowel is almost always fatha. For example, the verb شَرِبَ  becomes يَشْرَبُ in the imperfect.

 

The suffixes in the chart above are either a dhamma, ينَ , انِ , ونَ or نَ . While there are some exceptions, these suffixes will be the same for the vast majority of verbs in the language regardless of the form of the verb. We will deal with the exceptions as we come to them.

 

What the above tells you is that you can look at almost any present-tense verb, no matter whether it is Form I or Form X and tell who the subject is. For example, any present-tense verb beginning with a ن must have نحن as its subject. If the prefix is a ت and the suffix is a dhamma (which usually will not even be written in) then the subject must either be انتَ or هي (third person feminine singular.) In fact, you should note that the conjugations for انتَ and هي will always look like one another.

Below is a chart with two columns. Don’t look at it yet. On the far right are verbs in various Forms conjugated in the present tense. The short vowels are not included. On the far left are the pronouns for which they are conjugated. Cover up the left side and see if you can tell what the pronouns should be for each verb as it appears.

 

هم

يتكلمون

نحن

نستقبل

انتِ

تجتمعين

أنا

أساعد

انتنَّ

تخرجن

 I hope the above exercise helps illustrate my point. The conjugations are easy to recognize and are not difficult to internalize.

 

The Meaning of the Imperfect Indicative

The imperfect indicative corresponds in meaning to either the English present tense, the present continuous, or refers to habitual action. In other words أنا أَدْرُسُ can mean “I study,” “I am studying” or “I study (every day)”. It can also be used to refer to the future. Look at the sentences below.

I study Arabic.

(أنا) أَدْرُسُ اللغة العربية.

I am studying now.

أدرس الآن.

I study Arabic every day.

ادرس اللغة العربية كلّ يوم.

I will study this problem tomorrow.

ادرس هذه المشكلة غدا.

 

The key point to keep in mind is that the imperfect refers to actions which are unfinished. The context will tell you the meaning and how it should be translated.

 

The imperfect indicative is negated by placing لا (“no”) immediately before the verb. For example: انا لا أَدْرُسُ الآن “I am not studying now.” (Note that using the subject pronoun, in this case أنا, is optional for all of these sentences. Usually the pronoun is not used except for emphasis.

 Make sure you can conjugate a Form I sound verb in the imperfect indicative (I will usually use the term “present tense”) and then do the drill on the next page. Then go on to the next section which covers the jussive.

 

 

 

Sound Verbs. Form I: The Jussive

We have now covered the two tenses of the Arabic verb, the perfect, and the imperfect. In this section I’ll talk a little (very little) about the “moods” of the imperfect. Then I will show you how to negate a verb with past tense meaning.

Most textbooks like to talk about the four “moods” of the imperfect. These moods are the imperfect indicative (the present tense), which we have already studied, the jussive (one of the worst grammatical terms ever used anywhere), the subjunctive, and the energetic. All these moods include very minor adjustments to the present tense conjugations (adjustments which often cannot even be seen in unvocalized texts) in order to say different things. One important use of the jussive is to negate a verb with past tense meaning, the subjunctive is used after certain particles most of which mean “in order to” and also follows verbs which express some sort of wish or desire. The energetic you do not even need to know. It is rarely used in MSA, but is rather common in classical texts. It adds a certain emphasis to the verb, as in “he shall (definitely) go to Egypt.” I am not going to cover the energetic in this book.

Since the two other moods you need to learn are both based on the imperfect indicative, the conjugations you have to learn for them will be easy to master. Here we go with the jussive.

There are two ways to negate a verb with past tense meaning. The first of the two is extremely easy and is also essentially what is done in colloquial Arabic as well. The word ما is placed before the past tense conjugation. Therefore ما درستُ , means “I did not study.” No other changes need to be made in a sentence in the past tense if ما  is used to negate it.

 

In Modern Standard Arabic, however, another method of negating past-tense meaning is employed much more often than using ما  plus the past tense. The particle لَم is placed before the verb instead of ما  and the verb is conjugated in what is known as the “jussive mood.” The evil, horrible word “jussive” is from Latin and refers to the form of a word used in commands. (You will see later that the jussive is used in deriving Arabic command forms.) As far as I can tell, the term “jussive” is used in most English language texts teaching MSA due to a lack of a better term in English. Arabs, not surprisingly, have, their own name for the jussive, which, as you will soon see, makes perfect sense. The term used is حالةٌ الجزْم . which means the “condition of cutting off (or cutting short).” However, in this text I will use the term jussive as it is the most widely used in this country.

The jussive is actually derived from the imperfect, not unlike English. In English we do not say “I no studied.” Rather, we take the infinitive form of the verb (which is what we use in the present tense) and put “did not” before it. Hence  we say “I did not study.”   Arabic does   much the same thing. Understand لم as a particle meaning “did not” which is placed before a modified form of the imperfect verb. The modification required is actually a cutting off of a sound or two at the end of the verb. Hence the term used by Arab grammarians. Below are the conjugations for the verb يدرس , درس in the jussive. Take a look at them and see the comments which follow.

 

Plural

Dual

Singular

نَدْرُسْ

نَحْنَ

تَدْرُسا

أنتُما

أَدْرُسْ

أنا

تَدْرُسوا

أنتُم

يَدْرُسا

هما (m)

تَدْرُسْ

أنتَ

تدْرٌسْنَ

أنتُنَّ

تَدْرسا

هما (f)

تَدْرُسي

أنتِ

يَدْرُسوا

هم

 

 

يَدْرُسْ

هو

يَدْرُسْنَ

هنَّ

 

 

تَدْرُسْ

هي

 

Compare these conjugations with those of the present tense. First, look in the singular column. The conjugations for four of the five pronouns in that column end in a sukuun. The conjugations for these pronouns in the present tense end in a dhamma. That dhamma has been cut off and replaced by a sukuun.

 

For the conjugation for أنتِ in that column the final نَ has been cut off, so the conjugation ends in a ي.

 

Now look in the column for the dual. All three conjugations have lost the final نِ and all end with just the alif.

 

Now look at the plural column. The conjugation for نحن has lost its dhamma and a sukuun is put in its place – just as happened to four of the five conjugations in the singular column. So you have five conjugations which in the present tense end in a dhamma, but in the jussive end in a sukuun. These five are هي , هو , انتَ , انا and نحن (Try to keep these five pronouns in mind and associate their conjugations. This will come in handy when we study the subjunctive and when we look at hollow and defective verbs.)

 

Now let’s look at the rest of the plural column. The conjugations for أنتم and هم lose the نَ of the present tense. The ن is replaced by an unpronounced alif. These conjugations are pronounced “tadrusu” and “yadrusu” respectively. In addition, this alif is dropped if a pronoun suffix is attached. For example: لم يّدْرُسوها “They did not study it.”

 

The feminine plural conjugations in the jussive are the same as they are for the present tense.

 It should now be easy to see why the Arabs gave the jussive the name they did. It should also be easy to see that the jussive is not some horrible impossible grammatical concept developed by people with nothing better to do. The suffixes for the jussive (called “mood markers” by those who write the textbooks today) are the same for all verbs in the language. So if you can do one sound, Form I verb, you can do any sound, Form I verb and many other verbs as well.

 

Here is a quick run down of the rules for going from the present tense to the jussive.

 1. If the conjugation in the present tense ends in a dhamma, then the dhamma is replaced by a sukuun.

2. If the conjugation in the present tense ends in a ن preceded by a long vowel, the ن is dropped. If the long vowel preceding the ن is a waaw, an alif is written in place of the ن.

3. The two feminine plural conjugations are not changed at all.

In general, the jussive with لَم is used much more than ما followed by a verb in the perfect, in order to negate for past-tense meaning in MSA. Therefore it is essential that you not only become familiar with it but also become very accustomed to using it yourself in writing and speaking MSA. That being said, look at the chart below and the comments which follow.

 

Below is a chart with sentences in the present tense on one side and those same sentences negated with لم plus the jussive on the other.


I did not understand this lesson.

أنا لم أفْهَمْ هذا الدرس

I understand this lesson.

١. انا أَفْهَمُ هذا الدرس.

Samir did not studyArabic.

لم يدرس سمير اللغة العربية.

Samir studies Arabic

٢. يدرس سمير اللغة العربية.

They did not go to the restaurant.

لم يذهبوا الى المطعم.

They are going to the restaurant.

٣. يذهبون الى المطعم.

 

Note that for sentences two and three, I did not vowel the verbs. It is always clear from context whether or not they are jussive. Knowing context will help you greatly in reading comprehension. You do not have to be consciously aware of the placement of every single vowel in order to be able to read. However, in the drills in this text, I will usually ask you to fully vowel all verbs in your answers. If you learn how things are voweled, you will have more control over the language. The more control you have over the language, the better you will become. Nonetheless, I encourage you to pick up newspapers and magazines and try to read them for comprehension. The jussive, for example, should be easy to spot. Even if the verb is new to you or you don’t know how to vowel it, you’ll at least know that it’s negated for past-tense meaning. So read.

 

 More detailed notes on reading comprehension will come later.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: