Last updated: February 3rd, 2008

Introduction Non-vocalized texts Sentence structure Nouns The Definite Article The Cases Verbs The Passive Derived Forms Pronouns Adjectives The Masdar

Introduction Textes Non-vocalisés Structure des phrases Noms L' Article Défini Les Cas Les Verbes Le Passif Dérivées Les Pronoms Les Adjectifs Le Masdar


Preliminary Note

Note liminaire

The grammatical terms used are sometimes only very rough equivalents compared with their strict meaning in European languages.

Les termes grammaticaux utlisés ne correspodent pas de façon nette à la grammaire arabe.

The simplest Arabic words are based on a root of three consonants.
Words with related meanings are formed by adding vowels and/or other consonants to the root.
There are certain "shapes" to these words that makes words easier to recognize.

Les mots les plus simples en arabe prennent la forme d'ue racine qui se compose de trois lettres.
On peut former d'autres mots avec des sens dérivés en ajoutant des voyelles (et parfois des consonnes)

For example, the root "k-t-b" conveys the meaning "write"

Par exemple, la raine "k-t-b" exprime l'idée "écrire"

The simplest word you can build from these three consonants is "kataba", which means "he wrote". كتب
As this is the simplest form, it is the form that is contained in an Arabic dictionary.

Le mot le plus simple basé sur cette racine, c'est "kataba", ce qui veut dire "il a écrit"
Comme c'est le mot le plus court, c'est la forme qui apparaît dans les dictionnaires.

Here are some more words basd on this simple root:

Voici quelques mots supplémentaires basés sur cette racine simple:

كتاب  KiTaaB = book - livre

مكتب maKTaB = office - bureau

مكتبة maKTaBa(t) = library - biblithèque

مكتوب maKTuuB = written - écrit

 كتابة  KiTaaBa(t) = writing - en train d'écrire

In a traditional Arabic dictionary, all of these words would be listed under K, even the ones that start with M!

These derived forms follow set models with the same word shape around the root which is usually composed of three consonants.

E.g. On the same model as مكتب maktab (office):

مدخل   madkhal - entrance (from dakhala - he entered)
مخرج   makhraj  - exit (from kharaja - he went out)

مسبح  masbaH - swimming pool (from sabaHa - he swam)

These forms can be recognized as they are limited in number and more or less regular, but the system is not predictable enough to allow for the coining of new words
or reliably inducing the meaning of one you haven't seen before.

Non-vocalised texts - Textes Non-vocalisés

One of the difficulties in learning Arabic is that the short vowels are usually not written except in texts written for children or in dictionaries.

Txts wtht vwls cn b xtrml chllngng.


Chances are you were able to figure out what this vowel-less sentence meant in English because a native speaker can easily fill in the gaps.
Anyone who speaks English well knows which words are possible and which are not and is also able to deduce the words in their context.
Someone who is learning English might not be able to understand so well.

Si vous êtes francophone, il y a de fortes chances que vouz ayez pu déchiffrer ce texte sans voyelles sans trop de difficultés.
Si vous maîtrisez le français, vous savez quelles mots seraient possible dans le contexte.

Pas si évident pour quelqu'un qui apprend le français.

Is 'cn' can, cane or cone?
Is 'b' be, by or buy?

'L', est-ce que c'est 'le', 'la', 'là', 'il', 'lu'?

'PS', est-ce que c'est ''puis', 'pas', 'pose', 'pus', 'pèse'?

In Arabic, this task is made even easier due to way Arabic forms words from basis roots.
The resulting forms are recognizable shapes of words that have fairly predictable vowel patterns.

En arabe, la tâche devient plus facile puisque le vocabulaire se forme à partir de racines simples auxquelles on ajoute des lettres pour créer des 'formes' assez reconnaisables dont on peut déduire les voyelles.

It is thanks to these recognizable "shapes" that Arabic doesn't need to write the vowels.
This is a challenge for the learner of Arabic.  You need to learn where they go.
For more about this, read on.

C'est grâce à ces 'formes' assez facilement identifiables qu'on n'a pas besoin d'écrire les voyelles. Mais quel défi pour celui ou celle qui apprend la langue!

Pour plus d'éclaircissements, lire la suite.

Words Have Shapes – Les Mots ont une forme

Learning to recognize word shapes will help you develop a sense for where the vowels go.

This list contains some of the most commonly occuring ones and is one worth referring back to every now and then as your vocabulary increases.

Word shape 1a2ii3 or فَعيل

This is a very common form for adjectives! The clue is that there is an ي between the 2nd and 3rd letter of the root.

You can be fairly certain that the first vowel is a short a after the first letter of the root.

كبير – big – kabiir – grand

صغير – small – saGHir - petit

فقير – poor – faqiir – pauvre

Word shape ma12uu3 مَفعول

This is a passive participle which often corresponds to an adjective, but sometimes a noun as well.

In the case of kataba, the passive participle 'maktuub' means 'written' or 'something that has been written' (a document)

Another word shape that starts with مَ 'ma' – ma12a3 or مَفعَل

these words typically express a place where something happens.

مكتب office – maktab – bureau

Sometimes the feminite suffix is added for a nuance of meaning.

مكتبة – library – maktaba – bibliothèque

There is also a third form possible, although not as common as in

منزل – home – manzil – maison

Word Shape 1a22aal فَعّال

This is a form that denotes a person's nature or profession.

خبّاز baker – khabbaaz – boulanger (from the word خبز bread – khubz – pain m.)

كذّاب – liar – kadhdhaab – menteur (from the word كذب – lie – kathab – mentir)

adding the feminine ending, besides denoting a female can be used with this form for a machine.

سيّارة – car – sayyaara – voiture f.

Word Shape 1a22ii3 فَعّيل

This is the verbal noun (maSdar) of the second group of verbs II

ترتيب - arrangement, organisation – tartiib – arrangement, organisation

Word Shape mu1a22i3 or مُفَعٍّل

This is the active participle of derived verb from II which is usually used for the person carring out the action of the verb.

ممثّل – actor, representative – mumaththil – acteur, représentant (from the verb مثّل – represent – maththal - représenter)

It also is used for adjectives.

معقّد – complicated – mu?aqqad - compliqué

For more about word shapes go to Derived Forms.

SENTENCE STRUCTURE – La Structure des Phrases

There are two types of sentence in Arabic - nominal sentences and verbal sentnces

Nominal sentences start with a noun (or pronoun) and usually convey te meaning 'to be' or a similar notion.

محمد مسرور - Mohammed is happy.  MuHammed masruur. - Mohammed est heureux.
البنت في البوستان The girl is in the garden. Al-bint fii-l-bustaan. - La fille est dans le jardin.

Verbal sentences start with a verb, followed by the subject and then the predicate (the rest of the sentence - the direct object for example.).


The verb 'to be' is implied in the present tense, just like in Russian.

            He is here.  -   هو هنا   Huwa hunaa.

            Omar is sick.  -  عمر مريد  - ?umar mariD.

Past Tense of "To Be" – Le Passé du verbe “Être”

I was - kuntu - كنت

you were - kunta كنت

you were (f) - kunti كنت

he was - kaana - كان

she was - kaanat - كانت

you were (dual) - kuntumaa كنتما

they were (dual ) - kaanaa كانا

they were (dual f) - kaanataa كانتا

we were - kunnaa - كنّا

you were (pl) - kuntum كنتم

you were (pl f) - kuntunna كنتنّ

they were (pl) - kaanuu كانوا

they were (pl f) - kunna كنّ

Future Tense of "To Be" – Le Futur du verbe “Être”

I will be - akuunu - أكون

you will be - takuunu -  تكون

you will be (f) - takuunina - تكونين

he will be - yakuunu - يكون

she will be - takunnu -  تكون

you will be (dual) - takuunaani - تكونان

you will be (dual f) - takuunaani - يكونان

they will be (dual) - yakuunaani - يكونان

they will be (dual f) - takuunaani - تكونان

we will be - nakuunu - نكون

you will be - takuunuuna - تكونون

you will be (f) - takunna - تكونّ

they will be - yakuunuuna - يكونون

they will be (f) - yakunna - يكون

PRONOUNS – Les Pronoms

I - anaa -   أنا

you - anta - أنت

you - anti - أنت

he - huwa - هو

she - hiya - هي

you two - antumaa - أنتما

they (both of them) - humaa - هما

we - nahnu - نحن

you - antum - أنتم

you - antunna - أنتنّ

they - hum - هم

they - hunna - هنّ

Possessive pronouns – Les possesifs

The possesive pronous take the form of suffixes


my -  ي

your - ك

your f. - ك

his - ـه

her - ـها

your (dual) - كما

their (dual) - ـهما

our - ـنا

your - ـكم

your f. - ـكنّ

their - ـهم

their f. - ـهنّ


To write كتب - Ecrire

Past Tense – Au passé

I wrote - anaa katabtu - أنا كتبت

you wrote - anta katabta - أنت كتبت

you wrote - anti katabti - أنت كتبت

he wrote - huwa kataba - حو كتب

she wrote - hiya katabat - هي كتبت

you wrote (dual) - antumaa katabtumaa - أنتما كتبتنا

they wrote - humaa katabaa - هما كتبا

they wrote - humaa katababataa - هما كتبتا

we wrote - nahnu katabnaa - نحن كتبنا

you wrote - antum katabtum -  أنتم كتبتنم

you wrote (f.) -antunna katabtunna - أنتنّ كتبتنّ

tey wrote - hum katabuu - هم كتبوا

they wrote - hunna katabna - هن كتبن

Usually, the pronoun is left out.
N.B.! In a non-vocalized text, كتبت can be  'I wrote' (katabtu), 'you wrote' m. (katabta) , 'you wrote' f. (katabti) or' she wrote' (katabat) !

Present Tense - Le Présent

The present tense is the only tense where there is room for some doubt as to what the second vowel is.

This usually provided in dictionaries after the root form.




I write - ana aktubu -   أنا أكتب - j'écris

you write - anta taktubu - أنت تكتب – tu écris

you write f. - anti taktubiina  أنت تكتبين – tu écris (f.)

he writes - huwa yaktubu  حو طكتب – il écrit

she writes - hiya takktubu  حي تكتب – elle écrit

you write - antumaa taktubaani - أنتما تكتبان

they write - humaa yaktubaani - هما طكتبان

they write f. - humaa taktubaani -  هما تكتبان

we write - nahnu naktubu - نحن نكتب

you write m. - antum taktubiina - أنتم  تكتبين

you write f. - antunna taktubna - أنتن تكبن

they write - hum yaktubuuna - هم طكتبون

they write - f. - hunna yaktubna - هن طكتبن

Arabic only has two tense forms, the present and the past.

La langue arabe ne connaît que deux temps - le présent et le passé.
Certins livres parlent plutôt du 'non-accompli' et 'l'accompli.'

Other meanings corresponding to other tenses are created by other means.

On peut contruire l'équivalents d'autre temps en français par d'autres moyens.

The Future – Le Futur

The future tense is formed by adding the word سوف saufa or the prefix س before the verb in the present.

The Past Perfect – Le Plus-que-parfait

The past perfect tense is formed by adding the particle قد before the the كان kaana plus the verb in the past.

The Imperfect - L'imparfait

The imperfect is formed by adding كان kaana before the verb in the past.

The Future perfect

The future perfect is formed by the verb كان kaana plus the word قد qad plus the verb i the past.


  Most verbs have 10 derived forms that add  to the 3-letter root to alter meaning.
The derived forms can become nouns or other parts of speech.

All the derived forms have predictable vowels if you learn the patterns.
Some grammars recommend learning all the forms in all of their configurations by heart, and that certainly is desirable, but
the chart of all the forms looks frightenting with more than eighty forms and  it woud be  nearly unrealistic to even try to learn them all  at once.
After all, some hardly ever are used and the most common ones are appear often.
Most roots only ever appear in a handful of the many theoretical forms.

The Basic form (I) – La Forme de Base (I)

I) The basic form  is usually
 فعل fa?ala or 1a2a3a or _a_a_a

Sometimes it can be diffierent though.
شرب  (to drink) is shariba (1a2i3a _a_i_

The first form is the only one where you need to know the vowels. This includes the present tense, but it's only the second vowel that can change.

For example, when forming the present tense from the past radical, you need to know if the second vowel is an 'a', an 'i' or a 'u'.
Usually Arabic dictionaris list the vowel after the radical so you know how to form the present.
                         If you see    be seated - جلس (i) - this means that 'he is seated would be  يجلس - yajlis
                         كتب  (u) kataba - (he wrote) here the present tense is يكتب yaktub (he writes, he is writing)

 The Second form (II) and The Fifth Form (V)

II) Doubling the middle consonant فعّل fa??ala or 1a22a3a or -a--a-a

Doubling of the middle consonant either intensifies the meaning of makes it an action caused by someone else. (to cause to do, to make to do)

e.g. to study - درس - darasa    becomes درّس - darrasa  'to teach'  !
The active participle mudarris - مدرّس - teacher

be big - كبر - kabur  becomes كبّر kabbara -enlarge (remember the word kabiir  كبير -  big.)

This is one of the forms where the first vowel of the present tense changes to a 'u'. (not an 'a')

V) Add 'ta' at the beginning of the second form  تفعّل  tafa??ala or ta1a22a3a or ta-a--a-a

The Third Form (III) and the Sixth form (VI)

III) Adding a long aa after the first consonant  فاعل  faa?ala or 1aa2a3a or -aa-a-a
The present tense prefix is a 'u', ot an 'a'.

VI) Add 'ta-' to the beginning of the third form  تفاعل  tafaa?ala or ta1aa2a3a

The Fourth Form (IV)

IV) Adding a short a at the beginning أفعل
af?ala  or a12a3a or a--a-a
The أ at the beginning is dropped in the present tense and the vowel is a 'u', not an 'a'.

This form has a meaning of 'causing something to happen.'

e.g. The basic form جلس jalasa to sit down   becomes  آجلس ajlas which means 'to ask someone to take a seat, offer a chair to someone'

The Seventh Form (V)

VII) The first form with the prefix 'in' - إنــ

infa?ala or in1a2a3a or in-a-a-a    (yanfa??ilu or yan1a2i3u or yan-a-i-u in the present)

This makes a reflexive verb.

كسر kasara (to break sth) becomes إنكسر inkasara (to break, become broken)

طلق Talaqa (to release, set free) becomes إنطلق (leave, depart)

This form is often used to create nouns (masdar) based on the pattern.   infi?aal  which means 'mood, emotion' إنفعال

Note that a noun starting with in- that corresponds to this pattern will always have a short i as the middle vowel and always has a long aa at the end!

intikhaab - إنتخاب - election
infijaar - إنفجار - explosion
infiraaj - إنفراج - détente

The Eighth Form (VIII)

VIII) ifta?ala – إفتعل or i1ta2ala

This is a very common form.

The Nineth Form (IX)

IX) if?alla – إفعل or i12a33a 
This is a rare form.
It is only used for colors or for words denoting some form of deformity.
It is never used in the passive.

The Tenth Form (X)

X) The tenth form adds the prefix ist-     istaf?ala – إستفعل or ista12a3a

This form implies that the action is for one's own benefit.

The verb akhbara - أخبر - to inform (someone else) becomes istakhbara - إستخبر - to inform oneself, get the information, find out

This form is often used for nouns (masdar) with the second vowel being a short i and the last vowel a long aa.

istithnaa' - إستثناء - exception
istiqbaal - إستقبال - reception
istiHsaan -    إستحسان - agreement


Nouns can be masculine or feminine. Most feminine nouns end in ـــة , the 'silent t' that is pronounced as an sort a.

When a suffix is added, however, the t becomes audible again and is written as a normal t ت.

friend (male)– صديق Sadiiq

friend (female) – صديقة – Sadiiqa

your friend – (female) – صديقتك

There are some nouns that have a masculine form, but are considered feminine, such as the words for parts of the body that come in twos.

hand يد yad la main

earth أرض arD - la terre

sun شمس shams le soleil

leg ساق saaq - la jambe

wind ريح riH - le vent

fire نار nar le feu

ear أذن udhn – une oreille

house دار daar la maison

war حرب Harb la guerre

The followig noun can be used as masculine or feminine

road طريق - Tariiq - le chemin

sky سماء - samaa' - le ciel

finger آصبع - iSba? - le doigt

gold ذهب - dhahab - or

salt ملح - milH - le sel

The Regular Plural – Le Pluriel Régulier

The external or regular plurals are in the form of a suffix.

the longer the word, the greater the liklihood that it has a regular plural.

Le pluriel externe, ou régulier, prend la forme d'un suffixe.

Ce sont surtout les mots plus longs qui prennent cette forme de pluriel.

The regular plural for masculine nouns is formed by the suffix ـــون -uun (-iin in the accusative or the genetive)

The regular plural for feminine nouns is ـــات -aat.

Le pluriel externe pour les noms masculins, c'est le suffixe ـــون -uun. (-iin à l'accusatif ou à l'oblique)

Pour les noms féminins, ـــات -aat.

American – آمريكي Américain

Americans – آمركيون - Américains

car – سيارة sayyara– voiture

cars – سيارات sayyaraat - voitures

Irregular Plurals - Les Pluriels Irréguliers

Irregular plurals take some getting used to as they can look quite differnt from the singular as the changes are internal, not just i a suffix at the end of the word.
There are a limited number of patterns for these irregular plurals, so it is'nt as hard as it seems at first
Here are some examples:

Les pluriels irréguliers sont un peu déroutant au début puisque les changements sont à l'intérieur du mot.
Il existe quad même un nombre limité de formes, donc on finit par s'y habituer.
Voici quelques exemples

garden - حديقة - Hadiiqa - jardin
gardens - حدائق - Hadaa'iq - jardins

minute - دقيقة  - daqiiqa - minute
minutes - دقائق - daqaa'iq - minutes

book – كتاب – kitaab - livre

books – كتاب – books - كتب – kutub -livres

office – مكتب maktab - bureau

offices – مكاتب – makaatib - bureaux

lesson – درس – dars - leçon

lessons – دروس – duruus  - leçons


Many nouns designating fruit, trees, vegetables are have a collective sense in that they have a plural meaning although they are in the singular (masculine).

برتقال burtuuqaal – oranges

ليمون - liimuun - lemons

تمر tamr – dates

The same word with the feminie ending, the 'hidden t' is used to designate just one.

برتقالة – burtuqaala – an orange

ليمونة- liimuuna – a lemon


The Arabic word for 'the' is الــ al-

L'article défini (le, la, les) en arabe, cest الـــ al-

Many English words that start with 'al-' come from Arabic language.
(alcohol, Algeria, algebra, algorithm etc.)

Il y a beaucoups de mots en français qui commencent avec 'al-' qui viennent de l'arabe.
(alcool, Algérie, algèbre, Alexandrie, algoritme, etc.)

A house – بيت – beit (in classical Arabic beitun) - une maison

The house – البيت – al-beit (in classical Arabic al-beitu) - la maison

But it's a lot more complicated than that.

Mais ça se complique:

For two reasons –

one being pronunciation.

The other a very important grammatical distinction.

Pour deux raisons –

la première concerne la prononciation

et la deuxième, un point crucial de grammaire.

The 'solar' consonants behave like the Arabic word for the sun – شمس – shams

This means that when the definte article preceeds it, the ش sh at the beginning morphs with the 'l' making the L sound dissappear entirely with a lengthened 'sh' sound.

The sun – الشمس – ash-shams (not al-shams) - (in Classical Arabic ash-shamsu)

The lunar letters are pronounced normally after the 'l' which remains audible.

One such lunar letter is 'q' in the Arabic word for 'moon' قمر qamar

a moon – قمر – qamar – une lune

the moon – القمر – al-qamar – la lune


ن ت ث ل ط ظ ص ض ش س ز ر د ذ


ب ج ح خ ع غ ف ق ك م ه و ي

Unlike most European languages, the definite arlticle can appear before not only nouns, but also adjectives, and the combinations lead to different meanings.

For example,

compare the following phrases based on a noun and an adjective

a new houseune maison neuve

بيت جديد – beit jadiid – (in Classical Arabic - beitun jadidun)

<>(no definite articles)

the new house – la maison neuve

البيت الجديد- al-beit al-jadiid – (in Classical Arabic - al-beitu al-jadiidu)

(The definite article is used both with the noun and the adjective)


The house is new. La maison est neuve.

البيت جديد – al-beit jadiid

(definte article before the noun, but not before the adjective)

This is a sentence with an understood 'is'. The verb 'to be' in Arabic is not expressed in the present tense.

This is a sentence with the definite aticle on the noun and none on the adjective.

Using 'Al-' to convey the Genetive -

There is another possible combination which corresponds to the word 'of''

(or the genetive in many languages.)

A noun without the 'al' followed by another noun WITH the 'al'

بنت الجار bint al-jaar

It translates as the first noun having a 'the' in front of it although there is no 'al'

the neighbor's daughter (the daughter of the neighbor)


There are three cases in standard Arabic, but  in the simplified language, this isn't nearly as important.

In the very formal literary Arabic, all adjectives and nouns have a suffix which is left out in the commonly spoken form of standard Arabic

The Nominative - مرفوع - marfuu? - Le Nominatif

The Nominative takes a -u ending  in the definite and -un in the indefinite

al-kitabu hunaa - the book is here.   haadhaa kitabun - This is a book (both just 'kitab' normally)

The Accusative - منصوب- manSuub - L'Accusatif

The Accusative takes -a  or -an
It is used for the direcy object of a sentence.

kataba al-waladu al-kibaba The boy read the book.  kataba waladu kitaban. A boy read a book.

However the accusative is also require in a number of other situations in Arabic.

1) After كان (to be), ليس (is not) or any one of a group of verbs denoting a state of being or becoming
(known in Arabic as Kana and her sisters)
2) after the introductory word إن inna
3) An adjective that forms the suprlative (more interesting) using أكثر akthar takes the accusative as does
an adjective in the expression 'less than' أقل من

The Genetive - مجرور - majruur - Le Génétif

As is the case with most Western grammatical terms used to describe Arabic, this case only bears a distant similarity with the term 'genetive'.

The Genetive takes -i or -in

This case is used after a preposition

THE VERBAL NOUN (also known as the masdar) – المصدر al-maSdar

This form of verbs sometimes coresponds to a common noun in English or French, but sometimes replaces a construction that normally would be expressed by a verb.

There are a number of ways to form the verbal noun:

if the root is 123


From the root طبخ Tabakha you get طبخ Tabkh (note the identical spelling!)


The verb فرح fariHa becomes فرح faraH (same spelling again!)


دخل dakhala to enter becomes دخول dukhuul 'entrance'


صعب 'to be difficult' becomes صعوبة Su?uuba


كتب kataba becomes كتابة kitaaba 'reading'



translate – tarjama –  - ترجم - traduire

I translate – utarjimu –  أترجم - je traduis
you translate – tutarjimu –  - تترج- tu traduis
you translate (f.) - tutarjimiina - تترجمين - tu traduis f.
he translates – yutarjimu – وترجمil traduit
she translates – tutarjimu –   elle traduit تترجم

you translate – tutarjumaani –    تترجمان
they translate – yutarjimaani – وترجمان
they translate (f.) - tutarjimaani - تترجمان

we translate – nutarjimu - نترجم - nous traduisons
you translate – tutarjimuuna - تترجمون - vous traduisez
you translate (f.) - tutarjimna - تترجمن - vous traduisez
they translate – yutarjimuuna – وترجمون - ils traduisent
they translate (f.) - yutarjimna –  وترجمن - ils traduisent



Irregular verbs have one or more of the letters in the root that are

-semi-consonant ي or و

-the hamza ء

-or two identical consonants (the second and third.)


وصل waSala 'to arrive' - arriver

he arrives – يسل yaSilu – il arrive

The و dissappears in the imperative as well.

Arrive! - صل Sil! - Arrive!

active participle – واصل – waaSil

passive participle – موصول - mawSuul

verbal noun – وصول - wuSuul

لأإ 'akala 'to eat' - 'manger' آكل

he eats – يأكل ya'kulu – il mange

the hamza dissappears in the imperative

eat! - كل kul! Mange!

active participle – آكل aakil

passive participle – مأكول - maa'kuul

verbal noun - أكل

جاء jaa'a 'to come' - 'venir'

present - he is coming – يجيء yajii'u

imperative - come! - جيء jii'

active participle - coming – جاء jaa'in

passive partiiple – مجيء majii'u

verbal noun (masdar) جيئة jii'a

رأى ra'a 'to see' - 'voir'

present – he sees – يرى yaraa

imperative – see! - ر ra!

active participle – راء – raa'ian

passive participle – مرئي mar'iy

<>verbal noun – رؤية – ru'


The word for 'no' is laa. 'Non' en arabe, c'est لا laa.

This is also the word that is used to put a verb in the negative in the present tense.

C'est aussi le mot pour mettre une phrase au négatif au présent.

I know him. - أعرفه A?rifuhu. - Je le connais.

I don't know him. - لا أعرفه Laa a?rifuhu. - Je ne le connais pas.

To put a verb in the past tense in the negative, use the word ما maa.

Au passé, il faut utiliser le mot ما maa

He went to the restaurant with us. - ذهب إلى المطعم معنا dhahaba ilaa l-maT?am ma?anaa – Il est allé au restaurant avec nous

He didn't go to the restaurant with us. ما ذهب يلى المطعم معنا maa dhahaba ilaa l-maT?am ma?anaa.

Il n 'est pas allé au restaurant avec nous.

I didn't understand. لم أفهم Je n'ai pas compris

To negate a sentence in the future tense, use لن before the verb in the present tense.

لن نذحب إلى المطعم - We will not go to the restaurant. - Nous n'irons pas au restaurant.

To negate an adjective, use غير gheir before it.

Pour un adjectif, utiliser غير:

ممكن mumkin - possible – possible

غير ممكن gheir mumkin – not possible – pas possible

THE PASSIVE - مجهول - majhuul LE PASSIF

In a non-vocalized text, the passive cannot be distinguished from the active. The context must be used to determine the pronunciation of the vowels.

He opened the door. - فتح الباب - fataHa l-baab. Il a ouvert la porte.
The door was opened. (someone opened the door) - فتح الباب - futiHa l-baab Quelqu'un a ouvert la porte. On a ouvert la porte.

(The Arabic word for passive - majhuul - مجهول means 'unknown' as the doer of the action is unstated.)

The Passive – Le passif

When the vowels aren't written, there is no difference between a verb in the active and the passive forms.

In the present tense, the prefix takes the vowl 'u' and all other vowels are 'a', whether short or long.

يفقد yafqid he loses yufqad he is lost

تطلب she requests tuTlab she is requested

يشاهد yushaahid he witnesses yushaahad it is witnessed

In the present passive, if the first letter is a hamza, the carrier changes from alif to waw

يأخذ ya'khudh takes يؤخذ yu'khadh is taken

he asks, is asked يسأل yas'al yus'al

he reads, it is read يقرأ yqarq4 yuqra'

أكل akal /ukil he ate / he was eaten

In the passive of verbs where the 2nd or third letter of the root is a hamza, the carrier letter changes:

سأل sa'al he asked سئل su'il he was asked

قرأ qara' he read قرئ quri' it was read

four radical verbs

ترجمت tarjama he translated turjima it was translated


The distinction between adjectives and nouns is a bit blurred in Arabic as most adjectives can be used as a noun.

Just as with nouns, adjectives can become feminine by adding the 'silent t' at the end. It is only pronounced as an 'a' in Modern Arabic.

جميل – handsome – jamiil – beau

جميلة – pretty – jamiila – belle

Adjectives must agree in gender with the noun they qualify.

The Comparative – Les adjectifs de comparaison

The comparative of an adjective always starts with 'أ' and eliminates any vowel between the first and second consonant of the root and shortens the second vowel.

The word for 'big' which is كبير kabiir

(root kbr)

bigger is أكبر akbar

The word for 'small' is صغير Saghiir

smaller is أصغر aSghar

'bigger than', أكبر من akbar min,

أصغر من smaller 'than' aSghar min

The comparative

Follow the model a12a3(u)

عَميق deep أعْمَق deeper

سَميك thick أسمَك thicker

جَميل beautiful أجمَل more beautiful

كبير kabiir big اكبر akbar bigger

صغير Saghiir small اصغر aSghar smaller

The feminine form is on the model 1u23aa

كبرى kubraa bigger (f)

صغرى Sughraa smaller (f)

For longer words, add أكْثَر before the adjective in the accusative form.

'Less beautiful' أقَل جَميل

the word 'than' in a comparison is 'من4 min

The superlative takes th definite article.

The most beautiful الاحسن al-aHsan

Less than

'Less than' is translated by أقل follwed by the adjective in the accusative form.