Demystifying Arabic Grammar: Every part You Must Know About Tenses In Levantine

Total Abstract:At present we’ll study a easy method to keep in mind and categorical the tenses in Levantine Arabic. Your most important takeaway must be: “So long as I do know the current tense of a verb, I can categorical nearly all tenses.” As a enjoyable bonus, every clarification of the tenses could have sentence examples recorded in a Syrian accent.

Half I. How Studying Arabic Grammar Went From Being My Worst Nightmare to My Greatest Pal

It was an extended, darkish, and stormy morning at Princeton. They walked into my Arabic 102 class, and the door squeaked open then closed behind me. The classroom felt too chilly for late summer season. My classmates and I shivered in our chairs, though the solar shone brightly outdoors. My trainer entered. She was holding a stack of papers with indecipherable textual content on them. Was this a spell? The substances to a potion? I attempted to make out the unknown script, however I could not. As a substitute, they turned out to be one thing past something I may have imagined…

My trainer started to drop a duplicate of the paper in entrance of every scholar. I used to be final within the row. Scholar by scholar, I watched their expressions rework as they learn the sheet. Worry, confusion, shock. Somebody stated slowly, Oh my god. What was this? I closed my eyes so I would not have to look at. I sensed my trainer standing in entrance of me, after which a delicate thud. The paper was on my desk. I opened my eyes slowly and noticed this…

*cue dramatic sound impact* DUN DUN DUN


In the event you’ve studied Arabic formally, you’ve got most likely seen this chart. And lots of extra prefer it.

Now that I’ve a powerful basis in Arabic, I perceive that my lecturers have been attempting to be useful by displaying this chart to me. They have been attempting to specific a reality in regards to the language that’s really price each Arabic scholar digesting: Arabic is a extremely logical language, based mostly on patterns and repetition. In the event you perceive the logic, patterns, and repetition, you’ll perceive the complete language.

However on the time, that is not what I understood. As a substitute, every field represented how “troublesome” Arabic was, how “international” and “inaccessible” the language would all the time be, and the way Arabic fluency was solely reserved for “good” folks.

I’ve since been in a position to problem every a type of prejudices I carried about Arabic. I do know perceive, that Arabic fluency is at anybody’s fingertips so long as we — observe, immerse, and keep affected person.

However I wasn’t in a position to shake my concern of studying grammar straight was in some way dangerous to Arabic learners’ confidence with the language.

In the event you’re an avid reader of this web site, then you understand I am an avid proponent of studying grammar naturally by immersion and understandable enter of Arabic. I consider in watching television reveals and films and listening to podcasts and music with the intention to “naturally” decide up grammar the way in which we did as kids studying our personal native languages. This methodology has served me since I began my fluency journey in Feb 2020.

However in August 2021, one thing occurred that fully modified my notion of studying grammar.

I lived in Beirut for 3 months — from August 2021 – November 2021 — and I spotted that though I may communicate fluently and perceive native audio system — I could not inform tales nicely.

That is necessary as a result of, in my view, language is… nicely… merely a way of telling tales.

Nor people, we advanced sitting round campfires speaking about life, and the universe, and no matter mammoth we might killed that day.

Take into consideration the folks in your life: Those we really feel closest to are those we share our story with, and who share their story with us, irrespective of how mundane.

However in Beirut, I spotted that once I needed to inform a narrative, I did not know tips on how to precisely discuss when occasions had occurred.

For instance, if I needed to say —

“So I went to the shop yesterday and I noticed this woman. She’s sporting a pink costume, identical to one I had purchased final yr simply earlier than I went to a Beyonce live performance…”

— I knew all of the vocabulary, however I could not seamlessly transfer by tenses.

What was the distinction between “do” and “am doing” or “did”, “performed”, “was performed” or “once I did”, “whereas I did” or “used to”?

I knew the variations in English. However in Arabic, I could not discuss when with out fumbling, stumbling, or simply paraphrasing the story to solely use tenses I used to be acquainted with.

Ultimately, I acquired a trainer in Beirut who fully opened up grammar to me. Or slightly, I used to be lastly in a position to obtain the messages about grammar that my lecturers tried to share with me so a few years in the past.

Nowadays, I am not simply studying Arabic to talk. Relatively, I would like to have the ability to categorical life by one other language. And I lastly notice how mastering grammar is a key element to reaching that purpose.

So do I nonetheless consider in studying grammar naturally by immersion?

Hell sure.

I am satisfied that Arabic grammar has solely develop into fascinating, thrilling, and intuitive (most significantly!) for me due to the 1000’s of hours I’ve spent immersing in content material. I am additionally satisfied that immersion is why I can simplify grammar that when appeared fully complicated.

If this have been a query of which comes first in your fluency journey — grammar or immersion? — I might all the time say immersion. However I might additionally say to by no means be afraid to start out studying or at the very least take a peek at grammar, as you forge forward.

So now, I can faithfully say that grammar is my street canine. I do not go wherever with out her.

And for those who’re prepared to start out befriending grammar too, hop overseas. I’ve saved a seat for you. Yalla, let’s go!

Half 2. The Tenses Defined (+ Sentence Audio Recordings)

A very powerful takeaway: In Levantine Arabic, the current tense is used as the inspiration to specific all different tenses, aside from the previous tense.

For instance, take the verb “to work”: اشتغل

Discover how the current tense of the verb, which is بشتغل, performs the primary position in developing all different tenses, aside from the previous tense.

I work: بشتغل

I’m working: عم بشتغل

I used to be working: I used to be working بشتغل

After I was working: لما كنت عم بشتغل

I used to work: I used to work اشتغل

I’ll work: رح بشتغل

I can’t work: ما رح بشتغل.

I labored/ have labored: شتغلت

So so long as you understand the current tense, you’ll be able to shortly categorical 95% of all different tenses.

Let’s have a look at what this appears like in a bit extra element.

I. Current Tense

Yay. I would like one thing…

Grammar level: current tense conjugation solely

Professional kind: Use this manner to specific stuff you do typically.

I drink espresso each morning.

Anna بشربقهوة كل يوم الصبح

Ib. I’m doing one thing (proper now)…

Grammar level: current tense conjugation + عم

Professional tip: Use this to specific one thing occurring at this second.

I’m consuming espresso proper now.

Anna عم بشرب قهوة حلق

II. Previous Tense

IIa. I did one thing… or I’ve performed one thing…

Grammar Level: Use the previous tense conjugation

Professional tip: Use this to specific that an motion is totally accomplished.

PS: The concept of ​​”have performed” has extra to it than this, however in lots of circumstances did/have performed are interchangeable.

I ate lunch at my boyfriend’s home yesterday.

اتغديتعند بيت ساهابي مبراح

I’ve eaten lunch at my boyfriend’s home many occasions.

اتغديت عند بيت سهابي كذا مررة

IIb. I used to be doing one thing…

Grammar level: current tense conjugation + کان + عم

Professional tip: Use this to specific that an motion that occurred repeatedly previously.

Final week, I used to be consuming lunch at my boyfriend’s home every single day when my mom was on a visit.

final weekكنت عم بتغدى عند بيت سهابي كل يوم لما ماما كانت برحلة

IIc. After I was doing one thing…

Grammar level: current tense conjugation + لما + كان + عم

Yesterday, once I was consuming lunch at my boyfriend’s home, my mom referred to as to ask the place I used to be.

tomorrow لما كنت عم بتغدي عند بيت شاهبي امي دقتلي

IId. I used to do one thing…

Grammar level: current tense conjugation + कान

I used to eat lunch at my boyfriend’s home, however my mom discovered, so I ended.

I used to be hungry عند بيت شاهابي كل يوم بس امي اسكبرت هذا الشي فا بوتلت

III. Future Tense

IIIa. I’ll…

Grammar level: current tense conjugation + رح

I’ll see you at 5pm tomorrow.

virgin رح اشوفك On the fifth hour

IIIb. I can’t…

Grammar level: current tense conjugation + ما + رح

I can’t see you at 5 pm tomorrow.

virgin ما رح اشوفك On the fifth hour

IIIc. After I do one thing, one thing (else) will occur…

Grammar level: رح + current tense conjugation + بس

Tomorrow, once I get out of labor, I’ll see you.

virgin بس اخلس من الشغل rah اشوفك

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