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Jen
Professional Teacher
Present simple verbs
I am currently studying present simple forms in Arabic (MSA). In English beginners often start with 'be' or 'have', but (if I've understood correctly) 'be' isn't used in the present simple, and 'have' (عندي) is a noun (or actually maybe a preposition?), not a verb.

Which verbs would you recommend I start with?

Thank you for your help :)
May 22, 2020 12:01 PM
Comments · 6
Correct! There is no equivalent to 'be' for present simple tenses (there is for past forms though), so if I wanna say 'the house is big', I would be saying 'the house big' in Arabic and it is inferred that it's in present.

عِند is a preposition meaning 'at' so 'عِنْد المَدْرَسة' is 'at school'. The ي at the end of 'عِنْدي' is an "Attachable Pronoun" translating to 'my', so 'عِنْدي' literally translates to 'at/in my possession", but we think of it directly as 'to have'.
May 22, 2020
I’d like to point out that there is in fact a present-tense conjugation of the verb “to be”; it’s just not used for simple present-tense indicative statements. The verb is يكون. This conjugation is used in subjunctive sentences (following أنْ), sentences that express probability (following قد), and sentences that talk about the future (following سـ or سوف), since in Arabic the present-tense conjugation is used for the future and there is no separate future tense conjugation.

As a side note, the present tense in Arabic is sometimes called the imperfect tense, and in my opinion that’s a better term for it, because it’s not actually associated with a specific time, as you can see in the examples I’ve provided.
May 22, 2020
In most indo-european languages "verb to have" and "verb to be" are essential to form tenses and compound verbs (like avoir and etre in french). But that is not the case in Arabic.
The Arabic language assume that "verb to be" (in the present tense) is included in the noun and pronouns themselves. [we say الطقس جميل and we mean الطقس is جميل (the weather is beautiful)]

Arabic also assumes all words (more precisely, the vast majority of words) are derived from the triliteral root (past tense of 3rd person singular verb) الجذر الثلاثي. That's why traditionally the study of arabic verbs starts with the past tense (unlike english).
May 22, 2020
Thank you very much for your explanation Hins! I hadn't realised that the past tense is traditionally studied first, that is good to know :)
May 22, 2020
Thank you Arwa! This is such a clear explanation! I have only studied Latin based languages before - it fascinates me that two verbs that are so integral to English structures are expressed so differently in Arabic :)
May 22, 2020
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Jen
Language Skills
Arabic, Arabic (Modern Standard), English, Italian
Learning Language
Arabic, Arabic (Modern Standard), Italian