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Negation (continued)

Past Tense Negative Sentences

 

Tense

Usage

Word

Verbal Sentences

Nominal Sentences

Past

Before verbs only

(imperfective verb only)

lam

لَمْ

Before verbs only

(imperfective verb only)

lammaa

لَمَّاْ

All Tenses

Before verbs only

(perfective & imperfective verb)

Before nouns or verbs

(perfective & imperfective verb)

maa

مَاْ

Before verbs only

(perfective & imperfective verb)

Before nouns or verbs

(perfective & imperfective verb)

'in

إِنْ

Those are the negative words that can be seen in negative sentences in the past tense. They are all particles. The first two are different from the other two in that they require the verb after them to be an imperfective verb in the jussive mood, even though the sentence will be in the past tense.

 

lam لَمْ

This the major negative particle for the past tense in formal Arabic. Although it is used for the past tense, it can never be used with the perfective verb itself, rather it is only used before imperfective verbs.

 

Positive Nominal

الْوَلَدُ أَكَلَ

'al-walad(u) 'akal(a)

= the boy ate

Translation: the boy ate/has eaten

 

Negative

الْوَلَدُ لَمْ يَأْكُلْ

'al-walad(u) lam ya'<kul

= the boy did not eat

Translation: the boy didn't eat/hasn't eaten

 

Positive Verbal

أَكَلَ الْوَلَدُ

'akal(a) ('a)l-walad(u)

= ate the boy

Translation: the boy ate/has eaten

 

Negative

لَمْ يَأْكُلِ الْوَلَدُ

lam ya'<kul(i) 'al-walad(u)

= did not eat the boy

Translation: the boy didn't eat/hasn't eaten

 

 

 

Positive Nominal

زِيَاْدٌ كَاْنَ هُنَاْ

ziyaad(un) kaan(a) hunaa

= Ziyad was here

Translation: Ziyad was here

 

Negative

زِيَاْدٌ لَمْ يَكُنْ هُنَاْ

ziyaad(un) lam yakun hunaa

= Ziyad did not be here

Translation: Ziyad was not here

 

Positive Verbal

كَاْنَ زِيَاْدٌ هُنَاْ

 kaan(a) ziyaad(un) hunaa

= was Ziyad here

Translation: Ziyad was here

 

Negative

لَمْ يَكُنْ زِيَاْدٌ هُنَاْ

lam yakun ziyaad(un) hunaa

= did not be Ziyad here

Translation: Ziyad was not here

 

 

Lam is a jussive particle and the imperfective verb after it must be in the jussive mood. Conjugation of the verb yakoon(u) in the jussive mood is available here.

 

lammaa لَمَّاْ

Lammaa is a classical negative particle for the past tense that works just like lam; it comes before imperfective verbs and it is also a jussive particle. However, lammaa means "did not yet" rather than "did not" only. When lammaa is used, the speaker means that the action is not realized yet but it is expected to be so at any time.

 

Positive Nominal

الْوَلَدُ أَكَلَ

'al-walad(u) 'akal(a)

= the boy ate

Translation: the boy ate/has eaten

 

Negative

الْوَلَدُ لَمَّاْ يَأْكُلْ

'al-walad(u) lammaa ya'<kul

= the boy did not yet eat

Translation: the boy hasn't eaten yet

 

Positive Verbal

أَكَلَ الْوَلَدُ

'akal(a) ('a)l-walad(u)

= ate the boy

Translation: the boy ate/has eaten

 

Negative

لَمَّاْ يَأْكُلِ الْوَلَدُ

lammaa ya'<kul(i) 'al-walad(u)

= did not yet eat the boy

Translation: the boy hasn't eaten yet

 

 

Note that when lammaa comes before a perfective verb it will have a totally different meaning. In that case, it would mean something like "since that."

لَمَّاْ دَرَسَ نَجَحَ

lammaa daras(a) najah(a)

= since that (he) studied (he) succeed

Translation: since that he studied, he passed

 

Finally, we should mention here that the word lammaa is used in almost all of the modern dialects of Arabic as a conjunction word meaning "when."

e.g. "lammaa 'akalt ..." = "when I ate ..."

 

Maa مَاْ & 'in إِنْ

 

Maa and 'in are used for all tenses. Maa is frequently used in classical Arabic to negate past tense sentences (but not as frequently in modern formal Arabic). Maa is also the exclusive past tense negator used in the modern dialects of Arabic.

 

Positive Nominal

الْوَلَدُ أَكَلَ

'al-walad(u) 'akal(a)

= the boy ate

Translation: the boy ate/has eaten

 

Negative

الْوَلَدُ مَاْ أَكَلَ

'al-walad(u) maa 'akal(a)

= the boy not ate

Translation: the boy didn't eat/hasn't eaten

 

Negative

الْوَلَدُ إِنْ أَكَلَ

'al-walad(u) 'in 'akal(a)

= the boy not ate

Translation: the boy didn't eat/hasn't eaten

 

Positive Verbal

أَكَلَ الْوَلَدُ

'akal(a) ('a)l-walad(u)

= ate the boy

Translation: the boy ate/has eaten

 

Negative

مَاْ أَكَلَ الْوَلَدُ

maa 'akal(a) ('a)l-walad(u)

= not ate the boy

Translation: the boy didn't eat/hasn't eaten

 

Negative

إِنْ أَكَلَ الْوَلَدُ

'in 'akal(a) ('a)l-walad(u)

= not ate the boy

Translation: the boy didn't eat/hasn't eaten

 

When we use maa or 'in, there is no need to change anything about the verb of the sentence.

 

 

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