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   [30] present continuous and simple present derived from the infinitive

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       See also: Present continuous explained, Examples, Be careful, Drills

The present continuous explained

Use the present continuous form of the verb for both CASE #1, to express a habitual occurrence; and, CASE#2 to express an incident over a period of time in the present.

In Arabic you only use one verb form, the present continuous, to express both of the above cases. In English you use two forms: "I run" or/ "I am running" respectively.

CASE #1 is used to express "habitual" actions which means the incident reoccurs frequently in our lives as actions of habit.

An example of a habitual action is " I run to school" implying a repetitive action which happened in the past, is happening in the present, and is likely to continue to occur into the future.

It is important to recognize habitual actions, while learning a language, so as to use the correct form of the verb. Again, in Arabic it is the "present continuous form" that is required for the habitual.

The present continuous form used for the habitual is easily recognizable because it begins with a "ba" or "bi" sound.

Note: The present continuous verb is derived from the infinitive form.

Infinitives in Arabic (for example "to enter") must be conjugated with their respective subjects.

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Note: In English there is only one infinitive form for a given verb; however, in Arabic, this is not the case. There is subject-infinitive agreement in Arabic!

Infinitives are used in both Arabic and English as the "second" verb.

For example: I like to go to school early. ("to go" = infinitive)

In the above example the infinitive "to go" appears as the second verb. However, "like" is the first verb.

In other words: subject + verb + infinitive + the rest of the sentence.

For the above sentence in Arabic, "I like" will use the present continuous form; and "to go" will use the infinitive form.

Note: The infinitive form is less frequently used as the first verb to recite past tense stories/events using the powerful "feel" of the present. Verbs are crazy that way, but it can happen!

For learning purposes we will first conjugate an infinitive and then transform the infinitive into the present continuous form (by simply adding a "ba" or "bi").

Confused? Don't be. Take a deep breath and see it in action below.

A note on MSA/Classical Arabic:

There are three verb moods referred to as:

1- indicative mood (default form of the verb)
2- subjunctive mood (equivalent to the English infinitive)
3- jussive mood (used to invite, prohibit, or order)

Let's see in action in MSA/Classical!

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The indicative mood 

 He eats = هُوَ يَأْكُل

The subjunctive mood

 He went out to eat = خَرَجَ لِيأْكُلَ

 He is going out to eat = هو خارِجٌ  لِيأْكُلَ 

 He goes out to eat = هو يَخْرُجُ لِيأكُلَ


The jussive mood 

inviting someone: let him eat = لِيأكُلْ

prohibiting someone:  لا تَأْكُلْ

ordering someone: eat! = كُلْ

Examples of the present progressive verb derived from the infinitive

  Here is an example of the conjugated infinitive "to enter."

The verbs below have been broken into syllables for easier reading.

Note the infinitives below are conjugated with their respective subjects.

In English there is only one infinitive while in Arabic there are as many infinitives as there are subject pronouns!

Infinitives appear in a "real life" sentence much more frequently as the "second" verb.

The infinitive conjugated 

أنا أدْخُلُ

أنا أدْخُل
ana ad-xul  -  to enter    

نَحْنُ نَدْخُلُ

إحْنا نِدْخُلْ
iḥna nid-xul

أنْتَ تَدْخُلُ

إنْتَ تِدْخُل
inta tid-xul             

أنْتُم تَدْخُلونَ

 إنْتُم تِدْخُلوا
intu tid-xu-lu

See remaining conjugation

You will notice that the “ba” and "bi" particle gives a more continuous feel to the verb similar to the habitual or "ing" ending in English…

For MSA/Classical the conjugation of the present continuous verb is the same as the infinitive.

  For the below table the above infinitives are "transformed" into the present continuous form

Present Continuous Verb Conjugated

 أنا بَادْخُلْ
ana baad-xul  I enter, I am entering  

إحْنا بِنِدْخُلْ
ina bi-nid-xul

إنْتَ بِتِدْخُلْ 
inta bi-tid-xul             

إنْتُمْ بِتِدْخُلوا 
intu (intum)  bi-tid-xu-lu

 See remaining conjugation

  Here is another example of the verb "to drink"  in the infinitive form.

The Infinitive Conjugated

أنا أَشْرَبُ

أنا أشْرَبْ
ana + (verb) + aŝ-rab  -  to drink  

نَحْنُ نَشْرَبُ

إحْنا نِشْرَبْ
 ina  niŝ-rab

أنْتَ تَشْرَبُ   

إنْتَ تِشْرَبْ
inta  tiŝ-rab           

أنْتُمْ تَشْرَبونَ

إنْتُم تِشْرَبوا 
intu  tiŝ-rab-u

See remaining conjugation

  Now see the verb "to drink" in the present continuous (you will notice again that the bi particle gives a more continuous feel to the verb)…

Recall: For MSA/Classical the conjugation of the present continuous verb is the same as the infinitive.

Present Continuous Verb Conjugated

أنا بَاشْرَبْ 
ana baaŝ-rab  -  I drink, I am drinking    

 إحْنا بِنِشْرَبْ  
ina bi-niŝ-rab

 إنْتَ بِتِشْرَبْ
inta bi-tiŝ-rab

إنْتُمْ بِتِشْرَبوا 
intu bi-tiŝ-rab-u

See rest of conjugation

Be careful

In the present continuous the last vowel in the stem of the word is unpredictable. In other words, you don't know if it's a a, i, u.

Example: The verb “daxal” (he entered) becomes yidxul. While the verb “katab” (he wrote) becomes yiktib.

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  Read more on the present continuous verb


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