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    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

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Talk about the Present.

In Arabic use the present continuous form of the verb for both CASE #1 and Case #2. Easy

Case #1 to express a habitual occurrence (explained below).

CASE#2 to express an incident over a period of time in the present.

Recap: 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 = Case #1 (habitual)
I am running = Case #2

But what does habitual mean?

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. Get it? It keeps happening over and over again -- habitually.

It is important to recognize habitual actions, while learning a language, so as to use the correct form of the verb. But it's simple. If it is happening over and over again it is habitual. Again, in Arabic it is the "present continuous form" that is required for the habitual.

The present continuous form is so easy to recognize in Arabic because it begins with a "ba" or "bi" sound. Sweet.

Important (take a deep breath): But where do we find the present continuous? Is it under a rock? On a tree branch? How do we make it? The present continuous verb is DERIVED from the infinitive form.

What are infinitives?

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:
Verb #1 = like
Verb #2 (infinitive) = to go

Subject + Verb #1 + Verb #2 (i.e. 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: In English there is only one infinitive form for any given verb; however, in Arabic, there are many forms due to subject-infinitive agreement.

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.

But first, let's see it in action in MSA/Classical. If you are not interested in MSA/Classical move on.

A step back 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)

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The indicative mood 

 He eats = هُوَ يَأْكُل

The subjunctive mood (What we care about in this lesson).

 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: do not eat = لا تَأْكُلْ

Ordering someone: Eat. = كُلْ

Examples of the present progressive verb derived from the infinitive


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.

Remember, infinitives appear as the "second" verb.

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

The infinitive conjugated 

أنا أدْخُلُ

أنا أدْخُل
ana ad-khul
to enter    

نَحْنُ نَدْخُلُ

إحْنا نِدْخُلْ
iḥna nid-xul

أنْتَ تَدْخُلُ

إنْتَ تِدْخُل
inta tid-khul             

أنْتُم تَدْخُلونَ

 إنْتُم تِدْخُلوا
intu tid-khu-lu

See remaining conjugation

You will notice below both the “ba” and "bi" particle give 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.

  Just add a "ba" or "bi" to change the above infinitives into the present continuous.

Present Continuous Verb Conjugated

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

إحْنا بِنِدْخُلْ
ina bi-nid-khul

إنْتَ بِتِدْخُلْ 
inta bi-tid-khul             

إنْتُمْ بِتِدْخُلوا 
intu (intum)  bi-tid-khu-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) + ash-rab  to drink  

نَحْنُ نَشْرَبُ

إحْنا نِشْرَبْ
 ina  nish-rab

أنْتَ تَشْرَبُ   

إنْتَ تِشْرَبْ
inta  tish-rab           

أنْتُمْ تَشْرَبونَ

إنْتُم تِشْرَبوا 
intu  tish-rab-u

See remaining conjugation

  You will notice again below 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.

Now see the verb "to drink" in the present continuous.

Present Continuous Verb Conjugated

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

 إحْنا بِنِشْرَبْ  
ina bi-nish-rab

 إنْتَ بِتِشْرَبْ
inta bi-tish-rab

إنْتُمْ بِتِشْرَبوا 
intu bi-tish-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 “dakhal” (he entered) becomes yidkhul. While the verb “katab” (he wrote) becomes yiktib.

But don't fuss over these small matters just pick it up as you go.

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  Read more on the present continuous verb


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