Beginner - The sun or moon

May 24th, 2011 20 comments
Sometimes a teacher asks a weird question in class and gets a weirder answer that even confuses the teacher! Tune in to hear a peculiar answer to a question on the sun and moon, in a lesson guest hosted by yours truly, Jenkki and the rest of the usual crew.

  5.0/5 (7 votes)

alisha says chat
Wed 25th May 11@02:02 am

that was very nice
fazrihan says chat
Wed 25th May 11@11:39 pm

jenkki says chat
Thu 26th May 11@07:21 am

I have to say, this was a fun experience. You should all take the time to guest sit in with Mr. Jokester, Mohamed, and Mr. Master of Arabic, Ehab, whenever you happen to be visiting London! They are just great guys. Besides which, they bought me a nice dinner afterwards! They sure have Arab hospitality down well! And BTW, I'd gladly return the favor sometime for you, guys!
Desmond says chat
Thu 26th May 11@03:23 pm

In this podcast Ehab, Mohamed and Jon discuss the relative importance of solar and lunar letters. I think there can be no doubt that solar and lunar letters are equally important since the Arabic alphabet is divided equally between sun and moon letters (14 sun letters and 14 moon letters).

Mohamed mentions the word “jahannam” (ﺠﻬﻨﻢwink, and this prompts me to ask a question about “jahannam” (ﺠﻬﻨﻢwink and “sa’iir” (ﺴﻌﻴﺮwink. Which is worse, “jahannam” (ﺠﻬﻨﻢwink or “sa’iir” (ﺴﻌﻴﺮwink? Are there separate hells for first- and second-class citizens?
samra24 says chat
Thu 26th May 11@05:01 pm

hey. i know this is random!
but can someone double check this!

la means no but before a verb means i can't or i don't know! is this correct?

ma used before a verb means i don't know!

can someone give me some example regarding these terms!

jenkki says chat
Thu 26th May 11@07:11 pm


Lemme give me my understanding of la and all the derivatives of no in Arabic. I'm sure somebody with real Arabic skills can offer better explanations, but anyway, I can also check my own understanding this way.

So, here are all the words for no in Arabic and there usage:
la - basic standard (MSA) "no"... used with nouns and present tense verbs. You would use the translation "don't" in some cases to make the english sound right,

ma - colloquial "no", used for past tense, or with adjectives (i.e. not), or with the col. verb "to have" (andee)

laysa - MSA for "not", i.e. used with adjectives, or with the MSA verb "to have" (ledaya)

lem - "no" used with verbs in the past tense, i.e. "didn't", requires the grammatical case "mudaara mansoob"

len - "no" used with verbs in the future tense, i.e. "won't", requires the grammatical case "mudaara mansoob???" (actually, this is one ? for me... does len use mudaara or mudaara mansoob?)
Desmond says chat
Thu 26th May 11@08:41 pm

@ samra24 & jenkki

A lot of rectifications need to be made. Here are a few points that are worth mentioning:

“Laa” (ﻻwink and “maa” (ﻤﺎwink can never mean “I don’t know” because they are only particles.

In many dialects “laa” is replaced by “mish” (ﻤﺶwink, and “mish” (ﻤﺶwink is used in common expressions such as “mish (ﻤﺶwink heyk (ﻫﻴﻙwink”.

Negation can also be expressed by means of the particle “ghayr” (ﻏﻴﺮwink. This word is often placed before an adjective.

“’andy” (ﻋﻨﺪﻱwink isn’t a verb. It’s a preposition with a pronominal suffix. It’s used in everyday spoken Arabic, but that doesn’t mean that it is a colloquialism. In Tunisian Arabic “’andy” is replaced by “’andish”.

“Mansuub” (ﻤﻨﺼﻮﺐwink denotes the accusative case. There are all kinds of complicated rules for the use of the accusative. In classical Arabic, for instance, “kam” (ﻜﻢwink is followed by a singular indefinite noun in the accusative case. You’ll find lots of examples in the nashiids on YouTube.

“Mudaare’” (ﻤﻀﺎﺮﻉwink means “present tense”. The present tense has nothing whatever to do with the accusative case. Verbs have tenses, and nouns have cases.

If you run a few Google searches with words like “Arabic” and “negation” you’ll find enough information to keep you busy for the next fortnight.
jenkki says chat
Fri 27th May 11@06:34 am

Thanks, Desmond. Admittedly, this is quite a broad topic for Arabic grammar... so maybe I can ask one question to focus the scope.

For lem. What you wrote refreshed my memory a bit... actually, instead of mansoob, you are supposed to use the "jussive" case with it, right? i.e. lem aqra al-kitaaba (لم أقرأ الكتابَ) meaning that "I didn't read the book". And book is in jussive (i.e. ends in fatha)... Is this right?
aliyah.m says chat
Fri 27th May 11@08:52 am

@Jenkki-My two cents: From what I understood, you use "lam" with past tense verbs. لم درست اليوم I haven't/ did not study today. And you use lan لن to refer to things you will not do in the future. لن أذهب I will not go.
berry says chat
Fri 27th May 11@08:53 am

on the topic of la-----it can be used for emphasis without negation,it does some slipping around in combination with inna , thus giving a chance to express double emphasis.This is one example of the lack of sense in trying to impose english grammar on arabic.maybe time for a grammatical revolution and freeing arabic from the constant gymnastics of trying to pretend it is an amusing way of speaking english.Then we can stop calling the root of the verb the infinitive , which starts to mess up my head right at the beginning of learning arabic .
vinod says chat
Fri 27th May 11@10:33 am

لم درست اليوم is wrong. If you want to mean ‘I did not study today’, it should be either لم أدرس اليوم or ما درست اليوم
vinod says chat
Fri 27th May 11@03:48 pm

Negation in Arabic depends on several factors. 1) Is it a sentence / noun / adjective?
2) If sentence, is the type, equational / verbal?….is the tense, present / past / future? the mood, imperative?
3) Is it MSA / slang?

Negation of verbal sentences in MSA:
Present tense : لا + verb in standard present tense

Past tense : ما + verb in past tense, or لم + verb in jussive mood

Future tense: لن + verb in subjunctive mood, or سوف لا + verb in standard present tense

Imperative: لا + verb in second person in jussive mood

Examples of the above using the verb شرب (shariba = to drink)
I am not drinking لا أشرب (laa ashrabu)
I did not drink ما شربت (maa sharibtu) / لم أشرب (lam ashrab)
I will not drink لن أشرب (lan ashraba) / سوف لا أشرب (sawfa laa ashrabu)
Do not drink! لا تشرب (laa tashrab / tashrabee / tashraboo)

Negation of equational (sentences without verbs) in MSA:
Use the verb ليس (laysa) (= not to be). It has to be conjugated according to the subject. Change the predicate to the accusative case.
أنا طبيب (anaa 6abeebu) = I am a doctor
لست طبيبا (lastu 6abeeban) = I am not a doctor

Negation of nouns & adjectives in MSA:
لا + indefinite noun in the accusative = absolute negation of noun
لا مانع (laa maani3a) = there is no objection

لا + definite / indefinite adjective = negation of adjective
لا فقاري (laa faqaareey) = invertebrate

غير + indefinite adjective in the genitive = negation of adjective
غير مباشر = indirect

عدم + definite noun in the genitive = negation of noun
عديم + definite noun in the genitive = negation of adjective
عدم الوجود = nonexistence
عديم اللون = colourless

Negation in slang:
All tenses of the verb may be negated by prefixing ما

Verbal predicates that lack an actual verb like فيه (feeh) (= there is) and عند + pronoun suffix (= to have) are also negated using ما

The words مو (moo) and مش (mish) can be used to negate equational sentences, nouns, and adjectives.

Well,thats all I know!
plop says chat
Sat 28th May 11@06:41 am

great job vinod - thanks for this review - nice to see it all in one go - helps a lot
jenkki says chat
Sat 28th May 11@07:58 am

Yes, thanks to all of you!
aliyah.m says chat
Sun 29th May 11@04:33 am

@Vinod - Im not sure you are correct in what you said. I thought for sure that I was indeed correct in what I said, but a bit of research will verify. I'm especially looking forward to Ehab and Mohamed's input on where we differ.
aliyah.m says chat
Sun 29th May 11@04:35 am

Ah yes Vinod, you are correct. Pardon my mistake. Yes Jennki, I made a mistake. Let the good times roll!
aliyah.m says chat
Sun 29th May 11@04:36 am

We need a "like" button !
vinod says chat
Sun 29th May 11@05:20 am

كل ابن آدم خطاّء (To err is human!)

Desmond says chat
Sun 29th May 11@08:17 am

@ jenkki

The use of the negative particle “lam” (ﻠﻡwink has been discussed in a podcast entitled “Simple negation”. Ehab says that “lam” (ﻠﻡwink modifies a present-tense verb, but he neglects to point out that the verb in question is always in the jussive mood. If you put “in the jussive mood” in inverted commas and run a Google search you’ll find a lot of useful information about this domain of Arabic grammar.

“Aqra’” (ﺃﻗﺮﺃwink is okay here. Several months ago I found a example that was almost identical with your sentence.

However, there are still some misconceptions that need to be cleared up. There is no such thing as a “jussive case”. The jussive is a mood, not a case (see Vinod’s comment). Verbs have moods and tenses. Nouns and pronouns have cases.

In English and German there is no jussive mood, but there are indicative and subjunctive moods. Here are a few examples:

he was (indicative mood)
he were (subjunctive mood)
er ist (indicative mood)
er sei (subjunctive mood)

English has a case system, too. The pronoun “he” is nominative, while “him” is accusative. Since you’ve learnt German, there is no need for me to explain the German case system in detail.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of websites where grammatical terms like “mood” and “case” are used incorrectly. The incorrect use of such terms betrays muddled thinking and can cause a great deal of confusion.

Even Ryding sometimes expresses herself badly. In her “Reference Grammar of Modern Arabic” (p. 622) she says: “The negative particle lam is used to negate the past tense.” This is nonsense since “lam” is used to negate a present-tense verb. Besides, you can’t negate a past tense, though you can negate a past-tense verb.

She goes on to say “However, it is not used with a past tense verb.” She doesn’t seem to notice the contradiction between the two statements. You have to examine her examples to see what she means. Everything would have been much clearer if she had said something like this:

The negative particle “lam” is followed by a present-tense verb in the jussive mood. Although the verb is in the present tense it refers to a past state or action and must therefore be rendered in English by a past-tense verb.
thebluesky says chat
Mon 29th Aug 11@12:18 am

Great job guys, very interesting !
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