Present Tense

The use of the present tense in Darija

The Darija present tense, as is the case with present tense in English, refers to a situation that is permanent, an action we do on  a daily basis for example, but also an action that is being done at the time being.

The positive Form of the present tense

Examples

Dima, tanhdar m3a lwalida f telephone.
I always talk to mom on the phone.

Ana tantfarraj f wa7ed l’film daba.
I am watching a movie right now.

So, we can tell what the speaker means by the context and keywords such as: daba, dima.

The Form

To form the Darija present tense, the root is usually kept the same except for some cases. Notice in the verb kteb, the E changes position from the third place to the second place.

In general,

Notice VR for verb root.

  • Ana tan+VR
  • Nta tat+VR
  • Howa tay+VR
  • Hia tat+VR
  • 7na tan+VR+u
  • Ntuma tat+VR+u
  • Homa tay++VR+u

Verb kteb (to write)

  • Ana tankteb
  • Nta tatkteb
  • Nti tatketbi
  • Howa taykteb
  • Hia tatkteb
  • 7na tanketbu
  • Ntuma tatketbu
  • Huma tayketbu

Explanation

For first person singular, we add tan- to the beginning of the verb.
For the second person singular masculine, we add tat- to the beginning of the verb.
For the second person singular feminine, we add tat- to the beginning of the verb, change the position of -e- and put it after the first consonant/letter, and -i to the end of the verb.
For the third person singular masculine, we add tay- to the beginning of the verb.
For the third person singular feminine, we add tat- to the beginning of the verb.

For the first person plural, we add tan- to the beginning of the verb and -u to the end of the verb.
For the second person plural, we add tat- to the beginning of the verb and -u to the end of the verb.
For the third person plural, we add tay- to the beginning of the verb and -u to the end of the verb.

We’ll use the verb kteb in most of our lessons in order to explain tenses in Darija as it is a regular verb. We will tackle the irregular verbs in a separate lesson.

The negative form of the present tense

Examples

Ma tanl3absh l’kura.
I don’t play soccer.

Ma tanktebsh.
I don’t write.

The form

Let’s use the verb kteb ( to write ) again.

  • Ana ma tanktebsh
  • Nta ma tatktebsh
  • Nti ma tatketbish
  • Howa ma tayktebsh
  • Hia ma tatktebsh
  • 7na ma tanketbush
  • Ntuma ma tatketbush
  • Huma ma tayketbush

So, we add the word ma before the verb and add the suffix -sh to the end of the verb.

The use of walu/ta 7aja (anything)

We leave the word ma as it is, remove -sh and add walu or ta 7aja after the verb.

Examples with walu/ta 7aja in the Darija present tense

Ma tan3raf ta 7aja.
I don’t know anything.

Ma tandir walu.
I don’t do anything.
OR
I’m not doing anything.

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