Verb conjugation in Egyptian Arabic

Posted in CategoryEgyptian Arabic Grammar Questions
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    Mohamed Essam Bakry 3 years ago

    Verbs in Arabic in general are categorized into basic and derived forms. Basic verbs are generally based on three root consonants. 

    The Arabic root or masdar (مصدر)  refers to the core meaning of the word. For example the consonants  ك/ت/ب  K/T/B carries the meaning of “writing”:

    كِتَابْ Ketaab = Book

    يكْتِب Yekteb (He) = writes

    كَاتِبْ Kateb = Writer

    كِتَابَة Ketabah = Writing

    Before getting into Egyptian Arabic verb conjugation, make sure to understand and never forget this cardinal rule: The subject and the doer of the verb are included in the conjugated verb. That explains why subject pronouns are usually omitted in verb sentences. You see they are not needed here because the Arabic verb itself contains all the information you need to know about the subject.

        1- Past tense: 

    Past tense indicates actions that have been completed. Since the verb must agree with its subject in gender and number, the shape of the basic verbs changes in the past tense as follows: 


    I wrote  أنا (ana)  كَتَبت (katabt)

    You(m) wrote إنْتَ (enta) كَتَبت (katabt) 

    You (f) wrote إنْتِ (enti) كَتَبتِي (katabti) 

    We wrote إحنَا (ehna) كَتَبنَا (katabna)

    You(pl) wrote إنْتُوا (ento) كَتَبتُوا (katabto)

    He wrote هُوَّ (huwwa) كَتَب (katab)

    She wrote هِيَ (hiya) كَتَبت (katabt)

    They wrote هُمَّا (humma) كَتَبُوا (katabo)

    2- Present Tense in Egyptian Arabic:


    The process of conjugating a verb in Egyptian Arabic in the present tense is simple:

    1) Determine who the subject is. The subject is categorized by number (Singular, Dual, Plural) and gender (Masculine, Feminine). 

    2) Add the necessary suffixes/prefixes to the base verb. 

    We will use the base verb كَتَب which is in the past tense as a base verb, the charts will illustrate how this verb is conjugated into the Present Tense, using all variations of Subject Pronouns. Subject pronouns in Arabic are categorized by number (Singular, Dual, Plural) and gender (Masculine, Feminine).


    I write أنا (ana) أكْتب (akteb)

    You(m) write إنْتَ (enta) تكْتب (tekteb)

    You (f) write إنْتِ (ente) تكْتبي (tektebi)

    We write إحنَا (ehna) نكْتب (nekteb)

    You(pl) write إنْتُوا (ento) تكْتبوا (tektebu)

    He writes هُوَّ (huwwa) يكْتب (yekteb)

    She writes هِيَ (hiya) تكْتب (tekteb)

    They write هُمَّا (humma) يكْتبوا (yektebu)


    2b-  Future Tense in Egyptian Arabic:

    To form the future tense, you add the prefix ha- to the imperfect verb conjugation. Here's an example of this conjugation, using  كَتَب  يكْتب


    I write أنا (ana) هكْتب (hakteb)

    You(m) write إنْتَ (enta) هتكْتب (hatekteb)

    You (f) write إنْتِ (ente) هتكْتبي (hatektebi)

    We write إحنَا (ehna) هنكْتب (hanekteb) 

    You(pl) write إنْتُوا (ento) هتكْتبوا (hatektebu)

    He writes هُوَّ (huwwa) هيكْتب (hayekteb)

    She writes هِيَ (hiya) هتكْتب (hatekteb)

    They write هُمَّا (humma) هيكْتبوا (hayektebu)


    The usage of this tense is fairly straightforward; as you might suppose, you use it to talk about something that will happen in the future.

    هتيجي مَعانا لَلسينما؟ (hatiigi ma3aana lis-senema?)

    Are you going to come with us to the movie theater?


        3- Imperative Tense (command) in Egyptian Arabic:

    The imperative ( الأمر ) is used to make orders. It is addressed to a person or persons; therefore, verbs are conjugated with second person pronouns only, i.e. ‘you’ (إنْتَ – إنْتِ – إنْتُوا).

    Verbs that contain three letters follow the pattern ( افعلْ ) and take the appropriate endings according to gender and number, as follows: 

    مسح (to wipe)   

    فتح (to open)

    كتب (to write)

    إنْتَ (enta) اكْتب (ekteb) اِمسَح (emsah) اِفتَح (eftah)

    إنْتِ (ente) اكْتبي (ektebi) اِمسَحي (emsahi) اِفتَحي (eftahi)

    إنْتُوا (ento) اكْتبوا (ektebo) اِمسَحوا (emsaho) اِفتَحوا (eftaho)

    Verbs that contain vowels are irregular, and the vowels are sometimes deleted in the imperative, e.g.


    وصف (to describe) 

    أكل (to eat)

    قال (to say)

    إنْتَ (enta) اُوصِف (osif) كُل (kol) قُول (o’oul)

    إنْتِ (ente) اُوصِفي (osifi) كُلِي (koli) قُولِي (o’ouli)

    إنْتُوا (ento) اُوصِفوا (osifio) كُلوا (kolo) قُولُوا (o’oulo)

    Please have a look at the videos below

    Egyptian Arabic present tense verb conjugation

    How to form the future tense in Egyptian dialect






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