حروف النفي: لا / ما / لم / لن

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by jmt356, Jan 22, 2013.

  1. jmt356 Senior Member

    I am trying to understand how to negate sentences in Arabic and when to use لا, ما, لم and لن. Is this correct:
    لا = used in the present tense
    ما = used in the past tense
    لم = used in the past subjunctive tense
    لن = ???
     
  2. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    laa usually negates the present, but it's use is very widespread.

    maa, I believe in MSA is hardly ever used to denote the negative past. lam is used for this.

    lam, I have already answered this above.

    lan, when added to the imperfect, e.g yaktubu, changes it to "yaktuba"..

    so lan yaktuba = He will not write (so, it is for negating the future)
     
  3. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    This is a very simplified list, but other than 'past subjunctive', it is correct.

    لم takes what is often called the jussive, which differs from the subjunctive in that it is a past indicative form, and requires a sukuun on the 'short' forms (ana, anta, huwa, hiya, naHnu) whereas it drops the nuun on the other forms and is thus identical with the subjunctive.

    As Qureshpor said, لن is followed by subjunctive forms and means 'won't'.

    As an aside, yes, ما negates the past and does occur in MSA, however, it is considered as less formal than لم.
     
  4. jmt356 Senior Member

    Here is my corrected summary:
    لا = used to negate the imperfect
    ما = used with the perfect to create a negated past tense that is less formal than that of لم + the jussive
    لم = used with the jussive (e.g., لم يكْتُبْ) to create a negated past tense
    لن = used with the subjunctive (e.g., لن يكْتُبَ) to create a negated future tense
     
  5. Tensor78 Senior Member

    U.S. English
     
  6. jmt356 Senior Member

    I consider the jussive to be a mood of the imperfect. So when I say "negate the imperfect" I mean "negate the imperfect in all of its moods, including the the indicative, subjunctive, jussive and imperative moods of the imperfect (it is used indirectly in the imperative mood: when لا is used in the jussive mood, it has the meaning of the negative imperative).
     
  7. HaydarAlaidrus New Member

    Indonesian - Indonesia
    I know i'm 2 years late, but can someone make an example for these 4 words?

    Thanks :)
     
  8. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    لا آكلُ = I don't eat
    لا تأكُلْ = Don't eat!

    ما أكلتُ = I didn't eat

    لم آكلْ = I didn't eat

    لن آكلَ = I won't eat
     
  9. koukeye Senior Member

    Arabic
    - ma and lam are both used to negate something that occurs in the past: Ma is used with a verb in the past while lam is used with a verb in the present.
    Example: ma darasa ما درسَ - lam yadrus لم يدرسْ He did not study
    - lan is used to negate something in the future. It is used with a verb in the present.
    Example: lan adrusa لن أدرسَ I will not study
    - La is used to negate something in the present. It is used with a verb in the present.
    Example: houwa la yadrusu هو لا يدرسُ He does not study (usually)

    N.B: There is another la that should not be confused with this one. It is also used with the present but to ban the person from doing something. It has the meaning of an order and do not tell a fact like the case above.

    I hope it helps
     
  10. HaydarAlaidrus New Member

    Indonesian - Indonesia
    Thanks dkarjala and koukeye that's helpful
     
  11. Interprete Senior Member

    French, France
    Is ما not used much less often than لم? Whenever I bump into it in the past tense, I have to read the sentence twice because I automatically misinterpret it as a pronoun (that which) until I get to the end of the sentence...
     
  12. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Yes, in modern usage (MSA) ما أكلتُ (maa+the verb in the past) is almost never used, and the form لم آكل (lam+verb in the present) is the most commonly used form to negate the verb in the past.
     

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