future tense

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Antonio3662918, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. Antonio3662918 Member

    English -US
    In an old Arabic course book of mine I noticed it said you could form the Arabic future tense by adding either 'sa' or 'sawfa' (I think.) It's MSA. I wanted to know if these are interchangeable, and if they are, is either one of them used more often? In spoken MSA, is it normal to pronounce the future particle or would you most likely leave it off? I know in several languages they depend on other words to let the listener know about the future tense instead of changing the verb. (Japanese, etc.) Thank you.
  2. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Hello Antonio,

    They're not really interchangeable, nor is one of them more used than the other. It all depends on the meaning you want to convey.
    Maybe this older thread would tell you more about this subject.
    If you leave it off you won't be expressing future. So it should be pronounced.
    In Arabic, even colloquial forms, there should be an indicator of the future, because the verb's form itself is the same as the present المضارع :
    aktub أكتب (present tense of I write)
    sa-aktub or sawfa-aktub سأكتب، سوف أكتب (I will write)

    P.S. We have also a thread about forming the future in colloquial forms of Arabic, if you're interested. :)
  3. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Sometimes, the present tense alone is sufficient to express the future tense in Arabic - but not always. This is no different from many other languages.
  4. linguist786 Senior Member

    Blackburn, England
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    If it helps, سوف is translated in Urdu as "عن قريب" - which is also an Arabic term. It means something like "very soon".
  5. Abu Rashid

    Abu Rashid Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    Australian English

    Are you sure they are not interchangeable?
    If I were to say سوف أذهب إلى البحر or
    if I were to say سأذهب إلى البحر
    would I not be conveying the same message? I saw in the thread you linked to that you stated one is far off in the future and one is in the immediate future, but I've never noticed this difference before, and have seen them used interchangeably.
  6. HKK

    HKK Senior Member

    My course said this distinction used to exist, but nowadays sawfa- is just more formal.
  7. cherine

    cherine Moderator

    Alexandria, Egypt
    Arabic (Egypt).
    I think HKK answered for me :)
    Nowadays, many subtilities and nuances in Arabic usage are not sensed and -as a result- not differentiated. sawfa and sa are not supposed to be synonyms, but these days they are.
    Jalasa and qa3ada, masha and saara, takallama and ta7addatha, raqada and istalqa..... are used interchangeably now, but I think they're supposed to have different connotation, which is not sensed/felt... anymore.
  8. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    Would that be the case in this sample dialogue with غداً, for example? (from a textbook I've come across):

    - متى يأتي المدرس الجديد؟
    - المدرس الجديد يأتي غداً_
  9. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
  10. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    This is not helpful for Arabic, because the meaning is the opposite. سوف as in the thread Cherine has linked above refers to the distant future, not the near future.
  11. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    Hello Cherine,

    This is very interesting because a number of grammar books (including Haywood and Nahmad, which teaches the classical language as well as MSA), doesn’t differentiate between the use of sa and sawfa. In fact, it says the former is a contraction of the latter!

    Other grammar books I have say the same.

    Elroy has already confirmed this but I’ll just add a point or two

    As the time frame for the future is given by غداً it means you do not need the future particles س and سوف here.

    The imperfect (المضارع) is just unfinished action and for a future connotation we either need to use the prefixes س or سوف or give a future time frame.

    I have, btw, a related question for everyone about the Arabic Future tense.

    Recently I was perusing the book “Standard Arabic” by Eckehard Schulz et al. They give this intriguing example:

    << The particle قَد+ imperfect tense meaning “perhaps” also denotes a future action or event as possibility:

    Perhaps, he will write قَد یَکتُبُ >>

    What do you all say?

    I’m very familiar with the Future Perfect where the use of قَد is optional but nevertheless used, e.g.

    Ja3far would have written
    يكون جعفر كتب = يكون جعفر قد كتب

    But the use of قد + المضارع to give the idea of the future tense is, I thought, a little unusual.

    … and I agree with Cleverzimo. The Urdu example of عن قريب above is unhelpful. Not only that, it is actually somewhat misleading as we don’t need to use this when making the future tense, unlike sa and sawfa for Arabic. We have a completely different system of giving the idea of future actions.
  12. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    So would it be actually wrong or perhaps stylistically inadvisable to use both indicators, or are the particles سـ and سوف simply optional when there's a temporal adverb that clearly sets the action expressed by the مضارع verb in the future?
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  13. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    When the context indicates that the imperfect (المضارع) is referring to future action, as in your example, then there is no need to add the future particles sa / saufa.

    Is it wrong? I don’t know whether this is considered a grammatical sin but it certainly is redundant and so totally unnecessary, as you might guess.

    Incidentally, I have just looked through some more resources and the probable future action as denoted by the قَد particle + imperfect (to mean “perhaps / possibly” etc.) is the way to express this kind of action in fus7a.

    It is the sort of literature I’ve been reading (almost entirely historical or descriptive) which might explain why I found it unusual. It isn’t. Just haven’t seen this in a long while!
  14. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    Thank you for your comprehensive answer, Faylasoof.

    I just wanted to make sure, as I've been 'corrected' at least once when I said a sentence with غداً and used the verb in مضارع without سـ or سوف, and was told I of course had to use one of these particles - given that I was referring to the future. :)
  15. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    I've seen this as well, that سـ is a contraction of سوف. However, curiously, in Maltese sa is still used as a future tense marker, however it appears to be a short form of ساير (sejjer in their orthography)! Which would mean it's akin to the formation of رح in other dialects.

    Perhaps سـ is actually a short version of ساير? It would explain why سـ and سوف are not synonymous (e.g., according to Cherine above). If سـ did come from a verb like سار which has a "going" meaning, it would explain the given distinction between near and distant future.

    Just some thoughts. What do the classical grammarians say is the origin of سـَ?
  16. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I don't want to get into this in this thread (as it would be off-topic, and besides, it's been discussed in previous threads), but I just want to say that not everyone subscribes to this view.
    That is correct. When followed by the مضارع, قد means "may" or "might.

    It depends on the context. Even if there is an adverb referring to the future, it is not always redundant to use a future particle.
  17. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    For example? :)
  18. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    Hi again,
    Unfortunately, I myself can't judge the equivalence between the English and the Arabic sentence yet; but as far as I know, "would have" in English is not the future perfect* but rather the so-called third conditional, which is used to refer to conditions in the past that did not happen, for which reason the situation expressed is merely hypothetical (as in your [English] sentence).

    Is this what the Arabic يكون جعفر (قد) كتب expresses?

    If so, is the same construction also possible with سـ\سوف , really referring to the future?:

    سيكون جعفر (قد) كتب = Ja3far will have written ?

    *although I suppose that what you wanted to express when you said "future" here was probably "the future perfect tense 'will have' set in the past (-> would)"
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
  19. clevermizo Senior Member

    St. Louis, MO
    English (USA), Spanish
    This is what I'm familiar with, though I almost always see it written with قد.
  20. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    Hi again,

    Could someone please give me one or two examples of contexts where it is not redundant to use a future particle even if there is an adverb referring to the future in the same sentence?
  21. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    لدي مشكلة كبيرة وعلي أن أحلها. سأتكلم مع المدير غدًا لعلنا نجد حلاً.

    سوف أزور القدس الشهر القادم. هل لديك نصائح بإمكانك إفادتي بها؟

    In these examples, not only are the future particles not redundant, but the sentences would actually sound wrong without them.

    I'm pretty sure it's the same as in German. If you use a future particle where you would use werden in German and omit it where you would use the present tense in German, you should be fine in most - if not all - cases.
  22. Sidjanga Senior Member

    German;southern tendencies
    Thanks! Now I know in which direction you were thinking. :)

    It may be similar to German, and considering the respective other language may work as a rule of thumb when deciding whether to use سـ\سوف or werden, respectively, together with a future particle; but it doesn't seem to be the exact same.
    I don't think I'd normally use werden in the context of the second of your example sentences, and the sentence would definitely not sound strange or wrong without it in German.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  23. Faylasoof Senior Member

    Plato's Republic
    English (UK) & Urdu (Luckhnow), Hindi
    In reported speech, the Future Perfect <will have> becomes the Secondary Future perfect <would have>. That is what I recall from my school grammar!

    I think you can search for this on the net yourself, but here is what I mean. Just scroll down toFuture perfect to secondary future perfect tense”.

    I don’t recall this! I mean with سـ\سوف. The standard formula being:

    یَکونُ قَد فَعَلَ

    Although some grammar books say that just یَکونُ فَعَلَ conveys the idea of Future Perfect, the use of قَد is frequent.
  24. kkfilms

    kkfilms New Member

    I am very new to this form and seeking your help to understand Arabic. I have seen in this form that many learned persons have very well explained about the formation of the 'future' tense in Arabic. My particular interest is in the use of word قد in the sentence. I have noted many comments in which it was stated قد followed by a verb means may or might and refers the action in the future. However, I want to know will it be treated the same if a verb comes first and then قد i.e. a verb followed by قد


Share This Page