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Moroccan Arabic Grammar: The Present Tense

Congugating the Present Tense

There are four categories of verbs in Moroccan Arabic (Darija) and they are all congugated with the same prefixes and suffixes:

Person (English)Person (Darija)Present prefixes and suffixes
I‘anaakan …
you (s, m)ntaakat …
you (s, f)nteekat … ee
hehowakay …
sheheeyakat …
wehnaakan … oo
you (pl)ntoomaakat … oo
theyhomaakay … oo

CCC & CC verbs

Most verbs in Moroccan Arabic (Darija) fall into the category of CCC verbs (Consonant, Consonant, Consonant), for example:
qt3 (to cut)
n3s (to sleep)
shrb (to drink – sh is one consonant in arabic script)
qllb (to look for – “ll” is one letter with a shedda on it, in arabic script)
ftr (have breakfast)
lbs (get dressed)
gls (sit down)
khrj (go out)
etc.

Some verbs have the CC form (Consonant, Consonant), for example:
chdd (to take)
Hll (to open)
sdd (to close)
kbb (to pour)
etc.
Note: all of these are written with just two letters (two consonants) in Arabic script – with a shedda on the second consonant.

To conjugate CCC & CC verbs, we just add the present tense prefixes and suffixes:

Person (English)Person (Darija)Conjugation of the verb “shrb”
I‘anaakanshrb
you (s, m)ntaakatshrb
you (s, f)nteekatshrbee
hehowakayshrb
elleheeyakatshrb
wehnaakanshrboo
you (pl)ntoomaakatshrboo
theyhomaakayshrboo

CCV et CVC verbs

There are some verbes that fall into the CCV category of verbs (Consonant, Consonant, Vowel), for example:
mshaa (to go)
shraa (to buy)
tlqaa (to meet)
nqaa (to clean)
etc.

There are also CVC verbs (Consonant, Vowel, Consonant), for example:
gaal (to say)
kaan (to bee)
baan (to appear)
taar (to fly)
etc.

To conjugate CCV and CVC verbs, some of the verbs keep the “aa” vowel, while other verbs have their “aa” vowel replaced by “ee” or “oo”. For example the verb “mshaa” becomes “mchee” and then we add the present tense prefixes and suffixes:

Person (English)Personne (Darija)Conjugation of the verb “mshaa”
I‘anaakanmshee
you (s, m)ntaakatmshee
you (s, f)nteekatmsheeee
hehowakaymshee
sheheeyakatmshee
wehnaakanmsheeoo
you (pl)ntoomaakatmsheeoo
theyhomaakaymsheeoo

Here is an example using the verb “gaal” CVC category. The verb “gaal” becomes “gool” and then we add the present tense prefixes and suffixes.:

Person (English)Person (Darija)Conjugation of the verb “gaal”
I‘anaakangool
tu/vous (s. m.)ntaakatgool
tu/vous (s. f.)ntikatgooli
ilhowakaygool
ellehiyakatgool
noushnaakangooloo
vous (pl)ntoumaakatgooloo
ilshomaakaygooloo

In our dictionary, we have indicated if the vowel changes by putting that change in brackets, for example: “mshaa (mchee) CCV” and “gaal (gool) CVC”.

Irregular verbs

There are just two irregular verbs in the present tense: “klaa” (to eat) and “khdaa” (to take). Here are their present tense conjugations:

Person (English)Person (Darija)Conjugation of the verb “klaa”Conjugation of the verb “khdaa”
I‘anaakanakolkanakhod
you (s, m)ntaakatakolkatakhod
you (s, f)nteekatakoleekatakhodee
hehowakayakolkayakhod
sheheeyakatakolkatakhod
wehnaakanaklookanakhodoo
you (pl)ntoomaakataklookatakhodoo
theyhomaakayaklookayakhodoo
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