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 ‘anaa kan …
you (s, m) ntaa kat …
you (s, f) ntee kat … ee
he howa kay …
she heeya kat …
we hnaa kan … oo
you (pl) ntoomaa kat … oo
they homaa kay … 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)

Some verbs have the CC form (Consonant, Consonant), for example:
chdd (to take)
Hll (to open)
sdd (to close)
kbb (to pour)
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 ‘anaa kanshrb
you (s, m) ntaa katshrb
you (s, f) ntee katshrbee
he howa kayshrb
elle heeya katshrb
we hnaa kanshrboo
you (pl) ntoomaa katshrboo
they homaa kayshrboo

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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)

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

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 ‘anaa kanmshee
you (s, m) ntaa katmshee
you (s, f) ntee katmsheeee
he howa kaymshee
she heeya katmshee
we hnaa kanmsheeoo
you (pl) ntoomaa katmsheeoo
they homaa kaymsheeoo

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 ‘anaa kangool
tu/vous (s. m.) ntaa katgool
tu/vous (s. f.) nti katgooli
il howa kaygool
elle hiya katgool
nous hnaa kangooloo
vous (pl) ntoumaa katgooloo
ils homaa kaygooloo

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 ‘anaa kanakol kanakhod
you (s, m) ntaa katakol katakhod
you (s, f) ntee katakolee katakhodee
he howa kayakol kayakhod
she heeya katakol katakhod
we hnaa kanakloo kanakhodoo
you (pl) ntoomaa katakloo katakhodoo
they homaa kayakloo kayakhodoo