Lesson 59 – الدَّرْسُ التَّاسِعُ وَالْخَمْسُونَ

/kāna/ and its sisters - كـانَ وَأَخَوَاتُـهـا

/kāna/ and its sistersكَـانَ وَأخَواتـها

  • We are still in lesson fifty nine of our free Arabic language course. This Arabic course with images and audios will help you learn Arabic.
  • We learnt earlier that there are two types of sentences in Arabic:
    1- The Arabic nominal sentence which consists originally of two part; the subject which is always noun, and the predicate which can be noun, sentence or quasi sentence (phrase).
    2- The Arabic verbal sentence which consists originally of a verb, and an agent of the verb.
  • In this lesson we will study a new linguistic phenomenon related to the nominal sentence. It is some words that intervene in the nominal sentence and change its declension. These words are called /kāna/ and its sisters. They are originally verbs, and they relate the subject to the predicate in their same tense. Because they are verbs, they can be in the past, present, and imperative as the following examples:











Arabic example


To be

Was – were

English meaning

  • You have to pay a good attention that these annullers intervene only in the nominal sentence, so if you see any of them before a verb, do not think that it is a verbal sentence, instead it is a nominal sentence that has the subject as latent pronoun, as the following example:

Where is your brother?

He was playing in the garden.

أين أخوك؟

كَانَ يَلْعَبُ فِي الْحَدِيقَةِ

  • In the above mentioned example the sentence after /kāna/ is a nominal sentence. The subject is a latent pronoun, and the predicate is a verbal sentence (we mentioned this type of sentences in lesson (48) of the latent pronoun). The following table gives more explanation:

كَانَ يَلْعَبُ في الْحَدِيقَةِ

يَلْعَبُ في الْحَدِيقَةِ



Predicate (verbal sentence)

Subject (latent pronoun)


Nominal sentence

  • Let’s see now /kāna/ and its mostly common used sisters, with some examples:



English meaning




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Be generous so that people love you

كُنْ كَرِيمًا يُحِبُّكَ النَّاسُ

/kun karīman yuħibbuka annāsu/

It make the subject qualified by the predicate in the tense of /kāna/. It is mostly translated by verb to (be)



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The Muslim remained fasting

ظَلَّ المُسْلِمُ صَائِمًا

/đhalla al muslimu ŝâ’iman/

Remained in existence




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The worker stayed the night tired because of the much work.

بَاتَ العَامِلُ مُتْعَبًا مِنْ كَثْرَةِ العَمَلِ

/bāta al ξāmilu mutξaban min kathrati al ξamali/

To stay the night




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The student became hardworking

أَضْحَى الطَّالِبُ نَشِيطًا

/ađħā aŧ ŧâlibu nashīŧan/

To bring to light



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The birds become hungry in the morning

تُصْبِحُ الطُّيورُ جَائِعَةً

/tuŝbiħu aŧ ŧuyūro ĵā’iξatan/

To become in the morning



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The birds become sated in the evening

تُمْسِي الطُّيُورُ مُشْبَعَةً

/tumsī aŧ ŧuyūro mushbaξatan/

To become in the evening



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The paste (dough) became a bread

صَارَ العَجِينُ خُبْزًا

/ŝâra al ξaĵīnu khubzan/

To become