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How to say not?

The list of Arabic negations is quite long:

مَا \ لا \ لَن \ لم \ لَيس \ لَيَسَتْ \ لَستُ

This topic can be tricky for a lot of new learners, so let’s see how we can simplify this for you.

First, do bear in mind that before you read this article, you have to know the following:

  • How to form the present \ past tense

  • The difference between nouns and verbs

Here is one of our most popular words used for negation:

لا

You will use it to negate verbs in the Present Tense. Present tense verbs start with one of these prefixes:

Remember, أ ن ي ت

For example:

يشَرْب he drinks \ he is drinking

أشْرَب I drink \ I am drinking

Therefore, to negate in the present tense, you will just add Laa لاin front of the verb.

For example: I do not drink or I am not drinking لا أشْرَب

Next up!

لَنْ

Lan is used when you want to negate the Future Tense.

Remember, future verbs start with one of these prefixes: سـ \ سَوْفَ

سَأشْرَب I will drink

So if you want to say I will not drink what negation will you use?

لَنْ أشْرَب

Now, the third negation:

مَا

Ma is used to negate the Past verb form

I drank شَرَبْتُ

I didn’t drink. مَا شَرَبْت

Now, what about…

لَم

For Past as well, right ?

Yes, that is right. It is a negation word, also for past tense, but how do we use it?

لَم أشْرَب or لم شِربْتُ

It’s the first one. لَم أشْرَب

The rule for this one is that after Lam, we use the present verb form, but the meaning still is past.

لم أشْرَب = ما شَرِبْتُ I didn’t drink

Both of them are negations articles for Past tense, except that after Ma, use Past form and after Lam Present form.

Now what about

لَيس \ لَيستَ \ لسْتُ ….

These, you will use when you want to negate anything that is not possibly present, future or past.

How do we say ( I am not a doctor ). Think for a while which one you will use:

أنَا لا طَبيب أنا لَسْتُ طَبيب

It’s the second one– do you know why?

Because the word ( طبيب) is not a verb.

Review:

لا is for present, لَن is for future, مَا \ لم is for past & لَيس \ ليست \ لستُ are for every other thing that is not a verb.

Practice

Meaning

Affirmative

negative

I write.

أكْتُبُ

لا أكْتُب

I wrote.

كَتَبْتُ

لم أكْتُبْ – ما كَتَبْتُ

I’ll write

سأكْتُبُ

لَنْ أكْتُب

I’m a writer.

أنا كاتِب

لَسْتُ كَاتِب

Try to do another one, and send it to us!

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