14 Grammar

Chapter 4 Grammar

Passive Voice

A typical verbal sentence is active, meaning that the sentence has a verb, doer, and an object. From reading the sentence you can immediately identify the doer or who is carrying out the action. However, some sentences omit the doer, which indicates passive voice. Passive voice can be tricky to spot, however, it is distinguished from regular verbs using the following short vowels:

Imperfect/ present tense

Imperfect/ past tense



In order to change a past tense verb from the active into the passive, we have to do two of the following things:

  1. Change the vowel of the first radical into domma (وُ)
  2. Change the vowel of the pre-final (second to last) radical intro kasrah (وِ).

 Past Tense: Active and Passive Voice

  Active voice Passive voice
كَتَبَ كُتِبَ
أَدْخَلَ أُدْخِلَ
اِسْتَقْبَلَ اُسْتُقْبِلَ
أَكَلَ أُكِلَ
اِحْتَفَلَ (بـ) اُحْتُفِلَ بـ

In order to change a present tense from the active into the passive, we have to do two of the following things:

  1. Change the vowel of the first radical into domma.
  2. Change the vowel of the pre-final radical intro fatHa.

Present Tense: Active and Passive

Active Passive
يَكْتُبُ يُكْتَبُ
يُقَدِّمُ يُقَدَّمُ
يَحْتَفِلُ (بـ) يُحْتَفَلُ (بـ)
يَسْتَقْبِلُ يُسْتَقْبَلُ
يَشْرَبُ يُشْرَبُ

Active vs Passive Voice In Sentences

Active translation Passive Translation
كَتَبَ الأستاذُ الدّرسَ

The professor wrote the lesson

كُتِبَ الدّرسُ The lesson was written
الولدُ عَثَرَ على رسالةٍ قديمةٍ تحت الجليِد The boy found an old letter under the ice عُثِرَ على سالةٍ قديمةٍ تحت الجليد An old letter was discovered under the ice



The verb ليس is used as a form of negation in sentences that have no other verbs present. It is a combination of the word لا and أيْس meaning “being” or “existence”, thus ليس means “not to be” or “is not”. When conjugated ليس takes on the suffixes that are used for past tense, but it still maintains present tense meaning.

لَسنا           we are not لَسْتُ                I am not
لَسْتُم    you (pl) are not لَسْتَ    you (m) are not

لَسْتِ      you (f) are not

لَيسوا        they are not لَيسَ            he/it is not

لَيسَت         she/it is not

Examples of لثس in sentences:

  1. انا ليست أمريكية، انا فرنسية

I am not American, I am Palestinian

2. محمد ليس في البيت

Mohammed isn’t in the house

3. أبناء عمي ليسوا من لبنان

My cousins are not from Lebanon



If you  need more help understanding and practicing ليس, watch the following video:


مثل، ك، كما

The words مثل، ك، و كما all express similarity or likeness in Arabic. However, each is used differently.


مثل is a noun that means like and is used between two nouns. It can also be used similarity to a simile in English.

Examples using مثل

  1. أتمنى أن أسكن في شقة مثل اخي

I hope to live in an apartment like my brother

2. يريد ابنه أن يصبح مهندس مثله

His son wants to become an engineer like him


ك is a preposition that means “like” and is only used when followed by a noun or has a noun attached to it.

Example using ك

  1. قال إنه لم يتزوج لأنه لم يجد امرأة كأمّه

He said that he didn’t get married because he didn’t find a woman like his mom


كما is only used in verbal sentences and means “as”, “just as”, and “like.”

Examples using كما

  1. كما تعلمون، الامتحان سيكون غداً

As you know, there will be a test tomorrow

2. المشروع ليس بسيطاً كما تقول الاستاذ

The project isn’t as simple as the professor says


Adverbs المفعولات

Adverbs give us extra information about the manner, time, and frequency of verbs. In Arabic, adverbs usually end in (اً) تنوين الفتح، eg. جديداً، كثيراً، جداً.

The Most Common Adverbs in Arabic


Very جداً
Always دائماً
Usually عادةً
Never أبداً
Sometimes أحياناً


Adverbs can also be derived from adjectives by adding (تنوين الفتح (اً to the end of the word


كبيراً كبير
قليلاً قليل
بسيطاً بسيط
سريعاً سريع


  1. لا أكل كثيراً في الصباح

I don’t eat a lot in the morning

2. درسَت قليلاً قبل الامتحان

she studied a little before the test

3. امي تحب الشوكولات جداً.

My mom loves chocolate a lot

Adverbs can also be derived from nouns, especially those denoting time. This allows the speaker to imply the time of day without saying “in the afternoon” or ‘in the evening”.


ليلاً ليل
يومياً يوم
أسبوعيا اسبوع
شهراً شهر


الخفاش ينام نهاراً و يصحو ليلاً

The bat sleeps during th day and awakes at night


If you need more help with adverbs, watch the following video:


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Study Materials for Arabic Students by an Arabic Student Copyright © by Grace Hall via the Boise State Pathways Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book