Arabic Past Tense
Arabic Past Tense

Arabic Past Tense CONJUGATION, 14 Forms And Examples

Arabic Past Tense could be a mind-numbing learning task. But when approached with an open mind and willingness to learn, you should be able to grasp it quite easily.


The past tense in Arabic talks about specific actions that were completed in the past.

When you talk about an action that took place and was fully completed in the past, you use the past tense. It is also used to express something that was true in the past.

Past Tense In Arabic Language

The Arabic word for past tense is الْفِعْلِ الْمَاضِي and pronounced as fi’il maadiy. The sign of the past verb comes either without any letter such as kataba كَتَبَ (this is the standard “root” form we use when we discuss a verb in Arabic).

How To Identify Arabic Past Tense

The Arabic past tense verb has signs on it and to identify them, all past verbs are suffixed and not prefixed with letters – i.e. the letter to indicate the pronoun comes after the verb. This pronoun is the doer (person performing the action) in the verbal sentence.


The suffixed pronouns attached to past tense in Arabic include (تُ، تَ، تِ) as in katabtu, katabta and katabti كَتَبْتُ، كَتَبْتَ، كَتَبْتِ, or the plural of these pronouns (نَا، تُمْ، تُنَّ) as in katabna, katabtum and katabtunna (كَتَبْنَا، كَتَبْتُمْ، كَتَبْتُنَّ).

How Many Types Of Past Tense Are There In Arabic?

Arabic past tense are categorized according to their minimum root number of letters.

  • A Threefold Verb الفعل الثلاثى has three letters as its root; كتبَ = He wrote
  • A Fourfold Verb الفعل الرباعى has four letters as its root; أطلقَ = He launched.
  • A Fivefold Verb الفعل الخماسى has five letters as its root; تعلَّمَ = He learnt.
  • A Sixfold Verb الفعل السداسى has six letters as its root;  استخرجَ = He took/dug out.

In Arabic language verbs as well as nouns are divided into مَبْنِيّ Mabneyy and مُعْرَب Mu’rab. Mabneyy means it has a fixed case ending (the shape of the last letter) no matter its position in the sentence (so the last letter of the verb is always pronounced the same, with the same diacritic).

Mu’rab means that the case ending changes according to its position in the sentence and the grammatical case (so the last letter of the verb will have a different pronunciation and diacritic).

The past tense is always “Mabneyy” مَبْنِيّ.


Arabic Past Tense Verbs Examples

Here are some examples of past tense in Arabic with their meanings.

  • He read ….. قَرَأَ
  • He went ….. ذَهَبَ
  • He helped ….. نَصَرَ
  • He said ….. قال
  • He opened ….. فتح
  • He ate ….. اكل
  • He drank ….. شرب
  • He slept …. نام
  • She wrote …. كتبت
  • She hit …. ضربت
  • She went …. ذهبت
  • She sent …. بعثت
  • He left ….. ترك
  • He entered ….. دخل
  • He succeed ….. نجح

Arabic Past Tense Conjugation

For basic past tense conjugation, the root of the verb, such as دَرَسَ or سَكَنَ, is followed by a suffix according to who or what it is referring to. The root of verb in Arabic is the singular male form of the verb. 

It is very important to note what form the root of the verb takes (this is for when one wants to become advanced). This can cause the root of the verb to change in accordance to the conjugation.


The first conjugation of the past tense verb is achieved by placing a given set of base letters on the pattern فَعَلَ, فَعِلَ, or فَعُلَ.

To conjugate past tense in Arabic Arabic, take a set of base letters and placing them on the pattern فَعَلَ will give us the first conjugation of the verb in the past tense.

Let’s use the root letters دَ رَ سَ which afford the meaning of “studying”. The word دَرَسَ, then, means “he studied”.

Arabic Past Tense Conjugation Chart

Below is the conjugation chart of past tense of Arabic word دَرَسَ.

English PronounArabic PronounsArabic Past Verbs
You (masc.)أنتَدَرَسْتَ
You (fem.)أنتِدَرَسْتِ
He or itهُوَدَرَسَ
She or Itهيدَرَسَتْ
We (No dual)نحندَرَسْنا
You two (masc. And fem.)انتمادرستا And درسا
They (masc.) Twoهمادرستما
They (fem.) twoهمادرستما
you (group masc.)أنتمدَرَسْتُم
you (group fem.)أنتندَرَستُنَّ
they (group masc.)همدَرَسوا
they (group fem.)هندَرَسنَ
Arabic Past Tense Conjugation

14 Forms Of Past Tense in Arabic

Below is the full forms of past tense in Arabic. Since a verb must agree with its subject in gender and number, the shape of the verbs changes in the past tense as in the table below.

English PronounArabic PronounsArabic Past Verbs
You (masc.)أنتَكتبْتَ
You (fem.)أنتِكتبْتِ
He or itهُوَكتبَ
She or Itهيكتبَتْ
We (No dual)نحنكتَبْنَا
You two (masc. And fem.)انتماكتَبَتَا and كتَبَا
They (masc.) Twoهماكتَبتُمَا
They (fem.) twoهماكتَبتُمَا
you (group masc.)أنتمكتبتُم
you (group fem.)أنتنكتَبْنَّ
they (group masc.)همكتبُوا
they (group fem.)هنكتبْتُنَ
14 Forms Of Past Tense in Arabic
14 Forms Of Past Tense in Arabic

Affirmative And Negative Past Tense In Arabic

An affirmative past tense verb is negated simply by prefixing it with the particle ما. For example;

  • He didn’t study … ما دَرَسَ
  • He didn’t help …. ما نَصَرَ
  • He didn’t drink …. ما شرب


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