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Arabic modals







Modals in standard Arabic

Modals in Egyptian Arabic

Modals in standard Arabic

In English, modal verbs include "can," "may," "might," "must," "should," and "would" verbs that are not conjugated or negated in the
same way as regular verbs. Standard Arabic doesn't have exact equivalents of these verbs, but it has words that are used in much the

. Here's a list (all of these are followed by imperfect-mood verbs, although if you
remove the , you can follow them with a ):
same way including phrases beginning with

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( yajib an)

must, should

( 3ala + object + an)


( min al-laazim an)

have to, it is necessary to

( min al-waajib an)

it is necessary to

( min aD-Daruuri an)

it is necessary to

( yanbai an)


( min al-mafruuD an)


( min al-muftaraD an)

should, ought to

( yumkin an)

might, may

( min al-mumkin an)

it is possible to

( min al-mustaHiil an)

it is impossible to

( min al-mutawaqqa3 an)

it is expected that

( min al-muntaZar an)

it is expected that

( min as-sahl an)

it is easy to

( min al-yasiir an)

it is easy to

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Arabic modals

( min aS-Sa3b an)

it is hard to

( min al-jadiir bid-dikr anna)

it's worth mentioning that

( min at-taabit anna)

it's well-established that

( min al-ma3ruuf anna)

it's (well-)known that

( min al-waaDiH anna)

it's clear that

( min al-mafhuum anna)

it's understood that

( min al-murajja3 an)

it's most likely that

( min al-muHtamal an)

it's probable that

( min al-muqarrar an)

it's been decided that

( min al-muttafaq 3aleihi an)

it's been agreed that

( min al-mu3taad an)

it's customary to

( min al-mustaHsan an)

it's preferable that

( min al-aHsan an)

it's better that

( min al-ajdar an)

it's more suitable/proper to

( min aT-Tabii3ii an)

it's natural that

( min al-mamnuu3 an)

it's forbidden to

( min al-masmuuH an)

it's permitted to

To shift to the past, add

( kaan) before the phrase. To shift to the future, add ( sayakuun) beforehand. For negation, add

(laysa) before it.


( hal yajib munaaqaat qaDaaya mitl al-kaarita l-insaaniyya

fii burma fii majlis al-amn?)
Should issues like the humanitarian disaster in Burma be discussed in the Security Council?

( " " fiilm iiraani 3an itiyaal as-saadaat min al-mutawaqqa3 an

yatiir aDab al-miSriyyiin)
An Iranian movie about Sadat's assassination is expected to anger Egyptians (lit. excite Egyptians' anger).

( haadihi l-mukila min al-mumkin an

tataHawwil ila Zaahira ida lam tuwDi3 liha Huluul munaasiba wa-jidriyya)
This problem may turn into a phenomenon if appropriate and radical solutions for it are not found.

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Arabic modals

( min aT-Tabii3i an yafraH al-muwaaTin, ayya

muwaaTin, laday ru'yatu jeian ariiban yansaHib min arDu)
It's natural for a citizen, any citizen, to rejoice at the sight of a foreign army withdrawing from his land.

( ida lam nastaTi3 tajaawuz al-inqisaamaat daaxil al-mujtama3 al-filasTiini fa-sayakuun min aS-Sa3b jiddan taHqiiq
taqaddum fi mawDuu3eiyy azza wa-3amaliyyat as-salaam fil-waqt nafsu)
If we can't overcome the divisions within Palestinian society, then it will be very difficult to achieve progress in the issues of
Gaza and the peace process at the same time.

Modals in Egyptian Arabic

Egyptian Arabic uses many of the same modals listed above, but without the

... . Usually they are followed by an imperfect-tense


( laazim)

must, have to

( Daruuri)


( il-mafruuD)


( mumkin)

can, it's possible

( mustaHiil)

it's impossible

( yemkin)


( gaayiz)

may, it is possible that

( sahl)

it's easy to

( Sa3b)

it's hard to

( mamnuu3)

it's forbidden to

( masmuuH)

it's permitted to

There are also modals that are active participles. Remember that all active participles act as adjectives, and thus have masculine,
feminine, and plural forms.

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- - ( 3aayiz - 3ayza - 3ayziin)

want to

- - ( naawi - nawya - nawyiin)

intending to

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Arabic modals

- - '( aa3id - 'a3da - 'a3diin)

continuing to

- - ( 3ammaal - 3ammaala - 3ammaliin)

continuing to

There are also modals that you attach a pronoun suffix to:

( nifs-)

to feel like

'( aSd-)

to mean to

( zamaan-)

must have - indicates something happening at the proper or expected time

( tann-)

continuing to

( ya reit - suffix optional)


Again, to shift to the past, add

( kaan) before the phrase. To shift to the future, add ( haykuun) beforehand. For negation, add

( mi) before it.


( kaan laazim tifakkar fel-mawDuu3 'abl ma taaxod qaraar)

You should've thought about it before you made a decision.

( il-mafruuD innena kollena ni'Di wa't kwayyis)

We should all spend our time well.

( makan 'aSdi adaayi'ak)

I didn't mean to annoy you.

( ya reitni mafataHt sidri witkallemt bi-'alb gaamid)

I wish I hadn't talked so openly and bravely.

( zamanha gayya)
She ought to be coming (soon now).

( zamaanak gu3t)
You must be hungry by now.

( kaan zamaan kulle Haaga xilSit law kunti sa3idtiini)

Everything would've been finished by now if you'd helped me.

( nifsi asaafir libnaan)

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Arabic modals

I'd like to travel to Lebanon.

( nawya aSHa badri)

I intend to get up early.

( il-balaawi 3ammaala titHaddif 3aleina)

Troubles keep on befalling us.

( il-3arabiyya l-kaHyaana di 3ammaala tkoHH fi wesT i-aari3)

This beat-up old car keeps coughing in the middle of the street.

Main grammar page

The imperative


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