Lesson Overview

Negation – Saying No


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Arabic uses negative particles to express negation. There is also ليسَ which is a verb meaning ‘to not be’ which expresses negation.

1. The verb لَيْسَ 

  • It is one of the sisters of كان as we have seen, and therefore gives the nominative case to the subject and accusative to the predicate.
  • It is inflected only in it’s past tense form.

First personلَسْتُ
Second person (m)لَسْتَلَسْتُمَالَستُم
Third person (m)لَيْسَلَيْسَالَيْسُوا


ليس الدَّرسُ صَعبًا The lesson is not difficult

لستُ عَالِمًا I am not a scholar

 ليسَتْ مِصرِيّةً She is not Egyptian

أَلَيسَ كَذلك؟ Is it not so?

2.Laa لا: ‘No; not; there is no’

هَل أنت جائِعٌ؟

لا. لستُ جائِعًا

Are you hungry? No. I am not hungry.

لا أفهم ماذا تقول

I don’t understand what you are saying

لا تَقلَقْ

Don’t worry

3. Lam لَمْ – for negating past tense verbs

لَمْ نَذهبْ للوليمةِ

We did not go for the feast

لَمْ أَنَمْ جَيِّدًا البارحةَ

I did not sleep well yesterday

لَمْ يقُلْ أَحَدٌ هذا 

No one has said this!

As you may have noticed the verb after lam is always in the jussive mood (jazm), as it is one of the particles of jazm.

4. Maa ما 

ما is usually used to negate past tense verbs.

ما ذَهَبَ He did not go

ما رأيتُهم I did not see them

ما كَلَّمَتْهُ He did not speak to him

It is also used with nouns taking the meaning of ليس (to not be). Here it also follows the case rules of ليس giving raf’ to the subject and nasb to the predicate.

ما هذا بشرا 

This is not a man [Quran,12:31]

ما هن أمهاتهم

They are not their mothers [Quran, 2:58]

5.Lan لَنْ – for future tense verbs

The following verb takes nasb.

لن أنساك أبدا

I will never forget you

لن يتعلم

He will never learn

لن أَخُونَ أحدا

I will never betray anyone