The complex tense - kaan


🔴 See also: Kaan in past, Kaan in present, Kaan in future, Drills


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Talk about the Past using Kaan.


 1  kaan = was - كانْ  in an equational sentence to for a past tense sentence.

Huwwa Kaan hina. = He was here.

It's that easy.

kaan in a verbal sentence of past, present, or future tenses -- for different past tense sentence meanings (as seen below).

Example of kaan with the past tense


Beware: Kaan with the past tense verb puts the verb further into the past.


  Example #1: kaan with the past tense verb:

"He had eaten"
is further in the past then "he ate."

Example #1: kaan with past tense verb



Past tense  2  akal

He ate



Note for MSA/Classical: The particle قد is added to emphasize a past action of eating.

كانَ قَدْ أكَلَ

كانْ أكَلْ

Kaan with the past tense  3 kaan ‘akal

He had eaten

When actions are further in the past they require a second verb.

The first verb is further in the past relative to the second verb.

Verb #1 and verb #2 below are in pink.

Side-point: Second verbs appear in the simple past.

kaan to place verb "further" into the past

هُوَ كانَ قَدْ أكَلَ ثُمَّ ذَهَبَ إلىَ الْمَدْرَسَةِ

هُوَّ كانْ أكَلْ وِبَعْدينْ راحْ اِلْمَدْرَسَةْ

 4  Huwwa kaan ‘akal wi ba3diin raaH il madrasa.

He had eaten and then went to school.

1st verb = eaten

2nd verb = went

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Example of kaan in the present tense

  Beware: Kaan with the present tense is action over a period of time in the past (i.e. past progressive).

Example #2: kaan with the present tense verb:

Example #2: kaan with present tense verb


Present tense  5  Biyaakul

He is eating




هُوَ كانَ يَأْكُلُ
هُوَّ كانْ بِياكُلْ

with the Present tense 6 Kaan biyaakul
He was eating


    Discover more on the verbal past tense sentence

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