Present continuous and simple present



🔴 See also: Present continuous explained, Examples, Be careful, Drills


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A reoccurring action


Case #1 The habitual is a reoccurring action.

CASE#2 The present continuous is an action over a period of time in the present.

In Arabic use ONE verb form, the present continuous, to express both of the above cases.

English uses TWO forms to express both of the above cases:

Case #1 =
I run                 
Case #2 =
I am running     
 present continuous

So what does the habitual really mean?

CASE #1 = Habitual actions are incidents reoccurring frequently in our lives as actions of habit.

An example of a habitual action is "I run to school" implying a repetitive action which happened in the past, is happening in the present, and is likely to continue to occur into the future. That's keeps happening over and over again habitually.

It is important to recognize habitual actions, while learning a language, so as to use the correct form of the verb. But it's pretty simple. If it is happening over and over again it is habitual.

Case #2 Present continuous are actions over a period of time in the present.

The present continuous form is so easy to recognize in Arabic because it begins with a "ba" or "bi" sound. Sweet.



  Beware: But where do we find the present continuous? Is it under a rock? How do we bake it?

The present continuous verb is derived from the infinitive form.

But what are infinitives?

Infinitives in both Arabic and English appear as the "second" verb.

For example: I like to go to school early. ("to go" = infinitive)

Verb #1 =
Verb #2 =
to go (infinitive)

Subject + Verb #1 + Verb #2 (infinitive) + the rest of the sentence.
I          + like       +  to go                    + to school early.

For the above sentence in Arabic, "I like" will use the present continuous form which is derived from the infinitive form (see below).

Beware: In English there is only one infinitive form for any given verb; however, in Arabic, there are many forms due to subject-infinitive agreement.

For learning purposes we will first conjugate an infinitive and then transform the infinitive into the present continuous form (by simply adding a "ba" or "bi").

Confused? Don't be. You will see it in action shortly.



  But first, let's see it in action in MSA/Classical. If you are not interested in MSA/Classical move on.

A step back on MSA/Classical Arabic:

There are three verb moods referred to as:

1- indicative mood (default form of the verb)

2- subjunctive mood (equivalent to the English infinitive)

3- jussive mood (used to invite, prohibit, or order)

The indicative mood 

 He eats = هُوَ يَأْكُل

The subjunctive mood (what we care about in this lesson.)

 He went out to eat = خَرَجَ لِيأْكُلَ

 He is going out to eat = هو خارِجٌ  لِيأْكُلَ 

 He goes out to eat = هو يَخْرُجُ لِيأكُلَ


The jussive mood 

Inviting someone: let him eat = لِيأكُلْ

Prohibiting someone: do not eat =  لا تَأْكُلْ

Ordering someone: Eat. = كُلْ





Be careful. You asked and we answered.

In the present continuous the last vowel in the stem of the word is unpredictable. In other words, you don't know if it's a a, i, u.

Example: The verb “dakhal” (he entered) becomes yidkhul. While the verb “katab” (he wrote) becomes yiktib.

But don't fuss over these small matters just pick it up as you go.


Keep on going! You're almost there.



  Read more on the present continuous verb



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