Negation in Arabic Language النفي في اللغة العربية

A very common mistake between beginners when they start learn Arabic language; they're using (لا = La) to negation any sentences. They may try to simulate the English way by using (not) which is the only element to negation in English. The truth is لا not the only element to use in negation in Arabic language! Also, لا has specific uses and conditions for negation in Arabic language.

In STANDARD ARABIC, or the language that used in writing, there are 5 most known elements to negation in Arabic language. These are:
لا = La
لَم = Lam
ما = Ma
لن = Lan
لَيْس = Laisa or ْلَيْسَت = Laisat

To learn when and how to use each element, take a look in this (infographic) that summarize what you need to learn. Be aware that there are other elements that are also used but not very common, and even the elements that been discussed here can have other uses and forms. Since these are uncommon elements, we didn't mention them here, but if you still want to have deep look on all negation elements, this link is a good reference for that.

Our goal here is to teach you how to master negation in Arabic language for different forms: (present form - past form - order form - future form - nonverbal form) in a simple and practical way.

How to say NO in Arabic language, Negotion in Arabic language

Think with other examples as a practicing for this grammar.

Highlightings on the negation forms in Arabic language:

  • There are two approaches for past form: لم (= Lam) + present tense (or) ما (= Ma)+ past tense.
  • For present, order and future forms, use the (suitable) negation element + present verb.
  • ليس (= Laisa) is for non-verbal sentences and it has to be connected with ت in the end if the thing you want to negation is Feminine, ex: ليست القصة ممتعة (= laisat al-kessatu momte'a).
  • Only ليس can be switching with the noun, ex: ليس الكتاب قديما (= laisa al-ketabu qadeeman)  or الكتاب ليس قديما (= al-ketabu laisa qadeeman).
  • In verbal sentence, negation elements can only be used before the verb, ex: لا تكتب على الحائط (= la taktub ala al-ha'et), but you can't say تكتب لا على الحائط (= taktub la ala al-ha'et)
  • ليس (= laisa) can be conjugated for each person, ex: لَسْتُ (= lastu) I'm not - لَسْتَ (= lasta) you're not(M), لَسْتِ (= lasti) you're not(F) & لسنا (= lasna) we're not.

Highlightings on changing vowels at different negation forms:

  • With لا in Order form, the present verb has "سكون = Skoon" on the last letter instead of " ضمة = Dhamma".
  • Also with لم, the present verb has "سكون = Skoon" on the last letter instead of "ضمة = Dhamma".
  • With لن, the present verb has "فتحة = Fatha" on the last letter instead of "ضمة = Dhamma".
  • With ما, the past verb has same vowels.
  • With لا in Present form, the present verb has same vowels.
  • With ليس & ليست, the adverb has "فتحة = Fatha" on the last letter instead of "ضمة = Dhamma".

How about negation in different Arabic dialects?
ما and لا are the most used in different Arabic dialects beside of مُشْ (= Mosh) in Egyptian dialect. We will publish soon another post about negation in Arabic Dialects.

Share what do you think about this post and feel free to ask any question in comments below. I'll answer them as soon as I can.

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6 التعليقات:

  1. I learnd that wenever laisa is used...preposition ba is also used...but u dint used preposition ba with laisa...can we use this way

    1. of course you can. using "ba" with "laisa" is not necessary. the important thing in "laisa" is to be used before a noun not a verb. Also, "laisa" has different forms depending on the subject. ex:
      أنا لَسْتُ مَشْغُولا I am not busy
      أنتَ لَسْتَ مشغولا
      أنتِ لَسْتِ مشغولة
      هو ليس مشغولا
      هي لَيْسَتْ مشغولة

      ans sorry for delay in response.

  2. Can you please also give an example of negation of non verbal sentence in past tense?
    Can you please also let me know when ma is used and when lam is used?

    1. Hi
      Ma is similar to La. Both can be used before past or present or a noun. ex:
      ما أشرب الشاي I dot drink tea
      ما شَرِبْتُ الشاي بالأمس I didn't drink tea yesterday
      ما عندي سَيَّارة I don't have a car (have in Arabic isn't considered as a verb)
      هو ما بالبَيت He is not home
      However, Lam ONLY used for past tense, and it comes before present verb. ex:
      لم أشرب الشاي بالأمس I didn't drink tea yesterday
      أشرب is present verb, but the whole sentence is in past time.

  3. Jazaakillahu khairan for this explanation. I have not seen it clearer than this before.

  4. Pls I need Arabic writing of dis word ( LAMISASA). Pls Email me @ WUMITECH88@gmail.com