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mistakes

Common mistakes in Arabic and how to avoid them: أبدًا and قَطُّ

Native Arabic speakers make certain mistakes in Arabic. The Arabic word for never is often used in the wrong way.

LAST UPDATED: 1 month ago

The is a good example in Modern Standard Arabic as even many native speakers just don’t know the rules for writing the همزة. But today, we don’t look at spelling rules – we we will analyze a famous and : the word for never.

The same is true for verbs that have a و or a ي in the root, so-called weak letters, in Arabic حَرْف عِلّة (harf ella). In dialects, it is sometimes even the normal case to not delete these letters, even though they should be omitted according to Standard or Classical Arabic.

But how about other mistakes? Today we will deal with a common mistake that is not related to the همزة or حَرْف عِلّة.

The Arabic word for never

Let’s check the following sentence: I have/had never visited him. How would you translate it?

AB
ما زُرْتُهُ أَبَدًاما زُرْتُهُ قَطُّ

Many people would choose option A – which is wrong. So, which one is correct? Answer – example B is correct. Why is that?

This is because the word أَبَدًا is an that is used for the future (ظَرْف زَمان لِلمُسْتَقْبَل). It conveys the meaning of continuity. For this reason, you could say: لَنْ أَزُورَهُ أَبَدًا

This conveys a similar meaning as it implies that you have never visited him before. Sounds strange but you can also find this type of construction in the Qur’an. Let’s look for example at sura The Table Spread (سُورة الْمائِدة) – verse 5:24.

قَالُوا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّا لَن نَّدْخُلَهَا أَبَدًا مَّا دَامُوا فِيهَا ۖ فَاذْهَبْ أَنتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَاتِلَا إِنَّا هَاهُنَا قَاعِدُونَ

They said, “O Moses, indeed we will not enter it, ever, as long as they are within it; so go, you and your Lord, and fight. Indeed, we are remaining right here.”

If you want to dig deeper, check out this article.

The word قَطُّ

It means: never; ever, at all.

Watch out:The word قَطُّ must be used with the in negative sentences.

For this reason, you cannot say (“I don’t do that at all.”):

wrongلا أَفْعَلُهُ قَطُّ
correctلا أَفْعَلُهُ أَبَدًا

More interesting grammar topics:

Picture credit: Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

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