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Arabic if-clauses: When do you need the majzum mood?

Conditional sentences (if clauses) can cause you a headache in Arabic. Sometimes you need the majzum-mood of the verb – here are the rules.

Last updated: May 2, 2021

The fact that Arabic has – strictly speaking – only two tenses doesn’t make it easier. However, the mood of the verb can tell you more about the probability of a situation.

In this blog post, we will have a look at sentences that have a verb in the so called مَجْزُوم-mood. It all depends on the initial word of a conditional sentence if the verb after it has to be مَجْزُوم. Words that put a verb into the مَجْزُوم-mood are called: أَدَوات جازِمة

Notice that مَجْزُوم basically means that the verb ends in a سُكُون – which also means that you have to watch out for weak letters as they might be elided.

إِنْ if; used for time or place
If you put an effort in your work, you’ll succeed in your life.إِنْ تَجْتَهِدْ فِي عَمَلِكَ تَنْجَحْ فِي حَياتِكَ.
مَتى when
If/when you come to Egypt, you will find beautiful weather.مَتى تأتِ إِلَى مِصْرَ تَجِدْ جَوَّها جَمِيلاً.

Notice that the weak letter in أتى/ يَأتي is elided.

مَنْ who; for persons
ماwho; whoever; which – for animals, trees; non-human things
Whoever travels a lot will see different people.مَنْ يُسافِرْ كَثيرًا يَرَ شُعُوبًا مُخْتَلِفةً.

The weak letter in رَأَى/ يَرَى is elided. A remark: رَأَى is one of the very few pretty irregular verbs. You cannot conjugate it by using the common rules. The same is true for its IV-form أَفْعَلَ, which looks like أَرَى in its basic form (past tense).

مَهْما what; which; whatever
What you do for the good of the people will make you happy.مَهْما تُقَدِّمُوا مِن خَيْرٍ لِلنَّاسِ تُصْبِحُواسَعْداءَ.
أيْنَما what; which; whatever
Wherever you travel you will find friends.أيْنَما تُسافِرْ تَجِدْ أصْدِقاءَ.
كَيْفَماhow?
The way you treat friends the way they will treat you.كَيْفَما تُعامِلْ زُمَلاءَكَ يُعامِلُوكَ.
أَيُّ every; whoever. For people; places; time;

Notice that there has to be a noun (اِسْم) after أَيُّ and never a verb; you have to treat it like a إِضافة

Every worker who works diligently will find the fruits of his work.أَيُّ عامِلٍ يَعْمَلْ بِجِدٍّ يَلْقَ ثَمَرَةَ عَمَلِهِ.

Notice that the weak letter in لَقِيَ/ يَلْقَى is elided.

You will find more information about the specialties and meanings of  the مَجْزُوم-mood in the book Arabic for Nerds.

Are there if-clauses in which you don’t use the مَجْزُوم-mood? Yes, there are! We will check them out in another blog entry.


More articles about Arabic grammar:

Picture credit: Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

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