Arabic—Tunisian Dialect

Negation in Tunisian colloquial Arabic

Negating verbs in Tunisian colloquial Arabic is much simpler than negating verbs in MSA. Whereas the present and past tenses are all negated differently in MSA, in TCA we use the same construction for both tenses. The future is negated differently; information on that can be found in the chapter titled “The Future Tense.”

To negate a verb, we use the negative particle ما before the verb, and then suffix the verb with ش. For instance, we say:

اليوم ما نحبش نتفّرج على فيلم

“Today I do not want to watch a film.”

.البارح انا ما قريتش الكتاب

“Yesterday I did not read the book.”

.في جنينتي باش ما نزرعش حطى بتنجان في الشتا اما نزرع سفنارية وسبناخ ولفت

“In my garden, I will not grow any eggplants in the winter, but I will grow carrots, spinach, and turnips.”

Notice the word حطى. When used with a negative, this word means “any.”

We also negate words that are not verbs with this construct. So for instance, we negate the adverb فما “there is” with this construct.

.ما فماش حتى نخلات في “مديسون” على خاطر الشتا بارد برشة

“There are not any date palms in Madison because the winter is very cold.”

Notice again the word حتى.

We also use this same construct to negate the جملة اسمية “nominal sentence.”

.بوي كبير في العمر اما ماهوش ميّت

“My father is old, but he is not dead.”

The two words ما هوش are commonly elided to موش, which serves as a negative particle for the جملة اسمية. So we can say:

.الكرهبة هاذيكة موش جديدة

“That car is not new.”

Exercise: negate these sentences on your own:

  1. .فما  منتزه قريب من داري
  2. .باش نتسلّقى جبال الشتا هذا
  3. .زرعت بصل في جنينتي
  4. .هو حب الطقس
  5. .المعنى متاع الجملة  واضح




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