Arabic—Tunisian Dialect

The future tense, and some other uses for the word باش/بش

Marking the Future Tense

The future tense is formed in TCA in a manner similar to the way in which it is formed in MSA and other Arabic dialects (and English, for that matter): we add a future indicator to the present tense stem of the word. In MSA, the future indicator is the prefix “سـ” but in TCA, we use the words “باش” or “بِش”.


.غدوة باش نمشي للبلدية نڨد أوراقي

Tomorrow I will go to the town hall to take care of my papers.


.توا بش يحكي سعادة الرئيس

Now Mister President is going to speak.


.بش نشكي للسوباريور متاعك

I’m going to complain to your superior.


Note too that we can use this construction within subordinate clauses:


.عمل تقديم للموضوع إلي بش يحكي فيه

He gave an introduction to the topic, which he will be speaking about.


.أحمد سطر أش باش يعمل كل يوم

Ahmed planned what he would do every day.


When we want to negate the future tense, we simply add the negative particle “ما” before “باش/بس”


.هاو تعلم درس ما هوش باش ينساه حياتو كاملة

He learned a lesson that will not forget for his entire life.

Notice here the copulative suffix “ش”.  See chapter on negation in TCA for more information

Introducing clauses expressing purpose

In addition to signaling the future tense, باش/بش  expresses purpose in TCA. This will be familiar to students of Moroccan Arabic, which uses the same construction. In this context, باش/بش  translates to “in order to, in order that, so that.”


.الواحد كيف تبدى عندو عايلة يبدى يجاهد باش يلبيلها احتياجاتها اليومية

Someone with a family works very hard in order to provide for its daily needs.


.مشى للسوناد بش يخلص فاتورة الماء

He went to SONED in order to pay the water bill.


.غدوة باش نمشي للفيديراسيون باش نجيب الاجازات متع الملاعبية

Tomorrow I will go to the federation in order to bring the prizes for the players.

Notice that this sentence also uses باش  to introduce the future tense.


This use of باش/بش can also be negated, but we put the negative particle after.


.خسى الثور بش ما عادش يجيب صغار

He castrated the bull in order that it not have children.


.قبل ما المريض يعمل عملية ، لازمو أنيستازي باش ما يحس بشي

Before a patient has surgery, he needs anesthesia in order that he not feel anything.



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Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.