Arabic—Tunisian Dialect

The present simple and progressive tenses

In Tunisian Arabic, in certain contexts, there is a subtle but important distinction between the present simple and progressive tenses.

Using في to convey the progressive aspect

For verbs that take a direct object with في, using في implies the progressive tense.


.نكتب في جواب

I am writing a letter.”

.يطيب في العشا

He is cooking dinner”

When we remove في, we create the simple tense, which we use in clauses.


.وقتلّي تكتب جواب لازم تحطّو في أونْفُولُوپْ قبل ما تبعثو

“When you write a letter, you must put it in an envelope before sending it.”

.يحب يطيب شربة شعير

“He wants to cook barley soup”

Using قاعد to convey the progressive aspect

Any present tense verb can also be given a progressive meaning by inserting the adverb قَاعِدْ.


 .موش قاعد ياكل بلڨدا ياخي بدنو بدا يفرغ

He is not eating well, so his body is growing weak”

.قاعد يسوق بسرعة كبيرة

He is driving very quickly”


In the above examples, removing قاعد  would give the sentences a more general meaning, rather than expressing what is currently happening.


.يسوق بسرعة كبيرة

He drives very quickly”

Using both في and قاعد together to convey the progressive aspect

Often, قاعد  is used alongside في  to convey the present progressive.


.قاعد نصلح في التلفزة

I am fixing the television”

.البوليس قاعد يسرح في الكياس من الزحمة

“The police are freeing up the road from the jam”

Forming the past perfective

Note that the past verb stem implies the perfective (simple) aspect. So when we form the past tense with the past stem, we do not use use في.


.كتبت  جواب

I wrote a letter”

.صلحت التلفزة

I fixed the television”

.البوليس سرح الكياس من الزحمة

“The police freed up the road from the jam”

Now try forming the appropriate present form yourself!


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