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Lesson 15b: Adverbs

Lesson 15, Part A:
  • Intro
  • Dialogue
Lesson 15, Part B:
Adverbs
An adverb makes a sentence more specific by answering how, where or when. However, you can always remove an adverb and still have a valid sentence. This lesson is a brief tour through some of the most common/useful Arabic adverbs.

Basically, an adverb is word that describes, modifies or qualifies another word or phrase. Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs, but they cannot modify nouns (Adjectives modify nouns). In English, some adverbs are independently formed words (very, today, often, many, etc..) while others are formed by adding the ending "ly" to the end of an adjective (quickly, easily, etc.)

In Arabic some adverbs are also independently formed words, but many are adjectives in the Accusative case. We haven't gone over the accusative yet but you can form it by adding a tanwiin to the end of an adjective (Tanwiin looks like double-quotes on top of an alif or taa marbuTa and is pronounced like "n"). When learning the new vocabulary in this lesson, pay attention to how many of the words end in tanwiin.

Adverbs of Manner
Adverbs of manner describe how an action is completed.
Manner
ArabicEnglish
جميلاً
jamiilan
beautifully
تماماً
tamaman
perfectly
جَيِّداً
jayyidan
well

Some common adverbs of manner are expressed using a noun and the preposition 'bi'. The list below contains common examples for your reference.
Manner
ArabicEnglish
بجدية
bi-jadiia
seriously
ببطء
bi-buT'
slowly
بِسُرعة
bi-sur3a
quickly

She dances beautifully.
hiya tarqas jamiilan
هي ترقس جميلاً

He spoke quickly..
takalima bisur3a
تكلم بسرعة


Adverbs of Frequency

Frequency
ArabicEnglish
دائِماً
daa'iman
always
عادَةً
3aadatan
usually
أحياناً
aHyaanan
sometimes
نادِراً
naadiran
rarely
أبَداً
abadan
never

Example:

I drink coffee sometimes.
'ashrab al-qahwa aHyaanan
أشرَب القَهوة أحياناً


Note: When using "never" you must make the verb negative.

I never drink coffee.
la 'ashrab al-qahwa abadan
لا أشرَب القَهوة أبَداً


Adverbs of Time

Time
ArabicEnglish
أمس
ams
yesterday
اليَوم
al-yawm
today
غَداً
ghadan
tomorrow
الآن
al'aan
now
اخيراً
akhiiran
finally

Example:

I went to the cafe yesterday
dhahabtu ilaa al-maqhaa ams
ذَهَبتُ إلى المَقهى أمس

In addition to the above adverbs, you can take nouns for the time of day like morning (صَباح), noon (ظُهر)and night (مَساء)or nouns for the seasons and put them in the accusative to turn them into Adverbs of Time.

Example:
I went to the cafe yesterday morning
dhahabtu ilaa al-maqhaa ams SabaaHan
ذَهَبتُ إلى المَقهى أمسصَباحاً

Adverbs of Degree

We saw two of these adjectives in lesson 5. Do you remember how to use them?
Degree
ArabicEnglish
فَقَط
faqaT
only
جِدّاً
jiddan
very
كَثيراً
kathiiran
a lot
قَليلاً
qaliilan
a little
Pay attention to the difference between "very" and "a lot". "Very" (jiddan) is used with adjectives, while "a lot" (kathiiran) is used here to modify verbs.

The class is very difficult.
a-SSaf sa3ab jiddan
الصف صعب جداُ

We studied a lot.
darasna kathiiran
درسنا كثيراً
Quantity
Not all these are adverbs, but here are the most common ways to express quantity without using actual numbers.

Quantity
ArabicEnglish
كُلّ
kull
all
مُعظَم
mu3Zam
most
كَثير مِن
kathiir min
many
بَعض
ba3D
some
قَليل مِن
qaliil min
a few
عِدّة
3idda
a number of, several
All of these quantifiers except for عِدّةtake the definite article before the noun. In addition the noun afterwards must be plural. كُلّ can be used in several ways so it gets its own section below.

Example: Any of the above quantifiers could be placed in the following sentence (thoughعِدّة would require removing the definite article):

Some of the people drank
yashrab ba3D al-naas
يَشرَب بَعض الناس


Kull كُلّ -
This is a very common word that, depending on usage, has slightly different meanings. By itself it is translated as "All", but depending on whether the noun after it is definite/indefinite and singular/plural the meaning is slightly different.

كُلّ meaning Each: Takes an indefinite, singular noun.

I drink coffee each day.
'ashrab al-qahwa kull yawm
أشرَب القَهوة كُلّ يَوم

كُلّ meaning Entire: Takes a definite, singular noun.

I drank coffee the entire day.
sharabtu al-qahwa kull al-yawm
شَرَبتُ القَهوة كُلّ اليَوم

كُلّ meaning Every: Takes a definite, plural noun.

I drink coffee every day.
'ashrab al-qahwa kull al-ayyaam
أشرَب القَهوة كُلّ الايام

Adverb Usage
Time for some more conversation questions! Again, read the question and the possible answers. Try to understand the answers, and only use the dictionary if you are really stuck. Then, try to give your own answer to the question. If you have a language or study partner, or if you attend a conversation group, memorize the questions so that you can ask them the next chance you get! Don't forget to add an -een to the end of the verb if you are asking these questions to a woman.

هل تشرب القهوة عادةً في الصباح؟

Do you usually drink coffee in the morning?
نعم,عادة أشرب القهوة في الصباح

لا,عادة أشرب القهوة في النهار

لا, لا أشرب القهوة أبداً
هل تذهب الى السينما أحياناً؟

Do you go to the movies sometimes?
نعم,أحياناً أذهب الى السينما

لا,نادراً أذهب الى السينما

لا, لا أذهبأبداً