No matter how positive you try to be, every once in a while you have to say something negative. This is as true for Arabic as it is for any other language. 

Lucky for you, today we’re going to show you how to use negative words to say that something is not true or is not the case.

A Whole Tool Box of Negatives

The following are words that you can use to negate words, phrases, or sentences in Arabic. 

To make a noun or adjective negative, we use the word لَيْسَ/laysa, conjugated according to gender, as in:

أَنا لَسْتُ قَصيرَةً

anaa lastu qaSeeratan/

I am not short. (f.)

For the plural, use لَسْنا /lasnaa, as shown below:

نَحْنُ لَسْنا دِبلُوماسِيّينَ 

/naHnu lasnaa diblumaasiyeena/

We are not diplomats. (f.)

Negating the 2nd Person

When negating the 2nd person “you” in Arabic, we use لَسْتَ/lasta/“You are not” which must also agree in gender.

For example, the masculine uses لَسْتَ/lasta:

أَنْتَ لَسْتَ عَلِيًّا

/’anta  lasta ʻaliyyan/

You are not Ali.

While the feminine “you” uses لَسْتِ/lasti:

أنْتِ لَسْتِ قَصيرَةً

/’anti lasti qaSeeratan/

You are not short.

Conjugating the Negative in the 3rd Person

Use لَيْسَ/laysa for the masculine 3rd person singular “he”:

هُوَ لَيْسَ لَطيفً

/huwa laysa laTeefan/

He is not cute.

While the feminine 3rd person singular uses لَيْسَتْ/laysat as in:

هِيَ لَيْسَتْ قَصيرَةً

/hiya laysat qaSeeratan/

She is not short.

For the 3rd person plural “you” use لَسْتُم/lastum. For example:

أَنْتُمْ لَسْتُم دِبلُوماسِيّينَ

/’antum lastum diblumaasiyeena/

You are not diplomats (f.)

For 3rd person plural “they” use لَيْسوا/laysoo:

هُمْ لَيْسوا مُوَظَّفينَ

/hum laysoo muwaDHafeena/

They are not employees.

Negating Adjectives

To negate adjectives, simply use the Arabic word غَيْرُ/ ghayru:

غَيْرُ جَيِّدٍ

/ghayru jayyidin/

not good

غَيْرُ كافٍ

/ghayru Kaafin/

not enough

Negating the Past

Use لَمْ/lam when negating the past in Arabic, remembering to keep the verb in the present tense:

لَمْ أذْهَبْ إلى السُّوقِ

/lam ’aTHhab ’ilaa issooqi/

I did not go to the market.

لَمْ اَتَناوَلِ الفُطورَ

/lam ’atanaawali ilfuToora/

I did not have breakfast.

لَمْ أقابِلْ صَديقي

/lam ’uqaabil Sadeeqee/

I did not meet my friend.

Negating the Present

Negating in the present is used to talk about likes and dislikes.

For negating the present tense, use لا/laa, as in:

لا أَشْرَبُ القَهْوَةَ

/laa ’ashrabu ilqahwata/

I do not drink coffee.

لا أُمارِسُ الرِّياضَةِ

/laa ’umaarisu irriyaadhata/

I do not work out.

لا أتَكَلَّمُ العَرَبِيَّةً

/laa ’atakallamu il‘arabiyyata/

I do not speak Arabic.

Negating the Future

لَنْ/lan is used to negate the future (going to/will). For example, 

لَنْ نَذْهَبَ

/lan naTHhaba/

We will not go.

لَنْ أُمارِسَ

/lan ’umaarisa/

I will not practice.

Okay, so that’s your tools from the negation toolbox in Arabic. Now that we’ve gotten all the negatives out of the way, let’s move on to something positive.

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