Using the Verb Kaan

Used to
Today’s lesson is all about the versatile verb كَان (kaan). You’ll learn how to express the past and future using this useful word, along with how to change its form when you need to.
Talking About the Past
In a previous lesson, you learned how to put infinitive verbs into the past tense; in today’s lesson you’ll learn a verb that expresses past time in much the same way as the English words “was” and “were.”
The verb, in its perfect form, is كَان (kaan). For example:
هُوَّ كَان نَايِمْ.
Huwwa kān nāyim.
He was sleeping.
Changes Depending on the Person
Like other verbs, كَان (kān) will change form according to who it refers to.
Let’s take a look at how it changes using the same “sleeping” example.
اَنَا كُنْت نَايِم.
Anā kunt nāyim.
I was sleeping.
اِنْتَ كُنْت نَايِم.
Inta kunt nāyim.
You were sleeping.
اِنْتِ كُنْتِ نَايْمَهْ.
Inti kunti nāyma.
You were sleeping.
اِنْتُوا كُنْتُوا نَايْمِينْ.
Intu kuntu nāymīn.
You all were sleeping.
اِحْنَا كُنَّا نَايْمِينْ.
Iḥna kunna nāymīn.
We were sleeping.
هُمَّ كَانُوا نَايْمِينْ.
Humma kānu nāymīn.
They were sleeping.
هُوَّ كَانْ نَايِمْ.
Huwwa kan nāyim.
He was sleeping.
هِيَّ كَانِتْ نَايْمَهْ.
Hiyya kānit nāyma.
She was sleeping.
In spoken Arabic, the personal pronouns – أَنَا (anā),إِنْتَ (inta), إِنْتِ (inti), etc. – would be omitted because the form of كَان (kān) implies who the speaker is referring to.
The exception would be with أَنَا (ana) and إِنْتَ (inta), which share the same form of كَان (kān): كُنْت (kunt).
Describing a Past Event
You can add كَان (kān) to the beginning of a present tense sentence to turn it into a past event. In this case, it does not need to change form.
Here are some examples:
كَانْ عَنْدُهُمْ حَفْلَةْ.
Kaan ‘3anduhum 7afla.
They had a party.
كَانْ عَنْدِي كَلْبْ.
Kān ‘andi kalb.
I had a dog.
The Negative Form
The negative form of كَان (kaan) can be expressed by putting مَا (maa). before appropriate form of كَان (kaan) Here’s some examples.
مَا كَانْ عَنْدِي وَقْت.
Ma kaan ‘3andi wagt.
I didn’t have time.
مَا كَانِت مَوْجُودَة.
maa kaanit mawjuudah
She wasn’t there.
Note that مَوْجُودْ / مَوْجُودَة (mawjuud / mawjuudah) means “present” and is used where “here” or “there” would probably be used in English.
to be present

Past continuous Kunaa
Kunnaa naruu7 es suuq kilyoom
We used to go to the market every day
Kunta a7ibu alkura kathiir,laakin al7iin afadal at tenis
Used to like football,but now I prefer tense.

Talking About the Future
Now that you have learned the verb كَان (kān) which allows you to express past time words such as “was,” “were,” and “had,” it’s time to use the same verb to express future time.
In some ways, كَان (kān) is the equivalent of the “was” form of the verb “to be” in English, in that it can only be used in reference to the past كَان (kān) “was” or the future كَان هَـ (kān ha-) “was going to,” but not the present.
For present tense usage, the prefix that symbolizes the future, هَـ (ha), is added to the present tense conjugation of كَان (kān), which is كُون (kūn).
This gives us the future form of the verb, بكُونْ (hakūn) meaning “I will be.”
Let’s go through all of the different formations.
I will be
you will be
you will be
we will be
they will be
he will be