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Quranic Grammar - The Subjunctive and Jussive Moods


A present tense imperfect verb fiʿil mudāriʿ (فعل مضارع) may be found in one of three grammatical moods: the indicative, the subjunctive and the jussive. In traditional Arabic grammar these verb moods are known as marfūʿ  (مرفوع), manṣūb (منصوب) and majzūm (مجزوم), and each mark the verb with a different vowelized ending. If a verb is unmodified then it will be in the indicative mood marfūʿ  (مرفوع). Depending on context, a verb may also be found in either the subjunctive or the jussive moods. Note that mood is only applicable to imperfect verbs and not perfect verbs fiʿil māḍ (فعل ماض).

The Subjunctive Mood

Semantically, the subjunctive mood occurs when a verb is used in the context of intent, purpose, expectation, permission, possibility or necessity. Syntactically, verbs in the subjunctive mood are found after certain particles. These include the subordinating conjuction an (أَن), and the prefixed particle fa when used as a particle of cause (فاء السببية). The following table lists particles which may place a verb into the subjunctive mood:

Part-of-speech Particle
Negative particleلَن
Purpose lām prefixلام التعليل
Denial lām prefix, e.g. (4:137:16)لام الجحود
Cause fa prefixفاء السببية
Comitative wa prefixواو المعية
Subordinating conjunctionأَنْ
Subordinating conjunctionكي
Subordinating conjunctionحَتَّىٰ

Fig 1. Particles which take the subjunctive mood.

The dependency graph below shows a syntactic analysis for verse (72:12). In this verse, the negative particle lan (لن) at (72:12:9) places the following verb into the subjunctive mood manṣūb (منصوب):

(by) flight.
we can escape Him
and never

Fig 2. A verb in the subjunctive mood in verse (72:12).

The Jussive Mood

Imperfect verbs in the jussive mood are found in five main contexts:

  1. After the negative particle lam (لم), as in verse (112:3).
  2. After the imperative lām prefix.
  3. As a prohibition (negative imperative) with the particle (لا).
  4. As the result of an imperative.
  5. In conditional clauses.

Fig 3. below lists particles which can place a verb into the jussive mood:

Part-of-speech Particle
Imperative lām prefixلام الأمر
Prohibition particleلا الناهية
Negative particleلم
Negative particleما
Conditional particleلما
Conditional particleإنْ
Conditional particleمَنْ
Conditional particleمهما
Conditional particleمتى
Conditional particleأين
Conditional particleكيف
Conditional particleأينما
Conditional particleحيثما
Conditional particleإذما
Conditional particleأنى
Conditional particleأيان
Conditional particleأين
Conditional particleأي

Fig 3. Particles which take the jussive mood.

An example of the jussive mood can be found in verse (94:1). There is a negation dependency between words (94:1:1) and (94:1:2). The particle lam places the following verb - which depends on it - into the jussive mood majzūm (مجزوم):

your breast?
for you
We expanded
Have not

Fig 4. A verb in the jussive mood in verse (94:1).

See Also

Language Research Group
University of Leeds