كان

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See also: کان‎, كأن, and گان

Arabic[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the root ك و ن(k-w-n), from Proto-Semitic *k-w-n- (to be or exist in a place). Compare Ge'ez ኮነ (konä) and Akkadian 𒄀𒈾 (/kânu/, to be firm in place).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /kaː.na/
  • (file)

Verb[edit]

كَانَ (kāna) I, non-past يَكُونُ‎‎ (yakūnu)

  1. (copulative) to be [+accusative]
  2. (intransitive) to exist, to be, there be
    • 609–632 C.E., Qur'an, 2:280:
      وَإِن كَانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلَىٰ مَيْسَرَةٍ
      waʾin kāna ḏū ʿusratin fanaẓiratun ʾilā maysaratin
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
    • 609–632 C.E., Qur'an, 40:68:
      هُوَ الَّذِي يُحْيِي وَيُمِيتُ فَإِذَا قَضَى أَمْرًا فَإِنَّمَا يَقُولُ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ‎‎
      huwa allaḏī yuḥyī wayumītu faʾiḏā qaḍā ʾamran faʾinnamā yaqūlu lahu kun fayakūnu
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
    • 1865 C.E., Bible (SVD), Book of Genesis, 1:3:
      وَقَالَ اللهُ: «لِيَكُنْ نُورٌ»، فَكَانَ نُورٌ.‎‎
      waqāla llāhu: “liyakun nūrun”, fakāna nūrun.
      And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
  3. to behove
    Synonym: يَنْبَغِي(yanbaḡī)
    • 609–632 C.E., Qur'an, 24:16:
      وَلَوْلَا إِذْ سَمِعْتُمُوهُ قُلْتُمْ مَا يَكُونُ لَنَا أَنْ نَتَكَلَّمَ بِهَٰذَا سُبْحَانَكَ هَٰذَا بُهْتَانٌ عَظِيمٌ
      walawlā ʾiḏ samiʿtumūhu qultum mā yakūnu lanā ʾan natakallama bihāḏā subḥānaka hāḏā buhtānun ʿaẓīmun
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
  4. to happen, to occur, to take place

Usage notes[edit]

  • Like all copulative verbs in Arabic, كَانَ(kāna) takes a predicate in the accusative case. This contrasts with old Indo-European languages such as Latin and Greek, in which the predicate of a copulative verb is in the nominative case.
    كَانَ جَمَالٌ عَبْدُ ٱلنَّاصِرِ رَئِيسَ جُمْهُورِيَّةِ مِصْرَ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةِ.‎‎
    kāna jamālun ʿabdu n-nāṣiri raʾīsa jumhūriyyati miṣra l-ʿarabiyyati.
    Gamal Abdel Nasser was the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • In the present indicative, “to be” is most often expressed by a nominal sentence (جُمْلَة اِسْمِيَّة(jumla ismiyya)) with no verb. In this case, the predicate is in the nominative case.
    عَبْدُ الْفَتَّاحِ ٱلسِّيسِي (هُوَ) رَئِيسُ جُمْهُورِيَّةِ مِصْرَ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةِ.‎‎
    ʿabdu l-fattāḥi s-sīsī (huwa) raʾīsu jumhūriyyati miṣra l-ʿarabiyyati.
    Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
  • Imperfect forms of كَانَ(kāna) are not rare, however:
    • They occur after certain conjunctions that must always be followed by a verb:
      أُرِيدُ أَنْ أَكُونَ غَنِيًّا.‎‎
      ʾurīdu ʾan ʾakūna ḡaniyyan.
      I want to be rich.
    • They are sometimes used instead of a nominal sentence to provide for a clearer sentence structure.
  • The jussive forms that end in sukun sometimes drop the final ـن(-n), giving: يَكُ(yaku), تَكُ(taku), أَكُ(ʾaku), نَكُ(naku).

Conjugation[edit]

Related terms[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Wehr, Hans, “كون”, in J. Milton Cowan, editor, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic[1], 4th edition, Ithaca, NY: Spoken Language Services, 1979, →ISBN

South Levantine Arabic[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Arabic كَانَ(kāna).

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

كان (kān) (form I, present بكون(bikūn), subjunctive يكون(ykūn))

  1. to be

Conjugation[edit]