For eg : لَمْ يَكْتُبْ and مَا کَتَبَ both means "he did not write." So how would I know which one i should use?

  • I recently read a source that claimed that in the Qur'an, مَا with the past tense (or perfect) is slightly more emphatic than لَمۡ with the jussive. A little like saying "he did NOT write", as opposed to "he didn't write". Unfortunately, the source didn't offer a whole lot of evidence - but maybe this is a direction to explore. Oct 7, 2023 at 23:08

1 Answer 1


In Classical Arabic there does not seem to be any difference in usage between maa + perfect and lam + jussive. In modern Arabic dialects only the former has survived. For this reason modern authors tend to avoid the form with maa in the mistaken belief that this is non-classical, or at least to treat the form with lam as belonging to the more formal register.

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