The conditional sentence / الجُمْلة الشَرْطِيّة

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The double sentence

When it comes to Arabic conditional sentences, both Arabic and English have a twofold structure known as the double sentence. The condition (الشَرْط) is followed by its response (جَواب الشَرْط), which correspond respectively to protasis and apodosis in English terminology.

Introducing conditional sentences is mainly done through one of three “if” particles, namely إِذاإِنْ, and لَوْ. Depending on the particle used for a condition in Arabic grammar, it can express an array of nuances such as various eventualities, unrealistic possibilities, or even feasible hypotheses.

Even apart from the nominal sentence and imperative, the two parts of a double sentence are usually expressed in the perfect tense. The most common cases are as followed:

  • When the condition carries a sense of potentiality, the answer can be expressed in the imperfect indicative tense (المُضارِع المَرْفوع)
  • To express subtle nuances in Arabic, the temporal exponent كان is often coupled with particle قد.

Note: When trying to confirm past tense, the verb كانَ can follow each all of the three conditional particles.

Expression of eventuality with إِذا 

The particle إِذا ‘if’ is used to express a concrete eventuality. It is followed by the perfect tense (الماضي) in the 1st part (الشَرْط) and the perfect tense (الماضي) or imperfect indicative tense (المُضارِع المَرْفوع) or future (المُسْتَقْبَل) in the 2nd part (جَواب الشَرْط). It works as follows:

2nd part / answer1st partConditional particle
perfect tense
perfect tense
المُضارِع المَرْفوع
imperfect indicative tense
future tense
  • إذا + perfect (الماضي) + perfect (الماضي)
إذا جِئْتَ إِلى بَيْتِي أَكَلْتَ طَبَقًا طَيِّبًا
If you come to my house, you will eat a good dish.
  • إذا + perfect (الماضي) + imperfect indicative (المُضارِع المَرْفوع)
إذا جِئْتَ إِلى بَيْتِي تأكُلُ طَبَقًا طَيِّبًا
If you come to my house, you will eat a good dish.
  • إذا + perfect (الماضي) + imperfect indicative (المُضارِع المَرْفوع)
إذا نَجَحْتَ فِي الاِمْتِحانِ سَأَحْتَفِلُ مَعَ أَصْدِقائِيِ
If I pass the exam, I will celebrate with my friends.

The answer/2nd part can be introduced by فـ ‘then’ under the following conditions:

إذا اِشْتَرَكْتَ فِي الحَرْبِ فَدُعائِي مَعَكَ
If you take part in the war, my prayers are with you.
إذا ذَهَبْتَ إِلى السُوقِ فَاشْتَرِ تُفاحًا
If you go to the market, buy apples
إِذا جَاءَ الْمَطَرُ فقَدْ تَنْبُتُ الزَّهْرَةُ
If the rain comes, the flowers may bloom
إذا أَكْمَلْتُ الدِّرَاسَةَ فسَأَذْهَبُ إلى المَكْتَبِ
If I finish the study, I will go to the office
إِذَا ذَهَبْتَ إلَى مَصْرَ فهَلْ سَتَزُور الأَهْرامات؟
If you go to Egypt, will you visit the pyramids?
If you follow my advice, you will not fail.إذا تَبَعْتَ نَصِيحَتِي فلَنْ تَفْشَلَ
If you get lost don’t call meإذا ضَلَلْتَ فَلا تَتَّصِلْ إِليّ
إذا خاطَرْتَ بِحياتِكَ فَلَيْسَ مَسْؤُولِيّتِي
If you risk your life, it’s not my responsibility

Note: The imperfect jussive tense (المُضارِع المَجْزوم) and the imperative (الأَمْر) cannot be used after إذا

Note 2: أَيْنَما or حَيْثُما and كَيْفَما work the same way as إِذا

Expression of the possible hypothesis with إِنْ

The particle إِنْ is a synonym of إِذا with the difference that it’s used to mark the potentiality or probability of a hypothesis. It must be followed by either the perfect tense (الماضي) or imperfect jussive tense (المضارِع المَجْزوم). Both the 1st and 2nd parts are in the perfect tense (الماضي) or imperfect jussive tense (المضارِع المَجْزوم). It works as follows:

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