Kāda and its sisters / كادَ وَأَخَواتُها

Arabic dialects map

Not like our regular verbs, ‘Kāda and its sisters’ (كاد وَأَخَواتُها) are termed as semi-verbs (أَفْعال ناقِصة) since they do not possess an agent/doer (فاعِل) in their sentence. The verb Kāda (كادَ) originally means ‘to be about to’. 

Similarly to ‘Kāna and its sisters’, ‘Kāda and its sisters’ are used in the perfect tense (الماضي) and also initiate a nominal sentence (جُمْلة اِسْمية) which causes the subject (المبتدأ) to be designated as اسم كادَ (noun of Kāda) while making the information/khabar (الخبر) into خَبَر كادَ (predicate of Kāda).

Kāda and sisters’ predicate (خَبَر كادَ) should be formulated as a verbal sentence, where the verb is in the imperfect tense (المُضارِع). The verb will sometimes be preceded by the subjunctive particle أنْ (equivalent to ‘to’ of English infinitive), consequently making it subjunctive. Despite seeming like it starts with a verb, their sentence structure is actually nominal, with the subject (المُبْتَدأ) being either an implicit pronoun or a noun explicitly following ‘Kāda and its sisters’. Here’s what the sentence with ‘Kāda and its sisters’ looks like.

Sentence with Kāda and its sisters 
خَبَرَ كادَ
(فِعْل مُضارِع…)
اسم كادَ
(اسم أو ضَمِير مستتر) +
كاد وَأَخَواتُها
(فِعْل ماضٍ) + 
The predicate of the nominal sentence called ‘khabar Kāda’
(starting with a verb in the imperfect tense)
🢠 The subject of the nominal sentence is called ism Kāda
(either a noun or an implicit pronoun)
🢠 Kāda and its sisters
(in the past tense)

Kāda and sisters are divided into three sub-categories of verbs:

  • Verbs of imminence / أَفْعال المُُقارَبة
  • Inchoative verbs / أَفْعال الشُرُوع
  • Verbs of hope / أَفْعال الرَجاء

Verbs of imminence / أَفْعال المُقارَبة

These verbs mean the imminence of the action of the verbal predicate. They express an action that was about to take place but didn’t happen.

The verb of imminence كادَ يَكادَ (= to be about to…, almost, nearly) can be followed by a juxtaposed verb (or preceded by أَنْ)

to be about to, to almost/nearly doكادَ يَكادُ (أَنْ)
كادَ الأُسْتاذُ يُعْطِي الجَوابَ
The professor almost gave the answer
كِدْتُ أَنْ أَغْضِبَ على ما فَعَلَتْ
I almost got mad at what she did
To be on the verge ofأَوْشَكَ يُوشِكُ على / أَنْ
أَوْشَكَتْ الصَخْرةُ أَنْ يَسْقُطُ / أَوْشَكَتْ الصَخْرةُ على السُقُوط
The rock was on the verge of falling
To be ready toكَرَبَ أَنْ
كَرَبَتْ الطائِرةُ أَنْ تُقْلِعَ
The plane was about to take off

Inchoative verbs / أَفْعال الشُرُوع

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