The Use of the Imperfect in the Qur'an: Examination of the Habitual Present

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This article examines imperfect verbs, a verbal form which denotes habitual activities, events or states with no specific tense value. This article investigates whether there are specific textual constellations in the Qur'an in which the habitual present appears. The article consists of two parts. The first part examines four issues concerning the imperfect: the first issue concerns the uses of the imperfect in Arabic; the second is the meaning of the term "habitual aspect"; the third part concerns how the traditional Arab grammarians and the modern grammarians handle the habitual aspect; and the final issue concerns the term "gnomic present", which usually is mentioned together with the term "habitual aspect" or "habitual present". The "gnomic present" is also found in the Qur'an and should be explained. The second part of this article is devoted to corpus analysis. In this part, the 200 sentences that include an imperfect verb form that denotes habituality are classified according to their context and syntactic structure. The aim of such classification is to establish whether there are certain criteria which help us to identify the habitual aspect in the Qur'an.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-90
Number of pages25
JournalJournal for Semitics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2012


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