Six Ways to Say “Can” or “to be Able to” in Arabic


قُدْرَة

root: ق-د-ر / noun / plural: قُدُرات / definition: ability, capability


For the vast majority of us, this past year has swirled into a nebulous stretch of time—a calendar that’s run away with itself and plunged into senselessness.

One of the only things punctuating my weeks has been writing these posts (the Wehr Wednesdays posts, in particular, prevent the days of the week from slipping towards the arbitrary).

That being said, in the midst of uncontrollable events, there are still things within our power. And speaking of what we can do, here’s six different ways to say “to be able to” or “can” in Arabic!

اِسْتَطاعَ / يَسْتَطيعُ

بِوُسْعِ

قادِر عَلى

بِإمْكانِ

يُمْكِنُ

تَمَكَّنَ / يَتَمَكَّنُ مِن



Let’s take a look at each one in a bit more detail:


اِسْتَطاعَ / يَسْتَطيعُ

root: ط-و-ع

form X verb

note: can be followed by either أنْ plus the present tense subjunctive (المضارع المنصوب) or a verbal noun (مصدر)

example:

أَسْتَطيعُ أنْ أَتَكَلَّمَ اللُّغَةَ العَرَبيّة

I can speak Arabic




بِوُسْعِ

root: و-س-ع

preposition بِـ + the noun وُسْع

note: followed by a noun or attached subject pronoun suffix, then by أن + المضارع المنصوب or a مصدر

example:

بِوُسْعِهِ أنْ يُغَيِّرَ الوَضْعَ

he can change the situation




قادِر عَلى

root: ق-د-ر

adjective, form I active participle + the preposition على

note: followed by a مصدر or أن + المضارع المنصوب

example:

الحُكومةُ قادِرَةٌ عَلى تَحْقيقِ الاِسْتِقْرار

the government is able to bring about stability




بِإمْكانِ

root: م-ك-ن

preposition بِـ + the form IV verbal noun

note: followed by a noun or attached subject pronoun suffix, then by أن + المضارع المنصوب or a مصدر

example:

بِإمْكانِهِم أنْ يَفْعَلوا ذلِكَ

they can do that




يُمْكِنُ

root: م-ك-ن

non-conjugated, form IV present tense verb

note: can be followed by an attached subject pronoun suffix, then by أن + المضارع المنصوب or a مصدر

example:

يُمْكِنُنا المُناقَشة

we can discuss (it)




تَمَكَّنَ / يَتَمَكَّنُ مِن

root: م-ك-ن

form V verb + the preposition مِن

note: followed by a مصدر or أن + المضارع المنصوب

example:

يَتَمَكَّنُ مِن التَّطَوُّرِ

it can be developed



I hope this list is useful!

For more posts like this, check out the synonyms series and let me know if there are any synonym sets you’d like to see in the future.

And don’t forget to have a read of last week’s grammar post too—إلى اللقاء!


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