Using كاد


root: ش-غ-ل / passive participle of form I, feminine / definition: busy

I’ve finally got round to writing this post, as you can see, five or six months after I mentioned I would in Four Arabic Roots to Express the Phrase “on the Verge of”.

But time’s not an issue for us Arabic learners, right? We’ll be spending a lifetime trying to master this language anyway!

Onto the good stuff now…

The form I verb كادَ / يَكادُ is derived from the root ك-و-د, and it’s pretty much synonymous with the words covered in the post I mentioned above.

Yet I wanted to give this verb its own post because there’s a lot of cool ways to use this verb. Let’s take a look:

Using كاد + أن

The verb كاد followed by أن means “to be on the point/verge of” or “to be about to”.

It’s similar to the form IV verb أَوشك / يوشِك أن.

Remember that the verb after أن must be المضارع المنصوب (the present tense subjunctive)—e.g. يفعلَ.

Note that كاد / يكاد is a hollow verb and, in conjugations where the long vowel disappears in the past tense, we add a kasra on the ك. So, for example, كِدْتَ “you were about to”.


كادَ أَنْ يَستَديرَ

he was on the verge of turning around

أكادُ أَنْ أَعودَ

I’m about to go back

Using كاد + المضارع

This one’s more common: using كاد / يكاد followed directly by a present tense verb (المضارع المرفوع, the default indicative).

This construction primarily has the meaning of “to almost (do something)”. For instance:

كِدتُ أَتَّصِلُ بها

I almost called her

The Hans Wehr also presents this interesting example:

يَكادُ يَكونُ في حُكمِ العَدَم

it is almost as good as non-existent

And if we read further down the dictionary entry, we see that when we negate this construction, the meaning becomes “no sooner…”, “as soon as…”, “barely”, etc. Here are the examples given:

ما كادَ يَقومُ

no sooner had he got up…

لا تَكادُ تَرى

you will hardly ever/barely see


the moment you see…

لَم يَكَد يَراها

no sooner had he seen her

And the Hans Wehr tells us we can also use these negated phrases followed by حتّى introducing the next clause. For example:

لَم يَكَد يَراها حتّى بَدَأَ بِالرَّكض

no sooner had he seen her than he started running

or, in more idiomatic terms,

the moment he saw her, he started running

(You can always find more examples of phrases like this by simply searching on websites like Al Jazeera!)

Using ولا يكاد

The final way we can use this verb is by following a verbal clause with وَلا يَكادُ to give the meaning of “…and barely even that” or “…and hardly that”:

لا يَعيشُ، يَبقى على قَيدِ الحياةِ فقط—وَلا يَكادُ

he’s not living, he’s just surviving—and barely even that

I hope this post was useful!

Don’t forget to check out all the posts in the synonyms series if you want to expand and diversify your vocabulary some more—and don’t miss out on last week’s post either.

!إلى اللقاء

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