Let’s open the discussion with a famous mistake in Arabic:
|NOT CORRECT||I have never done that.||لَمْ أَفْعَلْ ذٰلِكَ أَبَدًا.|
Why is there a mistake? Because the word أَبَدًا is an adverb that is used for the future ( ظَرْفُ زَمانٍ لِلمُسْتَقْبَلِ ) only.
It basically means always, forever; ever. أَبَدًا conveys the meaning of continuity ( اِسْتِمْرارٌ ) in the future.
It may receive case inflections ( مُعْرَبٌ ).
So, what is the solution? How would you say: “I have never done that”? You use a different word!
|CORRECT||I have never done that.||.لَمْ أَفْعَلْ ذٰلِكَ قَطُّ|
The word قَطُّ means never; ever, at all. It is an adverb of time (ظَرْفُ زَمانٍ) that engages in the past tense (لاِسْتِغْراقُ الْماضِي).
The word قَطُّ has an indeclinable, fixed shape (مَبْنِيٌّ) and never changes its form.
قَطُّ must be used with the negation (نَفْيٌ). Since we have to use the past tense, we negate the verb with لَمْ or with ما.
|incorrect||I have never visited him.||.ما زُرْتُهُ أَبَدًا|
|correct||I have never visited him.||.ما زُرْتُهُ قَطُّ|
|correct||I will never visit him.||. لَنْ أَزُورَهُ أَبَدًا|
Remark: The translation of أَبَدًا depends on the context and – more important – whether there is a negation involved or not.
- With a negation: Never (in the future), not at all, on no account
- Not negated: Never! Not at all! By no means!
Let’s check an example of the Qur’an:
قَالُوا يَا مُوسَىٰ إِنَّا لَن نَّدْخُلَهَا أَبَدًا مَّا دَامُوا فِيهَا ۖ فَاذْهَبْ أَنتَ وَرَبُّكَ فَقَاتِلَا إِنَّا هَاهُنَا قَاعِدُونَ
They said, ‘Moses, we will never enter while they are still there, so you and your Lord go in and fight, and we will stay here.’
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