The Role of the b-prefix in Gulf Arabic Dialects as a Marker of Future, Intent and/or Irrealis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper presents arguments for a re-analysis of the b-prefix in Gulf
Arabic dialects. Similar to several other dialects, Gulf Arabic possesses a b-prefix
that is inserted before the p-stem (prefix form) of the verb. However,
the Gulf Arabic b-prefix differs substantially from the one encountered in
other Arabic dialects. According to most previous studies, the Gulf Arabic
b-prefix encodes future tense or intentive mood or a combination of these.
Based on a thorough survey of the use of this particle in modern speech, I
suggest that it is used in Gulf Arabic today as a generalized marker of the
irrealis mood rather than being limited to function as a future/intentive
marker. Futurity is one - but not the only or necessarily the most important
one - of its connotations. Meanwhile, another marker, rāḥ, emerges as an
obvious future marker in some parts of the dialectal area.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Arabic, Gulf Arabic, Dialect, Tense, Mood, Aspect, Syntax, Semantics, Future, Irrealis, b-prefix
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-52
JournalJournal of Arabic and Islamic Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch