Tense is how a language communicates the timing of events. Did it happen yesterday? Is it happening now? Will it happen at some point in the future? These questions can only be answered by understanding the tenses of a language. Sorani Kurdish has one combined present/future tense and four past tenses. Here is a breakdown of each of the five tenses:
Present / Future – The “here and now” can be used to communicate a future action as well. This is much like English, which sometimes uses a present tense conjugation to indicate a future action. For example, you can say, “I am going to the store later, want to come?” which means virtually the same as, “I will go to the store later, want to come?” Sorani combines this all into one tense called “ڕانهبردوو” or “non-past”.
Simple Past – A past action that has been completed. As the name suggests, it is simple and uncomplicated. It simply happened. An example would be “I left” or “I ate food”.
Continuous Past – For communicating an action that was ongoing in the past. “I was eating dinner when she arrived”. This shows that an action was in process, it occurred over a certain time, but has stopped.
Present Perfect – Generally equivalent to the present perfect in English. In Sorani it is referred to as ڕابردووی تهواو (completed past). This describes an action that happened in the past, but continues into the present. “The food has burned” happened in the past, but the ramifications are felt in the present.
Far Past / Past Perfect – Describes an action that happened in the past, and was clearly completed. Even additional past actions might have happened after this completed action. “The food had burned, but we ate it nonetheless”.
Take a look below to see the verb ڕۆیشتن (to go) conjugated in the various tenses
|Tense / Form||English||(Sorani) سۆرانی|
|Infinitive (un-conjugated)||To go||ڕۆیشتن|
|Present / Future||I am going / will go||ئهڕۆم|
|Simple Past||I went||ڕۆشتم|
|Continuous Past||I was going||ئهڕۆشتم|
|Past / Present Perfect||I have left / gone||ڕۆشتووم|
|Far Past / Past Perfect||I had left / gone||ڕۆشتبووم|
The construction of tense in Sorani Kurdish is very complex and can’t be covered easily here. For those who are interested in diving deeper, Kim’s Kurdish Grammar is a great place to start!