. 12
( 23)


.ôª¤dG iCGQ øe « hCG ¿Éc
kaan-a √awwal-a man ra√aa l-qamar-a.
He was the first [person] who saw the moon.

5.2 Use of maa: ˜whatever; that which™
The relative pronoun maa functions in a wide variety of contexts.1 Note that this
use of maa is distinct from its use as an interrogative or negative particle.

øjô¡¦dG ÚH Ée áYGQ µdÉH ≥∏©àj Ée ˜
maa bayn-a l-nahr-ayni fii maa ya-ta¬allaq-u bi-l-ziraa¬at-i
Mesopotamia (˜that which is between in whatever relates to agriculture
two rivers™)

. . . »∏j Ée «Ébh
ájÉ¡f ™ Ée
maa laa nihaayat-a wa-qaal-a maa ya-lii . . .
infinity (˜that which has no end™) (And) he said the following . . .
(˜that which follows™)

.„¦É°»dG ˜ §óM Ée §ó«j º∏a
fa-lam ya-Hdath maa Hadath-a fii l-shaam-i.
What happened in Syria has not happened [here].

.¬¦Y «É¤«°S Éeh π«b Ée
maa qiil-a wa-maa sa-yu-qaal-u ¬an-hu.
What has been said and what will be said about it.

5.3 maa and man resumptive pronoun
The indefinite pronouns maa and man, if they refer to the object of a verb or a
preposition, are usually followed by a resumptive pronoun in the relative clause.2

.§‘°†dÉH √ó°übCG Ée Gòg .¬``eób Ée ≈∏Y √ôµ°T
haadhaa maa √aqsid-u-hu bi-l-DabT-i. shakar-a-hu ¬alaa maa qaddam-a-hu.
This is exactly what I mean (it). He thanked him for what he offered (it).

Wehr lists nine different uses of maa (1979, 1042) and Abboud et al. (1997, 47“49) list examples of
all nine uses: negative maa, interrogative maa, relative maa, nominalizing maa, durative maa,
exclamatory maa, indefinite maa, conditional maa, and redundant maa.
Technically, a resumptive pronoun is not necessary after an indefinite pronoun that refers to an
object of a verb, but it was used consistently in the data gathered for this book. See Abboud and
McCarus 1983, part 1:588; MECAS 1965, 97.
Relative pronouns and relative clauses 327

.¬```LÉà“ Ée ≈∏Y π°ü“ .√ó°ü¤J Ée â«°VhCÉa
ta-HSul-u ¬alaa maa ta-Htaaj-u-hu. fa-√awDaH-at maa ta-qSid-u-hu.
They get what they need (it). So she explained what she meant (it).

5.4 maadhaa as relative pronoun
Sometimes the particle maadhaa ˜what™ is used instead of maa, especially when
the use of maa (which also functions as a negative particle) may be confusing:

.kɤM ójôj GPÉe ±ô©j
ya-¬rif-u maadhaa yu-riid-u Haqq-an.
He really knows what he wants.

5.5 Use of maa for approximation
Used with numbers, amounts, and times, maa serves as a pronoun that can link a
prepositional or verbal phrase to a previous statement by indicating approximation:

.áK“Kh øjô¡°T ÚH Ée ¥ô¨à°ùj
ya-staghriq-u maa bayn-a shahr-ayni wa-thalaathat-in.
It will last (what is approximately) between two and three months.

.¢ü®°T ∞dCG ᄪ©HQCGh ᄪK“K ÚH Ée ¤EG π°üj ób
qad ya-Sil-u √ilaa maa bayn-a thalaath-i-mi√at-i wa-√arba¬-i-mi√at-i √alf-i shaxS-in.
It might reach (what is approximately) between 300 and 400 thousand people.

.AÉŸG øe ¬```ª©M Ée Üô°»j ¿CG πª·G „«£à°ùj
ya-staTii¬-u l-jamal-u √an ya-shrab-a maa Hajam-a-hu min-a l-maa√-i.
The camel can drink his weight (what approximately his weight is) in water.

.â‘°ùdG „¦’j ó©H Ée ¤EG Qɶàf™G –L’àj
ya-tawajjab-u l-intiZaar-u √ilaa maa ba¬d-a yawm-i l-sabt-i.
It is necessary to wait until (approximately what is) after Saturday.

5.6 maa ˜a certain; some, one™
The relative pronoun maa is also used following a noun to emphasize its indefi-
niteness or non-particularity, as in the following expressions:

.Ée óM ¤EG É¡˜b’e ¤’Z .Ée Ée’j „L’°S
ghayyar-at mawqif-a-haa √ilaa Hadd-in maa. sa-ya-rji¬-u yawm-an maa.
She changed her position to a certain extent. He will come back one day.

?Ée Éfɦa –“ GPÉŸ
li-maadhaa tu-Hibb-u fannaan-an maa?
Why do you like a certain artist?
328 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

5.7 mimmaa Éq‡
The contracted phrase mimmaa (min maa) may be used instead of the simple
maa when referring to a preceding situation or condition:

ɪFGO ™É°üJG ¬d øeCG ɇ
mimmaa √amman-a la-hu ttiSaal-an daa√ im-an
which guaranteed him a permanent connection

mimmaa yu-√addii √ ilaa √i¬Taa√-i l-majallat-i Taabi¬-an √adabiyy-an
which leads to giving the journal a literary character

´hô°»ŸG á˜∏c ¿CG »¦©j ɇ
mimmaa ya-¬nii √anna kalfat-a l-mashruu¬-i
which means that the cost of the project

5.8 bi-maa ¬i ˜ pronoun ˜including™
This common idiomatic expression includes the indefinite pronoun maa:

.π«FGô°SEG áe’µM É¡«a Éà ±GôWC™G „«ªL „e ¤™É°üJG ¦ô©j
yu-jrii ttiSaalaat-in ma¬-a jamii¬-i l-√aTraaf-i bi-maa fii-haa Hukuumat-i √israa√iil-a.
He is in communication (˜conducting contacts™) with all the parties including
the government of Israel.
Numerals and numeral phrases

The Arabic numeral system has been described as “somewhat complicated”
(Cowan 1964, 182), “assez complexe (˜rather complex™)” (Kouloughli 1994, 121),
“one of the trickiest features of written Arabic” (Haywood and Nahmad 1962, 301),
as having “a special difficulty” (Cantarino 1975, II:361), and it has been said that
the numerals “do not readily lend themselves to inductive analysis” (Ziadeh and
Winder 1957, 148). These observations provide an indication of the complexity of
a system which is important to understand but also challenging in the diversity
of its categories and rules.
Provided here is an outline of the general structure of the morphology and syn-
tax of MSA numerals, with examples taken from various contemporary contexts.1
The rules and examples are presented in numerical order, cardinal numerals first
and then ordinal numerals.2

1 Cardinal numerals (al-√a¬daad OGóYC™G)
The Arabic numerals “zero” through “ten” are listed as follows. To some extent
there is resemblance with what are termed “Arabic” numbers in English, but the
system is adapted from the Hindi numeral system and has significant differences.

Sifr 3
zero 0 ô˜°U
one 1 waaHid óMGh
two 2 ithnaan ¿É¦KG
three 3 thalaatha áK“K
four 4 á©H QCG
√arba¬a 4
five 5 xamsa á°ùªN

I am grateful to my colleague, Dr. Muhsin Esseesy, for reading, correcting, and commenting on
this chapter. See also Esseesy 2000.
For further reading on the morphology and syntax of Arabic numbers, see Abboud and McCarus
1983, Part 1:410“21; Cantarino 1975, II:361“98; Cowan 1964, 182“90; Haywood and Nahmad 1962,
301“26; Wright 1967, II:234“49.
Cognate with English ˜cipher.™

330 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

six 6 sitta áqà°S
seven 7 sab¬a á©‘°S
eight 8 thamaaniya á«fɪK
nine 9 tis¬a á©°ùJ
ten 10 Iô°»Y
¬ashra 10

The numerals “one” and “two” have special features. “One” has two forms: an
adjectival (waaHid) and a noun (or pronoun) form (√aHad), used in different ways.
The numeral “two” is special because of the independent and extensive nature of
the dual category in Arabic morphology. The numerals three to ten, on the other
hand, are all nouns.

1.1 The numeral “one”

1.1.1 waaHid óMGh and waaHida IóMGh
The numeral ˜one™ waaHid has the morphological pattern of an active participle of
Form I (faa¬il). It behaves syntactically as an adjective, following the counted
noun, and agreeing with it in case and gender.

óMGh âbh ˜ óMGh ±óg πHɤe Úaó¡H
fii waqt-in waaHid-in bi-hadaf-ayni muqaabil-a hadaf-in waaHid-in
at one time with two goals as opposed to one goal

?óMGh º°SG øe ÌcCG ó∏‘dG Gò¡d πg
hal li-haadhaa l-balad-i √akthar-u min-i sm-in waaHid-in?
Does this country have more than one name?

§¤a IóMGh ᦰS ¤EG áH’¤©dG ∞˜®j ¿CG π‘b
qabl-a √an yu-xaffif-a l-¬uquubat-a √ilaa sanat-in waaHidat-in faqaT
before he lightened the penalty to one year only

1.1.2 ˜One of™: √aHad óMCG and √iHdaa ióMEG
This form of “one” is usually used when expressing the notion “one of.” 4 It is
a noun that forms the first term of an √iDaafa or genitive construct, with the

However, waaHid min is also occasionally found for the expression of “one of”:
.kÉfÉqµ°S ô„Gµ·G ≥Wɦe qπbCG øe IóMGh É¡∏c ᤣ¦ŸG
al-minTaqat-u kull-u-haa waaHidat-un min √aqall-i manaaTiq-i l-jazaa√ir-i sukkaan-an.
The entire region is one of the lowest-populated in Algeria.
Iô°UÉ©ŸG ¿’¦˜dG qºgCG øe óMGh ¤EG
√ilaa waaHid-in min √ahamm-i l-funuun-i l-mu¬aaSirat-i
to one of the most important contemporary arts
Numerals and numeral phrases 331

following noun in the genitive dual or plural, or pronoun, which is dual or
plural. The masculine form, √aHad, is triptote; the feminine form, √iHdaa, is
invariable. √aHad óMCG:
IóL ¤É«˜°»à°ùe óMCG ˜ Úq∏¤à°ùŸG ÜGq’¦dG óMCG
fii √aHad-i mustashfayaat-i jiddat-a √aHad-u l-nuwwaab-i l-mustaqill-iina
in one of the hospitals of Jidda one of the independent deputies

.–«°UCG ºgóMCG ¢ù«FôdG ¦QÉ°»à°ùe óMCG
√aHad-u mustashaar-ii l-ra√iis-i
√aHad-u-hum √uSiib-a.
One of them was hit. one of the president™s counselors

.kÉMGÎbG ô“D’ŸG AÉ°†YCG óMCG „¦qób
qaddam-a √aHad-u √a¬Daa√-i l-mu√tamar-i qtiraaH-an.
One of the members of the conference offered a proposal. √iHdaa ióMEG : The feminine numeral √iHdaa is invariable in case:

ᤶ¦ŸG ¿óe ióMEG ¤™hÉ™G √òg ióMEG ˜
√iHdaa mudun-i l-minTaqat-i fii √iHdaa haadhihi l-muHaawalaat-i
one of the cities of the region in one of these attempts

ᦩ∏dG √òg „¦É¡e ióMEG
√iHdaa mahaamm-i haadhihi l-lajnat-i
one of the tasks of this committee ˜NO Used with a negative verb, √aHad is
equivalent to ˜no one™ or ˜nobody™:

.º¡˜qb’j ¿CG „«£à°ùj ™ kGóMCG q¿EG âdÉb
qaal-at √inna √aHad-an laa ya-staTii¬-u √an yu-waqqif-a-hum.
She said that no one could stop them.

.ô°ü¤dG ˜ áµdÉŸG Iô°SC™G øe óMCG øµj „
lam ya-kun √aHad-un min-a l-√usrat-i l-maalikat-i fii l-qaSr-i.
No one from the royal family was in the castle.

.ôNB™G ¿hO øe ¢»«©j ¿CG ÉfóMCG áYÉ£à°SG ˜ ¢ù«d
lays-a fii stiTaa¬at-i √aHad-i-naa √an ya-¬iish-a min duun-i l-√aaxar-i.
Neither one of us can live without the other.
332 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.2 The numeral ˜two™ ithnaan ¿É¦KG and ithnataan ¿Éà¦KG
The numeral “two” has both feminine and masculine forms and it also inflects for

Masc. Fem.

¿É¦KG ¿Éà¦KG
ithnaani ithnataani

ithnayni ithnatayni

ithnayni ithnatayni

The genitive and accusative forms of inflection are identical, putting the
numeral “two” into the two-way inflection category, just like the dual suffix on
nouns and adjectives. Note that the initial vowel on ithnaan is a hamzat al-waSl, not
a strong hamza (hamzat al-qaT¬).

1.2.1 The dual (al-muthannaa ≈q¦ãŸG)
The numeral “two” is rarely used for counting purposes because of the existence
of the dual category in the Arabic grammatical system. Two of anything is a sepa-
rate inflectional class and receives a separate inflectional suffix: -aani (nomina-
tive) or -ayni (genitive/accusative). Note that dual agreement (pronouns, verbs,
adjectives) follows a dual noun. See Chapter 7, sections 3.1 and, subsection
(1) for further discussion of dual inflection. MASCULINE DUAL: The masculine dual is used to refer to masculine nouns
or a mix of feminine and masculine.

.¿Éµ∏ŸG πNO øjó∏‘dG ÚH
daxal-a l-malik-aani. bayn-a l-balad-ayni
The two rulers entered. between the two countries
(Here, referring to a king and queen.)

.IQÉ©—G øe É«¦oH ¿É¤HÉW óLoh óbh .ÚeCG’à`H πª“
wa-qad wujid-a Taabaq-aani buniy-aa ta-Hmil-u bi-taw√am-ayni.
min-a l-Hijaarat-i. She is pregnant with twins.
Two floors were found built of stone.
Numerals and numeral phrases 333 FEMININE DUAL

¿ÉjôNC™G p¿Éà¦jóŸG ÉqeCG ¿É«ª¶©dG ¿ÉàdhódG
√ammaa l-madiinat-aani l-√uxray-aani al-dawlat-aani l-¬uZmay-aani
as for the other two cities the two super powers

Úà«°VÉŸG ÚরùdG «“N
xilaal-a l-sanat-ayni l-maaDiyat-ayni
during the past two years Demonstrative pronouns also have
dual forms. When modifying dual nouns, they agree in duality, case, and gender:

Úq«aÉ«°üdG øjòg øe Ú঩∏dG ÚJÉg AÉ°†YCG
min haadh-ayni l-SiHaafiyy-ayni √a¬Daa√-u haat-ayni l-lajnat-ayni
from these two journalists the members of these two committees nuun-DELETION: When a dual noun is the first term of an annexation
structure, or if it has a pronoun suffix, the nuun (and its short vowel kasra) of the
dual suffix is deleted:

Q’ãdG »˜àc ˜
ÚHÉàµdG ÉfG’¦Y
¬unwaan-aa l-kitaab-ayni fii kitf-ay-i l-thawr-i
the [two] titles of the two books in the two shoulders of the bull

¤Gô˜dGh á∏LO ¦ô¡f ¦OGh ˜
fii waadii nahr-ay dijlat-a wa-l-furaat-i
in the valley of the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates Occasionally the number
“two” is used explicitly in order to emphasize, distinguish two among others, or

.á°VQÉ©ª∏d k“¤©e ¿GÈà©oJ É¡¦e ¿Éà¦KÉa
fa-thnataani min-haa tu-¬tabar-aani ma¬qil-an li-l-mu¬aaraDat-i.
(For) two of them [cities] are considered a stronghold for the opposition.

.–fÉL πc øY Ú¦KG Ú∏q㇠qº°†J
ta-Dumm-u mumaththil-ayni thnayni ¬an kull-i jaanib-in.
It includes two representatives from each side.*

*Here, the word thnayn is added to clarify the status of the word mumaththil-ayni
Ú∏q㇠because in unvoweled Arabic script it looks identical to the plural,
mumaththil-iina Ú∏qã‡.
334 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic ˜BOTH™ kilaa AND kiltaa The words kilaa (m.) and kiltaa (f.) are quantifiers
used to express the concept of “both.” These words are related to the noun kull ˜all,™
and are not part of the numeral system, but are considered to have numerative
meaning. They are specifically dual and followed either by a noun in the dual or by
a dual pronoun suffix.
When followed by a noun they do not inflect for case; when followed by a pro-
noun, they do inflect for case.

fii kiltaa l-Haalat-ayni
in both cases ÚàdÉ—G Éà∏c ˜
bi-kiltaa yad-ay-hi
with both his (two) hands ¬jój Éà∏µ`H
both of them (m.) ɪg“c
with both of them bi-kil-ay-himaa ɪ¡«∏µ`H
For further discussion of kilaa and kiltaa, see Chapter 9, section 1.3.

1.3 Numerals three to ten
Arabic numerals three to ten have two distinctive characteristics: first, they are fol-
lowed by a plural noun in the genitive case, and second, they show gender polar-
ity, or reverse gender agreement with the counted noun. That is, if the singular
noun is masculine, the numeral will have the feminine marker taa√ marbuuTa, and
if the singular noun is feminine, the numeral will be in the masculine form.
The numerals three to ten are as follows:

Used for counting f. nouns Used for counting m. nouns

thalaath thalaatha
§“nK ánK“nK
„nHrQnCG án©nHrQnCG
xams xamsa
¢ùrªnN án°ùrªnN
sitt sitta
qâp°S ásàp°S
sab¬ sab¬a
„r‘n°S án©r‘n°S
thamaanin5 thamaaniya
m¿ÉªnK án«pfɪnK
tis¬ tis¬a
„r°ùpJ án©r°ùpJ
ôr°»nY Inôn°»nY
¬ashr ¬ashara

The numeral ˜eight™ thamaanin, is defective in the masculine gender (the feminine form, ending in
taa√ marbuuTa, is triptote, or regular in declension). As an indefinite defective noun it declines as
follows: nominative and genitive have identical form: thamaan-in; accusative has the form thamaaniy-
an; as a definite noun, the nominative and genitive are also identical: thamaanii, and the accusative
definite form is thamaaniy-a. See the declension for defective nouns in Chapter 7, section 5.4.3
Numerals and numeral phrases 335

In recitation form, in counting without a counted noun, or in referring to a
specific numeral alone, the form with taa√ marbuuTa is usually used. For example:

.q¦ô«°S ºbQ ’g áqà°S ºbQ !áK“K ,¿É¦KEG ,óMGh
raqm-u sittat-in huwa raqm-un siHriyy-un. waaHid-un, ithnaani, thalaathat-un!
The number six is a magic number. One, two three!

1.3.1 Three to ten counted nouns
Counted noun phrases from three to ten have two forms, definite (“the five
houses”) and indefinite (“five houses”). If an adjective follows the counted noun
(“the five large houses; five large houses”), it agrees with the noun in case, gender,
and definiteness. For nonhuman plural nouns, the adjective is feminine singular
and for human nouns, the adjective is plural. With an indefinite counted item, the
numeral shows reverse gender agreement and precedes the counted noun. The
case marker on the numeral varies according to its role in the sentence and it
is considered definite because it is in an √iDaafa relationship with the noun, so
the case ending on the numeral is in definite form (i.e., it does not take
nunation). The counted noun itself is plural, indefinite, and in the genitive

(1) Feminine noun masculine numeral form

¤ÉW’£¬‚ §“K
thalaath-u maxTuuTaat-in (singular maxTuuTa áW’£¬‚)
three manuscripts

óFÉ°üb §“K
thalaath-u qaSaa√id-a (singular qaSiida Ió«°üb)
three odes

.¤“Hɤe §“K CGô¤f
na-qra√-u thalaath-a muqaabalaat-in. (singular muqaabala á∏Hɤe)
We are reading three interviews.

thalaath-u √aabaar-in ¬amiiqat-in (singular bi√r ô„H) 6
three deep wells

The singular of “well” (bi√r ) looks masculine but is actually cryptofeminine.
336 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

„¦’«dG ˜ ¤Gqôe ¢ùªN
xams-a marraat-in fii l-yawm-i (singular marra Iqôe)
five times a day

πªY ¥ôa qâ°S øª°V
Dimn-a sitt-i firaq-i ¬amal-in (singular firqa ábôa)
within six working groups

li-muddat-i thamaanii saa¬aat-in (singular saa¬a áYÉ°S)
for a period of eight hours

.¤GQÉq«°S „°ùJ G’bô°S
saraq-uu tis¬-a sayyaaraat-in. (singular sayyaara IQÉq«°S)
They stole nine cars.

(2) Masculine noun feminine numeral form

√arba¬at-u xanaajir-a (singular xanjar ô©¦N)
four daggers

ºgGQO á°ùªN
xamsat-u daraahim-a (singular dirham ºgQO)
five dirhams

á«fÉãdG ˜ ¤GÎe’∏«c áà°S áYô°ùH
bi-sur¬at-i sittat-i kiiluumitraat-in fii l-thaaniyat-i (singular kiiluumitr Îe’∏«c)
at the rate of six kilometers per second

.G’∏¤àYoG ¢UÉ®°TCG á©‘°S q¿CG âaÉ°VCGh
wa-√aDaaf-at √anna sab¬at-a √ashxaaS-in u¬tuqil-uu. (singular shaxS ¢ü®°T)
It added that seven persons were detained.

QÉàeCG Iô°»Y áaÉ°ùe ¤EG
√ilaa masaafat-i ¬asharat-i √amtaar-in (singular mitr Îe)
to a distance of ten meters

(3) Indefinite counted noun plus adjective:

.á«°SÉ°SCG ¤ÉLÉ«àMG áK“K ɦd
la-naa thalaathat-u Htiyaajaat-in √asaasiyyat-in. (singular iHtiyaaj êÉ«àMG)
We have three basic needs.
Numerals and numeral phrases 337

á«dÉààe º°SG’e áK“ã`d
li-thalaathat-i mawaasim-a mutataaliyat-in (singular mawsim º°S’e)
for three successive seasons

.OóL AGô˜°S á©HQCG π‘¤à°ùj
ya-staqbil-u √arba¬at-a sufaraa√-a judud-in. (singular safiir ’˜°S)
He welcomes four new ambassadors.

á«dhO ¤Gô“D’e á°ùªN
xamsat-u mu√tamaraat-in duwaliyyat-in (singular mu√tamar ô“D’e)
five international conferences

(4) Indefinite with definite meaning: This can occur when a numeral is used
with a superlative expression, where the superlative adjective is followed by
an indefinite plural noun.7

¿óe „HQCG qºgCG ˜
fii √ahamm-i √arba¬-i mudun-in
in the most important four cities

(5) Indefinite noun with following numeral: Rarely, an indefinite counted noun
will precede the numeral. The numeral still shows reverse gender, but in this
position it is in apposition with the noun and takes the same case as the noun:

§“K ¤É°ù∏L «“N øe
min xilaal-i jalasaat-in thalaath-in (singular jalsa á°ù∏L)
through three sessions

áK“K O’¤Y «“N
xilaal-a ¬uquud-in thalaathat-in (singular ¬aqd ó¤Y)
during three decades

(6) Indefinite numeral followed by min ˜of ™: When indicating a specific num-
ber of items among a larger number, an indefinite form of the numeral may
be used followed by min ˜of™ and a definite noun or noun phrase:

.§˜¦dG AGQ R h øe á©H QCG qº°†j
ya-Dumm-u √arba¬at-an min wuzaraa√-i l-nif T-i.
It includes four of the petroleum ministers.

For further discussion of this point, see Chapter 10, section 4.2.4.
338 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic DEFINITE COUNTED NOUN: In the definite form, the numeral is in apposition
with the noun. It follows the noun, it agrees with the noun in case, it has the
definite article, and it shows reverse gender agreement.

(1) Masculine noun: With a noun that is masculine in the singular, a feminine
numeral form is used:

á°ùªÿG „¦“°SE™G ¿ÉcQCG
√arkaan-u l-√islaam-i l-xamsat-u (singular rukn øcQ)
the five pillars of Islam

I’NC™G áK“ãdG O’¤©dG «G’W
Tiwaal-a l-¬uquud-i l-thalaathat-i l-√axiirat-i (singular ¬aqd ó¤Y)
during the last three decades
áà°ùdG §˜¦dG AGQRh
wuzaraa√-u l-nifT-i l-sittat-u (singular waziir ôjRh)
the six oil ministers

(2) Feminine noun: With a noun that is feminine in the singular, the mascu-
line form of the numeral is used:
á«∏°UC™G „H QC™G ¤É¡·G
al-jihaat-u l-√arba¬-u l-√aSliyyat-u (singular jiha á¡L)
the four cardinal directions
¢ùªÿG –∏¤dG ¤ÉqbO
daqqaat-u l-qalb-i l-xams-u (singular daqqa áqbO).
the five heartbeats
¢ùªÿG ¤GqQɤdG ˜
fii l-qaarraat-i l-xams-i (singular qaarra IqQÉb)
on the five continents
„‘°ùdG ∞«°üdG √òg »∏㇠ÚH
bayn-a mumaththil-ii haadhihi l-SuHuf-i l-sab¬-i (singular SaHiifa ᘫ«°U)
among the representatives of these seven newspapers

(3) Definite counted noun with following adjective: When a definite counted
noun is modified by an adjective, the adjective follows the numeral and
agrees with the noun in gender, case, and definiteness. For nonhuman
nouns, the plural form of the adjective is feminine singular; for human
nouns, the adjective is plural in form.
áahô©ŸG á©‘°ùdG ∞«£dG ¿G’dCG ÚH
bayn-a √alwaan-i l-Tayf-i l-sab¬at-i l-ma¬ruufat-i (singular lawn ¿ ’d)
among the seven known colors of the spectrum
Numerals and numeral phrases 339

.ºgO“H ¿’∏qãÁ ±’°S á¤HÉ°ùŸG ˜ πFGhC™G á°ùªÿG øjµFɘdG q¿CG í°VhCG
√awDaH-a √anna l-faa√iz-iina l-xamsat-a l-√awaa√il-a fii l-musaabaqat-i sawfa
yu-maththil-uuna bilaad-a-hum. (singular faa√iz µFÉa)
He declared that the first five winners in the match would represent their

1.3.2 Plural numerals
The numerals taken in groups, such as “tens” are made plural with the sound fem-
inine plural marker -aat:
.á«°SÉ«¤dG „¦ÉbQC™G ¤Gô°»Y G’ª£M
HaTam-uu ¬asharaat-i l-√arqaam-i l-qiyaasiyyat-i.
They broke tens of records.

1.4 Numerals eleven and twelve
The numerals eleven and twelve start the teens number series.8 In this set of
numerals, the numeral names are compounds, that is, they are formed of two
parts, the first part referring to the first digit and the second part always some
form of the word “ten” (¬ashar or ¬ashra).
Eleven: The numeral eleven is invariable in case, being accusative at all times.
The first component of the compound number is the word √aHad (m.) óMCG or
√iHdaa (f.) ióMEG, rather than the word waaHid. Both parts of the compound
numeral show the same gender.
Twelve: The numeral twelve shows two case inflections, nominative and geni-
tive-accusative, along the lines of the numeral “two” and the dual. Both parts of
the compound numeral show the same gender.

Masculine Feminine

ô°»Y óMCG Iô°»Y ióMEG
√aHad-a √iHdaa
¬ashar-a ¬ashrat-a

ô°»Y ɦKG Iô°»Y Éà¦KG
twelve nominative
ithn-aa √ithnat-aa
¬ashar-a ¬ashrat-a

ô°»Y »¦KG Iô°»Y »à¦KG
twelve genitive-
accusative ithn-ay ithnat-ay
¬ashar-a ¬ashrat-a

In contemporary newspaper Arabic, numerals over ten tend to be in figures rather than spelled
out in words. In this chapter the numbers are converted into spelled-out numerals in order to
illustrate how they are pronounced and how the numeral system works.
340 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

When used in a counted noun phrase, both components of the compound
numerals eleven and twelve agree with the counted noun in gender. They do
not show gender polarity. They are followed by a noun in the accusative singular.
This accusative is a form of tamyiiz, or “accusative of specification.” 9


.I’d Iô°»Y ióMEG É¡¦ªK .I’d Iô°»Y ÉJ¦KG É¡¦ªK
thaman-u-haa √iHdaa ¬ashrat-a liirat-an. thaman-u-haa thnat-aa ¬ashrat-a
Its price is eleven liras/pounds.
Its price is twelve liras/pounds.

.ᦰS Iô°»Y ióMEG π‘b ⫦oH .ᦰS Iô°»Y »à¦KG π‘b ⫦oH
buniy-at qabl-a thnat-ay ¬ashrat-a
buniy-at qabl-a √iHdaa ¬ashrat-a
sanat-an. sanat-an.
It was built eleven years ago. It was built twelve years ago. MASCULINE NOUN MASCULINE ELEVEN OR TWELVE:

.kɪgQO ô°»Y óMCG É¡¦ªK .kɪgQO ô°»Y ɦKG É¡¦ªK
thaman-u-haa thn-aa ¬ashar-a
thaman-u-haa √aHad-a ¬ashar-a
dirham-an. dirham-an.
Its price is eleven dirhams. Its price is twelve dirhams.

.ÉeÉY ô°»Y óMCG π‘b ⫦oH .ÉeÉY ô°»Y »¦KG π‘b ⫦oH
buniy-at qabl-a thn-ay ¬ashar-a¬aam-an.
buniy-at qabl-a √aHad-a ¬ashar-a
It was built twelve years ago.
It was built eleven years ago.

1.4.2 De¬nite counted nouns with eleven and twelve
When the counted noun is definite, the numeral eleven or twelve follows the
plural noun and the definite article is affixed to the first part of the numeral
only. The case marker of the noun varies depending on the role of the noun in
the sentence; the case marker on eleven is always accusative; the case marker
on the first part of the numeral twelve varies according to the case of the noun it

For further discussion of the tamyiiz structure see Chapter 7, section, and Chapter 11,
section 6.
Numerals and numeral phrases 341 MASCULINE DEFINITE PLURAL NOUN:

.ô°»Y óMC™G AGô˜°ùdG ô°†M .ô°»Y ɦK™G AGô˜°ùdG ô°†M
HaDar-a l-sufaraa√-u l-√aHad-a ¬ashar-a. HaDar-a l-sufaraa√-u l-thn-aa ¬ashr-a.
The eleven ambassadors came. The twelve ambassadors came.

.ô°»Y óMC™G AGô˜°ùdG π‘¤à°ùj .ô°»Y »¦K™G AGô˜°ùdG π‘¤à°ùj
ya-staqbil-u l-sufaraa√-a l-√aHad-a ya-staqbil-u l-sufaraa√-a
He is welcoming the eleven He is welcoming the twelve
ambassadors. ambassadors. FEMININE DEFINITE NOUN:

.Iô°»Y ióME™G ¤GPÉà°SC™G ¤ô°†M
HaDar-at-i l-√ustaadhaat-u l-√iHdaa ¬ashrat-a.
The eleven professors (f.) came.

.Iô°»Y Éà¦K™G ¤GPÉà°SC™G ¤ô°†M
HaDar-at-i l-√ustaadhaat-u l-ithnat-aa ¬asharat-a.
The twelve professors (f.) came.

.Iô°»Y ióME™G ¤GPÉà°SC™G π‘¤à°ùj
ya-staqbil-u l-√ustaadhaat-i l-iHdaa ¬ashrat-a.
He is welcoming the eleven professors (f.).

.Iô°»Y »à¦K™G ¤GPÉà°SC™G π‘¤à°ùj
ya-staqbil-u l-√ustaadhaat-i l-ithnat-ay ¬ashrat-a.
He is welcoming the twelve professors (f.).

1.5 Numbers thirteen to nineteen
The group of “teens” numerals are similar to the numeral eleven in that they
are invariably in the accusative case and are followed by a singular accusative
noun. They are unlike eleven and twelve in that the first part of the compound
number shows gender polarity with the counted noun, while the second part
of the compound number shows direct gender agreement with the counted
That is, the first element, three to nine, behaves in gender like the cardinal
numbers three to nine. The second element behaves more like an adjective, agree-
ing with the counted noun in gender.
342 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

With feminine counted noun: With masculine counted noun:

thirteen nInôr°»nY n§“nK nôn°»nY náK“K
thalaath-a ¬ashrat-a thalaathat-a ¬ashar-a

fourteen nInôr°»nY n„nHrQnCG nôn°»nY nán©nH rQnCG
√arba¬-a ¬ashrat-a √arba¬at-a ¬ashar-a

fifteen nInôr°»nY n¢ùrªnN nôn°»nY án°ùrªnN
xams-a ¬ashrat-a xamsat-a ¬ashar-a

sixteen Inôr°»nY sâp°S nôn°»nY násàp°S
sitt-a ¬ashrat-a sittat-a ¬ashar-a

seventeen nInôr°»nY n„r‘n°S nôn°»nY án©r‘n°S
sab¬-a ¬ashrat-a sab¬at-a ¬ashar-a

eighteen nInôr°»nY n»pfɪnK nôn°»nY nán«pfɪnK
thamaaniy-a ¬ashrat-a thamaaniyat-a ¬ashar-a

nineteen nInôr°»nY n„r°ùpJ nôn°»nY nán©r°ùpJ
tis¬-a ¬ashrat-a tis¬at-a ¬ashar-a

1.5.1 Inde¬nite counted noun

.kGÎe ô°»Y áK“K ¬d’W ≠∏‘j
ya-blugh-u Tuul-u-hu thalaathat-a ¬ashar-a mitr-an.
Its length reaches thirteen meters.

.á«dGó«e Iô°»Y „H QCÉH GhRÉa ÉeÉY ô°»Y á°ùªN ióe ≈∏Y
faaz-uu bi-√arba¬-a ¬ashrat-a ¬alaa madaa xamsat-a ¬ashar-a
miidaaliyyat-an. ¬aam-an
They won fourteen medals. over a period of fifteen years

.k™ÉjQ ô°»Y á°ùªN Iójô·G øªK
thaman-u l-jariidat-i xamsat-a ¬ashar-a riyaal-an.
The cost of the newspaper is fifteen rials.

.áq¤°T Iô°»Y „°ùJ qº°†j ᦰS Iô°»Y qâ°S IqóŸ
ya-Dumm-u tis¬-a ¬ashrat-a shaqqat-an. li-muddat-i sitt-a ¬ashrat-a sanat-an
It contains nineteen apartments. for a period of sixteen years
Numerals and numeral phrases 343

kÉ‘FÉf ô°»Y á©‘°S øY kÉqjOôc G’°†Y ô°»Y á°ùªN øY
¬an sab¬at-a ¬ashar-a naa√ib-an ¬an xamsat-a ¬ashar-a ¬uDw-an
from seventeen representatives
from fifteen Kurdish members10

1.5.2 De¬nite counted noun
A definite counted noun with a teens numeral is in the plural, followed by the
teens numeral prefixed with the definite article. The article is on only the first
part of the numeral compound, not the second part. Whereas the counted noun
in this situation may be in any case that its role in the sentence requires, the teens
numeral remains invariably in the accusative case. The first part of the com-
pound number shows gender polarity.

Iô°»Y „°ùàdG ±ô¨dG ˜ ô°»Y á°ùªÿG AÉ°†YC™G
fii l-ghuraf-i l-tis¬-a ¬asharat-a al-√a¬Daa√-u l-xamsat-a ¬ashr-a
in the nineteen rooms the fifteen members

1.5.3 In independent form
When counting or listing the numerals by themselves, the form with the femi-
nine marker on the first element is used, i.e., xamsat-a ¬ashar-a, sittat-a ¬ashar-a,
sab¬at-a ¬ashar-a ˜fifteen, sixteen, seventeen.™

1.6 Numerals twenty to ninety-nine
The even tens numerals are constructed as a numeral stem joined with a sound
masculine plural suffix that inflects two ways for case, -uuna for the nominative
and -iina for genitive-accusative.11 These even tens numerals themselves do not
show any gender distinctions or differences.
The numbers twenty to ninety-nine are followed by a singular accusative
counted noun, which is a form of tamyiiz, or accusative of specification.

¬ishruuna/ ¬ishriina12
twenty øjô°»Y/¿hô°»Y
thirty thalaathuuna/thalaathiina ÚK“K/¿’K“K
forty Ú©HQCG/¿ ’©HQCG
√arba¬uuna/ √arba¬iina

Note that the adjective agrees strictly with the counted noun and is singular, although the mean-
ing is plural.
In spoken Arabic, the tens numbers are reduced to one case, the genitive-accusative. However, in
written Arabic, the case distinction is still maintained if the number is written out.
The base form for this number appears to be from the lexical root for “ten,” and it has been theo-
rized that originally, it might have been something like *¬ishr-aani ˜two-tens™ and that the dual suf-
fix came subsequently to resemble the other tens suffixes by a process of analogy.
344 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

fifty xamsuuna/xamsiina Ú°ùªN/¿’°ùªN
sixty sittuuna/sittiina Úqà°S/¿ ’qà°S
seventy sab¬uuna/sab¬iina Ú©‘°S/¿ ’©‘°S
eighty thamaanuuna/thamaaniina ÚfɪK/¿’fɪK
ninety tis¬uuna/tis¬iina Ú©°ùJ/¿’©°ùJ
1.6.1 Inde¬nite counted noun

kGóq∏› øj ô°»Y ˜
kÉ°Tôb ¿ hô°»Y
¬ishruuna qirsh-an fii ¬ishriina mujallad-an
twenty piasters in twenty volumes

mô°»f nQGO Ú©HQCG øe ÌcCG ácQÉ°»Ã
bi-mushaarakat-i √akthar-a min √arba¬iina daar-a nashr-in
with the participation of more than forty publishing houses

kÉeÉY Úqà°S øe ÌcCG Qhôe ó©H
ba¬d-a muruur-i √akthar-a min sittiina¬aam-an
after the passage of more than sixty years

áq£™G »˜qX’e øe ¿’°ùªN
xamsuuna min muwaZZaf-ii l-maHaTTat-i13
fifty of the station employees

1.6.2 Plurals of tens
The plural form of the tens numerals is the sound feminine plural, which is suf-
fixed to the genitive-accusative form of the number:

twenties ¤É¦jô°»Y
thirties thalaathiinaat ¤É¦«K“K
forties ¤É¦«©HQCG
fifties xamsiinaat ¤É¦«°ùªN
sixties sittiinaat ¤É¦«qà°S
seventies sab¬iinaat ¤É¦«©‘°S
eighties thamaaniinaat ¤É¦«fɪK
nineties tis¬iinaat ¤É¦«©°ùJ
Because the word xamsuuna here is followed by the preposition min, the counted noun is not
governed by the numeral, but is plural.
Numerals and numeral phrases 345

iȵdG ¤É¦«K“ãdG áeRCG ó©H øjô°»©dG ¿ ô¤dG øe ¤É¦«©‘°ùdG ≈qàM
ba¬d-a √azmat-i l-thalaathiinaat-i Hattaa l-sab¬iinaat-i min-a l-qarn-i
l-kubraa l-¬ishriina
after the great crisis of the thirties up to the seventies of the twentieth

1.6.3 Compound tens
To construct compound tens numerals, the first part of the compound is an indef-
inite number joined to the second by the conjunction wa- ˜and.™ The first digit
shows case and gender as follows: THE “ONES” AND “TWOS” The units twenty-one, thirty-one and so forth are
constructed with the numeral “one” and then the tens component. The numeral
“one” shows straight gender agreement with the noun. It can be either of the form
waaHid/ waaHida or the form √aHad/√iHdaa.
The “twos” units inflect for case as duals and show straight gender agreement
with the counted noun.

With masculine counted noun: With feminine counted noun:

twenty-one n¿ hôr°»pYnh lópMGh n¿ hôr°»pYnh lInópMGh
waaHid-un wa-¬ishruuna waaHidat-un wa-¬ishruuna

or or

¿hôr°»pYnh lónMnCG ¿hôr°»pYnh iórMEG
√aHad-un wa-¬ishruuna √iHdaa wa-¬ishruuna
twenty-two n¿ hôr°»pYnh p¿É¦rKpG n¿ hôr°»pYnh p¿Éàn¦rKpG
ithnaani wa-¬ishruuna ithnataani wa-¬ishruuna
nøhôr°»pYnh pør«n¦rKpG nøhôr°»pYnh pør«nàn¦rKpG
ithnayni wa-¬ishruuna ithnatayni wa-¬ishruuna

kÉe’j øjô°»Yh óMGh IqóŸ ᫘°U øjô°»Yh Úà¦KG ˜
li-muddat-i waaHid-in wa-¬ishriina yawm-an fii thnatayni wa-¬ishriina SafHat-an
for a period of twenty-one days in twenty-two pages

ᦰS øjô°»Yh ióMEG IqóŸ kÉY’‘°SCG øjô°»Yh Ú¦K™
li-mudddat-i √iHdaa wa-¬ishriina sanat-an li-thnayni wa-¬ishriina √usbuu¬-an
for a period of twenty-one years for twenty-two weeks
346 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic Numerals such as twenty-four,
seventy-six, thirty-five and so on are compounded of the single digit number
linked to the tens numeral by means of the conjunction wa-, making combinations
such as “four and twenty, six and seventy, five and thirty,” and so forth. Except for
the numeral eight, which belongs to the defective declension, the single digits are
triptote, they take nunation, and they show reverse gender with the counted
noun. The counted noun is singular, indefinite, and accusative. Both parts of the
numeral inflect for case.

(1) Indefinite counted noun:

áYÉ°S øj ô°»Yh „H QCG ó©H ɪ∏«a Ú°ùªNh á°ùªN øe ÌcCG
ba¬d-a √arba¬-in wa-¬ishriina √akthar-u min xamsat-in wa-xamsiina
saa¬at-an fiilm-an
after twenty-four hours more than fifty-five films
.á‘©d øjô°»Yh m¿ÉªK ˜ G’°ùaɦJ
tanaafas-uu fii thamaan-in wa-¬ishriina la¬bat-an.
They competed in twenty-eight sports.
.kÉeÉY ¿’qà°Sh áK“K √ôªY
¬umr-u-hu thalaathat-un wa-sittuuna ¬aam-an.
He is sixty-three years old (˜His age is sixty-three years™).

(2) Definite counted noun: With a definite counted noun from 20 to 99, the
numeral comes first and has the definite article, followed by the singular
indefinite noun in the accusative case:

kÉq°üd ¿ ’©HQC™Gh ÉHÉH q»∏Y á«°VÉŸG ᦰS ÚK“ãdG «G’W
¬aliyy baabaa wa-l-arba¬uuna liSS-an Tiwaal-a l-thalaathiina sanat-an-i
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves l-maaDiyat-i
during the past thirty years
¿’©°ùJh á©°ùàdG ≈¦°ù—G ¬q∏dG Aɪ°SCG
√asmaa√-u llaah-i l-Husnaa l-tis√at-u wa-tis√uuna
the ninety-nine attributes of God

1.7 The even hundreds
The word for “hundred” in Arabic is mi√a, spelled both as á„e and áFÉe. It is a fem-
inine noun and remains feminine at all times. When used with a counted noun,
it goes into an √iDaafa relationship with the noun and that noun is in the genitive
singular. The concept of “two hundred” is expressed by using mi√a in the dual,
with the dual suffix. The dual suffix here obeys the law of nuun-drop when it goes
into an √iDaafa with a following counted noun:
Numerals and numeral phrases 347

one hundred á„e
two hundred (nominative)

1.7.1 Counting in even one and two hundreds

ájhój á∏‘¦b á„e ¿óY ¥ô°T Îe’∏«c á„e
mi√at-u qunbulat-in yadawiyyat-in mi√at-u kiiluumitr-in sharq-a ¬adan-a
100 hand grenades 100 kilometers east of Aden

„¦’j á„e IqóŸ ¢ù∏a Éà„e Q™hO »à„ª``H
li-muddat-i mi√at-i yawm-in mi√at-aa fils-in bi-mi√at-ay duulaar-in
for a period of 100 days 200 fils (a unit of currency) for 200 dollars

.åMÉH á„e ‹G’M ¬JÉ°ù∏L ˜
fii jalsaat-i-hi Hawaalii mi√at-u baaHith-in.
In its sessions [are] approximately 100 researchers.

1.7.2 De¬nite hundreds phrases
In this case, the word mi√a has the definite article, and the counted noun is geni-
tive singular indefinite. In these examples, the hundreds phrase serves as the sec-
ond term of an √iDaafa.

Îe á„ŸG ¥É‘°S Îe á„ŸG π£H
sibaaq-u l-mi√at-i mitr-in baTal-u l-mi√at-i mitr-in
the hundred-meter race the champion of the hundred meters ˜PERCENT™: To express the concept of percent, the term
fii l-mi√at-i or bi-l-mi√at-i is used:

.ácô°»dG øe á„ŸG ˜ ô°»Y á°ùªN ¿Éµ∏Á
á„ŸÉH á„e
mi√at-un bi-l-mi√at-i yu-mlik-aani xamsat-a ¬ashar-a fii l-mi√at-i
100 percent min-a l-sharikat-i.
The two of them own 15 percent of the

᫘jôdG ¤Éjó∏‘dG øe á„ŸG ˜ Ú©°ùJ ’«f ˜
fii naHw-i tis¬iina fii l-mi√at-i min-a l-baladiyyaat-i l-riifiyyat-i
in approximately 90 percent of the rural municipalities
348 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.7.3 Three hundred to nine hundred
When the numeral is over two hundred, the hundred noun is counted by a
numeral (in the masculine form because mi√a is feminine) followed by the word
mi√a in the singular genitive form. This compound numeral may be written
optionally as one word.

One word Two words

three hundred thalaath-u mi√at-in ᄪK“K á„e §“K
four hundred √arba¬-u mi√at-in ᄪ©HQCG á„e „HQCG
five hundred xams-u mi√at-in ᄪ°ùªN á„e ¢ùªN
six hundred sitt-u mi√at-in ᄪqà°S á„e qâ°S
seven hundred sab¬-u mi√at-in ᄪ©‘°S á„e „‘°S
eight hundred thamaanii mi√at-in ᄪ«fɪK á„e ÊɪK
nine hundred tis¬-u mi√at-in ᄪ©°ùJ á„e „°ùJ
The following counted noun is genitive, singular, and indefinite: INDEFINITE COUNTED NOUN
º«∏e á„e „HQCG –q©µe Îe á„e ¢ùªN øe
√arba¬-u mi√at-i miliim-in min xams-i mi√at-i mitr-in muka¬¬ab-in
400 millemes from 500 cubic meters

á«°SGQO áYÉ°S á„e ¢ùªN ¿’°†Z ˜
fii ghuDuun-i xams-i mi√at-i saa¬at-in diraasiyyat-in
during 500 study hours

1.8 Complex numerals with hundred
When counting in the hundreds, the word mi√a comes first joined to the second
part of the numeral by the conjunction wa- ˜and.™ For example:

107 119
á©‘°Sh á„e ô°»Y á©°ùJh á„e
mi√at-un wa-sabt¬at-un mi√at-un wa-tis¬at-a ¬ashar-a
a hundred and seven a hundred and nineteen

150 275
¿ ’°ùªNh á„e ¿ ’©‘°Sh á°ùªNh ¿Éà„e
mi√at-un wa-xamsuuna mi√at-aani wa-xamsat-un wa-sab¬uuna
a hundred and fifty two hundred and seventy-five
(˜two hundred and five and seventy™)
Numerals and numeral phrases 349

440 623
¿ ’©HQCGh á„e „H QCG ¿ hô°»Yh áK“Kh á„e â°S
√arba¬-u mi√at-in wa-√arba-uuna sitt-u mi√at-in wa-thalaathat-un
four hundred and forty wa-¬ishruuna
six hundred and twenty-three
(˜six hundred and three and twenty™)

1.8.1 Counting with complex numerals in the hundreds
The second part of the number, being the part directly adjacent to the following
noun, is the part that determines the case and number of the counted noun. LAST PART IS 3“10 FOLLOWED BY GENITIVE PLURAL:

.„¦G’YCG á©‘°Sh á„e π‘b ⫦oH
buniy-at qabl-a mi√at-in wa-sab¬at-i √a¬waam-in.
It was built 107 years ago. LAST PART IS 11“99 FOLLOWED BY ACCUSATIVE SINGULAR:

.ádhO Ú°ùªNh á„e øe GhAÉL ÉHhó¦e ¿’©‘°Sh ¿Éà„e
jaa√-uu min mi√at-in wa-xamsiina mi√at-aani wa-sab¬uuna manduub-an
dawlat-an. 270 delegates
They came from 150 countries.

.áYÉ°ùdG ˜ kGÎe’∏«c Ú©‘°Sh á„e ¤EG ¬ÉjôdG áYô°S â∏°Uh
waSal-at sur¬at-u l-riyaaH-i √ilaa mi√at-in wa-sab¬iina kiiluumitr-an fii l-saa¬at-i.
The wind speed reached 170 kilometers an hour.

1.8.2 Plural “hundreds”: mi√aat ¤É„e
The word mi√a is made plural with the sound feminine plural mi√aat. When used
for counting, mi√aat is followed by either a definite noun in the genitive plural or
the preposition min to express the “hundreds of” relationship.

.¢SQGóŸG ¤É„e â¤∏ZoCG á∏ãeC™G øe ¤É„e „°†H øe ÌcCG
√ughliq-at mi√aat-u l-madaaris-i. √akthar-u min biD¬-i mi√aat-i min-a
Hundreds of schools were closed.
more than several hundreds of

.º¡¦e ¤É„ŸG „ªà©jh
Úq«fɦ‘∏dG «É˜WC™G ¤É„e
mi√aat-u l-√aTfaal-i l-lubnaaniyy-iina wa-yajtimi¬-u l-mi√aat-u min-hum.
hundreds of Lebanese children Hundreds of them are meeting.
350 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.9 Thousands
The word for thousand in Arabic is √alf ∞dCG, plural √aalaaf ±™BG. It is a masculine
noun and is counted as any other masculine noun:

1,000 ∞dCG

2,000 Ú˜dCG/¿É˜dCG

3,000 thalaathat-u √aalaaf-in ±™BG áK“K
4,000 ±™BG á©HQCG
√arba¬at-u √aalaaf-in

5,000 xamsat-u √aalaaf-in ±™BG á°ùªN
6,000 sittat-u √aalaaf-in ±™BG áqà°S
7,000 sab¬at-u √aalaaf-in ±™BG á©‘°S
8,000 thamaaniyat-u √aalaaf-in ±™BG á«fɪK
9,000 tis¬at-u √aalaaf-in ±™BG á©°ùJ
10,000 ±™BG Iô°»Y
¬asharat-u √aalaaf-in

11,000 kɘdCG ô°»Y óMCG
√aHad-a ¬ashar-a √alf-an

12,000 ithnaa ¬ashar-a √alf-an ɘdCG ô°»Y ɦKG
15,000 xamsat-a ¬ashar-a √alf-an ɘdCG ô°»Y á°ùªN
20,000 ɘdCG ¿hô°»Y
¬ishruuna √alf-an

25,000 xamsat-un wa-¬ishruuna √alf-an ɘdCG ¿hô°»Yh á°ùªN
100,000 mi√at-u √alf-in ∞dCG á„e
200,000 mi√at-aa √alf-in ∞dCG Éà„e
475,000 √arba¬-u mi√at-in wa-xamsat-un kɘdCG ¿’©‘°Sh á°ùªNh á„e „HQCG
wa-sab¬uuna √alf-an

1.9.1 Counting in thousands
When used for counting, the numeral √alf / √aalaaf goes into an √iDaafa relationship
with the following noun, which is in the genitive singular. In complex numerals
over a thousand (as with mi√a), it is the final component of the numeral that
determines the number (singular or plural) and case of the counted noun.

.ICÉ°»¦e ±™BG á©HQCG ≠∏‘«a ¥Oɦ˜dG OóY ÉqeCG
√ammaa ¬adad-u l-fanaadiq-i fa-ya-blugh-u √arba¬at-a √aalaaf-i munsha√at-in.
As for the number of hotels, it reaches 4,000 establishments.
Numerals and numeral phrases 351

.GhAÉL q»°VÉjQ ∞dCG ô°»Y óMCG øe ÌcCG
√akthar-u min √aHad-a ¬ashar-a √alf-a riyaaDiyy-in jaa√-uu.
More than 11,000 athletes came.

ÜÉàc ∞dCG ô°»Y áK“K øe ÌcCG
√akthar-u min thalaathat-a ¬ashar-a √alf-a kitaab-in
more than 13,000 books

q¦Oôc ∞dCG ¿’°ùªNh áK“Kh á„e
mi√at-un wa-thalaathat-un wa-xamsuuna √alf-a kurdiyy-in
153,000 Kurds

kÉ©qHôe kGÎe’∏«c ¿’K“Kh ¿É¦KGh á„e „HQCGh ±™BG áK“K
thalaathat-u √aalaaf-in wa-√arba¬-u mi√at-in wa-thnaani wa-thalaathuuna
kiiluumitr-an murabba¬-an
3,432 square kilometers

.ᘫXh ∞dCG Ú°ùªNh á„e „HQCG ’«f ¤ô°ùN
xasar-at naHw-a √arba¬-i mi√at-in wa xamsiina √alf-a waZiifat-in.
It has lost approximately 450,000 jobs.

1.9.2 Special cases
For the even thousands plus “one” or “two,” a special construction exists in Clas-
sical Arabic, although no instances of it were encountered in the data covered for
this project.

1001 nights á∏«dh á∏«d ∞dCG
√alf-u laylat-in wa-laylat-un (˜a thousand nights and a night™)

2002 nights ¿Éà∏«dh á∏«d ɘdCG
√alf-aa laylat-in wa-laylat-aani (˜two thousand nights and two nights™)

1.10 Reading years in dates
Because Arabic has two words for ˜year,™ ¬aam „¦ÉY / √a¬waam „¦G’YCG (masculine) and
sana ᦰS / sanawaat ¤G’¦°S (feminine), the numbers in year dates can vary in gen-
der. When reading year dates, the word for ˜year™ (either ¬aam or sana) precedes
the numeral expression and is in an √iDaafa with it, so that the date itself is the
second term of the √iDaafa and is in the genitive case.
Because of the reverse gender rule, if the masculine noun ¬aam is used, then
any 3“10 digit is feminine, and if the feminine noun sana is used, then any 3“10
digit is in the masculine.
In general, either the phrase ˜in the year™ fii ¬aam-i or fii sanat-i is used, or the
word ¬aam-a or sanat-a is used in the accusative ( time adverbial). Sometimes these
phrases are understood and not explicitly mentioned.
352 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

1.10.1 ˜in the year 711™ USING sana
Iô°»Y ióMEG h á„e „‘°S pᦰS ˜
fii sanat-i sab¬-i mi√at-in wa-√iHdaa ¬ashrat-a

Iô°»Y ióMEG h á„e „‘°S nán¦n°S
sanat-a sab¬-i mi√at-in wa-√iHdaa ¬ashrat-a USING ¬aam:
ô°»Y óMCGh á„e „‘°S p„¦ÉY ˜
fii ¬aam-i sab¬-i mi√at-in wa-√aHad-a ¬ashar-a

ô°»Y óMCGh á„e „‘°S n„¦ÉY
¬aam-a sab¬-i mi√at-in wa-√aHad-a ¬ashar-a

1.10.2 ˜in the year 1956™ USING sana

Ú°ùªNh qâ°Sh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG pᦰS ˜
fii sanat-i √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-sitt-in wa-xamsiina

Ú°ùªNh qâ°Sh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG ᦰS
sanat-a √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-sitt-in wa-xamsiina USING ¬aam:
Ú°ùªNh áqà°Sh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG p„¦ÉY ˜
fii ¬aam-i √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-sittat-in wa-xamsiina

Ú°ùªNh áqà°Sh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG n„¦ÉY
¬aam-a √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-sittat-in wa-xamsiina

1.10.3 ˜in the year 1998™ USING sana
Ú©°ùJh ¿ÉªKh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG ᦰS ˜
fii sanat-i √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-thamaanin wa-tis¬iina

Ú©°ùJh ¿ÉªKh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG ᦰS
sanat-a √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-thamaanin wa-tis¬iina
Numerals and numeral phrases 353 USING ¬aam:
Ú©°ùJh á«fɪKh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG „¦ÉY ˜
fii ¬aam-i √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-thamaaniyat-in wa-tis¬iina

Ú©°ùJh á«fɪKh á„e „°ùJh ∞dCG „¦ÉY
¬aam-a √alf-in wa-tis¬-i mi√at-in wa-thamaaniyat-in wa-tis¬iina

1.10.4 ˜in the year 2001™ USING sana
IóMGhh Ú˜dCG ᦰS ˜ IóMGhh Ú˜dCG ᦰS
fii sanat-i √alf-ayni wa-waaHidat-in sanat-a √alf-ayni wa-waaHidat-in USING ¬aam
óMGhh Ú˜dCG „¦ÉY ˜ óMGhh Ú˜dCG „¦ÉY
fii ¬aam-i √alf-ayni wa-waaHid-in ¬aam-a √alf-ayni wa-waaHid-in

NB: In practice, when saying year dates out loud, short vowel case endings are
often omitted.

1.11 Millions and billions
Arabic has borrowed the terms “million” (milyuun ¿’«∏e /malaayiin Új“e) and “bil-
lion” (bilyuun ¿’«∏H /balaayiin Új“H), using them in much the same way as the
terms for hundred and thousand. The names of the numerals themselves are mas-
culine and when counting, they form the first term of an √iDaafa with the follow-
ing noun, which is genitive singular.
.Éq«e’j π«eôH ¿’«∏e ÜQɤj §˜¦dG øe Ió«qàŸG ¤Éj™’dG êÉàfG
√intaaj-u l-wilaayaat-i l-muttaHidat-i min-a l-nafT-i yu-qaarib-u milyuun-a barmiil-in
The oil production of the United States approaches a million barrels daily.
Q™hO Ê’«∏‘H
‘ΰ»e ¿’«∏e ¿hô°»Y
¬ishruuna milyuun-a mushtarik-in bi-bilyuun-ay duulaar-in
twenty million participants for two billion dollars
.Q™hO Új“H áK“K É¡¦ªK RhÉ©àj
ya-tajaawaz-u thaman-u-haa thalaathat-a balaayiin-i duulaar-in.
Their cost exceeds three billion dollars.

.áHô¨à°ùe â°ù«d Q™hO ¿’«∏e á„e
mi√at-u milyuun-i duulaar-in lays-at mustaghrabat-an.
A hundred million dollars is not unusual.
354 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

2 Ordinal numerals
Ordinal numerals are essentially adjectives. They usually follow the noun that
they modify and agree with it in gender, but sometimes they precede the noun as
the first term of an √iDaafa structure. Occasionally they may also be used as inde-
pendent substantives (i.e., “the fifth of May”; “twenty seconds”).

2.1 ˜First:™ √awwal «qhCG and √uulaa ¤hCG
The Arabic words for “first” are √awwal (m.) and √uulaa (f.). They can either follow
the noun they modify or precede it as first term of an √iDaafa.

2.1.1 √awwal
The word √awwal (plural √awaa√il) may function as the first term of an √iDaafa
structure, as an adjective following a noun, or as an independent noun. As first term of an √iDaafa, √awwal may be followed by either a masculine
or feminine noun.
.Iôµ˜dG ≥q‘£j „É©dG ˜ πLQ «qhCG ¿Éc
kaan-a √awwal-a rajul-in fii l-¬aalam-i yu-Tabbiq-u l-fikrat-a.
He was the first man in the world to apply the idea.
¿Éqµ°ù∏d A É°üMEG «qhC™ kɤah
wafq-an li-√awwal-i √iHSaa√-in li-l-sukkaan-i
in conformity with the first statistics of the population
.áª∏c ≈¤dCG øe «qhCG ¿Éc
kaan-a √awwal-a man √alqaa kalimat-an.
He was the first to give a speech.
.øª«∏d ¬d IQÉjR «qhCG CGóH
bada√-a √awwal-a ziyaarat-in la-hu li-l-yaman-i.
He started his first trip to Yemen.
.á«‘ª«dhC™G ÜÉ©dC™G ˜ ¿ÉcQÉ°»J è«∏ÿG øe Úà«°VÉjQ «qhCG ÉàfÉc óbh
wa-qad kaan-ataa √awwal-a riyaaDiyyat-ayni min-a l-xaliij-i tu-shaarik-aani fii
l-√al¬aab-i l-√uuliimbiyyat-i.
They were the first two female athletes from the Gulf to participate in the
Olympic Games. ˜THE The word √awwal may also be used independently and
followed by a preposition to convey the meaning of ˜the first of; first among™:
.¬Y’f øe «qh™G Èà©oj
yu-¬tabar-u l-√awwal-a min naw¬-i-hi.
It is considered the first of its kind.
Numerals and numeral phrases 355

.q»°SÉ«°ùdG „°V’dG É¡¦e «qhC™G «hɦJ
tanaawal-a l-√awwal-u min-haa l-waD¬-a l-siyaasiyy-a.
The first of them dealt with the political situation.

.á°ùªÿG ÜɤdC™G ÚH «qh™G ’g –¤∏dG
al-laqab-u huwa l-√awwal-u bayn-a l-√alqaab-i l-xamsat-i.
The title is the first of (˜among™) the five titles. πFGhCG :
The word √awwal has a plural, √awaa√il,
PLURAL OF √awwal: √awaa√il
which can mean ˜the first [ones],™ the ˜earliest [parts],™ or the ˜most prominent.™

.áq«Hô©dG «hódG πFGhCG øe ¿Éc »°VÉŸG ô¡°»dG πFGhCG ˜
fii √awaa√il-i l-shahr-i l-maaDii
kaan-a min √awaa√il-i l-duwal-i
l-¬arabiyyat-i. in the first part of last month
It was among the most prom-
inent Arab countries.

2.1.2 √uulaa ¤hCG
The feminine word √uulaa ˜first™ is invariable, i.e., it does not inflect for case. It can
occur in either of two structures: AS AN ADJECTIVE FOLLOWING A NOUN:
¤hC™G Iqôª∏d ¤hC™G áK“ãdG „jQÉ°»ŸG óMCG
li-l-marrat-i l-√uulaa √aHad-u l-mashaarii¬-i l-thalaathat-i l-√uulaa
for the first time one of the first three projects

.Üô°»dG √É«Ÿ ¤hC™G áq«dqhC™G â«£YoCG
¤hC™G Iɦ¤dG
al-qanaat-u l-√uulaa √u¬ Tiy-at-i l-√awwaliyyat-u l-√uulaa li-miyaah-i
channel one l-shurb-i.
(˜the first channel™) The first priority was given to drinking water.

¤hC™G áqjq ’·G á∏MôdG ¬É‘°üdG øe ¤hC™G ¤ÉYÉ°ùdG ˜
al-riHlat-u l-jawwiyyat-u l-√uulaa fii l-saa¬aat-i l-√uulaa min-a l-SabaaH-i
the first air trip in the first hours of the morning AS THE FIRST TERM OF AN √iDaafa WITH A FOLLOWING FEMININE WORD: This
construction is not frequent, but may occur.

.º¡JÉj QÉ‘e ¤hCG ¿’qjO’©°ùdG –°ùc
kasab-a l-sa¬uudiyy-uuna √uulaa mubaarayaat-i-him.
The Saudis won the first of their matches.
356 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic

2.2 Second through tenth
The words “second” through “tenth” have the pattern of the active participle of a
Form I verb: faa¬il or faa¬ila.


second án«pfÉK/m¿ÉK
third thaalith/thaalitha ánãpdÉK / åpdÉK
fourth raabi¬/raabi¬a án©pHGQ / „pHGQ
fifth xaamis/xaamisa án°ùpeÉN/¢ùpeÉN
sixth án°SpOÉ°S/¢SpOÉ°S
seventh saabi¬/saabi¬a án©pHÉ°S / „pHÉ°S
eighth thaamin/thaamina án¦peÉK /øpeÉK
ninth taasi¬/taasi¬a án©p°SÉJ / „p°SÉJ
tenth Inôp°TÉY/ ôp°TÉY

These adjectival forms of the numbers usually follow the noun that they mod-
ify, agreeing with the noun in gender, definiteness, and case.

.¿ÉK ´hô°»e áqªK
á«fÉK Iqôe
marrat-an thaaniyat-an thammat-a mashruu¬-un thaan-in.
a second time; another time There is a second plan.

.ÊÉãdG ô“D’ŸG ¿ó¦d ˜ ¢ùeCG ≈¡àfG .øªK ≈∏YCG ¢ùeÉN í‘°UCG
intahaa √amsi fii lundun-a l-mu√tamar-u √aSbaH-a xaamis-a √a¬laa thaman-in.
l-thaanii. It became the fifth highest price.
The second conference ended yesterday
in London.

ÜÉàµdG øe ÊÉãdG º°ù¤dG º¶©e ˜ á°ùeÉÿG iôcòdG ˜
fii mu¬Zam-i l-qism-i l-thaanii min-a l-kitaab-i fii l-dhikraa l-xaamisat-i
in most of the second part of the book on the fifth anniversary

.áãdÉãdG ¬àdhɬ ˜ í‚ ådÉãdG „É©dG
najaH-a fii muHaawalat-i-hi l-thaalithat-i. al-¬aalam-u l-thaalith-u
He succeeded on his third try. the Third World

The masculine form of the word for ˜second™ thaanin (pl. thawaanin) is a defective adjective and
inflects for case and definiteness in declension six. See Chapter 7, section 5.4.3.
The adjective saadis ˜sixth™ has a related but different lexical root (s-d-s) from the root for “six” ( s-t-t ).
Numerals and numeral phrases 357

.Éq«ŸÉY á©HGôdG á‘JôŸG ácô°»dG qπà“
ta-Htall-u l-sharikat-u l-martabat-a l-raabi¬at-a ¬aalamiyy-an.
The company ranks fourth worldwide (˜occupies the fourth rank™).

2.2.1 Ordinal numeral as ¬rst term of √iDaafa
Occasionally, an ordinal numeral will precede the noun it modifies, as the first
term of an √iDaafa structure. In this case it is usually the masculine form of the
number that is used, even if the following noun is feminine:

¬d IQÉjR ÊÉK ˜
fii thaanii ziyaarat-in la-hu
on his second visit

.q¦Q ´hô°»e áq«‘jô©àdG ¤ÉYhô°»ŸG ådÉK
thaalith-u l-mashruu¬aat-i l-tajriibiyyat-i mashruu¬-u rayy-in.
The third of the experimental projects is an irrigation project.

.q»ŸÉ©dG –¤∏dG πª«j §¤a AGqóY ådÉK í‘°üj
yu-Sbih-u thaalith-a ¬addaa√-in faqaT ya-Hmil-u l-laqab-a l-¬aalamiyy-a.
He becomes only the third runner to hold the world championship.

2.2.2 Ordinals as nouns: thaanin/thaanii
The ordinal “second” may be used as a substantive. In its masculine singular form,
as a final-weak noun, it is in the defective declension.

QÉqjCG øe ÊÉãdG ˜
fii l-thaanii min √ayyaar-a
on the second of May

As a unit of time measurement, “second” in Arabic is feminine thaaniya á«fÉK with
a broken defective plural, thawaanin ¿G’K.

á«fÉãdG ˜ ¤GÎe’∏«c áqà°S áYô°ùH
bi-sur¬at-i sittat-i kiiluumitraat-in fii l-thaaniyat-i
at the rate of six kilometers per second

.¿G’K 10 ,75 á∏q©°ùe á«‘gP ¤RôMCG
√aHraz-at dhahabiyyat-an musajjilat-an 10.75 thawaanin.
She won a gold [medal] registering [a time of] 10.75 seconds. OTHER FORMS OF ORDINALS AS NOUNS: In addition to “second” as a noun,
other ordinals may also be used in this way, especially when referring to days of
the month:
358 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


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