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hidden muxtabi√ …p‘nàr®oe
Participles: active and passive 111


Form VIII APs in context:

Ió«àŸG ·C™G ¥GhPC™G ∞∏ଂ AÉ°VQE™
al-√umam-u l-muttaHidat-u li-√irDaa√-i muxtalif-i l-√adhwaaq-i
the United Nations in order to please various tastes

᪰ùà‘ŸG IÉà˜dG …‘ଂ ‚ª°üN
al-fataat-u l-mubtasimat-u xaSm-u-ka muxtabi√-un
the smiling girl Your adversary is hidden.


1.2.8 Form IX AP: muf¬all qπn©r˜oe
The Form IX APs are rare.


1.2.9 Form X AP: mustaf¬il πp©˜à°ùoe
rnr
orientalist mustashriq consumer; user mustaxdim
¥pôr°»nàr°ùoe „¦pór®nàr°ùoe
continuous mustamirr impossible mustaHiil
qôpªnàr°ùoe π««nàr°ùoe
circular mustadiir ôjónàr°ùoe
Form X APs in context:

Iqôªà°ùe ᘰüH Iôjóà°ùe áMÉ°S
bi-Sifat-in mustamirrat-in saaHat-un mustadiirat-un
in a continous way; continuously a circular courtyard

¤“««à°ùe áK“K „¦ó®à°ùe πµd
thalaathat-u mustaHiilaat-in li-kull-i mustaxdim-in
three impossible [things] for every consumer


1.3 Quadriliteral APs
Quadriliteral APs may function as nouns or adjectives. As with the derived-form
triliteral-based APs, quadriliteral AP nouns, when referring to human beings, take
the sound masculine or feminine plural, according to natural gender; when refer-
ring to nonhuman entities, the sound feminine plural is used.


Form I: mufa¬lil πp∏r©n˜oe

engineer/s muhandis/-uuna n¿’°Spór¦n¡oe/¢Spór¦n¡oe
translator/s mutarjim/-uuna n¿’ªpLrônàoe/ºpLrônàoe
explosive/s mufarqi¬/mufarqi¬aat ¤É©pbrôn˜oe/„pbrôn˜oe
112 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


Form II: mutafa¬lil πp∏r©n˜nàoe

deteriorating mutadahwir Qp’rgnónàoe
profound; far-reaching mutaghalghil πp¨r∏n¨nàoe

Form IV: muf ¬alill qπp∏n©r˜oe

serene, calm muTma√inn qøp„nªr£oe
vanishing muDmaHill qπp«nªr°†oe
dusky, gloomy mukfahirr qôp¡n˜rµoe

Quadriliteral APs in context:

.IQ’góàe á«°U «ÉM ˜ ºg ¤É©bô˜ŸG AGÈN
hum fii Haal-i SiHHat-in mutadahwirat-in. xubaraa√-u l-mufarqi ¬aat-i
They are in a deteriorating state of health. explosives experts


1.4 Special functions of APs
The active participle has a wide range of syntactic functions in Arabic. As noted, it
may serve as a noun or adjective. As a predicate of an equational sentence, it may
function to indicate a verb-like action:

.ôaÉ°ùe ’g .¿hôFGR Ü“£dG
huwa musaafir-un. al-Tullaab-u zaa√ir-uuna.
He is traveling/has gone traveling. The students are visiting.

.ºgÉa ÉfCG
√anaa faahim-un.
I understand (˜I am understanding™).


1.4.2 The Haal «ÉM construction
A particular adverbial function of active participles is their use in the Haal or cir-
cumstantial accusative construction. The active participle is used to describe addi-
tional circumstances of a verbal action, coordinating a state or circumstances
with the action denoted by the verb. The AP used in the Haal structure agrees with
the doer or sometimes with the object of the action in number and gender, but is
always in the accusative case.

.GôNCÉàe ∞°üdG πNO
daxal-a l-Saff-a muta√axxir-an.
He entered the classroom late.
Participles: active and passive 113


.ôFGµ·G øe ør«eOÉb IôNÉ‘dÉH ó∏‘dG “NO
daxal-aa l-balad-a bi-l-baaxirat-i qaadim-ayni min-a l-jazaa√ir-i.
They (two) entered the country by ship, coming from Algeria.

.º¡J’«H ¤EG øjóFÉY G’¤∏£fG
inTalaq-uu ¬aa√ id-iina √ilaa buyuut-i-him.
They departed, returning to their houses.

1.4.2.1 AP + NOUN OBJECT: If the Haal AP is from a transitive verb, it may take an
object in the accusative case:

.»‘«∏dG º«YµdG øe ádÉ°SQ “eÉM IôgɤdG ¤EG OÉY
¬aad-a √ilaa l-qaahirat-i Haamil-an risaalat-an min-a l-za¬iim-i l-liibiyy-i.
He returned to Cairo carrying a letter from the Libyan leader.

.¢ù«FôdG ¤É«“ “bÉf áª∏c ôjR’dG ≈¤dCGh
wa-√alqaa l-waziir-u kalimat-an naaqil-an taHiyyaat-i l-ra√iis-i.
The minister gave a speech transmitting the greetings of the president.

For further discussion of the Haal construction, see Chapter 11, section 2.3.1.

2 Passive participle (PP): ism al-maf¬uul «’©˜ŸG º°SG
Like the active participle, the passive participle (PP) can be derived from any Form
(stem class) of Arabic verbs, from I“X, and PPs can be formed from quadriliteral
verbs as well as triliteral. In general, in order to have a passive participle a verb
should be transitive, i.e., able to take an object complement or direct object, inas-
much as PPs describe the state of the object of the action.
Passive participles acting as nouns often correspond to English nouns ending
in /-ee/ ˜employee™ (muwaZZaf ∞sXn’oe), or they may correspond to an English past/
passive participle (e.g., maktuub Ü’àµe ˜written™).13 However, a second important
function of the PPs of derived verb forms (II“X) and quadriliterals is to function
as nouns of time and place, so the requirement for transitivity is not always met.
These include, for example, the nouns mustashfan k≈r˜°»nàr°ùoe ˜hospital™ (X PP),
muxtabar ôn‘nàr®oe ˜laboratory™ (VIII PP), and mu¬askar ônµr°ùn©oe ˜camp™ (Quad. I PP).

2.1 Form I passive participle: maf¬uul «’©˜e
This form of the PP describes the result of an action, whether it functions as a
noun or an adjective. It may take a broken plural or the sound feminine plural if
13
A good description of both present and past participles in English is found in Hurford 1994,
157“60 and 195“98. Note especially his description of the contrast between the English past
participle and the Arabic passive participle, p. 159.
114 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


it refers to a nonhuman entity, and the sound masculine plural if it refers to
human males.

Form I PP noun:
concept/s mafhuum/mafaahiim º«gɘne/„¦’¡r˜ne
group/s majmuu¬a/“aat ¤ÉY’ªr©ne/ánY’ªr©ne
plan/s mashruu¬/-aat mashaarii¬ „jQÉ°»ne ¤ÉYhôr°»ne/´hôr°»ne
maxTuuT/-aat14
manuscript/s ¤ÉW’£r®ne/•’£r®ne
implication/s madluul/-aat ¤™’dróne/ «’dróne
topic/s mawDuu¬/mawDuu¬aat „«°VG’ne ¤ÉY’°Vr’ne/ ´’°Vr’ne
mawaaDii¬
creature/s maxluuq/-aat ¤Éb’∏r®ne/¥’∏r®ne
sound/s masmuu¬/-aat ¤ÉY’ªr°ùne/´’ªr°ùne
prisoner/s masjuun/-uuna n¿’f’©r°ùne/¿’©r°ùne
PP adjective:

known ma¬ruuf busy mashghuul
±hôr©ne «’¨r°»ne
blessed mabruuk forbidden mamnuu¬
‘hôr‘ne ´’¦‡
2.1.2 Form I PPs in context

√òg É¡JGQ’°»¦e ˜ .’N ˜ O’d’ŸGh IódG’dG
fii manshuuraat-i-haa haadhihi al-waalidat-u wa-l-mawluud-u fii xayr-in.
in these of its publications Mother and [new]born are well.

„¦“°ùdG IOÉYE™ ádhò‘ŸG O’¡·G
al-juhuud-u l-mabdhuulat-u li-√ i¬aadat-i l-salaam-i
the efforts exerted to re-establish peace

2.2 Derived form passive participles II“X
As nouns, these participles usually take sound plurals when referring to human
beings. When referring to nonhuman entities, the sound feminine plural is usu-
ally used. Passive participles are less likely to occur in the reflexive/reciprocal and
intransitive Forms V, VI, VII, and IX. Note that PPs as nouns of time and place are
especially frequent in Forms VII“X.

14
The singular occurs both as maxTuuT •’£r®e and as maxTuuTa ánW’£r®ne.
n
Participles: active and passive 115


2.2.1 Form II PP: mufa¬¬al πs©n˜oe

Nouns:

organization munaZZama square murabba¬
ánªs¶n¦oe „sHôe
no
volume (book) mujallad employee muwaZZaf
ós∏n©oe ∞sXn’oe
triangle muthallath authorized mufawwaD
ås∏nãoe ¢Vs’n˜oe
agent

Adjectives:
illustrated muSawwar complicated mu¬aqqad
Qs’n°üoe ós¤n©oe
preferred; mufaDDal cultured muthaqqaf
πs°†n˜oe ∞s¤nãoe
favorite
armed musallaH ís∏°ùoe
n
2.2.1.1 FORM II PPs IN CONTEXT:
ácô°»dG ¢V’˜e íq∏°ùŸG ∞¦©dG ¤EG
mufawwaD-u l-sharikat-i √ilaa l-¬unf-i l-musallaH-i
the company agent to armed force

¤É‘KEG Oô©ª`d Oó™G OÉ©«ŸG ˜
fii l-mii¬aad-i l-muHaddad-i
li-mujarrad-i √ithbaat-in
for mere proof at the designated time

2.2.2 Form III PP: mufaa¬al πnYɘoe

addressed, spoken to muxaaTab ÜnWGnNe
o
2.2.3 Form IV PP: muf¬al πn©r˜oe

attach© mulHaq/-uuna n¿’¤n«r∏oe/≥n«r∏oe
lexicon mu¬jam/ma¬aajim ºpLÉ©ne/ºn©r©oe
compact/ed mudmaj èneóe
ro
cast; seamless mufragh Ænôr˜oe
disused; disregarded muhmal πnªr¡oe
2.2.3.1 FORM IV PPs IN CONTEXT:
¦ôµ°ù©dG ≥«∏ŸG èeóe ¢Uôb
qurS-un mudmaj-un
al-mulHaq-u l-¬askariyy-u
the military attach© a compact disk
116 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


áZô˜e á¤∏M á∏ª¡e áÁób AÉ«°TCG
Halqat-un mufraghat-un √ashyaa√-u qadiimat-un muhmalat-un
a vicious circle old, disused things


2.2.4 Form V PP: mutafa¬¬al πs©n˜nàoe
change mutaghayyar expected; mutawaqqa¬
ôs«n¨nàoe „sbn’àe
no
anticipated

.„b’àŸG øe ÌcCG Éàbh G’°†e
maDaw waqt-an √akthar-a min-a l-mutawaqqa¬-i.
They spent more time than expected.

2.2.5 Form VI PP: mutafaa¬al πnYɘnàoe
The form VI PPs are rare.


2.2.6 Form VII PP: munfa¬al πn©n˜r¦oe
These usually occur as nouns of place or time:

slope/s munHadar/-aat ¤Gôn°†n«r¦oe/ôn°†n«r¦oe
lowland/s munxafaD/-aat ¤É°†n˜n®r¦oe/¢†n˜n®r¦oe
munsalax15
end of the month ïn∏n°ùr¦oe

2.2.7 Form VIII PP: mufta¬al πn©nàr˜oe
When they occur as nouns, the Form VIII PPs sometimes denote nouns of place.

level/s mustawan/-ayaat ¤Éjn’àr°ùoe/ki’nàr°ùoe
content/s muHtawan/-ayaat ¤Éjn’nàr«oe/ki’nàr«oe
society/s mujtama¬/-aat ¤É©nªnàr©oe/„nªnàr©oe
mid-point; half way muntaSaf/-aat ¤É˜n°ünàr¦oe/∞n°ünàr¦oe
technical term/s muSTalaH/-aat ¤É«n∏n£r°üoe/ín∏n£r°üoe
elected muntaxab ¿hHn®nàr¦oe/–n®nàr¦oe
chosen muxtaar ¿hQÉàr®oe/QÉàr®oe
occupied muHtall qπnàr«oe

15
Literally ˜sloughed off, detached.™
Participles: active and passive 117


2.2.7.1 FORM VIII PPs IN CONTEXT:
á∏à™G »°VGQC™G π«∏dG ∞°üà¦e ˜
al-√araaDii l-muHtallat-u fii muntaSaf-i l-layl-i
the occupied lands at midnight

Sometimes an AP of Form VIII will have a passive connotation, e.g.,

Ió«qàŸG ¤G«™’dG
al-wilaayaat-u l-muttaHidat-u
the United States

2.2.8 Form IX PP: muf¬all qπn©r˜oe

greened muxDarr qQn†r®oe
2.2.9 Form X PP: mustaf¬al πn©˜à°ùoe
rnr
future/s mustaqbal/-aat ¤“n‘¤nàr°ùoe/πn‘r¤nàr°ùoe
hospital/s mustashfan/-ayaat ¤É«n˜r°»nàr°ùoe/ k≈˜r°»nàr°ùoe
warehouse/s mustawda¬ /-aat ¤ÉYnOr’nàr°ùoe/´nOr’nàr°ùoe
counselor/s mustashaar/-uuna n¿hQÉ°»nàr°ùoe/QÉ°»nàr°ùoe
imported mustawrad OnQr’nàr°ùoe
borrowed musta¬aar QÉ©nàr°ùoe
2.2.9.1 FORM X PPs IN CONTEXT:
IQÉ©à°ùe Aɪ°SCG IOQ’à°ùe Q’£Y
√asmaa√-un musta¬aarat-un ¬uTuur-un mustawradat-un
pseudonyms (˜borrowed names™) imported essences

¢ù«FôdG ¦QÉ°»à°ùe óMCG
√aHad-u mustashaar-ii l-ra√iis-i
one of the president™s counselors

2.3 Quadriliteral PPs
Passive participles of quadriliteral verbs tend to occur chiefly in Forms I and II.

2.3.1 Form I QPP: mufa¬lal πn∏r©n˜oe
camp mu¬askar flattened mufarTaH
ônµr°ùn©oe ínWrôn˜oe
series musalsal embellished muzarkash
πn°ùr∏n°ùoe ¢»ncrQnµoe
old-timer muxaDram crystallized mubalwar
„¦nôr°†n®oe Qn’r∏n‘oe
118 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


2.3.2 Form II QPP: mutafa¬lal πn∏r©n˜nàoe
This form is rare.

2.3.3 Quadriliteral PPs in context
ójóL π°ù∏°ùe
musalsal-un jadiid-un
a new series

.á©HGQ ¤AÉL ó¤a áeô°†±G ÉeCG
√ammaa l-muxaDramat-u, fa-qad jaa√-at raabi¬at-an.
As for the old-timer, she came in fourth.

øjÌ©‘ŸG ∞jôdG ¿Éµ°ùd
li-sukkaan-i l-riif- l-muba¬thar-iina
to the scattered country dwellers

oánen© rônàerdG oâ™ÉbŸG
al-maqaalaat-u l-mutarjamat-u
the translated articles

2.4 PP nouns in the plural
Certain PP nouns are used idiomatically in the plural. They refer to collective
inanimate entities (often prepared foods), take the sound feminine plural, and
include items such as the following:

edibles; foods PP I ma√kuulaat ¤™’crCÉne
refreshments PP I mashruubaat ¤ÉHhôr°»ne
grilled [meats] PP I mashwiyyaat ¤Éjp’r°»ne
information PP I ma¬luumaat ¤Ée’∏r©ne
canned [goods] PP II mu¬allabaat ¤É‘s∏n©oe
nuts PP II mukassaraat ¤Gôs°ùnµoe
variety; mixture PP II munawwa¬aat ¤ÉYq’n¦oe
products PP IV muntajaat ¤É©nàr¦oe
selections PP VIII muxtaaraat ¤GQÉàr®oe
7
Noun inflections: gender, humanness,
number, definiteness, and case
Five inflectional features characterize Arabic nouns: gender, humanness, num-
ber, definiteness, and case. Gender and humanness are inherent in the noun;
number and definiteness are determined semantically by the nature of the spe-
cific noun referent in context, and case is determined by the syntactic role of the
noun (e.g., subject of the verb, object of a preposition) in a clause. Every Arabic
noun in context manifests these five features, and all of these features are key
components in determining agreement with phrase and clause constituents.
For example, gender, humanness, and number are essential factors in feature
compatibility, or agreement, between the verb and its subject; whereas gender,
humanness, number, definiteness, and case are all factors in feature compatibil-
ity between nouns and their modifiers.
Arabic nouns have a base form, or stem, which is used in a word list or looked
up in a dictionary. This is also called the “citation form.” It is the bare-bones sin-
gular noun. Sometimes it is listed without any case ending, but often, in word
lists, the nouns will be in the nominative case if read out loud. For example:

ambassador safiir-un poetry shi¬r-un
’˜°S ô©°T
map xariiTat-un glory majd-un
á£jôN ó›
entrance madkhal-un silver fiDDat-un
πNóe á°†a
1 Gender
Arabic nouns are classified as either feminine or masculine.1 The gender category
into which a noun falls is semantically arbitrary, except where a noun refers to a
human being or other creature, when it normally conforms with natural gender.
From the point of view of word structure, or morphology, the masculine form is
the simplest and most basic shape, whereas feminine nouns usually have a suffix
that marks their gender. For the most part, gender is overtly marked, but there
are a few words whose gender is covert (see cryptomasculine and cryptofeminine
nouns) and shows up only in agreement sequences.

1
A very few nouns can be either masculine or feminine. See section 1.4 “dual gender nouns.”


119
120 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


1.1 Masculine nouns
This is the base category, consisting of a vast range of nouns including male
human beings and other living creatures, abstract and concrete nouns, and
proper names. As a very general rule, if an Arabic noun does not have a feminine
suffix, it is masculine.

river nahr minister waziir
ô¡f ôjRh
council majlis progress taqaddum
¢ù∏› „¦ó¤J
proof burhaan peace salaam
¿ÉgôH „¦“°S

1.1.1 Masculine proper names

1.1.1.1 Arabic male given names are considered masculine,
PERSONAL NAMES:
even though some of them end with taa√ marbuuTa or √alif:

Makram makram Osama
„¦ôµe áeÉ°SCG
√usaama

Amin Moses muusaa
ÚeCG ≈°S’e
√amiin
Fouad fu√aad Mustafa muSTafaa
OGD’a ≈˜£°üe

1.1.1.2 Country names are usually feminine, but there are a few
COUNTRIES:
masculine ones, including:

al-√urdunn2
Morocco al-maghrib Jordan
Üô¨ŸG ¿OQC™G
Iraq al-¬iraaq Sudan al-suudaan
¥Gô©dG ¿GO’°ùdG
Lebanon lubnaan ¿É¦‘d

1.1.2 Cryptomasculine nouns
A few words look overtly feminine because they are spelled with taa√ marbuuTa,
but they are actually masculine. Some of these are plural or collective forms.
Some examples include:

Singular:

¬allaama3
great scholar Caliph khaliifa
áeq“Y ᘫ∏N

2
Wehr (1979) identifies the country of Jordan (al-√urdunn) as either masculine or feminine. As the
name of the River Jordan, it is strictly masculine.
3
This pattern, fa¬¬aala ádÉq©a, is one that implies greatness or intensity. Another example is ˜globe-
trotter™ raHHaala ádÉqMQ.
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 121


Plural:

Pharaohs (pl.) faraa¬ina brothers
á¦YGôa I’NEG
√ixwa

doctors (m. pl.) dakaatira students Talaba
IôJÉcO á‘∏W
rijaalaat4
Shiites (coll.) shii¬a great men
á©«°T ¤™ÉLQ

1.2 Feminine nouns
Most feminine nouns are marked by the taa√ marbuuTa suffix (prounounced -ah or
-a in pause form). Some of the most common categories for feminine nouns are:
female human beings, female creatures, abstract concepts, individual units of
naturally occurring classes (e.g., banana, tree), names of cities, names of most
countries, and parts of the body that come in pairs (e.g., legs, hands, eyes).

1.2.1 Common nouns

picture Suura tribe qabiila
IQ’°U á∏«‘b
storm meal wajba
ᘰUÉY á‘Lh
¬aaSifa

1.2.2 Concepts

Arabism trust thiqa
áHhôY á¤K
¬uruuba

culture thaqaafa civilization HaDaara
áaɤK IQÉ°†M
1.2.3 Abstract ideas

diversification ta¬addudiyya importance
ájOó©J áq«qªgCG
√ahammiyya

stardom nujuumiyya freedom Hurriyya
á«e’‚ ájôM

1.2.4 Instances (a single instance of an action)

a convulsion za¬za¬a a shipment shaHna
áYµYR ᦫ°T
a coincidence Sudfa a burst of laughter qahqaha
áaó°U ᡤ¡b

1.2.5 Unit nouns (individual units of larger collective entities)

a tree shajara a fish samaka
Iô©°T ᵪ°S
a grape a thorn shawka
ᑦY ác’°T
¬inaba


4
This is a “plural of a plural.” (See section 3.2.5 for details on this structure.)
122 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


1.2.6 Cities
Names of cities are considered feminine because the Arabic word for ˜city™ is
madiina, a feminine word. This is true for all cities, not just Arab cities.

Tunis tuunis Beirut bayruut
¢ùf’J ¤h’H
Cairo al-qaahira Paris baariis
IôgɤdG ¢ùjQÉH
Jerusalem al-quds London landan
¢Só¤dG ¿ó¦d
Certain cities have titles or epithets which reflect the feminine gender of the
city name. For example:

Medina “the Enlightened” al-madiinat-u l-munawwarat-u IQ’¦ŸG á¦jóŸG
Mecca “the Venerable” makkat-u l-mukarramat-u áeqôµŸG áqµe
Tunis “the Verdant” tuunis-u l-xaDraa√-u AGô°üÿG ¢ùf’J

1.2.7 Countries
Most countries are considered feminine, especially if their names end in -aa.
Exceptions are noted above in section 1.1.1.2. Some examples of feminine gender
countries are:

Egypt miSr America
ô°üe ɵjôeCG
√amriikaa

Syria suuriyaa China al-Siin
ÉjQ’°S Ú°üdG
France faransaa Spain
É°ùfôa É«fÉ‘°SEG
√isbaanyaa

Examples of phrases:

Muslim Spain √isbaanyaa l-muslimat-u áª∏°ùŸG É«fÉ‘°SEG
North America √amriikaa l-shimaaliyyat-u á«dɪ°»dG ɵjôeCG
ancient Egypt miSr-u l-qadiimat-u áÁó¤dG ô°üe

1.2.8 Female proper names
Names of women and girls are considered feminine since they refer to female
human beings. They may or may not end with taa√ marbuuTa. Female names are
diptote.

Zahra zahra Zeinab zaynab
IôgR –¦jR
Alia Selma salmaa
á«dÉY ≈ª∏°S
¬aaliya

Karima kariima Hanan Hanaan
áÁôc ¿É¦M
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 123


1.2.9 Nouns spelled with ¬nal taa√
Two common words that are feminine by nature but spelled with a final taa√
(rather than taa√ marbuuTa):

daughter; girl bint sister
â¦H âNCG
√uxt

1.2.10 Parts of the body
Certain parts of the body are considered feminine although not marked with taa√
marbuuTa, especially those parts that come in pairs. For example:

foot qadam hand yad
„¦ób ój
eye ear
ÚY ¿PCG
¬ayn √udhun

1.2.11 Borrowed nouns
Nouns borrowed from other languages that end with an -ah or -aa sound are usu-
ally treated as feminine:

doctorate (Fr. ˜doctorat™) duktuuraah √GQ’àcO
cinema (Fr. ˜cin©ma™) siinamaa ɪ¦«°S
music muusiiqaa ≈¤«°S’e
opera GôHhCG
√uubiraa
daltaa5
delta (Greek ˜delta™) ÉàdO
1.2.12 Other feminine suf¬xes
Some nouns are marked feminine by suffixes other than taa√ marbuuTa. These
endings include: √alif plus hamza (-aa√ AG) or √alif Tawiila (-aa G) or √alif maqSuura
(-aa i). These endings are suffixed after the root consonants.6 For example:
desert (root: S-H-r) SaHraa√ AGô«°U
remembrance (root: dh-k-r) dhikraa iôcP
universe; world (root: d-n-y) dunyaa É«fO

5
As in daltaa l-niil-i ˜the Nile Delta.™
6
Note that there are also a number of masculine nouns that end with √alif plus hamza, √alif Tawiila,
or √alif maqSuura. The √alif ending in those instances represents the final defective consonant of
the lexical root and is not an affix. Some of these masculine nouns include:
AɦZ
song (root: gh-n-y) ghinaa√
≈¦©e
meaning (root: ¬-n-y) ma¬nan
k
iô›
stream (root: j-r-y) majran
k
i’àa
formal legal opinion (root: f-t-y) fatwaa
124 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


beautiful woman; belle Hasnaa√ Aɦ°ùM
  (root: H-s-n)
candy (root: H-l-w) Halwaa i’∏M
fever (root H-m-m) Hummaa ≈qªM
chaos (root f-w-D) fawDaa ≈°V’a

1.2.13 Cryptofeminine nouns
A few nouns are not overtly marked for feminine gender and yet are feminine.
This is a small, defined set and includes:

bride self; soul nafs
¢ShôY ¢ù˜f
¬aruus
mother wine xamr
„¦CG ôªN
√umm
fire naar well bi√r
QÉf ô„H
house daar cup ka√s
QGO ¢ùCÉc
earth; ground; land sun shams
¢VQCG ¢ùª°T
√arD

war Harb tooth; age sinn
ÜôM ø°S
Examples of cryptofeminine nouns and modifiers:
the afterlife al-daar-u l-√aaxirat-u IôNB™G QGódG
the Holy Land al-√arD-u l-muqaddasat-u á°Só¤ŸG ¢VQC™G
common ground √arD-un mushtarakat-un ácΰ»e ¢VQCG
the First World War al-Harb-u l-¬aalamiyyat-u ¤hC™G á«ŸÉ©dG Üô—G
  l-√uulaa
in a deep well fii bi√r-in ¬amiiqat-in ᤫªY ô„H ˜

1.3 Natural gender nouns
Many nouns that refer to human beings or other living creatures have both a mas-
culine and a feminine form. They vary in gender depending on the nature of the
referent, just as English has pairs of words such as “host” and “hostess.” The gen-
eral rule is that the masculine is the base form and the feminine is denoted by the
addition of taa√ marbuuTa. Examples of some of these include:

king/queen malik/malika áµ∏e/‚∏e
artist (m/f ) fannaan/fannaana áfÉq¦a/¿Éq¦a
ambassador/ambassadress safiir/safiira I’˜°S/’˜°S
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 125


manager (m/f ) mudiir/mudiira Iôjóe/ôjóe
grandfather/grandmother jadd/jadda IqóL/ óL
q
cat (m/f ) qiTT/qiTTa áq£b/q§b
leopard (m/f ) namir/namira Iô°/ô°
1.4 Dual gender nouns
A very small number of Arabic nouns are either masculine or feminine.7 They can
be treated syntactically as either one, although feminine agreement predomi-
nates in the data gathered for this study. There are not many nouns in this group,
but some of them are fairly frequent:
market suuq spirit ruuH
¥’°S ¬hQ
road; path Tariiq sky samaa√
≥jôW Aɪ°S
bag kiis tongue lisaan
¢ù«c ¿É°ùd
salt milH condition Haal
í∏e «ÉM
Examples:
the black market al-suuq-u l-sawdaa√-u AGO’°ùdG ¥’°ùdG
the Arab spirit al-ruuH-u l-¬arabiyyat-u á«Hô©dG ¬hôdG
in good condition fii Haal-in jayyidat-in Ió«L «ÉM ˜
2 Humanness
A unique and important morpho-semantic feature of Arabic nouns is humanness,
that is, whether or not they refer to human beings. This is a crucial grammatical
point for predicting certain kinds of plural formation and for purposes of agree-
ment with other components of a phrase or clause. The grammatical criterion of
humanness applies only to nouns in the plural.

2.1 Agreement
Agreement with nouns in the plural depends on whether the noun refers to
human beings.

2.1.1 Nonhuman referent
If a plural noun refers to nonhuman entities, be they creatures or inanimate things,
it takes feminine singular agreement. This is sometimes referred to as “deflected”
agreement.8 This applies to agreement with verbs, adjectives, and also pronouns.

7
See Wright 1967, II:181“83 for a comprehensive list of dual gender nouns.
8
See Belnap and Shabaneh 1992 on this topic.
126 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


ájOÉeôdG ÜÉFòdG á∏jµ¡dG √’ªM
al-dhi√aab-u l-ramaadiyyat-u Hamiir-u-hu l-haziilat-u
the gray wolves his scrawny donkeys

GóL Ió«˜e ¤Éb’∏¬‚ Iô°UÉ©ŸG ¿’¦˜dG
maxluuqaat-un mufiidat-un jidd-an al-funuun-u l-mu¬aaSirat-u
very beneficial creatures contemporary arts
I’NC™G „¦G’YC™G ˜
á∏«∏b ô¡°TCG
√ashhur-un qaliilat-un fii l-√a¬waam-i l-√axiirat-i
a few months in the last years

2.1.2 Human referent
When the referent of the plural noun is human, then the agreement is straight-
forward, using masculine or feminine plural forms as appropriate:
Üô©dG AGô˜°ùdG ¿hó°TGôdG Aɘ∏ÿG
al-sufaraa√-u l-¬arab-u al-xulafaa√-u l-raashid-uuna
the Arab ambassadors the orthodox caliphs

¿’jôµ°ùY IOÉb ø°ùdG ˜ ¤Éeqó¤àŸG AÉ°ù¦dG
al-nisaa√-u l-mutaqaddimaat-u fii l-sinn-i
qaadat-un ¬askariyy-uuna
military leaders women of advanced age

¿’ª∏°ùŸG ¿G’NE™G Úq«∏°UC™G ¿Éµ°ùdG óMCG
al-√ ixwaan-u l-muslim-uuna √aHad-u l-sukkaan-i l-√aSliyy-iina
the Muslim Brotherhood (˜Brothers™) one of the indigenous residents

2.1.3 Special cases

2.1.3.1 Sometimes, although the noun
GROUPS OF HUMANS AS ABSTRACTIONS:
referents are human, they are being referred to as abstractions, and thus the
plural is treated as a nonhuman plural:

áÁôµdG ºgô°SCG „«ªL
á«fÉehôdG ¤É£∏°ùdG
al-suluTaat-u l-ruumaaniyyat-u jamii¬-u √usar-i-him-i l-kariimat-i
the Roman authorities all their distinguished families

ïjQÉàdG ˜ á«FÉ°ù¦dG ¤É«°ü®°»dG ºgCG øe
min √ahamm-i l-shaxSiyyaat-i l-nisaa√iyyat-i fii l-taariix-i
among the most important female personalities in history

¢VQC™G â“ ¢»«©J –©°»dG øe I’ãc ¤É„a ‘ɦg
hunaaka fi√aat-un kathiirat-un min-a l-sha¬b-i ta¬iish-u taHt-a l-√arD-i.
There are many groups of people [who] live underground.
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 127


∞«¦Y «óL ˜ âWô®fG á«‘dɨdG ¿EÉa
fa-√inna l-ghaalibiyyat-a nxaraT-at fii jadal-in ¬aniif-in
but the majority plunged into violent debate

.πbC™G ≈∏Y ¢UÉ®°TCG á°ùªN â∏àb
qutil-at xamsat-u √ashxaaS-in ¬alaa l-√aqall-i.9
At least five persons were killed.

2.1.3.2 ˜PEOPLE™ WORDS: sha¬b –©°T AND naas ¢SÉf
(1) sha¬b –©°T: The word sha¬b ˜people™ although semantically plural, is usu-
ally treated as masculine singular, as a collective noun. Its plural, shu¬uub,
˜peoples™ is treated as a nonhuman plural with feminine singular
agreement:

ôNBG –©°T ¦CG πãe á«e“°SE™Gh á«Hô©dG Ü’©°»dG
mithl-a √ayy-i sha¬b-in √aaxar-a al-shu¬uub-u l-¬arabiyyat-u wa-l-
like any other people √islaamiyyat-u
the Arab and Islamic peoples

᫦Kh Ü’©°T Oô› .¬∏c –©°»dG É¡cQÉH
mujarrad-u shu¬uub-in wathaniyyat-in baarak-a-haa l-sha¬b-u kull-u-hu.
mere pagan peoples All the people blessed it.

(2) naas ¢SÉf: The word naas ˜people™ has inconsistent agreement patterns.
From the triliteral root √-n-s, and related to the words ¿É°ùfEG √insaan ˜human
being,™ and á°ùfBG √aanisa ˜young lady,™ it refers to people or folk in general.
Sometimes its agreement patterns follow the rules for words referring to
human beings, i.e., the agreement is masculine plural; other times (even
in the same text) it may be treated as an abstraction and the agreement is
feminine singular:

(2.1) Plural agreement:

.AÉaô°T ¢SÉf ¿É«∏£dG
al-Talyaan-u naas-un shurafaa√-u.
The Italians are noble (pl.) people.

.áj¦ZC™G øe á˜∏ଂ kÉYG’fCG ¿’dhɦàj ¢SɦdÉ`a
fa-l-naas-u ya-tanaawal-uuna √anwaa¬-an muxtalifat-an min-a l-√aghdhiyat-i.
People eat (pl.) different sorts of food.

9
The agreement here is not with the feminine form of the number, since it is actually masculine
(agreeing via reverse gender with the singular of √ashxaaS, shaxS).
128 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


(2.2) Feminine singular agreement:

.á«JÉ‘f QOÉ°üe øe ™EG ájòZCG πcCÉJ ™ ¢SɦdG øe ’ãch
wa-kathiir-un min-a l-naas-i laa ta-√kul-u √aghdhiyat-an √illaa min maSaadir-a
nabaatiyyat-in.
Many people only eat (f. sg.) food from plant sources (˜do not eat food
except from plant sources™).

2.2 Form of the noun plural
Certain plural patterns are used only with nouns that denote human beings.

2.2.1 The sound masculine plural
engineer/s muhandis/muhandis-uuna ¿’°Só¦¡e/¢Só¦¡e
cook/s Tabbaax/ Tabbaax-uuna ¿’NÉq‘W/±Éq‘W
Omani/s ¿’«fɪY/ÊɪY
¬umaaniyy/¬umaaniyy-uuna

Lebanese lubnaaniyy/lubnaaniyy-uuna ¿’«fɦ‘d/Êɦ‘d
2.2.2 Broken plurals of certain patterns

a. fu¬alaa√

president/s ra√ iis/ru√asaa√ AÉ°SDhQ/¢ù«FQ
ambassador/s safiir/sufaraa√ AGô˜°S/’˜°S
prince/s √amiir/ √ umaraa√ AGôeCG/’eCG
b. √af ¬ilaa√

friend/s Sadiiq / √aSdiqaa√ AÉbó°UCG/≥jó°U
doctor/s Tabiib/ √aTibbaa√ AÉ‘WCG/–«‘W
c. fu¬¬aal

writer/s kaatib/kuttaab ÜÉqàc/–JÉc
student/s Taalib/Tullaab Üq“W/–dÉW
guard/s Haaris/Hurraas ¢SGqôM/¢SQÉM
2.2.3 Human/nonhuman homonyms
Sometimes two nouns may look identical (i.e., they are homonyms) but have dif-
ferent meanings, one human and one nonhuman, and so the plural is different,
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 129


according to the noun referent:

worker/s «ÉqªY/πeÉY
¬aamil/¬ummaal

factor/s πeG’Y/πeÉY
¬aamil/ ¬awaamil

3 Number
Arabic nouns are marked for three different kinds of number: singular, dual, and
plural. Because Arabic has a special morphological category for the dual, plural in
Arabic refers to three or more. The singular is considered the base form of the
noun, and the dual and plural are extensions of that form in various ways.


3.1 The dual (al-muthannaa ≈¦ãŸG)
Arabic has a separate number category for two of anything. Instead of using the
number “two” (ithnaani ¿É¦KEG or ithnataani ¿Éà¦KEG) plus the plural noun, as does
English (“two hands”), Arabic uses a dual suffix on the singular stem to mark the
noun as being dual (e.g., yad-aani ˜two hands™). The suffix has two case forms, the
case being signaled by the change of the long vowel in the suffix from /-aa-/ to /-ay-/:
-aani (nominative)
-ayni (genitive/accusative)

Nominative:

.¿G’˜°S π°Uh
waSal-a safiir-aani.
Two ambassadors arrived.

Genitive:

øj’˜°S ÚH
bayn-a safiir-ayni
between two ambassadors

Accusative:

.øj’˜°ùdG GhQGR
zaar-uu l-safiir-ayni.
They visited the two ambassadors.

3.1.1 Dual with taa√ marbuuTa
When the dual suffix is added to a noun ending in taa√ marbuuTa, the taa√ marbu-
uTa is no longer the final letter in the word and it turns into regular taa√.
130 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


a year sanat-un ᦰS
two years sanat-aani ¿ÉরS
in (after) two years ba¬d-a sanat-ayni ÚরS ó©H
a city madiinat-un á¦jóe
two cities madiinat-aani ¿Éà¦jóe
in two cities fii madiinat-ayni Úà¦jóe ˜
3.1.2 Dual plus waaw or yaa√
When the dual suffix is added to certain words that are biliteral in origin, or to
words in the defective declension, a waaw or yaa√ is inserted before the dual suffix:10

¿G’HCG ¿G’NCG ¿É«eɬ
muHaamiy-aani
√ab-a-w-aani √ax-a-w-aani
parents two brothers two lawyers

¿É«°VÉb ¿É«¡¤e ¿É«˜°»à°ùe
qaaDiy-aani maqhay-aani mustashfay-aani
two judges two caf©s two hospitals

3.1.3 De¬niteness in the dual
One of the features of the dual suffix is that it shows no distinction between def-
inite and indefinite. It cannot be marked for nunation.11
two smugglers muharrib-aani ¿ÉHqô¡e
the two smugglers al-muharrib-aani ¿ÉHqô¡ŸG
with two smugglers ma¬-a muharrib-ayni ÚHqô¡e „e
with the two smugglers ma¬-a l-muharrib-ayni ÚHqô¡ŸG „e
3.1.4 Nuun-deletion in √iDaafa
If a dual noun is the first term of an √iDaafa or annexation structure, the nuun plus
kasra (/-ni/ p¿) of the dual suffix is deleted. Thus, -aani becomes -aa and -ayni
becomes -ay.12

10
Whether the additional consonant is waaw or yaa√ depends on the root consonants and on deriva-
tional morphology. See Abboud and McCarus 1983, Part 2: 14“17.
11
The dual suffixes -aani and -ayni as well as the sound masculine plural suffixes -uuna and -iina both
terminate with the consonant nuun, followed by a short vowel, and this feature behaves to a cer-
tain extent as a form of nunation (being deleted if the noun has a possessive pronoun suffix, for
instance). Additional nunation is not used for these suffixes.
12
In Arabic annexation structures, there is a general prohibition on the first term (the muDaaf ),
against noun suffixes ending with an -n sound. This applies to nunation (indefiniteness marking),
to the dual suffix, and to the sound masculine plural.
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 131


„¦“YE™Gh «ó©dG GôjRh á«LQÉÿG ¦ôjR’`d
waziir-aa l-¬adl-i wa l-√i¬laam-i li-waziir-ay-i l-xaarijiyyat-i
the two ministers of Justice and Information for the two foreign ministers
IQÉ©àdGh ´ÉaódG »à°SÉ«°S ˜ óMC™Gh â‘°ùdG »e’j ˜
fii siyaasat-ay-i l-difaa¬-i wa l-tijaarat-i13 fii yawm-ay-i l-sabt-i wa-l-√aHad-i
in the two policies of defense and trade on the two days of Saturday
and Sunday
„¦’f »àaôZ øe áf’µe ᤰT
shaqqat-un mukawwanat-un min ghurfat-ay nawm-in
a two-bedroom apartment (˜an apartment consisting of two bedrooms™)

3.1.5 Nuun-deletion with pronoun suf¬x
The same process occurs when a noun in the dual gets a possessive pronoun
suffix. The -ni of the dual suffix is deleted and the possessive pronoun suffix is
attached directly to the -aa or -ay of the dual suffix. For example:

¬jój ÚH ¬«‘fÉL øe
bayn-a yad-ay-hi min jaanib-ay-hi
in front of him (˜between his two hands™) from its two sides
.É¡«YGQP íà˜J .√ÉHhó¦e π°Uh
ta-ftaH-u dhiraa¬-ay-haa. waSal-a manduub-aa-hu.
She opens her arms. His two delegates arrived.

3.1.6 Dual agreement
When a noun in the dual is modified by an adjective, is referred to by a pronoun,
or is the subject of a following verb, then these form classes conform to the dual
inflection as well. Thus, the concept of dual is present not only in nouns, but in
adjectives, pronouns and verbs. These are discussed separately under each of the
form-class headings, but here are some examples:
.¿Éª¡e ¿ÉY’°V’e ‘ɦg Úà«°VÉŸG ÚরùdG «“N
hunaaka mawDuu¬-aani muhimm-aani. xilaal-a l-sanat-ayni l-maaDiyat-ayni
There are two important subjects. during the past two years

Ú˜jô°»dG Úeô—G „¦OÉN ÚKó—G øjPÉg ÚH
14
xaadim-u l-Haram-ayni l-shariif-ayni bayn-a haadh-ayni l-Hadath-ayni
the Servant of the two Holy Places between these two events

13
In this and the following phrases the -ay dual ending is given a “helping vowel” kasra because of
the consonantal nature of the -y ending on the dual suffix -ay, in order to help pronunciation and
liaison with the following word. (See Wright 1967, I:21 on this point.)
14
A traditional title of the ruler of Saudi Arabia.
132 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


3.2 The Plural (al-jam¬ „ª·G)
Arabic nouns form their plurals in three ways. Two of these are “external” plurals
consisting of suffixes added to the singular stem (the sound feminine and sound
masculine plurals). The third way of pluralizing occurs inside the noun stem itself
(the “broken” or internal plural), shifting the arrangement of vowels, and some-
times inserting an extra consonant or two. To add to this diversity, a noun may
have two or three (or more) alternative plurals.

3.2.1 The sound feminine plural ( jam¬ mu√annath saalim „É°S åfD’e „ªL)
This form of plural is very common and applies to an extensive range of Arabic
noun classes, both human and nonhuman. It consists of a suffix -aat (¤G-) attached
to the singular stem of the noun. Note that when this suffix is attached to a noun
that has taa√ marbuuTa in the singular, it replaces the taa√ marbuuTa:

power/s quwwa/ station/s maHaTTa/
¤G’b/I’b ¤É£¬/ᣬ
quww-aat maHaTT-aat

oasis/-es waaHa/ society/ies mujtama¬/
¤ÉMGh/áMGh ¤É©ªà›/„ªà›
waaH-aat mujtama¬-aat

company/ies sharika/ airport/s maTaar/
¤Écô°T/ácô°T ¤GQÉ£e/QÉ£e
sharik-aat maTaar-aat

3.2.1.1 The sound feminine plural
INFLECTION OF THE SOUND FEMININE PLURAL:
suffix has a special declension of its own. It inflects for definiteness (definite and
indefinite) and for case, but only shows two case variations instead of the normal
three: / -u/ or /-un/ for nominative and /-i/ or /-in/ for genitive/accusative. The sound
feminine plural ending never takes fatHa / -a/. For inflectional paradigms see
section 5.4.2.1, subsection (3), in this chapter.

Nominative:

companies sharik-aat-un l¤Écô°T
the companies al-sharik-aat-u o¤Écô°»dG
Genitive:

in companies fii sharik-aat-in m¤Écô°T ˜
in the companies fii l-sharik-aat-i p¤Écô°»dG ˜
Accusative:

He founded companies. √assas-a sharik-aat-in. .m¤Écô°T ¢ù°SCG
He founded the companies. √assas-a l-sharik-aat-i. .p¤Écô°»dG ¢ù°SCG
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 133


Examples:
.m¤™É°üJG ¦ô©j .m¤Éjô°üe ɦ°ùd
yu-jrii ttiSaal-aat-in. las-na miSriyy-aat-in.
He is implementing contacts. We (f.) are not Egyptian.

3.2.1.2 VARIANTS: BUFFER SOUNDS INSERTED BEFORE SOUND FEMININE PLURAL
Some nouns insert a waaw or yaa√ or a haa√ to the noun stem before
SUFFIX:
affixing the /-aat/ ending. Most of these nouns end in the singular with a vowel or
√alif-hamza, but some end with taa√ or taa√ marbuuTa:

(1) waaw insertion:
(1.1) Two common bi-consonantal nouns insert waaw before the -aat ending:
sister/s year/s sana/sana-w-aat
¤G’NCG/âNCG ¤G’¦°S/ᦰS
√uxt/ √axa-w-aat
(1.2) Certain borrowed words ending in √alif Tawiila take the sound feminine plu-
ral with waaw as buffer between the two √alifs. Note that even though the
referents of these nouns are human males, the plural is sound feminine.

pasha/s baashaa/baashaa-w-aat ¤GhÉ°TÉH/É°TÉH
pope/s baabaa/baabaa-w-aat baaba-w-aat ¤G’HÉH ¤GhÉHÉH/ÉHÉH
(1.3) Nouns ending in the suffix -aa√ often drop the final hamza and add a waaw
between the stem and suffix:15

green (f.)/greens xaDraa√ /xaDraa-w-aat ¤GhGô°†N/AGô°†N
(vegetables)
desert/s16 SaHraa√ /SaHraa-w-aat ¤GhGô«°U/AGô«°U
parrot/s babbaghaa√ /babbaghaa-w-aat ¤Ghɨq‘H/Aɨq‘H
(1.4) Nouns ending in √alif plus taa√ marbuuTa usually shorten √alif to fatHa, and
add a waaw:
channel/s; canal/s qanaat/qana-w-aat ¤G’¦b/Iɦb
prayer/s Salaat/ Sala-w-aat ¤G’∏°U/I“°U
(2) yaa√ insertion: Nouns that end with with √alif maqSuura shorten the √alif
to fatHa and insert yaa√ before the sound feminine plural suffix:
memory/ies dhikraa/dhikra-y-aat ¤ÉjôcP/iôcP
sweet/s Halwaa/Halwa-y-aat ¤Éj’∏M/i’∏M
15
Note that if the hamza in the -aa√ ending is part of the root, then the hamza is not deletable, as in:
√ijraa√aat ¤GAGôLEG.
16
Alternative plurals for SaHraa√ are SaHaaraa iQÉ«°U and SaHaar-in QÉ«°U.
134 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


fever/s Hummaa/Humma-y-aat ¤É«qªM/≈qªM
level/s mustawan/mustawa-y-aat ¤Éj’à°ùe/ i’à°ùe
k
hospital/s mustashfan/mustashfa-y-aat ¤É«˜°»à°ùe/ k≈˜°»à°ùe
(3) haa√ insertion: The word √umm, ˜mother™ inserts a haa√ preceded by fatHa
before suffixing the sound feminine plural:17

mother/s ¤É¡qeCG/ q„¦CG
√umm/ √umm-ah-aat
Borrowed words ending with a long vowel (especially -uu) often insert haa√ as
a buffer before the /-aat/ suffix in order to avoid two long vowels coming
together:

casino/s kaaziinuu/ kaaziinuu-h-aat ¤Ég’¦jRÉc/’¦jRÉc
radio/s raadyuu/raadyuu-h-aat ¤Ég’jOGQ/’jOGQ
studio/s (i)stuudyuu/(i)stuudyuu-h-aat ¤Ég’jO’à°S (G)/’jO’à°S (G)

3.2.1.3 The following categories
WHERE THE SOUND FEMININE PLURAL IS USED:
describe the types of nouns which make their plural using the sound feminine
plural suffix -aat. Some categories are general, like number 1, and some are
specific, like 3 and 4. In some cases there is more than one form of the plural. This
is by no means an exhaustive list, but covers major categories.

Many (but not all) nouns ending in taa√ marbuuTa:
(1)
embassy/ies sifaara/sifaar-aat ¤GQɘ°S/IQɘ°S
government/s Hukuuma/Hukuum-aat ¤Ée’µM/áe’µM
language/s lugha/ lugh-aat ¤É¨d/á¨d
ticket/s biTaaqa/biTaaq-aat baTaa√ iq ≥FÉ£H ¤ÉbÉ£H/ábÉ£H
pharmacy/ies Saydaliyya/Saydaliyy-aat ¤É«dó«°U/á«dó«°U
continent/s qaarra/qaarr-aat ¤GQÉb/IQÉb
barracks thukna/thukn-aat thukan øµK ¤É¦µK/ᦵK
(1.1) Vowel variation: Feminine nouns ending with taa√ marbuuTa or taa√ that
have sukuun on the second radical, often use the sound feminine plural
with a slight internal vowel change, usually a shift to an additional vowel
inserted after the second radical. When the original short vowel is fatHa or

17
The word √umm, in addition to meaning literally ˜mother,™ also has abstract meanings such as
˜source, origin, original version, essence.™ See Wehr 1979 for examples and details.
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 135


kasra, the change tends to be to fatHas; if the short vowel is Damma, then
the Damma may be copied or there may be a change to fatHas.

service/s xidma/xidam-aat xidam „¦óN ¤ÉeóN/áeóN
experience/s xibra/xibar-aat ¤GÈN/IÈN
girl/s; daughter/s bint/ban-aat ¤É¦H/â¦H
session/s jalsa/jalas-aat ¤É°ù∏L/á°ù∏L
sister/s ¤G’NCG/âNCG
√uxt/ √axaw-aat
circle/s; ring/s Halqa/Halaq-aat ¤É¤∏M/á¤∏M
authority/ies sulTa/suluT-aat ¤É£∏°S/á£∏°S
(2) Nouns referring strictly to female human beings. Many of these nouns are
actually participles used as substantives (nouns). Some denote professions,
but others are simply common nouns. When the sound feminine plural is
used to refer to groups of human beings, it only denotes exclusively female
groups.18
lady/ies sayyida/sayyid-aat ¤Gó«°S/Ió«°S
queen/s malika/malik-aat ¤Éµ∏e/áµ∏e
actress/es mumaththila/mumaththil-aat ¤“ã‡/á∏ã‡
professor/s (f.) ¤GPÉà°SCG/IPÉà°SCG
√ustaadha/ √ustaadh-aat
customer/s (f.) zabuuna/zabuun-aat ¤Éf’HR/áf’HR
Muslim/s (f.) muslima/muslim-aat ¤Éª∏°ùe/áª∏°ùe
expert/s (f.) xabiira/xabiir-aat ¤G’‘N/I’‘N
(3) Verbal nouns from derived forms II“X of triliteral roots and also from
Forms I“IV of quadriliteral roots. These verbal nouns all take the sound
feminine plural, even though most of them are masculine in the singular.
In the Form II verbal noun, the -aat plural often alternates with a broken
plural.19
Verbal nouns from triliteral roots:
arrangement/s II. tartiib/tartiib-aat ¤É‘«JôJ/–«JôJ
negotiation/s III. mufaawaDa/mufaawaD-aat ¤É°V’˜e/á°Vhɘe
18
If even one human male is present within the group, the masculine plural form is used.
19
The optional Form II plural is usually of the CaCaaCiiC pattern. See section 3.2.3.2, subsection
(4.1.4), in this chapter.
136 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


announcement/s IV. √i¬laan/ √i¬laan-aat ¤Éf“YEG/¿“YEG
tension/s V. tawattur/tawattur-aat ¤GôJ’J/ôqJ’J
exchange/s VI. tabaadul/tabaadul-aat ¤™OÉ‘J/«OÉ‘J
reflection/s VII. in¬ikaas/ in¬ikaas-aat ¤É°Sɵ©fG/¢Sɵ©fG
discovery/ies VIII. iktishaaf/iktishaaf-aat ¤ÉaÉ°»àcG/±É°»àcG
investment/s X. istithmaar/istithmaar-aat ¤GQɪãà°SG/Qɪãà°SG
Verbal nouns from quadriliteral roots:

mumbling/s I. hamhama/ hamham-aat ¤Éª¡ªg/᪡ªg
decline/s II. tadahwur/tadahwur-aat ¤GQ’góJ/Q’góJ
serenity/ies IV. iTmi√naan/iTmi√naan-aat ¤Éfɦ„ªWG/¿É¦„ªWG
The nisba of derived form verbal nouns, when functioning as a noun refer-
ring to nonhuman entities, also takes the sound feminine plural, e.g.,
˜reserve/s™ iHtiyaaTiyy q»WÉ«àMG /iHtiyaaTiyy-aat ¤Éq«WÉ«àMG.
(4) Active (AP) and passive (PP) participles of Form I that do not denote
human beings, even though they may be masculine in the singular. Note
that some Form I participles have an alternate broken plural form.
Examples:

plan/s I PP: mashruu¬/ „jQÉ°»e ¤G /´hô°»e
mashaarii¬
  mashruu¬-aat
I PP: maxTuuT/maxTuuT-aat20
manuscript/s ¤ÉW’£¬‚/•’£¬‚
implication/s I PP: madluul/madluul-aat ¤™’dóe/«’dóe
topic/s I PP: mawDuu¬/ „«°VG’e ¤G/´’°V’e
mawaaDii¬
  mawDuu¬-aat
creature/s I PP: maxluuq/maxluuq-aat ¤Éb’∏¬‚/¥’∏¬‚
revenue/s I AP: ¬aa√id/ ¬aa√id-aat ¤GóFÉY/óFÉY
import/s I AP: waarid/waarid-aat ¤GOQGh/OQGh
duty/ies I AP: waajib/waajib-aat ¤É‘LGh/–LGh
being/s I AP: kaa√in/kaa√in-aat ¤É¦FÉc/øFÉc
menu/s; list/s I AP: qaa√ima/qaa√im-aat qawaa√im „¦FGhb ¤ÉªFÉb/áªFÉb
20
The singular occurs both as maxTuuT •’£¬‚ and maxTuuTa áW’£¬‚.
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 137


(5) Active (AP) and passive (PP) participles of the derived verb forms (II“X)
and quadriliterals if they do not refer to human beings. These nouns
may be either masculine or feminine in the singular.

volume/s II PP: mujallad/mujallad-aat ¤Góq∏›/óq∏›
foundation/s II PP: mu√assasa/mu√assas-aat ¤É°ùq°SD’e/á°ùq°SD’e
drug/s II AP: muxaddir/muxaddir-aat ¤GQqó¬‚/Qqó¬‚
note/s II AP: mudhakkira/mudhakkir-aat ¤Gôqcòe/Iôqcòe
establishment/s IV PP: munsha√a/munsha√-aat ¤BÉ°»¦e/ICÉ°»¦e
ocean/s IV AP: muHiiT/muHiiT-aat ¤É£«¬/§«¬
change/s V PP: mutaghayyar/mutaghayyar-aat ¤Gôq«¨àe/ôq«¨àe
synonym/s VI AP: mutaraadif/mutaraadif-aat ¤ÉaOGÎe/±OGÎe
slope/s VII PP munHaDar/munHaDar-aat ¤Gô°†«¦e/ô°†«¦e
conference/s VIII PP: mu√tamar/mu√tamar-aat ¤Gô“D’e/ô“D’e
level/s VIII PP: mustawan/mustaway-aat ¤Éj’à°ùe/ki’à°ùe
settlement/s X PP: mustawTana/mustawTan-aat ¤É¦W’à°ùe/á¦W’à°ùe
hospital/s X PP: mustashfan/mustashfay-aat ¤É«˜°»à°ùe/k≈˜°»à°ùe
swamp/s X PP: mustanqa¬/mustanqa¬-aat ¤É©¤¦à°ùe/„¤¦à°ùe
camp/s Quad PP: mu¬askar/mu¬askar-aat ¤Gôµ°ù©e/ôµ°ù©e
explosive/s Quad AP: mufarqi¬ /mufarqi¬-aat ¤É©bô˜e/„bô˜e
Note that of course, participles of any verb form that refer (strictly) to
female human beings will also take the sound feminine plural, in accor-
dance with the rule in 3.2.1.3(2) above:

teacher/s (f.) II AP: mudarrisa/mudarris-aat ¤É°SqQóe/á°SqQóe
citizen/s (f.) III AP: muwaaTina/muwaaTin-aat ¤É¦WG’e/á¦WG’e
supervisor/s (f.) IV AP: mushrifa/mushrif-aat ¤Éaô°»e/áaô°»e
specialist/s (f.) V AP: mutaxaSSisa/mutaxaSSis-aat ¤É°ü°ü®àe/á°ü°ü®àe
consumer/s (f.) X AP: mustahlika/mustahlik-aat ¤Éµ∏¡à°ùe/áµ∏¡à°ùe
138 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


(6) With most (but not all) loanwords borrowed directly from a foreign lan-
guage into Arabic.21

computer/s kumbiyuutir/ kumbiyutir-aat ¤GÎ’«‘ªc/ôJ’«‘ªc
telephone/s talifuun/talifuun-aat ¤Éf’˜∏J/¿’˜∏J
taxi/s taaksii/taaksiiy-aat ¤É«°ùcÉJ/»°ùcÉJ
dollar/s duulaar/duulaar-aat ¤GQ™hO/Q™hO
hormone/s hurmuun/hurmuun-aat ¤Éf’eôg/¿’eôg
virus/es fiiruus/fiiruus-aat ¤É°Sh’a/¢Sh’a
liter/s liitir/liitir-aat ¤GΫd/Ϋd
luurd/luurd-aat22
lord/s ¤GOQ’d/OQ’d
(7) The tens numbers (twenty through ninety), when referring to decades,
such as the “twenties” and “sixties.” Note that the/ -aat/ plural suffix is
attached to the genitive/accusative form of the word stem (/-iin/, not /-uun/).

sixty/sixties sittiina/sittiin-aat ¤É¦«qà°S/Úqà°S
seventy/seventies sab¬iina/sab¬iin-aat ¤É¦«©‘°S/Ú©‘°S
ninety/nineties tis¬iina/tis¬iin-aat ¤É¦«©°ùJ/Ú©°ùJ
(8) Feminine proper names even if they do not end in taa√ marbuuTa:

Zeinab/s zaynab/zaynab-aat ¤É‘¦jR/–¦jR
Amira/s ¤G’eCG/I’eCG
√amiira/ √amiir-aat

(9) Names of the letters of the alphabet:
√alif /√alif-aat ¤É¤dCG/∞dCG
√alif/s
raa√/s raa√/raa√-aat ¤GAGQ/AGQ
waaw/s waaw/waaw-aat ¤GhGh/hGh

21
Some examples of borrowed nouns with Arabic broken plurals are:
‘’¦H/‚¦H
bank/s bank/bunuuk

¿É¦WCG/ qøW
ton/s Tann/ √aTnaan
Új“e/¿’«∏e
million/s milyuun/malaayiin

«É«eCG/π«e
mile/s miil/ √amyaal
QÉàeCG/Îe
meter/s mitr/ √aamtaar
22
As in majlis-u l-luurdaat-i ˜The House of Lords.™
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 139


(10) Names of the months: There are three sets of names of the months used
in Arabic: two sets for the solar calendar (one based on Semitic names and
one on borrowed European names) and one for the lunar Muslim
calendar.23 All months make their plural with -aat.

April/s niisaan/niisaan-aat ¤ÉfÉ°ù«f/¿É°ù«f
July/s tammuuz/tammuuz-aat ¤GR’“/R’“
Ramadan/s ramaDaan/ramaDaan-aat ¤ÉfÉ°†eQ/¿É°†eQ
Shawwal/s shawwaal/shawwaal-aat ¤™Gq’°T/«Gq’°T
December/s disambir/disambir-aat ¤GȪ°SO/Ȫ°SO
(11) Feminine adjectives that stand on their own as substantives: for exam-
ple, the feminine relative or nisba adjectives (adjectives ending in -iyya).
Adjectives take the sound feminine plural when referring strictly to
female human beings.

Yemeni/s (f.) yamaniyya/yamaniyy-aat ¤É«¦Á/᫦Á
Tunisian/s (f.) tuunisiyya/tuunisiyy-aat ¤É«°ùf’J/á«°ùf’J
Arab/s (f.) ¤É«HôY/á«HôY
¬arabiyya/ ¬arabiyy-aat
(12) Other: The sound feminine plural is used on a number of other nouns
that do not clearly fall into the above categories. One especially frequent
use is with nouns whose final syllable contains a long /-aa-/ in the singular.

airport/s maTaar/maTaar-aat ¤GQÉ£e/QÉ£e
orbit/s madaar/madaar-aat ¤GQGóe/QGóe
field/s majaal/majaal-aat ¤™É›/«É›
animal/s Hayawaan/Hayawaan-aat ¤ÉfG’«M/¿G’«M
nashaaT/nashaaT-aat24
activity/ies ¤ÉWÉ°»f/•É°»f
decision/s qaraar/qaraar-aat ¤GQGôb/QGôb
spice/s bahaar/bahaar-aat ¤GQÉ¡H/QÉ¡H
security, guarantee/s Damaan/Damaan-aat ¤Éfɪ°V/¿Éª°V
bath/s Hammaam/Hammaam-aat ¤ÉeÉqªM/„¦ÉqªM
current/s tayyaar/tayyaar-aat ¤GQÉ«J/QÉ«J
23
For complete sets of the Arabic names of months in the lunar and solar calendars see Ryding 1990,
409.
24
Also √anshiTa ᣰ»fCG.
140 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


waterfall/s shallaal/shallaal-aat ¤™q“°T/«q“°T
call/s nidaa√ /nidaa√-aat ¤GAGóf/AGóf
folder/s milaff/milaff-aat ¤Éq˜∏e/ q ∞∏e
location/s maHall/maHall-aat ¤q“¬/q π¬
3.2.2 The sound masculine plural ( jam¬ mudhakkar saalim „É°S ôcòe „ªL)
The sound masculine plural is much more restricted in occurrence than the
sound feminine plural because, almost without exception, it only occurs on
nouns and adjectives referring to male human beings or mixed groups of male
and female human beings.25

3.2.2.1 This type of plural takes
INFLECTION OF THE SOUND MASCULINE PLURAL:
the form of a suffix that attaches to the singular noun (or adjective): -uuna
(nominative) or -iina (genitive/accusative).

(1) Case: The sound masculine plural shows overtly only two case inflections
instead of three. Note that the long vowel in the suffix (-uu- or -ii-) is the case
marker, and is what changes when the case changes.26 The short vowel end-
ing ( fatHa) (-a) remains the same in both the nominative and the
genitive/accusative. This fatHa is not a case ending, but rather part of the
spelling of the suffix. In pause form it is not pronounced. Examples:
observers (nom.) muraaqib-uuna ¿’‘bGôe
observers (gen./acc.) muraaqib-iina Ú‘bGôe
surgeons (nom.) jarraaH-uuna ¿’MGqôL
surgeons (gen./acc.) jarraaH-iina ÚMGqôL
(2) Definiteness: One of the features of the sound masculine plural suffix is
that, like the dual suffix, there is no distinction between definite and
indefinite:

assistants musaa¬id-uuna ¿hóYÉ°ùe
the assistants al-musaa¬id-uuna ¿hóYÉ°ùŸG
with assistants ma¬a musaa¬id-iina øjóYÉ°ùe „e
with the assistants ma¬a l-musaa¬id-iina øjóYÉ°ùŸG „e
25
Exceptions are very few and include, for example,√arD/ ¢VQCG-√araDuun ¿’°VQCG - ˜land/s.™ The noun
m
√arD has a more common plural, however: √araaD-in ¢VGQCG.
26
Arab grammarians consider the long vowel of the sound masculine plural as the inflectional
vowel, the one that indicates case.
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 141


3.2.2.2 Nuun-DELETION:
(1) As first term of √iDaafa: A distinctive feature of the sound masculine plural
suffix, like the dual suffix, is that because its final consonant is a nuun, the
nuun and its vowel, fatHa, are deleted if the noun is the first term of an
√iDaafa (annexation structure).27 The long vowel of the suffix (-uu- or -ii-) is
then left as the final element of the word.

êQÉÿG ’`q«¦«£°ù∏a á©eÉ·G »Lô®àe øe
min mutaxarrij-ii l-jaami¬at-i
filisTiiniyy-uu l-xaarij-i
Palestinians abroad from the university graduates

á«Hô¨dG ÉHQhCG ’¦WG’e É«bGôaEG «Éª°T »ª∏°ùª``H
muwaaTin-uu √uurubbaa l-gharbiyyat-i bi-muslim-ii shimaal-i √ ifriiqiyaa
the citizens of Western Europe with the Muslims of North Africa

¤Éª¶¦ŸG ¦ôjóŸ º∏©dG ’‘¬
muHibb-uu l-¬ilm-i
li-mudiir-ii l-munaZZamaat-i
for the administrators lovers of knowledge
of the organizations

á‘©∏dG ’©HÉàe ¢»jôb ’¦H
mutaabi¬-uu l-la¬bat-i ban-uu quraysh-in
followers of the game Quraysh tribe (literally:
˜the sons of Quraysh™)

(2) With a pronoun suffix: Likewise, when a noun with the sound masculine
plural is suffixed with a possessive pronoun, the nuun and short vowel /-a/ of
the suffix are deleted:

from its supporters min mu√ayyid-ii-hi ¬jójD’e øe
for their nominees li-murashshaH-ii-him º¡«`«°TôŸ
our delegates manduub-uu-naa Éf’`Hhó¦e
its publishers naashir-uu-haa Éghô°TÉf
our sons ban-uu-naa Éf’¦H
3.2.2.3 The following categories
WHERE THE SOUND MASCULINE PLURAL IS USED:
show the types of nouns which form their plural using the sound masculine
suffix. Some categories are general, like number 1, and some are specific, like 3
and 4. This is not an exhaustive list, but covers major categories.

27
See note 12 in this chapter.
142 A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic


(1) Participles as nouns: Participles acting as substantives (nouns) often take
the sound masculine plural when referring to human males or mixed
groups of male and female.
(1.1) Form I: Some Form I participle nouns take the sound masculine plural,
but most take a broken plural (see section 3.2.3.1, subsection (1.2)) when
referring to male human beings or mixed male/female groups. Some
examples of the sound masculine plural are:
official/s I PP: mas√uul/mas√uul-uuna ¿’dhD’°ùe/«hD’°ùe
researcher/s I AP: baaHith/baaHith-uuna ¿’ãMÉH/åMÉH
speaker/s I AP: naaTiq/naaTiq-uuna ¿’¤WÉf/≥WÉf
(1.2) Forms II“X: Derived form (II“X) triliteral and quadriliteral active and pas-
sive participles that refer to human males take the sound masculine plural:
Form II:
nominee/s II PP: murashshaH/murashshaH-uuna ¿’«°Tôe/íq°Tôe
actor/s II AP: mumaththil/mumaththil-uuna ¿’∏ã‡/πqã‡
Form III:
reporter/s III AP: muraasil/muraasil-uuna ¿’∏°SGôe/π°SGôe
citizen/s III AP: muwaaTin/muwaaTin-uuna ¿’¦WG’e/øWG’e
observer/s III AP: muraaqib/muraaqib-uuna ¿’‘bGôe/–bGôe
Form IV:
Muslim/s IV AP: muslim/muslim-uuna ¿’ª∏°ùe/º∏°ùe
attach©/s IV PP: mulHaq/mulHaq-uuna ¿’¤«∏e/≥«∏e
manager/s IV AP: mudiir/mudiir-uuna ¿hôjóe/ôjóe
guide/s IV AP: murshid/murshid-uuna ¿hó°Tôe/ó°Tôe
Form V:
narrator/s V AP: mutakallim/mutakallim-uuna ¿’ª∏µàe/ºq∏µàe
extremist/s V AP: mutaTarrif/mutaTarrif-uuna ¿’aô£àe/±qô£àe
volunteer/s V AP: mutaTawwi¬/mutaTawwi¬-uuna ¿’Y’£àe/´q’£àe
rebel/s V AP: mutamarrid/mutamarrid-uuna ¿hOôªàe/Oqôªàe
Form VI:
optimist/s VI AP: mutafaa√il/mutafaa√il-uuna ¿’∏Fɘàe/πFɘàe
pessimist/s VI AP: mutashaa√im/mutashaa√im-uuna ¿’ªFÉ°»àe/ºFÉ°»àe
Noun inflections: gender, humanness, number, definiteness, and case 143


Form VII: rare

Form VIII:
voter/s; elector/s VIII AP: muntaxib/muntaxib-uuna ¿’‘®à¦e/–®à¦e
listener/s VIII AP: mustami¬ /mustami¬-uuna ¿’©ªà°ùe/„ªà°ùe
Form IX: rare

Form X:
consumer/s X AP: mustahlik/mustahlik-uuna ¿’µ∏¡à°ùe/‚∏¡à°ùe
renter/s X AP: musta√jir/musta√jir-uuna ¿hôLCÉà°ùe/ôLCÉà°ùe
(1.3) Quadriliterals:
engineer/s QIAP: muhandis/muhandis-uuna ¿’°Só¦¡e/¢Só¦¡e
translator/s QIAP: mutarjim/mutarjim-uuna ¿’ªLÎe/ºLÎe
(2) Names of professions: Certain nouns in Arabic refer to those who engage
in professions or other pursuits. The pattern is CaCCaaC ( fa¬¬aal «Éq©a). The
masculine form of these nouns takes the sound masculine plural:

baker/s xabbaaz/xabbaaz-uuna ¿hRÉq‘N/RÉq‘N
hunter/s Sayyaad/Sayyaad-uuna ¿hOÉq«°U/OÉq«°U
money-changer/s Sarraaf/Sarraaf-uuna ¿’aGqô°U/±Gqô°U
coppersmith/s naHHaas/naHHaas-uuna ¿’°SÉq«f/¢SÉq«f
(3) Alternation with broken plural: Sometimes the sound masculine plural
alternates with a broken plural:

son/s ibn/ √abnaa√ ban-uuna ¿’¦H AɦHCG/øHG
director/s mudiir/ mudaraa√ mudiir-uuna ¿hôjóe AGQóe/ôjóe

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