Gender in Arabic Overview

Arabic nouns are either masculine مُذَكَّر (muḏakkar) or feminine مُؤَنَّث (mu’annath).

Masculine Nouns

The base category – the vast majority of nouns are masculine:

Lordrabbرَبّwaysabīlسَبِيل
matteramrأَمرpeopleqawmقَوم
Musa (proper noun)mūsāمُوسَىdayyawmيَوم

يَومٌ واحدٌ

أمرٌ صعبٌ

أحمدُ يدرسُ

Feminine nouns

1.Nouns ending with ة (tā’ marbūṭa):

proofبَيِّنَة (bayyinah)
paradise/gardenجَنَّة (jannah)
blessingنِعمَة (ni’mah)
Righteous (adjective with female suffix)صَالِحَة (ṣalihah)

فَاطِمَةُ بِنْتٌ لَطِيفَةٌ

رَحْمَةُ أَللّهِ وَاسِعَةٌ

2.Nouns referring to female persons/objects but not ending with ة:

This includes words that are exclusively female, like ‘mother/sister/daughter’, feminine names like ‘Zainab’ or things considered feminine in Arabic like cities and countries

Motherأُمّ
Sisterأُخت
Daughterبِنت
Tunisiaتُونِس
Quds (Palestine)القُدس
Egyptمَصر
Syriaسُورِيا
Franceفَرَنسا
Zainabزَينَب
Hananحَنَان
Salmaسَلمَى


ألأُمُّ مَدْرَسَةٌ

نَجلاءُ أُختِي

3. Body parts which come in pairs are treated as feminine:

earudhunأُذُنhandyadيَد
eye‘ainعَينlegqadamقَدَم

يَدُ الطِفْلِ جَمِيلَةٌ

قَدَمِي تُـؤلـِـمُنِي

4. A limited number of Arabic nouns are treated as feminine with no  explanation given, these include:

firenārنَارsoulnafsنَفس
housedārدَارWater wellbi’rبِئر
warḥarbحَربeartharḍأَرض
agesinnسِنّsunshamsشَمس
wineẖamrخَمرcupka’sكَأس

دَارُ الآخِرَةِ

النَفسُ الّلوّامَة

إذا الشَمسُ كُوِّرَت


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Abdul Aleem

Founder, Arabic For Beginners

Abdul Aleem is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Fiqh from the Medina Islamic University Malaysia. He loves Arabic and wants to help others learn it.

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