Plurals Overview

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Plurals are made in two ways in Arabic:

  1. By adding a suffix to the singular noun. These are two types: جمعُ مذكر سالم jam’u mudhakkar sālim (Sound Masculine Plural) and ُجمع مؤنّث سالم jam’u mu’annath sālim (Sound Feminine Plural).
  2. By changing the internal structure of the singular noun; similar to man → men, mouse → mice, etc. in English. This is known as جَمعُ تَكسِير jam’u taksīr (Broken Plural)

Sound Masculine Plural جَمعُ مُذَكَّر سَالِمٍ

The sound masculine plurals are formed by the addition of ون ‘ūn’ or ين ‘īn’ (depending on the i’rab state) to the end of the noun.

مُعَلِّم ← مُعَلِّمُون / مُعَلِّمِين

مُسَافِر ← مُسَافِرُون / مُسَافِرِين

مُسلِم ← مُسلِمُون / مُسلِمِين

Sound Feminine Plural جَمعُ مُؤَنَّثِ سَالِمٍ 

The sound feminine plural is formed by replacing the ة ta at the end of feminine singular nouns with ات ‘āt’.

مُعَلِّمَة ← مُعَلِّمَات

جَنَّة ← جَنَّات

مَكتَبَة ← مَكتَبَات

Broken Plurals جَمعُ تَكسِير 

A very large number of plural nouns follow the pattern of broken plurals, i.e they are made by making internal changes to the word structure. In total there are over 30 different patterns for broken plurals in Arabic and they hardly follow any fixed rules. These will have to be learned by practice and immersion in the language.

Here are some of the most common patterns for the broken plural

وَلَدٌ ← أَولَادٌ

بَابٌ ← أَبوَابٌ

عَينٌ ← أَعيُنٌ  

طَعَامٌ ← أَطعِمَةٌ

أَخٌ ← إِخوَانٌ

إِمَامٌ ← أَئِمَّةٌ

كَبِيرٌ ← كِبَارٌ

Noun – Adjective Agreement

Adjectives and nouns agree with each other on gender and number. Therefore, if the noun is plural, the adjective should be as well.

البَنَاتُ ذَكِيَّاتٌ

The girls are intelligent

الأَولَادُ أَذكِياءٌ

The boys are intelligent

هٰؤلَاء إِخوَانٌ

They are brothers

هٰؤلَاء  أَخَوَاتٌ

They are sisters

However, the rules for non-human objects or ‘things’ are different. The plural form for these is treated as feminine singular grammatically.

البُيُوتُ صَغِيرَةٌ

The houses are small

أَشجَارٌ طَوِيلةٌ

Tall trees

أَسمَاكٌ كَبِيرَة

Big fish (plural)

More Examples

أَنْهَارٌ جَارِيَةٌ

أزهَارٌ جَمِيلَةٌ

شَبابِيكٌ نَظِيفَةٌ

طُيُورٌ رَائعَةٌ

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