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Lesson 8c: More Plurals and Pronouns

Lesson 8, Part A:
  • Intro
  • Dialogue
Lesson 8, Part B:
  • Colors
Lesson 8, Part C:
Inanimate Plurals
  1. Read about inanimate plural forms.
  2. Take the Plural Comprehension Quiz until you pass.

In lesson 3, we learned that Arabic has two classes of nouns: human and inanimate. We also learned how to form the plural of human nouns, like 'nurse' and 'girl'. In this section, we will learn about the plural form of some inanimate nouns, like 'city' and 'restaurant'.

The rules for inanimate plurals are slightly different. Arabic human plurals, like plurals in English, are formed by adding something to the end of the word. As you remember from lesson 3, -aat is added to feminine human nouns and -uun is added to the end of masculine human nouns.

مُمَرِّضة a female nurse
مُمَرِّض a male nurse
مُمَرِّضات female nurses
مُمَرِّضون male (and female)

This is like adding the -s to make nouns plural in English. For example, "nurse" becomes "nurses" in the plural form. In lesson 3, we learned that some of the masculine human plural forms are broken, or irregular. For example, we learned that the plural of "Taalib", student, is NOT "Taalibuun" as you might expect, but instead is "Tulaab".

طالِبة one female student
طالِب one male student
طالِبات female students
طُلّاب male (and female)

"Tulaab" is an example of a broken plural, and so instead of adding letters to the end of the word, the letters inside the word change. This is similar to what happens in English with words like mouse/mice and goose/geese. However, while in English there is a smaller number of nouns that have irregular forms, the broken plural is very common in Arabic. There are around 30 different patterns for forming the broken plural in Arabic, of which there are about 12 that are considered very common. We will introduce 2 patterns in Arabic 1, and will cover more in Arabic 2. It is often not possible to predict which pattern a noun will take, so you will need to memorize the plural forms of the nouns you learn.

Regular Feminine Plurals
There are some inanimate nouns that are not broken. Let's start by taking a look at some of them. A number of feminine inanimate nouns follow the same rule for forming the plural as we learned for human nouns in lesson 2. Remove the taa' marbuuTa and add –aat.

Singular Plural English
كَلِمة كَلِمات word
لُغة لُغات language
بِناية بِنايات building
سَيارة سَيارات car

It's helpful to remember that words borrowed from other languages into Arabic, like taxi, computer, telephone and television, are often feminine and take this regular form in the plural.

Other feminine nouns with a regular plural form:

Did you notice that the words in the example above do not end in taa' marbuuTa, and yet are feminine? You should also be aware that there are feminine nouns ending in taa' marbuuTa that do NOT have a regular plural form. We will see several examples of nouns ending in taa' marbuuTa that have a broken plural form in the tables below. It's important to remember that if an inanimate noun is masculine, its form will be broken and will need to be memorized as you would any new vocabulary item. Unlike the feminine inanimate plural which sometimes takes the regular feminine human plural form, The masculine human plural form -uun is never used to make inanimate objects plural.

Broken Plural Pattern 1 - "fu3ul"
Let's take a look at one of the common patterns that's used to form the broken plurals of words like "city" and "book". Notice that "city", medina, ends in taa' marbuuTa, yet it does NOT take the regular -aat ending. You should start to memorize the singular and plural forms in the chart.

Inanimate Plurals





Demonstrative Adjectives
  1. Read about demonstrative adjectives.
  2. Take the Demonstrative Adjective Comprehension Quiz.


haadhaa (m)

haadhahi (f)

dhalik (m)

tilka (f)

Do you recognize the first singular demonstrative pronouns? We learned about hadha and hadhahi in lesson 5, when we discussed how to use these words as adjectives. While the form for demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns is the same, the way they are used and the meaning that results is slightly different.
Demonstrative Adjective Demonstrative Pronoun
هَذَهِ سيارة
This car
هذه السيارة زرقاء
This car is blue.

Notice that in the first column, the demonstrative adjective is followed by an indefinite noun and does not form a complete sentence. On the other hand, in column two, the demonstrative pronoun is followed by a definite noun and forms a complete sentence. If don't remember how to use the demonstrative adjective, take a few minutes to review lesson 5b.
When you are ready, let's take a closer look at the demonstrative pronoun.
In the conversation, Mariam distinguishes between the building that is close to her ("haadhahi al binaaya") and the one that's farther away ("tilka al binaaya"). To do this, she uses the demonstrative adjectives "haadhahi" and "tilka". Like the demonstrative adjectives we studied before, demonstrative pronouns must agree in gender and number with the noun they describe. Since "binaaya" is singular and feminine, Mariam used the feminine singular forms of the demonstrative adjectives: "haadhahi" to mean this building, and "tilka",that building.

The picture below contains two bottles, or زُجاجة. One bottle is close to you, the other is farther away. Read the four sentences beneath the picture. Which two sentences are correct? Use the colors and the distance of the bottles to help you.

1a. هَذَهِ الزُجاجة وَردية
1b. هَذَهِ الزُجاجة زَرقاء
2a. تِلكَ الزُجاجة وَردية
2b. تِلكَ الزُجاجة زَرقاء

Answer: Sentences 1a and 2b are correct.

Let's take another look at those sentences to make sure we understand.

1. The first sentence means "This bottle is pink" and the second sentence means "That bottle is blue". In the picture, the bottle that is closest to you is pink; therefore, sentence 1a must be correct and sentence 1b is wrong.

2. Sentence 2a says " That bottle is pink" while sentence 2b says "That bottle is blue". The bottle that is farther away is blue, not pink, so sentence 2b must be right.

Now that we have corrected the sentences, here's the actual caption for the picture:

هَذَهِ الزِجاجة وَردية
وتلك الزجاجة زرقاء