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ARABIC ONLINE

        اللّغة العربيّة    

Arabic Online

 

• Welcome!

• Varieties of Arabic

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• Nouns

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• Declension

• Noun Gender

• Feminine Markers

• Singular Nouns

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• Plural Nouns EDITED

• Masculine Plural Nouns EDITED

• Feminine Plural Nouns

• Irregular Plural Nouns
• Articles

• Case Inflection

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• The Six Nouns

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• Exclamatory Style

• Praise & Disparagement

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Adjectives

 

Adjectives in Arabic follow the nouns or pronouns they modify in gender, number, grammatical case, and the state of definiteness. They always come after the words they modify. Adjectives in Arabic belong to the "noun" category, and there are several types of nouns that can serve as adjectives. This will be covered later.

 

A comprehensive example on adjectives matching the modified word:

mu"allim(un)

مُعَلِّمٌ

A male teacher
jayyid(un)

جَيِّدٌ

A good (sing. masc. adj.)

mu"allim(un) jayyid(un)

مُعَلِّمٌ جَيِّدٌ

A good male teacher

mu"allima(tun) jayyida(tun)

مُعَلِّمَةٌ جَيِّدَةٌ

A good female teacher

'al-mu"allim(u) ('a)l-jayyid(u)

الْمُعَلِّمُ الْجَيِّدُ

The good male teacher

'al-mu"allima(tu) ('a)l-jayyida(tu)

الْمُعَلِّمَةُ الْجَيِّدَةُ

The good female teacher

mu"allimaan(i) jayyidaan(i)

مُعَلِّمَاْنِ جَيِّدَاْنِ

Two good male teachers

'al-mu"allimaan(i) ('a)l-jayyidaan(i)

الْمُعَلِّمَاْنِ الْجَيِّدَاْنِ

The two good male teachers

mu"allimataan(i) jayyidataan(i)

مُعَلِّمَتَاْنِ جَيِّدَتَاْنَ

Two good female teachers

'al-mu"allimataan(i) ('a)l-jayyidataan(i)

الْمُعَلِّمَتَاْنِ الْجَيِّدَتَاْنَ

The two good female teachers

mu"allimoon(a) jayyidoon(a)

مُعَلِّمُوْنَ جَيِّدُوْنَ

2< good male teachers

'al-mu"allimoon(a) ('a)l-jayyidoon(a)

الْمُعَلِّمُوْنَ الْجَيِّدُوْنَ

The 2< good male teachers

mu"allimaat(un) jayyidaat(un)

مُعَلِّمَاْتٌ جَيِّدَاْتٌ

2< good female teachers

'al-mu"allimaat(u) ('a)l-jayyidaat(u)

الْمُعَلِّمَاْتُ الْجَيِّدَاْتُ

The 2< good female teachers

 

Adjectives in general behave regularly. They are always feminized by adding one of the three feminine markers to them; and they are always pluralized by adding one of the regular plural endings to them (masculine or feminine). However, there are exceptions to this.

 

Feminine Adjectives

Feminine adjectives always have one of the three feminine markers attached; however, there are a few structures that will not carry any of such markers.

 

Case One

Adjectives that can be used only in reference to females but not males (e.g. pregnant) do not usually have the  feminine taa'< attached, even though they modify true feminine nouns and they should have one:

Meaning Literal translation

Phrase

A pregnant wife  zawja(tun) haamil(un)

زَوْجَةٌ حَاْمِلٌ

a wife a pregnant
A divorced woman 'imra'a(tun) taaliq(un)

اِمْرَأَةٌ طَالِْقٌ

a woman a divorced

Here, the noun had a feminine marker but the modifying adjective did not.

Other adjectives of this kind:

Female-Only Adjectives

A spinster "aanis(un) عَاْنِسٌ
A barren "aaqir(un) عَاْقِرٌ
A nursing murdi"(un) مُرْضِعٌ
A menstruating haa'id(un) حَاْئِضٌ
taamith(un) طَاْمِثٌ
A virgin bikr(un) بِكْرٌ
batool(un) بَتُوْلٌ
A widowed or divorced thayyib(un) ثَيِّبٌ
A contumacious (wife) naashiz(un) نَاْشِزٌ
A large-breasted naahid(un) نَاْهِدٌ
kaa"ib(un) كَاْعِبٌ
An aged menopausal qaa"id(un) قَاْعِدٌ
A fecund walood(un) وَلُوْدٌ
A milch (cow) haloob(un) حَلُوْبٌ

 

All of these adjectives lack the feminine taa'<. The other feminine markers (the extended 'alif and the shortened 'alif) cannot be removed from an adjective here as simply as the feminine taa'<, or the adjective will become a senseless word.

If a feminine adjective of this kind ends with either one of the two feminine markers other than the feminine taa'<, it will be kept there because there will not usually be a masculine form of that adjective (one without feminine markers), and we can't just remove the marker because that would be mutilation of the word.

Examples:

A virgin

"athraa'(u)

عَذْرَاْءُ

A pregnant

hublaa

حُبْلَىْ

*Note: nouns ending with feminine extended 'alif or feminine shortened 'alif are forbidden to noonation.

 

Case Two

Adjectives will not have any feminine markers when they assume one of the following structures:

Example

Type of Structure

Structure

rayoor(un)

غَيُوْرٌ

Active-participle-like

fa"ool(un)

فَعُوْلٌ

A jealous ...

qateel(un)

قَتِيْلٌ

Passive participle

fa"eel(un)

فَعِيْلٌ

A killed ...

mi"taa'(un)

مِعْطَاْءٌ

Emphatic

mif"aal(un)

مِفْعَاْلٌ

A very giving ...

mi"teer(un)

مِعْطِيْرٌ

Emphatic

mif"eel(un)

مِفْعِيْلٌ

A very using of perfume ...

"adl(un)

عَدْلٌ

Verbal noun

fa"l(un)

فَعْلٌ

A just, fair ...

Those five structures don't take feminine endings when they modify feminine nouns. However, case two is not always followed in the modern language.

Example:

Meaning Literal translation

Phrase

A jealous man  rajul(un) rayoor(un)

رَجُلٌ غَيُوْرٌ

a man a jealous
A jealous woman 'imra'a(tun) rayoor(un)

اِمْرَأَةٌ غَيُوْرٌ

a woman a jealous

A jealous woman

(modern Arabic)

'imra'a(tun) rayoora(tun)

اِمْرَأَةٌ غَيُوْرَةٌ

a woman a jealous

 

Another thing about the structures of case two is that they do not take regular plural endings, as will be mentioned shortly.

 

Plural Adjectives

In perfect Classical Arabic, irregular plurals were not supposed to be used in adjectives. Adjectives had to be pluralized only by adding the regular plural endings (masculine or feminine).

However, there are certain adjective structures in Arabic that can not have the regular plural endings when their nouns have it. Instead they are pluralized irregularly.

All of the structures mentioned lastly (the ones that don't carry feminine markers) can not accept masculine plural endings too. However, the structure fa"ool(un) is often pluralized regularly against the rule.

Other structures that do not take regular plural endings are:

۞ 'af"al(u)  أَفْعَلُ 

Adjectives following this structure are several kinds, they differ from each other by the structure of the feminine form of the adjective. The kind that cannot take regular plural endings is the one whose feminine form is: fa"laa'(u)

This kind belongs to a category called in Arabic "active-participle-like adjectives." It usually refers to a color or to bodily characteristic (e.g. blond, brunette, blind, mute, deaf, lame, etc.).

N.B. this kind is forbidden to noonation, which means that it will not be noonated in addition to having an irregular case-sign in the genitive case ( -a instead of -i ).

Examples:

A red (sing. masc.)

'ahmar(u)

أَحْمَرُ

A red (sing. fem.)

hamraa'(u)

حَمْرَاْءُ

Red (plu. masc./fem.)

humr(un)

حُمْرٌ

 

A blond (sing. masc.)

'ashqar(u)

أَشْقَرُ

A blonde (sing. fem.)

shaqraa'(u)

شَقْرَاْءُ

Blond (plu. masc./fem.)

shuqr(un)

شُقْرٌ

 

A blind (sing. masc.)

'a"maa

أَعْمَىْ

A blind (sing. fem.)

"amyaa'(u)

عَمْيَاْءُ

Blind (plu. masc./fem.)

"umy(un)

عُمْيٌ

* 'a"maa is a shortened noun. The root is " M Y.

 

However, it is rather common for the feminine form of this structure to be pluralized regularly; so the following three plural adjectives, for example, are common:

Red (plu. fem.)

hamraawaat(un)

حَمْرَاْوَاْتٌ

Blonde (plu. fem.)

shaqraawaat(un)

شَقْرَاْوَاْتٌ

Blind (plu. fem.)

"amyaawaat(un)

عَمْيَاْوَاْتٌ

 

 

۞ fa"laan(u) فَعْلانُ 

Similarly to the previous one, adjectives following this structure are two kinds that differ by the structure of their feminine forms. The kind that cannot take the regular plural ending is the one whose feminine structure is:  fa"laa

This kind is also forbidden to noonation. The other kind has the feminine form fa"laana(tun) and is rarer. There are 13 fa"laan adjectives in Arabic that are feminized as fa"laana(tun) instead of fa"laa. Those are not forbidden to noonation, and they are listed here.

 

A thirsty (sing. masc.)

"atshaan(u)

عَطْشَاْنُ

A thirsty (sing. fem.)

"atshaa

عَطْشَىْ

Thirsty (plu. masc./fem.)

"itaash(un)

عِطَاْشٌ

 

 

Comparative Structure

 

۞ 'af"al(u)  أَفْعَلُ

We talked above about 'af"al(u) adjectives that refer to colors and to bodily characteristics. This same structure is also the comparative structure in Arabic. However, when it is being a comparative structure it will have a different feminine form from the one mentioned above. The feminine of the comparative 'af"al(u) is: fu"laa

Nevertheless, fu"laa is NOT a comparative structure but is a superlative structure, even though it is the feminine of comparative 'af"al(u). The comparative structure in Arabic is only one, 'af"al(u), and it is used for both masculine and feminine, and singular and plural nouns. More details will be added in the section about comparison.

The important point here is that comparative adjectives in Arabic do not follow their nouns neither in gender nor in number.

Examples:

Plu. Masc. Adj.

Sing. Masc. Adj.

'afdal(u) =  a better

أَفْضَلُ

'afdal(u) =  a better

أَفْضَلُ

'akbar(u) =  a bigger

أَكْبَرُ

'akbar(u) =  a bigger

أَكْبَرُ

Plu. Fem. Adj.

Sing. Fem. Adj.

'afdal(u) =  a better

أَفْضَلُ

'afdal(u) =  a better

أَفْضَلُ

'akbar(u) =  a bigger

أَكْبَرُ

'akbar(u) =  a bigger

أَكْبَرُ

N.B. all 'af"al(u) structures are forbidden to noonation except for ones whose feminine form is 'af"ala(tun). Those are rare and are not comparatives (e.g. أَرْمَلٌ ، أَرْبَعٌ).

Example:

Meaning

Literal translation

Phrase

A better male assistant

 musaa"id(un) 'afdal(u)

مُسَاْعِدٌ أَفْضَلُ

A better female assistant

musaa"ida(tun) 'afdal(u)

مُسَاْعِدةٌ أَفْضَلُ

Two better male assistants

musaa"idaan(i) 'afdal(u)

مُسَاْعِدَاْنِ أَفْضَلُ

Two better female assistants

musaa"idataan(i) 'afdal(u)

مُسَاْعِدَتَاْنِ أَفْضَلُ

Better 2< male assistants

musaa"idoon(a) 'afdal(u)

مُسَاْعِدُوْنَ أَفْضَلُ

Better 2< female assistants

musaa"idaa(tun) 'afdal(u)

مُسَاْعِِدَاْتٌ أَفْضَلُ

 

 

Adjective Irregularities in Arabic

Structure

Plural

Matching of Noun

Noonation

Masculine

Feminine

Masculine

Feminine

Irregular

Gender

Number

Adjectives that can refer only to females (e.g. pregnant)

NO

YES

YES

NO

YES

YES

fa"ool(un)

YES

YES

Active-participle-like

fa"eel(un)

NO

NO

Passive participle

mif"aal(un)

Emphatic

mif"eel(un)

Emphatic

fa"l(un)

Verbal noun

'af"al(u)

fa"laa'(u)

NO

YES

YES

YES

NO

Active-participle-like

'af"al(u)

fu"laa

YES

YES

Masc.

Fem.

Masc.

Fem.

Comparative

Superlative

NO

YES

NO

YES

'af"al(un)

'af"ala(tun)

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

Active-participle-like

fa"laan(u)

fa"laa

NO

NO

NO

Active-participle-like

fa"laan(un)

fa"laana(tun)

YES

YES

YES

Active-participle-like

 

 

Other Irregular Plural Adjectives

Other than the exceptions mentioned above, irregular plural structures were not supposed to be used to form adjectives in proper Classical Arabic. However, this has always been widely ignored, and irregular plural adjectives are used in many other kinds of adjectives.

Anyway, there is one main case, other than the ones mentioned above, in which it is considered O.K. nowadays to use an irregular plural adjective; that case is if the irregular plural adjective were of the following structure:

Plural

Singular

mafaa"eel(u)

مَفَاْعِيْلُ

maf"ool(un)

مَفْعُوْلٌ

The singular of this structure is a passive participle noun. The plural is forbidden to noonation. When possible, this structure can be used instead of regular plurals, but it is not better than them.

 

Examples:

Meaning

Plural

Singular

A famed (famous)

مَشَاْهِيْرُ

مَشْهُوْرٌ

mashaaheer(u)

mashhoor(un)

An imprisoned

مَسَاَجِيْنُ

مَسْجُوْنٌ

masaajeen(u)

masjoon(un)

 

 

Adjectives Modifying Irregular Plural Nouns

We mentioned before that the gender of an irregular plural noun will not always match the gender of its singular word.

Grammatical Treatment of Irregular Plurals

Reference

Gender

Number

to persons

matches the gender of the referents

plural

to persons (classical)

feminine

singular

 to objects or animals

feminine

singular

 

We also mentioned that irregular plurals that refer to objects or animals are always treated as if they were singular words.

Knowing these facts, it should be clear how the adjectives were used in the following examples:

Singular

A mountain (masc.)

jabal(un)

جَبَلٌ

A lofty (masc.)

shaahiq(un)

شَاْهِقٌ

A lofty mountain

jabal(un) shaahiq(un)

جَبَلٌ شَاْهِقٌ

Plural

Mountains (plu. fem.)

jibaal(un)

جِبَاْلٌ

A lofty (sing. fem.)

shaahiqa(tun)

شَاْهِقَةٌ

Lofty mountains

jibaal(un) shaahiqa(tun)

جِبَاْلٌ شَاْهِقَةٌ

 

More examples; first vocabulary is given and phrases will be constructed below:

Singular Adjectives

Singular Nouns

fathth(un)

فَذٌّ

rajul(un)

رَجُلٌ

 a unique (masc.) a man (masc.)

hakeem(un)

حَكِيْمٌ

mawqif(un)

مَوْقِفٌ

 a wise (masc.)  a stance (masc.)

taahin(un)

طَاْحِنٌ

ma"raka(tun)

مَعْرَكَةٌ

 a crushing (masc.) a battle (fem.)

Suitable Adjectives

Plural Nouns

'afthaath(un)

أَفْذَاْذٌ 

rijaal(un)

رِجَاْلٌ

unique (masc. plu.) men (masc.)

hakeema(tun)

حَكِيْمَةٌ 

mawaaqif(u)

مَوَاْقِفُ

wise (fem. sing.) stances (fem.)

taahina(tun)

طَاْحِنَةٌ 

ma"aarik(u)

مَعَاْرِكُ

crushing (fem. sing.) battles (fem.)

 

Meaning

Phrase

Unique men

rijaal(un) 'afthaath(un)

رِجَاْلٌ أَفْذَاْذٌ

Wise stances

mawaaqif(u) hakema(tun)

مَوَاْقِفُ حَكِيْمَةٌ

Crushing battles

ma"aarik(u) taahina(tun)

مَعَاْرِكُ طَاْحِنَةٌ

*مَوَاْقِفُ  and مَعَاْرِكُ are both "forbidden to noonation" مَمْنُوْعٌ مِنَ الْصَّرْفِ structures.

 

 

Multiple Adjectives

Adjectives that modify a single noun can be multiple.

 

رجُلٌ طَوِيْلٌ نَحِيْلٌ

rajul(un) taweel(un) naheel(un)

= a man a tall a thin

Translation: a thin tall man

 

فَتَاْتَاْنِ طَيِّبَتَاْنِ جَمِيْلَتَاْنِ ذَكِيَّتَاْنِ

fataataan(i) tayyibataan(i) jameelataan(i) thakiyyataan(i)

= two young girls good beautiful smart

Translation: two good, smart, beautiful young girls

 

It is also possible to use coordinators between the different adjectives, but they must be placed between all the adjectives not only before the last one.

فَتَاْتَاْنِ طَيِّبَتَاْنِ وَجَمِيْلَتَاْنِ وَذَكِيَّتَاْنِ

fataataan(i) tayyibataan(i) wa-jameelataan(i) wa-thakiyyataan(i)

= two young girls good and beautiful and smart

Translation: two good, smart, beautiful young girls

 

 

Adjectives as Nouns

Adjectives in Arabic are nouns. This is not only an issue of how we categorize them; adjectives can function as real nouns in Arabic sentences.

Example:

هَذَاْ ذَكِيٌّ

haathaa thakiyy(un)

= this (is) a clever (sing. masc.)

Translation: this is a clever man

 

This sentence was not complete in English standards because it lacked a noun, but in Arabic it is a full perfect sentence. This is because an adjective in Arabic has a nominal nature in and of itself, and it will not necessarily require another noun to complete its meaning.

 

هَذِهِ ذَكِيَّةٌ

haathih(i) thakiyya(tun)

= this (is) a clever (sing. fem.)

Translation: this is a clever woman

 

أَغْنِيَاْءٌ قَدِمُوْا إِلَىْ الْبَلْدَةِ

'arniyaa'(un) qadimoo 'ilaa ('a)l-balda(ti)

= rich (plu. masc.) came to the town

Translation: rich people came to town

 

 

Exercise

 

A great day

The pretty lady

A pregnant lady

The patient lady

The brunet young man

The brunette young woman

The brunet young men

The brunette young women

Prepared men

Thirsty people

Thirsty young women

A big opportunity

Big opportunities

Bigger opportunities

 

Can you translate those phrases to Arabic by using the following Arabic words?

 

A great (sing. masc.)

عَظِيْمٌ

A day (sing. masc.)

يَوْمٌ

A nice (sing. masc.)

جَمِيْلٌ

A nice (sing. fem.)

جَمِيْلَةٌ

A lady (sing. fem.)

سَيِّدَةٌ

A pregnant (sing. masc.)

حَاْمِلٌ

A patient (sing. masc./fem. adj.)

صَبُوْرٌ

A patient (sing. fem. adj.)

صَبُوْرَةٌ

A brunet (sing. masc.)

أَسْمَرُ

A brunette (sing. fem.)

سَمْرَاْءُ

Brunets (plu. masc./fem.)

سُمْرٌ

Brunettes (plu. fem.)

سَمْرَاْوَاْتٌ

A young man (sing. masc.)

شَاْبٌّ

A young woman (sing. fem.)

شَاْبَّةٌ

Young men (plu. masc.)

شَبَاْبٌ

Young women (plu. fem.)

شَاْبَّاْتٌ

A ready (sing. masc.)

مُسْتَعِدٌّ

Ready (plu. masc.)

مُسْتَعِدُّوْنَ

A man (sing. masc.)

رَجٌلٌ

Men (plu. masc.)

رِجَاْلٌ

A thirsty (sing. masc.)

عَطْشَانُ

Thirsty (plu. masc./fem.)

عِطَاْشٌ

People (plu. masc.)

أُنَاْسٌ

A big (sing. fem.)

كَبِيْرَةٌ

A bigger (sing./dual/plu. masc./fem.)

أَكْبَرُ

An opportunity (sing. fem.)

فُرْصَةٌ

Opportunities (plu. fem.)

فُرَصٌ

 

 

Answers

 

A great day

يَوْمٌ عَظِيْمٌ

The pretty lady

السَّيِّدَةُ الْجَمِيْلَةُ

A pregnant lady

سَيِّدَةٌ حَاْمِلٌ

The patient woman (classical)

السَّيِّدَةُ الصَّبُوْرُ

The patient woman (modern)

السَّيِّدَةُ الصَّبُوْرَةُ

The brunet young man

الشَّاْبُّ الأَسْمَرُ

The brunette young woman

الشَّاْبَّةُ السَّمْرَاْءُ

The brunet young men

الشَّبَاْبُ السُّمْرُ

The brunette young women

الشَّاْبَّاْتُ السُّمْرُ

The brunette young women (modern)

الشَّاْبَّاْتُ السَّمْرَاْوَاْتُ

Prepared men

رِجَاْلٌ مُسْتَعِدُّوْنَ

Thirsty people

أُنَاْسٌ عِطَاْشٌ

Thirsty young women

شَاْبَّاْتٌ عِطَاْشٌ

A big opportunity

فُرْصَةٌ كَبِيْرَةٌ

Big opportunities

فُرَصٌ كَبِيْرَةٌ

Bigger opportunities

فُرَصٌ أَكْبَرُ

 

 

 

 

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