Plurals in arabic come in two types: sound and broken. Broken plurals are more common than sound plurals, though in the Quran, the proportion of sound plurals is higher than in general later arabic.

Sound Plurals

Sound plurals are basically where the singular form has not been changed except that you add some letters to the end of it. Some examples in English are tree/trees and child/children.

Masculine sound plural

Sound masculine plurals end with an ونَ (/uu/na). But only 3 common categories of words (masculine singular) take this form:

1)Participles such as عَارِفٌ ʿaārifun(a person who knows): عَارِفُونَ ʿaārifūna
2)Words with the same form as تَوَّابٌ tawwābun (relenting): تَوَّابُونَ
3) Relative adjectives like أَعْجَمِيٌّ aʿjamiyyun (foreigner): أَعْجَمِيُّونَ aʿjamiyyūna

Some feminine singular words can take a sound masculine plural, with the only common one being سَنَةٌ sanatun (year) which takes the sound masculine plural form: سِنُونَ sinūna.

However, the sound feminine plural form سَنَوَاتُ (sanawātu) has replaced سِنُونَ in common modern Arabic usage.

Sound feminine plural

Words ending with the feminine singular ending of ة take the sound feminine plural ending of اتُ(ātu) in place of ة.
For example: آيَةٌāyatun (sign): آيَاتٌāyātun (signs)

However, many words ending in ة do not take the sound feminine plural ending. Conversely, there are singular words that can have the sound feminine plural despite not ending with ة such as:
سَمَاءٌsamā’un (sky): سَمَاوَاتٌsamāwātun (skies)

Broken Plurals

Broken plurals are plurals that formed by inserting letters in bettween the letters in the singular form.

عَبْدٌ ʿabdun : عِبَادٌ ʿibādun
فَاكِهَةٌ fākihatun : فَوَاكِهُfawākihu
كِتَابٌ kitābun: كُتُبٌ kutubun

As a grammatical rule, you should treat broken plurals as feminine singulars except when they refer to male or female persons in which case you treat them as masculine or feminine plurals respectively.

For example فَوَاكِهُ and كُتُبٌ are treated as feminine singulars and therefore adjectives being used with these nouns must agree with them as feminine singulars:

فَوَاكِهُ كَثِيرَةٌ : Many fruits
كُتُبٌ قَيِّمَةٌ : Valuable books

Since عِبَادٌ refers to males it takes plural adjectives (which can be sound or broken).

عِبَادٌ مُؤْمِنُونَ : believing servants.

Some nouns are singular in form though plural in meaning such as قَوْم qawm (people).

There are some broken plural nouns that don’t refer to persons but still take plural adjectives:
أَيَّامٌ أُخَرُ ayyāmun ukharu (other days)

Vocabulary

Singular Plural English
رَجُلٌrajulun رِجَالٌrijālun man
سَمَاءٌsamā’un سَمَاوَاتٌsamāwātun heaven, sky
عَبْدٌʿabdun عِبَادٌʿibādun servant, slave
قَرْنٌqarnun قُرُونٌqurūnun generation [horn]
قَرْيَةٌqaryatun قُرًىquran settlement, village
قَوْمٌqawmun أَقْوَامٌaqwāmun people
مَنْفَعَةٌmanfaʿatun مَنَافِعُ</bdimanāfiʿu> benefit
كَافِرٌkāfirun كَافِرُونَkāfirūna unbeliever, ungrateful
مُؤْمِنٌ mu’minun مُؤْمِنُونَ mu’minūna believer
ظَالِمٌẓālimun ظَالِمُونَẓālimūna wrongdoer
أَعْجَمِيٌّaʿjamiyyun أَعْجَمِيُّونَaʿjamiyyūna foreigner
عَرَبِيٌّʿarabiyyun عَرَبٌ ʿarabun Arab, Arabic
مُسْلِمٌmuslimun مُسْلِمُونَmuslimūna Muslim
نَصْرَانِيٌّnaṣrāniyyun نَصَارَىnaṣārā Christian
يَهُودِيٌّyahūdiyyun يَهُودٌyahūdun Jew, Jewish
سَنَةٌsanatun سِنُونَsinūna year
فَاكِهَةٌfākihatun فَوَاكِهُfawākihu fruit
كَثِيرٌkathīrun كَثِيرُونَkathīrūna many
كِثَارٌkithāru many
تَوَّابٌtawwābun تَوَّابُونَtawwābūna relenting (s.), repenting (pl.)
مُكْرَمٌmukramun مُكْرَمُونَmukramūna honoured

Exercise 4

Translate the following questions to English. Answers for this exercise are here.

1) آلِهةٌ أُخْرَى                 [6:19]

2) مَنَافِعُ كَثِيرَةٌ                [23:21]

3) اَلْقُرُونُ الْأُولَى             [20:51]

4) اَلْقُرَى ظَالِمَةٌ               [11:102]

5) قَرْيَةٌ ظَالِمَةٌ                 [21:11]

6) رِجَالٌ مُؤْمِنُونَ             [48:25]

7) اَلسَّمَوَاتُ وَ الْأَرْضُ       [15:85]

8) أَعْجَمِيٌّ وَ عَرَبِيٌّ           [41:44]

9) اَلْقَوْمُ الظَّالِمُونَ              [6:47]

10) اَلْأَوَّلُونَ وَ الْآخِرُونَ      [56:49]

11) اَللّٰهُ تَوَّابٌ                     [49:12]

12) عِبَادٌ مُكْرَمُونَ              [21:26]

13) رَجُلٌ مُؤْمِنٌ                  [40:28]

14) اَلسَّمَاءُ وَ الْأَرْضُ           [44:29]

15)اَلْمُسْلِمُونَ وَ الْمُسْلِمَاتُ       [33:35]

 

Once you are finished with this lesson, you can go the next lesson here.

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