Plurals in Arabic, Al-jam'

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Another basic topic in Arabic grammar is about plurals, or "al-jam'" الجمع. We have discussed in a previous post, in detail, about "the dual" or "al-muthanna" المثنى. In Arabic language, dual is used for referring to any two things or people (2), while plural form is used for three or more (3+).


Flashcard: Singular, Dual, and Plural in Arabic Language
Singular, Dual, and Plural in Arabic Language

Just as in dual, the typical rule implies that you can change a noun from singular to plural form, simply by adding a suffix at the end. For the masculine words, you add ـون or ـين ("Uon" or "Een"), while for the feminine, you simply add ـات ("aat"), removing the "Taa marbouta" ة. This is called "sound masculine plurals" جمع مذكّر سالم ("jam' mozakkar saalim") and "sound feminine plurals" جمع مؤنّث سالم ("jam' mo'annath saalim"). However, there is a third category of words that does not follow these typical two, and thus is called "broken plurals" جمع تكسير ("jam' takseer"). The best suggested way to know these broken plurals, is simply by memory.


Let's look at the following example for the word "teacher" is Arabic:

معلّم (mo’allim) + ـون = معلّمون (mo’allimoon)

(masculine, nominative case)


معلّم (mo’allim) + ـين = معلّمين (mo’allimeen)

(masculine, accusative and genetive cases)


معلّمة (mo’allima) + ـات = معلّمات (mo’allimaat)

(Feminine)


تلميذ (tilmeez) = تلاميذ (talaameez)

(Broken Plural)