The Dual in Arabic Language "Al-muthanna"

Updated: Aug 23, 2019

Arabic language has a distinct way of referring to two things or people, as opposed to just singular and plural. It is called the "dual" or "Al-muthanna" المثنّى in Arabic grammar. Basically, dual is used for any two things 2, while plural is used for three or more 3+. This also affects the way a word is written in Arabic, in each of the three cases: singular, dual, and plural.


Another consideration is whether the noun is feminine or masculine, so the way it is expressed in dual will be different. Sounds complicated, but it's not. One easy way of knowing how to change a noun from singular to dual, is by adding the suffix Aan ـان or Ayn ـين at the end of the word. Note that when the noun is feminine and ending with Taa marbouta ة , it changes to Taa Maftouha ت , before adding the suffixes Aan ـان or Ayn ـين.

For example:

كتاب Kitaab book

كتابان Kitaabaan (two) books

كتابيْن Kitaabayn (two) books


(feminine)

فتاة Fataat girl

فتاتان Fataataan (two) girls

فتاتيْن Fataatayn (two) girls

جمل Jamal camel

جملان Jamalaan (two) camels

جمليْن Jamalayn (two) camels


(feminine)

طاولة Taawila table

طاوِلتان Taawilataan (two) tables

طاوِلتيْن Taawilatayn (two) tables


(feminine)

جميلة Jameela beautiful

جميلتان Jameelataan (two) beautiful things/ people

جميلتيْن Jameelatayn (two) beautiful t