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Masculine and Feminine in Arabic

Masculine and Feminine in Arabic

In Arabic grammar, nouns, adjectives, and pronouns are separated into two genders: masculine and feminine. This rule is fundamental to the language and plays an important part in forming sentences.

Some languages can define gender based on the natural gender of an object or living thing, but the gender in the Arabic language is regularly arbitrary and not always linked to biological gender. To put it differently, objects or concepts that are feminine in other languages may be masculine in Arabic, and vice versa. It sounds a bit challenging, but don’t be concerned; we’ll walk you through it step by step. So, let’s start the journey of masculine and feminine in Arabic.

What is masculine in Arabic?

“Masculine” in Arabic describes nouns that either indicate males or don’t necessarily have any inherent gender but are grammatically classified as masculine. For instance, the word رَجُل (rajul) means “man” and is naturally masculine. However, the word مَكْتَب (maktab) meaning “table” is also considered masculine in the language, not because tables are linked to men, but because of the linguistic classification within Arabic grammar

Types of masculine in Arabic

We have two types of masculine:

  1. Real Masculine: This type indicates the gender of living things, such as men and male animals. For example,  وَلَد”walad” (boy),  رَجُل “rajul” (man),  حِصَان”hisan” (horse).
  2. Unreal Masculine: This indicates the gender of non-living things or abstract nouns. In Arabic, if something is not especially feminine, it is considered masculine. For example,  كِتَاب”kitab” (book),قَلَم “qalam” (pen), etc. All of them are unreal masculine as they do not have a natural sex but are treated as masculine in the language.

Here are other examples for Masculine

Type of Masculine Example Meaning
Real Masculine وَلَد (walad) boy
رَجُل (rajul) man
حِصَان (hisan) horse
أًسَد (asad) lion
Unreal Masculine كِتَاب (kitab) book
قَلَم (qalam) pen
مَنْزِل (manzil) house 

What is Feminine in Arabic?

  Feminine is an adjective that is used to describe nouns that indicate females, objects that are recognized as having female characteristics, or concepts that are linked to femininity. For example, the word امْرَأَة (imraah) “woman” is feminine. The word (warda) “flower” وَرْدَة is also feminine. This is because flowers are commonly seen as being linked to women.

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Types of Femininity in Arabic

In Arabic, we have three types of femininity:

  1. Real Feminine: This indicates the gender of living things that are biologically female. Femineity refers to female humans and animals. For example,   بِنْت”bint” (daughter),أُمْ “umm” (mother),  نَعْجَة”na’ja” (female sheep) etc.
  2. Unreal Feminine: This indicates the gender of non-living things or abstract nouns that are linguistically indicated to as feminine, even though they are not biologically female. For example, شَمْس’shams’ (sun) or أَرْض’ard’ (earth) are feminine in Arabic. 
  3. Marked Feminine: This type of femininity the word is Masculine, but it has a sign of feminine gender such as “taa’ marbuta” (ة). For example, حَمْزَة’Hamza’ (name of boy). We also have other signs of feminine gender like alif at-tanith al-maqsurah: ـ (ى), for example: كُبرَى (koubra). Alif at-taniith al-mamdudah: (اء / ـاء) is other sign, for example: حَمْرَاء(hamraa).
Type of Feminine Example Meaning
Real Feminine بِنْت (bint) Daughter
أُمْ (umm) Mother
نَعْجَة (naa) Female Sheep
عَرُوس (arus) Bride
Unreal Feminine شَمْس (shams) Sun
أَرْض (arḍ) Earth
حقيقة (ḥaqiqah) Truth
Marked Feminine حَمْزَة (ḥamzah) Name of Boy “Hamza”
كُبرَى (koubra) Greatest
عَمْيَــاء(amiaa) blind

Masculine and Feminine Grammatical Rules in Arabic

Here are some of the grammatical rules for masculine and feminine in Arabic:

Nouns: Masculine nouns usually end in a consonant. Feminine nouns usually end in a (ta marbuta) (ة). There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as the noun شَمْس (sun), which is feminine even though it ends in a consonant.

Adjectives: Adjectives agree with the gender of the noun they modify. For example, the adjective جَمِيل (beautiful) is masculine, and the adjective جَمِيلَة (beautiful) is feminine.

Pronouns: Pronouns also agree with the gender of the noun they indicate to. For example, the pronoun هو (he) is masculine, and the pronoun هي (she) is feminine.

Examples of masculine and Feminine Nouns

Masculine Nouns:

رَجُل (rajul) – man

وَلَد (walad) – boy

طَبِيب (tabib) – doctor

كِتَاب (kitab) – book

بَيْتٌ (baytun) – house

كُرْسِيٌّ (kursiyyun) – chair

Feminine Nouns:

امْرَأَة (imraah) – woman

بِنْت (bint) – girl

مُمَرِضَة (mumarridah) – nurse

مَدَرَسَة (madrasah) – school

زَهْرَة (zahrah) – flower

مَدِينَة (madinah) – city

How to differentiate the masculine from Feminine words

 Here are a few key tips that will help you to differentiate between masculine and feminine words:

  • The ending of the word: Most masculine nouns end in a consonant, while most feminine nouns end in a ta marbuta (ة), but there are exceptions to this rule. For example, the word شَمْس (sun) is feminine even though it ends in a consonant.
  • Context: The context of the sentence can sometimes give you signs about the gender of the noun. For example, if a sentence is talking about a female person, it’s likely that the noun indicating that person will be feminine.
  • Learn nouns with their gender:  As you learn more Arabic vocabulary, you’ll know the gender of different nouns. Pay attention to the articles and patterns used with them.
  • Practice and exposure: Reading, listening, writing, and speaking will help you develop your skills to know the gender.
  • Memorizing: Memorizing is a good idea, especially for nouns that may not follow regular rules. 

Looking up the word in a dictionary or asking a native Arabic speaker may help you to know the gender.

Inflecting for Femininity

For the singular, we consider the noun feminine if it has one of the three signs:

  1. A round Taa (ة) at the end of the noun.
  2. Alif at-tanith al-maqsurah: (ى)
  3. Alif at-taniith al-mamdudah: (اء / ـاء).
Example Translation Pronunciation
دَرّاجة bicycle darajah
كَراهة dislike karahah
بَقَرَة cow baqraa
صُغْرَى smaller sougra
سَمَاء sky samaa

For dual feminine, we add the suffix “-ان” (ann) to the end of the word, for example, بِنْت(bent) will be بِنْتَان(bentan).

For the plural, 

To make a feminine noun plural in Arabic, we add the suffix “-ات” (-aat) to the end of the noun. For example,” دَرّاجة ” (bike) becomes “ دَرّاجات ” (bikes).

Broken Plurals: Broken plural is other type of plural in feminine and masculine. This type does not have a simple rule that you can follow. So, you need to memorize them or learn them from context for example, عَيْن  (ayn) with the broken plurals will be أَعْيُن  (ayon).

FAQs

How do you know if a word is masculine or feminine in Arabic?

Here are some ways to know if a word is masculine or feminine in Arabic:

The ending of the word: Most masculine nouns end in a consonant, while most feminine nouns end in a ta marbuta (ة) or other signs of feminine such as alif at-tanith al-maqsurah: ـ (ى), for example, كُبرَى (koubra). Alif at-taniith al-mamdudah: (اء / ـاء) is other sign, for example: حَمْرَاء(hamraa). However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, the word شَمْس (sun) is feminine even though it ends in a consonant.

The meaning of the word: In general, nouns that indicate males are masculine, while nouns that refer to females are feminine. For example, the word أَحْمَد  (Ahmed) is a name for a male, so it’s a masculine. The word كِتَاب   (ketab) which means (book) indicates to a male, so it’s masculine. Otherwise, the word بٍنْت  (bent) which means (a girl) refers to a female human, so it’s feminine. If you find any difficulties in knowing the meaning of a word, you can look it up in the dictionary or ask a native speaker.

The context in which the word is used: If a noun is used with a feminine adjective or pronoun, then it is feminine. For example, the sentence الْفَتَاةُ جَمِيلَة (The girl is beautiful) uses the feminine adjective جَمِيلَة (beautiful) with the noun الفتاة (girl), so الفتاة must be feminine. If I say, الْوَلَدُ جَمِيل (The boy is beautiful). We use the masculine adjective جَمِيل (beautiful) with the noun الْوَلَدُ (boy), so الْوَلَدُ must be masculine.

Pronouns: Personal pronouns in Arabic have obvious forms for masculine and feminine. These pronouns can help you determine the gender of the subject or object in a sentence.

Vocabulary: The more you learn Arabic vocabulary, the more you’ll know the gender of commonly used words.

Practice: The more you practice, the more you will master it. 

What is masculine gender in Arabic?

Masculine is an adjective that is used to describe nouns that indicate to males, objects that are recognized as having male characteristics, or concepts that are linked to masculinity. For example, the word for “man” is رَجُل (rajul), which is masculine. The word for “table” is مَكْتَب (maktab), which is also masculine, even though it is not referring to a male.

What are masculine nouns in Arabic?

Masculine nouns are nouns that refer to males or things that are treated as males. They can refer to living things, objects, or professions too. 

Is Arabic a masculine or feminine language?

Arabic is a grammatically gendered language. It has both masculine and feminine genders. However, I can’t describe the language itself as a masculine or feminine; rather, it’s a grammatical feature of the language’s structure.

What is an example of masculine and feminine gender in Arabic?

Masculine Nouns:

رَجُل (rajul) – man

وَلَد (walad) – boy

طَبِيب (tabib) – doctor

كِتَاب (kitab) – book

بَيْتٌ (baytun) – house

أَسَد (asad) – lion

Feminine Nouns:

امْرَأَة (imraah) – woman

بِنْت (bint) – girl

مُمَرِضَة (mumarridah) – nurse

مَدَرَسَة (madrasah) – school

زَهْرَة (zahrah) – flower

مَدِينَة (madinah) – city

How do you make masculine and feminine plural in Arabic?

Here are some steps help you to make  masculine and feminine plural in Arabic:

Masculine plural: For masculine, we usually add the suffix “-ون” (-oon) or “-ين” (-een) to the end of the noun. For example, “مُعَلِم” (teacher) becomes “مُعَلَمُون” (teachers). You add “-ين” (-een) if the noun comes as an object. For example, “معلم” (teacher) becomes ” مُعَلَمُين ” (teachers).

Feminine plural: For feminine, you add the suffix “-ات” (-aat) to the end of the noun. For example,” مُمَرِضَة ” (nurse) becomes ” مُمَرِضَات ” (nurses).

Broken Plurals: Broken plurals in Feminine and Masculine do not have a simple rule that you can follow. So, you need to memorize them or learn them from context. For example, ” رَجُل ” (rajul) becomes “رِجَال” (rejal), and بَيْت (bayt) becomes بِيُوت  (beyot).

Which body parts are feminine in Arabic?

Here are some examples of Feminine body parts:

عَيْن (ayn) – eye

يَد (yad) – hand

رِجْل (rijl) – foot

رَأْس (ras) – head

رَقَبَة (raqabah) neck

إِصْبَع (isba) finger

عَضَلَة (adalah) muscle

At the end of this article, you must know that if you need to master the masculine and feminine, you need to practise more and more. The more you read, write, listen, and speak, the more you will be perfect at this rule.

Read more: Master Arabic Speaking In 12 Steps

Test yourself. 

Read the following passage and put the Masculine or Feminine words in the right place:

ذات يوم في فصل الربيع وكانت الشمس مشرقة والسماء صافية، ذهب محمد للمدرسة لكي يرى أحمد صديقه. تقع المدرسة بجوار الحديقة الكبيرة. وفي الفصل، تعلم احمد ومحمد اللغة العربية. وقد قالت لهم المعلمة: بارك الله فيكم.

Masculine Feminine

How Kalimah Helps You Understand Masculine and Feminine

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