You’ve likely heard the expression “Two’s company, three’s a crowd”, and Arabic grammar kind of agrees with that expression. You see, according to their numbers, Arabic nouns are divided into three categories: singular, dual, and plural.
The singular (or المُفرَد/almufrad in Arabic) is used to talk about one of something, and the plural (جَمِع/jamiʻ/) is used when there are three or more of something.
However, Arabic is one of just a few languages today that uses the dual (المُثَنَّى/almuthannaa/) – the grammatical number used in addition to singular and plural which indicates two of something.
What’s more, the use of dual is what we’ll be talking about in today’s post, so join us as we teach how to stay two steps ahead when it comes to learning about the dual in Arabic.
When you want to talk about two of something in Arabic, instead of using the plural as you do in most other languages, Arabic has something called the dual to identify two nouns.
When the noun is nominative (i.e., the subject), the dual is formed by adding the suffix ن أ to the noun. For example:
Like singular plural nouns, dual nouns also have to agree not only in number but also in gender. Thus:
one student (m.)
two students (m.)
Both demonstrative pronouns and adjectives must also agree with their corresponding nouns in gender and number. For example, in the sentence هَذان كِتابان كَبيران / haTHaan kitaabaan kabeerann / “These are two big books”, notice that the noun, adjective, and demonstrative pronoun all end with the same dual masculine suffix.
Also remember from our recent post on demonstrative pronouns that the feminine for there is هاتان /haataani/, so:
Two male students
two female students
When the noun is accusative (the direct object of the verb) or genitive (words that come after a preposition, an adverb) then the Arabic letter suffix must be attached to the end of the noun as in كِتابَيْن/kitaabayn (two books).
The masculine pronoun for “both” in Arabic is كِلا /kilaa/ as in كِلا الرَّجُلَين / kilaa irrajulayn / (two men). For the feminine form, we use كِلتا /kiltaa/ as that used in كِلتا الصَّديقَتين /kiltaa iSSadeeqatayn/ or “two friends” who are female.
So, the next time you need a couple of things from the store or you have two friends coming over for dinner, now it only takes a couple of minutes to say it in Arabic.
Of course, if you’d like to learn more about the Arabic language including a thing or two more about duals, be sure to head over to our website and download the Kaleela Arabic language learning app. Get it today only from www.kaleela.com.
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