How To Form The Feminine in Arabic

Grammatical gender in Arabic is fun with our list of masculine and feminine markers in Arabic. Feminine nouns and adjectives right here

How To Form The Feminine in Arabic

Today is all about women. Many languages use some sort of feminine marker to refer to females. The Arabic language is no different.

Masculine in Arabic is مذكّر pronounced /muthakkar/ and feminine in Arabic is مؤنث pronounced /mo’annath/. The masculine has no marker, but the feminine is taken from the masculine version of the word, with a girl’s special sprinkle on it to make it appropriate for the ladies.

With Arabic, it does not stop at feminine and masculine markers; it goes into sub-categories of the markers as well. Having said that, both male and female markers are either real or unreal, and female markers like to add their own third category called marked. You know ladies can be very specific.

Initially, the best way to recognize a grammatical gender in Arabic is through the closed ta’, otherwise known as التاء المربوطة /al taa’ al marboota/. It is important to note that the feminine marker does not only apply to nouns, but adjectives as well.

Real

The real masculine refers to something real. As in, a real human or creature, but it needs to be masculine of course. Real feminine nouns refer to the same thing but female related. In Arabic, this is called الحقيقي /al haqeeqi/, literally meaning the real. Examples of مؤنث حقيقي /mo’annath haqeeqi/:


امرأة/imra’a/
Woman


معلمة /moa’alima/
(female) teacher


صديقة /sadeeqa/
(female) friend

Unreal

This refers to any non-human noun. In Arabic, it is called المؤنث المجازي /al mo’annath al mmagazi/ or المؤنث الغير حقيقي /al mo’annath al ghair haqeei/. The first one means figurative or allegoric, and the second literally means not real.

Let’s take a look at some examples of feminine nouns in Arabic:

قطعة /qit’a/
Piece


نار /naar/
Fire


منظمة /monathama/
Organization


Notice that the second word has no /ta’ marboota/ in the end. It comes as no surprise, and this is a usual question on many Arabic learners’ minds, if all feminine words have the /ta’ marboota/, but as you can see, that is not the case.

So how do you know which words with no /ta’ marboota/ are feminine? Well, you don’t, really. You have to come across them and simply recognize that they are feminine without the /ta’ marboota/.

Marked Feminine

This, as the title suggests, is only feminine related. In Arabic, the marked feminine is called المؤنث اللفظي /al mo’annath al lafthi/. The word اللفظي means verbal. This is not a feminine word as you may have assumed, but rather takes the looks of a female to refer to a noun that is masculine. The most obvious examples are seen in proper nouns referring to male names.


قتيبة /qutaiba/

حمادة /hamada/

The Suffixes

There are three feminine marker suffixes. The first we mentioned earlier, the one and only /ta’ marboota/ تاء مربوطة. The second is called ألف التأنيث المقصورة /alif al ta’neef al maksoora/, and the third is called ألف التأنيث الممدودة /alif al ta’neeth al mamdooda/.


ألف التأنيث المقصورة /alif al ta’neeth al maksoora/ example:


سرعى /sor’a/ Faster than


الف التأنيث الممدودة /alif al ta’neeth al mamdooda/ example:


خضراء /khadra’/ Green

When it comes to plural feminine in Arabic, the /aat/ is at the end as such:


بنات /banat/ Girls

The list of masculine and feminine words in Arabic can be endless, but recognizing the different categories can certainly help you know where most belong.

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