Arabic Language Blog

ذو Posted by on Jul 15, 2011 in Grammar, Vocabulary

ذو is a very interesting word in Arabic. It means ‘the owner of’, ‘one who has’ or ‘one with’. It is one of the ‘five nouns’ that are marked in Arabic by long vowels rather than short vowels, so the three cases of ذو are (ذو) nominative, (ذا) accusative and (ذي) genitive. Consider the following examples:

الطالب ذو الشعر الأسود مصري.

‘The student with black hair is Egyptian.’

أعرف الطالب ذا الشعر الأسود.

‘I know the student with black hair.’

تكلمت مع الطالب ذي الشعر الأسود.

‘I spoke with the student with black hair.’

It is usually used after definite nouns or to refer to known referents, and it acts as a first word of idafa. ذو is singular masculine, and its feminine form is ذات. Consider the different forms of ذو below:

sing dual plural
masculine ذو / ذا / ذي ذوا / ذوي / ذوي ذوو / ذوي / ذوي
feminine ذات     ذاتا / ذاتي – ذواتا / ذواتي ذوات


Here are some examples on the use of some of these expressions:

جميع أصدقائي هم من ذوي الأخلاق الحميدة.

‘All my friends have high morals.’

زوجته ذات حسب.

‘His wife has good family.’

مطلوب بائعات ذوات خبرة.

‘Sales assistants with experience are required.’

الطلاب ذوو الدرجات العالية يلتحقون بالجامعة.

‘Students with high grades join university.’

Josef has kindly provided us with a link to a story in which you can see the use of ذو

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  1. Scheich Josef:

    مرحبا يا عزيزة

    actually there are not only ‘five nouns’ (الأسماء الخمسة) but ‘six nouns’ (الأسماء الستة), namely

    .أَبُوْ, أَخُوْ, حَمُوْ, فُوْ, هَنُوْ, ذُوْ

    But since the classical word هَنُوْ is obsolete, often only the five other nouns are mentioned.

    Traditional grammar books present the Arabic declension with short vowels as original form and the declension of the ‘six nouns’ with long vowels as secondary. Fawzy Hasan Al-Shayeb takes in his research paper

    the opposite view.

    Concerning ذُوْ one might mention the 11th month ذو القعدة and the 12th month ذو الحجّة of the Hijri lunar calendar.

    مع السلامة


    • aziza:

      @Scheich Josef أشكرك يا يوسف على التوضيح

  2. ghurabalbayn:

    You made a typo. Instead of ذوجة it should be زوجة . I Would not criticise such a trivial mistake, but this useful website intends to teach, and it might confuse students.

    • aziza:

      @ghurabalbayn Thank you very much for the remark. I have amended the post as per your comments.

  3. Scheich Josef:


    The dual of a noun is always obtained from its singular form and not from its plural. Therefore the feminine dual forms of ذو in your table are not correct. The correct form is ذاتا / ذاتي/ ذاتي.


    P.S. Anybody who needs some rest after this heavy dose of grammar, may want to watch the video الشقي ذو الشعر الأحمر

    about a red-haired criminal.

    • aziza:

      @Scheich Josef Indeed Josef! You are absolutely right! I have amended the post as per your comment. I thank you very much for your useful comments.
      I will also add the link to the story to the post with thanks!

  4. Juan:

    Thank you very much Aziza,

    The table is quite useful and the examples help a lot.


  5. Adem:

    It’s been a while since I read The Ransom of Red Chief by O.Henry. Thanks for posting the video!

    I know this post was written over a year ago, but I noticed you have incorrectly labeled the feminine dual slot in your table. Scheich Josef seems to have convinced you of something that is, in fact, wrong.

    He writes, “The dual of a noun is always obtained from its singular form and not from its plural.”

    Please be wary of extreme wording: .

    (ذو) isn’t a traditional noun, so you should not expect it to conjugate like a traditional noun.

    I’d like to quote the authority on Arabic grammar and morphology:

    In Surat-ur-Rahman, ayah 48: ذَوَاتَا أَفْنَانٍ
    In Suratu Saba’, ayah 16: جَنَّتَيْنِ ذَوَاتَيْ أُكُلٍ خَمْطٍ

    Take a look at these ayahs and decide for yourself.

    I do not mean to offend anyone with this comment. Josef has clearly studied the language for some time and I appreciate his enthusiasm for traditional Arabic grammar.


    • aziza:

      @Adem Thank you for your contribution, Adem!

  6. Fabio:

    Dear Everybody

    I have a question about the five nouns:

    what are their dual forms, both in the nominative and in the accusative/genitive?

    For instance, how do I say: I have 2 brothers?

    ‘indy akhan or ‘indy akhwan?

    Thank you!

  7. Sung:

    It’s confusing me that in my textbook your feminine pattern of ذو is right.
    What is the right expression. ذاتي or ذاتُ?

  8. Alberto:

    Thank you for this page. The dual of ذُو was my problem. Thanks again.