Noun Gender in Arabic Posted by on Feb 6, 2009 in Grammar

All Arabic nouns carry grammatical gender whether they refer to animate or inanimate objects. For living creatures, grammatical gender corresponds to biological gender, e.g. (رجل) “man” is masculine, while (امرأة) “woman” is feminine. For inanimate objects, the relationship between grammatical gender and objects is arbitrary, e.g. (كرسي) “chair” is a masculine noun, while (طاولة) “table” is a feminine noun. When learners of Arabic learn new words, it is important to know the gender associated with this word, e.g. (قمر) “moon” is masculine, while (شمس) “sun” is feminine. Some learners write (m) next to masculine nouns and (f) next to feminine nouns to remember the gender.

Words referring to humans can have masculine and feminize forms, e.g. (موظف) “employee” is masculine, while (موظفة) “employee” is feminine. We change a noun from masculine to feminine by adding the suffixes; (ة) “ta’ marbuta”, e.g. (أستاذ) “teacher” is masculine, while (أستاذة) “teacher” is feminine.

Adjectives must have the same gender of the nouns they describe, e.g. “new employee” can be either (موظف جديد) masculine, or (موظفة جديدة) feminine. Both the noun and the adjective must have the same gender. Likewise, gender of words referring to inanimate objects must agree with the gender of adjectives used to describe them, e.g. (كرسيقديم) “an old chair” both the noun and adjective are masculine, and (طاولة قديمة) “an old table” both the noun and adjective are feminine.

All foreign country names are feminine in Arabic, e.g. (كندا) “Canada”, (أمريكا) “America”, (إنجلترا) “England”, (ألمانيا) “Germany” etc.  Most Arabic country names are feminine, e.g. (مصر) “Egypt”, (الكويت) “Kuwait”, etc. The following countries have masculine names:  (العراق) “Iraq”, (المغرب) “Morocco”, (الأردن) “Jordan”, (السودان) “Sudan”, (اليمن) “Yemen”, and (لبنان) “Lebanon”.

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  1. Charles:

    Perhaps I’m not reading them right, but I’m having a hard time find an E-A dictionary that gives gender. Do you have a dictionary recommendation? Thanks!

  2. Max:

    Good post about the issue of gender in Arabic. Fortunately, it’s not as complicated as in French or German (the latter which has 3 genders!). I’ve got a post on my blog that discusses the issue of gender in more detail.

    Hope some of the readers here might find it useful.

  3. Aziza:

    shukran Max

  4. Sudheer:

    Very nice thank you ,masha allah

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