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numbers

Consider the following grouping of numbers and try to become accustomed to this categorization. Notice that there is a lot of division based on putting 1 & 2 into one category, and 3 to 9 in another.

Group
Numbers
A
1, 2
B
3..10
C
11, 12
D
13..19
E
20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90
F
21, 22, 31, 32, 41, 42, 51, 52, 61, 62, 71, 72, 81, 82, 91, 92
G
23..29, 33..39, 43..49, 53..59, 63..69, 73..79, 83..89, 93..99
H
100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900
I
1000 onwards

For each of these groups, we want to consider the following:
· How do you construct the number – ordinal and cardinal?
· What is the grammatical gender of the number?
· What is the grammatical case of the number?
· What is the grammatical case of the counted word (by counted word we mean, for example, ‘men’ in the phrase ’22 men’)?
· Is the counted word going to be singular or plural?
Constructing the Numbers

Below are tables describing how we construct the different numbers mentioned. Both cardinals (one, two, three) are included, as well as ordinals (first, second, third).

Note that we can make any of the ones place numbers (as well as the word عشر) feminine simply by adding the تاء of femininity (suffix ة). The only exception is that احد has feminine form اِحْدى. Therefore, only the masculine forms have been shown.

The charts below are quite dense. To ease the learning process, familiarize yourself with this chart below which aims to introduce the core vocabulary of numbers. Most other numbers are simply manipulations of these words.

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
عَشَر
تِسْع
ثَمانِي
سَبْع
سِتّ
خَمْس
اَرْبـَع
ثَلاث

2
1
A

Use dual
Use singular
Cardinal

ثاني
واحِد
Ordinal

10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
B
عَشَْر
تِسْع
ثَماني
سَبْع
سِتّ
خَمْس
أَرْبَع
ثَلاث
Cardinal
عاشِر
تاسِع
ثامِن
سابِع
سادِس
خامِس
رابِع
ثالِث
Ordinal

19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
C, D
تِسْعَ عَشَرَ
ثَمانِي عَشَرَ
سَبْعَ عَشَرَ
سِتَّ عَشَرَ
خَمْسَ عَشَرَ
أَرْبَعَ عَشَرَ
ثَلاثَ عَشَرَ
اِثْنا عَشَرَ
اَحَدَ عَشَرَ
Cardinal
تاسِع عَشَرَ
ثامِن عَشَرَ
سابِع عَشَرَ
سادِس عَشَرَ
خامِس عَشَرَ
رابِع عَشَرَ
ثالِث عَشَرَ
ثاني عَشَرَ
حادي عَشَرَ
Ordinal

90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
E
تِسْعونَ
ثَمانونَ
سَبْعونَ
سِتّونَ
خَمْسونَ
أَرْبَعونَ
ثَلاثونَ
عِشْرونَ
Cardinal
Ordinal

...
23
22
21
F, G
...
ثلاث وعِشْرونَ
إثنْان وعِشْرونَ
واحِد وعِشْرونَ
Cardinal
...
ثالِث وعِشْرونَ
ثاني وعِشْرونَ
حادي وعِشْرونَ
Ordinal

900
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
H
تِسْعمِائة
ثَمانيمِائة
سَبْعمِائة
سِتّمِائة
خَمْسمِائة
اَرْبَعمِائة
ثَلاثمـِائة
مِائَتانِ
مِائة
Cardinal
تاسِع مِائة
ثامِن مِائة
سابِع مِائة
سادِس مِائة
خامِس مِائة
رابِع مِائة
ثالِث مِائة
Ordinal

100,000
...
3,000
2,000
1,000
I
مِائة آلاف
...
ثَلاث آلاف
اَلْفانِ
اَلْف
Cardinal
...
ثالِث آلاف
Ordinal

Examples

a floor
طابق
1st floor
الطابق الواحد
2 floors
طابقان
2nd floor
الطابق الثاني
5 tests
خمسة امتحانات
5th test
الامتحان الخامس
11 pictures
احدى عشرة صورة
11th picture
الصورة الحادية عشرة
18 arrows
ثمانية عشر سهما
18th arrow
السهم الثامن عشر
60 buckets
ستّون دلوا
60th bucket
الدلو الستون
31 cities
واحدة وثلاثون مدينة
31st city
المدينة الحادية والثلاثون
29 regions
تسع وعشرون منطقة
29th region
المنطقة التاسعة والعشرون
300 soldiers
ثلاثمائة عسكريّ
300th soldier
العسكري الثالث مائة
413 thieves
اربعمائة وثلاثة عشر لصا
413th thief
اللص الرابع مائة والثالث عشر
year 1985
سنة الف وتسعمائة وخمس وثمانين
1,985th year
السنة الالف والتاسعة مائة والخامسة والثمانون

Grammatical Gender of the Numbers

The table below explains what the gender of a cardinal number will be given the word being counted. The ordinals have not been included because, in most cases, they act as adjectives for the counted word. So they will match in gender. For example, الرجل الثالث and المرأة الثالثة.

To facilitate the understanding of these rules, let’s consider a rule of thumb: Consider the gender of the singular form of the word being counted. When the ones place is 1 or 2, the ones place will match that singular in gender. And when the ones place is a number between 3 and 9, it will mismatch.

Group
Numbers
Gender of Cardinals
Example
A
1, 2
There is no number, the counted word is used either as singular or dual as needed
رئيس، رئيسان
مرأة، مرأتان
B
3..10
Ones place: gender opposite of the counted word
(sing. امتحان) ثلاثة امتحانات
(sing. مباراة)ثلاث مباريات
C
11, 12
Ones place: gender same as the counted word
Tens place: gender same as the counted word
احد عشر بلدا
إحدى عشرة ولاية
D
13..19
Ones place: gender opposite of the counted word
Tens place: gender same as the counted word
أربعة عشر سبيلا
أربع عشرة معجزة
E
20, 30, 40, 50, ...
Tens place: always masculine
خمسون صحيفا
خمسون ورقة
F
21, 22, 31, 32, ...
Ones place: gender same as the counted word
Tens place: always masculine
اثنان وستون مرابطا
اثنتان وستون زوجة
G
23..29, 33..39, ...
Ones place: gender opposite of the counted word
Tens place: always masculine
سبعة وسبعون ركنا
سبع وسبعون صدقة
H
100, 200, 300, ...
Hundreds place: always masculine since the word مائة is feminine
The word مائة is always feminine
ثمانيمائة وخمسة وعشرون بيتا
ثمانيمائة وخمس وعشرون دار
I
1000, 2000, ...
Thousands place: always feminine since the word الف is masculine
The word الف is always masculine
تسعة آلاف جلاّد
تسعة آلاف هرة

Exercise: translate the following phrases into Arabic. The translations of the counted words have been provided. Where you see two words, you must use the underlined plural; the singular is there to help you figure out the gender.

a. a dog (كلب، كلاب)
b. 7 kittens (هريرة، هريرات)
c. 10 masc. students (طالب، طلاب)
d. 11 mice (فأرة)
e. 12 masc. classmates (زميل)
f. 14 windows (شباك)
g. 18 caravans (قافلة)
h. 32 dates (تمرة)
i. 51 journalists (صحافيون)
j. 96 frogs (ضفدع)
k. 99 nicknames (كنية)
l. 307 stars (نجم، نجوم)
m. 411 telephones (هاتف)
n. 789 beds (سريرة)
o. 1,718 apples (تفّاح)
p. 36,036 peaches (درّاق)

Grammatical Case of the Numbers & the Counted Words

The table below summarizes what grammatical case both the number and the counted word take.

Group
Numbers
Case of Number
Case of Word
Example
A
1, 2
There is no number
Determined by its position in the sentence
رأيت رجليـن
B
3..10
Determined by its position in the sentence
The number and word form اضافة, so it will be genitive
لعب في ثلاثةِ ميادينَ
C
11, 12

Both parts are indeclinable; final letters take the فتحة vowel in all cases
The number and word form تميز, so it will be accusative
ثلاثَ عشرةَ عيناً
D
13..19

E
20, 30, 40, 50, ...

Determined by its position in the sentence
خذ ثلاثاً وأربعيـن داراً
F
21, 22, 31, 32, ...

G
23..29, 33..39, ...

H
100, 200, 300, ...

The number’s case is determined by its position
The number and word form اضافة, so it will be genitive
أوقظ ثلاثُمائةِ الفِ نائمٍ
I
1000, 2000, ...

It is important to note that, when you have a complicated number like 1234, those numbers that form اضافة or تميز will do so with the words that follow them, whether those words are the thing being counted or other numbers.

For example, in “أوقظ ثلاثُمائةِ الفِ نائمٍ”, مائة forms اضافة with الف.

Exercise: correctly inflect the underlined words in the following sentences:
a. فانفجرت منه اثنتا عشرة عين
b. أنزل الله مائة الف وأربعة وعشرون الف نبي

Plurality of the Counted Words

The final task is to understand whether the word following the number will be singular or plural. This is a relatively simple topic summarized in the table below.

Group
Numbers
Plurality of Word
Example
A
1, 2
single or dual
ثعلب، ثعلبان
B
3..10
plural
خمسة ثعالبَ
C
11, 12

single
احدَ عشرَ ثعلباً
D
13..19

خمسةَ عشرَ ثعلباً
E
20, 30, 40, 50, ...

خمسون ثعلباً
F
21, 22, 31, 32, ...

واحد وخمسون ثعلباً
G
23..29, 33..39, ...

خمسة وخمسون ثعلباً
H
100, 200, 300, ...

خمسمائةِ ثعلبٍ
I
1000, 2000, ...

خمسة آلافِ ثعلبٍ

Exercise: correct the following phrases in terms of gender and grammatical case, as necessary:
a. أحدَ عشرةِ فنادقَ
b. اثنتا عشرةَ درهماً
c. تسعةَ عشرةِ كتابٍ
d. خمسو قضاةٍ
e. ثلاثةُ مائةٍ وإحدى وتسعين طاولاتٍ

Extend your Knowledge

Numerals

The numerals associated with the numbers are summarized in the following chart:

Number
Numeral

صفر
٠
0
واحد
١
1
اثنان
٢
2
ثلاثة
٣
3
أربعة
٤
4
خمسة
٥
5
ستة
٦
6
سبعة
٧
7
ثمانية
٨
8
تسعة
٩
9

Fractions

In Arabic, we use the word نصف to indicate one half. In order to indicate fractions with a numerator of 1 but denominators larger than 2, we place the cardinal numbers on the فُعُل pattern. The table below makes this clearer.

...
1/5
1/4
1/3
1/2
...
خُمُس
رُبُع
ثُلُث
نِصْف

In order to change the numerator, we use the rules of numbers we’ve just learned, using the denominator as the counted word. In essence, what we are saying is ‘three one-quarters,’ for example. Below are a few examples.

3/4
3/3
3/2
2/4
2/3
2/2
ثَلاثة أَرْباعٍ
ثَلاثة أَثْلاثٍ
ثَلاثة أنْصافٍ
رُبُعانِ
ثُلُثانِ
نِصْفانِ

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