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Number 8

How to handle the number 8 in Arabic – a core analysis

In Arabic, the number 8 – ثَمَانٍ – has some tricky subtleties. We delve deep into the rules and see what the classic grammarians have to say about them.

Last updated: 5 months ago

Writing numbers (عَدَد – أَعْداد) and treating them grammatically correctly, including spelling and pronunciation, is one of the most difficult and challenging areas in Arabic. The number 8 in particular has some special features that we want to look at in this article. We will learn why the masculine form of the number 8 is special, how to form and pronounce the number 18, and why the number 800 is always pronounced the same way by many people.


If you don't have much time, you can skip to number 3. There, we'll give a brief overview of all the rules as they are used now.


What makes 8 different from other numbers?

First, let's check out all the numbers from 3 to 10 (cardinal numbers). This way, we can spot all the differences and have some fun along the way. Let's dive in.

Quick overview: The numbers 3 to 10 in Arabic

femininemasculine
3ثَلاثَةٌثَلاثٌ
4أَرْبَعَةٌأَرْبَعٌ
5خَمْسَةٌخَمْسٌ
6سِتَّةٌسِتٌّ
7سَبْعَةٌسَبْعٌ
8ثَمَانِيَةٌثَمَانٍ
9تِسْعَةٌتِسْعٌ
10عَشَرَةٌعَشْرٌ
Numbers from 3 to 10 in Arabic. The number 8, masculine form, is special.

In this article we will put ثَمانٍ, the Arabic word for eight, under the microscope and focus on the last letter. Wait a second – what is the last letter? We will learn that we have to deal with a so-called اِسْمٌ مَنْقُوصٌ, a noun with a reduced, incomplete ending, because the word has a final weak letter, the ي. Such words have a pe­culiarity: the last letter is shortened (مَنْقُوصٌ) in the indefinite form; the last letter vanishes. This will become crucial in some situa­tions.

To understand the following analysis and thoughts, we first need to know the rules in Arabic that apply to numbers from 3 to 10. If you are not sure about this, click here for a brief summary.

Number 3 to 10 are nouns and take what is called inverted agreement. That is, the feminine form is used when referring to masculine nouns, and the masculine form is used when referring to feminine nouns. The gender of the number is determined by the gender of the counted noun in the singular. Thus, when the noun in the singular is masculine, the gender of the number will be feminine and vice versa.

In Arabic, numbers from 3 to 10 function as a governing term in an إضافة-construction and thus do not have nunation. The nouns which they govern (= second part of the Idafa-construction) are plural, indefinite, and in the genitive case. The number is in the case required by its function in the sentence.

counted noun (المعدود)EnglishArabic
masculine: كِتابٌthree booksثَلاثةُ كُتُبٍ
feminine: كُرةٌthree ballsثَلاثُ كُراتٍ

Situation 1: counted noun is masculine

The counted noun is the word after the number. When the counted noun is masculine, we say in Arabic الْمَعْدُودُ مُذَكَّرٌ.

  • In such a situation, we need the feminine form (مُؤَنَّث) of the number eight: ثمانية.
  • The good news: There is nothing special about that. We treat the word ثمانية as a standard noun (اِسْمٌ صَحِيحٌ مُنْصَرِفٌ) that gets all the necessary standard case markers.

In the following example, we need the feminine form of the number because the counted noundays – is masculine. The singular form is يَوْمٌ.

during eight daysطِوالَ ثَمانِيةِ أَيّامٍ

We all know that regular things are boring. So let's move on to the interesting part: the feminine form of the number eight.


Situation 2: counted noun is feminine

When the counted noun is feminine (الْمَعْدُودُ مُؤَنَّثٌ), the handling of the number 8 in Arabic is more complicated.

In such a situation, the masculine form of the number 8 is involved, ثمانٍ or الثماني, and this means trouble: it is getting quite complex. We need to check two situations:

  • The number is used in a single form (مُفْرَدٌ):

For example, Sura 28 The Story (الْقَصَص), verse 28:28:

… on condition that you serve me for eight years … عَلَىٰ أَن تَأْجُرَنِى ثَمَـٰنِىَ حِجَجٍ…
  • The number is part of a compound number (مُرَكَّب):

Now, the situation changes dramatically if we use the number 8 in a compound number (العدد يُركَّب). When we say compound here, we do not mean a إضافة! If the number 8 is used to form the number 18 or 800, we need to apply special rules which are only valid in compounds with the number 8. This happens when we use the numbers 8 with 10 producing the number 18 or 8 with hundred producing the number 800. For example a Hadith, Sunan Ibn Majah 1681:

…after eighteen days of the month (of Ramadan) had passed.بَعْدَ مَا مَضَى مِنَ الشَّهْرِ ثَمَانِي عَشْرَةَ لَيْلَةً.

The mysterious masculine form of “eight” in Arabic

In Arabic there is something special about the number eight: in the masculine form, we don't have the standard markers at the end, the so-called Nunation (تنوين). Instead, we see “-in”: two كَسْرة. Why is that?

We don't have a clear answer. There is only speculation about why the word ثمانٍ is used to express the idea of 8 in Arabic and why it was chosen over time. In other Semitic languages, the word for 8 is based on similar roots, but even in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Akkadian, there is no strong evidence about the meaning behind the word for 8 at that time.1

So let's take a look at what Arabic scholars thought about the form of the number eight in Arabic.

  • Some scholars say that it is a Nisba-noun (نِسْبة ) of ثَمَن, resulting in ٌثَمَنِيّ. But this word was never used as such, but rather in transformed manner, by deleting one of the two ي and replacing it with an : ثَمَانِي
  • When we delete something, we should think about whether we need to compensate for it. We could say that the vowel “a” of the م was lengthened as compensation which could explain the Aleph. The Aleph (ا) of ثَمانٍ is a characteristic of such نِسْبةٌ-nouns because these words are not broken plurals like صَحارٍ which is the plural form of صَحْراءُ (desert).
  • The grammarian al-Farisi (الفارسي)2 said, “As for eight, the Aleph in it is not a plural Aleph. Rather, it is a substitute for one of the Nisba Ya.” (فأما ثمانٍ فالألف فيه ليست بألف جمع، إنما هي عوض من إحدى ياءي النسب).

    Note that there are two ي as indicated by the يّ. We do have some evidence that this happened in the old times. The word شَآم for example is a Nisba-form of the word الشّامُ and thus means from the Levante. الشّامُ (from the the north) is the Arabic word for the region that some people in the West call Levante (بِلادُ الشّامِ), i.e., modern-day Syria and other parts of countries.
  • Using the two ideas above, we could compare this form to the word يَمانٍ which means Yemenite or from Yemen. يَمانٍ is an exception to the standard rules because the usual form (which, by the way, is also used) is يَمَنِيّ. So, originally it was يَمَنِيٌّ derived from الْيَمَنُ which then became يَمانٍ (originally يَمانِيٌ). To compensate for the suppression of one of the two ي, the ا (Aleph) was added. Also the GOAT of Arabic grammarians, Sibawayhi (سيبويه), had already expressed a similar idea.3
  • The Nisba form can be explained not only by analogy, but also by meaning. The word ثمانٍ could also be the نِسبةٌ-noun of ثُمْنٌ (meaning eighth), for it is the part or portion that makes seven to be eight; thus, it is its eighth. The first letter later was pronounced with فَتحة. This happens sometimes. For example, سَهْلٌ (soft ground, level, plain) has a different first vowel when used as a نِسبة. It is the form سُهْلِيٌّ that deviates from the standard rules; e.g., ground cover (نَباتٌ سُهْلِيٌّ).4 So we get two words which underwent the same building process: شَآم ويَمانٍ.


So much for the theory. We will now look at all situations (8, 18 and 800) step by step.

8, 18 and 800 in Arabic: A practical approach

Although you would think that the number 8 would be the least of the problems in our analysis, it is actually the trickiest variant.

The number 8

I will provide a simplified version of the content while maintaining the same language:

Here are some recipes recommended by many grammarians of our times. These can be summarized into four rules.

RULE 1: If the number is the first part of a إِضافةٌ‎, you must keep the ي.

Eight men came.جاءَ ثَمانِيةُ رِجالٍ
I saw eight girls.رَأَيْتُ ثَمانِيَ بَناتٍ

What about the case endings if the number is masculine? The number gets the case requried by its function in the sentence:

Nominative (مرفوع) AND genitive (مجرور) case: ثَمانِيْ بَناتٍ

Accusative (منصوب) case: ثَمانِيَ بَناتٍ

RULE 2: If the number is not the first part of the إِضافةٌ and you refer to a masculine noun (مَعْدُودٌ مُذَكَّرٌ), you keep the ي in its feminine form (مَع تَأْنِيثِهِ). Sounds weird? Well, this situation happens if you change the word order.

Eight men came.جاءَ مِن الرِّجالِ ثَمانِيةٌ
I saw eight men.رَأَيْتُ مِن الرِّجالِ ثَمانِيةً

RULE 3: If the number is not the مُضافٌ (the first part) and you refer to a feminine noun (مَعْدُودٌ مُؤَنَّثٌ), then you delete the ي in the nominative case (رَفْعٌ) and in the genitive (جَرٌّ) – which happens to any اِسْمٌ مَنْقُوصٌ.

Eight girls came.جاءَتْ مِن الْبَناتِ ثَمانٍ
I passed (by) eight girls.مَرَرْتُ مِن الْبَناتِ بِثَمانٍ
I saw eight girls.رَأَيْتُ مِن الْبَناتِ ثَمانِيًا

RULE 4: When the number takes the accusative case (نَصْبٌ), it is possible (but not recommended) to treat ثَمانٍ as a dip­tote (مَمْنُوعٌ مِن الصَّرْفِ). This is due to its special pattern resembling an ultimate plural (مُنْتَهَى الجُمُوعِ). Note: We will deal with that later in this article.

I saw eight girls.رَأَيْتُ مِن الْبَناتِ ثَمانِيَ

The number 18

It all depends on the noun to which 18 refers, i.e., the counted noun (الْمَعْدُودُ).

The number refers to a masculine noun: This means that we need the feminine form of 8 and the masculine form of the number 10.

I have with me eighteen men.عِنْدِي ثَمانِيةَ عَشَرَ رَجُلًا

The number refers to a feminine noun: We need the masculine form of 8 and the feminine form of 10.

Regarding the case endings of the number 8, you have choice here. You may make the ي to have a فَتْحةٌ or you make it un­vowelled, qui­escent (سُكُونٌ).

I have with me, of women, eigh­teen women. عِنْدِي مِن النِّساءِ ثَمانِيَ عَشْرَةَ امَْرَأَةً
➤ This is the option with the Sukun (سُكُونٌ).عِنْدِي مِن النِّساءِ ثَمانِيْ عَشْرَةَ امَْرَأَةً

The number 800

Numbers from 300 to 900 are written as compound nouns (مُرَكَّب) and, interestingly, they undergo inflection in their middle (which is not typical for compound nouns). We have here a إضافة-construction. We apply the reverse gender idea when constructing the compound noun. Since hundred (مِئةٌ) is feminine, we use tha masculine form of the number eight, and this means trouble.

  • The unit number gets the case ending depending on the function in the sentence (all three case endings are possible: “u”, “i”, “a”) – except for the number 800 as we will seee.
  • The word for 100 is singular (!) and gets the genitive case (Tanween: “-in”).

Since the word for 100 is a feminine noun (مِائَةٌ or مِئَةٌ), the unit noun must take the masculine form (according to the rule of inverted agreement). The unit noun is inflected for case even though the compound number is nowadays usually written as one word.

Let's see the number 700 and 800 and 900:

700سَبْعُ مِئةٍ – usually written as one word: سَبْعُمِئةٍ
800ثَمانِي مِئَةٍ – usually written as one word: ثَمانِمِئَةٍ
900تِسْعُ مِئَةٍ – usually written as one word تِسْعُمِئَةٍ

What about the counted noun? This noun will be the last part of the إضافة-chain. Let's check an example:

Note that the word for 300, 800, etc. remains the same whether the noun being counted is masculine or feminine.

300 booksثَلاثُمِائةِ كِتابٍ
300 ballsثَلاثُمِائةِ كُرةٍ
800 booksثَمانِمِائَةِ كِتابٍ
800 ballsثَمانِمِائَةِ كُرَةٍ

If you are not sure why we write the vowel “i” in all cases (nominative, genitive, accusative) when we have the number 800, stay tuned as we will deal with that further below. It is not the only option, but probably the most common application.

The number 8000

This works similarly to 800 – with the difference that we now use the plural form of thousand: آلافٌ. And the number and the word for thousands are not written together.

And there is good news: Since we apply the reverted gender when creating the number similar to numbers from 3 to 10, we have to use the feminine form of eight as أَلْفٌ is masculine. And the feminine form of eight – ثَمانِية – just behaves like regular nouns.

NumberArabic
7000سَبعَةُ آلافٍ
8000ثَمانِيةُ آلافٍ
9000تِسعَةُ آلافٍ

What about the counted noun? That's similar to the hundreds (300, 800, etc.). The counted noun will be the last part of the إضافة-chain. The case number on the word eight will be according to its function.

3000 booksثَلاثةُ آلافِ كِتابٍ
3000 ballsثَلاثةُ آلافِ كُرةٍ
8000 booksثَمانِيةُ آلافِ كِتابٍ
8000 ballsثَمانِيةُ آلافِ كُرةٍ

So in Arabic, the number 8000 poses no grammatical problems.

The ordinal number 8 (“eighth”)

The ordinal number is not a big deal. The ordinal from 2nd to 10th have the active participle form فاعِلٌ.

  • Masculine form of 8th (eighth): ثامِنٌ
  • Feminine form of 8th (eighth): ثامِنةٌ
in the eighth centuryفِي الْقَرْنِ الثّامِنِ

But hey, guess what? That's not the only way the number eight is treated in Arabic. There are actually different opinions and ideas about how to handle this number in Arabic. It's like a whole debate going on about the nature and grammar of the number 8.

We will now look at them step-by-step.

Deep Dive: Different approaches to treating the number 8

The following explanations should be understood primarily as ideas. The beauty of Arabic grammar is that with the right justification, one can allow oneself a lot and also have freedoms. The analysis and justification just needs to be clear and coherent, within the grammatical framework.

Some justifications are more accepted than others, but it's important to be cautious about quickly viewing things as incorrect. Arabic does not operate in the same manner, and there will always be Arabic poetry that pushes all the boundaries.

There are many explanations for the somewhat strange pattern of the Arabic number eight. Some are a little bit weird and not really logical. For example, this one uses the following argument: The Arabic word for eight follows the pattern of الجارِيةُ or الْبَوادِي. What's the idea and why is not questionable?

The Arabic word بادِية means desert and the plural is بَوادٍ, with the definite article الْبَوادِي. The plural follows the pattern الْفَواعِل, so if we insert the root letters, we see that the ي here of الْبوادي is in fact the third root letter: ي-د-و.

If we take the word الثَّوانِي, we see that the pattern is الْفَعالِي because the root letters are ث-م-ن.

The Aleph in الْبَوادِي is the Aleph of the plural which is different from the Aleph in الثَّمانِي.

  • The word الْبَوادِي is the plural of الْبادِيةُ.

However:

  • The word الثَّمانِي is not the plural of الثّامِنةُ. The plural would be الثَّوامِنُ.

Option 1: Treat 8 as a اسم منقوص

That's the most common approach that we also mainly use in our four rules above. The question here centers around the possible case endings of ثَمانٍ.

The noun is treated simi­larly to قاضٍ – الْقاضِي (judge). We call such nouns a اسمٌ مَنْقُوصٌ. In Western , you may read defective noun.

We probably all learned them in the first few weeks of Arabic class, but it's easy to forget and confuse the terms, so it can't hurt to take a quick look again.

Arabic is a language that follows simple rules – unless you see one of the following three endings:

  • اء
  • ي
  • ا or ى (Aleph)

Once again, it's the weak letters (حَرْفُ عِلَةٍ) that cause trouble. Let's examine the three troublemakers in Arabic nouns:


The اِسْمٌ مَنْقُوصٌ

  • final ي ِ–
  • the incomplete” – noun with curtailed ending; ends in mandatory ي

a clubنادٍ
the clubالنَّادِي
a judgeقاضٍ
the judgeالْقاضِي

In our analysis, we will treat the masculine form of the Arabic word for eight – ثَمانٍ – الثَماني – as a اِسْمٌ مَنْقُوصٌ.


The اِسْمٌ مَقْصُورٌ

  • final ا or ى
  • the shortened (Aleph)” – noun with shortened ending “a”; ends in mandatory Aleph

stickعَصًا
young manفَتًى


The اِسْمٌ مَمْدُودٌ

  • final اء
  • the extended” – noun with extended ending
desertصَحْراءُ
redحَمْراءُ

Now, let's start with our analysis.

What's important to know: If we use this approach, we understand the word 8 here not as a broken plural form (جَمْعُ تَكْسِيرٍ) as we will do in option 2 further below.

Nominative (مرفوع)

These are eight papers.هٰذِهِ ثَمانِي أَوْراقٍ

The word ثَمانِي here is the predicate (خبر) of the nominal sentence (جملة اسمية). The nominate case is marked by a virtual vowel marker (الضمة المقدرة) on the ي because it would be too difficult to pronounce the markers.

What would happen if we deleted the counted noun? This means that the اسم منقوص does not have a definite form, nor does it serve as the first part of the إضافة. In other words, we do not write the ي!

This is (these are) eight.هٰذِهِ ثَمانٍ

Genitive (مجرور)

… in eight papersفِي ثَمانِي أَوْراقٍ

Here the word ثَمانِي has a virtual vowel (كَسْرَةٌ مَقَدِّرَةٌ) as a case marker – on the ي!

And if we deleted the counted noun? Same as in the nominative case:

I wrote in eight…كَتَبْتُ فِي ثَمانٍ

Accusative (منصوب)

Here we have a different situation. We can use the appropriate case vowel without any issue. The pronunciation is not a problem.

I read eight papersقَرَأْتُ ثَمانِيَ أَوْراقٍ

The word ثَمانِيَ is the direct object (مفعول به) of the verbal sentence. It needs to be in the accusative case (منصوب). It is marked by the usual sign in this position: a single “a” (فَتْحَةٌ ظاهِرَةٌ).

And what would happen, if we deleted the counted noun? Here, you need to watch out!

I read eightقَرَأْتُ ثَمانيًا

What happened here? Since we have here a اسم منقوص in the accusative case, the noun gets Nunation (تنوين).


Option 2: Ignore and cut-off the ي

Some people say we could also just delete/ignore the ي and put the case endings on the ن. The grammarian Ibn Malik mentions that some Arabs are doing that5. In other words, you make the letter ن the letter that receives and barries the case marker (حَرْفُ إِعْرابٍ).

If we look at the classical grammar works, we can say that especially the Kufa school of Arabic grammar (الكوفيون)6 allowed deleting the ي (at least) in poetry. It is really an old approach. We can find lengthy explanations in the works of the Egyptian grammar giant Abu al-Hassan al-Ashmuni7 (أبو الحسن الأشموني), who lived from 1435 / 838 AH to 1464/929 AH, who had already discussed it (وقد تُحذف ياؤها في الإفراد ويُجعل إعرابها على النون).

In short, option 2 means that we put the case marker directly on the ن and choose the correct case marker according to the function of the word eight in the sentence.

Nominative (مرفوع)

Theoretically, it would be possible (and allowed) to write the masculine form of the number eight as follows – if we assume that the last letter is the ن:

These are eight papers.هٰذِهِ ثَمانُ أَوْراقٍ

Here the predicate ثَمانُ gets the usual case marker of a word serving as the first part of a إِضافة in the nominative case.

Genitive (مجرور)

That's similar. We could treat the letter “ن” as the last letter of the word, which therefore bears the case ending.

…in eight papers فِي ثَمانِ أَوْراقٍ

Here the word ثَمانِ does get a visible marker of the genitive case (مجرور بكسرة ظاهرة).

Accusative (منصوب)

If we use the same logic as above (the letter نون is the last letter of the word), then the following would work:

I read eight papersقَرَأْتُ ثَمانَ أَوْراقٍ

Option 3: Apply the rules of an ultimate plural form

This type of interpretation is relatively common, as the experienced grammarian recognizes the pattern of a “diptote” and then often automatically eliminates the nunation.

Accusative (منصوب)

Now let's analyse this sentence:

I've read eightقَرَأْتُ ثَمانيَ

We do not write the Nunation. How come?

We assume that the word follows a special pattern similar to the word جَوَاري and apply these rules (لفظًا). We assume that we deal with the pattern of an ultimate plural (منتهى الجموع) and somehow, there is some truth in it, because every noun following one of such patterns is a diptote (ممنوع من الصرف).

The grammarian al-Farsi (الفارسي) mentioned that some poets treated the Arabic word for eight similarly to the treatment of الْحَذارِي which is a plural form of حِذْرِيَةٌ which means a rugged piece of ground; or the top of a mountain when it is hard and rugged, but level; a rough ground or rugged hill.

The plural form is حَذارٍ. So, we have the similarity to ثَمانٍ and الثَّمانِي.

So, what is correct?

The first approach is considered the best and most common option.


Deep Dive: The number 18 in Arabic

Numbersx from 13 to 19 are very special in Arabic. They have a cemented shape, both parts of the compound noun are “invariable” as linguists say. In many modern grammar books, you read the following rules: One Fatha, at all times regardless of case – and never put Nunation.

That's correct, but it is not so simple as we – theoretically – do have options.

We only look here at the interesting situation, which is the counted noun is feminine which means: we need the masculine form of the number eight.

The classical grammarians had identified four possible solutions which are all correct. This was already stated by the grammarian al-Ashmuni (الأشموني):

  1. First option: We put the vowel “a” on the letter ي resulting in يَ
  2. Second option: We put the sign of a non-vowel (سكون) on the last letter ي resulting in: يْ
  3. Third option: We delete the ي and use the vowel “i” for the remaining last letter ن resulting in: نِ
  4. Fourth option: We delete the ي and use the vowel “a” for the remaining last letter ن resulting in: نَ

An example: I have read … (…قَرَأْتُ)

OPTIONARABIC
1ثَمانِيَ عَشْرَةَ قِصَّةً
2ثَمانِي عَشْرَةَ
3ثَمانِ عَشْرَةَ
4ثَمانَ عَشْرَةَ

Most common, however, is to treat compound numbers from 13 to 19 as “frozen”, as being cemented on the “a” vowels = option 1.

Deep Dive: The number 800 in Arabic

Anchors on Arabic television like to pronounce the number 800 with “i” in the middle, regardless of the grammatical position of the number. They usually say “thamāni-mi'a”. How does that come about?

The number 800 is very special and the result of the practical (and somewhat incorrect) use of the Arabs.

  • If the number eight is added to a hundred (singular!), the ة of eight is deleted to comply with the rule of opposite gender. In other words, we use the masculine form: ثَمانٍ
  • In a إضافة-construction, the ي appears and we get ثَمانِي
  • When native Arabic speakers combine eight with the hundred, they not only delete the ة. They also delete the ي. This happened long ago.
  • As for the ي in ثمانية, the rule would say that you keep the ي. But in practical usage, it was deleted to lighten the pronunciation. The grammarian Al-Hariri (الحريريُّ) stated in his old work درة الغواص في أوهام الخواص that it is better to keep the ي.

An example:

I have 800 Dirhamعِنْدِي ثَمانِي مِئَةِ دِرْهَمٍ
I bought for 800 Dirhamاِشْتَرَيْتُ بِثَمانِي مِئَةِ دِرْهَمٍ
I lost 800 Dirhamفَقَدْتُ ثَمانِيَ مِئَةِ دِرْهَمٍ
  • When we keep the ي, we apply the rules of a اسم منقوص because such nouns keep the ي in a إضافة-construction. If we keep the ي, we mark the nominative and genitive case with virtual markers on the ي as we cannot put any vowel on it as it would be too difficult to pronounce. The accusative case, however, is marked with a visible “a”-vowel (بِالحَرَكَةِ الظّاهِرَةِ فِي النَّصْبِ).
  • Now, if the ي is deleted, the إعراب is different. Then we keep the ن cemented on the “i”-vowel resulting in نِ. The actual case markers according to the position in the sentence are virtually understood and are to be placed on the deleted letter ي which is quite abstract (حَرَكَةُ الإِعْرابِ عَلَى الياءِ المَحْذُوفَةِ).

So let's check our three sentences again:

I have 800عِنْدِي ثَمانِ مِئَةٍ
I bought for 800اِشْتَرَيْتُ بِثَمانِ مِئَةٍ
I lost 800فَقَدْتُ ثَمانِ مِئَةٍ
  • The deletion of the ي happens to make the pronounciation easier (للتخفيف). So we just keep the ن as it is with its original vowel “i” (تبقى حركة النون على أصلها الكسر قبل الحذف) before the deletion.

Now, one last question remains: Should we put a space between 8 and 100?

Space or not? ثمانِ مئةٍ or ثمانِمئةٍ

You can choose, but most modern scholars prefer to separate – which is actually the opposite of the current daily usage which is to write it alltogether as one word.

The scholars say that the idea of the compound here is an addition and not the fusion/mixing. However, interestingly, the classical grammarians usually gave the spelling of not using a space (connect both words directly) and add an Aleph to the word hundred (مائة).

Today, the Egyptian spelling is without the Aleph (مئة).


If you've made it this far, I'm sure you need a coffee because what we've done here is pretty heavy stuff. Let's briefly summarize the most important rules again – in principle, that's all you need to know in everyday life.


All rules in a nutshell: the Arabic number 8

The counted noun is masculine:

8 menثَمانِيَةُ رِجالٍمفرد
18 menثَمانِيَةَ عَشَرَ رَجُلاًمركب
28 menثَمانِيَةٌ وَعِشْرُونَ رَجُلاًمعطوف
80 menثَمانُونَ رَجُلاًعُقود
800 menثَمانِمائَةِ رَجُلٍمُلْحَق بالمفرد
8000 menثَمانِيَةُ آلافِ رَجُلٍمُلْحَق بالمفرد
Numbers in Arabic that contain eight – if the word being counted is masculine

The counted noun is femine:

8 girlsثَمانِي بَناتٍالمفرد
18 girlsثَمانِي عَشْرَةَ بِنْتًاالمركب
28 girlsثَمانٍ وَعِشْرُونَ بِنْتًاالمعطوف
80 girlsثَمانُونَ بِنْتًاعُقود
800 girlsثَمانِمائَةِ بِنْتٍمُلْحَق بالمفرد
8000 girlsثَمانِيةُ آلافِ بِنْتٍمُلْحَق بالمفرد
Numbers in Arabic that contain eight – if the word being counted is feminine

Still got questions?

Bring it on! And if you happen to spot any mistakes or inaccuracies, please let me know — we're all here to learn and lend a hand in getting better.

Discover the fascinating intricacies of the Arabic number 8. From its special features to grammatical rules, unravel the mystery in this insightful article.


FOOTNOTES

  1. Akkadian samaanuu (f.), samaantuu (m.); in Hebrew, it is shəmoneh (שְׁמוֹנֶה) and shəmonah (שְׁמוֹנָה); Ugarit tmn (f.) and tmnt (m.). ↩︎
  2. Abu ‘Ali al-Farisi (~ 901 to 987) was a leading grammarian of the school of al-Basra. He was born to a Persian father and an Arab mother. ↩︎
  3. Sibaweihi in : وياء ثمانٍ كياء قمريٍّ وبختىٍّ، لحقت كلحاق ياء يمانٍ وشآمٍ ↩︎
  4. The word نباتٌ is a collective noun and means plants, vegetation. It is related to the root ن – ب – ت which means to grow (of plants). ↩︎
  5. For example, a line by the 8th century Iraqi poet al-Rajiz (الراجز): لَها ثَنايا أَرْبَعٌ حِسانُ * وأربَعٌ فَثَغْرُها ثَمانُ ↩︎
  6. The Basra school, as a whole, developed their approach to structuring the Arabic grammar system with a philosophical lens, whereas the Kufa school predominantly relied upon the evidence presented in classical texts. ↩︎
  7. What does Ashmuny mean? It is a Nisba noun (نسبة) referring to a place, the city of Ashmoun (أشمون) in Egypt. Today, the city in the Nile Delta (100 km/62 miles north of Cairo, Munufiya governorate) has about 111,000 inhabitants (according to the 2017 census). The Arabic name of the city comes from the Coptic Chmoumi (Coptic: ϭⲙⲟⲩⲙⲓ), of unclear etymology, possibly related to a Coptic word for “spring, source”. ↩︎
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Muhamad Haziq Amir
Muhamad Haziq Amir
5 months ago

The number 8 in Arabic is indeed grammatically interesting (and make headache too :D)!

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