Last updated: July 14, 2022
Usually, it is pretty easy to identify the gender in Arabic. But there are exceptions.
Indicators for feminine words
Let us first have a look at the regular feminine endings. In Arabic, there are 3 different indicators or signals to define a word as feminine.
|2.1||ألِف تَأْنِيث||مَمْدُودة – اء||صَحْراء|
|2.2||ألِف تَأْنِيث||مَقْصُورة – ى / يا||كُبْرى, عُلْيا|
Special kind of nouns
- The ending اء is also the pattern for adjectives (صِفة) for colors and physical deficiencies in the singular feminine form.
- The letter ى is the pattern for the feminine form of a comparative (اِسْم تَفْضِيل). For example: older, smaller.
Here are some examples:
The word for “war” – حَرْب
It doesn’t look feminine – but it is feminine!
Like in other languages there are words that look masculine by shape but are exceptions.
Common exceptions – words that look masculine but are feminine
Watch out! If you want to add an adjective, you will need the feminine form:
|central market||سُوق مَرْكَزِيّة|
Gender of body parts in Arabic
When you have two parts of one (mostly pairs) like: legs (رِجْل), eyes (عَيْن), ears (أُذُن), tooth (سِنّ) or hands (يَد), then these words are also feminine. In contrast, the words for nose (أَنْف), mouth (فَم), etc. are masculine as you only have one!
Some parts of the body can be either masculine or feminine, like: head (رَأْس), liver (كَبِد) or upper arm(عَضُد)
Also feminine are:
- names of newspapers and magazines, for example: al-Ahram (الْأهْرام)
- names of countries, cities and towns are normally feminine, except: Morocco (الْمَغْرِب), Jordan (الأُرْدُن), Lebanon (لُبْنان), Iraq (الْعِراق) and Sudan (السُّدان)
Arabic nouns which can be treated as masculine or feminine
More grammar related topics:
- English tenses in Arabic – a comprehensive guide
- How do you build the imperative of قالَ in the dual?
- What kind of word is حُرِّيّةٌ in Arabic?
- A crash course in the conditional sentence in Arabic: ف and tenses (3/3)
- A crash course in the conditional sentence in Arabic: particles and words (2/3)
picture credit: Image by Robert Waghorn from Pixabay