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Why can it be difficult to pronounce ten in Arabic?

The Arabic word for “ten” عشر doesn’t always get the same vowels. Therefore, it is pronounced differently. Why? You need to check the gender.

Last updated: May 2, 2021

Most students of Arabic grammar are afraid of numbers. Even some native speakers have difficulties to write and pronounce them correctly.

Let us check the number ten (10) for example.

To find the correct vowel, you have to check the gender of the noun to which it is referring to.

Rule 1

If  عشر  points to a  MASCULINE  word, there is a فَتْحة on the letter ش

I bought 10 pens.

اشْتَرَيْتُ عشَرةَ أقْلَامٍ

I bought 13 pens.

اِشْتَرَيْتُ ثلاثةَ عشَرَ قَلَمًا

Rule 2

If عشر points to a FEMININE word, there is a سُكُون above the letter ش

I read 10 pages.

قرأتُ عشْرَ صَفْحاتٍ

I read 13 pages.

قرأتُ ثَلاثَ عشْرةَ صَفْحَةً

The gender in Arabic is not always obvious. For example, is the word for war (حرب) masculine or feminine?

More about Arabic grammar (nahw and sarf).

picture credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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