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the kinds of feminine gender | Arabic free course

Kinds of feminine gender in Arabic - أَقْسَامُ المُؤَنَّثِ

Introduction

In Arabic, there are two primary genders: masculine (المُذَكَّرُ) and feminine (الْمُؤَنَّثُ). Outside of specific feminine categories, words generally default to the masculine form.

1. Words intrinsically feminine in meaning

Examples:

 

  • بِنْتٌ – a girl
  • اِمْرَأَةٌ – a woman
  • أُمٌّ – a mother

 

وَقَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ فِرْعَوْنَ قُرَّتُ عَيْنٍ لِّي وَلَكَ

 

 

And the wife of Pharaoh said, “[He will be] a comfort of the eye for me and for you. (28:9)

 

 

وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ

 

 

And We inspired the mother of Moses, “Suckle him (28:7)

2. Words ending with ة - Ta Marboota

Examples:

 

  • جَنَّةٌ – paradise
  • صَلاةٌ – prayer
  • زَكَاةٌ – charity
  • زِلَّةٌ – humiliation
  • أُمَّةٌ – community

 

 

وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ مِن كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا

 

 

And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect from every nation a witness. (16:84)

 

 

 وَإِذَا الْجَنَّةُ أُزْلِفَتْ

 

 

And when Paradise is brought near, (81:13)

 

Feminine nouns can be derived by adding the suffix ة (ta marboota) to their masculine counterparts. This change transforms the meaning or context to the feminine form, as demonstrated below:

  • مُسْلِمٌ (Muslim) becomes مُسْلِمَةٌ (Muslim woman).

  • اِبْنٌ (son/boy) becomes اِبْنَةٌ (daughter/girl).

  • كَبِيرٌ (big, for masculine) becomes كَبِيْرَةٌ (big, for feminine).

  • لَيْلٌ (night, in a masculine context) becomes لَيْلَةٌ (night, in a feminine context).

 

 

إِنَّا أَنزَلْنَاهُ فِي لَيْلَةِ الْقَدْرِ

 

 

Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree. (97:1)

 

 

وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلَّا عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ

 

 

 it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah] (2:45)

 

While many words ending in ة (ta marboota) are typically feminine, there are exceptions where words with this ending are considered masculine. For instance:

 

  • خَلِيْفَةٌ (Khalifa) means “vicegerent” or “successor” and is treated as masculine despite its ta marboota ending.

 

إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً

 

 

“Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority.” (2:30)

3. Words ending with اء - Alif mamdooda

Examples:  

 

  • حَضْرَاءُ – green
  • سَوْدَاءُ – black
  • بَيْضَاءُ – white
  • حَمْرَاءُ – red
  • صَفْرَاءُ – yellow
  • سَمَاءٌ – sky

 

وَإِذَا السَّمَاءُ كُشِطَتْ

 

 

And when the sky is stripped away (81:11)

 

 

قَالَ إِنَّهُ يَقُولُ إِنَّهَا بَقَرَةٌ صَفْرَاءُ فَاقِعٌ لَّوْنُهَا تَسُرُّ النَّاظِرِينَ

 

 

 He said, “He says, ‘It is a yellow cow, bright in colour – pleasing to the observers. (2:69)

 

 

While many words in Arabic that end with اء (alif maqsura) might be assumed to be feminine due to their structure, there are exceptions that are considered masculine.

For instance:

  • عُلَمَاءُ (Ulama) refers to scholars or learned individuals and is masculine.
  • فُقَرَاءُ (Fuqara) means the poor or impoverished and is masculine.
  • شُهَدَاءُ (Shuhada) denotes martyrs and is also treated as masculine.

 

 وَادْعُوا شُهَدَاءَكُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

 

 

and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful. (2:23)

 

 

إِنَّمَا الصَّدَقَاتُ لِلْفُقَرَاءِ وَالْمَسَاكِينِ

 

 

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy (9:60)

4. Words ending with ى - alif maqsoora

Examples:  

 

  • كُبْرَى – big
  • بُشْرَى – good news

 

 

فَلَمَّا ذَهَبَ عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الرَّوْعُ وَجَاءَتْهُ الْبُشْرَىٰ يُجَادِلُنَا فِي قَوْمِ لُوطٍ

 

 

And when the fright had left Abraham, and the good tidings had reached him, he began to argue with Us concerning the people of Lot. (11:74)

5. Words feminine by convention

Certain nouns in Arabic are treated as feminine by convention, even if they don’t have the typical markers of feminine nouns. Notably, many geographical names, including those of towns, villages, and countries, fall into this category.

 

For example:

 

  • مِصْرُ (Misr) refers to Egypt and is conventionally feminine.
  • الرُّوْمُ (Ar-Room) represents Rome and is treated as feminine.

 

 

وَقَالَ الَّذِي اشْتَرَاهُ مِن مِّصْرَ لِامْرَأَتِهِ 

 

 

And the one from Egypt who bought him said to his wife (12:21)

 

غُلِبَتِ الرُّومُ 

 

 

The Byzantines have been defeated (30:2)

 

6. Parts of the body that are in pairs

Certain nouns referring to paired body parts are treated as feminine in Arabic, despite not having the typical markers of feminine nouns. Some examples include:

 

  • يَدٌ (Yad) meaning ‘hand’
  • عَيْنٌ (‘Ayn) meaning ‘eye’
  • رِجْلٌ (Rijl) meaning ‘leg’ or ‘foot’
  • أُذُنٌ (Udhun) meaning ‘ear’

7. Names given to fire

Names referring to types or descriptions of fire in Arabic are traditionally treated as feminine. Notable examples include:

 

  • سَقَرٌ (Saqar)
  • جَحِيْمٌ (Jahim)
  • سَعِيْرٌ (Sa’eer)
  • نَارٌ (Nar)
  • جَهَنَّمٌ (Jahannam)

 

وَلَا تُسْأَلُ عَنْ أَصْحَابِ الْجَحِيمِ

 

 

and you will not be asked about the companions of Hellfire. (2:119)

 

 

سَأُصْلِيهِ سَقَرَ 

 

 

I will drive him into Saqar. (74:26)

8. Names given to wind

Names referring to types or characteristics of wind in Arabic are typically considered feminine. Examples include:

 

  • سَمُوْمٌ (Samoom) – A blistering or scorching wind.
  • صَرْصَرٌ (Sarsar) – A fierce and bitterly cold wind.
  • رِيْحٌ (Reeh) – General term for wind.
  • عَاصِفٌ (Aasif) – A turbulent or stormy wind.

 

 

فَأَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ رِيحًا صَرْصَرًا فِي أَيَّامٍ نَّحِسَاتٍ

 

 

So We sent upon them a screaming wind during days of misfortune (41:16)

 

 

أَعْمَالُهُمْ كَرَمَادٍ اشْتَدَّتْ بِهِ الرِّيحُ فِي يَوْمٍ عَاصِفٍ

 

 

 their deeds are like ashes which the wind blows forcefully on a stormy day (14:18)

9. Certain other nouns are also considered feminine

In Arabic, certain nouns, despite not necessarily having the typical feminine markers, are treated as feminine. Examples of these include:

 

أَرْضٌ (Arth) – Earthشَمْسٌ (Shams) – Sun

نَفْسٌ (Nafs) – Self or soul

خَمْرٌ (Khamr) – Wine or alcoholic beverage

بِئْرٌ (Bir) – Well (for water)

دَارٌ (Dar) – Home or abode

نَارٌ (Nar) – Fire

 

 

وَالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا

 

 

By the sun and its brightness (91:1)

 

نَارٌ حَامِيَةٌ 

 

 

It is a Fire, intensely hot. (101:11)

 

 

إِذَا زُلْزِلَتِ الْأَرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا

 

 

When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake (99:1)

 

وَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِالنَّفْسِ اللَّوَّامَةِ

 

 

And I swear by the reproaching soul [to the certainty of resurrection]. (75:2)

Conclusion

This lesson on Arabic nuances concludes here. Insha’Allah, our subsequent session will delve into the conditional sentences in Arabic.

 

Al-dirassa Institute invites you on a linguistic journey with our expert teachers to master the Arabic language. Should you wish to further your studies, we welcome your inquiries.

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