October 15, 2019 0

Arabic Grammar: Forming Dual Nouns in Arabic

Arabic Grammar: Forming Dual Nouns in Arabic


Ahlan wa sahlan! Right now we’re going
to talk about the dual form in Arabic as it pertains to nouns, especially, in the
dual in Arabic we call المثنّى. Now in Arabic, we have a special
form for when we’re referring to exactly two of something: two years, two chairs, two anything. In formal Arabic, MSA, in فصحى, we actually have dual endings that can occur on nouns, on adjectives, on
verbs, on pronouns, but right now we’re going to focus just on nouns, because
that is the place where we encounter the dual form the vast majority of the time
in colloquial speech, in Egyptian, Levantine dialect for example. So if we
want to refer to a couple of something, exactly two of something in Shaami or
Masri, we add the suffix ـَين to whatever the noun is that we’re
referring to. So if we have one طالب, excuse me, one student, we would say
طالب, and if we wanted to refer to exactly two students, we would say طالبَين. One girl, بنت, exactly two girls, بنتَين. If we
have a ‘taa marbuuTa,’ for example, if we’re talking about a library مكتبة,
something that is feminine with a ‘taa marbuuTa,’ then just like with our possessive
suffixes, that ‘taa marbuuTa’ is going to metamorphose into a ‘taa.’ so مكتبة واحدة, مكتبتين. Right? And we’re going to hear the sound of that ‘taa’ as we talk. So a couple of example sentences: if I want to say ‘I read two books,’ exactly two books,
in the library, I would say قرأتُ كتابَين في المكتبة. Or if we want to say
she teaches at two universities’ two’ colleges, we could say تدرِّس في جامعتَين Like so. Again, this is the
colloquial form that we’re most likely to hear in Levantine or Egyptian dialect. In فصحى we have two versions, actually. We have one if the dual is the subject
of a sentence, and another if what we’re referring to is a direct object or
indirect object of a verb or preposition. So just as an example, if we wanted to
say for some reason ‘they are two students, who study, who are studying two
languages,’ I would say هما طالبان يدرسان لغتَين. So here we
have هما, the dual form of the pronoun, طالبان, notice that because
this is the subject we have the ‘alif-nuun’ suffix for the dual, يدرسان, a
special conjugation for the dual verb, and لغتَين, and so we have that ‘yaa-nuun’ to indicate that those two languages are the object. You are going
to learn how to control these forms as you develop your ability to write formal
Arabic, as you progress in your career as a learner and speaker of Arabic. And
there are other resources out there if you’re interested that can teach you how
to control the dual in formal Arabic. For now, what I want you to take away is that
these forms are out there, so if you encounter them in a text for example or
as you’re watching the news, perhaps the Arabic news on TV,
these forms are out there and they just indicate that we’re talking about
exactly two of something. In colloquial speech, once again, we really usually
encounter the dual form as ـَين in Masri or Shaami, and usually only tacked
onto the end of nouns to refer to exactly two.

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