Rules of numbers and counted objects / أَحْكام العَدَد والمَعْدُود

Arabic number rules and counted objects / أَحْكام العَدَد والمَعْدُود

(Before studying this part check => Elementary section: Cardinal numbers & Intermediate section: Ordinal numbers)

Cardinal numbers

Understanding Arabic number rules is essential for navigating the elaborate system of cardinal number agreement, which is dictated by three key factors: the gender of the counted nouns, the quantity being expressed, and the specific grammatical declension involved.

  • The number may or may not agree with the gender of the counted object depending on its value. 
  • In contrast to English cardinal numbers, Arabic numerals are nouns (apart from 2 being an adjective and 1 with both forms of a noun and adjective). Following this, the preceding object will not be in the nominative case but take on different ending cases according to its numerical value. Moreover, the object that is quantity beyond two may or may not be plural depending on what number it follows in succession.

The gender agreement of the number / العدد

المَعْدُود
Counted object
جِنْس العَدَد
Gender of the number
1 – 2same
3 to 10Opposite to the gender of the counted object in its singular form
11 – 12same
13 to 191st part (unit): opposite 2nd part (ten): same
tens 20 to 90Never change according to gender
compound number 21 to 991st part (unit) same 2nd part: never change no matter the gender
hundred
Never change according to gender
thousand

Unit from 1 to 10, 100 & 1000

  • 1 – 2: the gender of the number corresponds to the counted object 
1 womanأِمْرَأَةٌ واحِدةٌ
2 menرَجُلانِ اِثْنانِ
  • 3 to 10: the number has the opposite gender of the counted object in the singular form
4 menأَرْبَعةُ رَجُلٍ
6 womenسِتُّ اِمْرَأَةٍ
  • 100 to 1000: doesn’t change according to gender
100 menمِئَةُ رَجُلٍ
100 womenمِئَةُ اِمْرَأَةٍ
1000 menأَلْفُ رَجُلٍ
1000 womenأَلْفُ اِمْرَأَةٍ

The compound number from 11 to 19

  • 11 – 12: Both parts of the number agree with the gender of the counted object
11 menأَحَدَ عَشَرَ رَجُلاً
12 womenاِثْنَتَا عَشَرَةَ اِمْرَأَةً

Note: the feminine of اِثْنان is اِثْنَتان

  • 13 to 19: the 1st part of the number is of the opposite gender to the counted object while the 2nd part agrees with the gender of the counted object
14 menأَرْبَعَةَ عَشَرَ رَجُلاً
17 womenسَبْعَ عَشَرَةَ اِمْرأَةً

Tens (20 to 90)

  • Never change according to gender
20 womenعِشْرونَ اِمْرَأةً
50 men خَمْسُونَ رَجُلاً

Compound number constructed with the conjunction wāw 21 to 99

  • The unit agrees with the object while the ten doesn’t change according to the genre
21 menواحِدٌ وَعِشْرونَ رَجُلاً
35 womenخَمْسٌ وَثَلاثُونَ اِمْرَأَةً
68 menثَمانِيةٌ وَسِتُّونَ رَجُلاً
92 womenاِثْنَتانِ وَتِسْعُونَ اِمْرَأَةً

Agreement in number and noun case of the counted object / المَعْدود

العَدَد
Number
المَعْدود
The counted object
المَحَلّ الإِعْرابيّ
Noun case
العَدَد
Number

3 to 10
(مَجْرور (مُضاف إِلَيْهِ
genitive (2nd term of annexation)

جَمْع
(plural)
11 to 99(مَنْصُوب (تَمْيِيز
accusative (tamyīz)

مُفْرَد
(singular)
hundred(مَجْرور (مُضاف إِلَيْهِ
genitive (2nd term of annexation)
thousand

1 – 2 

Mentioning the counted object alone (without the number) is sufficient. We can add the number to put emphasis. In this case, the number will agree with the gender of the counted object.

المُؤَنَّث
Feminine
المُذَكّر
Masculine
امْرَأَة
A woman
رَجُل
A man
امْرَأَة واحِدة
One woman
رَجُلان اِثْنان
Two men
امْرَأَتان اِثْنتان
Two women
رَجُلان 
Two men

Note: the feminine of اِثْنان is اِثْنَتان

3 to 10 

The counted object is considered to be the 2nd term of annexation (while the number is the 1st term) it is then in the indefinite genitive case and takes the plural form.

3 menثَلاثَةُ رَجُلٍ
7 womenسَبْعُ اِمْرَأَةٍ

11 to 99

The counted object is considered to be tamyīz (تَمْيِيز) it is then in the indefinite accusative case and takes the singular form.

16 menسِتَّةَ عَشَرَ رَجُلاً
19 womenتِسْعَ عَشَرَةَ اِمْرأَةً
47 menسَبْعَةٌ وَأَرْبَعُونَ رَجُلاً
58 womenثَمانٍ وَخَمْسُونَ اِمْرَأَةً

100 and above 

After hundreds and thousands, the counted object is considered to be the 2nd term of annexation (while the number is the 1st term) it is then in the indefinite genitive case and takes the plural form.

100 menمِئَةُ رَجُلٍ
1000 womenأَلْفُ اِمْرَأَةٍ

Rule for a complex number

  • In a complex number, the counted object will follow the rules specific to the digit immediately preceding it:
2026 womenأَلْفان وَسِتٌّ وَعِشْرونَ اِمْرأَةً
1817 menأَلْفٌ وَثَمانُمِئَةٍ وَسَبْعَةَ عَشَرَ رَجُلاً 
5700 womenخَمْسَةُ آلافٍ وَسَبْعُمِئَةِ اِمْرَأَهٍ
9504 menتِسْعَةُ آلافٍ وَخَمْسُمِئِةٍ وَأَرْبَعَةُ رِجالٍ

Note: For any number greater than 100 and whose last two digits are 01 or 02 (101, 102, 1001, 2002 etc) we will use circumlocutions such as:

1001 Nights (name of a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales compiled, widely known as the Arabian Nights)
أَلْف لَيْلة وَلَيْلة
102 daysمِئِة يَوم وَيَوْمان

With a definite counted object

When the counted object is definite, its number becomes an adjective, except for compound numbers (11 to 19). Consequently, the number agrees in case, definiteness, and gender (if possible) with the noun. This construction is mandatory if the noun is defined by annexation (إِضافة):

The 30 womenالنِساءُ الثَلاثونَ
The 8 menالرِجالُ الثمانيةُ
His 3 catsالقِطَطَهُ الثَلاثةُ
The director’s 7 carsسَيّاراتُ المُدِيرِ السَبْعُ

For compound numbers between 11 and 19 (indeclinable), we will follow the same construction as for indefinite nouns (tamyīz):

The 14 menالأَرْبَعَةَ عَشَرَ رَجُلاً
The 19 womenالتِسْعَ عَشَرَةَ اِمْرَأَةً

Note: If the counted object has several adjectives, the number will be placed first, before the other qualifiers:

The 3 big womenالنساءُ الثَلاثُ الكَبِيرات
The 5 small menالرِجال الخَمْسةُ الصِغارُ

Ordinal numbers

Ordinals are usually formed as adjectives, inflecting to match the gender and case of the counted object; however, for numbers 11-19 the ordinal remains in the accusative case.

1st

First (أَوّل) is an elative (اِسْم تَفْضِيل) which is constructed as an adjective and then agrees in every aspect with the counted object.

The 1st manالرَجُلِ الأَوَّلُ
The 1st womanالمْرأةٍ الأُولى 

It can also be constructed as the 1st term of an annexation completed by a noun; it will then have the same meaning.

The 1st manأَوَّلُ رَجُلٍ
The 1st womanأَوَّلُ اِمْرأةٍ  

Note: آخِر meaning ‘last’ is an active participle (اِسم الفاعِل) constructed in the same way

The last yearآخِرُ سَنّةٍ = السَنة الآخرةُ

2nd to 10th 

The ordinals on the pattern فاعِل are adjectives then agree in every aspect with the counted object

2nd man الرَجُلُ الثاني
8th womanالمَرْأَةُ الثامِنةُ

11th to 19th 

Both parts of the number agree with the object being counted.

18th manالرَجُلُ الثامِنَ عَشَرَ
13th womanالمَرْأَةُ الثالِثةَ عَشَرَةَ

20th and above 

The unit agrees with the object counted while the ten has only one writing regardless of gender.

21st manالَرَجُل الحادي وَالعِشْرُونَ
66th womanالمَرْأَةُ السادِسةُ وَالسِتُّونَ
75th manالرَجُلُ الخامِسُ وَالسَبْعُونَ
33rd womanالمَرْأَةُ الثالِثةُ وَالثَلاثُونَ
Rules of numbers and counted objects

Learn the rules of numbers and counted objects in Arabic with examples and explanations. Improve your understanding of Arabic grammar and syntax for better communication.

Course Provider: Organization

Course Provider Name: ArabiKey

Course Provider URL: https://arabikey.com

Editor's Rating:
5

Related Articles

Responses

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *