This lesson covers a very widely used element in Arabic which is the numbers. It will help you understand the numbers (cardinal numbers) in Arabic and enable you to use them in real-world applications.
Arabs make use of two kinds of numerical systems. A Western system commonly known as “Arabic numerals” which are the ten digits (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9) widely used in North African countries from Libya to Morocco.
Unlike African Arabic countries Eastern Arabic numerals (٠.١.٢.٣.٤.٥.٦.٧.٨.٩) known as “Hindi numerals” are used in the Middle East.
How to say the Arabic Numbers from zero to ten (0-10):
Note: The number “one” wāḥid (at)-, functions as a regular adjective:
|One child||waladun wāḥid||ولد واحد|
|One girl||bintun wāḥidatun||بنت واحدة|
The number “two” as a pronoun or needed to emphasize the dual —which is all that is normally necessary for “two”—also functions as a regular dual adjective.
|Two children (nom.)||waladāni ‘ethnāni||ولدان اثنان|
|Two children (obl.)||waladayni ‘ethnayni||ولدين اثنين|
|Two girls (nom.)||bintāni ‘ethnatāni||بنتان اثنتان|
|Two girls (obl.)||bintayni ‘ethnatayni||بنتين اثنتين|
The Arabic numbers from three through ten exhibit a unique phenomenon called chiastic concord: A numeral in masculine gender should agree with a feminine referrer and vice versa. In other words, if the singular of the noun being counted is masculine, the number appears feminine with tā’ marbūṭa (ة). If the singular is feminine, the number appears masculine with no tā’ marbūṭa.
|Three children||thalāthatu ‘awlād||ثلاثة اولاد|
|Three girls||thalathu banāt||ثلاث بنات|
Notes: While Arabic letters are written from right to left, numbers in Arabic are written from left to right.
e.g. ١٧٢٨ is the number “1728” not “8271”.
The numbers 11 and 12 are irregular numbers, so for now, just remember how to write them.
|11||١١||eḥadā ‘ashar||إحدى عشر|
|12||١٢||ithnā ‘ashar||إثنا عشر|
From 13 to 19 you just place the Arabic number before ten just like in the number 13 which is formed by placing the number three before ten, instead of thirteen in English, 15 is five ten in Arabic, and so on. From 21 to 99, you just need to reverse the numbers and add “wa-” which means “and” between the two numbers. For example, 67 would be seven + wa- + sixty instead of sixty-seven in English (Saba’ah wa-sittūn).
|13||١٣||thalathata ‘ashar||ثلاثة عشر|
|14||١٤||arba’ata ‘ashar||أربعة عشر|
|15||١٥||khamsata ‘ashar||خمسة عشر|
|16||١٦||sittata ‘ashar||ستة عشر|
|17||١٧||sab’ata ‘ashar||سبعة عشر|
|18||١٨||thamāniyata ‘ashar||ثمانية عشر|
|19||١٩||tis’ata ‘ashar||تسعة عشر|
|21||٢١||wahedun wa-’ishrūn||واحد و عشرون|
As you can see, forming numbers in Arabic is quite an easy process, except when matching the gender and the number. This rule will be much more intuitive once you get used to it and you shouldn’t be put off by it if you find it complicated.
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