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Gender/verb agreement and animals in Arabic

Hi, so I have some questions regarding gender/verb agreement and animals in Modern Standard Arabic. 

For instance with cat (قطة), how is it specified that it's a male cat? Does it become قط? Other examples would include goose (أوزة), pigeon (حمامة)- basically any noun ending in ة which refers to an animal. 

And a second question might be, do you simply add ة to make an animal female (كلبة، نمرة). Perhaps an obvious question but the more I think about it, the more confused I become!

Then, when discussing multiple cats (or multiple of any animal) do you use singular feminine verbs as with other non-rational/non-human nouns? 

If talking about a group of male cats, can you use the masculine singular? Or the masculine plural? 

And finally, does the dual form apply to animals? Can you talk about two male cats or two female dogs, etc. etc.? 

Mar 5, 2018 12:50 AM
Comments · 3

An advanced tip:

Words that are feminine by origin: بطة .. حمامة .. جاموسة that we add the word ذكر or فحل to make them masculine and we drop the ـة as in: ذكر البط .. ذكر الحمام، فحل جاموس .... their plural is the word without the ذكر i.e. بط .. حمام .. جاموس.

This kind of plural takes the singular masculine form of the verb i.e.

البط يأكل

الحمام يأكل

الجاموس يشرب

But that's the exception, not the rule.

Stay safe with the plurals, it may give you some headaches at first :)

March 19, 2018

Well, some animals follow the simple rule of feminization in Arabic; to add ـة to the end of the word as in:

- Dog: كلب .. كلبة

- Frog: ضفدع .. ضفدعة

- Bird: عصفور - عصفورة

- Cat: قط .. قطة

- Donkey: حمار .. حمارة

But many animals have separate words in Arabic for males and females as in:

- Horse: حصان .. فرس

- Rooster/Chicken: ديك .. دجاجة

- Sheep: خروف .. نعجة

- Goat: جدي .. معزة

- Cow: ثور .. بقرة

- Buffalo: فحل جاموس .. جاموسة

These are the most common. Other animals may have no gender-specific name, or we may just don't know the name of the other animal's counterpart (it happens), so we add ذكر to the name of the animal if it's feminine (e.g. اوزة .. the male is ذكر الاوز) or أنثى if the animal is male (e.g. أسد we can use أنثى الأسد or لبوة which is the MSA name for the f. lion, but many people will prefer أنثى الأسد to avoid awkwardness; because لبوة is a common vulgar insult). Other examples are

Tiger: نمر .. أنثى النمر

Wolf: ذئب .. أنثى الذئب

Duck: ذكر البط .. بطة

Pigeon: ذكر الحمام .. حمامة

As for the plurals, yes, in more than 90% of the cases you'll use the singular feminine verb form. This is also applicable for male groups too! That's because plural words themselves (e.g. قطط) are treated as feminine words in most cases (but not all). Here you're free to use either the singular feminine verb or the plural masculine/feminine verb. i.e. القطط تأكل = القطط يأكلون = القطط يأكلن but never القطط يأكل

To be safe, I prefer to use the pl. m/f verb as a beginner, although the s. f. verb is more popular and it'll get usual by practice.
And yes, dual form applies for animals too e.g. قطتان، كلبان

March 19, 2018


Some animals  add ة in female and some animals change the world like lion in Arabic male is أسد and famel is لبوة

If talking about a group of male cats, can you use the masculine singular? Or the masculine plural? 

in group of animals some of it use masculine plural like cats قطط and some use feminine plural like horses أحصنة, But never using singular talking about group of animal

March 11, 2018
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