Masculine Sound Plurals in Idaafas and with Pronoun Suffixes

How would you say “the correspondents of the newspaper” in Arabic? What YOU would probably do is what most American students of Arabic usually do: they would say مراسلون الجريدة. Tsk tsk.
Don’t do that.

Masculine sound plurals in an idaafa as any term except the last term, loose the ن. You must drop the ن. So instead you will say and see: مراسلو الجريدة


The same holds true if the noun is in the genitive/accusative case. For example “I saw the reporters of the newspaper” is: شاهدتُ مراسلي الجريدة


Most students would see the word مراسلي in this sentence and immediately assume that it means “my correspondent.” Furthermore, upon reading the entire sentence they would maintain that assumption despite the fact that with that interpretation the sentence would not make any sense at all. They would do so for two reasons. The first is that their grammar is weak. The second is even more important: they have not learned to read things in context. As you will see constantly in Part II of this book, Arabic must be read in context.


As I said above, the v of the sound plural will drop if that plural is any term of the idaafa except the last one. For example:

تكلمتُ مع مدير موظفي الشركة المصرية.


In this sentence there is a three-term idaafa. The second term is a masculine sound plural with the ن dropped. Why is that plural spelled with a ي and not و


We also drop the ن of the sound plural when we attach a pronoun suffix. Look at the examples below.


١. موظفوكَ العراقيون انصرفوا.

٢. استقبل رئيس الجامعة مدرسيهِ الجُدُدَ.


In the first sentence we have dropped the ن from the subject of the sentence and added كَ, which is the possessive pronoun انتَ. Do you understand the rest of the grammar of the sentence? What word modifies the subject? Is it definite? Is it plural? What case is it in? What about the verb? Does it agree with the subject?

In the second sentence the word مدرس is made plural in the accusative case. We have dropped the ن because we always do when we add a pronoun suffix to a masculine sound plural. The suffix we have chosen here belongs to the category of suffixes that has its vowel change from a dhamma to a kasra when it is preceded by either the letter ي or a kasra. This word is
modified by an adjective. The adjective is the plural form for جديد. This tells us that .جديد does not have a masculine sound plural. It has a broken plural instead. Why is الجدد in the accusative case in this sentence? What are the cases of the other nouns?

So remember to drop the ن of the masculine sound plural whenever you add a pronoun suffix to it. Just one more thing. How would you say “my” reporters or employees, etc.? You need to combine the sound plural ending with the ي , indicating first person singular possession. For example, we want to say “my employees.” So we combine ي with the word موظفون. When we do this, the result is as follows: موظفِيَّ. This word is pronounced “muwththafiyya.” You will use the same word for all three cases.
Thus you may see a sentence such as the following.

موظفي ذهبوا الى المطار.


The plural verb tells you that the subject is not “my employee” but is instead “my employees.” Sometimes a text may include the shadda over the ي to give a clue; sometimes not. So it is context that tells you what is going on.


Feminine sound plurals are completely regular in this regard. The ending ات never looses the ت. So nothing happens to them in an idaafa or when a pronoun suffix is attached. Nothing. For example, “his female students” is طالباتُهُ. “The female students of the university” is طالباتُ الجامعةِ


It is only with the masculine sound plurals that these things happen.

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