A Comprehensive Guide to Numbers in Arabic

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arabic numbers

الأرقَامُ في اللغةِ العربيةِ

Feeling overwhelmed about all the rules around Arabic Numerals? This is a simple, yet comprehensive breakdown of all the rules you need to know.

arabic numbers

Keep in mind that in Arabic we have a masculine and a feminine variant for each number.

Here are the numbers from 1 to 10 in Arabic. The numbers are are in words next to the symbol for each:

1 واحِدٌ ١
2 إثْنانِ ٢
3 ثَلاثَةٌ ٣
4 أَرْبَعَةٌ ٤
5 خَمْسَةٌ ٥
6 سِتَّةٌ ٦
7 سَبْعَةٌ ٧
8 ثَمَانِيَةٌ ٨
9 تِسْعَةٌ ٩
10 عَشرَةٌ ١٠

Arabic has certain rules to deal with numbers. These are based on the number itself, and also the gender of the subject.

The Grammar of Numbers in Arabic:

We can divide these rules into four sets:

Rules pertaining to:

1 – العَدَدُ المُفرَد – singular numbers

The numbers from 3 to 10 also 100-1000-1000…. etc.

العَدَد المُرَكَب – 2 – compound numbers

Numbers from 11 to 19

ألفاظ العقود – 3

Which are 20-30-40….90

المعطوف على العقود – 4 – coupled numbers

i.e The numbers from 1 to 9 with one of the numbers of العُقُود

That means it has the letter waw (21 to 99).

Rules for numbers 1 and 2

The numbers 1 and 2 always match the gender of the noun they qualify. That is, their form is masculine with masculine nouns and feminine with feminine nouns. These are اِثْنَان/ وَاحِد with masculine nouns and وَاحِدَة / اِثْنَتَان with feminine nouns, as in these examples:

يومٌ وَاحِدٌ | one day

ُحُجرَةٌ وَاحِدَةٌ | one room

جَاءَ عَالِمَان اِثْنَان | Two scientists came

قَرَأتُ رِسَالَتَينِ اِثْنَتَين | I read two letters

Remember: The numbers 1 and 2 in Arabic follow the noun they modify and agree with it in case and gender.

Rules for numbers 3-9

For numbers 3-9, we use plural nouns, disagreeing with the gender of the noun, Nouns that follow these numbers should be indefinite genitive plural, as in these examples:

سَبْعَةُ كُتُبٍ| seven books

تِسْعُ سَيَّارَاتٍ | nine cars

Keep in mind that the numbers 3-10 are made masculine by just dropping ‘ta’,  the feminine marker from the end. (ة )

Just remember, the number has the opposite gender of the singular noun.

Rules of number 10:

When 10 is used alone (not compounded with 1 to 9), it follows the reverse agreement rule. If it is compounded with 1 to 9, it must agree with the noun it precedes.

Note that for عشرة the masculine form not only drops the ة but requires putting a sukuun ْ over the ش, so you get عَشْرٌ

عَشَرَةُ أَهْدَافٍ |  ten goals

عَشْرُ لَاعِبَاتٍ | Ten female players

Rules for numbers 11 and 12

When the number 11 modifies a masculine word both the unit number َأحَد and the tens number عَشر are masculine. However, they are both in the accusative without nunation (تنوين). The counted noun will follow the number and will be singular and in the accusative case with nuntation .

For example, “eleven books” is أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كِتَابًا.

If the counted noun is feminine then both parts of the number 11 are converted to the feminine. The feminine of أَحَدَ is إِحْدَى and since إحْدَى ends in an alif maqsuura ى it will not show the case. However, the feminine of, عَشرَ will show the accusative case without nunation. The feminine ofعَشر is عَشْرَة Note that a sukuun is placed over the ش in the feminine.

For example, “Eleven novels” is إِحْدَى عَشْرَة روايًة. Since رواية is feminine, both words used in the number are also feminine.

Essentially, 12 works just like 11 but with a small twist. First, the similarities: The counted noun is always singular and accusative with nunation. The two elements of the number twelve both agree with the noun in gender. The second term of the number, عشر or عشرة , is always accusative without nunation.

The difference between 11 and 12 lies in the first element of the number. The first element in 12 is إثْنَا for masculine nominative, but is إِثْنَىْ for the accusative and genitive. The same is true when the first element is feminine. The feminine is إثْنَتا for the nominative and إِثْنَتَيْ for the accusative. For example

في المسجد اِثْنَا عَشَرَ رَجُلًا واِثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ سَيْدةً.  

There are twelve men and twelve women in the mosque.

Rules for number 13 to 19

For numbers, 13-19 the rules are as follows:

1. The second element (عَشر or عَشرة) agrees with the counted noun in gender.

2. The first element (ثلاثة, اربعة… etc.) shows the reverse agreement that we saw for the numbers 3-10.

3. Both elements of the number are always accusative without nunation.

4. The counted noun is singular, accusative, and has nunation.

for example:

ثَلاثَةَ عَشَرَ دَرْسًا  | thirteen lessons

ًخَمْسَ عَشْرَةَ تفاحَة | fifteen apples

note that the harakah of the letter ش in number عشرة will be as the following:

  • If عشر  comes as masculine, then if it is singular the ش  will be with sukoon (ساكنة  )  while if عشر comes as compound number then the ش  will be with fatha as in these Ayat :

وَبَعَثْنَا مِنهُمُ اثْنَيْ عَشَرَ نَقِيبًا سورة المائدة : 12

مَن جَاء بِالْحَسَنَةِ فَلَهُ عَشْرُ أَمْثَالِهَا سورة الأنعام : 160

  • If عشرة  came as feminine ,then if it is singular then ش  will be with fatha ,while if it comes as compound number then ش  will be with sukoon as in these Ayat:

فَانفَجَرَتْ مِنْهُ اثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ  سورة البقرة : 60 .

تِلْكَ عَشَرَةٌ كَامِلَةٌ  سورة البقرة : 196   

Rules for number 20 to 99

Below are the numbers in Arabic for the tens.

Cardinal Number Nominative Arabic symbols
20 عِشْرُونَ ٢٠
30 ثَلاثُونَ ٣٠
40 أَرْبَعُونَ ٤٠
50 خَمْسُونَ ٥٠
60 سِتُّونَ ٦٠
70 سَبْعونَ ٧٠
80 ثَمَانُونَ ٨٠
90 تِسْعُونَ ٩٠

These numbers are easy to memorize as they are essentially the numbers 3 through 10 made plural. These numbers decline for case, just as masculine sound plurals do. The nouns they modify are singular, accusative and have nunation. These numbers have no feminine versions. Thus “50 boys” is خَمْسُونَ ولدًا and 50 girls is خَمْسُونَ بنتًا.

In order to produce numbers such as 21, 22, 23….99, you use the numbers 1 to 9 along with the tens number. وَ is used to connect the unit number with the tens number. Notice also that the number for 1 can either be وَاحِد or its feminine counterpart وَاحِدَة, or أحد and its feminine counterpart إحْدَى.

The unit numbers for one and two agree with the noun just as they do on their own.

For example, “twenty-one books” is و وَاحِدٌ و عِشرُونَ كتابًا or أحَدٌ وعشرون كتابًا. “Twenty-one letters” is وَاحِدَةُ وعِشْرُونَ رسالةً or إحْدَى وعِشرونَ رسالة.

The same agreement takes place whenever two is combined with one of the tens.

For the numbers 3-9, when used in combination with the tens, the principal of reverse agreement applies just as it does when these numbers are used by themselves. For example:

“forty-three male teachers” is   ثَلَاثَةٌ وَأَرْبَعُونَ مُعَلمًا
“forty-three female teachers” is  ثَلَاثٌ وَأَرْبَعُونَ مُعَلِمَةً  

Summary of Numbers 1-99

  • 1 and 2 always follow the gender of the word: وَاحِد/وَاحِدَة، اِثْنَان/اِثْنَتَان . And this happens whether they’re “independent” (1, 2) or compounded (11, 12, 21, 22, 31, 32….)
  • 2 is treated like any dual word: اِثْنَان in nominative case, and اِثْنَتَين in (genitive), and it loses its nun when in an idaafa structure with 3ashra: اِثْنَا عَشَرَ رجلاً and اِثْنَتَا عَشْرَة امرأة .
  • 10 takes the opposite gender of the word: عَشْرُ نساء ٍ وعَشَرَةَ رجالٍ
  • 3 – 9 also takes the opposite. As in the Quranic verse:ٍ في سِتَةِ أيام (Allah created the world in six days).
  • 11-12: follow the gender – أَحَدَ عَشَرَ رَجُلاً وإحْدَى عَشْرَةَ اِمْرَأَةٍ، اِثْنَا عَشَرَ رَجُلاً واِثْنَتَا عَشْرَةَ اِمْرَأَة
  • 13-19: the ten follows the gender and the unit number doesn’t – ثَلَاثُ عَشْرَةَ يَومًا وخَمْسَةَ عَشَرَ لَيْلَة
  •  20, 30, 40….90 : are same for both genders.
  • 23, 24, 25… 33, 34,…93, 94… : (3-9) takes the opposite gender of the word, while the 30, 40….90 (10’s place digit) remains constant ثَلَاثَةٌ وعِشْرُونَ رَجُلاً وثَلَاثٌ وعشرُونَ اِمرَأَة

Rules for number 100:

مِئَة will always remain the same whether the counted noun is masculine or feminine.

The word for “one hundred” is مِئة . Sometimes it is spelt differently – مائة. However, both spellings are pronounced “mi’ah.” And in holy Quran its always pronounced as مِئة and not مائة,

“one hundred men” is مِئَةَ رَجُلٍ.

Since مِئَة is a noun we don’t have to worry about the reverse agreement. It will always be feminine even when followed by a feminine noun. Thus “one hundred women” is مِئَةُ امرأةٍ, and two hundred is مِئَتَان.

To say “one hundred and one” we use مِئَةٌ وَ وَاحِد (or واحدة for feminine). The same is true for “one hundred two” مِئَةٌ وَ إثْنَان (or إثْنتان for feminine).

For all numbers from 103 to 999, the case and number of the counted noun depend upon the last word in the number. Thus “one hundred and four boys” is مِئَةٌ وَ أَرْبَعَة اولاد but “one hundred and fifty-three boys” is مِئةٌ وَ ثَلَاثَةٌ وَ خَمْسُونَ وَلَدًا. In the first example, اربعة was the last word. Since 3-9 are always in an idaafa construction, show reverse agreement, and are followed by the plural noun. The word ولد is made plural and is in the genitive. And the number اربعة is feminine.

In the second example, the word “fifty” is the last numeral. Since خَمْسُون is always followed by a singular, indefinite and accusative noun, ولد is written ولدًا

 For four hundred sixty-seven boys, we can say,

أَرْبَعُمَائَة ٌ وَ سَبْعَةٌ وَ سِتُونَ ولَدَاً

And for feminine :  سَبْع (following the same rules we have mentioned).

The rest of the hundreds are themselves idaafas for numbers 3-9 written before مِئَة. Since مِئَة is a noun, the numbers will be masculine. However, مئة will remain singular. “Three hundred” is ثَلَاثُمِئَة. The numbers (300,400,500,…900) remain the same irrespective of gender. For example: سَبْعُمَائَة كتاب و سَبْعُمَائَة فكرة

Rules for 1000

The word for “thousand” is ألْفٌ. Like مئة it is a noun. And always remains the same irrespective of gender. A thousand countries: اَلْفُ بَلَدٍ/ M

A thousand adventures: أَلْفُ مغامرةٍ /F

Unlike مئة it is masculine; so when it is preceded by the numbers 3-9, the number is feminine and the plural of ألْف is used. Four thousand pens: ثَلَاثَةُ ألآف قلم

When ألْف is preceded by a number greater than ten, it remains singular and is changed to accusative, just like any noun. Thus “twenty thousand” is عِشرُونَ ألْفاً

Note that when ألْف is singular or dual, it works just like مئة. “One thousand ways” is ألفُ طريقةٍ. “One thousand and one ways” is ألْفُ طَرِيقةٍ وَ طَريقة. “One thousand and two ways” is ألْفُ طريقةٍ وطريقتان. “Two thousand ways: ألْفَا طَرِيقةٍ

Using the Numbers in Dates:

1985 :

َسنَةَ ألْفٍ وَ تٌسْعُمَائَةٍ وَ خَمْسٍ وَ ثَمَانِين

1440:

ألْف وأرْبَعُمَائَةٍ وَ أرْبَعُون

 And finally, the word for “million” is مِلْيُون It works exactly as does ألْف . Its plural is مَلَايين and the word for billion is مِلْيَار.

Bonus: Numbers in Quran

Here are some Ayat from the Holy Quran that mention numbers. Learn them for practicing the number rules you have just learned!

  • قُلْ إِنَّمَا هُوَ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنَّنِي بَرِيءٌ مِمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ ﴿١٩﴾ الانعام
  • وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ أَزْوَاجَهُمْ وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُمْ شُهَدَاءُ إِلَّا أَنفُسُهُمْ فَشَهَادَةُ أَحَدِهِمْ أَرْبَعُ شَهَادَاتٍ بِاللَّهِ ۙ إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الصَّادِقِينَ (6) النور
  • إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا وَالشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ رَأَيْتُهُمْ لِي سَاجِدِينَ ﴿٤﴾يوسف
  • حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً 15 الاحقاف
  • فَأَمَاتَهُ اللَّهُ مِائَةَ عَامٍ (259) سورة البقرة
  • يَوَدُّ أَحَدُهُمْ لَوْ يُعَمَّرُ أَلْفَ سَنَةٍ(96)سورة البقرة
  • عَلَيْهَا تِسْعَةَ عَشَرَ ﴿٣٠﴾المدثر
  • فَكَفَّارَتُهُ إِطْعَامُ عَشَرَةِ مَسَاكِينَ(89) المائدة

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