; An English Guide to Classic Qur'anic Arabic: 3.5 - Property 3 Gender of a Noun


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3.5 - Property 3 Gender of a Noun


Section 3.5 - Property 3 - Gender of a Noun جِنْسٌ(jin-sun)


Oxford dictionary defines gender as either of the two sexes (male and female) especially when considered regarding social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.


The English language uses three ways it handles the gender. Male, female and things (usually non-alive) that do not have gender usually referred to as he, she, and it. The Arabic language has only two ways of handling the words. They are either masculine مُذَكَّرٌ (mu-dhak-kar-un) or feminine مُوْنَّثٌ (mu-an-nath-un).  Everything is assigned a gender, real or otherwise. There are no generic pronouns like “it” in Arabic. The general rule for determining the gender of a Noun (for non-Arabic speakers) is that all Nouns are considered to be masculine unless any of the signs/methods to determine a feminine gender is found in it. Therefore, the focus of this section will be on what defines the feminine gender.


A. Masculine Gender مُذَكَّرٌ mu-dhak-ka-run


In this Noun, you will not find any signs of a feminine gender that are defined below.


B. Feminine Gender مُوْنَّثٌ (Mun-nath-un)


Feminine Gender اَلْمَوْنَّثُ (al-mun-nath-un)

is of two kinds: Trueحَقَيْقيٌّ (haqee-qi-yun) and Figurative لَفْظِيٌّ (laf-zi-yun).


True Feminine Gender مُوْنَّثٌ حَقَيْقيٌّ (mun-nathun haqee-qiun): It has a male gender as an opposite in humans or animals as in إِمْرَأَةٌ (im-ra-atun) meaning “a woman” since it has an opposite male رَجُلٌ (ra-ju-lun) meaning “a man”, and نَاقَةٌ (naa-qah-tun) meaning “a female camel” has a male which is جَمَلٌ (jama-lun) meaning “a male camel”.


Figurative Feminine Gender مُوْنَّثٌ لَفْظِيٌّ (mun-nath-un lafzi-yu): It does not have a male gender as opposed to humans or animals as in ظُلْمَةٌ (zul-ma-tun) meaning “darkness” and قُوَّةٌ (quw-wa-tun) meaning “strength/power/force” which are both considered female. These are recognized by either of the two following ways:


1)     Feminine by Sign/Mark مُوْنَّثُ الْعَلَامَتِيُّ mu-an-nathul alaa-mati. A Noun is a feminine gender when it has one of the marks of the female gender. There are four marks of a female gender:


-        When there is the alphabet ة called round ta or تَاءُالتَّانِيْثِ taa-ut-tanee-thi at the end as in فَاطِمَةُ (Faa-ti-ma-tu). There are exceptions to this rule that one should be aware of. For, example the name طَلْحَةُ (Tal-ha-tu) is a male name and also has a ة at the end. In a case like this, a true male name will be treated as a male even if it has a female gender sign at the end.

-        اَلْأَلِفُ الْمَقْصُوْرَةُ (Al alif-ulmaq-soo-ra-tu) which is (ىٰ) at the end as in حُبْلَىٰ hub-laa is also a feminine sign.

-        اَلْأَلِفُ الْمَمْدُوْدَةُ (Alalif-ul mam-doo-da-tu) which is (اء) at the end as in حَمْرَاءُ (ham-raa-u) is also considered a feminine sign.


2)     As heard from an Arab Speaker مُؤَنَّثًا سَمَاعِيًا(mu-an-nathan samaa-ee-yan).  If a Noun is heard from or spoken by an Arabic native speaker as a feminine gender, it is called مُؤَنَّثًا سَمَاعِيًا. It also includes التَّاءُالْمُقَدَّرَةُ(at ta-ul mu-qad-da-ra-tu) hidden alphabet ة as in اَرْضٌ ar-dun meaning “earth” which originally was اَرْيْضَةٌ aree-da-tunand ة and ي were dropped. Generally, Nouns that fall in the following categories can be safely assumed to be feminine:


                i.     Names of winds, for example, رِيْحٌ (reeh-un) wind, صَرْصَرٌ(sar-sar-un) cold and frosty wind, صَبَاحٌ(sabaa-hun) morning air.

         ii.          Names of alcohols, for example, خَمْرٌ(kham-run), كَحُوْلٌ (kahu-lun), نَبِيْذٌ (nabee-dhun).

       iii.          Names of fire including hellfire, for example, نَارٌ (naar-un), جَهنَّمُ (jahan-na-mu), سَعِيْرٌ (sa-ee-run), جَحِيْمٌ(jahee-mun).

       iv.          Names of cities and countries, for example, بَاكِسْتَانٌ(Pakistan), هِنْدٌ (India). كَرَاتْشِىٌ (Karachi), يَابَانٌ(Japan), etc.

         v.          Human organs that are in pairs, for example, يَدٌ (yad-un) meaning a hand, عَيْنٌ (ayn-un) meaning an eye, عَوْنٌ (un-un) meaning an ear, رِجْلٌ (rijl-un) meaning a leg.

       vi.          Miscellaneous names such as سَمَاءٌ(samaa-un) meaning sky, شَمْسٌ (shams-un) meaning sun, قَمْرٌ (qam-run) meaning moon, أرْضٌ (ar-dun) meaning earth, حَرْبٌ (har-bun) meaning war, دَارٌ (daa-run) meaning door, كَاسٌ (kaa-sun) meaning a cup, نَفْسٌ (naf-sun) meaning self, حَلْمٌ (hul-mun) meaning a dream.

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