A noun represents a person, thing or concept. Here are some examples:
Masculine and feminine
In arabic, nouns can be masculine or feminine. This does not necessarily mean that they belong to male and female persons. Most words that end with -a_ao ــَة are feminine. Egyptian spelling is somewhat whimsical: some people use -ah_ah ــَه at the end of feminine words.
In addition, there are a small number of words that do not end in -a_ao ــَة that are also feminine. Some of these words are obvious: others less so. Here are some examples of feminine nouns:
and all other countries
and some other cities
If there is more than one of something, the noun becomes a plural. For the majority of English words, we make a small change to the ending - book/books, story/stories: there are a few exceptions, for example child/children. The same is true in Egyptian: for many nouns, only the ending changes, though for quite a few the volwels move around within the word. Here are some of the simple ones:
مـُحا َسب َة
مـُحا َسـِبا َت
For the majority of masculine nouns and for a few feminine nouns, the plural is formed by re-arranging the vowels- usually converting short vowels for long: it's probably easiest just to remember the plural when you learn a new word, rather than trying to work out the rules. Here are some examples:
ر ِجا َلاَ
A very small number of nouns have a different plural when you are talking about between 3 and 10 of them. These are:
Generally speaking, the plural for trades ends with either -yn_yn ـين or -aya_ayao ــَيـَة, but for professions there are different endings for men -yn_yn ـين and women -aat_aat ـا َت.
|male teacher||mudarrismudarris |
مـُد َرّ ِس
مـُد َرّ ِسين
|female teacher||mudarrisamudarris-ao |
مـُد َرّ ِس َة
مـُد َرّ ِسا َت
Collective nouns and mass nouns
In English, deer can mean one deer or several: the latter is described as a collective noun. In Egyptian, many foods- and some other things- are usually referred to using a collective noun. You can talk about one item, for example one fish, by adding -a_ao ــَة ending:
|biyDa biyDao |
|samaka samakao |
د ِبّا َن
|dibbaana dibbaanao |
د ِبّا َن َة
In English, items that you can't easily count, like sugar and cheese, are referred to using a mass noun. In Egyptian, a collective noun is used, and you can refer to a tiny amount of it by adding the-a_ao ــَة ending, for example flour is diQeeQdiQyQ د ِقيق and a grain of flour is diQeeQadiQyQao د ِقيقـَة.
Many materials- things that can be used to make something from, like leather or cloth, are treated in the same way: you add -a_ao ــَة to give the meaning a piece of...
صا َبون َة
The Egyptian word for shoes (gazmagazmao جـَزمـَة) relates to a pair. For a single shoe, it is necessary to say fardit gazmafardio gazmao فـَرد ِة جـَزمـَة. Note that Egyptians do not consider trousers to be a pair. Here are some examples of words that work like this:
If you want to talk about two people, or specify a quantity of two, see the section on two in numbers.
If you want to talk about two things (not people or quantities), you should use the dual suffix -yn_yn ـين. This is equivalent to a couple which can mean exactly two, or approximately two. There are slightly different forms for feminine nouns and words ending in -i_y ـي. Here are some examples:
(ends with y)
|a couple of minutes||di'i'teendiqiqtyn|
The genitive is used to express ownership. In English, the most common way is to put an apostrophe-s on the end of the owned noun, for example John's house. It is similar in Egyptian. For masculine nouns, the ending does not change: for feminine nouns that end with -a_ao ــَة, the ending changes to -it_io ــِة which is written the same but the t-marbuta at the end is pronounced as a t.
|Ahmed's book||kitaab 'ahmadkitaab aacHmad|
كـِتا َب أحمـَد
|the book's cover||Gulaef ilkitaebGulaef iil-kitaeb|
غـُلا َف ا ِلكـِتا َب
|Sarah's toy||liAbit saraliAbio sarao|
لـِعبـِة سـَر َة
You can also express the genitive using the word of. For example, you could say the house of John, although the 's form is usually preferred when expressing ownership. of can also be used to express a quantity or a package of something: the genitive is also used in Egyptian.
|a bottle of water||'izzazit mayyahiiczzazio mayyah|
إزّ َز ِة مـَييـَه
|a kilo of potatoes||keelw baTaaTiSkylw baTaaTiS|
كيلو بـَطا َطـِص
|a pack of cigarettes||bakw seegaayarbaekw sygaayar|
با َكو سيجا َيـَر
|a box of matches||Ailbit kabreetAilbio kabryt|
In English, you can also express ownership with a possessive determiner, for example my, your, his. In Egyptian, you add a posessive suffix to the end of the owned noun. When you add a suffix to a feminine noun, the -a_ao ــَة is converted to a -it-_it_ ــِتـ, both in writing and speech. Here are some examples:
|English||on its own||with pronoun|
كـِتا َب ُه
|my wife||does not exist on its own||miraatimiraat-y|
فـِكر ِت َك
You can describe a noun using another noun, for example to say what material it is made from. The qualifying noun is placed after the main noun, and is always singular. If the main noun is preceded by il-iil_ ا ِلـ the qualifying noun is also preceded by il-iil_ ا ِلـ. Note that adding il-iil_ ا ِلـ to a word affects the pronunciation if it begins with a sun letter.
|a plastic bag||kees blastikkys blaastik|
كيس بلا َستـِك
|the plastic bag||ilkees ilblastikiil-kys iil-blaastik|
ا ِلكيس ا ِلبلا َستـِك
|plastic bags||'akyaas blastikaackyaas blaastik|
أكيا َس بلا َستـِك
|the plastic bags||il'akyaas ilblastikiil-aackyaas iil-blaastik|
ا ِلأكيا َس ا ِلبلا َستـِك