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Common mistakes by students of Arabic language

Today’s discussion involves one of the most common mistakes among Arabic language learners. Although it is a basic Arabic rule, it is often confused because of literal translation, from English to Arabic. The lesson involves asking the question “how many” ( كم؟) and how to properly respond, using singular and plural nouns, as well as numbers.

childern
Using the translation table below, choose the correct answer.

  1. How many children are in the garden?

  1. كَم ولدا في الحديقة ؟

  2. كم أولاد في الحَدِيقَة ؟

English

Arabic

How many?

كم

Child (masc.)

وَلَد

Children

أولاد

(the) Garden

الحَدِيقَة

If you answered {(B) كم أولاد في الحَدِيقَة ؟} you are falling into the trap of directly translating from English to Arabic. In this case, (A) is the correct answer كَم ولدا في الحديقة ؟.

Why is (A) the correct answer?

Unlike the English phrase (How many…?), which is followed by a plural noun, ( كم) should only be followed by a singular noun.

students
Let’s try another example:

  1. How many students are in the classroom?

  1. كَم طَلاب في الصف؟

  2. كم طالبا في الصف ؟

Student

طَالِب

Students

طُلاَّب

(the) Classroom

الصف

Correct answer: {(B) كم طالبا في الصف ؟ }

Now, it’s your turn! Send us your own example!

Let’s move on to counting nouns. In Arabic, the grammar changes, according to how many objects you are trying to count. Follow the example below.

As we know:

Books

كِتَاب

Books

كُتُب

Saying “I have three books” is pretty straight forward:

عِندِي ثلاثة كُتُب

The tricky part is counting nouns that are in amounts higher than 10.

books
For instance, “I have thirty books” works differently than the example above. Rather than using the plural form of books, the correct way is to use the singular form.

Which one is correct?

  1. عِندي ثلاثون كتب

  2. عندي ثلاثون كِتابًا

Correct answer is {(B) عنِدي ثلاثون كتابًا }

While this does not translate directly from English, the Arabic grammar rule goes as follows:

When counting nouns/objects in amounts of 3-10, use the plural noun form.

When counting nouns/objects in amounts exceeding 10, use the singular noun form.

Let’s do another example :

I have 20 students

Which is the correct answer?

  1. عندي عشرون طلاب

  2. عندي عشرون طالبًا

Correct Answer: {(B.) عندي عشرون طالبا }

Send us your own example!

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