Is حَرْب (“war”) masculine or feminine?
Strangely, the word for war – حَرْب – is feminine.
Let us first have a look at the regular feminine endings. In Arabic, there are 3 different indicators or signals to define a word as feminine.
|تاء تَأْنِيث||ألِف تَأْنِيث|
|اء||3||ى or يا|
- The ending اء is also the pattern for adjectives (صِفة) for colours and physical deficiencies in the singular feminine form.
- The letter ى is the pattern for the feminine form of a comparative (اِسْم تَفْضِيل). For example: older, smaller.
Here are some examples:
So what about حَرْب?
It doesn’t look feminine – but it is!
Like in other languages there are words that look masculine by shape but are exceptions.
Here is a list of common exceptions:
Watch out! If you want to add an adjective, you will need the feminine form:
Be careful with body parts:
When you have two parts of one (mostly pairs) like: legs (رِجْل), eyes (عَيْن), ears (أُذُن), tooth (سِنّ) or hands (يَد), then these words are also feminine. In contrast, the words for nose (أَنْف), mouth (فَم), etc. are masculine as you only have one!
Some parts of the body can be either masculine or feminine, like: head (رَأْس), liver (كَبِد) or upper arm(عَضُد)
Also feminine are:
- names of newspapers and magazines, for example: al-Ahram (الْأهْرام)
- names of countries, cities and towns are normally feminine, except: Morocco (الْمَغْرِب), Jordan (الأُرْدُن), Lebanon (لُبْنان), Iraq (الْعِراق) and Sudan (السُّدان)
Watch out: Some nouns can be treated as either masculine or feminine: