In Arabic, masculine plurals generally follow a couple of different patterns. Sometimes they acquire a waw-noon at the end (eg. muslim becomes muslimuwna)–these are called “sound plurals” (because the original word is still intact). Some acquire letters inside their form (eg. qalam becomes aqlaam)–these are called “broken plurals”.
Feminine words, Allahu ‘alim, they also have sound and broken forms. One example of a sound feminine plural is muslimaat (plural of muslimah).
Interestingly enough, with inanimate objects–such as pens, books, cars, and dogs–the plural (both masculine and feminine plural) acts as if it’s the feminine singular.
So say you wanted to say “these houses are big, and they’re new.” How would you say it? Chances are, you’d say something like: “haaulaai buyuwtun kibaarun, wa hum jududun.” But, recall the rule–masculine plural (in this case, buyuwt) acts, for all intents and purposes, like the singular feminine!
The correct form would be: “haadhihi buyuwtun kabeeratun, wa hiya jadiydatun.”
Let’s try a feminine example. How would you say “those ducks left from the masjid?” The answer is, “tilkal buttaatu kharajat min al-masjidi,” not “olaaikal buttaatu kharajna min al-masjidi.” Why? Because battatun (three or more ducks) is an inantimate object plural, and acts (grammatically) as a singular feminine.
It might seem a little strange at first, but inshallah ta’ala if you keep practising it, it’ll soon slip beneath your conscious effort and become something you “just know” inshallah!
Note: You can put your mouse over any underlined text to see the Arabic.
aqlaamun: pen (masculine, plural)
buyuwtun: house (masculine, plural)
ghayr ‘aql: inanimate object
haaulaai: these (close, plural)
haadhihi: she (feminine, singular) — also used as “it” for objects.
hiya: she (feminine, singular) — can be used as “it” for objects.
hum: they (masculine, plural) — also used as “it” (plural) for objects
jadiydatun: new (feminine, singular)
jududun: new (masculine, plural)
kabeeratun: big (feminine, singular)
kibaarun: big (masculine, plural)
muslimaat: Muslim (feminine, plural)
muslimah: Muslim (feminine, singular)
muslimun: Muslim–one who submits (masculine, singular)
muslimuwna: Muslim (masculine, plural)
qalamun: pen (masculine, singular)