Plural of كبير

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by Leonhard, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Leonhard Member

    Hello, everyone! I have a question about the formation of the plural broken adjective. خَادِمُونَ كِبَارٌ means "old servants (m.)". Since the adjective كَبِيرٌ can't form the sound plural, the broken one has to be used, hence the usage of كِبَارٌ. So far, so good. Now, what about "old servants (f.)"? The plural noun is خَادِمَاتٌ, that's easy. But what about the adjective that follows it? I know that in Classical Arabic, even if the adjectives refer to female human beings, it is admissible to use the singular, i.e. كَبِيرَةٌ in this case. In MSA however, the only way (or so it seems to me) is to use the adjective in the plural when reference is made to human beings. Since كَبِيرٌ simply doesn't have a sound plural (i.e. only the broken has to be used), does that technically mean that there is no difference in form for broken plural adjectives that define masculine and feminine human beings? Basically, is خَادِمَاتٌ كِبَارٌ grammatically correct from MSA point of view? I know this might sound like a stupid question, but I'm really trying to make do with whatever limited learning resources I have at hand, so please have patience with me :D. Thanks in advance for any explanations on the matter!
  2. barkoosh Senior Member

    In Arabic grammar, sometimes what is considered correct in theory doesn't mean that it's accepted in practice, esp. in MSA. A major example is the plurals. A certain plural found in Classical dictionaries doesn't mean that you can use it in MSA (for example, the common plurals of نهر (river) are أنهُر and أنهار. If you today use the plural نُهُور, found in Classical dictionaries, it would be considered incorrect).

    In theory, what has a ات for feminine plural can have a ون for masculine plural, and vice versa. But that doesn't apply to practice. Some forms, although grammatically correct, are not common in practice and therefore it's better to avoid them. So while you can theoretically say كبيرون, the form كبار is the commonly used masculine plural. Likewise, you say رجال صغار (not صغيرون) but نساء صغيرات and أولاد جملاء (not جميلون) and فتيات جميلات.

    Most of the other adjectives can have both types of plurals commonly used in MSA.
  3. Leonhard Member

    Ok, so is خَادِمَاتٌ كِبَارٌ grammatically correct?
  4. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    No because the صفة/نعت must agree in grammatical gender with the موصوف/منعوت
  5. Araby New Member

    إنَّ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ لَشِرْذِمَةٌ قَلِيلون

    This is the proof Leon
    Of course it's correct if you say ٌخَادِمُونَ كِبَار and ٌخَادِمَاتٌ كَبِيرَات ,

    and also َخَادِمُونَ كَبِيرُون Is correct as well
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  6. dkarjala Senior Member

    English - America
    I think I caught your problem. In MSAكبير doesn't have a sound plural, correct. But كبيرة does.

    Feminine human plural adjectives almost always end in ات. You are talking about the masculine human plural. Look at these simplified charts:

    HUMAN: كبير كبار كبيرة كبيرات

    NON-HUMAN كبير كبيرة كبيرة كبيرة

    Notice that ات wouldn't exist on adjectives unless they were feminine human plural.
  7. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

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    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    قلال doesn't exist, though. كبير and قليل are different words.
  8. Leonhard Member

    Wow, thank you all for your replies! I guess it must have been my wording that was making matters complicated. dkarjala, you've successfully demystified things for me! :D
  9. analeeh Senior Member

    English - UK
    Not to mention that while when talking about what is theoretically correct quoting classical examples is all very well, actually using them in practice may make you sound pedantic or simply wrong (like the example of نهور given above).
  10. Araby New Member

    كلاهما على وزن فعيل , و يجوز فيهما الجمع السالم
  11. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    إذن قلال من يتبع الصحيح حسب النحويين :)
  12. Araby New Member

    نعم قليل جمعه قلال , قولة واحدة
    و لا أريد أن أطيل النقاش في هذه النقطة
    كل وصف , صحيح اللام , على وزن فعيل /فعيلة بمعنى فاعل ينقاس جمعه على فعال, فجمع كبير و كبيرة هو كبار
    و يدخل في ذلك قليل و قليلة

    أما العربية المعاصرة , فالفصل فيها مداره البلد و السياق و الأشخاص الذين يتحدثون باللغة و يتواصلون بها
    فإن قال كبيرات أو كبار جمعا لكبيرة جاز ذلك
    و إن قال : كبيرون أو كبار جمعا لكبير جاز ذلك أيضا

    In Arabic it's correct to say :
    1-Kebar or Kaberoon as a plural for Kabeer .
    2-Kebar or Kaberat as a plural for Kaberah .

    All these are used in MSA equally !!

    Also Kabeer means :
    1- Old in age .
    2-Big in size .
    3-High in position .
    4-Great in value ..... This also should be taken into consideration .
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2014

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