Arabic Numbers and Numerals, 0-10

If you’re looking for higher numbers, they’re here.

So I’m being somewhat misleading with that post title, since what we’re really going to be learning are the Eastern Arabic numerals; presumably anybody reading this already knows the Western Arabic numerals, since they’re the ones we use in English. Arabs took the Indian numeric system, made some alterations, and then passed a variant of that system on to Europeans, which is why we call them “Arabic numerals” instead of “Indian numerals,” despite the fact that they ultimately come from India. In the Arab countries of the Maghrib (basically all of North Africa west of Egypt), these are the numerals that are used. In Egypt and points east, however, different (but related, you can see the similarities)  numerals are used, which in Arabic are called أرقام هِندية (arqām hindīyah), or “Indian numerals” (“numeral” is رُقْم ruqm, plural أرقام arqām). The table below shows names and numerals for the numbers from 0-10 (teens will have to wait for another time).

In addition to رُقْم, “number” can also be translated as عَدَد (ʿadad), plural أعداد (aʿdād).

English name

Western Arabic numeral

Eastern Arabic numeral

Arabic name

Arabic name transliterated

zero

0

۰

صِفْر

ṣifr

one

1

۱

واحِد

wāḥid

two

2

۲

إثْنان

ithnān

three

3

۳

ثَلاثة

thalāthah

four

4

٤ (variant: ۴)

أربَعة

arbaʿah

five

5

۵

خَمْسة

khamsah

six

6

٦ (variant: ۶)

سِتّة

sittah

seven

7

۷

سَبعة

sabʿah

eight

8

۸

ثَمانية

thamāniyah

nine

9

۹

تِسعة

tisʿah

ten

10

۱۰

عَشْرة

ʿashrah

Note that 4 and 6 have alternate forms; these are more commonly encountered in Persian but may be found in Arabic as well.

Unfortunately, counting things from 1-10 is a little tricky. Well, I should say counting things from 3-10 is tricky; for 1 of something you just used the singular noun, with the number 1 if you want to emphasize its singularity, and for two of something you use the special dual form of the noun. For example:

  • كتاب (kitāb) or واحد كتاب (wāḥid kitāb) = “one book”
  • كتابان (kitābān) = “two books”

However, from 3-10 you have to use the plural form of the noun, and you have to match the opposite gender of the noun for some reason (don’t ask me). So “four books” would be أربعة كُتُب (arbaʿah kutub) with the number in the feminine, but four magazines (singular مَجَلّة, majallah) would be أربع مجلّات (arbaʿ majallāt), with the number in the masculine.

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19 thoughts on “Arabic Numbers and Numerals, 0-10

  1. Pingback: Persian Numbers and Numerals, 0-10 | Persian Word a Day
  2. Pingback: Turkish Numbers and Ottoman Numerals, 0-10 | Turkish Word a Day
  3. Pingback: Word of the Week Wednesday: Arabizi (3rbeezeyah)
    • I can’t believe I haven’t done this post yet. If you’re in a hurry you can Google it and get the information, but I’m writing this up now and it will be here when I’m finished.

  4. Pingback: Arabic numbers III: 11-1000 | Arabic Word a Day
  5. Pingback: Turkish Numbers and Ottoman Numerals, 0-10 | Turkish Word a Day
    • We get the word cipher (or cypher) from sifr, and that word meant “zero” before it came to be related to encryption. Maybe that’s the explanation?

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