How to Say “Both” in Arabic

اِثنانِ

root: ث-ن-ي / noun / definition: two


We might know of some different ways to say “all of“, but do we know how to say “both” when we’re dealing with dual nouns in Arabic? Let’s take a look at how it’s done!

To say “both (of)” in Arabic, we use:

  • كِلا or كِلَي, for the masculine
  • كِلتا or كِلتَي, for the feminine

These quantifiers are followed by a definite dual noun or a dual pronoun suffix.


You may have noticed that these words conjugate in the same way that dual forms usually do as the non-final word in an إضافة (i.e. the final ن of the dual ending is removed), so:

  • كِلا is مرفوع, while كِلَي is منصوب or مجرور
  • كِلتا is مرفوع, while كِلتَي is منصوب or مجرور

However, we only conjugate these quantifiers for case when they’re followed by a pronoun suffix.

Time for more detail and some examples!


When followed by a noun…

When we’re pairing the dual quantifiers with a noun, we always use the forms كِلا (with masculine nouns) or كِلتا (with feminine nouns).

This is true regardless of what grammatical role the dual noun is playing in the context—so we’d never use كِلَي or كِلتَي before a noun, even when the case is منصوب or مجرور.

Seeing as كلا/كلتا form an إضافة with the following noun, the dual noun becomes مجرور (in genitive case).

Here’s some examples:

كِلا الاِتِّجاهَينِ

both directions


مِن كِلا الطَّرَفَينِ

from both sides


كِلتا كَلِمَتَينِ

both words


بِكِلتا يَدَيهِ

with both of his hands

(Remember that the word يَد is feminine!)



When followed by a pronoun suffix…

When we’re attaching a pronoun suffix to the dual quantifier, then the quantifier conjugates for both gender and case.

  • كِلا = masculine, مرفوع
  • كِلَي = masculine, منصوب or مجرور
  • كِلتا = feminine, مرفوع
  • كِلتَي = feminine, منصوب or مجرور

For example:

كِلاهُما

both of them (m.)


مَعَ كِلَيهِما

with both of them (m.)


كِلتاهُما

both of them (f.)


في كِلتَيهُما

in both of them (f.)


I wonder if these dual quantifiers actually derive from the dual forms of كُلّ (all)—does anyone know?

Here’s a tip before you go: whenever you learn a new grammar rule, go and look for examples or write your own to solidify your understanding. Even searching “كلتا” on Al Jazeera‘s website will give you lots to work with!

I’ll see you on my next post.

!مع السلامة



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One thought on “How to Say “Both” in Arabic

  1. I’ve been using “both of them” but didn’t know how the word came to me. It’s wonderful to see how it is derived! Thank you for this post. It makes it so clear now.

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