FuSHa to Shami 6: Numbers

In fuSHa numbers are famously terrible and impossible to master. In Shami, they are much better.


The number one has two forms: واحد waa7ed (in Jor/Pal waa7ad) and واحدة waa7de/wa7de. As in fuSHa, this typically follows the singular noun as an adjective to emphasise ‘one’:

في شلغة واحدة بس fii shéghle waa7de bass ‘there’s just one thing’

With certain collective nouns (like foods and currencies) it can be placed before as a counter:

واحدة بيتزا waa7de biitza ‘one pizza’

Or it can stand alone, of course:

كام شخص معك؟ واحد kam shakh@S ma3ak? waa7ed. ‘how many people do you have with you? one.’

واحد and واحدة are very commonly used to mean ‘somebody’ or ‘some guy/some woman’:

معي واحد بتعرفو ma3i waa7ed bta3rfo ‘I’ve got a guy here you know’

واحدة تانية waa7de taanye ‘someone else’, ‘another woman’

قديش ع الواحد؟ addeesh 3a lwaa7ed? ‘how much per person?’

It can also appear with (animate) nouns as a kind of indefinite article:

انت عن جد واحد اهبل inte 3an jadd waa7ed 2ahbal ‘you really are an idiot’

As in fuSHa, the ordinal form (‘first’) is أول awwal. This can either appear before the noun like a superlative (أول واحد awwal waa7ed ‘the first one’) or after it as in fuSHa, in which case it has a feminine form اولى uula.


‘Two’ has two forms: اتنين tneen and its feminine equivalent تنتين ténteen/tinteen. It can be used to emphasise a dual:

شغلتين تنتين shégh@lteen ténteen ‘two things’

تنين can also be used, unlike in fuSHa, before a plural noun (in which it does not have a feminine):

تنين اشخاس tneen ashkhaaS ‘two people’

In front of certain collective nouns (like foodstuffs, currencies, and collective plurals) it can be used to count:

تنين بيتزا tneen biitza ‘two pizzas’

Its ordinal form is تاني taani, fem. تانية taanye, which can be placed before the noun like a superlative (in which case it has no feminine) or after it as in fuSHa. This doubles up as the normal word for ‘other’:

تاني واحد taani waa7ed ‘the second one’


Each number from 3-10 has two forms, one used before nouns and one used independently. Although with 3-10 these forms resemble the fuSHa feminine and masculine, they have nothing to do with gender in Shami:

تلاتة تلت tlaate tlétt

اربعة اربع arba3a arba3

خمسة خمس khamse kham@s

ستة ست sétte sétt

سبعة سبع  sab3a sab@3

تماني تمن tmaani (tamaanye in Jor/Pal) tmén

تسعة تسع tés3a tés@3

عشرة عشر ‭3ashara 3ashar

The counting forms are followed as in fuSHa by plural nouns:

تمن اشخاص tmén ashkhaaS ‘eight people’

A few common words (yoomshahr, alf) have special plurals (téyyaam, téshor, taalaaf) when counted in this fashion:

سبع تالاف sab@3 taalaaf ‘seven thousand’

اربع تيام arba3 téyyaam ‘four days’

A few sort-of-collective nouns like names of foods, currencies and a few irregular plurals like 3arab are counted with the full forms:

تلاته بيرة tlaate biira ‘three beers’

خمسة بوند khamse boond ‘five pounds’

The ordinal versions are as expected: تالت رابع خامس سادس سابع تامن تاسع عاشر taalet raabe3 khaames saades saabe3 taamen taase3 3aasher, with the predictable feminines. They are commonly put before a noun with no definite article, like superlatives:

تامن واحد taamen waa7ed ‘the eighth one’


Like 3-9 11-19 have independent and counting forms, but they are usually followed by singular nouns. In this case the counting forms, counterintuitively, are longer (with the -ar suffix):

احدعش احدعشر é7da3sh é7da3shar

انتعش اتنعشر étna3sh étna3shar

تلتعش تلتعشر tléTTa3sh tléTTa3shar

اربعتش اربعتشر arba3Ta3sh arba3Ta3shar

خمستعش خمستعشر kham@STa3sh kham@sTa3shar

ستتعش ستتعشر séTTa3sh séTTa3shar

سبعتعش سبعتعشر sab@3Ta3sh sab@3Ta3shar

تمنتعش تمنتعشر tménTa3sh tménTa3shar

تسعتعش تسعتعشر tés3aTa3sh tés3aTa3shar

Many Syrian speakers use the first form even in front of nouns:

تمنتعش واحد tménTa3sh waa7ed ‘eighteen guys’

The most common way to turn these into ordinals is just to place them after the noun:

الدرس الخمستعش éddars élkham@sTa3sh ‘the fifteenth lesson’


The round numbers are basically as expected. They have only one form each, independently or with nouns. They are followed by the singular, as in fuSHa, and have no distinct ordinals, again as in fuSHa.

عشرين ‭3éshriin

تلاتين tlaatiin

اربعين arba3iin

خمسين khamsiin

ستين séttiin

سبعين sab3iin

تمانين tmaaniin

تسعين tés3iin

The compound forms with units are formed, invariably for gender, as follows:

واحدة وعشرين wa7daa w3éshriin

تنين وعشرين tneen w3éshriin

تلاتة وعشرين tlaataa w3éshriin

اربعة وعشرين arba3aa w3éshriin

خمسة وعشرين khamsaa w3éshriin

ستة وعشرين sittaa w3éshriin

سبعة وعشرين sab3aa w3éshriin

تماني وعشرين tmaani w3éshriin

تسعة وعشرين tis3a w3éshriin

100, 1,000, 1,000,000, 1,000,000,000

The words here are مية الف مليون مليار miyye alf milyoon milyaar. All are followed by singulars:

الف شخص alf shakh@S ‘a thousand people’

مليون دولار milyoon dolaar ‘a million dollars’

Miyye has a special form, miit, used when it is followed by a noun:

ميت واحد miit waa7ed ‘a hundred guys’

All of these numbers have dual forms: ميتين الفين مليونين مليارين miiteen alfeen milyooneen milyaareen:

ميتين دولار miiteen doolar ‘two hundred dollars’

They can also be counted themselves, as in English:

تلت ميت واحد tlét miit waa7ed ‘three hundred people’ (miyye does not have a plural)

خمس تالاف سوري kham@s taalaaf suuri ‘500 Syrians’

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