In English and Persian, grammatical number is divided into singular form and plural form. The singular form indicates one person or thing. The plural form indicates that there is more than one of that noun. There are languages that have a distinct form, called dual, for referring to two persons or things. For example, Arabic has singular (one), dual (two) and plural (more than two) forms.
The formation of plural in Persian, can be divided into three categories:
- Using the plural suffix ها (-hâ)
- Using the plural suffix ان (-ân)
- Arabic borrowings
Plural Suffix -hâ
Words are normally pluralized with the suffix -hâ:
Plural Suffix -ân
Historically, all nouns were pluralized with the suffix -ân. This suffix is now restricted to animate nouns and in particular, human nouns.
It is also seen in certain inanimate nouns, which reflects its historical role:
The suffix -ân changes to -gân after the vowel e and to -yân after other vowels:
The word ستارگان (setâregan) in the above table, is another inanimate noun whose old plural form is still used in the language. For more information about this suffix, please refer to the page more on plural suffix "-ân".
Many Arabic loanwords brought their plural form into written Persian (not into spoken Persian). These plurals can be regular or irregular. However, you can use -hâ to pluralize all words. For example, کتاب ketâb is an Arabic loanword. Its plural form is کتب kotob, which is irregular. kotob is found in written Persian but what you normally see is ketâbhâ. This is comparable, to some extent, to Latin plurals found in English. The plural form of forum is fora but its usage is decreasing and it is often pluralized as forums.
I must emphasize that Arabic plurals are not typically used in spoken Persian. Words are pluralized with -hâ. Even in written Persian, the use of Arabic plurals has greatly decreased. The only exception are Arabic words whose plural form has found an extended meaning as well as some fixed Arabic plurals.
Nouns after numbers
In Persian, nouns are not pluralized after a number because the number itself indicates the quantity:
a few books (any number betwen 3 to 9)
all books (no particular number)
|دو برادر دارم
do barâdar dâram
I have two brothers
|برای چند شب
barâ-ye chand shab?
For how many nights?