In Middle Persian and early New Persian, nouns were pluralized with the suffix -ân. However, it has now given its place to the suffix -hâ. Due to its historical role, -ân has introduced special cases that will be discussed in this article.
Animate Plural Form
The plural suffix -ân can be used to designate human beings and create a distinction between being animate or inanimate. Compare these plural pairs:
|Singular||Inanimate Plural||Animate Plural|
heads (part of body)
heads (chiefs, leaders)
people of the past
closed; package, parcel
As mentioned in the introductory article about plural suffixes, the suffix -ân changes to -gân after the vowel e and to -yân after other vowels. In Persian, when a word ends in a vowel and it receives a suffix that begins with a vowel, always a consonant sits between them. This consonant is technically called واج میانجی (intermediary phoneme). It is often the consonant -y-:
In transition from Middle Persian to New Persian, words that ended in -ag, lost their final -g. The plural form of these nouns ends in -agân and since -g is not at word final, it has been preserved in New Persian:
|Middle Persian||New Persian||Meaning|
Therefore, the consonant -g- is not an intermediary phoneme. It belongs to the older form of the word.
New Persian has further evolved during its long history. In modern dialect of Iran, final -a has become short -e. In addition, short i has become short e (see this page for vowel changes in New Persian).