In Middle Persian and early New Persian, the plural of nouns was formed by adding the suffix “-ân”. However, it has now given its place to the suffix “-hâ” as the general suffix for pluralizing nouns. Due to its historical role, the suffix “-ân” has introduced special cases. This suffix can be used to designate human beings and create a distinction between being animate or inanimate. Compare the following plural pairs to see how animacy and inanimacy is expressed by using different plural suffixes:

Singular Inanimate Plural Animate Plural
سر
sar
head
سرها
sarhâ
heads (part of body)
سران
sarân
heads (chiefs, leaders)
گذشته
gozashte
past
گذشته‌ها
gozashtehâ
times gone by
گذشتگان
gozashtegân
people gone by
بسته
baste
closed; package, parcel
بسته‌ها
bastehâ
packages, parcels
بستگان
bastegân
close relatives

Animate Demonstrative Pronouns

The plural sufix “-ân” is added to demonstrative pronouns and creates plural forms that only designate human beings.

Proximal Distal
اینان
inân
these
آنان
ânân
those