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The Kabyle/Berber Noun

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The Kabyle/Berber Noun



Azul dear friend, doing fine? Are you ready to tackle the first chapter of Kabyle (berber) grammar with me? I see alot of motivation in your eyes and I know you’re going somewhere!:)

For your first course in Kabyle grammar I chose "the noun", it’s rather an easy course, simple to understand, it’ll give you the chance to learn alot of things that will help you in the rest of the chapters.

Let’s warm up and get into action....

In the Kabyle language, we’ve got :

Two Types (masculine and feminine) :

-The masculine nouns generally begin with "a", "i" or "u"

Example :

. Amcic (= a cat)

. Izem (= a lion)

. Uccen (= a jackal)

-The feminine nouns generally begin with "t", all you need is to add a "t" at the begining end the end of a masculine noun to end up with the feminine noun, piece of cake ain’t it?:)

Example :

. tamcict (= a cat)

. tizemt (= a lion)

. tuccent (= female jackal)


Other examples :




amellal ( white)

amγar (elderly)

ilemzi (adolescent)

isli (fiancé)

ayazi(a coq)

aḥelluf (pig)

tamellalt (white)

tamγart (elderly)

tilemzit (adolescent)

tislit (fiancé)

tayazi(a chicken)

taḥelluft (pig)


Just like you doubted the previous rules suffer from certain exceptions, but if you have grasped that most nouns that begin with the vowels "a", "i" or "u" are masculin and as we add a "t" at the begining and end of a masculin noun we get a feminine noun is already not bad, the rest will work out with a little of practice.


Two Numbers :

Taqbaylit (Kabyle language) and Berber in general possess singular and plural nouns. It’s not to discourage you but you must know there is no established rule to obtain a plural, but to help and guide you grasp that there are three types of plurals in the Kabyle or Berber language.

1- The External Plural :

I begin with this type of plural because it’s the easiest to obtain from a singular noun. In fact, it’s enough to modify the initial vowel of the singular.

- the "a" becomes "i"
- the "ta" becomes "ti"

Then, at the end of the singular noun we add :


For the masculine nouns

For the feminine nouns

We either add:


We either add:


Doing fine so far? I hope I didn’t lose anyone in the middle of the road! Don’t give up you’re almost there, I’ll give you a few examples to understand the function of this rule then we’ll tackle the remaining two plurals.

Examples for masculine nouns :

Singular masculin nouns

Plural masculin nouns

argaz (= man)

aγref (= people)

imeṭṭi (= cry)

amẓyan (= young man)

agerfiw (= crow)

irgazen (= men)

iγerfan (= people)

imeṭṭawen (= cries)

imyanen (= young men)

igerfiwen (= crows)


Examples for feminine nouns :


Feminine singula nouns

Feminine plural nouns

taqcict (= girl)

tagerfa (= female crow)

tissegnit (= injection)

tizemt (= lioness)

tiqcicin (= girls)

tigerfiwin (= female crows)

tissegnatin (= injections)

tizemawin (= lionesses)


Still doing fine guys? Ready to continue our little course or are you in need of a break?

I don’t have much time for a break, I get payed for my endurance, so the ones who love me carry on with me, the rest I’ll let you take a little break, the time to recover and breath a little (you can for example find the plural of these nouns : afus (hand), aslem (fish), tameγa (party).

The rest warm up and get ready for action, 3...2...1 here we go !

The second type of Kabyle or Berber plural is the "internal plural".


2- The Internal Plural :


The internal plural is also known as the "alternating plural" ; this plural actually consists of alternating the vowels of the singular. The vowel "a" switches to the vowels "i" or "u" and the last syllable.

Example :

- afrux (= bird) becomes ifrax (= birds)

- azru (= rock) becomes izra (= rocks)

- aγyul (= donkey) becomes (=iγyal)

There also exists what we call the plural with double alternations :

- ameddakkul (= friend) ==> imeddukkal (= friends)

- acaqur (= axe) ==> icuqar (= axes)

- aneggaru (= last) ==> ineggura (= last)

Don’t panic! If you haven’t completely understood ; no worries, it will workout in time and with a little practice, and plus you will find the plural of a number of words by taking a peek at our dictionary. In the worst cases, you can always use the forum.

Got any more energy to tackle the last type of plural? Don’t stop now, it’s almost over, after this I promise I will leave you alone.


3- The mixed plural :

This last type of plural is quite special because it’s a mixture of both previous types of plurals (inetrior and exterior plurals). This plural is characterised by a suffix and a vocal or/and consonantal alternation.

Voca.. what??? Easy easy smart guy!

Don’t worry I’ll give you examples to understand everything, you should just know that the alternantion of the initial vowel is always -a, -i ==> i

Example :

- aar (root) ==> iuran (roots)

- aar (foot) ==> iḍaṛen (feet), you have noticed the doubling of the consonant; it is typical in this kind of plural.

- iγil (arm) ==> iγallen (arms), equally for this, the doubling of the consonant "l".

Until here, we have seen plurals forming from a singular, but did you know that some plurals are not formed from singulars! Yes, yes I swear ! Hey don’t go, stay with me; I have good news, you know what, these types of plurals do not exist abundandtly, here are some of them :

- aqcic (boy) ==> arrac (boys), we can’t say "iqcicen" :) it just isn’t said in kabyle.

- tameṭṭut (woman) ==> tilawin (women), here too we can not say "timeṭṭutin" by following the rules of the types of plurals.

- taqcict (girl) ==> tullas (girls), and bizarrely in this case we can very well use one of the rules I taught you in this course, in fact, taqcict (girl) can also be said "tiqcicin" (les filles).

Don’t panic friends, with a bit of practice and if you make an effort of learning the vocabulary that I have put at your disposition on the site, you will be talking Kabyle like the pros...well almostJ anyway you can at least have a conversation with a Kabyle without any problems.

You think you’ve reached the end of this course ? well no and yes, but you told us on top that it was the last thing !!! Yes that’s true but I lied lol !! I hope you’ll forgive me !

If I quickly summarize this chapter; we have seen there exists, in Kabyle and Berber, 2 types (masculine and feminine), 2 numbers (singular and plural), we know now there are 3 types of plurals (internal, external, and mixed plural). We have got left the last thing which is a bit made up, impossible to comprehend... don’t start packing I was only kidding J

So, this last thing is the state, but what does the state have to do with this?! In fact, it isn’t what you think, in Kabyle there are 2 states : 1- Free State, and 2- Annexation State.

Good news, we are only going to study the annexation state, because we have already studied the free state, it’s everything you’ve just learned up there.


Annexation State:

The annexation state relates to the modifications that an initial syllable of a noun in contact with other nouns can undergo. I know that some of you understood nothing J.

Grasp this so you can differentiate between the free and annexation state and so you can alternate between them.


Initial Syllabales

Free State

Annexation State

. a

. ta

. i

. ti

. u

. t, tu

. u - we - wa

. t - te

. yi - i - ye

. ti, te

. wu

. tu


Some examples :


Free State

Annexation State

. argaz (man)

. tislit (bride)

. taqcict (girl)

. izem (lion)

. axxam (house)

. wergaz (man)

. teslit (bride)

. teqcict (girl)

. yizem (lion)

. wexxam (house)

. axxam (house)


. taqcict (girl)

In a preposition :

. yekcem deg wexxam (he went home)

A noun in a determinating complement:

. yiwet teqcict (a "single" girl)


Keep in mind that certain nouns show no difference between the free or annexation state. Notably the words borrowed from the arabic or french language, and equally nouns of relation.

State of Annexation in Plural Form :

I can’t end this chapter without talking about this, don’t worry, I’ll be brief.

-You should know that in plural form masculine nouns that begin with "i" become "yi", "ye", or don’t change at all.

-In plural form, the state of annexation of feminine nouns with "ti" stay the same or change to "te".

That is the end, congratulations to you for following this chapter until the end, and don’t hesitate to reread it a few times if you need to, it is important you grasp this chapter.