Urdu: How to tell the difference between a singular masculine noun and a non-oblique plural masculine noun not ending in ا (alif)

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When masculine nouns in Urdu do not end in ا and are not followed by a postposition (making them oblique), we usually have the singular and plural of those nouns remain the same. However, when you do pluralize such as a noun (like fruit:پھل), how can you tell the difference in a sentence when you are talking of "fruit" or of "fruits"?
  • aevynn

    Senior Member
    English, Hindustani
    @MonsieurGonzalito is entirely right: sometimes, that context is all you have to disambiguate. But sometimes, you do also have verb agreement telling you whether the noun should be interpreted as singular or plural. For instance:

    میں نے پھل کھایا
    maiNne phal khaayaa
    I ate one fruit[*]

    میں نے پھل کھائے
    maiNne phal khaae
    I ate several fruits[*]

    The verb endings tell you that the first phal is singular, while the second is plural.

    [*]: I find these English translations a but clumsy: probably most of the time in this context, the word "fruit" is treated as an uncountable noun, so one would say "I ate fruit" instead, whether it was one piece of fruit that one ate or several. So in English too, if you can disambiguate at all, it has to be based on context!
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