Paj-Puj: Dropping the Plural Suffix: Concrete Numbers

Dropping the Plural Suffix: Concrete Numbers

كۆپلۈك قوشۇمچىسىنىڭ چۈشۈپ قالغىنى: سان - مىقدار ئېنىق ئەھۋالدا

The plural is fairly straightforward to use in English as the usage rule is fairly simple - if there are several of a countable object, then the plural suffix should be used. In Uyghur, however, things are not always so simple, and there exist cases when English speakers do, in accordance with their English habits, use the plural suffix but shouldn't. This is probably one of the easiest mistakes to make and is very frequent among learners of the language.

The most common "faux pas" is probably in the use of plural suffixes when the number of nouns is specified (e.g., "two girls", "five apples"). In this case, it is *incorrect* to use the plural in Uyghur.

two girls
ئىككى قىز

five apples
بەش ئالما

The two sentences above are correct.
.يۇقىرىقى ئىككى جۈملە توغرا

However, when the position of the number and noun are reversed (e.g., قىزلار ئىككى or ئالمىلار بەش), the plural may be used. Grammatically, this is because the number no longer plays the role of an adjective but of a predicate (e.g., the phrase قىزلار ئىككى is independent and means "there are two girls", rather than "two girls").

There are four men and three women in our house.
.بىزنىڭ ئۆيدە ئەرلەر تۆت، ئاياللار ئۈچ
.بىزنىڭ ئۆيدە تۆت ئەر، ئۈچ ئايال بار

When the noun quantity is made concrete by a number *and* a measure word, the plural suffixes should not, in most cases, be used, just as they wouldn't be with numbers alone (e.g., "two bags of apples" should be expressed as ئىككى خالتا ئالما and not as ئىككى خالتا ئالمىلار). However, exceptions appear to be acceptable when the measure word denotes a "single group".

A group of children is playing downstairs.
.بىر توپ بالىلار پەستە ئويناۋاتىدۇ
.بىر توپ بالا پەستە ئويناۋاتىدۇ


  1. Personal research/experience
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  6. Frederick De Jong, "A Grammar of Modern Uyghur". Houtsma Stichting: Utrecht, 2007. (p. 19-20)
  7. Hämit Tömür, "Modern Uyghur Grammar" (translation by Anne Lee). Yıldız: Istanbul, 2003. (p. 20, 48)
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  9. E. N. Nadzhip, "Modern Uigur". Nauka Publishing House: Moscow, 1971. (p. 68-69, 95)
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  11. خالىق نىياز, "基础维吾尔语"。新疆大学出版社: 乌鲁木齐, 2006。 (p. 486)
  12. 易坤琇, "维吾尔语语法"。中央民族大学出版社: 北京, 1998。 (p. 24-25)
  13. خامىت تۆمۈر، "ھازىرقى زامان ئۇيغۇر تىلى گرامماتىكىسى"، مىللەتلەر نەشرىياتى: بېيجىڭ، 2011 (p. 42)
  14. G. Raquette, "Eastern Turki Grammar: Practical and Theoretical with Vocabulary". Reichsdruckerei: Berlin, 1912. (p. 127, 138)