Meredova Kabegul1, Bayramova Gulalek1
1Dovletmammet Azadi Turkmen National Institute of World Languages, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Far Eastern Languages

Keywords: Chinese language, nouns, number grammatical category, Turkic languages, Turkmen language

Category: 10.00.00 Philology

Article reference:
Meredova K., Bayramova G. Use of the singular number of the grammatical category of nouns in Turkmen and Chinese languages // Modern scientific researches and innovations. 2024. № 2 [Electronic journal]. URL:

View this article in Russian

In the Turkmen and Chinese languages, the grammatical category of number refers to quantitative relationships and is expressed in a morphologically specific form in the language. The number grammatical category of nouns is defined by singular and plural.

In language, the relationship or semantic connection between these numbers is revealed through various grammatical forms or the lexical meaning of the word. In Turkic languages, including the Turkmen language, the expression of the concept of singular and plural numbers and their grammatical forms are different from some languages of other systems, characterized by unique semantics and grammatical features. An object, a word representing a thing, on its original, initial basis, represents the entire set of relevant lexical units, which represents the concept of the entire category of unquantified things. In ancient times, the Altaic languages used the singular form to express the logical concept of plural. Collective nouns with a common sense of unity can come in both singular and plural categories. The concept of unity can be general or specific. In the Turkmen language, nouns that do not accept the grammatical indication of the plural, that is, nouns without any suffix, are accepted in the singular.

For instance: ýüzük, suw, talyp, döwlet and etc.  In the sentence Ýüzük aldy, the word ýüzük is grammatically singular, and the number of rings is indefinite. In Chinese,  ýüzük aldym环拿- huan na huan-ýüzük is expressed as a singular noun.  If the word ýüzük is used in a sentence with a word bir (bir ýüzük aldym), if it is used with demonstrative pronouns (bu ýüzügi aldym), or if the word ýüzük occurs in conjunction and is used as an object (ýüzügi aldym), then the number of ring bought is clearly defined. In Chinese, a single number identifies a number account for individual items that cannot be weighed or measured. In Chinese, singular numbers are used with list words (or classifiers). When nouns are used with numerals and demonstrative pronouns, special list words must be used between them. List words mean ‘a number’. Each subject in Chinese uses a special list of words. Along with specific list words (classifiers), there are general universal list words. For instance:  Bir ýüzük aldym – “一个环拿 (yi ge huan na)”, because the number “bir” is used here, the list word “个”(ge) is inserted. In Chinese, “个ge” can be used instead of special enumeration words to enumerate various things. Demonstrative pronouns are in Chinese – 这(zhe),那(na),尔(ta), these demonstrative pronouns must be used with list words in a sentence.

According to Chinese language learners (В.М.Солнцев, Москва; 1995, В.И.Горелов, Москва; 1974), list words (classifiers) were derived from nouns in all unrelated languages. However, they have retained their basic lexical meanings to varying degrees, through which they have become list words (classifiers). Different list words are used with a certain group of words and they differ in their semantic features. For instance: “张 zhang”- A list word (classifier) refers to a class of open, flat objects, for example: stol这张桌子zhe zhang zhuozi, iki sany foto surat两张照片liang zhang zhao pian.

In total, about 100 list words (classifiers) are used in Chinese, but we will list the more common ones. W.I. Gorelov’s designations are of the following types:

1) “把 ba”-handle. A list word “把 ba” is a list word that indicates a class of objects with a handle. For example: iki pyçak 两把刀子 liang ba daozi, bu ýelpewaç这把扇子zhe ba shanzi, ol uturgyç那把椅子 na ba yizi.

2) “本ben”-base. “本ben”- A list word used with words related with notebook, book, dictionary, journal, etc. For example: bir kitap一本书yi ben shu, şu sözlük 这本词典, näçe depder?几本练习本ji ben lianxibenr?.

3) “张 zhang” – A list word is used in words referring to a class of open, flat objects. For example: bir stol 一张桌子yi zhang zhuozi, iki gazet两张报liang zhang bao.

4) In words that refer to the names of vehicles, the list word “营利 liang” is used. For example: 3 ýük daşaýan ulagy三辆卡车san liang kache, şu wagon这辆车皮zhe liang chepi.

5)  nouns referring to long-shaped objects use the list word “条-tiao”. For example: şu köçe这条路zhe tiao lu, şol derýa那条 河 na tiao he, üç ýylan三条蛇 san tiao she.

6) the list word “座-zuo” is used to indicate large-scale objects. For example: şu köşk这座宫殿zhe zuo gongdian.

7) the list word “所-suo” is used with nouns referring to houses and buildings. For example: şu jaý这所房子 zhe suo fangzi, iki bina两所楼房 liang suo loufang.

8) the words related with subject, clothes, work, thing, the list word “会-jian” is used. For example: şu köýnek 这件衣服, şol iş那件事 na jian shi.

9) The list word “位-wei” is used in nouns that refer to respected people, employees. For example: iki delegat两位代表员liang wei daibiaoyuan, bäş professor  五位教授 wu wei jiao shou.

10) “封-feng”-list word is used in letters and telegrams. For example:şol hat那封信na feng xin, iki telegramma两封电报 liang feng dianbao.

11) The word list “只 zhi” is used with nouns referring to animals and ships. For example: ýedi gämi七只舰 qi zhi jian, iki it 两只狗.

“只 zhi”-sanaw sözi jübüt predmetleriň bir taýyny aňlatmak  üçin hem ulanylýar– köwüşiň bir taýy一只皮鞋yi zhi pixie.

But in some languages singular number is defined morphologically, that is, by means of morphemes. For example, in the Russian language, according to the gender grammatical category, the morphemes in the singular are -й (мужской род: край, ручей), -а (-я) (женский род: девушка), -о, -е (средний род: море, молоко). Also, in Russian, the number category is defined in the suffixes (двором – дворами).

In order to give a complete typological characterization of the number category, let us consider its role in different languages. For example, in the Russian language, the grammatical category number is present in many word groups – nouns, adjectives, pronouns (proper, indicative, interrogative pronouns), quantitative numbers, verbs.

In Turkic languages, the grammatical category number is defined only in nouns, inflectional phrases and verbs. In most Turkic languages, the number category is not defined morphologically in the phrases that contain more, less, and few words. For example: iki gyz, dört depder, köp alma, az çorek, birnäçe adam.

In the Turkmen language, the singular number category is defined grammatically without a special suffix. The plural category is defined in three main ways: morphological, lexico-semantic and syntactic.

In Turkmen and Chinese languages, the number grammatical category of nouns is word modifiers, since most of them change by number. Accordingly, the numerical grammatical category of nouns can be divided into three groups:

1)    Plural and singular form of nouns: kitap-kitaplar (书-多书), talyp-talyplar(学生-学生们);

2)    Only the singular form of nouns (singularia tantum): altyn (金, dynç (休息),  Aşgabat (阿沙哈巴德);

3)    Only the plural form of nouns (pluralia tantum):  gaýmak (酸奶皮),  şahmat(象棋);

To sum up, in Turkmen and Chinese languages, the use of the singular number is not the same. In the Turkmen language, the singular number category is defined grammatically without a special suffix. In Chinese, the number category of nouns is used with the help of list words.

  1. Солнцев В.М. Грамматика современного китайского языка, Москва, 1995.
  2. Çöňňäýew Ý.  Häzirki zaman türkmen dili. Leksika. Aşgabat, 1988.
  3. Häzirki zaman türkmen dili. Aşgabat, 1960.

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