The Arabic Alphabet,
Introduction Arabic writing system, Arabic is written and read from right to left, the opposite of English.
There are no capital letters.
Arabic is a phonetic language spelling in Arabic is easy, all sounds are written as they are pronounced. Curved letters are joined together by the means of joined strokes. If you want to learn Arabic you should start from the beginning. Learn the Arabic alphabet quickly and focus on difficult letters.
The hardest sounds for English speakers to learn are often the (ح=7), (ع=3), (غ=gh) and (خ=kh). You will find all the forms (First Middle and Final ) on the table,
The Arabic Alphabet, Letters
Solar and lunar letters
Aldamma ُ الضمة
Long Vowels aa ii oo uu أ و ي
The letter Alif ألف
The letter Waw ي
The letter Yaa و
*The Letter ء (Hamza)همزة
Alshadda ّ الشدة
Altanween :ً التنوين
The Arabic Alphabet has 29 letters, as they appear when written alone, each letter has two or three slightly different shapes depending on whether it is used at the beginning, middle, or end of a word
Arabic is written from right to left
The Arabic Alphabet, Vowels and Transliteration
|q, g, j||ـق||ـقـ||قـ||ق|
As you learn more about Arabic, you may have asked why, when the definite article ال (el) is used, the pronunciation of the ل (laam) often differs?
For example, when saying the word القَمَرْ (el-qamar) –the moon, the ل (laam) in ال (el) is clearly heard, but when saying the word الشَّمْس (esh-shams) –the sun, it sounds like the ل (laam) has been replaced by the ش (shiin
Gulf Arabic Pronunciation
خ = kh/ ح=7/ /.
/ج/ sometimes yaaي or Ja
/ك/=K or Ch
Gulf Arabic vowels present no particular problem to an English speaker.
There are three types of vowels: short vowels, long vowels and
Short vowels: a i o u ( ُ)( ِ)( َ)
In Arabic, short vowels are not letters. they are diacritics (or symbols) whenever they are used together , they change the pronunciation of each letter
This first vowel is a َ (fat7a). it’s a short diagonal dash which is placed above the letter that it corresponds to within a word. It makes a short a sound, as compared to the ا (alif) which makes a longer aa sound.َ7 (Fat7a)
Let’s look at how َ (fat7a) is pronounced with a letter:
This second vowel is ِ (kasra). It’s a short diagonal dash, just like َ(fat7a), but it’s placed under the letter that it corresponds to within a word. It makes a short i sound, as compared to the ي (yaa) which makes a long ii (or ii) sound.
Let’s look at how ِ (kasra) is pronounced with a letter:
This third vowel is a ُ (damma). It looks similar to the letter و (waaw) but is much smaller and is placed above the letter to which it corresponds within a word. It makes a short u sound, as compared to the و (waaw), which makes a long uu (or uu) sound.
Lets look at how ُ (damma) is pronounced with a letter:
Occasionally these short vowel signs (fat7a,فتحة kasra,كسرة and dammaضمة) will be doubled and written twice, one on top of the other. When this happens, it gives the vowel a final n sound.
Let’s look at some examples:
Note that these double vowel signs only come at the end of a word, never at the start or in the middle. They occur more commonly in Classical or Modern Standard Arabic, but occasionally they are used in Gulf Arabic Arabic as well.
A ْ (sukuunسكون) is a small circle that is placed above the letter to which it corresponds. It represents a short pause, kind of like the pause between syllables.
Let’s look at how ْ (sukuunسكون) is pronounced with a letter:
Shadda. It looks like a handwritten w and is placed above a letter. It represents a double pronunciation of the letter, unlike in English where the letter would just be written twice.
Let’s look at how (shadda شدّة) is pronounced with a letter:
Notice how in the example above, adding the (shadda) on the ب (bih) gives it a double b pronunciation, instead of just a single b sound.
Now, this may all seem a little abstract at the moment, but it won’t be for long. In our next writing lesson, we’ll be jumping into the letters of the Arabic alphabet, and you will start noticing how these short vowels change the pronunciation of letters. Until then!
Long Vowels: aa ii oo uu أ و ي
There are three letters in the alphabet which can be used as vowels, ا (alif), و (waaw), and ي (yiih). You’ll le these three letters are considered LONG vowels; which means that the sound they produce is longer than the regular short vowels.
The Letter ا (Alif)
The ا (alif) is written as a simple vertical line, and is pronounced as either a in apple or as a in banana. Sometimes a ء (hamza) will sit on top of it like this: أ or below it like this: إ
How these changes might or might not affect pronunciation is discussed at a later point in this lesson.
Do you remember when we talked about unfriendly letters that don’t connect to any letter that comes after them? ا (Alifألف) is one of those letters! It cannot join with any letter coming after it to its left, although it can be joined to preceding letters from the right.
The form of the ا (alif) pretty much stays the same, regardless of whether it is written at the beginning, middle or end of a word. The only difference is that sometimes it needs a line to connect it to the letter before it (a joining line).
Let’s see what this looks and sounds like.
Let’s break down the vowels in the word اِحْنَا (i7naa) wefor a bit of revision.
The ا (alif) at the beginning of the word has a short dash under it which is the kasra. This kasra gives the letter its i sound.
Then the letter ح (7aa) has a small circle on top of it. This is the sukuun which represents the end of the syllable.
And finally there’s a short dash on top of the ن (nuun). This is the fatḥa, which gives the letter its a sound.
If you need a quick revision of any of these vowels, head back to the short vowel lesson so you can brush up on what you’ve learned!
The Letter ء (Hamza)همزة
At the start of this lesson, we mentioned that the ا (alif) is sometimes written with a ء (hamza). Let’s take a closer look at this!
In the Arabic alphabet, ء (hamza) represents a glottal stop. It can be written on its own, or with one of the long vowel letters: ا (alif), و (waaw), and ي (yih).
Since ء (hamza) is a glottal stop, its pronunciation depends on the vowel it comes with. You will most commonly see ء (hamza) with ا (alif).
ء (Hamza) is written with a small partially open circle, and then a flat line underneath it. It looks almost like a crab’s pincer! Let’s look at some examples.
On its own, ء (hamza) has no sound, and its pronunciation depends on the vowel it comes with. You will most commonly see ء (hamza) with ا (alif). Let’s look at some examples.
In this example, ء (hamza) is sitting on top of the ا (alif), with a َ(fatha) above it. This is pronounced with a simple a sound.
Here, ء (hamza) is sitting below the ا (alif), with a ِ (kasraكسرة) underneath it. This is pronounced with a simple i sound, like the i in pin.
In the example above, ء (hamza) is sitting above the ا (alif), with a ُ (damma) on top of it. This is pronounced with a short u sound.
When it comes to the letter ء (hamza), remember to focus on the vowel that comes with it. Whatever the vowel sign is, that’s the sound to make!
That’s all for today’s lesson. We will continue with our second letter of the Arabic alphabet in our next lesson. Until then!
Whenever a letter needs to connect to an ا (alif), it will always do so with that joining line which makes the ا (alif) look like this: ـا
The Letter و (Waaw)
و (Waaw) is also one of the Arabic letters that can be used as a vowel. When it comes after a ُ (ḍamma) for example, it makes a long uu sound.
Let’s look at how و (waw) is written and pronounced.
At the beginning of a Word: و
When و (waw) is at the start of a word, it simply looks like its standalone form:
Since it’s an unfriendly letter it doesn’t connect to the letter after it, which means it doesn’t need a joining line on its left side. Let’s look at some examples.
In the Middle of a Word: ـو
In the middle of a word, و (waaw) keeps the same form and simply takes a joining line on its right side if it needs to connect to the letter before it, like this:
Notice how و (waaw) in the example above follows a ُ(ḍamma) which is sitting on the م (miim). This combination of ُ (ḍamma) and و (waaw) is pronounced with a long uu sound.
At the End of a Word: ـو
When و (waaw) is at the end of a word, it simply takes a joining line on its right side if it needs to connect to the letter before it (just like when it comes in the middle of a word). It looks like this: ـو
The Letter ي (Yaa)
ي (Yaa) is written with a long curving line that looks somewhat like a lopsided s, with two dots underneath it. It’s a friendly letter, so it can join to other letters before and after it.
Along with ا (alif) and و (waaw), ي (yii) is another Arabic letter that can be used as a vowel. When ي (yaa) comes after ِ (kasra), it is pronounced with a long ii sound.
Let’s look at how ي (yaa) is written and pronounced.
At the beginning of a Word: يـ
When ي (yaa) is at the start of a word, its long curving body is turned into a small vertical line with two dots below it. A joining line is attached on its left side so it can connect to the letter after it, like this: يـ
Let’s see some examples with ي (yaa) at the end of the word.
Notice that in the example above, ي (yaa) follows a ِ (kasra) which is sitting below the م (miim). This combination of ِ (kasra) and ي (y) is pronounced with a long ii sound.
In the Middle of a Word: ـيـ
In the middle of a word, ي (yaa) is turned into a small vertical line with two dots below it (just like when it comes at the start of a word). A joining line is attached on both sides of the small vertical line, so the ي (yii) can connect with the letters before and after it. It looks like this: ـي
Let’s look at some examples.
At the End of a Word: ـي
When ي (yaa) is at the end of a word, it keeps its curving tail with two dots underneath. The top part of the ي (yaa) is flattened to connect to a joining line, like this: ـي
diphthongs (ay, aw)
As the name implies, a long vowel (like a doubled consonant) lasts
longer than a short one: in English, cat contains a short a and cart
contains a long one. This distinction in vowel length is made in the
spelling system used in this book by writing the long vowels as a doubled
ay bayt بيت sayf
aw gaalaw قالو
You may have noticed that some words such as the word for thank you شُكْرًا (shukran) are not written with an ن (n) . The same can be said of the word for you’re welcome عَفْوًا(3awfan). It is written with an alif ا (a) instead – so why is there an n sound?