Lesson (2): The Arabic Alphabet (Writing Letters)

It is used by many to begin any Language by teaching its Parts of Speech; however, logically it is better to begin our trip by teaching the Arabic Alphabet (Arabic Letters) as it is the reasonable starting point. Consider the absence of Alphabets then how we can form words and/or sentences?!

Arabic Alphabet Chart [29]

pronunciation Transliterated Isolated Isolated pronunciation Initial Medial Final Transcription
أَلِف ̛ālif ا أ Like A in Apple ا ـا ـا ā
بَاء bā̛ ب ب Like B in Baby بـ ـبـ ـب b
تَاء tā̛ ت ت Like T in Tree تـ ـتـ ـت ـة t
ثَاء thā̛ ث ث Like the Th in Theory ثـ ـثـ ـث th
جِيم jim ج ج Sometimes like the G in Girl or like the J in Jar جـ ـجـ ـج j
حَاء hā̛ ح ح Like the h in he yet light in pronunciation حـ ـحـ ـح h
خَاء khā̛ خ خ Like the Ch in the name Bach خـ ـخـ ـخ kh
دَال dāl د د Like the D in Dad د ـد ـد d
ذَال zāl ذ ذ Like the Th in The ذ ـذ ـذ z
رَاء rā̛ ر ر Like the R in Ram ر ـر ـر r
زَاي zāy ز ز Like the Z in zoo ز ـز ـز z
سِين sin س س Like the S in See سـ ـسـ ـس s
شِين shin ش ش Like the Sh in She شـ ـشـ ـش sh
صَاد sād ص ص Like the S in Sad yet heavy in pronunciation صـ ـصـ ـص s
ضَاد dād ض ض Like the D in Dead yet heavy in pronunciation ضـ ـضـ ـض d
طَاء tā̛ ط ط Like the T in Table yet heavy in pronunciation طـ ـطـ ـط t
ظَاء ẓā̛ ظ ظ Like the Z in Zorro yet heavy in pronunciation ظـ ـظـ ـظ
عَينٍ عain ع ع Has no real equivalent sometimes they replace its sound with the A sound like for example the name Ali for علي /عali/ عـ ـعـ ـع ع̛
غَين ghain غ غ Like the Gh in Ghandi غـ ـغـ ـغ gh
فَاء fā̛ ف ف Like the F in Fool فـ ـفـ ـف f
قَاف qāf ق ق Like the Q in Queen yet heavy velar sound in pronunciation قـ ـقـ ـق q
كَاف kāf ك ك Like the K in Kate كـ ـكـ ـك k
لاَم lām ف ل Like the L in Love لـ ـلـ ـل l
مِيم mim م م Like the M in Moon مـ ـمـ ـم m
نُون nun ن ن Like the N in Noon نـ ـنـ ـن n
هَاء hā̛ ه هـ ه Like the H in He هـ ـهـ ـه h
وَاو wāw , و Like the W in the reaction of astonishment saying: WAW! ـو ---- ـو W(aw, au, u)
يَاء yā̛ ي ي Like the Y in you يـ ـيـ ـي Y (ay, ai, ῑ)
هَمزَة hamza ء


Seen latter because it differs according to case and context Latter will be discussed separately أ ؤ ـئـ ئ ̛

Now, you can deduce from the herein above Chart that Arabic letters are 29 with the letter hamza, sometimes is regarded as a separate Letter. Further, in the first column above, you can see some dashes or symbols on the Arabic Letter above or below them; they are called Arabic vowels (Described later).

Consider the following three Arabic Letters Characteristics:
a- Letters are connected to form words.
b- Words have vowels on it (described later).
c- Some letters have dots on it.

Do you know that:
1- Arabic structure is different in Alphabet from any other Language.
2- Arabic letters form words by connecting them together.
3- Arabic Alphabet is written and read from right to left.
4- Arabic Letters' writing has three forms: initial, medial, and final i.e. different in shape according to their position.
5- Letters in isolation and final are mostly the same in shape.
6- Letters in the initial and medial positions are mostly the same in shape.
7- There are many print forms, types of fonts and writing forms for Arabic; yet most common of which is /̛ān-naskh/ (normal writing) النَسخ and /̛ār-ruqعa/ الرِقعة. An elementary/ intermediate Reader/ Learner is advised to use /̛ān-naskh/ writing form.
8- You can find the correct pronunciation in Arabic just from the spelling of the word which is considered a no-trouble-trick of Arabic pronunciation.
9- Arabic Letters can be divided into two groups according to their position

1st Group
- Can't be joined on the left side.
- Can be joined to a preceding letter but never to a following one.
- Then, all Arabic Letters in the Alphabet could be connected from both sides except the following mentioned Letters.(see table below)
2nd Group
- Change shape according to their position in the word.

1st Group (Non-Connecting Letters) 1st Group Examples 2nd Group (Connecting Letters) 2nd Group Examples
ālif ا سَمَاء
for "sky"
عain   ع Refer to the three Arabic Letters' Writing Forms (initial – medial – final)
Dāl د الدَهر
for "past life"
ghain غ Refer to the three Arabic Letters' Writing Forms (initial – medial – final)
zāl ذ الذَهب
For "gold"
kāf ك Refer to the three Arabic Letters' Writing Forms (initial – medial – final)
rā̛ ر الرَمَادِي
for "grey color"
hā̛ ه هـ Refer to the three Arabic Letters' Writing Forms (initial – medial – final)
zāy ز الزَمَان
For "past"
yā̛ ي Refer to the three Arabic Letters' Writing Forms (initial – medial – final)
wāw و الوَطَن
for "homeland"
Refer to the three Arabic Letters' Writing Forms (initial – medial – final).
NB: this letter will be discussed later

10- Few Arabic Written Letters could be only differentiated by their dots :
bā̛    ب
tā̛    ت
thā̛    ث
jim    ج
hā̛    ح
khā̛   خ
dāl    د
Zāl    ذ
rā̛    ر
Zāy    ز
sin    س
shin    ش
sād    ص
dād    ض
tā̛    ط
ẓā̛   ظ
عain    ع
ghain    غ
fā̛    ف
qāf    ق
nun    ن

11- There are Confusing Arabic Written Letters phonetically-wise:
Light Sound in Pronunciation Heavy Sound in Pronunciation
tā̛    ت tā̛   ط
Dāl    د dād    ض
zāl    ذ ẓā̛    ظ
sin    س sād   ص
Kāf    ك qāf    ق

12- The Letter tā̛ ت; sometimes it is written like the letter hā̛ in its final form ـهyet with two dots above it ـة. This letter is mostly seen in its final position to indicate a feminine gender ending and is termed " tā̛ Marbutah".

13- The Letters fā̛ and qāf in Moroccan Written Arabic are different in their shape as seen below:
Position in word Isolated Initial Medial Final
Form of the letter fā̛ in Moroccan Arabic ڢ ڢـ ـڢـ ـڢ
Form of the letter qāf in Moroccan Arabic ڡ ڧـ ـڧـ ـڡ