The Arabic Alphabet
In this lesson we will cover:
- Learn the Arabic alphabet i.e. the names of the letters.
- Understand what diacritical markings are used to differentiate letters that have the same shapes.
- In Arabic, there are 28/29 alphabets.
- Some teachers include the letter ‘hamza’ in the alphabet and some do not.
- Letters are written from right to left.
- Many letters share the same shapes but have different diacritical markings on them.
- In Arabic dots are used as the diacritical markings to help differentiate letters if they have the same shape.
- There are many other diacritical characters used in Arabic for other purposes like lengthening sounds, but these will not be dots.
Things to remember:
- Names of letters not the sounds.
We are learning the ‘names’ of the letters not specific sounds.
For example, in English, there is the letter ‘b’ but with the vowels, it takes on different ‘sounds’ as in ‘be’ or ‘bi’.
- Other letters.
Although we are learning the 29 alphabet letters, there are ‘other’ letters that are not included in the 29 alphabets which we will cover later on.
Different dialects are spoken across the Arab world and hence you will find different Arabs pronouncing letter names and sounds differently and this can be quite substantial so you have to listen to different dialects to see the difference.
How we will learn?
- How we will learn the alphabet
We will practice all the alphabet names slowly in small groups of 3 or 4 letters.
Then we will go through all 29 letters again in one go.
ا ، ب ، ت ، ث
The first alphabet which is a vertical line is called alif. And this letter is used as a long vowel i.e. it helps us to link certain sounds.
The next three letters have the same shape, but the number of dots varies in each letter. So, the first one here is baa’ and it has one dot underneath.
The second one is taa’ and it has two dots on it.
The third one with the three dots is thaa’.
ج ، ح ، خ
Again, these three letters have also the same shape just the variation of dots.
The first one with dot in the middle is called jeem.
The second one is known as Haa’ (exhale forcefully!).
The third one is called kha’.
د ، ذ ، ر ، ز
These four letters look very similar. Notice that the first two letters are very curved and the second two are slightly less curved.
The first one is without any dot and is pronounced as daal.
The second one is called dhaal. ‘dhaa’ as in the English word ‘that’.
The next letter is raa’. When you are pronouncing this letter, make a slightly circle with your mouth to pronounce it correctly.
The last one is known as zaa’ and it has one dot.
س ، ش ، ص ، ض
Here the first two have the same shape (it is two very small curves and then a big curve) and the second letter has three dots as well.
The first is known as seen.
The second one is known as sheen.
The next two letters also have the same shape (a big loop and a curve) and the last letter also has a dot.
The third letter is known as saad. Make a slight circle of your mouth to pronounce it correctly.
The last letter is known as daad. Press the left side of the tongue on upper left teeth for correct pronunciation.
ط ، ظ ، ع ، غ
The first two have the same shape, a loop and vertical line. The second letter has a dot above also.
The first one is known as Taa’. Make a slight circle of your mouth.
The second one is pronounced as dhaa’. Start with the tongue between the front upper and front lower teeth (the dh is like the ‘th’ in Thou’).
The next two letters with a small curve at the top and the big curve underneath. The last letter also has a dot on it.
The third is known as ‘ayn. Block the throat a little at the start of saying ‘ayn.
The last letter is known as ghayn. From the throat, try and do the ‘gh’ as when you gargle.
ف ، ق ، ك
Here the first two letters look slightly similar. As you see the curve on the first one and is almost horizontal.
The second one goes slightly lower and has a deeper curve.
So, the first letter with one dot is called as faa’.
The second letter is known as qaaf. The ‘q’ is like the ‘co’ in cot.
The third letter with the small little type of s on it is called as kaaf. The ‘ka’ is as in ‘cat’.
ل ، م ، ن
Here the first letter is known as laam.
The second letter is known as meem.
The third one with one dot and a big curve is called as noon.
و ، ھ ، ء ، ي
The first letter here is known as waaw.
The second letter with two small loops is known as haa’. A soft-sounding haa’ said from the bottom of the throat.
The third letter is known as hamza. And this is the one that some people do not write it in the alphabet which would make it 28 letters.
the last letter is like a big s with two dots underneath is known as yaa’.
– Now you have learned all the alphabets.
– Now revise all alphabets in one go.