It can be intimidating to learning the Arabic alphabet. The letters are different, it’s written in a different directions, and there are a few rules. That’s hard work! I’ll be honest: learning the Arabic alphabet takes a while. It takes longer to learn how to use it.
It’s definitely doable. It’s not even that hard. At least it’s not as hard as you think! You’ll see. This post covers some of the most significant information about the Arabic alphabet. Learn about the letters, the four most prominent features of the alphabet (and why they’re easy to understand), and tips for learning it.
I’ll even tell you if learning the Arabic alphabet is worth it. Here’s a spoiler: it’s true. Let’s go!
The Letters Of The Arabic Alphabet
Let’s start with the Arabic alphabet. You can see all 28 Arabic letters in the table below.
Here’s what the letter looks like in its “isolated” form (more on that later), what it sounds like in Arabic, and how it looks in English.
Let’s take a look.
|Arabic Alphabet||Pronunciation||Translation In English|
There are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet. It’s not that different from the English alphabet! For a second, let’s pause.
Despite this being an article about the Arabic alphabet (I’ve covered Arabic pronunciation in another post), a reminder on pronunciation might be helpful. Approximations of how these letters sound are just that: approximations.
The first thing is that multiple Arabic letters don’t exist in English. A great example is the letter \(ع\). You’ll feel a guttural “stop” at the back of your throat. There’s also a lot of variation in how letters are pronounced. Like English, and pretty much any other language. For example, “beg” vs. “Hear.” That’s a big difference.
That’s not to say ALL Arabic letters are like this. The \(ن\), for example, pretty much always sounds like an nn sound. When learning the alphabet, keep this in mind!
Here Are Four Things You Need To Know About Learning The Arabic Alphabet
Now let’s look at some features of the Arabic alphabet. I’ve compiled the four most important “rules” for you. Honestly, none of these are that hard. At first, they’re weird!
Arabic Is Written Right To Left
The first thing you should know about Arabic (and probably already do). At first, this can be intimidating.
Most people have a hard time writing right to left. It takes time and practice, just like anything else. It’s pretty easy to get used to. Plus, even though it’s right to left, it still follows the “one horizontal line at a time” reading style.
As you practice (even just a little), writing Arabic right to left becomes more of a “party trick.” Not a barrier.
You might end up with a little ink on your hands if you’re right-handed and use a pen. But now you’ll know what left-handers go through!
Arabic Letters Are Connected In Words
At least most of them. In Arabic, you don’t write individual letters (like handwriting) but connect them. It’s kind of like cursive.
Now, I did say “most of them.” That’s because some letters break the connection between them. The very first letter of the alphabet (alif) is a good example.
As a result, the next letter in the word will take the “isolated” form (see next feature of the Arabic alphabet).
In most cases, though, the letters get jammed together. This is confusing at first because it can slightly change the look of the letters.
Arabic Letters Will Vary Slightly Depending On Where They Are In The Word
Beginners usually get confused about this. In other words: a letter looks different at the beginning (initial), the middle (medial), or the end (final) of an Arabic word.
Does that sound confusing? With a little practice, it’s not hard. Here’s what I mean. You read the table above that shows Arabic letters isolated (that’s what I call them).
By itself, unrelated to anything else. Arabic letters can change their appearance once they’re used in a word (but sometimes they don’t).
Here’s something to keep in mind: most of the letters don’t look that different when they change. Arabic letters are pretty consistent no matter where they are in a word.
Beginners can guess it!
However, some letters do take on a different form. It’s a bit confusing at first. You just have to memorize a little bit. It just takes time, as I said.
Isolated From Initial Position, Medial Position, And Final Position
- 3ady (”average”) \(بعد\)
- Ba3d (after) \(طبع)
- Taba3 (habit)
As you can see here, the letter \(ع\) changes its form in all positions of the word. Compared to its isolated form, it doesn’t look quite the same in a word. Isn’t that interesting?
Most Arabic letters don’t change much, as I said. The letter \(ع\) is actually an extreme case. “Form switching” isn’t as hard as you think. You don’t have to learn four different versions of each letter!
Arabic Doesn’t Have Vowels
That’s right! There are no vowels in Arabic.
It might sound weird to a native English speaker, but it’s actually not that bad. That’s because Arabic has vowel-sounding letters. The e, the and, and the z are the last three letters of the Arabic alphabet.
Because Arabic is based on a “root system,” you can make any variety of words by adding letters to the “root” (usually three).
As just one example, the root \(كتب\) (write), depending on what letter you add (and where), can become a writer, library, book, and student.
There’s a slight connection between all these words. This “root” system has another cool feature!
8 Tips For Learning And Memorising The Arabic Alphabet
It is true, let’s face it. There is a common frustration among students of Arabic that is “how can I acquire/retain all this vocabulary?”.
Remember that time when you walked out of the classroom and were expected to memorize 40 new words? After that, your teacher asked you to make a sentence using the words you were supposed to have memorized, but you were unable to do so. As you became more familiar with new words, you realized that simply being exposed to them was not sufficient.
Learning a language successfully relies on memorization, which is precisely why memorization techniques must be taught to students.
I have observed students using the following tips most effectively:
Flash cards are familiar to everyone. By the end of a semester, most students have hundreds of flashcards lying around the house.
As a result of constant repetition, flash cards work because they force the student to recall both the sight and meaning of the word. Despite being able to recall the word by sight, one may not be able to recognize it by listening to flash cards.
Hear And Associate
The best way to memorize a word is to associate it with something that your mind is already familiar with. The first thing you should do when you hear a new word is to repeat it to yourself twice and three times to ensure that you have heard it correctly. To ensure mastery, repeat the word to yourself several times out loud or internally.
Please do not stop there. Identify the context in which the word was used. Knowing what a word means in Arabic alone is not sufficient if one does not understand its context. When one associates words with a context, one will be able to use these words appropriately.
Make Your Own Phrases And Sentences
Write down a phrase in which the word is used as well as the word’s translation when you encounter a new word.
By putting the new words into practice and providing context for the word, a deeper understanding of the word can be gained. If a particular word is not sticking, then use that word in as many sentences as possible until it does.
Read, Read, Read!
Reading is the best way to expand one’s vocabulary. Start with materials that are appropriate for your level. Start with small children’s stories, short blog posts, quotes, or social media posts on Facebook or Twitter if you are a beginner.
As soon as you are comfortable with this, you can move on to longer materials, such as magazine articles, newspapers, and books. To expand the word’s usability, it is important to expose oneself to multiple words used in different contexts. As you encounter new vocabulary, make sure to write it down and then apply the techniques described above.
Use Onomatopoeia To Remember
There are some Arabic words that sound like their meanings. As an example, the word ?? It is a verb that means to cut or split. One can hear a sound as if something is being cut or split when this word is pronounced.
It is important to ask yourself whether the word in Arabic is similar to what the word actually means when you come across it. By visualizing words with their meanings, you can gain a deeper understanding of the words and make them more memorable.
It is a term used to describe two words that have similar meanings in different languages but differ in their spelling and pronunciation. You might not believe it, but there are words in the English language that have their origins in Arabic. What is the meaning of the word??? qutn, qutun means cotton.
Although they don’t sound exactly alike, they are similar enough to be recognized as related. Moreover, these techniques are particularly useful for Arabic words with English origins, such as? The word mobile means mobile.
Repetition Straight Through
It’s not everyone’s favorite technique, but it works. This method has been used for centuries to memorize words, facts, and entire books. You can use it to memorize hard-to-remember words encountered in your readings.
Furthermore, frequent repetition helps you to memorize and recall the information later when you need it by forming an auditory familiarity.
Lastly, remember that remembering vocabulary from yesterday is more valuable than memorizing vocabulary from today. Short-term memory should be transferred to long-term memory in order to retain new vocabulary.
You should continually review new vocabulary words in the first few days or weeks after learning them.
Do You Really Need To Learn This?
Here’s the question you’ve been waiting for! It’s a valid point. Arabic isn’t exactly a walk in the park, let’s be honest.
Additionally, if students are interested in communicating with Arabs, I usually recommend Egyptian Arabic. It is not Standard Arabic, which is a much more formal language.
That means learning the Arabic alphabet is a waste of time, right? That’s not the case. Learning the Arabic alphabet is 100 percent worth your time if you’re learning Arabic (regardless of your reason). You can’t get by without learning it for a very long. It is inevitable that you will run into trouble at some point. It can be extremely frustrating when you do.
Okay, so maybe you are just learning a few Arabic phrases here and there. You might be able to get by with transliterations (writing the word in your language instead of the Arabic script).
When it comes to the language, are you serious? If so, then learning the alphabet properly is definitely worth your time! It simplifies the process of understanding learning resources.
In addition, most things in the Middle East are written in Arabic if you’re planning to spend any time there. Signs, menus, and anything with words on them falls under this category.
It is well worth your time to learn the Arabic alphabet. No matter if you are a complete beginner or already know a few basic compliments in Egyptian Arabic.
You can trust me on that!
Wrapping Up And Next Steps For Arabic Alphabet Learning
Hope I didn’t scare you off.
The common theme in my posts about Arabic is that it’s a complex language to master, but not that hard to learn the basics.
There is no difference between the alphabet and the rest of the world. In just a few days, you can learn the Arabic alphabet (and how the letters look in different words).
That’s not being overly optimistic. You can learn the Arabic alphabet with some practice (and an understanding of its four main features). Don’t forget to thank your future self!
How old is Arabic?
Arabic has been around for at least 1,500 years. Historians believe that the Arabic language came from Arabian Peninsula. Old Arabic was the beginning of Arabic dialects. The static dialect is the earliest dialect in old Arabic used by the Syro-Arabian desert nomadic tribes.
How do you say 7 in Arabic?
7 is a special “h” sound. It is pronounced far deeper in the throat than the normal “h”. 9 is the emphatic “s” sound. Unlike the normal Arabic “s” sound, this “s” sound is pronounced with the tongue near the place behind the upper teeth.
What is the easiest way to memorize Arabic?
8 Memorization Tips to Make Arabic Vocabulary Stick
Hear & Associate
Make Your Own Phrases and Sentences
Read, Read, Read!
Use Onomatopoeia to Remember
Is it easy to learn the Arabic alphabet?
The Arabic alphabet is really quite simple to learn, as long as you have a dedicated teacher right there to help you through the whole process. Our program is designed to help you start writing and speaking as soon as possible.