Arabic alphabet all you need to know

Arabic alphabet: All you need to know to write in Arabic

The Arabic alphabet is often mentioned as one of the obstacles to learning this beautiful language. For students, the need to learn the alphabet can seem overwhelming at first. However, did you know that you can learn the Arabic alphabet in just a few days?

The Arabic alphabet consists of only 28 letters. Many letters are very similar and differ only in minor details. Often, when learning the shape of one letter, you automatically learn one or two others.

Below you will find an easy explanation of Arabic letters, the rules for their spelling, and examples of words. You will also find tips on how to learn the alphabet faster.

How to learn Arabic alphabet?

A common mistake made by people who want to learn the alphabet is that for a long time students practice the letter shapes, rather than whole words. Hence, you can often hear from students that it took them several months to learn the Arabic alphabet.

However, if you begin writing down whole Arabic words that consist of the letters you are learning, the whole process will take much less time. By learning this way, you will be able to write down and read Arabic words after just one week.

Some letters, as we mentioned at the beginning, differ only in details, such as the number of dots. It is natural that when learning the alphabet at the beginning such details can be confusing. Only by practicing writing in Arabic you can eliminate such mistakes and get used to the rules of the new writing system.

To quickly learn the Arabic alphabet follow these three steps:

  1. Learn the shape of letters and their pronunciation

    Briefly learn the letter shape and pronunciation and learn how to distinguish letters from each other

  2. Learn the rules of joining letters

    Learn how to write the letter while standing alone, at the beginning of a word, at the end of a word, and in the middle of a word

  3. Practice Arabic letters by writing whole Arabic words

    Practice writing Arabic words – start with short, simple words
    Practice reading Arabic words and recognizing the letters

Learn Arabic alphabet

Let’s take a look on the Arabic script and it’s basic characteristics:

  1. Arabic alphabet is an abjad (أبجد) writing system, which means that it has no vowels
  2. It consists of 28 letters, all consonants
  3. The letters are written in a cursive form
  4. Arabic alphabet is written from right to left
  5. No capital letters

Arabic letters in English:

ArabicLetter nameEnglish
اأَلِف – Alifa
بباء – Baa’b
تتاء – Taa’t
ثثاء – Thaa’th
ججيم – Jeem / Geemj / g
ححاء – Haa’
خخاء – Khaa’
ددال – Daald
ذذال – Dhaal
رراء – Raa’r
ززاي – Zaayz
سسين – Seens
ششين – Sheensh
صصاد – Saad
ضضاد – Daad
ططاء – Taa’
ظظاء – Thaa’
ععَيْن – Ain
غغَيْن – Ghain
ففاء – Faa’f
ققاف – Qaafq
ككاف – Kaafk
للام – Laaml
مميم – Meemm
ننون – Noonn
ههاء – Haa’h
وواو – Waaww
يياء – Yaa’y / i

Below you will find all Arabic letters divided into 13 groups. That will help you to learn letters similar to each other first, to make the whole process easier for you to understand.

TIP:  Learn one group of letters in one day, or one lesson. This way, learning the alphabet will not be overwhelming for you and will take less than two weeks. One such lesson shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

1. Arabic alphabet – ب ت ث

These three letters have exactly the same shape but they differ in the number and position of dots. As you can see, the letter ب (ba) has a dot under, the letter ت (ta) has two dots above and the letter ث (tha) has three dots above. By learning one shape you learn 3 from 28 Arabic letters.

Let’s start:

ب – baa’

Pronunciation: as in English bank

Joining the letter ب

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ببــبــب

Examples of Arabic words with letter ب

باب

[baab]

Door

برج

[burj]

Tower

طبيب

[Tabeeb]

Doctor

!!! If you want to learn new Arabic vocabulary check our Arabic Vocabulary Lists.

ت – taa’

Pronunciation: as in English tank

Joining the letter ت

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
تتــتــت

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ت

تاج

[taaj]

crown

كتاب

[kitaab]

book

بيت

[bayt]

house

ث – thaa’

Pronunciation: as in English thanks

Joining the letter ث

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ثثــثــث

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ث

ثوم

[thoom]

garlic

بعث

[ba3atha]

he sent

ثلث

[thulth]

one third

2. Arabic alphabet – ج ح خ

ج- jeem

Pronunciation: as in English jar

Joining the letter ج

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ججــجــج

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ج

جميل

[jameel]

beautiful

جبل

[jabal]

mountain

حجر

[Hajar]

stone

ح- Haa’

Pronunciation: breathy letter h, no equivalent in English

Joining the letter ح

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ححــحــح

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ح

حصان

[HiSaan]

horse

حب

[Hubb]

love

محكمة

[maHkama]

court

خ- khaa’

Pronunciation: pronounced from the back of the throat, no equivalent in English

Joining the letter خ

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
خخــخــخ

Examples of Arabic words with the letter خ

خاتم

[khaatam]

ring

بخيل

[bakheel]

stingy

مخ

[mukhkh]

brain

3. Arabic alphabet – د ذ

د – daal

Pronunciation: as in English date

Joining the letter د

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ددـدـد
daal in arabic joining

Examples of Arabic words with the letter د

برد

[bard]

cold

صيق

[Sadeeq]

friend

دب

[dubb]

bear

ذ – dhaal

Pronunciation: as in English that

Joining the letter ذ

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ذذـذـذ
Arabic letter dhaal joining

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ذ

ذهب

[dhahab]

gold

لذيذ

[ladheedh]

delicious

أخذ

[akhadha]

he took

4. Arabic letters -ر ز

ر – raa’

Pronunciation: similar to Spanish r

Joining the letter ر

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ررـرـر
arabic letter raa joining

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ر

رمل

[raml]

sand

جزر

[jazar]

carrot

مترجم

[mutarjim]

translator

ز – zaay

Pronunciation: as in English Zoo

Joining the letter ز

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ززـزـز
arabic zay joining

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ز

زيت

[ruzz]

zayt

جزر

[jazar]

carrot

فوز

[fawz]

victory

5. Arabic alphabet -س ش

س – seen

Pronunciation: as in English safe

Joining the letter س

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
سســســس

Examples of Arabic words with the letter س

سمك

[samak]

fish

أسد

[asad]

lion

شمس

[shams]

sun

ش – sheen

Pronunciation: as in English shirt

Joining the letter ش

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ششــشــش

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ش

شمس

[shams]

sun

عطشان

[3aTshaan]

thirsty

خفاش

[khuffaash]

bat

6. Arabic alphabet -ص ض

ص – Saad

Pronunciation: emphatic s

Joining the letter ص

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
صصــصــص

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ص

صقر

[Saqr]

falcon

حصان

[HiSaan]

horse

صوص

[SuuS]

chick

ض – Daad

Pronunciation: emphatic d

Joining the letter ض

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ضضــضــض

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ض

ضفدع

[Difda3]

frog

أرض

[arD]

land

ممرضة

[mumarriDa]

nurse

7. Arabic alphabet- ط ظ

ط- Taa’

Pronunciation: emphatic t

Joining the letter ط

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ططــطــط

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ط

طيّار

[Tayyaar]

pilot

عطشان

[3aTshaan]

thirsty

قط

[qiTT]

cat

ظ – Thaa’

Pronunciation: emphatic th

Joining the letter ظ

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ظظــظــظ

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ظ

ظهر

[Thahr]

back

عظم

[3aThm]

bone

مظلة

[maThalla]

umbrella

8. Arabic alphabet – ع غ

ع- Ain

Pronunciation: no equivalent in English, guttural a sound

Joining the letter ع

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ععــعــع

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ع

عين

[Thahr]

eye

مطعم

[maT3am]

restaurant

شارع

[shaari3]

street

غ – Ghayn

Pronunciation: no equivalent in English, as r pronounced from the back of the throat

Joining the letter غ

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
غغــغــغ

Examples of Arabic words with the letter غ

غابة

[ghaaba]

forest

مغني

[mughanniy]

singer

غرفة

[ghurfa]

room

9. Arabic alphabet -ف ق

ف – faa’

Pronunciation: as in English fox

Joining the letter ف

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ففــفــف

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ف

ق – qaaf

Pronunciation: q pronunced from the back of the throat

Joining the letter ق

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ققــقــق

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ق

قلب

[qalb]

heart

عقد

[3iqd]

necklace

سائق

[saa’iq]

driver

10. Arabic letters – ا و ي

*These three letters also function as long vowels.

ا – Alif

Note: It can indicate a long A vowel (aa) or to carry a short vowel (a, u, i)

Joining the letter ا

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ااـاـا
alif joining rules

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ا

باب

[baab]

door

ذراع

[dhiraa3]

arm

شارع

[shaari3]

street

و – waaw

Note: It can indicate a long U vowel (uu) or pronunced as w in wedding

Joining the letter و

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ووـوـو
arabic waw letter joining

Examples of Arabic words with letter و

وزن

[wazn]

weight

سوق

[suuq]

market

وزير

[wazeer]

minister

ي – yaa’

Note: It can indicate a long i vowel (ee as in need) or pronounced as y in yes

Joining the letter ي

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ييــيــي

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ي

يد

[yad]

hand

عين

[3ayn]

eye

طبيب

[Tabeeb]

doctor

11. Arabic alphabet – ن م

ن – noon

Pronunciation: as in English no

Joining the letter ن

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ننــنــن

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ن

نهر

[nahr]

river

فندق

[funduq]

hotel

وزن

[wazn]

weight

م – meem

Pronunciation: as in English maybe

Joining the letter م

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ممــمــم

Examples of Arabic words with the letter م

مطر

[maTar]

rain

قمر

[qamar]

moon

خاتم

[khaatam]

ring

12. Arabic alphabet – ك ل

ك – kaaf

Pronunciation: as in English key

Joining the letter ك

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ككـــكــك

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ك

كتاب

[kitaab]

book

سكر

[sukkar]

sugar

سمك

[samak]

fish

ل – laam

Pronunciation: as in English lost

Joining the letter ل

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
للــلــل

Examples of Arabic words with the letter ل

لسان

[lisaan]

tongue

قلب

[qalb]

heart

عسل

[3asal]

honey

13. Arabic alphabet – ه

ه – haa’

Pronunciation: as in English hope

Joining the letter ه

IsolatedInitialMedialFinal
ههـ‎ـهـ‎‎ـه‎

Examples of Arabic words with letter ه

هرم

[haram]

pyramid

نهر

[nahr]

river

وجه

[wajh]

face

Arabic letters that don’t connect

As mentioned before, some of the letters are not joining the next letter in a word. These six letters are:

اAlif
دdaal
ذdhaal
رraa’
زzay
وwaaw

Read next: To learn how to read Arabic you need to learn vowels in Arabic.

Arabic alphabet Quiz

Arabic alphabet Quiz

Check how well you know Arabic letters with our quick quiz. 

Let’s get started!

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