Lesson 1: The Arabic Alphabet: Alif, Ba, Ta and Tha

Learn to read and write any Arabic word in only 7 lessons!

In this lesson we start with the first four letters of the Arabic alphabet: Alif, ba, ta and tha.

But first some general information:

 

The Arabic scribt

The Arabic script is one of the most widely used writing systems in the world. It consists of 28 letters and is written from right to left in a cursive style. This means, that the letters are generally joined together.

The letters transcribe consonants and only some vowels. This type of writing system is called abjad. But to represent the missing vowels, there are also some special signs like fatha, damma and kasra, called diacritics:

  • The fatha is a small diagonal line placed above a letter and represents a short „a“.
  • The kasra is a small diagonal line below a letter and represents a short „i“.
  • The damma is a small „curl“ placed above a letter and represents a short „u“.

fatha-kasra-damma_11.

The letters of the Arabic alphabet very in shape depending on their position within a word. Letters can exhibit up to four distinct forms, corresponding to an initial, middle, final or isolated position. While some letters show considerable variations, others remain almost identical across all four positions.

So let’s start now with the first four letters of the Arabic alphabet:

 

Alif

The „alif“ is the first letter of the Arabic alphabet. It is a selfish letter. That means it does not connect with the letter that follows.

  • Alif is pronounced like the „a“ in „bag“ when it carries a hamza.
  • Alif is pronounced like the „a“ in „care“ when it doesn’t carry a hamza (long „a“).

The alif in isolated position:

alif-initial

The alif with hamza above:

alif-hamza

The forms of alif in the three positions:

alif-forms

Examples of words with alif in the three positions:

أسـَد – asad – lion

  • Note: The word asad consists of the three letters A + S + D =  ﺩ + ﺱ + ﺍ that are written from right to left and connected together.
  • Obove the S you can find here a fatha that indicates that a short „a“ follows the „s“ ﺱ.
  • We will learn the letters „s“ and „d“ in detail in the next lessons.
  • The alif is not connected with the following „s“. So the S is written in this word in its „beginning“ form, even it is written in the middle of the word.

را َس – ras – head

  • Note: Because the „r“ ر is also a selfish letter, the alif stands here in its „beginning“ form.

أنا – ana – I (am)

 

Ba

The „ba“ is the second letter of the Arabic alphabet. It has the shape of a plate with a dot bellow.

The ba in isolated position:

ba-initial

The forms of ba in the three word positions:

ba-forms

Examples for words with ba in the three positions:

بـَطّـَة – battah – duck

حـَبل – habl – rope

با َب – bab – door

قـَلب – qalb – heart

 

Ta

The „ta“ is the third letter of the Arabic alphabet.

The ta in isolated position:

ta-initial

The ta in the three positions:

ta-forms

Examples for words with ta in the three positions:

تـُفّا َح – tuffah – apple

يـِكتـِب – yiktib / yaktub – to write

بـِنت – bint – girl

توت – toot – berry / raspberry

 

Tha

The „tha“ is the fourth letter of the Arabic alphabet. It is pronounced like „theatre“ or „thief“ in English.

The tha in isolated position:

tha-initial

The tha in the three positions:

tha-forms

Examples for words with tha in the three positions:

ثعـَلـَب – tha’alab – wolf / fox

أثا َث – athath – furniture

يـِبحـَث – yabhath – to search

 

Watch also my youtube video to this lesson!

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