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The Arabic Alfabet 3

Since this page is under construction, the pictures showing how to write the character when you put your mouse on them will be marked (*)


The next character is Lam (above), it's less distinctive than the kef
(it can easily be mistaken for an alef by inexperienced readers).

The next character has a number of possible shapes that you
may encounter, the picture below gives an idea


The name of this character is Meem; the upper line in the picture
shows the conventional shapes (from right to left: initial, intermediate, final and solo)
The bottom line shows a few less conventional (yet quite abundant)
initial, intermediate (check out the Prophet's (p.b.u.h.) name) and final shapes.


The next character is Noon (above), note that the final shape in
most cases protrudes underneath the line.


This one is called He`, as you can see it has two completely different
intermediate variations.


Next comes Wow, sometimes it is used for W and sometimes for O.
As you can see it is never connected to it's left.


The last character in the Arabic alfabet is Ya.
But, it's not over yet!

As you watch this alfabet closely, you'll notice that practically all
characters represent consonnants.
Only Alef, Wow and Ya sometimes represent vowels.
These however, are long vowels.
For the short vowels, the Arabic uses a different system, as we will see now:

The above picture shows the so called "tashkil", these are used
to represent the short vowels.
You use them by writing them above the preceeding character: the
character which is supposed to preceed the short vowel.
From right to left the first three represent "a`" (fatha),
"i`" (sometimes also "e`") (kasra), "u`" (or "o`") (damma).
As you can see there are two shapes of sukun, they both mean that there is
no short vowel to follow,
(like in "cardoor" you would use a sukun with the "r" in "car").

The shadeh is used to indicate a double consonnant:
(like in "running" in arabic you would write "runing" with
a shadeh on top of the "n").

When a shadeh is used in combination with a fatha, kasra or damma, you write
these above or below the shadeh (and not the character).

Unfortunately, tashkil are only used in Qur`ans, schoolbooks, poetry and in
spots where, to arab readers, it is unclear which vowel should be used.

Another thing that you may encounter is so called "nunation" (see picture below),
it has to do with undetermined genetives (in which case you use
the double kasra -right- pronounced as "in"),
undetermined accusatives (you use the double fatha -middle- "an") and
undetermined subjects (you use the tailed damma -left- "oon")

A nice example can be seen in picture at the top of my arabic page, where the
double fatha represents the sounds: "ahlan wa sahlan"

The two characters in the picture above are the so called Alef-maqsura,
(also called Alif-leina) on the left, and the Hamze on the right.
The Hamze is never written in any western language, allthough it's as common
there as it is in Arabic.
The Hamze represents the soft sound you make deep in your throat at the
beginning of many words that start with a vowel.
For an experiment you can pronounce the words "it", "or", "as" and observe
what is happening in your throat.
The Alef-maqsura is an "aa"-sound at the end of a word that is connected to the
word by a Hamze, instead of Hamze-Alef, the Alef-maqsura (that looks like a Ya
without dots underneath it), is used.

The next characters (in the picture below) are used frequently
but have no special meaning

They are combinations of Lam with other characters.
The three on the right are so called Lam-Alef, they all represent the sound "la".
Of the three, only the rightmost one can be connected to its right, but.
never to its left.   The other two are used "solo" only.
Sometimes you'll see Lam written on top of Ha` and on top of Meem (leftmost).
Mainly this is done in calligraphies and sometimes to save some space.

Last, but not least in our lesson comes a special character
that is used in feminine words only:

It is called the Ta`-marbuta or "female Ta`".
It is called "marbuta" because both ends are connected at the top.
On the left you can see the final shape, on the right the solo shape (which is used
after characters like Alef, Dal and Ra` that are not connected to their left).

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