The Arabic alphabet (Arabic script) is one of the most fascinating scripts in the world. Whether you’d just like to write your name in Arabic, to read the Quraan, or you’re actually studying Arabic to become fluent – there are many reasons to learn the Arabic alphabet! To help you achieve your goal to master the Arabic alphabet, I’ve compiled a chart of the alphabet with pronunciation and examples, along with some basic rules and tips for beginners.

5 Basic Rules on the Arabic Alphabet

Before we have a look at the actual alphabet, let’s have a look at some basic rules.

#1 Arabic is Written from Right to Left

The Arabic script is written from right to left. This is different from the Latin script which is written from left to right.

#2 The Arabic Alphabet Has 28 Letters

The Arabic alphabet consists of 28 letters (full letters). Additionally, there are a few derivatives such as hamzah (a glottal stop)

#3 Most Letters Have Contextual Forms

Most Arabic letters have contextual forms, meaning that the way they look varies according to their position in a word. The main letter form that you’ll see in most Arabic alphabet charts is the isolated form of a letter. Additionally, most letters have a slightly different form when at initial position (first letter in a word), when in the middle of a word as well as at the end of the word. However, when a letter’s middle form is equal to the way it’s written at the end of a word (like it’s the case for the letter a), you’ll start with the initial letter form of the next letter.

#4 Arabic Alphabet vs. Arabic Script

There’s a difference between the Arabic alphabet and the Arabic script. In fact, the Arabic alphabet is used specifically to write Arabic. The Arabic script is also used for several other languages such as Persian and Urdu. Though the core is the same, there are slight differences in terms of pronunciation, writing style etc. For example, there’s no letter p in Arabic, while the Persian alphabet does have the letter p.

#5 Arabic Short Vowels vs. Long Vowels

There’s a common misconception that the Arabic language doesn’t have vowels. The Arabic alphabet totally has vowels! However, when it comes to reading (and pronouncing), you’ll notice that there’s a difference between Arabic long vowels and Arabic short vowels. While long vowels are written out as full letters, short vowels are written as accents above and below the letters. These accents indicate the presence of a short vowel (short a, u, i), as it can totally change the meaning of a word (e.g. past vs. present tense). While in many written texts (intended for native speakers) the short vowels are often omitted, most resources for language learners, some newspapers and the Quraan make use of fully voweled writing.

Arabic Alphabet Chart

Whether you’re learning Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) or a dialect (Lebanese/Levantine Arabic, Egyptian Arabic…), the script is the same across all dialects of Arabic.

As explained above, there are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet. Arabic is written from right to left and the letter form depends on the position of a letter in a word.

ExampleHow to Pronounce?EndMiddleInitialIsolated
(amal) املA (as in castle)ـاـااا
(burj) برجB (as in butter)ـبـبـبـب
(tounis) تونسT (as in tea)ـتـتـتـت
(thalj) ثلجTh (as in thanks)ـثـثـثـث
(jaleed) جليدJ (as in juice)ـججـجـج
(habibi) حبيبيHh (guttural h, pronounced in the throat)ـحـحـحـح
(bread) خبزKh (guttural kh, pronounced in the throat)ـخـخـخـخ
(dob) دبD (as in door)ـدـددد
(thaeb) ذئبTh (as in that)ـذـذذذ
(rajul) رجلR (rolled r)ـرـررر
(zamn) زمنZ (as in zebra)ـزـززز
(sareer) سريرS (as in sleep)ـسـسـسـس
(shams) شمسSh (as in sheep)ـشـشـشـش
(sadeeq) صديقS (strong S, comparable to sauce)ـصـصـصـص
(defdaa) ضفدعD (strong D, comparable to daunting)ـضـضـضـض
(taera) طائرةT (strong T, comparable to steel)ـطـطـطط
(thel) ظلTh (strong Th, comparable to father)ـظـظـظظ
(aadas) عدسA (guttural a, pronounced in the throat)ـعـعـعـع
(ghuroor) غرورGh (soft r, similar to French way of saying Paris)ـغـغـغـغ
(fadaa) فضاءF (as in friend)ـفـفـفـف
(qalb) قلبQ (guttural k, pronounced in the throat)ـقـقـقـق
(ketab) كتابK (as in camel)ـكـكـكـك
(lahme) لحمةL (as in later)ـلـلـلـل
(manara) منارةM (as in mint)ـمـمـمـم
(najem) نجمN (as in night)ـنـنـنـن
(hadaf) هدفH (as in hello)ـهـهـهـهـ
(wadi) واديW (as in water)ـوـووو
(yameen) يمينY (as in young)ـيـيـيـي

Tips on Learning the Arabic Alphabet

While it’s great to have a handy chart of the Arabic alphabet, the best way to learn how to read and write Arabic is by practicing. It will take quite some time to memorize the entire alphabet (including all 4 variations of the letters). If your intention is to learn how to read, write and speak Arabic, the best approach is to practice!

Have a look at the most common expressions in Arabic, such as:

Learning expressions and vocabulary will make your learning more fun and efficient. Seeing the letters in a context will give you mnemonic aid to remember all of them eventually. You might remember that letter ش (sh) is written differently from the isolated form when at the beginning of a word, while the ر (r) is not connected when in the middle by learning the word شكراً (thank you in Arabic).

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