Important Points to remember before starting to learn Arabic


All languages have unique aspects to them. The unique aspects for the Arabic language can be its excellence in letters, words, and sentence structure. While arguably, learning Arabic can be challenging in and of itself (especially online). But even so, we must not give up on trying. This guide is for those who want to teach his or herself how to write in Arabic letters.


I wish to clarify the following points in order for students to realize the value of the Arabic language.


The Arabic script reads from right to left and contains 28 characters. Arabic does not have capital letters. However, Arabic letters differ in shape depending on where the letter is written in the beginning, middle or end of the word. Arabic words have dashes and curves written above or below the letters to indicate the sound of short vowels.


Arabic letters were created by adding dots to existing letters in order to avoid ambiguities. Furthermore, diacritics indicating short vowels were introduced, but are only generally used to ensure that the Qur’an can be read aloud without mistakes. Letters that can be joined are always joined in both hand-written and printed Arabic. The only exceptions to this rule are for crossword puzzles and signs in which the script is written vertically.


Arabic is one of the official languages of the United Nations. It is a significant language to one billion Muslims worldwide. Between the 8th and 12th centuries, Arabic was the universal language of culture, diplomacy, and science -- similar to Latin which later became a universal language.



Arabic Letters


Teaching a beginner language learner of Arabic needs to be a gradual experience. When learning the language, you need to note to write each letter while dividing letters into groups. As a suggestion, you can try to learn three or more characters per class depending on your time and absorption.


I suggest when trying to find someone to teach you how to write in Arabic that the teacher write slowly and patiently so that you can watch the him or her during the process (and hopefully the word can be pronounced as it is written). As you watch a character being written, you can follow the movement of the teacher’s hand. It is encouraged that you do not move on to learning the next character until completely understanding how to write each letter. All letters of the Arabic alphabet is written like part of a circle, with each letter having some changes except for the first letter.



Now let us examine all the Arabic characters and how it looks:


  • ا Aleph: it looks like a vertical stick and may have a Hamza above it like this [ أ ] or under it like this [ إ ].
  • الباء -- ب ba'a b: it is half of a circle, opened from its top with a dot under it.
  • تاء -- ت t: it is half of a circle, opened from the top but with two dots above it.
  • ثاء -- ث altha'a th: it is half of a circle, opened from its top and with three dots above it.
  • جيم -- ج jeem j: it is half of a circle, opened from the right, inside with a dot and on top a horizontal line.
  • حاء -- ح ha'a: it’s exactly like jeem but without dots.
  • خاء -- خ kh'a: it's like jeem and ha'a but has a dot above the horizontal line.
  • دال -- د dal d: it is half of a circle, opened from the left without dots, written above the line.
  • ذال -- ذ thaal: it's like دال dal but it has a dot above it.
  • راء -- ر ra'a r: it is a quarter of circle, opened from the left and written under the line.
  • زاي -- ز zay z: it's like ra'a ر but has a dot above it.
  • سِين -- س seen s: it is half of a circle, opened from the top with two small half circle clasped to it.
  • شِين -- ش sheen sh: it's like سِين س seen but has three dots on top.
  • صاد -- ص suaad: it's egg-shaped and clasped with an opened half circle from the top.
  • ضاد -- ض duaad dua: it's like صاد ص but has a dot above it.
  • طاء -- ط tua'a ta: it's egg-shaped and has a vertical stick on its top.
  • ظاء -- ظ tha'a thua: it's like طاء ط but has a dot on top.
  • عَيْ -- ع aain a: it is half of a small circle and has another large half circle clasped to its bottom. Both halves are open from the right.
  • غَين -- غ ghain gh: it's like عين ع but has a dot above it.
  • فاء -- ف fa'a f: it is a small circle which is clasped to an opened circle from the top.
  • قاف -- ق qaaf q: it's like فاء ف but has two dots above it.
  • كاف -- ك kaaf k: it's a half circle opened from the top, clasped with a vertical stick on the right and a small half circle inside clasped with small line.
  • لام -- ل laam l: it's like the previous letter, like the crutch.
  • ميم -- م meem m: it is a small circle which is clasped with a horizontal line.
  • نون -- ن noon n: it's a half of a circle which is opened from the top and has a dot on top.
  • هاء -- ه ha'a h: it is a big circle that has a small hole.
  • واو -- و waaw w: it is a small circle clasped with a quarter of a big circle.
  • ياء -- ي ya'a i: it is a large half circle opened from the top with a small half circle clasped to it and open from the top, it looks like a duck.


Your teacher should divide the Arabic alphabet into groups according to their shapes. For example, group the letters into the same shape, then shapes with dots, and others without dots. Then this can be further divided into groups according to the number, and furthermore, the place of these dots.


*(When grouping the letters with dots, be aware of the placing of the dots, whether they are above or below the letters).



Grouping of Arabic letters according to dots


The Arabic alphabet consists of 28 letters, 15 of which are written with dots; with the rest written without dots.


The letters with dots are divided into three groups:


  • Letters with one dot: الباء ب ، الجيم ج ، الخاء خ ، الذال ذ ، الزاي ز ، الضاد ض ، الظاء ظ ، الغين غ ، الفاء ف ، النون ن.ب خ ج ذ ز ض ظ غ ف ن.
    • These ten letters have a dot above the letter, except for the letter [ ب ], which has a dot under it, and [ ج ], whose dot is inside the circle.
  • Letters with two dots: التاء ت with two dots above, القاف ق with two dots above, الياء ي is with two dots below.
  • Letters with  three dots: ث and ش, each with three dots above.



If an Arabic language learner becomes familiar with these letters with dots and what resembles and differentiates them from letters without dots, he or she can easily distinguish between each letter separately. This is called "I‘jām (phonetic distinctions of consonants).


Typically, a lot of Arabs do not use dots under final yā’ ⟨ي⟩ -- both for the handwritten and print forms -- as aleph maqsorah ⟨ى⟩. This practice is also used in copies of the muudaf (Qur’an) scribed by ‘Uthman Ṭāhā. The same unification of and alif maqsorā has occurred in Persian, resulting in what the Unicode Standard calls "arabic letter farsi yeh". This looks exactly the same as in initial and medial forms, but is exactly the same as alif maqsorah in final and isolated forms ⟨یـ ـیـ ـی⟩.


If the word ends with {ي} and preceding with [فتحة َ fat-ha], it has to be written without dots like so: {عَلى، يَنهى، مُنى}".


I hope this was an interesting read into the intricacies and beauty of the Arabic language and its individual characters. Comment below on some of your strategies in mastering how to write Arabic. Good day!


Arabic Diacritics


Hero image by Wei Pan (CC0 1.0