Learn to read in Arabic – Free PDF Guide

If you type in Google “Why is Arabic …”, the autocomplete will suggest these searches which people do.

Why is Arabic …

Indeed Arabic is important and beautiful but it can also be hard to learn. Let’s explore this further.

Why is Arabic so hard to learn?

One of the reasons for the difficulty of Arabic is that it is written “backwards”; i.e. it is written from right to left. Therefore, if you want to learn Arabic, you will need to be able to read from right to left.

There are other challenges surrounding reading Arabic script, which are explained in the video here.

Why is reading Arabic Challenging?

In a nutshell, the challenges for reading Arabic are:

  • Direction of Writing (right-to-left)
  • Letters are attached together
  • Letters take different shapes depending on their position in a word (beginning, middle, end, or separate)
  • Diacritics which guide the pronunciation of Arabic letters

How to Read Arabic in English Letters?

An important consideration when learning Arabic is that not all Arabic letters have an equivalent English sound. That’s why there can be different ways to for writing Arabic in English/Latin letters, which is sometimes referred to as romanization. Apart from the more Academic ways of writing Arabic, a popular way is known as Franco-Arab, which is how the Arabic speaking internet generation started to write Arabic on computers and the internet in the early days before support to Arabic language was available. In this way of writing, the letters of Arabic with no English equivalent as written as numbers that resemble the shape of the Arabic letter. The three main Arabic letters that are written as numbers are the following:

  • The letter ح is written as 7
  • The letter ع is written as 3
  • The letter ء is written as 2

There are other letters, but these are the most popular ones. You will notice that we have combined challenges here, to know the letters, and to be able to recognize and produce their sound.

Therefore, in this lesson we are providing an intuitive way to learn the alphabet letters, with their names, shapes, sounds, along with examples of each.

Arabic Alphabet and Diacritics Guide – Free PDF

In this guide, we will go through the letters of the Arabic alphabet one by one. We will also include letters which are not typically included in the list of 28 letters, but are frequently used in writing (such as alif layyenah and taa2 marbootah), or letter combinations which take different shape from the letters they consist of (alif-laam).