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Arabic Alphabet and Diacritics Guide (Free)

In this guide for Arabic alphabet and diacritics reading, you will learn about the following:

  • The Arabic Alphabet letters. In addition, you will learn some letters that are not normally included in the alphabet
  • The shape of each letter in different parts of the word
  • The Arabic diacritics/harakaat/tashkeel. These are mainly short vowels in Arabic.
  • How to sound out Arabic words using letters and diacritics
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Sample of the guide, showing different shapes of Arabic letters

There are many resources for learning Arabic reading by Champolu. In addition, you can also enroll in our Udemy Basic Arabic reading course, which explains the alphabet and diacritics guide in more detail.

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Lesson 6 – Arabic Sun and Moon Letters الحروف الشمسية والقمرية

Our lesson today is about Arabic sun and moon letters, which are important for pronouncing and understanding Arabic words. In Lesson # 3, we have seen how to use the article al- before words to make them definite, such as “the” in English. However, since al- becomes part of the word, its pronunciation sometimes changes according to the first letter of the word.

This pronunciation can change by removing the “L” sound from al-, and doubling the sound of the next letter, using shaddah, which we learned in Lesson # 2. 

Example: al-nahr (the river) >> an-nahr

When does this happen? It happens when the first letter of the word belongs to a group of letters called al-huroof ash-shamseyyah (sun letters). However, if the first letter is from the other group (al-huroof al-qamareyyah), al- is pronounced normally.

In this lesson, we will see which letters are sun letters and which are moon letters, and we will show an example sentence for a word beginning with each letter, together with al- .

Arabic Sun & Moon Letters
List of sun and moon letters in Arabic

A phrase for memorizing moon letters:

ابغ حجك وخف عقيمه

(roughly meaning “pursue your pilgrimage, and be concerned about it being futile”)

Any letter among these is a moon letter:

alif أ

baa’ ب

ghayn غ

haa’ ح

jeem ج

kaaf ك

waaw و

khaa’ خ

Faa’ ف

‘ayn ع

qaaf ق

yaa’ ي

meem م

haa’ ه

The rest are sun letters

Check our course on Udemy: Basic Arabic Reading

Check All the Arabic lessons!

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ALIF – Arabic Learning Game

ALIF is an online Arabic learning game. It takes the learners through a number of levels to master different aspects for learning Arabic. Specifically, this game addresses: reading, writing, and listening.

alif game screenshot
An example for one of the levels in ALIF, to show the letters in the word kalb كلب , which means dog in Arabic

Arabic Learning Game Levels

The game consists of a number of levels that form a tree. Therefore, when you finish a level, you unlock higher levels.

  • The Arabic Alphabet: learning the names and shapes of Arabic letters and characters and their combinations
  • Diacritics and Arabic sounds: learning diacritics (short vowels) and how they combine with Arabic letters to create sounds
  • Arabic keyboard: Learn how to type different Arabic letters on the keyboard, as a first step to write in Arabic
  • Recognize letters in words: learn to identify letters in any word in Arabic
  • Read Arabic words: identify letter-diacritic combinations, and sound out any word in Arabic
  • Write Arabic words: From the sound of the word, build words and type them on the keyboard
  • Vocabulary 1: Learn 50+ common words in Arabic, by reading, writing and listening
  • Vocabulary 2: Learn 50+ names of animals in Arabic, by reading, writing and listening

You can take a test to determine your level.

ALIF Game Features

ALIF game combines a number of features, to allow for both fun and effective learning experience:

  • Different question types: The game includes multiple choice questions, and drag and drop questions. It also includes questions with different types of interaction
  • Customize your avatar: choose a character that will be your companion in the game
  • Audio: All learning materials are supported with audio. The audio is recorded by native speakers to learn the correct pronunciation
  • Romanization: All learning materials include also consistent romanization scheme (how to write Arabic letters in English letters)
  • Typing: The game includes levels and questions to teach typing on Arabic keyboard.
  • Score board: When you achieve high score, you will be on high score board, and you can unlock more avatars and other items.

See all our games and apps:

Champolu Apps

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Lesson 2 – Learn Arabic diacritics/harakaat/tashkeel

In this lesson, we will learn Arabic diacritics/harakaat/tashkeel which give more information about the pronunciation of letters. Harakaat mainly include short vowels on letters (fat-hah = “a” sound; kasrah = “e” or “i” sound; and dammah = “o” or “u” sound). They also include sokoon which means there is no vowel after the letter. In addition, they include shaddah, which means doubling of the sound of the letter, which can be combined with either fat-hah, kasrah, or dammah.

In this album, we show each of these harakaat combined with each letter. It is important to know that these harakaat are mostly optional in Arabic writing, so it is useful to memorize the harakaat of each new word while learning it. Let us know about your questions and the challenges in your Arabic learning journey.

Arabic diacritics: fat-hah (fat7ah), kasrah, dammah, and sukoon
Shaddah signifies the doubling of the sound of any letter, and it can be combined with other diacritics.

In this lesson, we can see the different diacritics when they apply to the Arabic letters.

Arabic harakaat in words

Diacritics with the letter alif

These above slides are part of our Arabic Reading Guide, and can be downloaded from there.

How to read Arabic without harakaat?

In the above, we learned how to read each letter when there are diacritics/harakaat. However, in most real-life written Arabic, these diacritics are rarely used. This can be a problem as some words can be ambiguous without harakaat. However, there are a few factors that can be helpful:

  • The context: when you read a word, the context will easily indicate whether the ambiguous word is a noun or verb or something else.
  • Vocabulary acquisition: when you learn a new word, learn it with its pronunciation (either by listening to its audio, read it with transliteration to latin characters, or find it in an Arabic dictionary with its harakaat)
  • Learning grammar: when you learn grammar and morphology, you will learn that there are some standard templates used for Arabic words. When you identify the templates, you will be able to know the harakaat involved.

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Lesson 1 – Arabic Alphabet

A very important starting points for beginners is to learn the Arabic alphabet. Here is a comprehensive list of all Arabic letters and how they are written. We should notice the different shapes of each letter, and also the sounds. Learn them well so that you can start recognizing the letters in any word in Arabic. One way to refer to the Arabic writing system is “Abjad“, which refers to how each Arabic letter corresponds to a consonant sound.

In general, there are 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet (alif baa taa). In addition, it is necessary to learn a number of additional characters or letter combinations, such as:

  • Hamzah (sounds as a glottal stop, as in the expression uh-oh) ء
  • alif with hamzah above or below أ إ
  • alif with maddah آ
  • taa2 marbootah ة ـة
  • alif layyenah ى ـى
  • laam-alif لا لأ

In this lesson, we will cover the core 28 letters of Arabic, in addition to these extended characters and combinations. The lesson will show these Arabic letters in English writing to make it easier for beginners.

Arabic Alphabet to English
A list of the letters of the Arabic alphabet, showing the name of each Arabic letter in English. Some of the sounds are not in English, so numbers where used instead. Some letters have an emphatic sound, so the letter corresponding to the main sound is repeated.

Arabic Alphabet – Letter by Letter


With this material, you should be able to know all the letters of Arabic, and recognize each letter, character, or character combination in any word in Arabic. In the coming lessons, we will introduce the diacritics, which are important to learn in order to pronounce Arabic words. For now, you can do the quiz below in order to practice what you have just learned. Make sure to subscribe to the email list below to be notified with all the exciting updates.

You may also want to check our course on Udemy: Basic Arabic Reading

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Learn to read in Arabic – Free PDF Guides

Learn Arabic language reading can be challenging. At Champolu, we have many resources to help you overcome these challenges.

Animal Alphabet Printable Guide

Animal alphabet guide
In this printable guide, you will lean to read and write the names of 73 animals in Arabic

In this guide, you will learn many words for animal names. Most importantly, you can see the matching between the letters of the word and its pronunciation. In addition, you can print this guide to practice writing.

Arabic Alphabet and Diacritics Guide – Free PDF

Learn Arabic Reading
Sample of the guide, showing how to write letter taa2/ ت

In this guide, we will go through the 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet one by one, showing their shapes, sounds, and examples. We will also include other letters which appear frequently in writing, but other methods do not typically include. These letters are such as alif layyenah and taa2 marbootah), or letter combinations which take different shape from the letters they consist of (alif-laam).

Basic Arabic Reading Course

Learn Arabic Reading
Learn the different pieces of Arabic reading in this Udemy course

This free guide will teach you to read all 28 letters of Arabic alphabet, along with important letters not typically listed in the alphabet

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