Of course, when marking the dots, you will have to lift your pen, but this is usually done after the basic shapes of the letters have been written.

The dots are added to each letter in one process. The little secret to understanding writing Arabic is thinking of it as handwriting. Just like you connect letters together when you write, so you will connect letters when you write Arabic. Their shapes will change in order to adjust to the writing of other letters so that it becomes possible to write without lifting the pen up from the paper.

22 of the 28 Arabic letters have 4 variants:

1. Standing alone.
2. As the first letter in a word.
3. Inside the word, between two other letters.
4. As the last letter in a word, joining to the letter in front.

As for the remaining 6, they never join to the succeeding letter, even when they are inside a word. This means that the writer has to lift his pencil, and even if he is inside the same word. The following letter will have to be written as if it was the first in a word. Examples of these odd 6, see ‘alif and wâw.

‘a/’u/i/â (‘alif)

b (bā’)

t (tā’)

th (thā’)

m (mīm)

w/û (wāw)

h (hā’)

y/î (yā’)

Examples and Grammar

yawm– (one) day. This word is made out of three letters, yâ’, wâw and mîm. But as you see in the Latin translitteration, there is a forth letter coming through: ‘a’. This is the short a, unlike the long a, as in ‘alif above. In Arabic this is the source of frustration for beginners: Short vowels are not written. That is, there is a way of writing the three short vowels, is small curls above or under the letter it follows, but beyond sometimes religious works, and school books, these are omitted.
The 3 short vowels are: a, u, i. And that’s it!
There is a system to how these vowels are used,- Arabic is a very organised language. For now, just settle with learning the sound of each word. That is the best.

‘ummî– my mother. With this word, you should note the following: The double letters of mîm, are not written each by themselves, they are written as one letter. There is a curl to indicate just this, but at this beginner’s level, the same rule applies as for the short vowels: Learn the sound for each word.
Note that the suffix of a yâ’, is the straightforward way of indicating “mine”, “my”, or “of “me”. When putting yâ’ at the very end of a word, pronouncing and writing it as one word, you can’t go wrong.

wathaba– to jump, to leap This is a verb. Note that it really means “he jumped, he leaped”, as masculin singular past, is presented as the core form for a verb.
Arabic verbs are declined stricly according to 1., 2., or 3. person, gender, and singular, dualis (!!!) and plural. But the good news is: Only two tenses: Perfect (past) and Imperfect (now), while Futurum is simply made by adding the prefix “sa-” to the Imperfect form.

tâba– to repent. Surprise, surprise! One letter becomes another one!!
One of the more time consuming challenges students of Arabic will have to face, is getting a hold on the many irregularities that occur when one of these 3 letters are found in a verb:

‘alif, wâw and/or yâ’
Sometimes they are transformed into one of the others, sometimes they disappear.
But for now: Forget all about it. And save your strength until we get there.

wahaba– to give. Puh! This time, nothing special happened to the wâw, but when declining this verb, unpleasant things will become evident.


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