Arabic alphabet

Name Isolated Initial Medial Final Transliteration Sound Pronunciation
‘alif ا ـا ‘ / ā long unrounded low central back vowel ‘a’ as in ‘father’
Bā’ ب بـ ـبـ ـب b voiced bilabial stop ‘b’ as in ‘bed’
Tā’ ت تـ ـتـ ـت t voiced aspirated stop ‘t’ as in ‘tent’
Thā’ ث ثـ ـثـ ـث th voiceless interdental fricative ‘th’ as in ‘think’
Jīm ج جـ ـجـ ـج j voiced palatal affricate ‘j’ as in ‘jam’
Ḥā’ ح حـ ـحـ ـح voiceless pharyngeal constricted fricative only in Arabic; a constricted English ‘h’
Khā’ خ خـ ـخـ ـخ kh voiceless velar fricative ‘ch’ as in German ‘Bach’
Dāl د ـد d voiced dental stop ‘d’ as in ‘deer’ (approx.)
Dhāl ذ ـذ dh voiced interdental fricative ‘th’ as in ‘there’
Rā’ ر ـر r voiced dental trill ‘r’ as in ‘run’ (approx.)
Zāy ز ـز z voiced dental sibilant ‘z’ as in ‘zoo’ (approx.)
Sīn س سـ ـسـ ـس s voiceless dental sibilant ‘s’ as in ‘sit’
Shīn ش شـ ـشـ ـش sh voiceless palatal sibilant ‘sh’ as in ‘shut’
Ṣād ص صـ ـصـ ـص voiceless post-dental sibilant emphatic the counterpart of Sῑn; all the ’emphatics’ are pronounced with the back of the tongue slightly raised
Ḍād ض ضـ ـضـ ـض voiced post-dental emphatic stop the counterpart of Dāl
Ṭā’ ط طـ ـطـ ـط voiceless post-dental emphatic stop the counterpart of Tā’
Ẓā’ ظ ظـ ـظـ ـظ voiced post-interdental emphatic fricative the counterpart of Dhāl
cayn ع عـ ـعـ ـع c voiced pharyngeal fricative purely Arabic — a constriction of the throat and an expulsion of the breath with the vocal cords vibrating
Ghayn غ غـ ـغـ ـغ gh voiced uvular fricative close to a French ‘r’ as in ‘Paris’ — like a gentle gargling
Fā’ ف فـ ـفـ ـف f labio-dental voiceless fricative ‘f’ as in ‘free’
Qāf ق قـ ـقـ ـق q voiceless unaspirated uvular stop ‘k’ in the back of the throat; compare ‘cough’ with ‘calf’
Kāf ك كـ ـكـ ـك k voiceless aspirated palatal or velar stop ‘k’ as in ‘king’
Lām ل لـ ـلـ ـل l voiced dental lateral ‘l’ as in ‘lift’
Mīm م مـ ـمـ ـم m voiced bilabial nasal ‘m’ as in ‘moon’
Nūn ن نـ ـنـ ـن n voiced dental nasal ‘n’ as in ‘net’
Hā’ ه هـ ـهـ ـه h voiceless glottal fricative ‘h’ as in ‘house’
Wāw و ـو w voiced bilabial glide ‘w’ as in ‘wonder’
Yā’ ي يـ ـيـ ـي y voiced palatal glide ‘y’ as in ‘yellow’
Hamza ء voiceless glottal stop not a phoneme in English but found in some exclamations — e.g. ‘oh-oh’

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