Arabic for Beginners

arabic for beginnersSalaam! Even for a short visit to the Middle East, it is well worth learning Arabic for beginners. Across the Arabic world, there are almost two hundred million speakers, making it one of the world’s most spoken languages and the most widespread of the Semitic languages. At the very least, you will be able to recognize buses, destination signs and place names. A lot of different English words come from Arabic like: magazine (mhazin), cotton (qutn) and coffee (qahwah). The secret is not to learn the entire alphabet at one time. For example, it is better to study three letters a day and practice every evening for an hour. As with every new language you are trying to learn, you can start with the alphabet. Here is a course on learning Arabic Language for beginners that will teach you how to write and read basic letters. Numbers and spelling are also covered. In the course, you will learn basic phrases for when you are in a restaurant and the airport, as well as how to greet other people, which could come in really convenient.

The Arabic Alphabet

You will need to know some letters of the alphabet to properly say the words even if you don’t know how to write them just yet. The better a word’s letter is pronounced, the more you would be understood as you speak this language. It is not a good idea to say the entire alphabet all in one go. Practicing a few letters each day is recommended. You can set aside an hour at night daily and this will take less than a month. As for the letters, you can practice writing each one in all of its forms (final, medial and initial) and as you write, you can practice its pronunciation. After you have got a few letters down pat, you can write them in groups of 3 in the way they appear in the alphabet. For every group of letters you write, you can add another one at the end and drop the first one. This way, you work through the entire alphabet:

  • Alif-ba-ta
  • Bat-ta-tha
  • Ta-tha-jim
  • Tha-jim-ha

You get the picture. Do this once pronouncing them as if they were words, and once with just the letters being sounded out:

Abata-batatha-tathaja-thajaha, etc.,

Once you memorize the entire series, you can then begin to learn the Arabic language. This is a great way of learning the letters in their various forms as well as the letters which can’t be joined to the next ones. In your brain, it implants the letter’s alphabet order. This is quite useful when you want to use a dictionary in Arabic. You might like this article on how to learn a language in 10 days that could speed things up for you. Here is a basic Arabic course intended for people with no previous Arabic language knowledge. This is for people who really want to be more fluent when they speak the language.

  • ا  (a like in the word call)‎ ب‎  (b like in the word ball) ت  (t like in the word tall)
  • ث  (th like in the word thorough) ج  (j like in the word jar) ح  (strong h)
  • خ   (ch like in the word germs) د   (d like in the word darling) ذ   (th like in the word thus)
  • ر   (r like in the word roar) ز   (z like in the word zebra) س‎  (s like in the word star)
  • ش  (sh like in the word shore) ص  (s like in the word sole) ض  (d like in the word daze)
  • ط   (t like in the word tamarind) ظv  (th like in the word these) ع   (a like in the word ahh)
  • غ (r like in the word pair) ف (f like in the word fire) ق (q like in the word Qum)
  • ك  (k like in the word kite) ل  (l like in the word life)‎ م  (m like in the word more)
  • ن  (n like in the word nest) ه  (h like in the word horse) و (w like in the word ware)
  • ي (y like in the word yell) ء (o like in the word oh)

A Note on Vowels

The alphabet in Arabic is considered ‘abjad,’ which is another way of saying that it only has consonants. Where does this leave you? This leaves you having to use what you know about the language (which you will eventually learn) to supply the vowels omitted.

On the other hand, since Islam is important for the precise Qur’an recitation, there is something called حَرَكَات (harakat or diacritical vowel markers) added to the lingo. Many represent short sounds like vowels.  As you get to be a more advanced student, however, you will not be expected to rely on these diacritical vowel markers as these are used rarely in simple, everyday writings.

Arabic Nouns

Nouns in Arabic are used for naming people, places, things, abstract ideas and animals. Usually, nouns are the most important part of vocabulary. Here are examples of Arabic nouns that you can learn to pronounce slowly but surely:

  • مِرْآَب الْسَّيَّارَات – meraab alsaeeaaraat (Car garage)
  • ثَلَاث سَيَّارَات – thalaath saeeaaraat (Three cars)
  • سَيَّارَة خَضْرَاء – saeeaarah khathraa’ (Green car)
  • سَيَّارَتِي – saeeaarateee (My car)

Articles

It is very important to learn articles in Arabic since its structure is pretty much used in daily conversation. The more you understand this part of speech, the closer you are to mastering Arabic. Basically, articles are words combining nouns to indicate the reference types being made by nouns. Articles generally specify a noun’s grammatical definiteness. For example, articles include “an” and “the.” Here is a list of articles and their English translation:

  • لِيْل – qaleeel (Few)
  • عْض – ba’th (Some)
  • وَاحِد – waahed (One)
  • ل – al (The)
  • لْقَلْيْل مِن الْكُتُب – alqaleel men alkotob (Few books)
  • عْض الْكُتُب – ba’th alkotob (Some books)
  • كِتَاب وَاحِد – ketaab waahedv  (One book)
  • كِتَاب – ketaab (A book)
  • كُتُب – alkotob (The books)
  • كِتَاب – alketaab (The book)

Days of the Week and Time Words

  • أَحَّد – alaaahad (Sunday)
  • سَّبْت – alsabt (Saturday)
  • الْجُمُعَة – aljomo’ah (Friday)
  • خَمِيْس – alkhameees (Thursday)
  • لْأَرْبِعَاء – alaarbe’aa’ (Wednesday)
  • ثُّلَاثَاء – altholaathaa’ (Tuesday)
  • لِاثْنَيْن – aleathnaeen (Monday)
  • ان – thaan (Second)
  • قِيْقَة – daqeeeqah (Minute)
  • سَاعَة – saa’ah (Hour)
  • مَرَّة – marah (Time)

Parts of the Body

  • وْع – kow’ (Elbow)
  • أُذُن – alaothon (Ear)
  • قْن – thaqn (Chin)
  • صَدَر – sadar (Chest)
  • خَدَّيْن – alkhadaeen (Cheeks)
  • ظَهَر – thahar (Back)
  • ذِرَاع – theraa’ (Arm)
  • فَة – shafah  (Lip)
  • سَاق – saaq (Leg)
  • رُكْبَة – rokbah (Knee)
  • قَلْب – qalb (Heart)
  • رَأْس – raas (Head)
  • د – eead (Hand)
  • شِعْر – she’r (Hair)
  • دِم – qadem (Foot)
  • صَابِع – aasaabe’ (Fingers)
  • صْبَع – eesba’ (Finger)
  • وَجْه – wajh (Face)
  • عَيْن – ‘aeen (eye)

Basic Phrases

  • tuSbiH äalaa khayr: Good night
  • masaa’alkhayr: Good evening
  • sabaaH alkhayr: Good morning
  • arjuu almaadhira: I am sorry
  • aläafw: Excuse me
  • äafwan: You’re welcome
  • shukran: Thank you
  • min faDlik: Please

Question Words

Questions in Arabic are linguistic expressions used for making information requests such as using words with when, where, how and why. There are 2 question words in Arabic:

أ (a) and هل (hal)

Used in questions like:

  • هو نغبي أليس كذلك  (He is a Morrocan isn’t he?) Pronounced: Huwa maghrabiyun alais kadhalik?
  • هل أتت من مصر؟  (Are you from Egypt?) Pronounced: Hal anta min masri
  • أَيْن؟ – aaeen? Where?
  • مَاذَا؟ – lemaathaa? Why?
  • مِن؟ – men? Who?
  • مَاذَا؟ – maathaa? What?
  • كَيْف؟ – kaeef? How?

 The Arabic Script

Written Arabic comes in 2 main types: Modern Standard Arabic or Classical Arabica. The latter is the language of classical literature and the Qur’an. It is different from Modern Standard Arabic in its vocabulary and style, since some words are really archaic. Modern Standard Arabic, on the other hand is the Arab speaking world’s universal language which every Arabic speaker understands. This is the language of the vast majority of formal lectures, television shows and written material. Here is a course for those who want to learn about reading and writing in Arabic as well as how to connect the letters you drew. This makes a great foundation for future studies of the Arabic language.

Called a running script, the Arabic script has you write letters in a way that they are attached, while some are not. Rather than breaking each word into syllables they make words longer by extending the letter like:

I write you a letter full of love: أنا أكب لك رســـالة مملوء بالحــــــــــــــــــــــــــــب

Abjad is the type of writing system used for the Arabic script. There are twenty-eight letters and many letters change whether they are in the start, middle or the end of a word. When joining letters, this can happen in both printed and hand-written Arabic. With this rule, the only exceptions are signs and crossword puzzles where the script is vertically written. The long vowels are represented by the letters waw (a:), ya’(i:) and ‘alif(u:). Short vowels are marked by special symbols called vowel diacritics. In classical poetry, children’s books and religious texts such as the Qur’an, these are also used.  At times, these are used just for decoration such as for nameplates, letterheads and book titles

Arabic Numbers

Arabic cardinal numbers are also known as counting numbers, since they show quantity:

  • عَشْرَة – ‘ashrah 10
  • تِسْعَة – tes’ah 9
  • مَانِيَة – thamaaneeeah 8
  • بْعَة – sab’ah 7
  • سِتَّة – setah 6
  • خَمْسَة – khamsah 5
  • رْبَعَة – aarba’ah 4
  • لَاثَة – thalaathah 3
  • ثْنَان – athnaan 2
  • وَاحِد – waahed 1
  • عِشْرُوْن – ‘eshrown 20
  • تِسْعَة عَشَر – tes’ah ‘ashar 19
  • ثَمَانِيَة عَشَر – thamaaneeeah ‘ashar 18
  • سَبْعَة عَشَر – sab’ah ‘ashar 17
  • سَت عَشْرَة – sat ‘ashrah 16
  • خَمْسَة عَشَر – khamsah ‘ashar 15
  • رْبَعَة عَشْرَة – aarba’ah ‘ashrah 14
  • ثَلَاثَة عَشَر – thalaathah ‘ashar 13
  • اثْنَا عَشَر – athnaa ‘ashar 12
  • حَد عَشَر – aahad ‘ashar 11
  • مْلْيُوْن – mleeown Million
  • ف – aalf One thousand
  • مِائَة – mea’ah Hundred

Religious Words

Religion is a huge part of Arabic culture and as you take a few tours, you may come across religious words and knowing a few will come in really convenient (not to mention very impressive) as you make the rounds.

  • كنيس kanees: synagogue
  • مسجد masjid: mosque
  • رسول rasool: prophet
  • مسيحيةmaseeHyah: Christianity
  • لله Allah: God
  • دين deen; religion
  • مسلم moslim: Muslim
  • الهندوسية aalhindooseyah: Hinduism
  • اليهودية aalyahoodeyah: Judaism
  • يهودي yahoodee: Jewish

Did this help? Once you finally have sufficient background in the Arabic language, you might want to check out this course that can help upgrade your proficiency. For instance, if you want to study more grammatically complex structures, this is the course for you.