Alef ( أ )…  brief version

Summary:

Alef is the first letter in Arabic alphabet (Also written as Alif). It’s the most used letter among them due to the several sounds it represents. And this leads to many different forms and shapes to recognize each sound. 

That makes Alef the trickiest letter. Its detailed description would be a bit long and might be intimidating for the first letter to learn (read the detailed version here). So, we are going to take a briefed summary here just to get familiar with it. And we’ll take the rest of details later.

Let’s get started…

The form shown above is the famous form of the Isolated Alef.

How Alef is written in a word differs according to how it’s pronounced, and of course, it’s position in the word.

Alef is only connectable to the letter before (the letter to the right). The basic shape of Alef takes these three forms depending on its position in the word: Initial ا , Medial ـا , Final ـا .

Alef is one of the three letters  Alef  
أ , Waaw و , Yaa’ ي  that might be either a consonant or a vowel letter.

Consonant Alef always comes at the beginning of a word. And it always come with a mark called Hamza  ء

Consonant Alef represents all four kinds of sounds:

Alef with a fat7a:  أَ  (we put the “fat7a” on the top of the Hamza  ءَ) 

– Might have a soft sound like A in “And”. OR a gruff sound like U in “Under”.

Alef with a kasra: إِ (we put the “kasra” under the Hamza ءِ )

– It sounds like E in “Exam” or I in “India”.

Alef with a damma:  أُ  (we put the “damma” on the top of the Hamza ءُ )

– It sounds like O in “Open” or “Orange”.

Vowel Alef usually comes at the middle or at the end of a word:

Medial vowel Alef usually takes this forms  ـا  (Alef never connects to the left side). And it sounds either soft like a in “Man”, or gruff like a in “Mars”.

Final vowel Alef usually takes this form ـا . It sounds either soft like a in “Cinema” or gruff like a in “Grandpa”.

Let’s now move to the examples to get more familiar with the Alef:

Examples:

Basic

asaasii

أساسي

Initial Alef, Hamza on top, with fat7a, soft

Children

attfaal

أطفال

Initial Alef, Hamza on top, with fat7a, gruff

Achievement

ennjaaz

إِنجاز

Initial Alef, Hamza below, with kasra

Master

osstaath

أستاذ

Initial Alef, Hamza on top, with damma

Clever

maaher

ماهر

Medial vowel Alef, connected, soft

Past

maadii

ماضي

Medial vowel Alef, connected, gruff

I/Me

anaa

أنا

Final vowel Alef, normal form, soft

Stick

3aSaa

عصا

Final vowel Alef, normal form, gruff

Writing Examples

*Please write the sample words in your own clear handwriting and scan (or take clear hi-res photos

Look-a-likes

Alef  ا  might look like the connected form of the letter Laam ( لـ ) ( ـاـ ). But luckily, Laam always has an extension to the left side, but Alef never does. Alef is only connectable to the right side.
Consonant Alef also has the Hamza in common with the final form of a letter called Kaaf  
ـك .

Alef also may be considered as a part of drawing the twin letters Taa’  ط  and Zaa’  ظ.

Mnemonic

Alef is a stick. It’s the letter number one and looks exactly like number one 1.

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