Learn the Arabic letter Alif Part Two

You will also see this letter transliterated as Alef


Now let’s get back to Alif and learn a bit more about it…


We have already learned that:

  • Alif is the first letter in Arabic alphabet. 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.
  • Alif is only connectable to the letter before. The basic shape of Alif takes three two forms depending on its position in the word: Initial ا , Medial ـا , Final ـا .
  • Alif is one of the three letters  Alif  ا, Wow و , Ya ي  which might be either a consonant or a vowel letter.


It might come with a Hamza ( ء ) on the top أ  or underneath  إ  (that’s when it’s considered as a consonant letter). Or without any Hamza  ا  (this is when it’s read as a vowel letter) AND it might even come in a completely different shape ى .


Consonant Alif always comes at the beginning of a word. It represents all four kinds of sounds.

The right sound depend on two written factors:

– The position of the Hamza (on top or below)

– The small marks (voweling signs) written above/under the letters which are called Tashkeel.


Consonant Alif’s sounds are:

Alif with a fatha:  أَ  (we put the fatha on the top of the Hamza ءَ )

– Might has a soft sound like A in And. OR a gruff sound like U in Under.


Alif with a kasra: إِ  (we put the kasra under the Hamza  ءِ )

It sounds like E in Exam or I in India


Alif with a damma:  أُ  (we put the damma on the top of the Hamza ءُ )

It sounds like O in Open or Orange.


Alif like all of the letters cannot come with sokoon at the beginning of a word.

Sokoon only comes with medial and final letters.
BUT be careful! you might see a consonant Alif (an Alif with a Hamza) at the middle or the end of the word. That is not recognized as an Alif in Arabic, and it is just called Hamza. We will talk about Hamza in the next lesson.


Vowel Alif usually comes at the middle or at the end of a word. It always come with sokoon and the letter before it always comes with a fatha:


Medial vowel Alif might take one of these forms ( ا ) ( ـا ) (depending on whether the letter before it is connectable or not). And it sounds either soft like a in Man, or gruff like a in Mars.


Final vowel vowel Alif might take one of these forms ( ا ) ( ى ) ( ـا ) ( ـى ) (depending on whether the letter before it is connectable or not). And it sounds either soft like a in Cinemor gruff like a in Grandpa.


Obviously, the final vowel Alif might come in a weird form ( ى ) ( ـى ). This is called Alif Maqsoura or Alif Layyennah
In some cases, you’ll see an Initial vowel Alif. It should have the unique Madd mark ( ~ ) instead of the Hamza on the top. And it’s pronounced as two long vowel  Alifs in a row.


Alif ( 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 Alif never does.

Alif is only connectable to the right side.

Famous form of Alif also has the Hamza in common with the final form of the letter Kaaf ( ـك ).

Alif also may be considered as a part of drawing the letters Toh ( ط ) and Thoh ( ظ ).


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



Suggested for you

Arabic Alphabet Chart pdf download

Learn about diacritics/Tashkeel

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