Arabic Alphabet with Vowels: Short Vowels, Long Vowels, Semivowels, and Best Examples in Arabic

Arabic Alphabet with Vowels

In this article, we will explore the Arabic Alphabet with Vowels and the concept of vowels, discuss short and long vowels as well as semivowels, provide examples of the Arabic alphabet with vowels, highlight their dual function, and explain their significance in language acquisition. Vowels play a vital role in shaping the sounds and meanings of words in Arabic.

Vowels in Arabic, referred to as Harakat, are vital elements of the language, aiding in pronunciation and determining word sounds. They also serve as markers for noun and adjective cases in sentences. Arabic comprises six vowels: three short (Fathah, Kasrah, Dammah) and three long (Alif, Waw, Yaa).

Short Vowels:

  • Fathah (َ): Represents the short “a” sound, placed above a letter.
  • Kasrah (ِ): Indicates the short “i” sound, placed below a letter.
  • Dammah (ُ): Denotes the short “u” sound, positioned above a letter.

Long Vowels:

  • Alif (ا): Produces the long “aa” sound.
  • Waw (و): Represents the long “oo” sound.
  • Yaa (ي): Indicates the long “ee” sound.

Understanding these vowels enhances Arabic comprehension and communication. Sahlah Academy offers expert guidance to master Arabic pronunciation, ensuring effective language learning.

If you have ever been curious about the workings of vowels in Arabic or are currently learning the language and wish to better understand them, you have come to the right place. Let us delve into the intriguing realm of Arabic vowels together!

What are Vowels in Arabic?

Vowels in Arabic, known as Harakat, are essential components of the language. They are symbols or signs used to indicate the pronunciation of Arabic letters and help determine the correct sound of words.

In Arabic, vowels also function as markers for the case of nouns and adjectives based on their position within a sentence.

The Arabic language has six vowels: three short vowels (Fathah, Kasrah, and Dammah) and three long vowels (Alif, Waw, and Yaa).

Types of Vowels in Arabic:

There are two main types of vowels in Arabic: short vowels and long vowels. 

1. Short Vowels

Short vowels, also known as “Harakat Al-Kasra,” “Harakat Al-Fatha,” and “Harakat Al-Damma,” consist of three main sounds.

– The Fathah (فَتْحَة) is represented by a diagonal line placed above a letter and produces the short vowel “a” sound. 

– The Kasrah (كَسْرَة) is indicated by a diagonal line placed below a letter and represents the short vowel “i” sound. 

– The Dammah (ضَمَّة) is denoted by a small w-shaped symbol placed above a letter and signifies the short vowel “u” sound.

2. Long Vowels

On the other hand, long vowels in Arabic are standalone letters and include Alif (ا), Waw (و), and Yaa (ي).

– The Alif (ا) represents the long vowel “aa” sound.

– The Waw (و) represents the long vowel “oo” sound.

– The Yaa (ي) represents the long vowel “ee” sound.

In total, the vowels are fundamental in understanding and correctly pronouncing Arabic words, aiding in effective communication and language comprehension.

Understanding these fundamental concepts about vowels in Arabic will greatly enhance your ability to accurately read and pronounce words while learning this beautiful Fusha Arabic language!

Read also: Arabic Alphabet in the Quran.

Short Vowels in Arabic

Short vowels are an integral aspect of the Arabic language and are represented by diacritical marks called الْحَرَكَاتُ الْقَصِيرَة (al-harakat al-qasirah). 

These marks, consisting of three different symbols, are placed above or below the consonants to indicate specific vowel sounds. 

1. Pronunciation of Short Vowels in Arabic:

Short vowels play a crucial role in ensuring accurate pronunciation and understanding of Arabic words.

A. Fatha (ـَ):

The fatha is a diagonal stroke placed above the consonant and represents the short vowel “a,” similar to the “u” sound in the English word “but.”

B. Kasra (ـِ): 

The kasra is a small diagonal stroke placed below the consonant and represents the short vowel “i,” similar to the “ee” sound in the English word “see.”

C. Damma (ـُ):

The damma is a small curl placed above the consonant and represents the short vowel “u,” similar to the “oo” sound in the English word “moon.”

2. Examples of Short Vowels in Arabic:

To better understand the application of short vowels, let’s explore some examples:

A. Fatha:

The word “كَتَبَ” (kataba) means “he wrote” when pronounced with a fatha on the letter “Kaf.”

B. Kasra:

The word “كِتَابٌ” (kitabun) means “book” when pronounced with a kasra on the letter “ta.”

C. Damma:

The word “دُرُوسٌ” (dorosun) means “lessons” when pronounced with a damma on the letter “ra.”

These examples highlight how the placement of short vowels can significantly impact the meaning of words and aid in their proper pronunciation.

3. Application of Short Vowels in Arabic:

Short vowels are essential for beginners learning the Arabic language as they help differentiate between words with similar consonants.

The omission or substitution of a single short vowel can completely alter the meaning of a word. Therefore, it is crucial to pay attention to the placement and pronunciation of these vowels.

By practicing the individual sounds of fatha, kasra, and damma repeatedly and understanding their usage in different words, learners can develop fluency in reading and speaking Arabic more effectively.

Continuous exposure to words containing short vowels will enhance their ability to recognize and interpret the accurate pronunciation and meanings of Arabic words.

Long Vowels in Arabic

Long vowels, also known as “الْحَرَكَاتُ الطَّوِيلَة” in Arabic, play a crucial role in the pronunciation and understanding of words.

In Arabic, long vowels are represented by three letters – Alif (ا), Waw (و), and Yaa (ي). These letters can function as either consonants or long vowels, depending on their placement and context within a word.

1. Pronunciation of Long Vowels in Arabic:

The pronunciation of long vowels in Arabic is crucial for proper communication. Each long vowel has a distinct sound:

A. Alif (ا): 

The Alif is pronounced as a long “AA” sound. To produce this sound, open your mouth wide and elongate the “A” as you say it.

B. Waw (و):

The Waw is pronounced as a long “OO” sound. To pronounce it correctly, round your lips and create a deep “O” sound.

C. Yaa (ي):

The Yaa is pronounced as a long “EE” sound. To articulate this sound, stretch your mouth horizontally and form an extended “E” sound.

2. Examples of Long Vowels in Arabic:

To better understand the usage of long vowels, let’s look at some examples:

A. Alif (ا):

The word النَّهَار (An-Nahar) means “the morning.” Here, the long vowel Alif elongates the A sound in “nahar.”

B. Waw (و):

The word صُنْدُوق (Sondooq) translates to “box.” The long vowel Waw extends the O sound in “sundooq.”

C. Yaa (ي):

The word قَرِيب (Qareeb) means “near.” The long vowel Yaa prolongs the EE sound in “qareeb.

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Semivowels in Arabic

Arabic semivowels, in the form of the letters Waw and Yaa, play a significant role in the Arabic language. They can function as consonants, representing the sounds /w/ and /y/ respectively.

These semivowels are referred to as Hurouf Al Leen (حُرُوف اللِّين) when used in this consonant capacity. However, they also have another function as long vowels, representing the sounds /uu/ and /ii/ respectively.

Pronunciation of Semivowels in Arabic

When functioning as consonants, Waw is pronounced similar to the sound of “w” in English, while Yaa is pronounced similar to the sound of “y” in English.

For example, Waw forms the semi-vowel AW / OW sound, as heard in the word “Howl” (حَوْلَ). In contrast, Yaa forms the semi-vowel EI sound, as seen in the word “Hussein” (حُسَيْن). 

This pronunciation occurs when these letters have a Sukoon (a diacritic indicating the absence of a vowel sound) above them and a Fathah (a short vowel marker) above the letter preceding them.

In their role as long vowels, Waw represents the /uu/ sound, similar to the “u” sound in the English word “rule.” On the other hand, Yaa represents the /ii/ sound, akin to the “i” sound in the English word “machine.”

Understanding and correctly pronouncing semivowels in Arabic is essential for achieving accurate pronunciation and conveying meaning effectively in the language.

Double Functionality of Arabic Vowels

The Arabic vowels have a unique characteristic known as double functionality. Let’s explore this interesting aspect of the Arabic language:

1. Double Functionality:

In Arabic, vowels can serve two purposes simultaneously. They not only indicate pronunciation but also convey grammatical information.

2. Pronunciation and Grammar:

Short vowels in Arabic play a significant role in guiding pronunciation, helping learners correctly pronounce words.

At the same time, these vowels carry essential grammatical information such as case endings and verb conjugations.

3. Flexibility in Meaning:

The dual function of Arabic vowels allows for flexibility in meaning. By changing or omitting certain vowel markings, different shades of meaning can be conveyed within a word.

The dual function of Arabic vowels adds complexity to the language by providing both pronunciation guidance and important grammatical cues. 

An understanding of the basics of Arabic grammar improves one’s proficiency in communicating and understanding accurately in Arabic.

Importance of Vowels in Arabic Language Learning

Vowels play a crucial role in learning the Arabic language. Here’s why they are important:

1. Proper pronunciation:

Vowels help in correctly pronouncing words and distinguishing between similar-sounding letters, which is essential for clear communication.

2. Understanding meaning: 

Vowels provide clarity to the meaning of words by indicating the correct placement of vowels within a word, as Arabic has many root-based words that can have different meanings depending on vowel placement.

3. Reading fluency: 

By mastering vowel sounds, learners can read Arabic texts more fluently as they will be able to effortlessly identify and vocalize each letter with its respective vowel sound.

4. Enhancing listening skills: 

Recognizing vowels helps learners improve their listening skills as they become familiar with various vowel patterns used in spoken Arabic.

5. Building vocabulary:

When reading texts or studying new vocabulary, understanding and recognizing vowels aids in memorization and retention of words.

By providing 14 Arabic quizzes with benefits, tips, and basic questions for learning the Arabic language, students can develop strong foundational skills that will greatly aid them in their journey toward proficiency.

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How to read Arabic without vowels? 

In Arabic, reading without vowel symbols requires knowledge of the context and familiarity with the language. Vowels are often omitted in written texts, so it is necessary to rely on understanding the root letters and surrounding words to determine the correct pronunciation.

How many short vowels in Arabic?

In standard Arabic, there are three short vowels called “harakat”: Fatha (َ), Kasra (ِ), and Damma (ُ). These symbols indicate the vowel sounds a, i, and u respectively when placed above or below a consonant letter.

Is Arabic written without vowels?

Arabic can be written both with and without vowel symbols. In formal and educational materials, vowels are typically marked with diacritics to aid pronunciation. However, in everyday writing and printed texts like newspapers, magazines, and books, vowel symbols are often omitted.

Does Arabic only have 3 vowels?

No, Arabic has more than three vowels. Although there are only three vowel letters – Alif (ا), Waw (و), and Yaa (ي) – these letters can represent multiple vowel sounds depending on their placement and the accompanying diacritic marks.

How many vowels are there in the Quran?

The Quran, being written in Arabic, follows the same rules for vowels. It contains the same three vowel letters, but the actual number of vowels in the Quranic text depends on the specific recitation style (Qira’ah). Different recitations may have variations in vowel placement, but the overall number of vowels remains consistent with the Arabic language.


In conclusion, it is essential to understand the Arabic alphabet with vowels to learn and master the Arabic language. Vowels play a crucial role in correctly pronouncing words and conveying accurate meanings. 

Short vowels, long vowels, and semivowels each have their distinct sounds and symbols that learners must become familiar with. Although reading Arabic without vowels may be difficult, it is a skill that can be acquired through practice and exposure to written texts.

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