This lesson was authored by Mohtanick Jamil

FREE Course


Arabic Syllables

 

·        A syllable is an uninterrupted flow of speech
For example, in the word “habitat”, the syllables are broken up like this:
ha-bi-tat

 

·        There can be different types of syllables depending on how you group the consonants and vowels to make the syllable

 

·        Arabic has 6 types of syllables
3 are common and 3 are rare

 

·        Let’s use the letter C to represent a consonant, V to represent a vowel and L to represent a long vowel (like Aleph)

 

·        Below are the 6 types of syllables in Arabic

 

 

Syllable Structure

Examples

 

 

 

common

1

CV

بَ، بِ، بُ

2

CL

با

3

CVC

رَب

 

 

 

rare

4

CVCC

ضَرب

5

CLC

جاب

6

CLCC

شاذّ (double ذ)

 

Syllable Type 1

 

1

CV

بَ، بِ، بُ

 

·        The first syllable is where you have a consonant then a vowel
This would be like the word “hi” in English

 

·        In English, you can also have a vowel THEN a consonant, like the word “it”
But in Arabic, syllables NEVER begin with vowels

 

·        In English, you can also have more than one consonant and then a syllable
Like “tra” in the word “ex-tra”
But you can NEVER have two or more consecutive consonants in one Arabic syllable

 

·        The only way to have Syllable Type 1 in Arabic is to have a consonant then a (short) vowel
And there are only 3 (short) vowels in Arabic
So the 3 examples بَ, بِ and بُ cover all ways to have Syllable Type 1 in Arabic

 

Syllable Type 2

 

2

CL

با

 

·        Syllable Type 2 is a consonant then a long vowel

 

·        Remember, syllables can never begin with vowels
So you can NEVER have a long vowel THEN a consonant make up a syllable

 

·        Right now, we only have one example for this type of syllable
There are two others we should give
But we didn’t study those long vowels yet

 

·        Remember: there are 3 short vowels and 3 longs vowels in Arabic
The long vowels correspond to the short ones by making them longer
We know that Aleph makes the Fatha sound longer

 

·        We’ll talk about how to make the Kasra and Damma sounds longer in a future lesson

 

Syllable Type 3 and the Sukoon Symbol

 

3

CVC

رَب

 

·        Syllable Type 3 is where you have a consonant and a vowel (like Syllable Type 1), but then another consonant

 

·        This is like the word “hit” in English

 

·        In English, you can have more than one consonant after the vowel
Like the “sm” in the word “chasm”

 

·        But remember: in Arabic, you can NEVER have two or more consecutive consonants in a single syllable

 

·        Okay, so when you have a Syllable Type 3, the consonant at the end of the syllable won’t have any vowel after it
So there will be no Fatha, Kasra or Damma on top / underneath it

 

·        When this happens, some people might leave the letter blank with no vowel

 

·        But it is even more common (when you’re actually writing down the vowels) to write a small circle on top of the letter

 

·        This circle is called a Sukoon and the letter is called Saakin (meaning, without vowel)

 

volume_icon.png

ـْ

 

·        Click on the words below to hear them

 

خِطابْ

عُشْبُ

حِدادْ

تَتَتَعْتَعْ

تَدَحْرَجَ

ضَرْبِ

 

·        Can a syllable ever begin with a Sukoon?
No. A Saakin letter always signifies the end of a syllable

 

·        Exercise: copy the words below and stretch the connections between syllables

 

Example:

تَتَتَعْتَعْ

Answer [تَـتَـتَعْـتَعْ]

 

غُرْبَةِ

Answer [غُرْ  بَـةِ]

 

صادِرْ

Answer [صا  دِرْ]

 

بَشارَةُ

Answer [بَـشا  رَ  ةُ]

 

شارِعْ

Answer [شا  رِعْ]

 

عاطِشْ

Answer [عا  طِشْ]

 

More on Syllable Type 3

And the Shadda Symbol

 

·        Let’s consider a special case:
You have a Syllable Type 3 that ends in a particular consonant
And the very next syllable (no matter what it is) starts with that same consonant

 

·        In the example below, we have a Syllable Type 3 followed by a Syllable Type 1
The Type 3 ends with a Jeem and the Type 1 starts with a Jeem

 

 

volume_icon.png

حَجْـجَ

 

·        When this happens, we write the Jeem only once and place a symbol on top of it

 

volume_icon.png

حَجَّ

 

·        This symbol is called a Shadda
It looks like a small W

 

volume_icon.png

ـّ

 

·        Notes:

o   Shadda indicates the end of a Syllable Type 3 and the beginning of some other syllable

o   therefore, you will never see it in the middle of a syllable... always between two syllables

o   if a letter has a Shadda, it means there are actually 2 of that letter

o   a letter will always have both a Shadda and some vowel on top / underneath

§  you will NEVER see a letter with just a Shadda, or a Shadda and a Sukoon

o   sometimes the vowel is written on top / underneath the Shadda, not the letter

§  in fact, that’s more common and that’s how we’ll do it

 

·        Exercise: read the following words
Click on them to hear the answer

 

شَرِّ

حَبُّ

بُدَّ

تَشَدَّدَ

حَبَّذا

سِجّارَةِ

 

·        Exercise: copy the following

 

جَبّار

سَحّار

تَعَّبَ

طَرِّزْ

بَزِّ

 

·        Exercise: write down the word you hear

 

volume_icon.png

Answer [سَبَّ]

volume_icon.png

Answer [صَحَّ]

volume_icon.png

Answer [دَرّاجَةُ]

also accepted [دَرّاجَتُ]

volume_icon.png

Answer [بَعَّدَ]

volume_icon.png

Answer [بِتِّباعْ]

 

·        What if a Syllable Type 3 ends in a consonant and the next syllable begins with a consonant... the two consonants aren’t the same, but they sound similar like ت and ط or like ذ, ز and ظ?

 

حِطْتُ

 

·        Pronouncing each letter separately is really hard!

 

volume_icon.png

حِطْتُ

 

·        So you have to merge the two letters and make both sound the same
So, in the example above, both ط and ت will sound like ط
You use the sound of the first letter
Some people might use the sound of the second letter
People with experience try to pronounce both letters separately

 

volume_icon.png

حِطْتُ

 

·        But no Shadda will be written or anything like that

 

·        This phenomenon happens rarely, and it’s usually between ت and ط
It happens because some letters are hard to pronounce right after others

 

·        Exercise: pronounce the following word

 

 

Rare Syllable Types

 

·        The last three syllable types are rare

 

·        That’s because they involve two consecutive consonants in a single syllable

 

·        And remember that that’s not allowed in Arabic

 

·        It happens very rarely and usually at the end of a word

 

·        Some examples are given below

 

عِطْرْ

CVCC

شاذّ

CLCC

دابُّ

CLC, CV