Arabic for English Speakers Lesson #1

WELCOME TO MY ARABIC LESSONS مرحباً بكم إلى دروسي للّغة العربيّة

Before I even begin, let me just say that I'm not sure I'll keep doing this. I might get bored ;) And . . . Arabic can get tricky for native speakers too.

  • This is MSA



There's not really much I can do to help you learn the alphabet, you need outside sources, like this video to help you learn it.


But here are some notes:

  • Arabic is written from right to left

  • There are no uppercase or lowercase letters in Arabic

  • Everything is written in what I could simply call cursive.

Take this for example: حب (Hob)

This is the Arabic word for "love". It's made up of 2 letters: ح - ب

But combined, the first letter, ح, changes its shape, and connects itself to the ب.

Therefore: حب

It is absolutely wrong not to connect the letters. Most Arabs wouldn't be able to read what you've written.

Because letters connect to each other, all letters have more than one form.

For example, if you were to switch the ح and ب in the word حب, this is what it would look like:


Now compare them: بح/حب

Unfortunately, the forms of the letters simply need to be memorized =(

  • Some letters don't attach to the letters after them.

Like in the word "ana" - أنا (which is Arabic for "I")

It's made up of 3 letters, أ-ن-ا

The first and last letters are both the same = alif (the first letter of the alphabet)

The alif (أ) doesn't attach to letters after it, only letters before it. The ن attaches to both letters after it and before it.

This is why the word "ana" is written this way: أنا.

Here's some calligraphy that you'll one day be able to read :)

This says: Life is good

Now let's get to the fun part:

Arabic has no "verb to be". So you don't have to waste your time learning conjugations like you probably did with German, Spanish, French etc . . .

Don't get too excited though, there's verb to be in other tenses, just not the present ;)

That said, if you want to say, "I'm a boy," you'd take the word for "I", which is أنا, and the word for "boy" which is ولد (walad)

Put these two words together: أنا ولد.

Congratulations! You just formed your first Arabic sentence!



I = أنا

You (male): أنتَ (anta)

You (female): أنتِ (anti)

(YES, we do have different "you" forms based on the gender of the person =D)

Random words just so you'd be able to say you're these things:

Happy: سعيد (for male, saEEd) - سعيدة (for female, saEEda)

Cat: قط (for male, KiTT) - قطة (for female, KiTTa)

  • Note on word order: In Arabic, like many other languages, the adjective comes after the noun. Ex: She is a pretty girl would be: She is a girl pretty.

Now, can you form these basic sentences?

I am a happy boy.

You (male) are a happy cat.

Write them in the comments below.

!إلى اللّقاء

Lesson 2

PS: If you want to know how to write your name in Arabic, ask me =)
June 11, 2016


Danke, Bedankt, merci, thank you

Dziekuje ...


There is a new wonderful book called .....


It is also in Arabic with translations

It is a book that inspires me to learn some Arabic

BESTIMMT WIRD ALLES GUT is the real-life story of two young asylum seekers and their journey from Syria to Germany.

I have met several families from Syria that are now established in Scotland ..

But this story in this book from Germany should be available in our schools.

June 11, 2016

أنا ولد سعيد.

أنت قط سعيد.

And in Amharic, because I feel like it

ደስተኛ ወንድ ልጅ ነኝ።

ደስተኛ ድመት ነህ።

June 12, 2016

Fascinating. Thanks for posting! I can see why an Arabic for English speakers course is long in coming. I can already start to imagine some of the issues they're having.

I would like to know how to write my name in Arabic btw, yes please. It's Jessica :)

June 11, 2016


There you go, some people might write it in different ways though =)

June 11, 2016

Yes, I figured with a big world language like Arabic, there might be variation :) If anything, if you stick it in Google, you do get several famous Jessica's, so I think you must have gone with a common enough version.

June 11, 2016

Thanks a lot Salma. Best of luck :)

I am also here if anyone needs help.

June 12, 2016

are you still willing to help?

August 23, 2017

Arabic script is very tricky...

What's your dialect?

June 11, 2016

Egyptian and proud xD

June 11, 2016

Nice. Can you understand a different dialect like the Levantine?

June 11, 2016

Can you understand British English? =)

June 11, 2016

Nice comparision :D

But i've heard that many Arabic dialects aren't mutally inteliggible like the Maghrebi and the Gulf Arabic because of the geographic distance...

June 11, 2016

Yes, it's a little hard for me, and I'm sure many other Arabs, to understand the Maghrebi dialect, they speak so fast! But that's about it . . . they speak too fast for me. If they spoke slower, I'd understand them =)

June 11, 2016

شي حلو ... عاشت الايادي

June 11, 2016

=) تسلم

June 11, 2016

This language is sooo much easier than Turkish in my opinion. To people who are considering learning, do not let yourself be intimidated by the alphabet. Writing without errors can be a little challenging, reading is not hard, and speaking and listening is probably the easiest part. Not to mention, the best music in the world comes from the Arabs ;) Thanks for this Selma

June 11, 2016

Reading is not hard

Did you forget that there are no vowels? lol

June 12, 2016

Thanks for this! I hope I'm not to late to ask >:

  1. Is the way you say something based on gender always depend on the object? I understand that you write أنتَ (you) when you talk about male, no? But since سعيد (happy) doesn't have gender, you says سعيد when you are male andسعيدة when you are female, right? So is it also depends on the subject?

  2. Why the ة in سعيدة is silent? isn't it read as t?

  3. My arabic friend always tell that every arab understand MSA, but it is awkward to converse in it. Is it true? They said it is better to learn Egyptian dailect, since huge load of literature are in Egyptian dialect

  4. I noticed your profile picture is a picture of woman with veil, so I assume that you are a Muslim. So is it possible to understand Qur'an if I know MSA? or is it only possible with certain dialects?

June 12, 2016

1- It's important to know that Arabic has two types of sentences, usually based on what's the first word in the sentence is:

a) (The Nominal Sentence = Al-Jumla Al-Ismiyyah = الجملة الإسمية) where the first word is a noun like: He is happy = هو سعيد Notice that in Arabic, as selma said, we say "He happy", cause verb "to be" is not in the present-tense form. So there is no verb there.

b) (The Verbal Sentence = Al-Jumla Al-Fe'liyyah = الجملة الفعلية) where the first word is a verb like: Axel loves duolingo = يحب أكسل دوولينجو. Notice that Arabic follows a template of (Verb-Subject-Object) so the literal translation of the Arabic phrase would be "Loves Axel Duolingo) and as you can see the verb comes first.

So in the verbal sentence, the verb gender follows the subject. ex: Bob loves (male form: you-heb = يحب) Duolingo Alice loves(female form: tou-heb = تحب) Duollingo

And in the Noun sentence, the predicate follows the subject. ex: He is smart (male form: zakeyy) She is smart (female form: zakeyy-ah)

Just read it couple of times and tell me if it makes sense :D

2- the ة is pronounced as a T if it is followed by a word. If it is at the end of the sentence you don't pronounce it (actually, you pronounce it as a Ha, like "saeed-ah instead of saeed-at". Fun Fact: If the word ending with ة is followed by another, you will pronounce the T differently based on the position/role of the word in the sentence. So it can be saeed-at-on, saeed-at-an, saeed-at-en, saeed-at-a. The rules that govern how you pronounce the last letter in a word is called the science of "Nahw".

3- It's not awkward but rather formal/poetic/Shakespearean/and some how religious. It's not true that literature is mostly written in Egyptian Arabic, it's still heavily dominated by MSA. And although you won't find MSA in Arabs' speech you may find it in their Facebook posts and online interactions. It's a matter of taste. Here on Duolingo, most Arabic users post in the forum and comment using MSA. The only categories that sometimes use spoken MSA is politics and religion.

4) Quran is written in what's sometimes called "Classical Arabic". You cannot understand Arabic without MSA! And dialects are far from the classical Arabic. You can think of MSA as the link between both Classical Arabic and modern dialects and it's your best chance of understanding Quran. However, although you will be able to understand the text of the Quran you will not necessarily understand the linguistic gestures that are not directly indicated in the predefined words but rather in the context and timing. It's a living text so to speak, and with MSA you only understand its anatomy.

June 12, 2016

Thanks for your explanation! you made it crystal clear! but your answer on no (2) really made Arabic seems challenging haha

June 13, 2016

This is somewhat an advanced topic :D most modern dialects removed such complexities, I just wanted to answer your question and give you a sense of how inflictive and exact Arabic is.

June 13, 2016

This is actually similar to German. What Amgad meant by "position/role" of the word in the sentence is known as "case" in German. So it's really not that hard =)

October 3, 2016

Can hardly wait until the Arabic for English speakers arrives...would prefer Levant (Syrian) dialect. I'm finding it really hard to find out the progress on there a page or link one can refer to with regular updates? I have been hearing that a course has already passed the Beta...but I think after digging a bit that this was an English course for Arabic speakers, SaHH?

January 4, 2017

yes, i hope it will come fast

January 31, 2017 looks like there's nothing in the incubator at the moment. But here's where you can stay updated.

October 28, 2017

Arabic For English Speakers has just been added in the incubator. It will teach MSA and Egyptian dialect.

November 10, 2017

My names is Mark =)

June 11, 2016

مارك. =)

June 11, 2016

Shukran, how would I write my name in Arabic?

June 12, 2016

جسّي. =)

June 12, 2016

Maybe this is a pedantic point, but if you write right-to-left, should the (smiley-face) be on the left?

June 12, 2016

It is to the left :) إنه على اليسار :) If you see both of them the same maybe it's something with your browser's encoding. Arabic gets messed up easily on browsers :(

June 12, 2016

This is because you started the line with English.

August 10, 2016

Thanks for the lesson! Arabic is so much similar to Hebrew (=

I hope we will see an Arabic for English speakers course very soon in the Incubator.

June 12, 2016

Selma this is beyond Awesome! And here are some GIFs showing how some of these calligraphies take shape credit:

June 12, 2016

Such a beautiful language, I do hope someday we could see an arabic course here. Arabic culture was fundamental to build portuguese and brazilian identity, we have lots and lots of arabic words in portuguese.

February 14, 2017

ممتاز ما تقومين به رائع استمري الى الامام وبالتوفيق

June 13, 2016

شكرا! ينبغي أن تدرسين أصوات اللغة أولاً قبل أن تُدخلي كلمات جديدة.

June 11, 2016

أن تدرسي*.

أرى أنّك تتعلّم الكثير من اللّغات! أتمنّى لك التّوفيق والإجتهاد =)

June 11, 2016

Great first lesson! Arabic is definitely an interesting language, altough I don't think I'll ever be able to read the alphabet :p

June 11, 2016

Saabhl is right! Have you tried? It's always easier after you try. Just learn two letters every 3 days, slow and easy.

June 11, 2016

I've never learned any Arabic before so it's quite new, I'm only used to the Latin, Cyrillic and to a lesser degree the Greek alphabets and it's not even close to any of them. Then again, you're right, practice will help :)

But I'm also not sure I should learn it fluently, I want to visit Egypt and Jordan in the future (I'd love to see the Pyramids and Petra) and some basic knowledge would be nice but learning a whole new language is quite a investment of time. Also I only have one friend that speaks Arabic unfortunately (plus a few others from Morocco who speak Berber, but my friend said their Arabic is attrocious), so I'm not sure it would be very useful for me at the moment.

June 11, 2016

And thank you both for the encouraging words nonetheless :)

June 11, 2016

What dialect??

June 12, 2016

The one taught here is Modern Standard Arabic, but Selma is an Egyptian :)

June 12, 2016

Egyptian Arabic

June 12, 2016

(๑•̀ㅂ•́)و✧ ❣❣❣ TIHS IS ⇨⇨⇨ ★M★A★R★A★V★I★L★L★O★S★O★ ❣❣❣ ☆٩(♡ε♡ )۶

I'm fascinated more and more with Arabic. I really want to know my two names in Arabic (Diego Javier)!!!

I am a happy boy!!! ❤(ӦvӦ。) !!!أنا ولد سعيد

You are a happy cat. 【=°±°=】 .أنتَ قط سعيد

¡Todas las GRACIAS a ti! ლ(´ڡ`ლ)

June 12, 2016

That's a hard name to write in Arabic, just saying, but I'll try.

دييغو خافيير

Note that the "g" sound doesn't exist in Arabic, so I replaced it with a letter that's basically the French "r". The "v" sound doesn't exist either, so I replaced it with an "f".

The sentences are correct, ¡bien hecho!

¡No hay de que!

June 12, 2016

¡¡Qué bueno saberlo!! I will try to type my name in the Arabic keyboard then! ;)

June 12, 2016

دييغو = Diego Which pronunciation of Xavier do you use?

March 10, 2017

In Spanish, it is Ja (with the English sound of "h") - vier (with the sound of Janvier, but the "r" sound is rolled), also, the "v" sound is the same as "b" in my country. Now, I am using my name Diego in Arabic, and the second name as Jawi (جاوي‎) taken from the Jawi alphabet because I am really interested in the culture of Indonesia, Ancient Java, and all the Austronesian cultures. ;)

March 10, 2017 & If any of you guy's and gal's have a interest in Hebrew as well u should have a look at the lessons i have posted

June 12, 2016


June 13, 2016

الله يوفقك =)

June 13, 2016

Thanks a lot!

June 13, 2016

You're welcome!

June 13, 2016

WOW great !!! Thank you ! :D

June 13, 2016

You're welcome =D

June 13, 2016

مبادرة جيدة مشكورة أختي سلمى اتمنى لك التوفيق

June 17, 2016


June 20, 2016

How would you write "Shaunak" in Arabic?

February 12, 2017


February 12, 2017

Mine is Myron, so it would be this:ميرون or something other? Thx, waiting for the Arabic!!!

March 2, 2017

That's one way to write it, but I would personally prefer: ميرن. =)

March 3, 2017

It is a very beautiful written language, no wonder there is so much amazing artwork! I think it may be too difficult for my old brain! I did learn some spoken Arabic during my 3 yrs working in Saudi. I still remember it too.

January 19, 2018

جيد اعجبني الموضوع جدا

July 13, 2016

Hi! Can You show me how to write "Dinah" in Arabic? Thank you :)

October 13, 2016

Hello! It's: دينا =)

October 13, 2016

Thank you :) Umm so do you have any more lessons up? or only those two?

October 13, 2016

Only these two.

November 4, 2016

hello selma.. if i go to mecca and medina... what arab dialect should i use? and what is the different between dialect in that area with arabic in Al-Koran? thanks

November 19, 2016

In Mecca and Medina they speak the Khaleeji dialect (Saudi Arabian). The Arabic in the Quran is called the Classical Arabic, while Khalleji is a dialect. If you learn any dialect you won't be able to understand the Quran

November 19, 2016

if local people in mecca and medina speak khaleeji, could they understand both egyptian dialect and MSA (modern standard arabic)? and can i understand the Quran with just learning MSA without learning classical arabic ? thanks

November 19, 2016

مبادرة جميلة جدا اختي سلمى لانو فعلا الكثير من الناس يحتاجوا بالفعل الى تعلم العربية وانا بشوف من هدول الناس كثير في حياتي لانو انا صح مصرية ولكن اسكن بالسعودية فقد تعودت اكثر على التحدث بالخليجي اكثر من المصري وصراحة بطريقتك الجميلة بتحببي الناس في اللغة العربية وهذا شئ يرفع الرأس

November 19, 2016

1- شكرا جزيلا اختي سلمى , انا عضو جديد اتعلم اللغة الانجليزية في (مجتمع دولينجو)

2- صدقيني اختي الفاضلة انه بالرغم من ان الدرس موجه للراغبين في تعلم اللغة العربية , الا انه سينعكس اجابا ايضا على العرب الراغبين بتعلم اللغة الانجليزية .

3- مجملا اسلوبك سلس وبسيط في طريقة طرح الدرس وهذا ما يحتاجه كل مبتدأ .

بالتوفيق لك ان شاء الله.

April 9, 2017

thank you

July 26, 2017

Ana walad Saeed Anta kitt Saeed

September 2, 2017

Selma, have you thought about creating a course in the incubator? I would certainly take it if you did.

October 28, 2017

Update: you can contribute to the course here:

November 8, 2017

ان ولد السعيد

October 29, 2017

أنا ولد سعيد

February 19, 2018

The word for boy (walad) is correct. It is undefinite just like you wrote it. But the adjective happy (sa3iid) should follow the word it describes and therefore also be undefinite.

February 19, 2018

I am very happy to see that work has begun on the Arabic for speakers of English course! This is a big day for those of us who want to learn this language!

November 10, 2017

I can't wait for the Arabic course! I just hope my head won't get super confused by learning both Arabic and Hebrew all at once. The similarities can be helpful and a problem at the same time :D

Also, Arabic calligraphy is beautiful. Definitely my favorite.

December 27, 2017

انا ولد سعيد. أنت قط سعيد.

December 28, 2017

Ana Walad Saeid

March 7, 2018


May 1, 2018

I speak arabic fluently but i cant read or write that well so that helped a lot thanks! =D

May 9, 2018

مرحبا! Could you show me how to write Catherine in Arabic? شكرا!

June 8, 2018

كاثرين other people may spell it differently but that’s how I would do it

September 15, 2018

Hi! I've been trying to study Arabic on my own (I was living in the UAE for some time) and I adore the language! I was wondering if you could help me with two translations, just to make sure that I'm not saying something totally stupid. I'm still quite the beginner and my speaking came way faster than my reading haha

does this actually mean:

"forget the past but never forget the lesson" اترك الماضي ، لكن لا تنسى الدرس


"Collect moments, not things" اجمع اللحظات وليس الأشياء

thank you so much in advance! it's a really hard language! and if you ever need help with Spanish, let me know! It's my mother tongue :)

June 26, 2018

طب ما تعملي فيديوهات ع اليوتيوب أحسن و أفضل + مستحيل تزهقي خصوصا أن هيكون في عائد مادي لو حققتي نجاح بحيث تكوني أفدتي واستفادتي

May 7, 2019
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