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Learn Arabic Letters and Diacritics: Al-Hamza

Asmaa Akl

22 Dec 2019

We previously learned that the Arabic alphabet has 28 letters in the article: Learn Arabic Letters: Part 1. And in the article Learn Arabic diacritics, we learned of the main diacritics used in Arabic. There is however, something called the Hamza, which is something resembling the characteristics of a letter and a diacritic. Before learning the function and rules of the letter Hamza (ء) in the Arabic language, we need to understand that the letter hamza (ء) doesn’t belong to the original 28 Arabic letters. It is, however, derived from the Arabic letter Aein (ع). It is most often seen atop or below the letter (أ) and acts like a diacritic. The hamza is one of the main vowels, which is pronounced like the letter /u/ in English: for example: the word ‘up’.

The forms of the Hamza

The Hamza is usually written in one of four ways; independently, on an Alef ألف, on a Yaa ياء, or on a Waw واو. Let’s look at some examples representing the forms of the Hamza.

The Hamza on an Alef (ألف)

أُقيمَ - الإِسْتِقْرار - إِقامة - أَقام 

Note that the Hamza here lies initially in the Arabic word.

The Hamza on a Yaa (ياء)

لُــئَـيْم - سُــئِـلَ - هَيْــئَــة - جِــئْــتُ

If a Hamza is followed or preceded by a kasra (ــِــ) or a Yaa ياء then it’s written on a Yaa ياء  like the preceding examples.

The Hamza on a Waw (واو)

تَـؤَوَّل - يَــؤُم - اِسْتَوْؤَرَ - بُــؤْس

If a Hamza is neither preceded by by a kasra (ــِــ) or a Yaa ياء but is preceded or followed by a waw واو instead. Then it is placed on a Waw واو or Dammah (ــُـــ) like the examples above. If non of the vowels are to be seen around the Hamza, it is written on an Alef in the middle of a word, for example:

رَأَى - رَأْس

The independent Hamza

The Hamza will be placed on the line in the middle or the end of a word.

The medial independent Hamza

When a Hamza has a Fat-ha (ـــَـــ) placed on it and is preceded by one of the long vowels Alef-Waw (ألف – واو) it is written on the line. For example;

مُرُوْءَة - جاءَت

The final independent Hamza

If a Hamza is preceded by a Sukoon (ـــْــ) or any of the long vowels Alef-Waw (ألف – واو) it is placed on the line:

شَيْء - ضَوْء - يَجِيْء - وُضُوْء - جاءَ - مَرْء

With this we come to the end of our article. We wish this lesson was fruitful in your journey to learn Arabic letters and diacritics. If you want to learn Arabic letters more extensively, be sure to check our Learn Arabic letters and Al-Nourani Qaeda classes at Nour Academy. Have fun Learning Arabic and stay tuned for many future Arabic lessons.


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