Introduction to Arabic Alphabet: 3

Right. Start on the right with a lowercase i with the dot below for B, then to the left you cursively go into an i with one dot above for N, then you cursively go into another i with two dots above for T, then you cursively go into a flourishy tail to the left and up. Note that when it has a flourishy tail, the two dots are written further to the left than normal, so they are closer to the middle of the tail. The vowel is never written anywhere.

What would you expect this word to be?


The middle letter is the letter L. It is harder to recognise in the middle of the word, because the bottom of the L looks just like any other cursive link. But if it was the Alif then it would not have that line and would not be linked to the next letter.

The first and last letter are the lowercase i with three dots, so it should be "th-l-th", but in the Egyptian dialect it is pronounced "t-l-t". This is the word tilt that we learnt. It means a third, like in a third of an hour. If you are learning the Egyptian dialect, the "th" and the "t" sound the same, and you may have trouble remembering how to spell a word. So just remember, the word "third" and the word "three" both use the "th" sound of three dots, in English AND in Arabic.

Add a y (pronounced ee) to the end of any Egyptian Arabic noun to mean my.

The Egyptian Arabic word for my son is ibny (pronounced ib-nee).

The Egyptian Arabic word for my daughter is binty.

The Egyptian Arabic word for what is ay? (pronounced like in say)

The Arabic letter Y looks just like the English lowercase letter "y", if it was rounded like in handwriting, but it is rotated 90 degrees and lying on its back, like this:

ی or ﯽ‎

You may need to turn your head, your page, or your computer screen 90 degrees to see the y shape.

Note that unless the letter is written by itself (the first one), the top of the letter is level with the line and the letter is almost entirely below the line, like the second one. Although it doesn’t really look that way if you are using the Tahoma font. In other fonts the second one looks more like a y and does not go up above the line.

This letter will almost always have two dots underneath it, except when it is used to write Indo-European languages. So it will normally look like this in Arabic:

ي‎ or ﻲ‎

The two dots under it are very important, because sometimes the letter "y" loses its y shape! It only looks like a y when it is not connected to the letter after it. When it is connected in cursive to the letter after it, it is drastically simplified, until it looks exactly the same as the short lowercase letter i we learned before. When it is simplified to a lowercase i, you can still recognise it because it has two dots below the i.

ﻴ ﻱ ﻲ

They are all the letter Y in Arabic. So don’t forget to make a mental note that there is another letter that sometimes looks like a lowercase i.

In both English and Arabic, Y is both a consonant and a vowel. In Arabic, it can only be the Y in happy, or the Y in Yes. It can never be the Y in sky. As a vowel it is always a long "ee" sound.

You can use it like this:


  1. It is the Egyptian Arabic word for "my son".
  2. It is the Egyptian Arabic word for "my daughter".
  3. It is one of the month names, very similar to that in English.
  4. This is something you can usually order by phone. It is spelled with a "b" instead of a "p" in the beginning.
  5. This is an article followed by a word introduced in this lesson. It has the double "aa".
  6. This is an article followed by a word for a type of food. Mind the double "a" in this word.
  7. This word denotes a financial institution.
  8. You have to write its meaning in English, and not its spelling in Arabic (in contrast to all of the other words we ask you to write).
  9. This is six letters long, the Egyptian word for "possible" or "allowed".
  10. This is three letters long.
  11. This is six letters long when transliterated.
  12. Two words, corresponding to the word "sugar" (but watch out for the double "k").
  13. This means "my name" in Arabic.
  14. This is an article and a word, synonym for "movie theatre". But watch out for the Arabic spelling.
  15. Watch out for the double "a".
  16. In the transcription, you will have a double "j".
  17. This means "my brother".
  18. This is two words, the name of an American corporation (and you have already encountered the second part of that name).
  19. This is the word for "market".
  20. Watch out for the double "l".
  21. The American spelling is "Ghana".
  22. This word is "manager" in Egyptian Arabic.
  23. This is the word for she, similar to the English "hey ya!"
  24. This is the Egyptian Arabic word for Egypt. 
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