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Introduction to the Arabic and Persian Alphabets

written by: Nadia iblagh • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 6/23/2015

This is the first of two articles about the Arabic and Persian alphabets. Learn how similar these two different writing systems are.

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    Arabic and Persian Alphabet Basics

    To enter a house, one should enter through its doors and not through its windows. This is exactly the case with learning languages. Arabic letters from a Wikimedia image To start learning any language one has to start with letters, which are the doors. For example, Arabic and Persian are two completely different languages, but they have some characteristics in common. One of those common characteristics is their alphabets, which are closely related. So it would be wise to start learning them side by side, at least at the first stage.

    The Arabic language is read and written from right to left. Of the 28 letters in the Arabic alphabet, three are long vowels and the rest are consonants. There are letters in the Arabic language which do not have an equivalent item in English. Arabic pronunciation is often difficult for a non-Arab or even a Persian speaker, due to these pronunciation differences.

    The Persian alphabet shares all the letters and the structure of the Arabic language, but differs because the letter system has an additional four letters (32 letters total). These extra letters of the Persian alphabet actually enable the English Persian text from Wikimedia equivalent sounds that Arabic doesn't accommodate - "ch", for example.

    Most of the letters in Arabic (like English) can be written in three forms or styles. These forms differ according to the position of the letter, i.e. whether it comes in the beginning, the middle or the end of the word. There are few words which stand alone and are always written in one form, as they neither join the succeeding letter nor the letter which comes before it.

    As it is, Arabic and Persian share nearly 99 percent of the same letters. There are many online tutorials that teach the Arabic and the Persian language, for those who want to help with letter pronunciation, such as:

    The Arabic Alphabet on Youtube

    The Arabic Alphabet by Mohtanick Jamil on ShariahProgram.ca

    The Persian Alphabet on EasyPersian.com

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