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Session objectives

The Language Note tells you ABOUT the Arabic language.

Many learners have negative experiences of grammar from their school days or from previous language courses and find the prospect of grammar study intimidating. However, we promise that all grammar in this course is explained in such a way that everyone can understand it. Grammatical terminology is reduced to the minimum.

Go through the contents slowly, so that you can concentrate on the information you receive. Make ample use of your learning diary. Write down everything that you feel is important for your learning.

Allocated time: 60 minutes (or 2 x 30 minutes)

How we write Arabic

So far you have seen two ways of writing father in Arabic:

Latin script abb

Arabic script أب

As you know, the Arabic alphabet has 28 letters. In module 4 you have learnt four of those letters. You have also tried to read and write three Arabic words. You will have noticed that it takes time to read and write Arabic script.

To help you understand and speak Arabic quickly, we are using our way of writing Arabic in Latin script. It might look strange at first, but you will soon get used to it.

One of the strange things you have probably noticed already is that most words have small letters at the beginning of a sentence, and yet in some words there is a capital letter in the middle of a word.

Why is that?

If you go to the next step, you will find a brief explanation of one important feature of our Latin system of writing Arabic.


Here is a word with a capital letter in the middle of the word.



Listen to it carefully. Notice how the capital H is spoken very forcefully. In this course a capital letter is used to indicate a ‘forceful’ sound. Try to imitate this and speak along with the recording.

When you feel confident, record yourself. Then compare your recording with the original.


In the next step you will see more ‘forceful’ capital letters.

Look at these three words. Can you see the three ‘forceful’ sounds? Listen.

Sadeeq (friend)

breeTaaneeaa (Britain)

Daif  (guest)

Now try to say the forceful capital letters S, T and D. Compare your recording with the original.

Sadeeq – breeTaaneeaa – Daif 

Talking to a man or a woman

Here are two short sentences from the dialogue.

Look carefully at what the sentences mean literally. Then look at what they mean in ‘proper’ English.

Sameer to Emliy – kayf Haalik?
(literally) – How situation_your?
(proper English) – How are you?

Emily to Sameer – ma ismak?
(literally) – What name_your?
(proper English) – What is your name?

Note the highlighted endings of Haalik and ismak and the highlighted word in the literally translated English sentences.

Now look at these examples. Try to work out what should go into the gaps.

Sameer is talking to Emily.

How are you?
kayf Haalik?

What is your name?
ma …?

Emily is talking to Sameer.

How are you?
kayf …?

What is your name?
ma ismak?

Check your answer.


Sameer to Emily

How are you? – kayf Haalik?

What is your name? – ma ismik?

Emily to Sameer

How are you? – kayf Haalak?

What is your name? – ma ismak?

Look at these sentences and look carefully how you address a man or a woman.

speaking to a female (here: Emily)

How are you?
kayf Haalik?

What is your name?
ma ismik?

speaking to a male (here: Sameer)

How are you?
kayf Haalak?

What is your name?
ma ismak?

Now go to the next step and try to complete the sentences.

Now write the table and the completed text in your notebook.

How to say ‘you’ to a man or a woman

Let’s now turn to another sentence.

In the dialogue Sameer asks Emily, a female, where she  is from:

Sameer says to Emily:

min   ayna    anti
from  where  you?

Now here is a challenge for you. Remembering what you learned before, what would the question be, if Emily asked Sameer, a male, where he is from?

Emily says to Sameer: …………………………………

Check your answer to see if you were right.



Emily says to Sameer: min ayna anta?

More about personal pronouns

Here are some more sentences from the dialogue. Take a good look at these sentences. Then copy them into your notebook.

forms of the verb ‘be’

min ayna anti?
From where (are) you?

ana min breeTaaneeaa.
I (am) from Britain.

ana bikhair.
I (am) fine.

ismee Emily.
name-my (is) Emily.

Look at the sentences again. Try to complete the sentence below. Then check your answer.

In sentences like these, Arabic does not ________ a word for the ________ of the English verb ‘______’.

In sentences like these, Arabic does not have a word for the forms of the English verb ‘be’.

How to say ‘he’ and ‘she’

So far you know two personal pronouns:

ana (= I)

anti/anta (= you, sgl.)

Here are two more personal pronouns:

hiya (= she)

huwa (=he)

Now it shouldn’t be a problem for you to say (and write down) what the following sentences are in Arabic.


Before you continue, listen to these words and make sure you understand them.

abb (father)

umm (mother)

akh (brother)

ukht (sister)

Sadeeq (friend, male)

In the dialogue Sameer says:

ismee Sameer.
My name is Sameer.

And Emily says

ismee Emily.
My name is Emily.

Let’s have a closer look at the word ismee.

ism-      -ee
name.   my

As in the questions kayf Haalik? and kayf Haalak? (‘How – situation-your?’), the noun ism (name) has the possessive –ee (my) added at the end.

How would you say these in Arabic?

  • my father
  • my mother
  • my sister
  • my brother
  • my (male) friend

Check your answer below.


abbee (my father)

ummee (my mother)

ukhtee (my sister)

akhee (my brother)

Sadeeqee (my friend, male)

Now see if you can do the following exercise.


  • Did you work through all the steps?
  • Did you practise speaking the words with ‘forceful’ sounds?
  • Do you know how to address a man or a woman?
  • Do you know the personal pronouns (I, you, he, she) in Arabic?
  • Do you know how to say ‘my brother, my sister, my male friend’?

Now go to the next session.