Hello and welcome to the Kaleela blog.
If you’ve been following us for the last few weeks, you know that we’ve been looking into the Arabic alphabet. And if you’ve made it this far, congratulations! Today you’ve reached the end as we look at the letter ي /yaa’/.
The letter can either be a consonant or a vowel. It depends on the presence of the diacritic symbol "ء" otherwise known as “hamza”, which looks like a small backward 2.
The consonant ي /yaa’/ represents the "y" sound in English as in yard. When functioning as a consonant, it can appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.
When it comes with the mark Hamza "ء" on top, ي /yaa’/ sounds like a short “i” as in بِئر /bi’r/ meaning “well”.
As you can see, the ي /yaa’/ here looks like a long, horizontal curve that is cut in half with the hamza on top of it. Note also that the consonant letter ي /yaa’/ is transliterated with y, as in, يَد /yad/ which means “hand”.
When ي /yaa’/ comes either in the middle or at the end of the word and has no “hamza” at the top of it, it takes on the job of a vowel with a long “e” sound as in as in “seed”. One example of this is the word رَيـحان /rayHaan/ which means “basil”.
Notice here that ي /yaa’/ looks like a long, horizontal curve that is cut in half with two dots underneath.
The context in which the letter "ي" appears determines whether it functions as a consonant or a vowel. When it is followed by a vowel marker, such as " َ " or " ُ ", it functions as a vowel, and when it stands alone or is followed by a consonant, it functions as a consonant.
It's important to note that Arabic is a highly phonetic language, and the pronunciation of letters can vary based on their position and surrounding sounds.
Like all of the other letters we’ve discussed, the shape of ي /yaa’/ changes depending on where it falls in a word – that is, it changes shape if it comes at the beginning of the word (initial), the middle of the word (medial), or the end of the word (final).
We’ll start with the stand alone shape of the letter ي /yaa’/. As you can see, it sort of looks like a duck with 2 dots underneath it.
When ي /yaa’/ comes at the beginning of the word as it does in يَـد /yad/ or “hand”
It takes on the shape of a long, horizontal curve that is cut in half with two dots underneath.
When ي /yaa’/ comes in the middle of a word (or anywhere except the first or last letters) then two things can happen:
First, ي /yaa’/ is connected only from the right side as in رَيـحان /rayHaan/ or “basil”
and takes on the shape of long, horizontal curve that is cut in half with two dots underneath.
When ي /yaa’/ is in the medial position, it’s connected from both sides as it is in the Arabic بَــيــت /bayt/ or “house”
where it is connected from the right side only and looks like a long, horizontal curve that is cut in half with two dots underneath.
When ي /yaa’/ comes at the end of a word, again, two things can happen:
First, ي /yaa’/ can fall at the end while being connected to the previous letters in the word as in كُـرســي /kursee/ which means “chair”.
Notice here that ي /yaa’/ looks like a duck with two dots underneath.
If ي /yaa’/ falls at the end and is disconnected from the previous letters in the word as in the Arabic word for “valley” وادي /waadee/
where it once again takes on the shape of a duck with two dots underneath)
Speaking of all of these connections, it’s important to know that some Arabic letters can only be connected from the right side. These letters are:
Likewise, there are some Arabic letters that can be connected from both sides. They are:
The letter ي /yaa’/ can be connected from the right when it is preceded by letters from the second group as in بِئر /bi’r/ meaning “well”, the letter baa’ (ب) falls in the second group.
Likewise, when it’s disconnected from the right and preceded by letters from the first group as in رَيـحان /rayHaan/ or “basil”, notice that the raa’ (ر) falls in the first group.
See the table below for a summary and notice how the letters are connected or not:
As the old song goes, “now you know your ABCs”, so once you’ve mastered the alphabet, why not check out the grammar lessons, available both here on our blog and on YouTube.
Of course, whether you’re learning online or from the Kaleela Arabic language learning app, you can always be sure you’re learning Arabic the right way with Kaleela. To check out more of our blog or to download the Kaleela app, visit our website at kaleela.com today!