Ever wondered what the accents on Arabic words mean?

If you haven’t already done so, the best way to learn Arabic writing is to learn Arabic alphabet before embarking on understanding these “accents”. If you already know how to write Arabic letters, then you will make the most of this blog.
These accents or diacritics include “tashkeel” (تَشْكِيل) which are vowel marks. In English, both short and long vowels are mainly indicated by letters.
Examples in English: 
The long vowel in “bee” is represented by the letters “ee”.
The short vowel in “bed” is represented by a the letter “e”.
However, in Arabic, only long vowels are indicated by letters while short vowels are not. Instead, vowel marks are used to indicate short vowels and are essential to learn if you want to know how to read Arabic.
Examples in Arabic:
The long vowel in “في” (fee, meaning in/inside) is represented by the letter “ي”.
The short vowel in “مِن” (min, meaning from) is not represented by a letter but instead is represented by the tashkeel symbol under the first letter ( -ِ ).
Our Arabic flashcards include an explanation of the tashkeel in its Arabic pronunciation guide but these are the basic ones:
  1. Fat’hah (فَتْحَة): A short “a”, written as a stroke above the letter ( ـَ ).
  2. Dammah (ضَمَّة): A short “u”, as in “pull”, written above the letter as a small circle with a tail ( ـُ )
  3. Kas’rah (كَسْرَة): A short “i” as in “tip”, written as a stroke under the letter ( ـِ ).
  4. Sokoon (سُكون): An indication of a pure sound without any vowels, written as a small circle above the letter ( ـْ ).
These are only some of the different Arabic diacritics. Please note that English transliterations are approximate.
Future blogs will illustrate in greater depth how to use and apply diacritics to learn to read Arabic. They will also help you to learn to write Arabic diacritics in the right order.
In the meantime, why not listen to the Arabic pronunciation of words with tashkeel, freely available at http://wordunited.com/online-support/? All these words are part of the Arabic flash cards. Have fun learning!