What’s the first step to learning to write any language? Learning its alphabet! Urdu has a very beautiful script, along with its complexities of writing. It makes it more interesting to study its history and how it has helped shape the culture of the Urdu people.
If you want to learn to write Urdu, then start with the Urdu Alphabet. In this blog post, you will learn all about the 36 useful Urdu alphabets. Let’s get started!
If you’re struggling to learn and find an all-in-one lesson on the Urdu alphabet for fluency in translation or better pronunciation, here is a quick version of the detailed Urdu alphabet. Feel free to take notes about the cursive symbols you see, or the brief history of the language and the sounds of all its letters then!
Scroll down the article for an interesting lesson on the Urdu alphabet and its various versions of font styles, along with detailed pronunciation guidelines. We hope you find the lesson useful.
What Is The Urdu Language?
Urdu is claimed to have originated as the Language of the Army, or Lashkari Zaban, and is derived from the Turkic word Urdu, meaning; army. In Pakistan, about 109 million people speak Urdu, and in India, 58 million people speak Urdu.
The Urdu language is Pakistan’s national language and is closely connected to Hindi. Urdu and Hindi share the same vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax, and grammar derived from Sanskrit and Prakrit, making them mutually understandable in everyday speech.
Their differences are particularly noticeable in terms of writing systems.
What Is Nastaliq Style?
The Urdu letters in Urdu writing are heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian alphabets/ scripts. And that is why they are written in the Nastaliq calligraphy writing style, which employs more than three main forms (beginning forms, medial forms, final forms, and isolated forms) for many alphabet letters, even in plain writing.
What Are The Font Styles In the Urdu Language?
Printed letters of the alphabet are available in a variety of styles and designs. Each style is referred to as a “font.” The Nastaliq font is the sole widely used Urdu alphabet font style in print and electronic media, reaching Urdu readers all over the world.
Nastaliq Typefaces For All Platforms
- Microsoft Windows 10 version included native Nastaliq-“Urdu Typesetting”.
- Apple has included Noto Nastaliq Urdu font on their devices.
- Urdu, Persian, Balochi Khowar, Shina, Saraiki, Palula every language is supported by the Awami Nastaliq.
- Amar Nastaleeq font was developed for use on Urdu websites in 2013. Fahmida Riaz, an Urdu poet, launched its latest font.
Script In Urdu
Several letters specific to Urdu have been added to the Persian script, which is already from the Arabic alphabet, usually written from right to left. Letters from other languages were eventually added to the Urdu script.
The appearance of letters in cursive depends on their context and 4 positions.
- Isolated form
- The Initial position (starting from left)
- Medial position (both sides)
- Final position (joined on right).
Letters In The Urdu Alphabet
Well, there is a debate between scholars regarding the total number of letters in the Urdu alphabet. There are thirty-nine or forty letters in Urdu Alphabet.
- The first letter of the Urdu Alphabet is alif.
- The last letter of the Urdu Alphabet is Bari Ye.
In Urdu Alphabet, consonants and long vowels are the only ones shown in the Urdu script. Whereas, short vowels are only inferred from the consonants’ relationship to one another.
The pronunciation of vowel sounds in Urdu demands more precision.
Because its structure is employed in everyday communication, learning the Urdu script is essential. You won’t be able to utter words correctly without it, even if you know how to write them. The better you pronounce each letter in a word, the more you will be understood when speaking Urdu.
The Urdu alphabet and how it is pronounced in English is shown in the table below, followed by demonstrations of how the letters would sound in an English word.
|English Equivalent and Pronunciation Example
|Pronunciation Of Each Alphabet
|Romanization Of Each Alphabet
|A in apple
|B in bottle
|P in pear
|Tt in truck
|J in jump
|Ch in chance
|H in hammer
|H in hammer
|D in drum
|Z in zoo
|R in rat
|Z in zebra
|Zh in yellow
|S in summer
|Sh in shimmer
|Sw in sold
|Zw in those
|T in tower
|Z in that
|F in fan
|Q in quilt
|Gg in goat
|L in lion
|M in milk
|N in noon
|W in well
|H in hell
|H in Height
|H in horn
|دو چشمی ہے
|Y in year
|Y in way
|A and Silent
Words Starting With Each Alphabet Letter
Here is a table with all the words starting from each alphabet to enhance your Urdu vocabulary.
|Words Starting From Each Alphabet
Vowels In Urdu Alphabets
There are ten simple vowels and ten nasalized vowels in the Urdu alphabet. Each vowel can be written in has four distinctive forms depending on where is the location or what is the form of that vowel in the word;
- Isolated form
- Final form
- Medial form
- Initial form
One thing you must know is that the vowels of the Urdu alphabet use a combination of diacritics and digraphs, just like the Arabic alphabet uses. Vowels of the Urdu alphabet and its variants are illustrated by the letters Alif, Waw, Ye, and He.
There are no separate vowel letters in Urdu, and there is no short vowel at the end of Urdu words.
- Short vowels (I, a, u) are illustrated by optional diacritics (zer, zabar, pesh) on the placeholder consonant (ain, alif, or hamzah).
- If the syllable begins with the vowel and long vowels are represented by matres lectionis consonants ain, alif, wa’o, and ye with disambiguating diacritics (madd, hamzah).
4 Variants In Urdu Alphabet
Let’s learn about 4 variants in the Urdu alphabet now!
The Vowel Alif
The first letter of the Urdu script, Alif (as in “A” in apple), is used exclusively as a vowel. Alif represents any of the short vowels at the start of a word: ab اب, ism اسم, and Urdu اردو. Long alif-mad is used at the beginning of words: ap آپ. Plain alif can also be used in the middle and at the end, such as in bhagna بھاگنا.
The Vowel Wā’ O
The vowels such as “o”, “au”, and “u” are all rendered with Wāʾo, as well as the consonant sounds approximant. Only when the consonant kh k͟hē (خ) comes before it wāʾo, makes the sound of u (just like”خود”, “khud” called me in English). Also, sometimesWāʾo is not pronounced at all (just like “خواب”, “khaab” called dream in English).
The Vowel Ye
Baṛi ye and Choṭi ye are two different types of ye.
- Cho ye (isolated shape;ی) is written in Persian in all of its forms. Consonant Y and the long vowel I, are both represented by this vowel (he).
- The vowels e and ai are used with bṛia ye (isolated form; ے).
Only when bari ye is written at the end of a word/ligature, can it be distinguished from choṭī ye in writing. Furthermore, unlike choṭī ye, a word is never started with Baṛī ye.
The 2 He Vowels
There are two types of vowel he: do-casmi he ( glasses) and the gol he
- Gol he (isolated form; ہ) is around and circled yet zigzagged character that may be used to convey the “h” sound wherever in a word. It is sometimes used with the long “a” or “e” vowels at the end of a word, by changing its shape. (Note; Two he should be written consecutively in digital typing).
- To make aspirate consonants and construct the Arabic alphabet and words, A loop form letter is written in Naskh style called Do-cami he (isolated form; ھ).
Ayn In Urdu Alphabet
The sounds of the succeeding or preceding vowels substitute the sounds of Ayn in their final and initial positions, respectively.
Nūn e In Urdu Alphabet
After the non-nasalized consonant forms, the vowel nasalization is indicated by nun ghunna. For instance, when nasalized ہَے, it would become ہَیں.
Well, this was a short and detailed introduction to the Urdu Alphabet. Practice these so you can jump to the next step of vocabulary and sentence-making.
What’s Your Next Step? Learn Urdu With Ling!
That’s it for this blog post. Now that you have learned all of the Urdu alphabet, it’s time to learn some Urdu words. On the Ling App, you can get the best lessons to learn every language. You can also check out our blogs on Urdu Emergency Phrases and greetings in Urdu.
The Ling app is the best tool you can find right now for learning Urdu and 60+ other languages. You’ll have 200+ lessons along with practice exercises for writing, speaking, listening, and reading. It’s a very fun and innovative app where gamification and learning won’t get boring at all. And the best part? It’s available on the Play Store or App Store to download now!