auxillary content

The uses of alef and its variants

Section 1

Content Section 1

In previous lessons you learned about the alef and what it looks like in various positions within a word. In this lesson you are going to learn about the variants of the hamza and how it is used with the alef and without it. This is by no means a complete list of the rules, but an introduction to the basic ones.

When alef is without a hamza it is just a long vowel. However, when it is associated with a hamza it is pronounced as a consonant followed by a short vowel. Listen to these examples [sounds are still under construction]:

      no hamza  
sister   person   brother   book
family   Islam   father   student
Mr./teacher   to   food   peace
I like   if   first   one

The alef with a hamza can also occur in the medial and final positions as in these examples. Note that the hamzas in the first column are not followed by a short vowel (there is a sukoon).

he asked   head  
he read   opinion
he began   cup/glass

In the final position, if the hamza is preceded by a long vowel or a consonant with a sukoon (no vowel), it is written on the line without an alef as in these examples:

slow   evening  
innocent   friends
full   lunch
badness   water
light   part

In the middle of a word, if the hamza is preceded by a kasra or yeh (whether it is a long vowel ii or a semivowel y), the hamza is placed on a yeh without dots as in these examples:

  a hundred   they come
water well   two things
bad (f)   environment
wolf   bad (f)

If the hamza is preceded by a damma, it is placed on a waw as in these examples:

  pearl   question
bad omen   misery