Arabic Letters and Sounds

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All languages have specific sounds that convey meaning when combined. Each sound has a specific place and manner of being produced in our mouths. The Arabic language has 28 specific phonemes, which are the building blocks of any Arabic word. In Arabic, unlike other languages such as English or French, each phoneme matches with the specific letter. This diagram displays all 28 consonant letters of Modern Standard Arabic and where they are pronounced in the mouth.

Sun and Moon Letters

Sun letters are the letters that are pronounced using the tip of your tongue. When using Arabic definite article ال, the ل morphs into the initial consonant of the following word, resulting in a double consonant. This is seen in the Arabic word for “sun”, الشمس, which is pronounced “ash-shams”.

In moon letters, the article ال remains the same and does not morph into the consonant that follows it. This is seen in the Arabic word for “moon”, القمر, which is pronounced “al-qamar”. Notice how the ل is fully pronounced.


Pharyngealization is the process by which the sound is “swallowed” and pronounced deeper in the throat, closer to pharynx. When pronouncing any of this letters (ص ض ط ظ), your mouth goes through a two step process. The sound is made by first constricting the pharynx (where the ع and ح are), followed by the return to the primary production location. Try it by contrasting the two sounds.

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Arabic, Arabic pronunciation, sun and moon letters

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