Alif (ا) is the first Urdu letter and a non-connector. It has only independent and final shapes. It appears with four different diacritics as shown below.
Let’s see a few examples of these vowels with a letter be ( ب ):
|ab||alif zabar be||اَب|
|ib||alif zer be||اِب|
|ub||alif pes be||اُب|
|aab||alif madda be||آب|
Alif and alif zabar have the same sound, /a/, because alif is a carrier of diacritics and when it does not appear with any other diacritics, then it is by default considered as alif zabar /a/. Additionally, in a standard writing practice, people do not use zabar, zer, and pesh diacritics with alif and other letters as they represent short vowels—/a/, /i/, and /u/—and these short vowels are often assumed. However, if there is a long (/aa/) vowel, then people do use alif madda (آ).
daal د , re ر group and wao و
Alif (ا) and these letters in Urdu are non-connectors and do not join with following letters in words. However, alif (ا) and these letters will join with the preceding letters in words that you will see in the next chapter. Also, notice the difference in shapes of dal and re groups.
As dal and re groups do not connect with following letter, they do not change their shapes in the initial, middle, and final positions.
|ا ذ||اذا||ذ ا||ذ|
|ا ژ||ا ژا||ژا||ژ|
|ا ز||ا زا||زا||ز|
|ا و||ا وا||وا||و|
Wao و represents two distinct sets of sounds:
- As a semi-vowel, it gives the sounds of “v” (as in English “vote”).
Examples: وار آواز وارا
- As a long vowel, it gives the sounds of “o” (as in English “role”), “u” (as in English “loot”/”boot”), and “au” (as in English “moss”).
|Examples||Vao as Vowel Sounds||Vao|
|ڈور||زور||o (as in English “pole”)||و|
|دور||خوشبو||uu (as in English “shoot”/”too”)||و|
|دور||دوڑ||au (as in English “bought”/”caught”)||و|
Please check your understanding with the activity below.