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Learn the Urdu Alphabet from A to Z!

Learning to speak a new language is exciting; learning to write a new language is even more exciting! It will open new worlds for you. So, dig into these tips and advice for learning how to master the Urdu alphabet easily - at UrduPod101 we make it easy, fun and relevant for you!

Starting anything from scratch can be challenging, especially if you learn how to write in a language completely different from your own. It is really like navigating through a territory that is completely unknown to you.

However, this need not be a big hurdle or a problem! At UrduPod101, we introduce you to Urdu writing in simple, easy-to-follow steps, and you can ask for advice or help anywhere along the way. It is important to master the Urdu alphabet completely from the start.

Download Your FREE Guide to Beginner Urdu!

If you want to master the Urdu language and become fluent, you must learn the Urdu alphabet letters first. And you need physical worksheets to practice on.

This eBook is a MUST-HAVE for all Urdu learning beginners!

FREE Urdu eBook

Download your FREE Urdu practice sheets PDF today and learn the Urdu language in no time!
This is a must-have guide for absolute beginners

Introduction to Urdu Writing

Introduction

The Nastaliq script has its origin in the Persian script developed in the eighth and ninth century A.D. We use the Nastaliq script to write Urdu, and also use it for writing other languages in South Asia like Sanskrit, Persian, Pashto, and so on.

Notable Features

  1. Direction of writing: right to left in horizontal lines.
  2. Nastaliq is not a case-sensitive script.
  3. Urdu has borrowed punctuation from English.

There are 38 Urdu alphabet characters. All of the characters are consonants, with some consonants representing vowels as well.

A Phonetic Language

One of the very interesting features of the Urdu written system is that the Nastaliq script is a phonetics-based script. Simply said, in Urdu, we write words in largely the same as we pronounce them. This makes foreign words very easy to write in Urdu with little or no difference in pronunciation.Here is the Nastaliq Alphabet for Urdu.

Consonants

Romanization Consonants
alif ا
be ب
pe پ
te ت
the ٹ
se ث
jim ج
chayh چ
hey ح
khay خ
dal د
dhal ڈ
zal ذ
re ر
arre ڑ
ze ز
see ژ
seen س
sheen ش
swad ص
zwad ض
toʾe ط
zoʾe ظ
ʿain ع
ghain غ
fe ف
qaaf ق
kaf ک
ghaf گ
lam ل
mim م
nun ن
waʾo و
choti he ہ
do-chasmi he ھ
hamzah ء
choti ye ی
bari ye ے

Vowels

The chart below gives the vowels for the Urdu language. The vowels are represented by letters that are also considered as consonants in Urdu. The following table gives the list of the vowels and their representation in three different positions of the word. The representation of same vowel can change depending on its position in the word. The vowels are also known as airaab in the Urdu language. Airaab is the word normally used by the locals to refer to these vowels. The following table shows airaab or vowels used in the Urdu language, how they are placed over the consonants, and where they can be placed in words.

As we know, Urdu is a rich language with a good collection of consonants and vowels, but what about some foreign language sounds? There is no distinction in Urdu when writing foreign language words. They are written just as other words are written, unlike Hindi, where the foreign words are written with a dot on them.

Example of Nastaliq script:

  1. ہم ہمیشہ جوتوں کے بغیر مسجد کے اندر جاتے ہیں.
    Hum hameesha joton ky baghair masjid ky andar jatay hain.

    “We always take our shoes off before going inside a mosque.”

Urdu Alphabet Chart

AlphabetIn the development of Urdu, the Persian language and its scripts have played an important role. Nastaliq was originally an Iranian script developed in the 8th and 9th century A.D., that was and still is used by the people of Iran for calligraphy and for writing poetry. Due to the strong Persian cultural influence, the Nastaliq script was adopted for Urdu as well. Urdu also has many words and grammar rules that come directly from the Persian language. Nastaliq is also used for writing other languages in South Asia like Sanskrit, Persian, Pashto, and so on. The script is written right to left in horizontal lines. Unlike English, it is also not case-sensitive. But Urdu has borrowed punctuation from English.One of the very interesting features of the Urdu written system is that the Nastaliq script is a phonetics-based script. Simply said, in Urdu, words are written in largely the same as they are pronounced. This makes foreign words very easy to write in Urdu with little or no difference in pronunciation. There are 38 Urdu alphabet characters. All of the characters are consonants, but some of the characters represent a consonant-vowel pair.Below is a table showing the Urdu alphabet:
Consonants Romanization As in the Urdu word As in the English word
ا alif As in ایک aik (“one”) As "-a" in "alone"
ب be As in بہار bahar (“spring”) As “-b” in “ball”
پ pe As in پہاڑ pahar (“mountain”) As "-p" in "pen"
ت te As inتلوار talwar (“sword”) As “-t” in “tomato”
ٹ the As inٹماڑر tamatar (“tomato”) As "-t" in "theater"
ث se As inثمر samar (“fruits”) As "-s" in "summer"
ج jim As inجہاز jahaz (“aeroplane”) As "-j" in "jam"
چ chayh As inچائے chaiy (“tea”) Coupled sound of “c” and “h” as (ch) in “chart”
ح hey As inحوظ hooz (“pound”) As “h” in “hey”
خ khay As inخرگوش khargosh (“rabbit”) Coupled sound of “k”, “h” and “y” as (khy) in “Khyber”
د dal As in دیوار dewar (“wall”) Coupled sound of “d”, “a”, “l” as in (dal) in “dalda”
ڈ dhal As inڈور dor (“thread”) Hard sound of "d”, “h”, “a” and “l” Not found in English
ذ zal As inذخیره zakhira (“storage”) Coupled sound of “z”, “a” and “l” Not found in English.
ر re As in  راستہ rastah (“path”) As “r” in “Ray”
ڑ arre As in تهوڑا thora (“small”) Hard sound of “are” Not found in English.
ز ze As inزور zor (“strength”) As “z” in “Zebra”
ژ see As inژالہ باری zalabari (“hailstorm”) Soft sound of “s” As “s” in “socket”
س seen As inسیب  saib (“apple”) As “s” in “school”
ش sheen As in شیشا sheesha (“mirror”) Coupled sound of “s”, “h”, “e”, “n” Not found in English
ص swad As in صوم Soum (“third”) As "-s" in "soap"
ض zwad As in ضعیف Zaeef (“old”) As "-z" in "zoo"
ط toʾe As in طوطا toota (“parrot”) Coupled hard sound of “t” and “a”. Not found in English.
ظ zoʾe As in ظل zil (“shade”) As "-z" in "zero"
ع ʿain As in عروج urooj (“height”)  Not available in English. Coupled sound of "-a" and "-i" and “n” = [ain]
غ ghain As in غبارا ghubarah (“balloon”) Not found in English. Coupled sound of “g”, “h” "-a" and "-i" and “n” = [ghain]
ف fe As in فاصلہ fasilah (“distance”) As "-f" in "feast"
ق qaaf As in قینچی qainchi (“scissors”) As "-q" in "queen"
ک kaf As in کتاب kitab (“book”) As "-k" in "kite"
گ ghaf As in گهوڑا ghora (“horse”) As "-g" in "goat" Hard sound of “g”.
ل lam As in لال lal (“red”) As “l” in “lamp”
م mim As in مالٹا malta (“orange”) As "-m" in "moon"
ن nun As in نمک namak (“salt”) As “n” in “nest”
و waʾo As in وار war (“attach”) As "-v" in "violin"
ہ choti he As in حوصلہ hoslah (“courage”) Hard sound of “h” as in “qabalah”.
ھ do-chasmi he As in بهوک bhook (“hunger”) As “h” in “heat”.
ء hamzah As in ہیں hain (“are”) Sound of “n” as “honey”
ی choti ye As in گہری gehri (“deep”) Coupled sound of “y”, “i” as “yi” in “yield”
ے bari ye As in سوتے sootay (“sleep”) Coupled sound of “y”, “a”, “y” as (yay) in Yay!

The vowels in Urdu are known as airaab in the Urdu language. The representation of a vowel can change depending on its position in the word.Below is a table showing the vowels in Urdu and how their are written:

Romanization Vowel on
Last Consonant
Vowel in the
Middle Consonant
Vowel on the
First Consonant
As in
a As “-a” in “alive”
aa As “-a” in “grand”
i As “e” in “ear”
ii As “e” in “mercedes”
u As “o” in “ornament”
eu As “o” in “cool”
ay Coupled sound of “a”and “y” As “ay” in “tray”
ei As “e” in “eighty”
o As “o” in “okay”
au Coupled sound of “a”, “u” as “au” in “aura”

 

Why is Learning the Urdu Alphabet Important?

AlphabetA language’s alphabet is its building blocks. Trying to learn how to write in Urdu without first learning its alphabet is a bit like trying to build a brick house without touching the individual bricks! It is impossible to do a good job that way. So don’t believe language schools and methods that try to teach you otherwise. You will regret it later.

Also, once you start recognizing symbols and words, you will be encouraged by your own progress and motivated to learn even faster. Even just learning the basics of the alphabet will allow you to start recognizing simple Urdu words, and it will feel great!

Furthermore, knowing the alphabet even helps with pronunciation, as learning the individual letters of any language will start uncovering nuances and intricacies that are not always apparent when you’re simply listening to the words.

Completely mastering the Urdu alphabet, no matter how long it takes, will give you an excellent head start in learning how to write and read the language. It will offer you a solid foundation on which to build the other language skills, so set a goal to learn the alphabet so well that you’re able to recite it in your sleep!

Read on for helpful tips and secrets to learning the Urdu alphabet quickly and effectively.

How to Download Your Free Guide to Beginner Urdu

Download Your FREE Guide to Beginner Urdu!

If you want to master the Urdu language and become fluent, you must learn the Urdu alphabet letters first. And you need physical worksheets to practice on.

This eBook is a MUST-HAVE for all Urdu learning beginners!

FREE Urdu eBook

Download your FREE Urdu practice sheets PDF today and learn the Urdu language in no time!
This is a must-have guide for absolute beginners

Log in with Your Free Lifetime Account and we’ll give you a bundle of PDF cheat sheet including Survival Phrases, Romantic Lines, Learning Tips… — absolutely FREE!

3 Reasons to Learn Urdu Through PDF Lessons

Let’s now take a closer look at how studying Urdu lessons in PDF format can help you reach your dream in up to half the time of normal video or audio lessons!

① Saves Minutes on Your Data Plan

Learning Urdu through PDF lessons can dramatically reduce your data use. Once a lesson or tool is downloaded, you can then access it offline via your computer or smartphone any time or place regardless of Internet access. And once you’ve download the Urdu lessons in PDF format, you can actually access them faster than logging in and trying to do so via a live site. So not only will learning Urdu using PDF lessons save minutes on your data plan—it will save you some significant time as well as the lessons add up!

② Print and Take All Urdu Lessons and PDF Tools With You Anywhere

Sometimes, a tiny smartphone screen just isn’t adequate, especially when you are trying to learn something new. The great thing about PDF lessons, tools or files is that they can be quickly printed and taken anywhere after you download them. In fact, printing out Urdu lessons in PDF format can actually save you time when compared to going through the material on a smartphone with a small screen—even with the extra printing time!

③ Great Study Tool to Boost Retention and Mastery

Studying video or audio lessons online is a great way to learn a language because students can play and rewind sections as many times as needed until the lesson is mastered. But when you review the same Urdu lessons again in PDF format, an incredible thing happens: your retention dramatically improves! Thanks to Time Spaced Repetition, seeing the information again in written format helps reinforce the information in your mind and improves both retention and recall. The benefits of learning Urdu using PDF lessons quickly add up to significant time savings for you, your data plan, and your dream of learning a new language!

Why are we giving it away?

Learning to read and write is a must for all beginners. Although you get video lessons on how to write in Urdu at UrduPod101, you’ll still need physical worksheets to practice on. That’s why you’re getting this printable tutorial PDFs as a gift.

Secrets to Learning the Urdu Alphabet Fast

SecretWith a language, like with anything you have to learn from scratch, having a few mnemonic devices handy are key to learning it fast. A mnemonic device is basically any method or technique that helps you to retain or commit something to memory more easily.

Here are a few mnemonic devices to memorize the Urdu alphabet so you can speed up learning how to write in Urdu.

① Find and Learn an Alphabet Song or Poem in Urdu

Can you still remember your childhood alphabet song in your own language? The best way to commit it to memory so you can recite it is still your mom or first teacher’s way - with music, a song and/or a poem! Find a recording and learn to sing the song, or recite the poem along as best as you can. Ask your UrduPod101 teacher to help you understand exactly what you are singing or saying, and soon you’ll have reciting the alphabet under your belt! Repeat it out loud as often as possible.

However, you still need to learn how to write it.

② Study a Few Letters At a Time

Remember when you were young and learning to write for the first time? You didn’t start with words or sentences; you started with letters, one at a time!

Decide on tackling only a few letters each week, and then don’t move on from these till you are completely familiar with them. Don’t take on too many at once, or you may become discouraged. Also, remember to ask your teacher at UrduPod101 if you have questions!

Learn to incidentally spot the letters in books, road signs (If you’re living in the country), magazines, on TV, anywhere you encounter written Urdu. Remember to write them out!

③ Write Out the Letters of the Alphabet By Hand

Make it a goal to write out your week’s letters at least once a day, and commit to this goal. You can also do it every time you have a free moment. Get yourself a special notebook for this purpose that you can carry with you anywhere you go. Sitting on the train or bus? Waiting for someone somewhere? Whip out your notebook and write the Urdu alphabet, or the letters you are learning. Aim for about 20 repetitions, while silently saying the letter in your head as you write it out. This way, you will soon be able to form and write words all by yourself! Exciting, isn’t it?

Writing something down with a pen also seems to engrave it in the brain in a way that nothing else does. As an added benefit, it gives you the satisfaction of seeing a new language in your own writing!

Once you’ve mastered the whole alphabet, commit to writing it out in its entirety at least once a day, for at least one month. More repetitions are obviously better.

④ Involve Your Whole Body

Research has shown that the more senses and actions we use to learn something, the quicker the new information sticks in the memory and becomes habitual. To apply this principle while learning the Urdu alphabet, write out huge letters by tracing them in the soil, or with chalk on the floor. Now, while saying the letter out loud, walk on the lines you have just traced. In this way, you ‘write’ the letter by moving your whole body!

Having fun just makes it even easier to learn something, so why not ‘write’ the letters out with dance steps while moving to your favorite Urdu music!

This is a simple trick that seems silly, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you will commit intricate letters to memory this way. It really works!

⑤ Use Associations To Memorize Letters

This technique would involve saying the Urdu letter out loud, and then thinking of a word in your own language that sounds the same as the letter. That would then create a phonic association that should make it easier for you to remember the letter. Better even if the association is something you can draw or picture.

If the script of the new alphabet is very different from your own, look at it closely, and see if you can find an image that the letter reminds you of

⑥ Now Have Fun Trying To Write Words!

Try to write words from your own language in Urdu, and ask your friendly UrduPod101 teachers for feedback! Or post them on the forum and see if anyone can read them. You will be so pleased with yourself when you start writing words that are readable and recognizable by native speakers.

Related Lessons

How to Say Hello in Urdu
Do you know how to say hello in Urdu? It’s the most basic phrase that you’ll need to say and hear in everyday life. If you don’t know yet, learn 15 ways to say hello and greet others in Urdu. Why 15? The more variations you know, the more you can speak and the more fluent you become!
How to Introduce Yourself in Urdu
Can you introduce yourself in Urdu? Don’t worry! Check out the 10 Urdu Lines You Need To Introduce Yourself with this free Review Sheet. From “My name is…“ and “I live in…” down to “My hobbies are…” Just review the 10 lines. It will only take you 2 minutes. Then, introduce yourself in the comment section below!
Top Urdu Phrases
How good is your Urdu? Care to put it to the test? Here’s the deal! We’ve come up with this must-know Urdu Phrases List. Learn the top 25 Urdu phrases, hear the native pronunciation and put your Urdu to the test. Did you know them all? If not, review the list and master these easy phrases!
How to Say Thank You in Urdu
Has anyone thanked you today? We will. Thank you for reading this article and learning with us! In fact, today, you’ll learn the many different ways to say “Thank You” in Urdu. It’s one of the most important Urdu phrases. Check it out and watch the video too to practice your pronunciation.

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