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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Nora here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Arabic questions.
The Question
In the previous lesson, we talked about English sounds that don’t exist in Arabic. So, in this lesson, we are going to answer the question: How many Arabic sounds don't exist in English?
When people listen to Arabic, they may fall under the illusion that Arabic has so many sounds that don't exist in English, and that it's going to be extremely difficult to speak it. But like I said, it's only an illusion.
In fact, out of the 28 sounds that exist in Modern Standard Arabic, only 10 sounds don't exist in English. Moreover, a lot of these sounds aren't even used in spoken dialects and are reduced to sounds closer to their English counterparts.
Let's take a look at the letters that are like an exaggerated version of sounds that already exist in English.
ḍ /ض
Which sounds like an exaggerated D sound, like the D in “double”
ḍamān / ضَمان
ṣ / ص
Which sounds like an exaggerated S sound, like the S in “Salt”
ṣabr / صَبر
ṭ / ط
Which sounds like an exaggerated T sound, like the T in “Tom”
maṭar / مَطَر
ẓ / ظ
Which sounds like an exaggerated TH sound, like the TH sound in “brother”
ẓalām / ظَلام
ḥ / ح
Which sounds like an exaggerated H sound, like the H sound in “How”
ḥulm / حُلم
ʾ / ء
Which is basically a glottal stop, like the “uh” sound in “uh-oh”
ʾanā / أَنا
As you can see, these 5 are more familiar to you than you think.
Next, let's take a look at the 4 sounds that might not be as familiar. With these, you might need some listening and speaking practice to get used to them.
q / ق
qāl / قال
“he said”
ḫ / خ
ḫal / خَل
ʿ / ع
ʿammān / عَمّان
“Amman” (the capital of Jordan)
ġ / غ
ġasala / غَسَلَ
“He washed”


Take a look at our Ultimate Arabic Pronunciation Guide series for more information!
These sounds don’t exist in English, but some of them exist in other languages. Perhaps in your language! So tell us in the comment section.
Also if you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
Bye! إلى اللقاء (ʾilā al-liqaāʾ)