Cheat Sheet

Intermediate Arabic For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Intermediate Arabic For Dummies

By Keith Massey

If you want to become a more fluent speaker and writer of Arabic, you need to understand the Arabic alphabet, which orders the letters differently from the languages you may be used to. Knowing how to form both past tense verbs and present tense verbs goes a long way in helping you grasp the nuances of the Arabic language.

The Arabic Letters

The following tables show the Arabic alphabet and their English transliteration characters. The consonants are in the traditional order of the Arabic alphabet, which you need to know in order to look things up in an Arabic-English dictionary. In parentheses after the translation, you can find out whether the consonant is a Sun Letter (SL) or a Moon Letter (ML).


Forming the Past Tense Verb in Arabic

In Arabic, the past tense is produced with a system of suffixes. You use the same suffixes regardless of which of the ten verb forms you’re using. Here’s a table showing the past tense of typical Form I verb so you can spot the suffixes in a pinch.


Forming the Present Tense Verb in Arabic

In Arabic, the system of prefixes and suffixes that make up the present tense are the same in all of the ten verb forms. You use these all the time. Remember that you can form the future tense just by adding the prefix sa- to the beginning of those verbs. The following table shows the present tense of the verb shariba (to drink).