Jane McGuire

13 things you didn’t know about learning Arabic

13 things you didnt know about learning Arabic

First published date January 29 2015 Amended date February 19 2016

For a complete beginner, Arabic can be a tricky language to learn. Writing in the opposite direction in a completely different alphabet may seem like an impossible task, but like all languages practice really does make perfect. We cannot pretend to be experts, but loved finding out a more about the language, so decided to share these 13 things you might not have known about learning Arabic. Enjoy! 

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1. Did you know that Arabic is the official language of 22 counties and is the native language of 200 million people?


2. In fact, Arabic is the sixth most spoken language in the world and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.


3. The Arabic alphabet is used by one seventh of the world’s population, with millions of people in Africa and Asia writing in Arabic symbols.


4. Completely opposite to most of the languages in the western world, Arabic is read and written from right to left. The only exception to this is numbers, which are written left to right. Confusing right?


5. Arabic uses the same punctuation marks as English, although some of the symbols, like the comma, are inverted.


6. As English speakers, we often use a number of words that have an Arabic origin, such as checkmate, magazine, algebra and mummy. 

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7. Arabic is actually one of the oldest spoken languages in the world.


8. It’s important to note that there are two different forms of the Arabic language. Classical Arabic is the official language written in the Quran, but over the years Modern Arabic has also emerged.


9. If you are studying the language, you will find the oldest forms of Arabic in poetry.


10. Arabs will usually greet each other with the phrase ‘salaam alaikum’ or a kiss on the cheek if greeting a friend of the same sex. In a lot of Arab countries men and women do not display any form of affection in public.


11. In Arabic sentences the verb comes first, so ‘the girl eats an apple’ will become ‘eat the girl the apple’.


12. Another idea that is very different to European languages is the creation of words. In the Arabic language, words are constructed from a three letter ‘root’ which conveys an idea. Letters are then added around this ‘root’ to construct words.


13. ‘Insha Allah’ is a commonly used phrase in the Arabic language, so is something you will hear a lot when visiting the country. It means ‘God willing’ and although it has religious connotations, is often used in conversation in the same way as we use the word ‘hopefully’.


If you are ready to get learning and delve into the language, why not take a look at the Arabic courses listed on our site? With plenty of different options available, we are sure you will find a course that fits around you and makes learning as exciting as it should be. Good luck! 

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.