Root letters

Root lettersArabic words are based on root letters. These are building blocks for other words with a similar meaning or concept. We don’t really have an equivalent in English, but you could loosely compare it to ‘run’ being the root of ‘running’ and ‘runner’.

Almost every Arabic word has three root letters.

For example:

قلم = pen

This word has three letters, so they are all root letters. They are:




Some letters are never root letters. These are:

  • م at the beginning of a word
  • ة
  • shadda (double letters marked with a w above the letter)
  • ا و ي when they’re used as vowels

If these letters appear in a word, drop them. They’re not part of the root.

For example:

مدرسة = female teacher

We drop م and ة so the root letters are:




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