Support this site with a membership: For only $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year, you can have a true AD-FREE experience. You also get a 15% discount in my shop and a monthly premium newsletter. Find out more here.

Help this site

Passion doesn't need money. Unfortunately, my web provider does. Your contribution ensures that this site will grow and grow.

Donate with PayPal

Buy Me A Coffee


cropped dots 1

Arabic letters without dots – Does it work?

Arabic used to be written without dots in ancient times. At least it did, a long time ago. Could you read such sentences?

Last updated: June 2, 2021

At least it did, a long time ago. Let us focus a bit on the history of the Arabic language.

Arabic, at a very early stage, was not only written without vowel-signs above or below letters.

Furthermore, letters were written without dots which makes reading pretty difficult – as the letters and for example might look the same in certain positions.

There are five distinct letters look which look the same when you omit the dots. This is also known as Arabic skeleton script).

Let’s try it. Can you read the following sentence without dots?

(c) Gerald Drißner

This sentence can mean a lot depending where and how you add the dots, e.g. the first word can mean:


This is how you could read the sentence:

It was said that the elephant killed an elephant in front of the river.

قيل إن فيل قتل فيل قبل النهر.

This is the sentence with all the vowels.

قِيلَ إِنَّ فِيلاً قَتَلَ فِيلاً قَبْلَ النَّهْرِ

Remark: In the 8th century, a grammarian from modern day Oman invented a writing system which we basically use in stand­ard Arabic till today.

His name was أَبُو عَبْد الرَّحْمٰن الْخَلِيل ابن أَحْمَد الْفَراهِيدي – com­monly known as al-Farahidi or al-Khalil. It is said that he started using a small س for the الشَّدّة (Shadda): ّ

Read more about Arabic and Islamic history:

Picture credit: Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Any thoughts or ideas about this? Leave a reply!

Previous Article

Does the negation with ما or لَمْ convey the same meaning?

Next Article
cropped mosque

الصَّلاةُ خَيْرٌ مِن الْنَّوْمِ: "Prayer is better than sleep" - Is it really "better"?

Do you like this article?

If you can afford it, any contribution is highly appreciated. Your support will help to keep this site growing.

You can also become a member of Arabic for Nerds+ and enjoy this website AD-FREE.

Thank you very much !
Related Posts
egypt man
Read More

How do you spell لكن in Arabic?

Many students are confused why words like هذا, ذلك or لكن are written with a dash (dagger Aleph). Should they be pronounced with a long vowel ("aa")? Yes.