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‘The’ and ‘a’ with ال

To simplify, you can tell if a word/noun uses ‘a’ or ‘the’ by looking at the beginning of the word. This is often the rule. The important exceptions will come later.

  1. If the word had ال then it uses ‘the’. So البيت means the house.
  2. If it does not have ‘ال’ then it uses ‘a’ . But بيت means a house.
'the house'
'a house'
= ال + بيت

The two pronunciations of ال

The pronuciation of ال has two main pronunciations which are demonstrated in the video below:

Grammar aid: When do we pronunce ال as ‘el’ and when is it ‘a’?

1. If these letters follow ال, we pronunce them as as ‘el’:

أ، ب، ج، ح، خ، ع، غ، ف، ق، ك، م، ه، و، ي

2. If these letters follow ال, we pronunce them as ‘a’ and drop the ل sound:

ت، ث، د، ذ، ر، ز، س، ش، ص، ض، ط، ظ، ن، ل

We don’t recommend learning this off by heart. Just pay attention to the pronuncation of new words and you will get there in the end!

Exercise 1: Picking out letters from words

Please copy the text below and paste it into a word processor or note-taking app.

Then bold the examples of the letters ال

Alternatively, print out the text and circle them with a pen a paper.

You will not understand most of the text, the skill is just to pick out letters from words!

If your on your mobile you may want to skip this one.

If this is unclear see the opening of the answer video below [Coming soon!].  

حسين: مرحبا !

أنا اسمي حسين وأنا من سوريا من حلب

بس هلق أنا ساكن ب لبنان ب طرابلس

عمري تنين وتلاتين سنة ومتزوج ومرتي من بريطانيا

درست المعلوماتية الإدارية وكمان درست دبلومة ب الجامعة الإمريطيا ب التعليم

بحكي انجليزي وبحكي عربي

بشتغل أستاذ لغة العربية وأحياناً بشتغل مترجم مع صحفيين

بالتوفيق !

Exercise 2: Listening bingo

The idea of the the game is circle the three sounds you will hear in the recording.

If you get it correct you will be able to draw a line through the three answers from one side to the other like Bingo!

Note the table will display as list on the mobile or at smaller sizes.

The answers will be in the video below [coming soon!] Remember, Arabic reads right to left!



  1.  مَلابس = clothes 
  2. طَاولِة = table
  3. كتَاب = book