Arabic Language Blog

Letter of the Week (ي) yaa Posted by on Aug 12, 2020 in Uncategorized

Moving on to our twenty eighth and last letter of the Arabic alphabet (ي)! I hope you found this series of posts helpful in your Arabic learning. As always, let’s look at various words beginning with (ي) along with more culture/language related facts.

Let’s begin with looking at your basic forms of the letter ي.

Initial يـ‎, as in the word “يَوْم” meaning “day”.

Medial ـيـ‎‍, as in the word “عيْد” meaning “Eid”.

Final ـي‎, as in the word “ذَكي” meaning “smart”.

Remember that the letter ي can either be a vowel when it makes a long “ee” sound as in the word علي, or a consonant when it makes the “ya” sound as in the word يَوْم.

Before looking at the following words, can you think of words beginning with ي?

يَجِب: must  .يَجِب أن أقول أن هذا الطَعام لذيذ جداً

I must say that this food is very delicious!

يَمين: right (opposite of left)  يَسار: left

.اتجه يَميناً ثُم اتجه يَساراً  Turn right then turn left.

يَدّ: hand   هَل غَسلت يَديك؟   Did you wash your hands?

✨ يا: O/oh/hey

يا is a vocative particle, similar to “O” in English yet used much more frequently in Arabic without sounding a bit strange or archaic as it may sound in English. يا is used to address someone or a people. In some contexts, a close equivalent to modern day English is “Hey” when calling out to someone, for example, يا علي “Hey Ali”. You will find that يا is used more frequently in Modern Standard Arabic than it is in colloquial Arabic. You can find many examples of يا in Qur’anic verses and poetry.

Here are some examples showing the use of يا.

!يا إلهي   Oh my God!

.يا الله   Oh God.

يا أَيُّها المُؤْمِنونَ  O you believers (example from the Quran)

.سأخرجُ مَع أصدقائي اليَوم يا أمي  Mother, today I’m going out with some friends.

صَباح الخَيْرِ يا سيدي، هل يُمْكِنُني أنْ أُساعِدَكِ؟  Good morning, sir. Can I help you?

.يا خالِد، تَعال إلى هُنا مِن فَضلك   Hey Khalid, come here please.

!يا شَباب  Hey guys!


Image by Hiba Natour on

When I was thinking of a place that begins with ي, I thought of the ancient port city of يافا Jaffa.

For those of you who are reaching the intermediate level, I thought to include a paragraph taken from the ويكيبيديا page on يافا for some reading and comprehension practice. It gives some basic information about the city.

يافا هي من أقدم وأهم مدن فلسطين التاريخية. تقع اليوم ضمن بلدية “تل أبيب – يافا” الإسرائيلية، على الساحل الشرقي للبحر الأبيض المتوسط. وتبعد عن القدس بحوالي 55 كيلومتر إلى الغرب. كانت لفترة طويلة تحتل مكانة هامة بين المدن الفلسطينية الكبرى من حيث المساحة وعدد السكان والموقع الإستراتيجي، حتى تاريخ وقوع النكبة عام 1948، وتهجير معظم أهلها العرب. يسكنها اليوم قرابة 60,000 نسمة معظمهم من اليهود، وأقلية عربية من المسلمين والمسيحيين

For some listening practice as well, here is a short clip in Modern Standard Arabic talking about what makes يافا such a special place.

يافا من أجمل المدن في النهار والليل

I’ll be back next week with a new topic. Till then, happy Arabic learning! 😊

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About the Author: yasmine

MarHaba! I am half Jordanian of Circassian descent and half American. I have a Master's in Second Language Teaching and I teach Arabic as a foreign language here in the US, both MSA and Levantine Arabic. I hope to help you become more familiar and interested in the Arabic language and culture.