Arabic Language Blog

The Arabic Sun and Moon Letters Posted by on Feb 14, 2009 in Grammar

The Arabic alphabet (الأبجدية العربية) contains 28 letters, which are classified into 14 sun letters (الحروف الشمسية) and 14 moon letters (الحروف القمرية). This classification is based on the way these letters affect the pronunciation of the definite article (ال) at the beginning of words. The definite article is assimilated into the sun letters and loses its distinctive sound. As a result, the sound at the beginning of the word is doubled.

The 14 sun letters are: (The 14 sun letters are ,ﻝ ,ﻅ ,ﻁﺽ ,ﺹ ,ﺵ ,ﺱ ,ﺯ ,ﺭ ,ﺫ ,ﺩ ,ﺙ ,ﺕ).

Examples of words that begin with sun letters are:

(التاج) /at-taj/ “the crown”,

(الثلج) /ath-thalj/ “the ice”,

(الدب) /ad-dub/ “the bear”,

(الرجل) /ar-rajul/ “the man”,

(الرجل) /ar-rajul/ “the man”,

(الزمن) /az-zaman/ “the time”,

(الشمس) /ash-shams/ “the sun”, etc.

The definite article retains its distinctive sound when it comes before one of the moon letters. The 14 sun letters are:

The 14 moon letters are: ( ه ,ﻱ ,ﻭ ,ﻡ ,ﻙ ,ﻕ ,ﻑ ,ﻍ ,ﻉ ,ﺥ ,ﺡ ,ﺝ ,ﺏ ,أ).

Examples of words that begin with moon letters are:

(الأب) /al-abb/ “the father”,

(الباب) /al-bab/ “the door”,

(الجدار) /al-jadaar/ “the wall”,

(الفارس) /al-faaris/ “the knight”,

(المطر) /al-maTar/ “the rain”,

(الكلام) /al-kalaam/ “the speech”,

(الورد) /al-ward/ “the rose”, etc.

The following image shows the sun letters in red and the moon letters in black. Source

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  1. Savannah Beckham:

    I want yall to send me pictures. Please!

    • Ismail Iqbal:

      @Savannah Beckham I want to learn Arabic Language with full grammar

  2. yni:

    hope you add more examples for each letter.:)

    • Ismail Iqbal:

      @yni Yes i want more examples

  3. Mohammad Sayeeduddin:

    Thanks for the informative article..
    Please inform why are these called sun and moon letters

  4. Arwa:

    This site was helpful and thanks for list of words broken down well and also in english

  5. Raqeebat:

    This helps with my homework so thanks a lot! I’m literally copying it as notes

  6. Mayy:

    This post is so old, but very useful. I would like to comment, however, that it lacks crucial details which may help beginners understand the lesson much better. People will appreciate this post more if the author would do some elaboration.

    1) Solar/Sun letters
    – These are the letters that when placed at the beginning of a word and preceded by the definite article “AL” (meaning, “the”), the pronunciation of the whole word (i.e. word + definite article) changes in a way that the letter “Lam” in the article “AL” is dropped (i.e. not pronounced) and the “Alif” in the same article is connected to the first letter (the sun letter) of the word.

    Tajir: Merchant: تَاجِر
    At-Tajir: The merchant: التَّاجِرُ
    (zoom in if the letters are too small to read)

    2) Lunar/Moon letters
    – These are the letters that when placed at the beginning of a word and preceded by the definite article “AL” (meaning, “the”), the pronunciation of the whole word (i.e. word + definite article) does not change and is read as is.
    – Alif in “AL” has a fat’hah vowel mark (“A” sound) and the Lam following it has a sukoon (a circle mark) indicating a pause. Unlike in the case of sun letters, the Lam is not dropped.

    Bab: Door: بابٌ
    Al-Bab: The door: اَلْبَابُ

    You’ll see the difference when you read chapter titles and verses from the Qur’an.
    The merchant: At-Tajir, not Al-Tajir
    The star: An-Najm, not Al-Najm
    The sun: Ash-Shams, not Al-Shams
    The sun letter feature creates a shaddah (double syllable) above the sun letter immediately following the Lam of the definite article “AL.”

    The house: Al-Bayt, not Ab-Bayt
    The school: Al-Madrassah, not Am-Madrassah
    The moon: Al-Qamar, not Aq-Qamar

    Hope this helps 🙂

  7. Uzma Batool:

    Very informative article. I want to know why we call sun letters the Sun letters and moon letters The Moon.what’s the reason? I know that Laam is silent in Sun letters but why they are named sun and moon.

  8. Dontneedtoknow:

    This needs some editing because there are many mistakes in this blog. Anyway thank you for the explanation,that was really good!!

  9. Jeannie:

    As much as I struggle I can’t make my throat and tongue produce the correct sounds. Any advise?