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Five Tips for Reading Dari Script Posted by on Jan 27, 2013 in language

Reading and writing in Dari script is a lot of fun. Writing in Dari scripts feels like making art and is very beautiful.  In this lesson we will give you five tips that will help you read and subsequently write in Dari script much easier. For this lesson we assume you have a basic knowledge of the Dari alphabet and script, however, even if you are a total beginner level Dari learner, these tips will help you learn how to read  and write in Dari the easy way.

 1.       Number and positions of dots: Dari alphabet uses a lot of dots compared to English alphabet. These dots sometimes makes it difficult for the novices to the Dari alphabet to read, and often causes them to confuse one letter for another. For example, the letters ب پ ت ث have exactly the same shapes and the only difference is in the number of dots and the position of dots. Therefore when learning the alphabet, make sure you compare them with the other letters. The letter ب   “bay” has one dot underneath and the letter ن   “noon” has one dot above it; when they appear in a word the only distinguishing element is the positions of the dot. In The word بنام   the first letter is “bay” and the second letter is “noon”.

2.       Letters that don’t join: In Dari script, the letters in a word are normally connected to each other. The shape of a letter is different when it stands alone than when it is connected to other letters in a word. For instance, letters  “meem” and “noon” look like  م نwhen they stand alone, but they look like من when they are connected to each other, which is usually the case.  In Dari there is a group of seven letters that don’t connect to the letters coming after them, they only connect to the preceding letters in a word. These letters are ا    “alef” د  “daal”  ذ  “zaal”    ر  “ray” ز  “zay” و  “wow”  ژ   “zhay”. Also, the letters in this group can never connect to each other.

            Examples of connect to the preceding letters (read from right to left):  پدر،

            Examples of never connect to each other in this group of the letters:  دراز، روز

3.       Letters that are confused for each other: two of the letters in Dari that has no dots and still are very often mistaken for each other are the letters ا   “alef”, and  ل “laam”.  The letters “alef” and “laam” look very similar when they are connected in a word. For example in the wordلبان (reading from right to left) the first letter is “laam” the second letter is “bay” the third letter is “alef” and the last letter is “noon” . The first letter and the third letter looks very similar, the only difference is that the third letter, “alef” ,can only be joined to the preceding letter and when we see that it is not joined to the following letter we know that it is “alif” because if it were the letter “laam” it would have been joint to the following letter which is “noon” in this case.

4.       Short vowel sounds:  In Dari, there are three short vowel sounds that are not written; they are assumed and only used when there are chances of mispronouncing the word or when the language is taught to a nonnative of Dari language. Some of the Dari books that are targeted towards foreigners use the vowel symbols in the Dari scrip to make the process of learning to read in Dari easy. These short vowel symbols are called diacritic marks  and are the fowling three in Dari:

   َ  “zabar” which appears above letters and is equivalent to a short “a” sound in English. تَن  “tan” . Please refer to the accompanying video to see these diacritic marks in a larger font.

ِ   “zair” is equivalent to a short “e” sound.  دِل “del”

ُ   “paish”   is equivalent of a short “o” sound in English. مُل  “mol”

Now that you know about the short vowels you can ask your language teacher to place them on the reading materials for you to make reading easier and pronunciation more accurate for you.

5.       Learning vocabulary:  learning vocabulary makes it much easier to read in Dari scripts because when you know a word in Dari, even if there are no diacritic marks used you will still be able to figure out the short vowel and read and pronounce the word correctly. The larger your vocabulary is the easier it will be for you to read in Dari, because once you know a word, you will not really read it letter by letter but you will recognize the word as soon as you look at it.


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About the Author:Sayed Naqibullah

Sayed Naqibullah speaks Pashto and Dari as his native languages. Since 2004 he has been teaching Dari and Pashto and working as cultrual advisor to NGO workers, foreigners who live, work, or are visiting Afghanistan. Sayed has worked as a linguist for several companies that produce language course-ware. He has worked as a guide, interpreter and translator of a number of NGOs working in Afghanistan. Sayed is also a blog writer on Afghan culture and languages. He is the author of a Dari language textbook called “Dari as a Second Language”.


  1. Sayed:

    Hi Sayed,

    Thank you for this post, it’s very helpful. I was wondering if you could recommend a place where I could practice my dari reading online, as a beginner. I would like to slowly build my reading comprehension.


  2. Sahar:

    Salaam Sayed jan,

    I was wondering if there is any course-ware for native speakers who want to learn reading and writing. I’m from the wave of immigrants who came as a young child and am only learning the script as an adult. I’ve been working one-on-one with an Afghan friend, but I’m also interested in exploring digital resources. Any help would be very appreciated!


  3. Jawad kamgar:

    i want to learn Dari writing skills