The other day someone asked me if she had to say all of the ending vowels on words.
If you’re new to studying Arabic, this might seem like a weird question. You may be asking yourself, “Who doesn’t pronounce the endings of words?”
The answer: most native Arabic speakers.
In Arabic, the last vowel on every word is usually dropped in local dialects. In Fusha, the last vowel on every sentence is usually dropped.
Once you get used to speaking without the final vowels, it can be hard to remember which vowels go where.
So, do you need to say all of the vowels?
Before you start studying Arabic, you should think about your goals and try to make sure your studies match your Arabic learning goals. Speaking is a crucial part of studying, so you’ll want to make sure your Arabic speaking practice is supporting your goals.
Let’s look at two examples to see how Arabic ending vowels can help us.
What’s the difference between these two sentences? Nothing at all. Dropping the ending vowels doesn’t make it any harder for us to understand this sentence.
You probably don’t need to practice vowel endings if your goal is just to speak Arabic conversationally. Usually, the meaning of the sentence will be clear from the sentence structure and the examples.
Now, let’s say you walk in on two of your kids crying. Your third child has witnessed the event, but drops the ending vowels when she tells you what happened. Now you’ll never know who hit whom!
Why? The ending vowels on the words Muhammad and Ahmad would tell us who was the one that hit and who got hit.
So, if you’re concerned about coming across this scenario in your life, then you need to make sure you say every vowel ending.
So why do we really the ending vowels in Arabic?
If your goal is to read the Quran, Hadith, or any advanced texts, then you need to practice speaking with vowel endings. You’ll be able to understand most simple sentences without vowel endings.
As sentences get longer, you’ll find that the parts of a sentence can shift places. The endings of the words can give you lots of information. They can tell you who did the actions, whether a word is a noun or a verb, and lots of other useful information.
Also, if your goal is to memorize Quran, then speaking with vowel endings will make your memorization much easier. Vowel endings follow very clear patterns, so practicing them in speech will make it much easier to memorize them when you’re memorizing Quran.
In summary, if you’re wondering whether or not you need to focus more on learning the proper endings of words, first consider your goals. For casual speech, it’s not actually necessary. If you’re hoping to read more difficult things like the Quran, then it will definitely help you in the long run.