The letter qaf

The letter qaf is a part of the Arabic alphabet. Here you will learn how to pronounce and write qaf.

How qaf is pronounced

There two Arabic letters for the k sound. A normal k annd this clicking one. For clarity, I write the pronunciation of this one with a q.
This q is pronounced further back in the throat than a normal k, and pronounced with a clicking sound.
The letter qaf is one of the letters that gives the Arabic language its character. If you want to sound as a professional Arabic speaker and not a beginner, you must pronounce these letters properly. Do not be careful when you pronounce these letters. It is better to exaggerate, then it is easier for the people you are talking with to hear the difference. If you exaggerate the pronunciation, it is also easier for you to memorize the words, and you will know what letter to use when you spell them.

Emphatic consonants has a special pronunciation that also affects the pronunciation of nearby vowels.
Wikander* describe the pronunciation of emphatic letters: 'as if one had a potato or a whole egg pressing down the tongue: the back of the toungue should be pressed down.' The result will be that 'the sound willl have a thick, dark tone. That tone often affects surrounding vowels.'

The vowel fatha (a) is mostly affected by emphatic consonants. As an example, we can use one of these food references.
The Arabic word for egg is written بَيضَة and pronounced 'bäjDa' . The vowel fatha is surrounded by the letters ba (ب) och ya (ي) and ya, and none of them are emphatic. Therefore, the pronunciation is like a Sswedish 'ä' (like in airs).
The Arabic word for potato is written بَطَاطِس and pronounced 'baTaaTis' . The letter Ta (ط) is emphatic and both the short a and the long aa is pronounced like 'a', even a bit like the Swedish 'å' (like in for and door).

In the phonetic alphabet, the pronunciation of qaf is written [q]. On this website, I write the pronunciation q.

* Source: The book Ett hav i mäktig rörelse by Ola Wikander.

How qaf is written

The letter qaf has four shapes: isolated, initial, medial and final.

finalmedialinitialisolerad
ـﻖـﻘـﻗـ

Which of the shapes to use depends on the letter's position in the word and surrounding letters. Do not forget that Arabic is written from right to left.

The letter qaf is dual joining. That means that it wants to connect to both right and left. If there is a letter before, that also is dual joining, then qaf will connect with it. If there is a letter after, then qaf will connect with it. How to write with Arabic dual joining letters.

qaf isolerad form

This is how the Arabic letter qaf is written in its isolerad form:

This form is used in the following situations:

qaf alone

When qaf stands by itself, the isolated form is used.

qaf in the end after right joining letter

When qaf is the last letter of a word and comes after a right joining letter, the isolated form is used. It is free to the right since the letter before it does not connect to the left. It is also free to the left since there is no letter after.

qaf initial form

This is how the Arabic letter qaf is written in its initial form:

ﻗـ

This form is used in the following situations:

qaf in the beginning of words

When qaf is the first letter of a word, the initial form is used. It is free to the right and has a tail to the left to connect with the letter after it.

qaf in the middle after right joining letter

When qaf is in the middle of a word and follows a right joining letter, the initial form is used. It is free to the right since the letter before it does not connect to the left, and it has a tail to the left to connect with the letter after.

qaf medial form

This is how the Arabic letter qaf is written in its medial form:

ـﻘـ

This form is used in the following situation:

qaf in the middle of words

When qaf is in the middle of a word, e.g. when qaf is neither the first nor the last letter, the medial form is often used. It has tails in both directions to connect with both the letter before it and the letter after it.

qaf final form

This is how the Arabic letter qaf is written in its final form:

ـﻖ

This form is used in the following situation:

qaf in the end of words

When qaf is the last letter of a word, the final form is often used. It has a tail to the right to connect with the letter before it, and it is free to the left since there is no letter after.

Conclusion: how qaf is written

The letter qaf has four forms.
The isolated form is used when qaf stands by itself and in the end of words (after a right joining letter). In other words: When there is no letter before that wants to connect and there is no letter after.
The initial form ﻗـ is used in the beginning of words and in the middle of words (if the letter before is right joining). In other words: When there is no letter before that wants to connect and there is a letter after.
The medial form ـﻘـ is used in the middle of words (if the letter before is not right joining). In other words: When there is a letter before that wants to connect and there is a letter after.
The final form ـﻖ is used in the end of words (if the letter before is not right joining). In other words: When there is a letter before that wants to connect and there is no letter after.

That's it!
The rules you have learned can be applied to all Arabic dual joining letters, which is most of them.

qaf is a moon letter

You get the definite form of a word by putting the definite article al in front of it.

اَل

The Arabic letter qaf is a moon letter. That means that the definite article is pronounced al and nothing else. The letters that are not moon letters are called sun letters, and they are assimilated with the definite article al.

For example the Arabic word for cotton is pronounced quTn and written ﻗُﻄﻦ. In definite form, it is pronounced alquTn and written اَل‍ﻗُﻄﻦ.

Read more about definite form

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