Harakaat - حَرَكَات - Vowel Signs

Harakaat (singular Harakah) are vowel signs on Arabic letters that help in pronunciation. In printed or hand-written text, you may or may not see any harakaat present. If harakaat are not present, they are implied. A native speaker knows how to pronounce them. But for printed copy of Quran, in children’s book or in books for learners, the words mostly have harakat.
Text with harakat - ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ
Text without harakat - الحمد لله
There are many types of harakaat. We will only have most important ones that are relevent for learning Arabic grammar.

Most important harakaat are:

  • Fatah (فَتْحَة)
    This looks like a line on top of the letter.
    e.g. حَ in - ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ
    This give a sound 'a'.
    So a حَ is pronounced a 'Ha' in the phrase Alhamdu lillah.
  • Dammah (ضَمَّة)
    This looks like a comma sign on top of a letter.
    e.g. دُ in - ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ
    This gives a sound 'u'
    Here دُ is pronounced as 'du' in the phrase Alhamdu lillah.
  • Kashrah (كَسْرَة)
    This looks like a slanted line at the bottom of a letter.
    e.g. لِ in - ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ
    So لِ is pronounced as 'li' in the phrase Alhamdu lillah.
  • Sukun (سُكُون)
    This looks like a round circle or a angle sign on top of a letter.
    e.g. - مْ in - ٱلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ
    Sukun is rather absence of a vowel. It creates a suddend stop in pronunciation.
    So مْ is pronounced as 'm' in the phrase Alhamdu lillah.

Also important are:

  • Tanween (تَنْوِين)
    Tanween is a doubling of a vowel sign, like double fatha or double dammah or double kasrah.
    They are pronounced with -an, -un, -in
    كِتَابً - kitaban
    كِتَابٌ - kitabun
    كِتَابٍ - kitabin
  • Shaddah (شَدَّة)
    This is doubling of a letter in a word. This is indicated by a 'w' like sign. Examples:
    عَلَّمَ - 'allama