In the previous lesson, you learn why a word in Arabic that is composed of the same letters can have multiple different meanings. The word سلم is composed of س, then ل, and finally م. Their shape in isolation is slightly different from their shape in a word. In this lesson, we will learn how to put Arabic letters together to form words.
Unlike Romance languages, such as English and French, Arabic is a right-to-left language; that is, we write it from right to left. In the table above, you can see that the strokes go from right to left. For example, if we take the first word on the right, you can see that ك and ت and ب are connected by a horizontal line between them. When we add this line before or after the letter, the letter shape changes to suit this horizontal line.
When we add a line (ــ) after ك, its shape changes to كـ. Similarly, when we add ت after this line, its shape changes to ـت. Furthermore, as we add another line after it so that it can easily join with the subsequent letter, its shape changes to ـتـ. Finally, the shape of the last letter changes to ـب to easily join to the line that follows the ت, hence كتب is created. Therefore, it is the horizontal line before/after the letters that causes the changes in letter shapes. It makes them join easily to form words.
Looking at the right-to-left stroke drawing in the table above, you can see that before and/or after each letter in black there is a short dash-like connecting line in orange. These short lines are clearly visible in the decomposed words. These short lines merge into a single line to successively connect the letters together to form whole words. In handwriting, we first connect the letters. Then we add dots above/below the letters. Finally, we add the diacritical marks.
To reiterate, as you put pen to paper with the first letter, remember that it (except the semi-joining ones) will be followed by a short joining line, so its shape must change in order to join properly with this line. This short line will, in turn, join with another letter so this letter must change shape to easily join with the preceding letter. To join this second letter with another after it, a short line must be added after it. This line will further change the shape of this letter and cause the shape of the third letter to change. This process is repeated until a whole word is duly written. Once it is completely written, add the dots as needed, and finally assign the diacritics. Et voila, you are now able to write a word easily. Remember, practice makes perfect.