2.4.1: Letter-Positions

We’ve been talking about letter-positions and the impact they have on the shape of the letters themselves. These are simple fundamentals and should be easy to grasp.

Here’s a quick analogy using English words to understand what these positions are:


Initial: At the beginning of a word. Like the letter ‘b’ in the word “bat”.

Medial: In the middle or somewhere between the first and last letters of a word. Like the letter ‘b’ in the word “about”.

Final: At the end of a word. Like the letter ‘b’ in the word “tub”.

Independant/Isolated: When the letter is not connected from either side.

So far, we’ve created words with ‘alif’ and letters of the ‘be’ group where all the words started with an ‘alif’, i.e; with ‘alif’ in the initial position. Let’s reverse the order and look at examples where it isn’t so.

For this, let us see how the word “baa” (बा), is written:

  • baa
  • बा

Above: The word “baa”

Wait, something looks different there, doesn’t it? Here’s a break-down of the word “baa”:

  • baa
  • बा
  • alif
  • अलिफ़
  • be
  • बे

Above: ‘be’ + ‘alif’ = “baa”

But why is the ‘be’ in the word “baa” shorter?

This brings us to a very important rule of the Urdu script. Read on.

2.4.2: Connectors and Non-Connectors

You will be able to recall from when we started this course, that Urdu script is cursive. What this means is, when writing in Urdu, letters tend to join or “connect” with the succeeding letters in a word.

They do so by changing their shape and taking upon their short-form(s).

What’s really good is that we’ve already encountered both these types of letters! The letter ‘alif’ is a Non-Connector whereas all letters of the ‘be’ group are Connectors.

Now that we know about Connectors, Non-Connectors and Positions, it is finally time to look at the short-forms of the ‘be’ group.