Some Differences in Grammar and Phonology between Arabic and English Languages

Various languages around the world have evolved and transitioned in several stages. Languages reflect the evolution and modernization of a society throughout history. As such, we find language similar or different in various areas as such. In fact, it is this difference that makes the learning and culture exploration process very interesting and appealing to explorers and travellers around the world. In this discussion, we want to highlight grammar and phonology differences between Arabic and English with examples.

As far as grammar goes, there are several differences in verb/tense usage and formation. For instance, Arabic doesn’t distinguish between actions completed already and actions and have no connection to the present, and those that do. For example, if the tense connects with the present you would say “I have finished my work”, and if it doesn’t, you would say “I finished my work”. In Arabic, it is all the same. Additionally, there is only one single form of present tense in Arabic, while English has continues and discontinuous forms of tense.  For instance, in Arabic you would say “When you come home?” instead of “When do you come home?”

Another major difference between the two languages is that Arabic has gender-specific pronouns, words, verbs, and sentence structure. For instance, there is a big difference between the verb “played” used in “The women played tennis” and “The men played tennis” in Arabic, while it is the same expression in English. Another difference is in the dual and plural formation of verbs and nouns. Arabic language differentiates between verbs that refer to two objects and those that refer to three or more. For example, in Arabic, saying “The two guys were talking about school” has a completely different verb compare to the case “The three guys were talking about school”. In English it is all the same; you say “were talking” in both cases.

With regard to phonology, it is important to note that Arabic only has a third as many vowel characters English has. This makes it very difficult for beginner learners in Arabic to differentiate between words that have same Arabic vowel character equivalent such as “Ship” and Sheep”. This is a very common pronunciation error among Arabic speaking people. Arabic speaking people also have difficulty pronouncing and distinguishing the letters “b/B” and “f/V” especially at the beginning of words while English speaking individuals cannot pronounce several letters in Arabic which are typically written in English as “Dh”, “T”, and “H”. The stress regularity in verbs and sentences can also cause problems to Arab speakers, such as pronouncing the word “yesterday” and “tomorrow” which exhibit irregular letter formation. The Arabic language has 28 letters, 10 of which simply do not exist in the English alphabet.

With the above in mind, we notice the major differences between languages, added to difference in dialects among languages, i.e. British English and US English as well as Egyptian Arabic and Tunisian Arabic. It is such differences in phonology, grammar, alphabets and other areas that differentiate poetry, novel and expression of ideas among difference languages.

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