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Learn The Amharic Alphabet: With English Pronunciation

Learn The Amharic Alphabet: With English Pronunciation

Although it’s entirely possible to learn how to speak Amharic without learning the alphabet, it’s not recommended, not if you’re aiming for fluency, at least.

Learning to read and write in the language will give you a much better understanding of how the words are put together, and it will also make it a lot easier to learn new vocabulary.

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And if that wasn’t enough incentive, you should know that the Amharic alphabet is used all across Ethiopia – on shop windows, restaurant menus, newspapers, etc. Put simply, if you don’t know how to read it, you’re going to have a tough time getting by in the country.

What is the Amharic alphabet?

Amharic uses a writing system that’s based on the Ge’ez script, an ancient Ethiopic script that’s also used for a number of other languages in Ethiopia, such as Tigrinya and Tigre.

Is Amharic an abjad?

An abjad is a type of alphabet where each letter represents a consonant sound, with no inherent vowel.

Therefore, Amharic is neither an abjad nor an alphabet but an abugida made up of letters called fidäl. In an abugida, each character represents a consonant+vowel sound, with the vowels being represented by modifying the shape of the consonant glyp.

Is Amharic written left to right?

Yes, Amharic is written from left to right, just like English. In that way, it’s different from other Semitic languages like Arabic and Hebrew.

How many letters are there in the Ethiopian Amharic alphabet?

Due to how the writing system functions, there are over 300 characters/letters in the Amharic alphabet.

Now, this might sound intimidating, and we won’t lie to you, it’ll take a little while to learn them all, but there is a method for learning them that can help to make the process easier.

Learn the basic Amharic letters first

Depending on who you ask, there are between 33 – 37 basic Amharic letters. 4 of them are quite rare, but you should still learn them because it’s best to cover all bases.

These basic letters make up the consonants in the language – they’re the original form of the letter before the vowels are added.

The best way to learn the Amharic alphabet is by focusing on the basic letters first. By learning and getting comfortable with these at the start of your journey, you can slowly introduce yourself to their altered forms, and this way they’ll make more sense.


Now let’s take a look at the letters. We’ve included the rare letters, forms, and punctuation that are often left out of language learning materials. We’ve also split the letters up into sections for easy navigation, and included (rough) English pronunciation for each of them.

Things to note:

  • On the far left, bolded, is the letter in its basic form
  • Where you see an apostrophe after a letter, that represents a click

 

Amharic Letters 1 – 5

h hu hi ha he ho
l lu li la le lo
hh hhu hhi hha hhe hhé hho
m mu mi ma me mo
sz szu szi sza sze szé szo

Amharic Letters 6 – 10

r ru ri ra re ro
s su si sa se so
sh shu shi sha she shé sho
q qu qi qa qe qo
q’h q’hu q’hi q’ha q’he q’hé q’ho

Amharic Letters 11 – 15

b bu bi ba be bo
v vu vi va ve vo
t tu ti ta te to
ch chu chi cha che ché cho
h’ h’u h’i h’a h’e h’é h’o

Amharic Letters 16 – 20

n nu ni na ne no
ny nyu nyi nya nye nyé nyo
a u i aa e é o
k ku ki ka ke ko
k’h k’hu k’hi k’ha k’he k’hé k’ho

Amharic Letters 21 – 25

w wu wi wa we wo
a u i aa e é o
z zu zi za ze zo
zh zhu zhi zha zhe zhé zho
y yu yi ya ye yo

Amharic Letters 26 – 30

d du di da de do
dd ddu ddi dda dde ddé ddo
j ju ji ja je jo
g gu gi ga ge go
gg ggu ggi gga gge ggé ggo

Amharic Letters 31 – 37

t’ t’u t’i t’a t’e t’é t’o
ch’ ch’u ch’i ch’a ch’e ch’é ch’o
p’ p’u p’i p’a p’e p’é p’o
ts tsu tsi tsa tse tsé tso
ss ssu ssi ssa sse ssé sso
f fu fi fa fe fo
p pu pi pa pe po

Rare Amharic Letters

qw qwi qwa qwe qwé
qhw qhwi qhwa qhwe qhwé
hw hwi hwa hwe hwé
kw kwi kwa kwe kwé
k’w k’wi k’wa k’we k’wé
gw gwi gwa gwe gwé

Amharic letters with extra sounds

lwa hhwa mwa szwa rwa swa shwa qoa
bwa vwa twa cwa h’wa nwa nywa wa
kwa zwa zhwa ywa dwa ddwa jwa gwa
ggwa t’wa ch’wa p’wa tswa sswa fwa pwa

Amharic Punctuation

, (comma) . (full stop/period) ; (semi-colon) : (colon) ? (question mark)

Learning and practicing the Amharic alphabet online

While we did try to make this Amharic alphabet guide as comprehensive as possible, we understand that without interactive study and native audio, it’ll be difficult to remember most of them.

That’s why we recommend using an app or program that can help you drum them into your head.

Memrise: Amharic Fidäl ፊደል

Memrise Amharic alphabet course

This Amharic Memrise course is free and will teach you the 33 basic Amharic letters and their altered forms. The best part of this is that the lessons come with audio, so you’ll be able to hear the correct pronunciation of each letter.

YouTube: Amaregna Le Hulum – Amharic for All

Consider watching this YouTube video series that teaches the Amharic alphabet using colorful animations and native audio. This would be great for visual learners.

Typing in Amharic: The best Amharic keyboards

You’ll want a way to type in Amharic, and for that, you’ll need a special keyboard. We’ve put together a useful list of the best Amharic keyboards available online, on websites and on apps. You can check out our article Typing in Amharic: The Best Online Keyboards and Apps.

Amharic alphabet PDF worksheet downloads

For those who want to study offline or do some writing practice, some Amharic alphabet tracing worksheets will come in handy.

You can download the first page of our Amharic Alphabet Tracing Pack here:

Amharic tracing alphabet 1-3 cover

Or get the full pack with 34 letters on Etsy:

Amharic Alphabet Tracing Pack Etsy


That’s all we’ve got for now, folks! If you want to learn some common Amharic vocabulary, why not head over to our post Greetings and Salutations in Amharic or How Do You Say This in Amharic? Common Words and Phrases.