Also known as Amarinya or Amringna, the Amharic script originated from the ancient writing system called the Ge’ez script. The Ge’ez script was created around the 5th century BCE from the Ethiopian script to help write the Ge’ez language. Over time, the Ge’ez script evolved and was adopted to write Amharic script [1].

Based on latest data from 2021, there are over 31 million speakers [2] of this language, and it is an official language of Ethiopia [3]. Additionally, it is also spoken by Ethiopian communities residing in the United States, Canada, Israel, and several European countries [4].

The Amharic script consists of 7 vowels, 33 consonants, numeral letters, and several diacritic marks [5]. Below is the detailed breakdown.

Advertisements

Amharic Vowel Letters

There are seven vowels in Amharic script which can either be written independently, or can be combined with consonant letters.

Vowels:

[a]
[u]
[i]
[a]
[e]
[ə]
[o]

Amharic Consonant Letters

There are 33 consonant letters in Amharic script. They can be combined with vowel letters to create a syllable called "fidel". There are a total of 231 possible combinations of vowels and consonants, which are listed below:

[ha]
[hu]
[hi]
[haa]
[hee]
[he]
[ho]
[la]
[lu]
[li]
[laa]
[lee]
[le]
[lo]
[hha]
[hhu]
[hhi]
[hhaa]
[hhee]
[hhe]
[hho]
[ma]
[mu]
[mi]
[maa]
[mee]
[me]
[mo]
[sza]
[szu]
[szi]
[szaa]
[szee]
[sze]
[szo]
[ra]
[ru]
[ri]
[raa]
[ree]
[re]
[ro]
[sa]
[su]
[si]
[saa]
[see]
[se]
[so]
[sha]
[shu]
[shi]
[shaa]
[shee]
[she]
[sho]
[qa]
[qu]
[qi]
[qaa]
[qee]
[qe]
[qo]
[qha]
[qhu]
[qhi]
[qhaa]
[qhee]
[qhe]
[qho]
[ba]
[bu]
[bi]
[baa]
[bee]
[be]
[bo]
[va]
[vu]
[vi]
[vaa]
[vee]
[ve]
[vo]
[ta]
[tu]
[ti]
[taa]
[tee]
[te]
[to]
[ca]
[cu]
[ci]
[caa]
[cee]
[ce]
[co]
[xa]
[xu]
[xi]
[xaa]
[xee]
[xe]
[xo]
[na]
[nu]
[ni]
[naa]
[nee]
[ne]
[no]
[nya]
[nyu]
[nyi]
[nyaa]
[nyee]
[nye]
[nyo]
[a]
[au]
[ai]
[aa]
[aee]
[ae]
[ao]
[kxa]
[kxu]
[kxi]
[kxaa]
[kxee]
[kxe]
[kxo]
[wa]
[wu]
[wi]
[waa]
[wee]
[we]
[wo]
[a]
[u]
[i]
[aa]
[ea]
[e]
[o]
[za]
[zu]
[zi]
[zaa]
[zee]
[ze]
[zo]
[zha]
[zhu]
[zhi]
[zhaa]
[zhee]
[zhe]
[ya]
[yu]
[yi]
[yaa]
[yee]
[ye]
[yo]
[da]
[du]
[di]
[daa]
[dee]
[de]
[do]
[dda]
[ddu]
[ddi]
[ddaa]
[ddee]
[dde]
[ddo]
[ja]
[ju]
[ji]
[jaa]
[jee]
[je]
[jo]
[ga]
[gu]
[gi]
[gaa]
[gee]
[ge]
[go]
[gga]
[ggu]
[ggi]
[ggaa]
[ggee]
[gge]
[ggo]
[tha]
[thu]
[thi]
[thaa]
[thee]
[the]
[tho]
[cha]
[chu]
[chi]
[chaa]
[chee]
[che]
[cho]
[pha]
[phu]
[phi]
[phaa]
[phee]
[phe]
[pho]
[tsa]
[tsu]
[tsi]
[tsaa]
[tsee]
[tse]
[tso]
[tza]
[tzu]
[tzi]
[tzaa]
[tzee]
[tze]
[tzo]
[fa]
[fu]
[fi]
[faa]
[fee]
[fe]
[fo]
[pa]
[pu]
[pi]
[paa]
[pee]
[pe]
[po]

Amharic Numeral Letters

Amharic has its own numeric symbols to denote numbers and fractions. At present, however, either Hindu or Latin numeral systems are commonly used.

ዜሮ
[zero]
አንድ
[1]
ሁለት
[2]
ሶስት
[3]
አራት
[4]
አምስት
[5]
ስድስት
[6]
ሰባት
[7]
ዘጠኝ
[8]
አስር
[9]
.

Amharic Special Character Letters

.
,

Amharic Diacritic Marks

Various diacritic marks used to modify the sound of the letters

ለውጥ
[lawt]
አባል
[abäl]
ተግባር
[(tagäbär)]

Frequently Asked Questions

How many letters are there in Amharic?

There are 7 vowels and 33 consonants in the Amharic script.

The consonants letter are often combined with the vowel letters to form a syllable known as a "fidel". There are a total of 231 possible fidel combination.

In addition, there are several diacritic marks and additional characters to support special sounds and loanwords from other language. For example, the glottal stop which is indicated by the symbol "?", while the pharyngeal consonants are indicated by the letters "ʕ" and "ħ".


How easy is it to learn Amharic?

The learning curve of the Amharic alphabet depends on the learner’s existing language, background, and dedication to the learning process. If the learner is English speaker, then they may encounter following challenges:

First, the Amharic script, called Fidel, differs from the Latin alphabet used in English. This presents a new set of characters and symbols to learn. Additionally, Amharic has unique vowel sounds, including short and long vowels, as well as diphthongs, which may be unfamiliar to English speakers.

Another challenge lies in the syllable stress patterns. Amharic follows different stress patterns compared to English. Mastering the correct stress placement in Amharic words can be difficult for English speakers.

Grammar in Amharic poses further difficulties. It involves complex verb conjugations, noun gender agreement, and the use of prefixes and suffixes to indicate tense. Understanding and correctly applying these grammar rules can be a challenge for English speakers.

In addition to these linguistic challenges, English speakers may also face obstacles such as limited availability of learning resources specifically designed for Amharic learners, limited exposure to the language and native speakers, and the acquisition of vocabulary and idiomatic expressions.

Despite these challenges, English speakers can achieve proficiency in Amharic with consistent practice. Utilising books, online resources, and learning videos on platforms like YouTube can greatly support the learning process.

By dedicating time and effort, English speakers can overcome these hurdles and develop a strong command of the Amharic language. It is important to remember that if Amharic speakers can successfully master the English language, English speakers can undoubtedly achieve proficiency in Amharic as well!