Row 1VowelsDiacriticsRow 2Row 3Row 4Row 5Row 6Row 7Row 8Conjuncts

Gurmukhi is divided into eight rows of five letters each except the last which consists of six letters. In this lesson we will learn the first row of Gurmukhi. We will use some words familiar to you to demonstrate the use of Gurmukhi letters and the sounds they represent. The Gurmukhi transcriptions of these words contain, besides the letters being introduced, some special symbols called matras which represent Punjabi vowels. We will introduce these matras in Lesson 2.

First row of GurmukhiEdit

The five letters contained in the first row of Gurmukhi are

ੳ ਅ ੲ ਸ ਹ

These are called ੳ - urha, ਅ - airha, ੲ - eerhi, ਸ - sussa and ਹ - haha. ੳ, ਅ and ੲ have no sounds of their own and act as matra carriers. Let us first take ਹ

Gurmukhi Haha Ani.gif

Haha the fifth letter of Gurmukhi, is pronounced the same as /h/ in English. Now the word who will be written in Gurmukhi as ਹੂ. The matra attached with ਹ represents the /oo/ vowel as in boot. Thus we have

ਹੂ /hoo/ = who
Now have a look at another word how which will be written in Gurmukhi as
ਹਾ + ਉ = ਹਾਉ /hau/ = how
The matra attached with ਹ represents the /a/ vowel as in /last/. For the first time we have come across the second letter of of this example which is

Gurmukhi Urha Ani.gif

Urha, the first Gurmukhi letter, has no sound of its own and is used as a matra carrier. In the above example the matra attached ਓ represents the /u/ vowel as in put. Before proceeding further let us learn ਸ also

Gurmukhi Sussa Ani.gif

Sussa, the fourth Gurmukhi letter, is pronounced the same as /s/ in English. Now if we add ਸ to ਹਾਉ we get

ਹਾ + ਉ + ਸ = ਹਾਉਸ /haaus/ = house
Now the word eye when wriiten in Gurmukhi illustrates the remaining two letters of the first row namely

Gurmukhi Airha Ani.gif

Airha, the second letter of Gurmukhi script and

Gurmukhi Irhi Ani.gif

Irhi, the third letter of Gurmukhi script are both used as matra carriers. See how eye is written in Gurmukhi

ਆ + ਇ = ਆਇ = eye
Here the matra attached with ਅ represents the /a/ vowel as in last and the one attached with ੲ represents the /i/ vowel as in list. Look at some more illustrations of the use of ਸ in transliteration of the words sigh and ice in Gurmukhi
ਸਾ + ਇ = ਸਾਇ /sai/ = sigh
ਆ + ਇ + ਸ = ਆਇਸ /aais/ = ice


1. Read these English words written in Gurmukhi

  1. ਹੂ
  2. ਆਇ
  3. ਹਾਉਸ
  4. ਆਇਸ
  1. Who
  2. Eye
  3. House
  4. Ice

2. Write the above listed words in Gurmukhi and English side by side

3. Write these English words in Gurmukhi

  1. Us
  2. How
  3. Sigh
  4. Hiss
  5. High
  1. ਅ + ਸ = ਅਸ
  2. ਹਾ + ਉ = ਹਾਉ
  3. ਸਾ + ਇ = ਸਾਇ
  4. ਹਿ + ਸ = ਹਿਸ
  5. ਹਾ + ਇ = ਹਾਇ


In this lesson you have learnt ੳ, ਅ, ੲ, ਸ, ਹ, the five letters of the first row of Gurmukhi script. Besides these letters you also encountered some of the matras which were explained without naming them. In the next lesson you will learn the vowel sounds and the matras representing these vowels in Gurmukhi.

Last modified on 8 July 2012, at 07:11