Difference Between Urdu and Arabic

Main Difference – Urdu vs Arabic

Urdu and Arabic are two languages that are usually associated with the Muslim community. Arabic, which is spoken in many regions of the world, can be said to be the origin of Urdu. Due to their historical connection, there are many similarities between the two languages. However, the main difference between Urdu and Arabic is their language families; Urdu belongs to Indo-European language family whereas Arabic belongs to Afro-Asiatic language family.Difference Between Urdu and Arabic -infographic

What is Arabic

Arabic is one of the most used languages in the world. Arabic belongs to the Semitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. This language is used extensively in regions of North Africa, Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Arabic is closely related to Aramaic, Ugaritic, Hebrew, and Phoenician. Arabic has also influenced many languages such as Persian, Turkish, Malay, Hindi, Urdu, Indonesian, Tagalog, Somali, Swahili, etc.

There are two basic versions of Arabic: the spoken and the written. The written or literary language known as Modern Standard Arabic is the only official form of Arabic. It is used in written documents and also spoken on formal occasions. This version is different and more conservative than the spoken varieties of Arabic. The spoken varieties may differ vastly to such an extent that they are mutually unintelligible.  Modern Standard Arabic is also extensively taught in many educational institutions. It is derived from the language of the Quran.

Difference Between Urdu and Arabic

What is Urdu

Urdu belongs to Indo-European language family; however, it is heavily influenced by the Arabic language. It is a standardised register of the Hindustani language. Urdu is an official language of six states of India and the national language and lingua franca of Pakistan.

Although Urdu is traditionally associated with the Muslims of the region in North India and Pakistan, it is typically mutually intelligible with Standard Hindi, which is spoken by the Hindu community. Urdu is largely made of Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit vocabulary. The literary Urdu is traditionally written in the Nastaliq style of the Persian alphabet.

Main Difference - Urdu vs Arabic

Orange-Provincial/state level, Dark yellow – Secondary provincial/state language, Light yellow-National level

Difference Between Urdu and Arabic

Language Family

Urdu belongs to Indo-European language family.

Arabic belongs to Afro-Asiatic language family.


Urdu has about 65 million native speakers.

Arabic has about 3000 million native speakers.


Urdu is used in India and Pakistan.

Arabic is used in North Africa, Middle East and in the horn of Africa.


Urdu is influenced by Arabic.

Arabic has a longer history than Urdu.


Urdu has been heavily influenced by Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit.

Arabic has been influenced by Aramaic, Ethiopic, and Hebrew.

Style of Writing

Urdu is associated with the Nastaʿlīq style of Persian calligraphy.

Arabic is associated with the Naskh or Ruq’ah styles.

Image Courtesy:

“Arabic Dialects” By Rafy – File:Arab World-Large.PNG via

“Hindi-Urdu as an official language”  By Kwamikagami at English Wikipedia via

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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