The Letter YA in Arabic words.
Here are the uses for the letter ‘Ya’ ي in Arabic words.
1. As a long vowel. This does not mean that every time this letter is seen that it is a long vowel. It is dependent on the vowel preceding this letter. So if the letter before the ‘Ya’ has a Kasra (a vowel sign with a line under the letter) and the ‘Ya’ has no vowel/diacritical marking (like fatha, kasra or dhamma) then the ‘Ya’ will be a long vowel. For example in the word ‘in’ فِيْ the sound is ‘fee’ this is due to the first letter ‘fa’ having the kasra and the ‘Ya’ having only ‘sukoon’ (no vowel). This is a long vowel sound.
2. As a possessive pronoun. The word a book or book كتابٌ in Arabic is an indefinite noun. When attached to a personal pronoun like ‘Ya’ the sound does not only become long vowel but the book is also no longer indefinite and becomes definite due to ownership/possession. The meaning now becomes my book كتابي
3. The word Egypt in Arabic is ‘Misr’ مصر but when the ‘Ya’ is added at the end of the word it does not become ‘my Egypt’ but ‘of Egypt’ or ‘Egyptian’. Note this sound is also long vowel.
4. In a verb. When ‘Ya’ appears at the end of a verb, with a ‘sukoon’ preceded by a ‘noon’ the meaning will often be ‘me’. For example, in ضَرَبَنِيْ meaning ‘he hit me’ Again the ‘Ya’ here is also long vowel sound. Ya here does not mean my, as this will not appear in this way on verbs, as it does at the end of nouns.
There are other uses for Ya such as ‘I’ in ‘I have’ in the word لدي.
Where a Ya shaped letter appears without the two dots (nuqta) underneath the Ya this will not usually be a Ya but rather Ali Maqsoorah or in other words, this Ya shape doubles up as a chair for mini Alif.