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Urdu vs. Arabic: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 23, 2023
Urdu is a South Asian language primarily spoken in Pakistan and India, influenced by Persian, while Arabic is a Semitic language central to the Arab world and Islam.

Key Differences

Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and is also widely spoken in some regions of India, notably in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Arabic, on the other hand, is the official language of many countries across the Middle East and North Africa and is the liturgical language of Islam.
Urdu has been deeply influenced by Persian, both in its vocabulary and script. It is written in a script derived from Persian, which in turn was derived from Arabic. However, the grammar, syntax, and core vocabulary of Urdu are of Indo-Aryan origin, linking it more closely to languages like Hindi. Arabic, being a Semitic language, has a completely different grammatical structure and shares similarities with other Semitic languages like Hebrew and Aramaic.
While Urdu has borrowed a significant number of words from Arabic, due to Islamic influence, it also has a rich vocabulary from Sanskrit, Turkish, and Persian. Arabic vocabulary, in contrast, has influenced many languages around the world, especially in the realms of science, mathematics, and religion, but its core remains Semitic.
Culturally, Urdu is renowned for its poetic traditions, with forms such as Ghazal and Nazm. While Arabic has its poetry, it is also the language of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and therefore holds immense religious significance for Muslims worldwide.

Comparison Chart

Geographical Spread

Primarily in Pakistan and parts of India
Across the Middle East and North Africa


Nastaliq (derived from Persian)
Arabic script



Major Influences

Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic, Turkish
Semitic languages, some Greek and Persian

Primary Use

National language, literature, poetry
Official language, religious texts (Quran)

Urdu and Arabic Definitions


An Indo-Aryan language heavily influenced by Persian.
The beauty of Urdu poetry is appreciated by many beyond South Asia.


The liturgical language of Islam and the Quran.
Reciting the Quran requires a good grasp of classical Arabic.


The national language of Pakistan and one of India's recognized languages.
She spoke fluent Urdu, having been raised in Lahore.


A language with numerous dialects across various Arab countries.
Moroccan Arabic sounds quite different from Egyptian Arabic.


A language renowned for its poetic traditions like Ghazal.
His voice carried the melancholic tune of an Urdu song.


Written in its own script, used by multiple languages.
The Arabic script is used by several languages beyond just Arabic.


Written in the Nastaliq script derived from Persian.
Reading Urdu requires familiarity with its unique script.


Has influenced global languages in fields such as science and mathematics.
The word algebra has Arabic roots.


Shares significant vocabulary with Arabic due to Islamic influence.
Many religious terms in Urdu are borrowed from Arabic.


The Semitic language spoken predominantly in the Middle East and North Africa.
She learned Arabic to better communicate during her travels.


An Indic language that is the official literary language of Pakistan, essentially identical to Hindi in its spoken form but in its literary form heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic and written in an Arabic alphabet.


A Semitic language originating in the Arabian Peninsula that since the 7th century AD has come to be the principal language of a wide area of the Middle East and North Africa. Modern spoken Arabic consists of many different, often mutually unintelligible dialects, and a modified form of classical Arabic is used as the language of education and administration across the area.


Is Arabic the language of the Quran?

Yes, Arabic is the liturgical language of Islam and the Quran.

Are Urdu and Arabic related?

While Urdu has borrowed many words from Arabic, they belong to different language families: Urdu to Indo-Aryan and Arabic to Semitic.

What is Urdu?

Urdu is the national language of Pakistan and is also spoken in parts of India.

How old is the Urdu language?

Urdu developed during the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal Empire, making it several centuries old.

What's a significant historical era for Urdu literature?

The Mughal era was a golden period for Urdu poetry and literature.

Are Urdu and Hindi similar?

Yes, Urdu and Hindi are linguistically similar but use different scripts and have different cultural influences.

Is Urdu only spoken in Pakistan?

While Urdu is Pakistan's national language, it's also spoken in parts of India and by diasporas worldwide.

Are there dialectal variations in Arabic?

Yes, Arabic has various dialects, often specific to regions or countries.

Can Arabic speakers easily understand Urdu?

Not necessarily. Despite shared vocabulary, they are distinct languages with different grammatical structures.

What are some famous literary forms in Urdu?

Ghazal and Nazm are two renowned poetic forms in Urdu.

What is Arabic?

Arabic is a Semitic language spoken primarily in the Middle East and North Africa and is the language of the Quran.

In which script is Urdu written?

Urdu is written in the Nastaliq script, derived from Persian.

Which other languages have been influenced by Arabic?

Many languages, including Persian, Turkish, Urdu, and even some European languages, have borrowed words from Arabic.

Are Urdu songs popular?

Yes, Urdu songs, especially from Bollywood and Pakistani music industries, enjoy widespread popularity.

How difficult is it to learn Arabic?

It varies for individuals, but Arabic's non-Latin script and unique sounds can be challenging for some learners.

Is there a connection between Urdu and Persian?

Yes, Urdu has been heavily influenced by Persian in vocabulary, script, and literary traditions.

How many countries have Arabic as an official language?

Arabic is the official language of over 20 countries.

Is Arabic only used for religious purposes?

No, Arabic is a living language spoken daily by millions and used in literature, media, and more.

Can Arabic be written in the Latin script?

While Arabic is traditionally written in the Arabic script, it's sometimes transcribed in Latin letters, especially online, known as "Arabizi."

What is the primary script for Arabic?

Arabic is written in the Arabic script.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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