The first letter of the Hebrew alphabet once had a glottal stop sound. Now it is silent.
The vowels placed under the consonants give them sound.
The patach and the chataf-patach have the sound of AH. The kamats usually also has the sound of AH.
Under certain conditions, we will see later on, it has the sound of AW.
Alef is silent, so a kamats or a patach placed under the alef gives the sound "ah".
Alef is handwritten like this ==>