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French is based on the Latin alphabet (also called the Roman alphabet), and there are twenty-six (26) letters. Originally there were twenty-five (25) letters, with 'W' being added by the mid-nineteenth century. Unlike the English, who call it a "double-u," the French use "double-v" and pronounce it (doo-bluh-vay) after the 'V' which is pronounced (vay). During the period from Old French to Modern French, the letter 'K' was added. These two letters are used mostly with adopted foreign words. The French alphabet used today is less than 200 years old.

The twenty-six letters are parted into :

  • 20 Consonants (Consonnes): B C D F G H J K L M N P Q R S T V W X Z
  • 6 Vowels (Voyelles): A E I O U Y

In addition to these letters French uses several accents: grave accents (à, è, and ù) and acute accents (é). A circumflex applies to all vowels, except Y (considered as a vowel): â, ê, î, ô, û. A tréma (French for dieresis) is also applied: ë, ï, ü, ÿ. Two combined letters (called orthographic ligatures) are used: æ and œ. Finally, a cedilla is used on the c to make it sound like an English s: ç.[1]

Letters and Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Letters Pronunciation
Letter Phonetic Spelling Pronunciation
Aa Listen /a/ (ah) like a in father
Bb Listen /be/ (bay) like b in maybe
Cc Listen /se/ (say) before e and i: like c in center
before a, o, or u: like c in cat
Dd Listen /de/ (day) like d in dog
Ee Listen /ə/ (uh) approximately like u in burp
Ff Listen /ɛf/ (ehf) like f in fog
Gg Listen /ʒe/ (zhay) before e and i: like s in measure
before a, o, or u: like g in get
Hh Listen /aʃ/ (ahsh) silent
Ii Listen /i/ (ee) like ea in team
Jj Listen /ʒi/ (zhee) like s in measure
Kk Listen /ka/ (kah) like k in kite
Ll Listen /ɛl/ (ehl) like l in lemon
Mm Listen /ɛm/ (ehm) like m in minute
Nn Listen /ɛn/ (ehn) like n in note
Oo Listen /o/ (oh) closed: approximately like u in nut
open: like o in nose
Pp Listen /pe/ (pay) like p in pen
Qq Listen /ky/ (kew) like k in kite
Rr Listen /ɛʁ/ (ehr) force air through the back of your throat near the position of gargling, but sounding soft
Ss Listen /ɛs/ (ehs) like s in sister at beginning of word or with two s's or like z in amazing if only one s
Tt Listen /te/ (tay) like t in top
Uu Listen /y/ (ew) say the English letter e, but make your lips say oo
Vv Listen /ve/ (vay) like v in violin
Ww Listen /dubləve/ (doo-bluh-vay) depending on the derivation of the word, like v as in violin, or w in w ater
Xx Listen /iks/ (eeks) either /ks/ in socks, or /gz/ in exit
Yy Listen /igʁɛk/ (ee-grehk) like ea in leak
Zz Listen /zɛd/ (zehd) like z in zebra

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External Links[edit | edit source]