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, 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.