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

Letters   Pronunciation
Letter Phonetic Spelling Pronunciation
Aa   /a/ (ah) like a in father
Bb   /be/ (bay) like b in maybe
Cc   /se/ (say) before e and i: like c in center
before a, o, or u: like c in cat
Dd   /de/ (day) like d in dog
Ee   /ə/ (uh) approximately like u in burp
Ff   /ɛf/ (ehf) like f in fog
Gg   /ʒe/ (zhay) before e and i: like s in measure
before a, o, or u: like g in get
Hh   /aʃ/ (ahsh) silent
Ii   /i/ (ee) like ea in team
Jj   /ʒi/ (zhee) like s in measure
Kk   /ka/ (kah) like k in kite
Ll   /ɛl/ (ehl) like l in lemon
Mm   /ɛm/ (ehm) like m in minute
Nn   /ɛn/ (ehn) like n in note
Oo   /o/ (oh) closed: approximately like u in nut
open: like o in nose
Pp   /pe/ (pay) like p in pen
Qq   /ky/ (kew) like k in kite
Rr   /ɛʁ/ (ehr) force air through the back of your throat near the position of gargling, but sounding soft
Ss   /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   /te/ (tay) like t in top
Uu   /y/ (ew) say the English letter e, but make your lips say oo
Vv   /ve/ (vay) like v in violin
Ww   /dubləve/ (doo-bluh-vay) depending on the derivation of the word, like v as in violin, or w in w ater
Xx   /iks/ (eeks) either /ks/ in socks, or /gz/ in exit
Yy   /igʁɛk/ (ee-grehk) like ea in leak
Zz   /zɛd/ (zehd) like z in zebra

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