What Does the French Alphabet Look and Sound Like? Learn the French Letters, Accents and Pronunciation Here (2023)

What Does the French Alphabet Look and Sound Like? Learn the French Letters, Accents and Pronunciation Here (1)

By What Does the French Alphabet Look and Sound Like? Learn the French Letters, Accents and Pronunciation Here (2)hannahlamarque Last updated:

How often would you use the French alphabet throughout daily life in France?

You’d be surprised.

It’s not just for singing at pre-school.

You’ll need to use and pronounce the letters of the French alphabet every time you spell your name to a receptionist, give out your email address, listen to a store clerk when they tell you what aisle to find a product…

Could you do all three of those things effortlessly right now?

If you’re not there yet, don’t worry. The French alphabet is completely learnable, andthis guide is just what you need to get there.

In fact, the French alphabet looks very similar to the English alphabet, but there are a few essential differences.

While there are 26 letters in the French alphabet, there are five additional accent marks that can be applied to change the sound of the letter. Plus, some French letters are extra easy for native English speakers to mix up, like J and G.

We’ll walk you through it all, since the French alphabet is so important for learners to know.

(Video) Learn French - Lesson 2: Do you know the French Alphabet?

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Why Learnthe French Alphabet?

It’s the foundation of all French pronunciation

You will probably be aware at this point that the French pronounce their wordsdifferently than we do in English, and what look like familiar letters can often trip you up—unless you know your alphabet.

The differences between French letters with and without accents can also completely alter the meaning of a word, so you should learn thosevariations in sound as soon as possible.

It’s a great way to practice your accent

With good pronunciation comes a good accent in French and the ability to talk more easily. Slowly focusing on the sounds of the alphabet will help you internalizethe differences in sound and, as a result, make complete words a lot less of a tongue twister later down the road.

Taking the time to run through the French alphabet before you begin each lesson will act as a great verbal warm up, and give you time to adjust to the new way of speaking.

It will help you with spelling

Mastering the alphabet in French will make writing and reading more of a breeze. Hearing the sounds of each letter makes dictation and writing exercises more manageable.

Combinations of French letters often form unexpected sounds, so if you want to really hone your spelling, it pays to have a solidunderstanding of the Frenchalphabet.

The ABCs are possibly one of the simplest parts of learning the French language, yetalso one of the most important. By approaching it like any other element of the learning process, you’ll be able to more easily make the link between speaking, writing and reading down the line!

(Video) Practise your French alphabet

What Are the Letters of the French Alphabet?

All 26 French letters are below (if you’re a native English speaker, they should look very familiar) alongside an approximate phonetic spelling for how to pronounce the letter. Many of these letters require sounds that don’t quite exist in English—especially the vowels—so after this French alphabet chart we’ve also included a video where you can hear each letter pronounced by a native speaker.

Following the video, you’ll find the accent marks in French.

LetterApproximate Phonetic Spelling
Qcoo (hard "c)

What Are the French Accent Marks?

NameSymbolFrench Letters It Can Go OnImpact on PronunciationExample word
Accent Aigu´ePronounce "e" like "ay"marché (store)
Accent Grave`a, e, uPronounce "e" like "eh"matière (matter/subject)
Circumflexˆa, e, i, o, uNegligiblesûr (sure)
Trema¨e, i, uPronounce a vowel that's next to anothercoïncidence (coincidence)
Cedilla¸cPronounce soft "c"français (French)

5 Valuable Tips to Learn the French Alphabet Like a Native

1. Practice Daily with a Pronunciation Guide or French Alphabet Song

First things first, you’re going to want to find a pronunciation guide that really goes into detail, and I recommendThe French Tutorial. While you don’t need to take weeks focusing on the French alphabet, you do want to ensure that you get the basics down and locked in your mind.

Start by learningthe names of each letter, which are found in the “Alphabet” chapter. Similar to what we just covered above, you’ll get audio with native pronunciations for each letter.

Beginning your lessons by reading and then reciting the alphabet will make memorization much easier and get you in a great learning habit.

A French alphabet song or chant can also help with the memorization process. That’s why so many people learn their native language’s alphabet through song.

While lots of French alphabet songs are directed atchildren, they can actually be really useful in the learning process. YouTube has plenty to offer on this front—check out this bouncy one from Vocabzone.

This video fromAlain le Laitis also worth listening to if you want a non-traditional tune.

2. Listen to How Consonants Sound at the Start and End of Words

Consonants in French can be pronounced in any number of ways,depending on where they fall within a word. While consonants within the French alphabet don’t tend to be pronounced dramatically differently, they can alter depending on the word in which they’re used.

Many consonants at the start of words are sounded out, whileothers at the endings are not. Choose a new letter each week, and source a list of words which include that letter atthe beginning, in the middle or at the endof the word. Use a French dictionaryto hear the correct pronunciation of your words, and notice any differences in pronunciation based on the letter’s location within a word.

(Video) French Class 1 - Alphabet Pronunciation + Accent Marks + Sounds/Tones based on Letter Combinations

For example, in most scenarios, “d,” “x,” “s” and “t” are silent when they appear at the end of a word, which gives French pronunciation its trademark soft ending.Un rebond (a bounce) is spoken without stressing the final “d”—listen to a native pronunciation here. Compare this toun calendrier (a calendar) where you can clearly hear the “d” pronounced in the middle of the word.

Taking the time to understand how French letters work within words might take a little getting used to, but will be essential to your progression in French.

If you’re not sure where to begin, there are many digital resources which run through all the types of consonants, and how they can be used within words.

The siteLanguage Guide does a good job of running through some of the more unusual sounds, linking to audio files and example words.

ThoughtCohas a slightly more rigorous page for consonants, going through each letter in turn. Just click on the letter you want to learn about and listen to all of the variations in pronunciation.

3. Pronounce Vowels with Each Accent in Turn

The pronunciations of different letters in French are indicated by the presence or absence of different accents. Accents often transform the sound of the letter, and are an essential part of the French language. Luckily, there are tons of guides out there to make your life a little easier.

Often, very little marks the difference between certain accents, and attuning your ear to the sounds will stand you in good stead for the future. Learn French with Vincenthas a particularly useful video, which uses a single letter to explain the differences between each accent.

If you want a written guide to take away, however, The Grammaristis a great site to make a part of your learning routine. The site focuseson phonetic spelling in order to mark the subtle differences, and also names the different accents.

4. Focus on a New Vowel Pairing EveryWeek

(Video) French Alphabet (l’alphabet français) and French Accents

French uses a huge variety of different vowel pairings to produce a number of different sounds. Many pairs turn up time and time again, so they can be learned by heart. Once again, The French Tutorial is a fantasticresource for lessons like these, as it contains a list of the most common vowel pairings and audio clips to prompt good pronunciation.

While certain pairings are easier to remember in French, there are others which take some getting used to. The letters “ai,” for example, take on a different pronunciation in French than in English, and are spoken as more of an “ay” sound than anything else. Une maison (a house), for example, sounds more like “une may-son,” and it’s very important to remember this difference.

Choose one vowel pair to focus on each week. Along with formal practice and online exercises, also look for words containing that vowel pair in authentic content—like news articles, TV shows and on Facebook.

Remembering vowel pairings is something that will come with time, so don’t worry if you’re struggling to remember the different sounds when you first start out.

5. End Your Lessons with Phonic Exercises and Games

As with all parts of French, masteringthe French alphabet is best done over time. No one expects you to remember everything after hearing the French letters justa few times, so don’t sweat it! When you’re in the process of learning, however, it’s worth following up technical lessons with interactive activities and games in order to test everything that you’ve covered.

Tes has a great page dedicated towards students learning the French language, and uses illustrations and audio files to teach you handy ways to remember different pronunciations and insights into the alphabet’s differences and similarities.

You could also end your weekly language exchanges with a few fun minutes of spelling! Spell a few words to your partner and see how you do, and then swap turns and write down a few words asyour partner spells them to you.

Learning your French alphabet is one of the first and most important things that you do when taking on the language. Trust me when I say that it pays to give French letters enough attention from the start.Itnaturally forms a sturdy basefrom which you can branch out into reading, writing, listening and speaking down the road.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)


What does the French alphabet sound like? ›

Bit sit this earth f G a sh e g k l m n o P good a s t u v du plus V it's exact bed so that ah

How do you pronounce letters with accents in French? ›

E so the letter e in french is pronounced. And this uh is going to change when we put different

How do you say learn the alphabet in French? ›

On recommence alors cette fois ci répétez après moi la star game pad this time 8 bits à tommy lee

What are the 5 accents in French? ›

Accents in the French Alphabet
  • The Aigu Accent (L'accent aigu) The aigu accent is placed above the e vowel and changes the sound to ay. ...
  • The Grave Accent (L'accent grave) ...
  • The Cedilla (La Cédille) ...
  • The Circumflex (Le Circonflexe) ...
  • The Trema (Le tréma)

How do you Pronounce the alphabet sounds? ›

English Alphabet Sounds - YouTube

How many basic sounds does the French alphabet have? ›

The French Phonetic Alphabet consists of 37 Sounds

Linguists and dictionaries use the International Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA, a standardized alphabet or system for phonetic notation. The IPA symbols below are what linguists use to mark certain sounds.

What are the 3 French accents? ›

In French there are 3 accents: l'accent aigu (the acute accent) l'accent grave (the grave accent) l'accent circonflexe (the circumflex)

How do you sound French? ›

How To Speak With A French Accent - YouTube

How much time does it take to learn French? ›

If you are an English speaker, learning French requires 575-600 hours of study (or 23-24 weeks full- time). It is the same for other European Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish etc) and the Germanic ones (Danish, Swedish, Dutch/Afrikaans Norwegian – not German).

What are the 26 letters of the alphabet in French? ›

The Alphabet in French

a, b, c, d, e f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o ,p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.

Is French easy to learn? ›

French is relatively easy to learn but it does take some time and effort. As French is closely related to English, I have to agree with the Foreign Language Institute that says that French belongs to the easiest group of languages to learn for English speakers. Having so much common vocabulary helps a lot!

What sound does å make? ›

Å is pronounced like the English O in “or,” the Swedish Ä sounds almost like the word “air” in English, and Ö has a similar pronunciation to the [er] sound in the word “her.”

What is the most common French accent? ›

The acute accent (French, accent aigu) is the most common accent used in written French. It is only used with the letter e and is always pronounced /e/. One use of the accent aigu is to form the past participle of regular -er verbs.

What is the best French accent? ›

#1 Parisian French

Of the accents of France, the Paris accent is perhaps the hardest to nail down. And that's because Parisian French is considered “standard French” – or French without an accent. Also, not every Parisian speaks the same way (just think how many accents there are in London).

How do you say Z in French? ›

The letter 'Z' in French is pronounced like the 'Z' in English: listen.

How do you pronounce J and G in French? ›

The French letters g and j are pronounced with a soft jhay sound similar to the s in Asia. The vowel sounds in the French letters are switched—g being jhay, and j being jhee.

What are the sounds of each letter in the alphabet? ›

The Sounds of the Alphabet
LetterSound of Letter NameAll sounds of letter
A, aā-ee (long a to long e, also spell "ay")æ, ā, ah, ā-uh, uh
B, bBeebuh
C, cSeekuh, suh
D, dDeeduh
22 more rows

What is the only letter in the French alphabet that is never pronounced? ›

In French, -e is the most common silent letter that you will encounter. It is also the only vowel that isn't always pronounced. When the letter –e placed at the end of a word is after a consonant, it is not pronounced. For example, the -e at the end of the word voiture (car) is normally not pronounced.

How do I learn French pronunciation? ›

How to Practise French Pronunciation on Your Own (10 Steps)
  1. Step 1: Start Small: Practise the Pronunciation of Individual Sounds. ...
  2. Step 2: Imitate the Facial Expressions and Body Language of Native French Speakers. ...
  3. Step 3: Learn to Sing a French Song. ...
  4. Step 4: Have a Conversation with a Native French Speaker.

What does French look like language? ›

LE FRANÇAIS! The FRENCH Language is Fantastic - YouTube

What is this ô called? ›

The circumflex accent marks the stressed vowel of a word in some languages: Portuguese â, ê, and ô are stressed "closed" vowels, opposed to their open counterparts á, é, and ó (see below).

What are 10 French words? ›

Learn Some Common French Words
  • Bonjour = Hello, Good morning.
  • Au revoir = Goodbye.
  • Oui = Yes.
  • Non = No.
  • Merci = Thank you.
  • Merci beaucoup = Thank you very much.
  • Fille = Girl.
  • Garçon = Boy.

What accent is ô? ›


How important are accents in French? ›

Whether you're looking to speak or write in French, accents are an essential and common ingredient of the language. They change the pronunciation of certain vowels and help distinguish between words that would otherwise be spelled or uttered in exactly the same way.

What are the four French accents? ›

The Sleek Beginner's Guide to French Accent Marks
  • Even their vowels have accessories.
  • Luckily for French language learners, there are only five you must know: four accents for the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and one for a consonant (c).
29 Jan 2022

Why are accent marks in French so important? ›

The French alphabet uses the twenty-six letters of the Latin alphabet. It also uses accent marks with certain letters, which are part of the spelling of a word. These diacritical marks are used to modify the sound of the letter with which they appear or to distinguish the word that includes it from another homonym.

How do you speak like real French? ›

Follow Us Now
  1. 1.Work on your pronunciation.
  2. 2.Be a little less formal.
  3. 3.Spend time on your listening skills.
  4. 4.Throw in some slang.
  5. 5.Use French expressions.
  6. Dial down the enthusiasm.
  7. Speak a little bit faster.
  8. 8.Say au revoir to “nous”
19 Sept 2015

How do you describe a French accent? ›

The go-to for describing the "standard" Parisian accent tends to be "nasal" (since speakers tend to bring words toward the front of their mouths, especially with the vowel sounds). French is notable for a few aspects of its spoken form: A slightly guttural "R" sound (although this depends on geography to some extend);

How do you move your mouth when speaking French? ›

Practicing French pronunciation – Part 2: Vowel placement - YouTube

How many words do you need to be fluent in French? ›

In most cases, it will then be possible to fill in any blanks through contextual awareness. However, it is estimated that a truly fluent French speaker knows around 3,000 words.

How much French can I learn in 6 months? ›

Time per day

In short, you can learn French with roughly 2 to 3 hours of French per day for 6 month, or 1 to 1,5 hours per day for a year.

Can I become fluent in French in a year? ›

Regardless of your definition of fluency, you'll need to practice the language if you want to master it. If you want a short answer, yes, you can become fluent in French in one year (or even less), especially if you follow the 10 steps included in the next section.

What do we say 123 in French? ›

Zéro, un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix. Très bien!

How do you write a to z in French? ›

Pronounce French Letters - Alphabet A to Z | Lessons with Example of ...

Does the letter k exist in French? ›

Alphabet. The French alphabet is based on the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, uppercase and lowercase, with five diacritics and two orthographic ligatures. The letters ⟨w⟩ and ⟨k⟩ are rarely used except in loanwords and regional words.

Is French or German easier? ›

Nitty-gritty things like these can make getting started a bit of a challenge – but between the two, French will be a little easier, with (slightly) fewer endings to learn. That said, experts largely agree that the more German you learn, the easier it gets, while French gets more complicated the deeper you dive in.

Is French or Spanish easier? ›

Spanish is arguably somewhat easier for the first year or so of learning, in large part because beginners may struggle less with pronunciation than their French-studying colleagues. However, beginners in Spanish have to deal with dropped subject pronouns and four words for "you," while French only has two.

How long did it take you to become fluent in French? ›

According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), French is a category 1 language. This means learning French takes 23 – 24 weeks (575 – 600 hours) for most English speakers. This makes French one of the easiest (and fastest) languages to learn.

What is the O with 2 dots? ›

Ö, or ö, is a character that represents either a letter from several extended Latin alphabets, or the letter "o" modified with an umlaut or diaeresis. In many languages, the letter "ö", or the "o" modified with an umlaut, is used to denote the close- or open-mid front rounded vowels [ø] ( listen) or [œ] ( listen).

How is the u pronounced? ›

The last umlaut in the German language is the Ü. Similar to the Ö, there is no sound in the English language which is the equivalent of this umlaut. The way to pronounce the Ü umlaut is by making the sound “ee” and pursing your lips as if you were whistling, almost completely shut.

What does Ł sound like? ›

Ł – The mysterious ł with a slash is pronounced like an English 'w' like in the word 'wool.

Which French accent is easiest to understand? ›

Marseille Accent

Compared with Parisians, Southern French people speak French at a slower rate, which can make it seem easy to understand.

What does Ë mean in French? ›

French. Ë appears in words like French Noël. Like in Dutch, it is used to indicate that the vowel should not be monophthonged. For example, Noël is pronounced [nɔɛl], whilst Noel would be pronounced [nœl].

What is the rule for accents in French? ›

Accents are used only on vowels and under the letter c. An accent aigu ( ) is only used on an e (é) and produces the sound ay, as in “day.” It may also replace an s from old French. When you see this letter, replace the é with an imaginary s to see if its meaning becomes more evident.

Why does French sound so beautiful? ›


With its unpronounceable “r”, its nasal vowel sounds “en”, “in”, “un” and melodious intonation, it sounds extremely musical to the non-native ear. And let's not forget the strong cultural context which lends French the status of the most beautiful spoken language in the world.

Is a French accent hard? ›

French pronunciation can be hard, and the accent marks assist us in accurately pronouncing or grasping the meaning of words. For example, l'accent aigu on an e tells us that we pronounce that é like “ay.” So the word passé is pronounced approximately like “pass-ay.”

How can I improve my French speaking? ›

10 Ideas to Improve Your French Speaking Skills
  1. Don't Study French in a stretch. ...
  2. Lock yourself in the room and talk to yourself in French in front of a mirror. ...
  3. Go on to listen to French audio anytime and anywhere. ...
  4. Switch on your TV to watch French game shows. ...
  5. Repeat or revise as much as possible. ...
  6. Read French out loud.
20 Nov 2019

Is the French alphabet the same as English? ›

French and English share the same Latin alphabet, but the letters make different sounds in each language.

Why are condoms called French letters? ›

Senior Member. The "French" was picked for the same reason that "French disease" and "French kiss" were coined: stereotypes and racial enmity. As for letters, I always thought that a condom was similar to an envelope, topologically and in use (as a protective covering), hence the "letter" reference.

What do we say 123 in French? ›

Zéro, un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept, huit, neuf, dix. Très bien!

How do you say Z in French? ›

The letter 'Z' in French is pronounced like the 'Z' in English: listen.

What is the only letter in the French alphabet that is never pronounced? ›

In French, -e is the most common silent letter that you will encounter. It is also the only vowel that isn't always pronounced. When the letter –e placed at the end of a word is after a consonant, it is not pronounced. For example, the -e at the end of the word voiture (car) is normally not pronounced.

Is k used in French? ›

If you look through a French dictionary, you will find a lack of the letter 'K. ' That is because it's not a native letter in the French alphabet and is only used on rare occasions.

How long does it take to learn French? ›

According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), French is a category 1 language. This means learning French takes 23 – 24 weeks (575 – 600 hours) for most English speakers. This makes French one of the easiest (and fastest) languages to learn.

Did they use condoms in the 1700s? ›

18th-century condoms were available in a variety of qualities and sizes, made from either linen treated with chemicals, or "skin" (bladder or intestine softened by treatment with sulphur and lye). They were sold at pubs, barbershops, chemist shops, open-air markets, and at the theatre throughout Europe and Russia.

What was used before condoms? ›

Old-school condoms were crazy

In the 1500s, Japanese men wore condoms made from tortoise shells and animal horns. Other materials included oiled paper and animal intestines and bladders.

Did they use condoms in the 1800s? ›

Condoms made from animal intestines—usually those of sheep, calves, or goats—remained the main style through the mid-1800s. Used for both pregnancy- and disease-prevention, these condoms stayed in place with a ribbon that men tied around the bases of their penises.

What's your name on French? ›

If you'd like to say “What is your name?” in French, you generally have two options. To pose the question formally, you'd say “Comment vous-appelez vous? Speaking informally, you can simply ask “Comment t'appelles-tu?”

What are 3 greetings in French? ›

The most important French greetings include bonjour (hello), enchanté(e) (nice to meet you), bonsoir (good evening/hello), salut (hi), coucou (hey), Ça fait longtemps, dis donc (long time no see), Âllo (hello), Ça va? (how are you?), tu vas bien? (have you been well?), quoi de neuf? (what's up?), au revoir!

What does 29 mean in French? ›

Numbers in French: 21-69
NumberIn FrenchPronunciation
26vingt-sixvan sees
27vingt-septvan set
28vingt-huitvan wheet
29vingt-neufvan nuhf
20 more rows

How do you say K in French? ›

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).
Letters and Pronunciation.
Alphabet Letters Pronunciation
LetterPhonetic SpellingPronunciation
Kk/ka/ (kah)like k in kite
Ll/ɛl/ (ehl)like l in lemon
24 more rows

How do you write F in French? ›

French consonant

The letter F is pronounced similarly in French and English. Phonetic symbol: [f]. This [f] sound can also be spelled with the letter combination PH. In liaisons, F is pronounced like the letter V.

Does W exist in French? ›

The letter "w" is uncommon in French words. While the sound is used in words like oui, you will be hard-pressed to find a French word that begins with a "w," which is one of two letters—the other is the letter "k"—that were not in the original French alphabet, so it only appears in foreign words.


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