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How to speak French

How to Learn the French Alphabet

French is a beautiful language that’s adored by people across the globe. However, if you want to learn how to speak like the natives, you need to start at the beginning. As you begin your journey towards fluency in French, one of the first things you’ll need to do is learn the alphabet. Luckily, the French alphabet is pretty straightforward and actually has the same 26 letters as the English alphabet! This can make things a bit easier to memorize, but French alphabet pronunciation still requires some practice. That’s why we put together this article to help you better understand how to write, spell, and pronounce the letters in the French alphabet.

The French Alphabet from A to Z

As mentioned, like the English alphabet, the French alphabet has 26 letters from A to Z. It’s also based on the Latin alphabet, so native speakers of other languages can easily adapt to the changes. For each of the letters in the French alphabet and their corresponding name, refer to the table below:

French LetterName of French Letter

While you might think that this means you don’t need to work on learning the alphabet in French, it’s still an important step in fluency and learning different French adjectives, nouns, and verbs. Plus, the pronunciation varies greatly from English, so you need to practice to perfect your French accent. Letters are also used in several ways in France and the language as a whole. This is especially true when you think about all of the acronyms used in French. For example, one of the most common ones that you may experience if you’re ever in the country is SNCF, which stands for the société nationale des chemins de fer (the national train company).

French Alphabet

French Alphabet Variations

In addition to the 26 letters, there are also about 14 different variants and two French ligatures. These variations are listed in the chart below.

French VariationName of Variation
volume_upàa with an accent grave (grave)
volume_upâa with an accent circonflexe (circumflex)
volume_upçcédille (cedilla)
volume_upée with an accent aigu (acute)
volume_upèe with an accent grave
volume_upêe with an accent circonflexe
volume_upîi with an accent circonflexe
volume_upïi with an accent tréma (trema
volume_upôo with an accent circonflexe
volume_upùu with an accent grave
volume_upüu with an accent tréma
volume_upûu with an accent circonflexe
volume_upŸy with an accent tréma
volume_upæblending of the letters a and e
volume_upœblending of the letters o and e

French Alphabet

French Alphabet Pronunciation

The alphabet in French is pronounced using a unique set of phonetics. Many of the letters don’t sound the same as their English counterparts. Luckily, with a little bit of practice, your French alphabet pronunciation will start to sound like a native. To help you get there, download Tandem today and match with a French speaker from around the world. For additional help, especially when performing French conjugation, you can easily refer to the following chart:

French AlphabetFrench Alphabet PronunciationHow the Letter Sounds When Used in Language
aahhlike opening your mouth at the dentist
bbahlike the “b” in bee
csaylike the “s” in hiss
ddaylike the word “day”
eeuhlike the “u” in burner
fefflike the “f” in fog
gjhaylike “su” in measure (sounds like “j”)
hahshlike saying ahh, but ending it with shh
ieelike the “ea” in teacher
jjheekind of like the English “g”
kkahhlike the “k” in kin
lellike the English “l”
mehmmlike the English “m”
nehnnlike the English “n”
oohhlike the “o” in hot
ppaylike the “p” in paper
qcoolike the “k” in kin
raihrlike saying “air” with a throaty ending
sesswhen it’s at the beginning of a word, it’s like the “s” in stand/when it’s in the middle of a word, it’s like the “z” in amazing
ttaylike the “t” in tower
uoolike when you say the letter “e” while forming the shape to say oo with your lips
vvaylike the “v” in volume
wdoo-bluh-vaylike the “w” in wash
xexxlike the “x” in exit
ye-graykLike the “ea” in leap
zzedlike the “z” in zip

There are also unique pronunciations for the variants in the French language. When referring to the chart in the section above, you can see that most of them are either an accent aigu, accent grave, accent circonflexe, accent tréma, or accent cédille. This is how you can differentiate the changes in pronunciation. Refer to the following table for more information:

Name of French VariationHow Pronunciation Changes
Accent Aiguthe “e” sounds more like “ay”
Accent Gravethe “e” changes to “eh”
Accent Circonflexepronunciation depends on the letter and coinciding word
Accent Trémaput stress on a vowel that’s next to another
Accent Cédillepronounced like softer “c”

French Alphabet Song

The changes in pronunciation of the French alphabet can make learning more challenging, which is why we recommend practicing with the French alphabet song! While it might feel a little like you’re regressing back to your childhood, it’s been shown that adding rhythm and a catchy tune can boost recall and give you a stronger base for practicing more complex words like French verbs. You can find a few examples of our favorite versions of the French alphabet song below.

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French Alphabet Game

There are also several French alphabet games that you can play to help you learn the different pronunciations. Plus, playing games creates a fun learning environment that can help you increase your desire to actually want to study while simultaneously boosting recall of French alphabet pronunciation! You can host a spelling bee with your friends or use other online resources to make a game out of any study situation. You can also play any French alphabet games with your language exchange partner to get feedback from a native speaker and tips on how to speak with a more natural French accent.

To work on your French alphabet pronunciation and more, join Tandem’s unique community of language learners across the world. Using our personalized language learning experience, you can match with native French speakers and continue perfecting your use of the French alphabet in real-life situations. Play games or exchange in useful conversation to help you build your vocabulary and improve recall.

Tandem works to help our members foster a deeper understanding of language while improving fluency and building long-lasting friendships. All you need to do is sign up, match with a native speaker of your target language, and start communicating. To join our community and work on your fluency, sign up for Tandem today.

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