French Lesson – The French Language & Alphabet

Hello Everyone,

Here is a new series of lessons where we will be learning French. And to start with, let’s have a look at the French alphabet!

The French Language

The French language is the native language in France, but also the official language in 28 other countries and pretty common as a cultural language (arts, food…) around the world. It is spoken by more than 270 million.

The French Writing System

The French writing system is build around a latin alphabet containing 26 letters which comprises 6 vowels and 20 consonants. The writing of these letters can be declined in uppercase and lowercase (which does not alter the pronunciation of the letter). In addition to these 26 letters, some of the vowels or consonant pronunciation can be altered by the addition of accents or diacritical marks. But what makes French quite tricky to learn is also the fact that letters can be aggregated into syllables to create new sounds, or that some letters can become silent (unpronounced) according to their position in a word.

The French Alphabet

Let’s have a look at the French alphabet (you can click on a letter to hear its pronounciation):

Uppercase Letter Lowercase Letter Type
A a Vowel
B b Consonant
C c Consonant
D d Consonant
E e Vowel
F f Consonant
G g Consonant
H h Consonant
I i Vowel
J j Consonant
K k Consonant
L l Consonant
M m Consonant
N n Consonant
O o Vowel
P p Consonant
Q q Consonant
R r Consonant
S s Consonant
T t Consonant
U u Vowel
V v Consonant
W w Consonant
X x Consonant
Y y Vowel
Z z Consonant

Accentuated & Diacritical Sounds

As indicated, French letters (mainly vowels) can take accents or diacritical symbols that change their pronunciation:

Letter Name Comment
à a accent grave
/a grave accent/
à  is pronounced like a
â a accent circonflexe
/a circumflex accent/
longer a
é e accent aigu
/e acute accent/
è e accent grave
/e grave accent/
ê e accent circonflexe
/e circumflex accent/
Pronounced like è
ë or silent e tréma
/e diaeresis/
Indicates that the vowel that precedes and this one shall be detached.
î i accent circonflexe
/i circumflex accent/
î is pronounced like i
ï i tréma
/i diaeresis/
Indicates that the vowel that precedes and this one shall be detached.
ô o accent circonflexe
/o circumflex accent/
 longer o
ù u accent grave
/u grave accent/
ù is pronounced like u
û u accent circonflexe
/u circumflex accent/
û is pronounced like u
ü u tréma
/u diaeresis/
Indicates that the vowel that precedes and this one shall be detached.
ç c cédille
/c cedilla/
Gets pronounced like an s


Here it is for this first lesson. Next time we will start the discovery of the French syllables.

A bientôt,
/See you soon/


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