The French alphabet is the alphabet used to write French. It uses the modern Latin alphabet with its 26 letters to which must be added the letters from five diacritics, which then enrich it with thirteen accentuated vowels and the grapheme c cedilla "ç", as well as two ligatures e in the a " æ Æ "and e in the o" œ Œ ". It is therefore a total of 42 letters that make up the French alphabet.
In this chapter, you will get an overview about the French alphabet, the look and the differences between them
- 1.What are the letters of the alphabet in French ?
- 1.1.Fundamental French alphabet
- 2.The proper alphabet in French
- 2.1.The grave accent in the French alphabet
- 2.2.The circumflex accent in the French alphabet
- 2.3.The acute accent in the French alphabet
- 2.4.The ç in the French alphabet
- 2.5.The umlet in the French alphabet
What are the letters of the alphabet in French ?
Fundamental French alphabet
|Capital letters||Small letters||Examples|
There are 6 vowels in French: a, e, y, o, u, i
The proper alphabet in French
These letters are variant of the fundamental alphabet and can be taken from the Latin language.
|Capital letters||Small letters||Examples|
The grave accent in the French alphabet
In French, only the vowels a, e, u can take a grave accent. The French grave accent is (`) and the vowels which take it are:
|à||Je vais à Paris||(I am going to Paris)|
|ù||Où vas tu ?||(Where are you going)|
With the vowels a and u, the accent does not modify the pronunciation but is only used for the homonym. and ù is also the interrogative or relative pronoun used to differentiate it from the coordinating conjunction.
With the vowel e, the accent indicates the pronunciation of an open e
The "e" grave accent appears in a word ending in "s".
Après, dès, excès, accès, procès, près
The circumflex accent in the French alphabet
In French, the letters a, e, i, o, u can take this accent and is written (ˆ) and it indicates
- the pronunciation of an a, an e or an o
- the amassment of an old letter
- fortuitously, as a discriminating sign to distinguish homophones
Generally, you use it to "open" the vowel,
The circumflex accent is sometimes used to signal a missing letter
Since 1990, the circumflex accent is barely used on the i and u: you use it on conjugated verbs in the past simple, subjunctive imperfect and the pluperfect
The acute accent in the French alphabet
In French, you can find an acute accent (ˊ) on the vowel e used to distinguish the phoneme with the closed tone /e/ from the phoneme /ə/.
You can meet it exceptionally on:
- open e /ɛ /
- in inverted subject verbs (aimé-je)
- in some verbal forms (je protégerais)
- in some words (évènement)
The ç in the French alphabet
The ç changes the pronunciation of the alphabet letter c. You can put it in front of letters like: a, o, u.
The umlet in the French alphabet
The umlet are the two points that you put on the e, i, u to indicate that the preceding vowel must be pronounced separately.
The usage of ë, ü is rather rare in French and is only found in two categories of words. It is found in certain words where the umlaut indicates that:
- the preceding vowel is pronounced separately
- in particular names proper or words with several current spellings
Learn about the pronunciation of all these letters of the French alphabet in the following page !
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