French Alphabet, Vowels and Consonants 

french drinks

This section, we will get our ABC down and study the French alphabet in detail. More specifically, we will focus on the French vowels as well as accented letters, and consonants and their true sounds in words (phonics)

Ready to start? Partez! (Go)!

1. French Alphabet + Audio

1.1 Introductory notes

The French alphabet includes 26 letters. These letters are made up of 6 vowels and 20 consonants. Howers, one should also be aware of the various accented letters present in the French alphabet. Don't worry if you have no idea what I have described. Everything is explained below with a pronunciation guide. Enjoy!

1.2 Reading the French Alphabet

ALPHABET [A - B - C]

SOUND [A - B - C]

ALPHABET [D - E - F]

SOUND [D - E - F]

  • A-a
  • B-b
  • C-c
  • D-d
  • E-e
  • F-f

ALPHABET [G - H - I]

SOUND [G - H - I]

ALPHABET [J - K - L]

SOUND [J - K - L]

  • G-g
  • H-h
  • I-i
  • J-j
  • K-k
  • L-l

ALPHABET [M - N - O]

SOUND [M - N - O]

ALPHABET [P - Q - R]

SOUND [P - Q - R]

  • M-m
  • N-n
  • O-o
  • P-p
  • Q-q
  • R-r

ALPHABET [S - T - U]

SOUND [S - T - U]

ALPHABET [V - W - X]

SOUND [V - W - X]

  • S-s
  • T-t
  • U-u
  • V-v
  • W-w
  • X-x

ALPHABET [Y - Z]

SOUND [Y - Z]

  • Y-y
  • Z-z

2. French Vowels + Audio

2.1 Reading the French vowels

VOWEL [A - E - I]

SOUND [A - E - I]

VOWEL [O - U - Y]

SOUND [O - U - Y]

  • A-a
  • E-e
  • I-i
  • O-o
  • U-u
  • Y-y

2.2 Accented French vowels

2.2.1 Accented forms of vowel A-a

ACCENTED VOWEL [A-a]

SOUND

ACCENTED VOWEL [A-a]

SOUND

À-à [A accent grave]

Je viens à dix heures./ I'm coming at 10 o'clock.

Â-â [A accent circonflexe]

Une pâte dentifrice./ Toothpaste.

2.2.2 Accented forms of vowel E-e

ACCENTED VOWEL [E-e]

SOUND

ACCENTED VOWEL [E-e]

SOUND

É-é [E accent aigu]

La télé./ TV.

È-è [E accent grave]

Le père./ Father.

Ê-ê [E accent circonflexe]

La fenêtre./ Window.

Ë-ë [E tréma]

Le canoë/ La Noël./ Canoe/ Christmas.

2.2.3 Accented forms of vowel I-i

ACCENTED VOWEL [I-i]

SOUND

ACCENTED VOWEL [I-i]

SOUND

Î-î [I accent circonflexe]

Une île./ An island.

Ï-ï [I tréma]

Je mange du maïs./ I'm eating corn.

2.2.4 Accented forms of vowel O-o

ACCENTED VOWEL [O-o]

SOUND

Ô-ô [O accent circonflexe]

Nous arrivons bientôt./ We're arriving soon.

2.2.5 Accented forms of vowel U-u

ACCENTED VOWEL [U-u]

SOUND

ACCENTED VOWEL [U-u]

SOUND

Û-û [I accent circonflexe]

Elle joue de la flûte./ She plays flute.

Ü-ü [u tréma]

Une réponse ambigüe./ An ambiguous answer.

Ù-ù [U accent grave]

Où sommes-nous?/ Where are we?

2.2.6 Accented forms of vowel Y-y

ACCENTED VOWEL [U-u]

SOUND

ACCENTED VOWEL [U-u]

SOUND

Ÿ-ÿ [Y tréma]

La commune d'Aÿ/ The commune of Aÿ

3. French Consonants

3.1 Reading the French consonants

CONSONANT [B - C - D]

SOUND [B - C - D]

CONSONANT [F - G - H]

SOUND [F - G - H]

  • B-b
  • C-c
  • D-d
  • F-f
  • G-g
  • H-h

CONSONANT [J - K - L]

SOUND [J - K - L]

CONSONANT [M - N - P]

SOUND [M - N - P]

  • J-j
  • K-k
  • L-l
  • M-m
  • N-n
  • P-p

CONSONANT [Q - R - S]

SOUND [Q - R - S]

CONSONANT [T - V - W]

SOUND [T - V - W]

  • Q-q
  • R-r
  • S-s
  • T-t
  • V-v
  • W-w

CONSONANT [X - Z]

SOUND [X - Z]

  • X-x
  • Z-z

3.2 Accented French consonant

ACCENTED CONSONANT [Ç-ç]

SOUND

ACCENTED CONSONANT [Ç-ç]

SOUND

Ç-ç [C cédille]

Je mets un glaçon dans ma boisson/ Put an ice cube in my drink.

3.3 Sounds of French consonants in words

CONSONANT [Ç-ç]

SOUND

ACCENTED CONSONANT [Ç-ç]

SOUND

Bb --> /b/

babine / Lip.

Cc --> /k/ or /s/

cacao / Cocoa | ceci / This

Dd --> /d/

dodo / Beddy-byes.

Ff --> /f/ or /v/

facile / Easy | neuf heures/ 9 o'clock

Gg --> /g/ or /ʒ/

gare/ station| argent/ money, silver

Hh --> usually silent

l'homme/ man| le héros/ heros

Jj --> /ʒ/

joujou / Toy.

Kk --> /k/

kilo/ kilo

Ll --> /l/

lilas / Lilas.

Mm --> /m/

maman/ Mother

Nn --> /n/

nano / Nano.

Pp --> /p/

papa/ Daddy

Qq --> /kw/ or /k/

quoi/ What| qui/ Who

Rr --> /r/

rare/ Rare

Ss --> /s/

sauce/ Sauce

Tt --> /t/ or /s/

total/ Total| démocratie/ democracy

Vv --> /v/

vivant/ Alive

Ww --> /v/ or /w/

wagon/ Wagon| kiwi/ kiwi

Xx --> /ks/ or /gz/

boxe/ Boxing | xylophone/ Xylophone

Zz --> /z/

zèbre/ Zebra

4. Ligatures in the French Alphabet

ligature in French language represents the physical link or connection between 2 or more vowels. There are two ligatures in French. One involves the vowels O and E, and the other A and E. 

To briefly explain their origins, let me only say that the <OE> ligature is a replacement of the native French form <eu/ue> used centuries ago in Old French for words such as [beuf/buef] --> now /bœuf/ (cow). Some loaned Greek words have also kept the ligature in French [œsophage] and [œdipe]

Likewise the <AE> ligature is used in words of Latin origins, for example,  [tænia]  (tapeworm) 

4.1 Ligature with <OE>

LIGATURE [OE]

SOUND [OE]

œ [e dans l'o]

bœuf./ Cow | sœur./ Sister .

4.2 Ligature with <AE>

LIGATURE [AE]

SOUND [AE]

æ [e dans l'a]

tænia./ Tapeworm | ex æquo./Tie .

Bonjour there! You have now reached the end, or have you? Well, although this vocabulary lesson teaches you very important tips on how to read and pronounce French vowels and consonants, there are still two other crucial parts I have not touched here yet: vowel-vowel and vowel-consonant sound combinations in French. You can send me a message about these if you want to learn further on these two topics.


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