How the Letter 'K' Is Used in French

A Quick History and Pronunciation Lesson

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. Nevertheless, it's important to understand how to pronounce the 'K' when you do come across it.

The French Use of the Letter 'K'

While French does use the Latin (or Roman) alphabet that contains 26 letters, two of those are not native to the French language. Those are the 'K' and the 'W.' The 'W' was added to the French alphabet in the mid-19th century and the 'K' followed soon after. It was, however, in use prior to this, just not officially.

Those words that use either letter are most often rooted in another language. For instance, the word "kiosk" in German, Polish, and English is "kiosque" in French. Both stem from the Turkish "koshk" or "kiöshk," which means "pavilion."

It was the influence of foreign expansion and interaction that provoked the use of the 'K' and 'W' in French. It's easy to understand that one of the most used languages in the world would have to adapt to a global community.

How to Pronounce the French 'K'

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

French Words with K 

Let's look at a handful of the French words that do include a 'K.' Practice saying these, then check your pronunciation by clicking on the word. This should be a quick lesson that you'll complete in no time.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "How the Letter 'K' Is Used in French." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). How the Letter 'K' Is Used in French. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "How the Letter 'K' Is Used in French." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 28, 2023).