Introduction to Pronouncing the French Alphabet

Like English, French has 26 letters, but most of them sound different

Learning French
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French pronunciation can be one of the more difficult aspects of learning French, especially for English speakers, but with time and practice, it is definitely possible to develop a good French accent.

It important to do so eventually. In French, pronunciation is a very big deal. Phonetics, the system and study of sounds uttered in speaking a language, in short, the way a language is pronounced, is taught in every language school serving foreigners. Students are drilled in opening their mouth, pursing their lips, hitting the roof of their mouth precisely with their tongue and other techniques involved in speaking French correctly. 

Consonants and Vowels

The French alphabet has the same 26 letters as the English alphabet does, but of course, most of the letters are pronounced differently in the two languages. In addition, French has five accents: four for vowels and one for a consonant, which English, of course, does not have.

Vowels are the most problematic for non-native speakers, especially speakers of Germanic languages like English and German, who do not use the muscles in their face and mouth as much as the French.

In the table below, start at the top with the links to pronunciation guides for French consonants and French vowels

Links to Detailed Letter Pages

Then click on the capital letters in the table below and you'll move on to the letter pages, each of which offers a detailed description of the pronunciation of that letter, including letter combinations, numerous examples and information about the accents that may be used with that letter. For each letter, note the rules governing its pronunciation, and follow them.

When you are comfortable with pronouncing letters, proceed to the French Audio Guide, which illustrates with sound files, rules of the road and examples how to pronounce 2,500 French words and expressions.

Remember that there is only so much you can do to improve your pronunciation on your own. At some point, you will almost certainly need to take a class, go to France or hire a private tutor. Online pronunciation lessons like these can never take the place of interaction with native or fluent speakers, but at least they can help you get started or supplement what you've already learned. Allez-y!

Pronounce the French Alphabet

Consonants     Vowels

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

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Lawless, Laura K. "Introduction to Pronouncing the French Alphabet." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Lawless, Laura K. (2023, April 5). Introduction to Pronouncing the French Alphabet. Retrieved from Lawless, Laura K. "Introduction to Pronouncing the French Alphabet." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).