When you’re learning French, it helps to have some pointers on the alphabet. Learn the French alphabet on this blog.
The French Alphabet
When you’re learning French, it helps to have some pointers on the alphabet. It’s not as straightforward as English. The French alphabet has some little quirks that are tricky to get your head around at first. However, learning the French alphabet is a necessary step on your way to speaking and understanding French fluently. Learn these 10 tips about the French alphabet so you can start sounding like a native speaker sooner rather than later!
Keep in mind: the order of the alphabet is not the same as in the English
In English, the alphabet is ABC, whereas, in French, it’s AB, CD, EF, GH, and so on. The letters that come first in the French alphabet are A, B, C, and D. This is important to keep in mind when looking at the pronunciation of letters, as it’s likely that your first instinct will be to pronounce them as they would be in English. However, that’s not the case.
Knowing how to pronounce each letter is key
Just as knowing the order of the alphabet is important, knowing how to pronounce each letter is essential. If you don’t know how to pronounce each letter, you won’t be able to sound out French words in your head, which is an essential skill to have as a beginner. This will also help you pronounce new words correctly when you practice speaking French.
There are some letter changes when you’re learning French words
New words in French are often created by taking an existing word and adding ‘ment’ at the end. For example, a new word for ‘teacher’ would be ‘Professeur’. This is where you’ll come across some letter changes. ‘Ment’ comes from the French word ‘ment’, which means ‘with’. Other examples are ‘obligation’, ‘intention’, ‘convenance’, and ‘convention’.
The letters C, Q, and J are also assigned different sounds
The letters C and Q are both pronounced ‘k’. For example, the word ‘cou’ is pronounced ‘koo’. If a word ends in ‘c’, you will sound out the letter as ‘k’. The letter C is also pronounced ‘s’ when at the beginning of a word. For example, the word ‘coup’ is pronounced ‘soup’. The letter Q also has two pronunciations. It can either sound like ‘k’ or like ‘qu’. For example, the word ‘quatre’ is pronounced ‘katre’. The word ‘qu’ is pronounced ‘qu’.
Knowing where to stress words is important too
The first syllable of any French word will always be stressed. It’s good to know this so that you can pronounce words correctly. However, there are times when you might stress the last syllable instead. This happens when two vowels are next to each other and you have to break them up. For example, the word ‘parfum’ is pronounced ‘parf-um’. Words like ‘parfum’, ‘arrivée’, and ‘réunion’ are pronounced like this.
Certain letters look the same but have different sounds.
There are a few letters that look similar in both French and English. These letters with similar sounds are as follows: ‘c’ and ‘q’ are both pronounced ‘k’. ‘t’ and ‘d’ are both pronounced ‘t’. ‘n’ and ‘m’ are both pronounced ‘n’. ‘o’ and ‘ou’ are both pronounced ‘w’. ‘a’ and ‘e’ are both pronounced ‘e’.
Words that begin with ‘ou’ have an ‘uh’ sound after them
Words that begin with ‘ou’ have an ‘uh’ sound after them. For example, ‘oui’ is pronounced ‘wee’ and ‘mou’ is pronounced ‘moo’. Words like ‘doux’, ‘sans’ and ‘poulet’ are also pronounced like this. You should also pronounce the word ‘ou’ as ‘uh’ when it’s at the end of a word. For example, words like ‘coupable’, ‘puéril’ and ‘inouï’ are pronounced ‘coupable’, ‘puéril’ and ‘inouï’.
Other words that end with ‘eu’ have an ‘uh’ sound before them.
Words that end with ‘eu’ have an ‘uh’ sound before them. For example, the word ‘bienvenue’ is pronounced ‘bien-ven-uh’. So are the words ‘certain’, ‘certaine’ and ‘certainement’, ‘vrai’, ‘vraie’ and ‘vraiment’.
Learn the French alphabet now!
It’s important to take the time to learn the French alphabet as an adult learner. This can seem like a daunting task, but it’s well worth the effort. To be able to truly learn French, you’ll need to know the letters that make up the French alphabet so that you can sound out words in your head and know how to correctly pronounce them.