The Alphabet in French – How to Spell Out a Word

This week, Priscilla has returned to our video French lessons online!

She is offering you a new video on pronunciation for beginners, focused on the alphabet in French. And even if you are not a beginner, it is always good to revise your alphabet because often we think we know it, but we are getting certain letters wrong.

You will also learn how to spell out a word.

Here is a transcript of the video, in English:

Hello I am Priscilla, I am a teacher at the language school alpha.b in Nice. I am, by the way, Niçoise by adoption. How do we spell Niçoise? N I Ç O I S E.

You can see that the letters of the French alphabet are not so easy.

Here is a program of two lessons that we will have together about the French alphabet.

Today I will explain to you how to spell out a word, meaning how to pronounce the letters which make up a word. And in our next lesson we will work on the particularities of the French alphabet, pronunciation and otherwise.

In French there are 26 letters.


But I have a little trick to help you both to pronounce the letters, and also to memorise them.

There are 26 letters but only 7 different pronunciations for the letters of the French alphabet.

We will work with a table made up of 7 columns.

At the top of each column, there is a phonetic symbol which represents the sound of a letter or letters.

The columns of letters are pronounced: [a] [e] [ø] [ε] [i] [o] [y]


Shall we begin?

Here is the French alphabet.

Even so, be careful with certain pronunciation problems which always crop up with students.

The sound [ø] which is not pronounced like the [e]


The possible confusion between two letters: the letter G like in Gérard and J like in “jolie” (pretty).

The letters U and Q: be careful they are not pronounced like [u] but like [y]. To have the sound [u] you must always have two letters: O+U

And the favourite of English speakers, speakers of Asian languages, and many nationalities: the R. It is a tough letter in French.

“J’ai visité BeRlin.” (I visited Berlin). Don’t worry about exaggerating it.

Another problem, when you spell out, for example, my first name: I am Priscilla. How is that spelt? P R I S C I, two Ls, A.


Careful, in French we do not say: L L, or double L, we say “deux L” (two Ls), “deux P”, “deux S”, etc.

Lastly, I will explain how to dictate an email address in French.

The French do not use the word “email” in a professional context but the word “courriel” for “courriel électronique” (electronic mail).

They are written in lowercase letters and without accents. If you would like to know everything about accents, I will see you again in another video.

But for the moment my professional address is:

P E D A G O G I E arobase A L P H A tiret B point FR

(P E D A G O G I E at sign A L P H A dash B dot FR)

There are two options for the dash:

  • tiret du haut” – (dash/hyphen)
  • Or “tiret du bas” _ (underscore)

There we go! See you very soon for the next video on our YouTube channel!

To sign up for our French courses in Nice, click here.

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