French Alphabet 101

By optilingo

Like many European languages, the French alphabet is similar to the English alphabet, and learning it should not pose too much of a problem for English speakers. The French alphabet is comprised of 26 letters, and is based on the Latin alphabet. The entire French alphabet, along with a pronunciation key is provided below:

Letter Name Name (IPA) Diacritics and ligatures
A a /ɑ/ Àà, Ââ, Ææ
B /be/
C /se/ Çç
D /de/
E e /ə/ Éé, Èè, Êê, Ëë
F effe /ɛf/
G /ʒe/
H ache /aʃ/
I i /i/ Îî, Ïï
J ji /ʒi/
K ka /kɑ/
L elle /ɛl/
M emme /ɛm/
N enne /ɛn/
O o /o/ Ôô, Œœ
P /pe/
Q qu /ky/
R erre /ɛʁ/
S esse /ɛs/
T /te/
U u /y/ Ùù, Ûû, Üü
V /ve/
W double vé /dubləve/
X ixe /iks/
Y i grec /iɡʁɛk/ Ÿÿ
Z zède /zɛd/

French verbs

Verbs are action words, in French verbs convey the action that is being done in a French sentence. Like most languages, French has irregular and regular verbs. The former don’t follow many set rules, but the latter do. In the infinitive form, there are three major groups of French verbs:

Verbs ending in –er, like parler (to talk)

Verbs ending in –ir, like finir (to finish)

Verbs ending in –re, like vendre (to sell)

Of course, beyond these regular French verbs, there are countless irregular verbs like like avoir (to have), aller (to go), faire (to do, to make), and être (to be), to name a few. Irregular French verbs follow very different patterns when they are conjugated, so we’ll be avoiding them in this post.

Like English, French verbs must agree with their subjects – the thing or person that is doing the action of the verb. Like English, in French, one must always state who the subject is, except when making a command.

Additionally similar to English, French verbs come in a variety of tenses, including the following:

Present: nous parlons (we speak / are speaking)

Imperfect: nous parlions (we used to speak)

Future: nous parlerons (we will speak)

Tenses come in two types: simple tenses and compound tenses. By way of example, in English, a simple tense might be: I speak, while a compound tense might be: I am speaking.

Below is a list of the top 25 most common French verbs:

Verb English
1 être to be
2 avoir to have
3 pouvoir to be able (can)
4 faire to do, to make
5 mettre to put, to place
6 dire to say, to tell
7 devoir to have to , must, to owe
8 prendre to take, to catch, to capture
9 donner to give, to produce
10 aller to go
11 vouloir to want, to wish
12 savoir to know
13 falloir to have to
14 voir to see
15 demander to ask, to request
16 trouver to find, to discover
17 rendre to return (something), to give back
18 venir to come
19 passer to pass, to go past
20 comprendre to comprehend
21 rester to stay, to remain
22 tenir to hold, to keep
23 porter to carry, to wear
24 parler to speak, to talk
25 montrer to show, to display

Now you’re ready to check out these tips on the best way to learn French.