Latin alphabet

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Fridge magnets.

The Latin alphabet (/lætɪn ælfəbet/), also known as the Roman alphabet (/rəʊmən ælfəbet/) is the most widespread writing system in the world, and the one nearly always used for English.

It consists of 26 letters: 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 and Z. Each of these letters has both an uppercase and lower case form.

Uppercase Letter Lowercase letter Name Number Consonant or vowel
A a /eɪ/ 1 Vowel
B b /bi:/ 2 Consonant
C c /si:/ 3 Consonant
D d /di:/ 4 Consonant
E e /i:/ 5 Vowel
F f /ef/ 6 Consonant
G g /ʤi:/ 7 Consonant
H h /eɪʧ/ 8 Consonant
I i /aɪ/ 9 Vowel
J j /ʤeɪ/ 10 Consonant
K k /keɪ/ 11 Consonant
L l /el/ 12 Consonant
M m /em/ 13 Consonant
N n /en/ 14 Consonant
O o /əʊ/ 15 Vowel
P p /pi:/ 16 Consonant
Q q /kju:/ 17 Consonant
R r /ɑ:/ 18 Consonant
S s /es/ 19 Consonant
T t /ti:/ 20 Consonant
U u /ju:/ 21 Vowel
V v /vi:/ 22 Consonant
W w /dʌbəlju:/ 23 Consonant
X x /eks/ 24 Consonant
Y y /waɪ/ 25 Consonant
Z z /zed/ or /zi:/ 26 Consonant

The vowel sounds and consonant sounds do not necessarily coincide in all the languages that use the same letters, a continuous source of confusion for students learning English, for example.

Within Europe there are several variations of these basic letters, including Ññ in Spanish, Öö in Swedish, Çç in French, Ww in many languages, and so on.

Sounding out the letters of the alphabet[edit]

The articles named "Decoding the letter ..." help students to read aloud letters (such as explaining the usual pronunciation for ca-co-cu vs ce-ci-cy).

Decoding the letter 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

Teaching/reviewing the alphabet[edit]

It is surprising how many advanced level students reach amazingly high levels of accuracy and fluency in their use of English but stumble when they have to spell something, including, unbelievably, their own names or those of their colleagues. One very successful way of presenting/reviewing the alphabet is eliciting them and putting them up on the board by associating sounds as follows:

  • Some of these letters are homophones: b' = be/bee; c = see/sea; i = eye/I; p = pea; q = queue; r = are; t = tea; u = you; y = why
  • Don't forget we say “double-b” or “double-r”, etc. when we spell aloud, because these letters are just two of the many consonant letters (and some vowel letters, e.g. skiing) we can double in English: aardvark; bubble; accent; ladder; speed; stuff; luggage; fishhook; skiing; hajj; trekking; pillow; summer; dinner; book; supper; mirror; passing; butter; vacuum; savvy; glowworm; buzzer;


  • z is pronounced /zed/BrE, or /ziː/AmE;
  • h is pronounced /eɪʧ/, though the Irish and increasing numbers of British people pronounce it /heɪʧ/
  • French learners may confuse I and E since /i:/ English E sounds like /i/ - French I.