Alphabet pronunciation

The alphabet is a set of letters found in most languages around the world. In English, the alphabet has 26 characters, all of which have their own pronunciation. Are you ready to find out how we say these English letters?

alphabet
Background of wooden alphabet letters scattered randomly on white background.

What is the English alphabet?

The word alphabet comes from the first two Greek letters alpha and beta. The alphabet came from Latin script and was first used to write Old English around 7 AD. Since then, various letters have been replaced or removed, and we are now left with five vowels (a,e, i,o,u) and 21 consonants which make the modern English alphabet. 

All the letters in this alphabet have an upper case and a lower case form. It must be noted that these forms do not change the pronunciation; for example, an uppercase A will have the same sound as a lowercase a.

What is the difference between pronouncing vowels and consonants?

When saying consonants, your teeth, tongue or lips limit or interrupt the airflow. In contrast, when saying vowel sounds, the air flows freely in your mouth. 

Let’s take a look at how we say all consonants and vowels to help you master the alphabet and see if you can tell the difference.

How do we say the alphabet?

Listen to the alphabet below.

Take a look at the table too for the upper and lowercase letters and the phonetic transcription of the alphabet.

LetterPronunciation
Aa
Bbbi
Ccsi
Dddi
Eei
Ffef
Ggdʒi
Iiai
Jjdʒei
Kkkei
Llel
Mmem
Nnen
Oo
Pppi
Qqkju
Rrɑr
Sses
Ttti
Uuju
Vvvi
Wwdʌblju
Xxɛks
Yywai
Zzzi/zed

Have you spotted the letter z? There are two ways to pronounce it depending on your accent: zi and zed. The American English pronunciation of the letter is zi whereas the British English pronunciation is zed. This causes some confusion amongst native speakers, but not too much.

The alphabet song is a really good way to get this in your mind. Listen to the video below to hear the English alphabet and the sounds of the letters. It’s in British English so z will be pronounced zed.

Is that all?

Of course not! There are two other alphabets in the English language that you have to be aware of. These are the NATO Phonetic Alphabet and the International Phonetic Alphabet. Both of them are very important in the English language in both British and American English.

NATO Phonetic Alphabet

Though not a traditional alphabet, the NATO Phonetic Alphabet comes in useful when spelling a foreign name, or if you’re on the phone and you cannot hear an address well. It is used the most over the radio and the telephone.

It uses words rather than singular sounds to represent each letter from the alphabet for a clearer understanding.

Here is the table that shows how each letter is represented.

aalpha
bbravo
cCharlie
ddelta
eecho
ffoxtrot
ggolf
hhotel
iIndia
jJuliet
kkilo
lLima
mMike
nNovember
oOscar
ppapa
qQuebec
rRomeo
sSierra
ttango
uuniform
vVictor
wwhiskey
xx-ray
yYankee
zZulu

International Phonetic Alphabet

This alphabet is based on how letters sound in certain words rather than how they’re individually spoken.

For more information look at our article on the International Phonetic Alphabet here: https://englishwithlucy.com/phonemic-chart/

I hope you have found this an interesting read. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments below. For more videos, check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADCHItBNIFM