November 8, 2014

Learn Basic French: Alphabet, Numbers 1-1000, Greetings

In this article provided by you will learn the basics of the French language by studying the alphabet, the numbers 1-1000 and some common greetings. The examples and tips we provide in this French lesson will make the learning process fast and easy.

The French Alphabet

The French language has an alphabet composed of the same letters found in the English alphabet. Some letters can have accents like: â, ç, é, è, ê, î, ï. They are pronounced different compared to the letters without accent. The letter H is pronounced very lightly. In the table below you will find the French alphabet and how to pronounce individual French letters.

Letter (Pronunciation) Letter (Pronunciation)
A (ah)
B (bee)
C (see)
D (dee)
E (uh)
F (ef)
G (zheh)
H (ash)
I (ee)
J (je)
K (ka)
L (el)
M (em)
N (en)
O (op)
P (pay)
Q (koo)
R (ehr)
S (es)
T (tay)
U (oo)
V (vay)
W (doo-blaw-vay)
X (ex)
Y (ee-grek)
Z (zed)

A very difficult and important part of learning French is knowing how to read or speak, because you will find many pronunciation rules, together with a lot of exceptions, that will make your life a little more complicated. Not to worry, in time, with a little practice, you will get used with most of the pronunciation rules, and then reading or speaking French it will seem more natural than usual.

French Pronunciation Guide

Start learning how to pronounce French words and avoid mistakes made by beginners with our basic pronunciation guide. In the table below you will be able to study and learn how to pronounce the individual letters in French words.

Letter Pronunciation
A like the sound ah or like a in art
B like b in best
C - before a, o or u, like k in king
- before i or e, like s in sun
D like d in dog
E - like e in bed
- like the sound eh or ay in say
F the same as in English
G - before a, o or u, like g in gold
- before i or e, like z in zoo
H is always silent
I like ee in see
J like the sound zh or like s in measure
K the same as in English
L the same as in English
M the same as in English
N the same as in English
O like the sound oh or like o in top
P the same as in English
Q like k in king
R the same as in English
S - between vowels, like z in zoo
- otherwise like s in smile
T the same as in English
U like oo in moon
V like v in voice
W like v in voice
X like the sound ks
Y like ee in see
Z like z in zoo

Now that you know how to pronounce each French letter, you need to learn when they should be pronounced differently, this is why the following table will be very helpful for you and every person who wants to avoid some pronunciation mistakes made usually by beginners. Some letters in particular combinations change the way the words are pronounced, below you will be able to study how to pronounce letter combinations that do not follow the same patterns learned in the above table.

Letter Pronunciation
AI like ay in say
AU like the sound oh
EAU like the sound oh
EI like the sound eh
EU like the sound uh
IE like ee in see
CH like sh in sheep
OI like the sound wah
OU like oo in moon
OUI like the sound wee
PH like f in father
TI like s in smile

In French many letters are silent, like the final letter e and most of the final consonants, except of c, f, and l which are pronounced. In the word la the final a is dropped when the word that follows begins with a vowel or the silent h, the same rule is applied to the letter e in the following words: ce, de, je, le, me, ne, que, se, te. When the letters il and ille are at the end of a word, they are pronounced like the English letters ee in see. The French word je (it means I) is one of the most common and difficult words to pronounce by English speakers, because the combination of sounds is not found in English.

French Numbers 1-1000

Now, you will learn the numbers and how to count in French with pronunciation tips. In order to properly sustain simple conversations in French, about: time, age, prices, money, etc. you have to know the numbers and how to count. The table below will start with the number 1, and among our readers may be some people wondering How do you say zero in French? Zero in French is zéro and the pronunciation zay-ro.

Counting in French - French Numbers 1-20

First step is to learn the numbers from 1 to 20 in French. The numbers from 1 to 20 should be memorized exactly as they are, especially the numbers from 1 to 10.

English French Pronunciation
one un ahn
two deux dew
three trois troo-ah
four quatre katra
five cinq sank
six six seez
seven sept set
eight huit oo-eet
nine neuf newf
ten dix dee
eleven onze onz
twelve douze dooz
thirteen treize trayz
fourteen quatorze kah-tohrz
fifteen quinze kanz
sixteen seize sez
seventeen dix-sept dee-set
eighteen dix-huit dee-oo-eet
nineteen dix-neuf dee-newf
twenty vingt van

Counting in French - French Numbers 21-69

The French numbers from 21 to 69 are easy to remember if you know the name of the tens. If you want to form a number from 21 to 69 in the French language, you need to combine the tens with the numbers 1 to 9.

English French Pronunciation
twenty-one vingt et un vant eh oon
twenty-two vingt-deux van-dew
twenty-three vingt-trois van-tro-ah
twenty-nine vingt-neuf van-newf
thirty trente tront
forty quarante kah-rant
fifty cinquante sank-ont
sixty soixante swa-sont
sixty-one soixante et un swa-sont eh oon
sixty-two soixante-deux swa-sont-dew
sixty-three soixante-trois swa-sont-tro-ah
sixty-nine soixante-neuf swa-sont-newf

Counting in French - French Numbers 70-99

The French numbers from 70 to 99 follow a different pattern. The numbers between 70 and 79 are formed by adding the numbers from 10-19 to the number sixty, for instance: seventy-two is soixante-douze which literally means sixty-twelve. The numbers between 80 and 89 are formed by combining the number 4, the number 20 and the numbers from 1-9, for instance: eighty-two is quatre-vingt-deux which literally means four-twenty-two. The numbers between 90 and 99 are formed by combining the number 4, the number 20 and the numbers from 10-19, for instance: ninety-two is quatre-vingt-douze which literally means four-twenty-twelve.

English French Pronunciation
seventy soixante-dix swa-sont-dee
seventy-one soixante et onze swa-sont eh onz
seventy-two soixante-douze swa-sont-dooz
seventy-three soixante-treize swa-sont-trayz
seventy-nine soixante-dix-neuf swa-sont-dee-newf
eighty quatre-vingts katr-van
eighty-one quatre-vingt-un katr-van-oon
eighty-two quatre-vingt-deux katr-van-dew
eighty-three quatre-vingt-trois katr-van-troo-ah
eighty-nine quatre-vingt-neuf katr-van-newf
ninety quatre-vingt-dix katr-van-dee
ninety-one quatre-vingt-onze katr-van-onz
ninety-two quatre-vingt-douze katr-van-dooz
ninety-three quatre-vingt-treize katr-van-trayz
ninety-nine quatre-vingt-dix-neuf katr-van-dee-newf

Counting in French - French Numbers 100 to 1000+

Forming hundreds and thousands in French is the same as in English. All you have to do is to learn how to say hundred (cent) and thousand (mille) in French.

English French Pronunciation
one hundred cent son
two hundred deux cents dew son
three hundred trois cents tro-ah son
one thousand mille meel
two thousand deux mille dew meel

People in France are using commas instead of decimal points, for example: English 20,000.70 = French 20.000,70

French Greetings and Introductions

Below you will learn basic greetings, introductions and common expressions useful when you want to greet or to start a conversation in French. The greetings and goodbyes found below are used formal and / or informal. If you want to say Hello in the formal way, try to use the French equivalent of Good evening or Good day, depending on the time of the day. Now, let's learn how to say Hello, Goodbye, Thank you and You’re welcome in French.

English French Pronunciation
Hello / Hi Salut sah-loo
Good day Bonjour bon-zhoor
Good evening Bonsoir bonswah
Good night Bonne nuit bon noo-wee
Welcome Bienvenue been-vay-noo
Goodbye / Bye Au revoir! oh ruhv-wah
So long! A bientôt! ah bee-ahn-toh
Thank you / Thanks Merci mayr-see
Thank you very much Merci beaucoup mayr-see boh-koo
With pleasure! Avec plaisir! ah-vek play-zeer

You might wonder why you can not find Good Morning or Good afternoon as a greeting in the French language, the answer is simple, French people do not use Bon matin (Good Morning) or Bon après-midi (Good afternoon) as a greeting. In the morning and in the afternoon, until 6 pm, they greet you, with Good Day (Bonjour).

How to make introductions in French

Meeting and greeting often requires introductions and knowing the proper way to make introductions in a particular language can help you make a good first impression.

English French Pronunciation
How are you? Comment ça va? koh-man sah vah
What is your name? Comment t'appelles? koh-muhn ta-payl
What is your name? Quel est votre nom? (formal) kwehl eh votr nom
What is your last name? Quel est votre nom de famille? (formal) kayl eh votr nom duh fam-eel
My name is... Je m'appelle... zhuh ma-payl
Glad to meet you Enchanté an-shan-tay
Can you help me? Pouvez-vous m'aider? poo-vay-voo may-dee
yes ; no oui ; ne oo-wee ; noo
I do not understand Je ne comprends pas jeu noo kohm-prand pas
I do not speak French Je ne parle français jeu noo parl fran-say
I do not speak well French Je ne parle pas bien français jeu noo parl pa bee-an fran-say
Excuse me Excusez-moi ex-qoo-zay moh-ah
I apologize Je m'excuse jeu mex-qooz
Please S'il vous plaît seel voo play

Important! Because some French sounds are not found in English we have tried to come up with something that sounds similar, for this reason the pronunciation tips from above are simply informational and does not offer any guarantee.

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