Why do English speakers say “easy as ABC?”
It is not always that easy!
The English alphabet seems simple at first glance.
But then you realize that each letter can have many different pronunciations—including some that might not exist in your native language. And there are multiple ways to write them. And if your native language uses a different alphabet, it is hard to remember what order they go in.
This post will clear up your confusion and make the English alphabet less frustrating and more stress-free, so that you can focus on perfecting your English conversation instead of getting stuck studying letters.
I have collected some helpful (free!) resources and provided creative tips for memorizing, writing and pronouncing the letters of the English alphabet. You have everything you need to learn the alphabet right now!
Easy as ABC! The Best Tips and Resources to Learn the English Alphabet
What Are the Letters of the English Alphabet?
The English alphabet is made up of 26 letters, divided into consonants and vowels.
There are only a few vowels: A, E, I, O and U. Y is also sometimes considered a vowel. Generally speaking, every English word should have at least one of these letters.
Vowels are important in the English language but are hard to learn since they can make both long and short sounds. “The Vowel Song” can help you learn vowels and understand the different sounds they make:
All the other letters are consonants.
Each letter can be written in two ways: uppercase (also called capital letters) or lowercase. Use an uppercase letter for the first letter in a sentence and for the first letter in names of people and places.
Knowing the alphabet is essential to improve your reading skills and feel more confident in your English abilities. Before we dig into the English alphabet and how to learn it quickly, here is a chart that includes each letter in uppercase and lowercase, along with its pronunciation.
|Uppercase letter||Lowercase letter||Pronunciation|
|A||a||Ay (like in "way")|
How to Memorize the English Alphabet
This fun and catchy alphabet song has lots of repetition to help you remember each letter in order. Because this video includes audio and visual examples of the English alphabet, it will help you associate the sound with the written letter in both uppercase and lowercase.
You can also listen to the ABC song that native English speakers learn when they are kids. Here is how it goes:
If you are having a difficult time memorizing the alphabet, try out some of these tricks and tips to jump-start your memory.
- Write your own alphabet song: Try coming up with your own way to sing through the alphabet, or sing the letters to the tune (music) of your favorite pop song. By making it your own, the song will be even more memorable.
- Associate the letters with specific words. One way to do this is to write a 26-word story in which every word starts with a different letter of the alphabet.
After breakfast, cats destroyed everything. Fish, games, household items… Jealous kittens love messes!
Continue the story or start your own and try to use all 26 letters in order. Keep in mind, it does not have to make perfect sense! The sillier the story, the more likely you are to remember it, so make sure to have fun with this exercise.
For vocabulary inspiration, watch real English videos on FluentU. These include movie trailers, music videos and inspiring speeches, which have all been supercharged with language learning tools. For example, every video comes with a list of important words. You can also click the subtitles for an instant definition of any word.
Where to Get Alphabet Writing Practice
This downloadable booklet called “Writing the English Alphabet” includes 15 pages of practice exercises to master writing the English alphabet. You will copy the letters in uppercase and lowercase until you are comfortable producing them by yourself.
It also teaches you how to recognize letters in different fonts (text styles).
The Literacy Center Education Network has similar practice worksheets, but this site goes through more detailed instructions on how to write each letter. It shows you the order and direction in which to write each line of a letter, and then gives you plenty of room to practice on your own.
How to Pronounce Each Letter Perfectly
Are you learning American or British English? Either way, the video below has you covered!
This video shows you how to say each letter, first in a British accent and then in an American accent. Even if you are not sure which accent you want to learn, just hearing the different versions can be helpful for your memory. A lot of times, if you are having a hard time figuring out how to say a letter, it can be helpful to hear it repeated by different native speakers.
Next, the “English Alphabet Pronunciation” video below not only pronounces each letter, but also provides example words for each letter. The speaker in the video first tells you what the letter is, then tells you what sound that letter makes and then gives you examples of words that start with the letter.
- Notice which letters rhyme with each other. There are some patterns in the English alphabet and if you can remember the rhyming groups, you may have an easier time remembering how to say each letter.
A, J and K all rhyme, with the letter sounds ending in “ay.”
B, C, D, E, G, P, T, V and Z all end in “ee” sounds.
Y sounds like I, but with a slight “w” sound at the beginning.
Q, U and W all end in the “u” sound.
F, L, M, N, S and X all start with the same soft “e” sound.
H, O and R are the only ones that do not fit into one of these rhymes, so you will just have to remember these ones separately.
- Practice each letter in a word instead of on its own. It can be hard to make the individual sounds and may feel like nonsense, but if you put the letter into a word, you will have a way to practice pronunciation that can easily be applied to real life situations.
Plus, repeating a letter inside a word can help you see the way its pronunciation might change depending on the other letters around it. For example, C can make a hard sound like a K or a soft sound like S. This can be confusing, but it might be easier if you learn a few words that start with C like cat (hard K sound) and cent (soft S sound).
Practice with the suggested words below. Then, find some words of your own that will help you become more and more familiar with the English alphabet and the ways each letter sounds within a word.
A: Apple, Ape, Art
B: Balloon, Boom, Bite
C: City, Cave, Coat
D: Door, Dive, Dance
E: Eagle, Elephant, Eel
F: Fall, Find, Four
G: Game, Girl, Giant
H: Horse, Hand, Hill
I: Ice, Illness, Interesting
J: Joke, Jug, Jam
K: Kid, Keep, Kite
L: Lion, Learn, Language
M: Mom, Mad, Mouse
N: Never, Noise, Nap
O: Octopus, Ocean, Order
P: Pink, Pearl, Panda
Q: Queen, Quail, Quilt
R: Rabbit, Read, Roll
S: Soft, Supper, Sand
T: Turtle, Tapping, Tall
U: Under, Unicorn, Use
V: Vase, Violin, Very
W: Water, Wet, Win
X: Exit, Extra, Axe
Y: Yes, You, Yard
Z: Zebra, Zipper, Zip
Hopefully these tips will give you a starting place for becoming confident with the English alphabet. Spend some time with each resource and find ways to personalize the study tips to fit your needs. Learning the English alphabet is an important step in your learning process. With these study tricks you will be singing the ABCs in no time and pronouncing your letters like a natural.
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