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Encyclopedia > English alphabet

The modern English alphabet consists of 26 letters[1] derived from the Latin alphabet: Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz redirects here. ...

Majuscule Forms (also called uppercase or capital 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 Z
Minuscule Forms (also called lowercase or small 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 z

The exact shape of printed letters varies depending on the typeface. The shape of handwritten letters can differ significantly from the standard printed form (and between individuals), especially when written in cursive style. See the individual letter articles for information about letter shapes and origins (follow the links on any of the uppercase letters above). Capital letters or majuscules (in the Roman alphabet: A, B, C, ...) are one type of case in a writing system. ... For other uses of A, see A (disambiguation). ... For other uses of B, see B (disambiguation). ... Look up C, c in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see D (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see E (disambiguation). ... Look up F, f in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see G (disambiguation). ... Look up H, h in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up I, i in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see J (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see K (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see L (disambiguation). ... For other uses of M, see M (disambiguation). ... Look up N, n in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up O, o in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about the Latin alphabet letter. ... This article is about the Latin alphabet letter. ... Look up R, r in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up S, s in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see T (disambiguation). ... For other uses of U, see U (disambiguation). ... Look up V, v in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up W, w in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see X (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Y (disambiguation). ... Look up Z, z in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Minuscule, or lower case, is the smaller form (case) of letters (in the Roman alphabet: a, b, c, ...). Originally alphabets were written entirely in majuscule (capital) letters which were spaced between well-defined upper and lower bounds. ... “Font” redirects here. ... Penmanship is the art of writing clearly and quickly. ... Cursive is any style of handwriting which is designed for writing down notes and letters by hand. ...

Contents

History

See also: History of the Latin alphabet.

This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Old English

The English language was first written in the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc runic alphabet, in use from the 5th century. Very few examples of this writing have survived, these being mostly short inscriptions or fragments. The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc was replaced by the Latin alphabet from about the 7th century onwards, although the two continued in parallel for some time. Futhorc influenced the Latin alphabet by providing it with the letters thorn (Þ, þ) and wynn (Ƿ, ƿ). The letter eth (Ð, ð) was later devised as a modification of d, and finally yogh (Ȝ, ȝ) was created by Norman scribes from the insular g in Old English and Irish, and used alongside their Carolingian g. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc are a runic alphabet, extended from the Elder Futhark, consisting of 29, and later even 33 characters. ... Europe in 450 The 5th century is the period from 401 to 500 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... Abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz redirects here. ... The 7th century is the period from 601 - 700 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Christian Era. ... Þþ Thorn, or þorn (Þ, þ), is a letter in the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic alphabets. ... Capital wynn (left), lowercase wynn (right) Wynn () (also spelled Wen or en) is a letter of the Old English alphabet. ... Eth (Ð, ð), also spelled edh or eð, is a letter used in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and present-day Icelandic, and in Faroese language which call the letter edd. ... For other uses, see D (disambiguation). ... The letter yogh (Èœ ȝ; Middle English: ogh) was used in Middle English and Middle Scots, representing y (IPA: ) and various velar phonemes. ... Insular G is an s-shaped form of the letter g used in the British Isles. ... Example from 10th century manuscript Carolingian or Caroline minuscule is a script developed as a writing standard in Europe so that the Roman alphabet could be easily recognized by the small literate class from one region to another. ...


The ligature Æ (æ), for ae, was adopted as a letter its own right, named æsc ("ash") after a Futhorc rune. In very early Old English Œ (œ), for oe, also appeared as a distinct letter named œðel ("ethel"), again after a rune. Additionally, the ligature w (double-u), for vv, was in use. The word ligature can mean more than one thing. ... For Æ, the Irish writer, see George William Russell. ... Ash (Æ, æ; pronounced ) is a letter of the Latin alphabet for English. ... Å’ Å“ Å’thel (pronounced ) is a Roman script letter (Å’, Å“) used in medieval and early modern Latin, and in modern French, and also the vowel sound it represents. ... Odal rune The Odal rune (ᛟ) represents the o sound. ... Look up W, w in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


In the year 1011, a writer named Byrhtferð ordered the Old English alphabet for numerological purposes.[2] He listed the 24 letters of the Latin alphabet (including ampersand) first, then 5 additional English letters, starting with the Tironian nota ond, , an insular symbol for and: An ampersand (&), also commonly called an and sign is a logogram representing the conjunction and. ... Tironian notes (notae Tironianae) is a system of shorthand invented by Ciceros scribe Marcus Tullius Tiro. ...

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z & ⁊ Ƿ Þ Ð Æ

Modern English

In Modern English orthography, thorn (þ), eth (Ð), wynn (Ƿ) and yogh (Ȝ) are obsolete. Thorn and eth are now both represented by th, though thorn continued in existence for some time, its lower case form gradually becoming graphically indistinguishable from the minuscule y in most handwritings. Y for th can still be seen in pseudo-archaisms such as Ye Olde Booke Shoppe. The letters Þ and Ð are still used in present-day Icelandic. Wynn disappeared from English around the 14th century when it was supplanted by uu, which ultimately developed into the modern w. Yogh disappeared around the 15th century and was typically replaced by gh. Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... The orthography of a language specifies the correct way of using a specific writing system to write the language. ... Þþ Thorn, or þorn (Þ, þ), is a letter in the Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic alphabets. ... Eth (Ð, ð), also spelled edh or eð, is a letter used in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and present-day Icelandic, and in Faroese language which call the letter edd. ... Capital wynn (left), lowercase wynn (right) Wynn () (also spelled Wen or en) is a letter of the Old English alphabet. ... The letter yogh (Èœ ȝ; Middle English: ogh) was used in Middle English and Middle Scots, representing y (IPA: ) and various velar phonemes. ... For other uses, see Y (disambiguation). ...


The letters u and j, as distinct from v and i, were introduced in the 16th century, and w assumed the status of an independent letter, so that the English alphabet is now considered to consist of the following 26 letters: For other uses of U, see U (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see J (disambiguation). ... Look up V, v in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up I, i in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ...

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

The variant lower-case form long s (ſ) lasted into early modern English, and was used in non-final position up to the early nineteenth century. An italicized long s used in the word Congress in the United States Bill of Rights. ... Shakespeares writings are universally associated with Early Modern English Early Modern English refers to the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period (the latter half of the 1400s) to 1650. ...


The ligatures Æ (æ) and Œ (œ) mentioned earlier are still used in formal writing for certain words of Greek or Latin origin, such as "encyclopædia" and "cœlom". Lack of awareness combined with technological limitations (such as the QWERTY-format keyboard commonly used in typography, which does not have keys representing either ligature) has made it common to see these two letters rendered as "ae" and "oe" respectively in modern, non-academic usage. These ligatures are not used in American English (and related variants), where, for the most part, a lone "e" has supplanted both "æ" (as in the aforementioned spelling "encyclopædia") and "œ" (e.g., "fetus" instead of "fœtus.") For Æ, the Irish writer, see George William Russell. ... Œ œ This page is about the ligature, not the simple combination of the letters O and E. For initialisms and the word Oe, see Oe. ... Cyclopedia redirects here. ... Picture of Human body cavities - dorsal body cavity to the left and ventral body cavity to the right. ... For the song by Linkin Park, see QWERTY (song). ...


Diacritics

Diacritic marks are never used in the modern spellings of native English words, but may appear in foreign and loan-words such as naïve and façade. As such words become naturalised there is a tendency to drop the diacritics, as is now often the case with the two mentioned. Words that are still perceived as foreign tend to retain them; for example, the only spelling of soupçon found in English dictionaries (the OED and others) uses the diacritic. Diacritics are also more likely to be retained where there would otherwise be confusion with another word (for example, résumé rather than resume). This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Example of a letter with a diacritic A diacritic or diacritical mark, also called an accent, is a small sign added to a letter to alter pronunciation or to distinguish between similar words. ... The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of...


Occasionally, especially in older writing, diacritics are used to indicate the syllables of a word: cursed (verb) is pronounced with one syllable, while cursèd (adjective) is pronounced with two. Similarly, while in chicken coop the letters -oo- represent a single vowel sound (a digraph), in zoölogist, they represent two. These devices, are, however, optional, and are in practice now very rarely used even where they would serve to alleviate some degree of confusion. For the computer operating system, see Syllable (operating system). ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ...


Ampersand

The ampersand (&, &) has sometimes appeared at the end of the English alphabet, as in Byrhtferð's list of letters in 1011.[2] Properly speaking the figure is a ligature for the letters Et. In English it is used to represent the word and and occasionally the Latin word et, as in the abbreviation &c (et cetera). An ampersand (&), also commonly called an and sign is a logogram representing the conjunction and. ... The word ligature can mean more than one thing. ...


Apostrophe

The apostrophe, while not considered part of the English alphabet, is used to abbreviate English words. A few pairs of words, such as its and it's (it is or it has), were and we're (we are), and shed and she'd (she would or she had) are distinguished in writing only by the presence or absence of an apostrophe. The apostrophe also distinguishes the possessive endings -'s and -s' from the common plural ending -s. For the prime symbol (′) used for feet and inches, see Prime (symbol). ... Possessive can refer to: Possessive case Possessive pronoun This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Look up plural in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Letter names

The names of the letters are rarely spelled out, except in compound words like tee-shirt, deejay, emcee, okay, aitch-less, wye-level, etc., derived forms like exed out, effing, to eff and blind, and in the names of objects named after letters, such as em (space) in printing and wye (junction) in railroading. The forms listed below are from the Oxford English Dictionary: vowels stand for themselves, and consonants are C+ee or e+C, with the exceptions of aitch, jay, kay, cue, ar, ess (but es-), wye, zed. Attested plural forms of the vowels are aes, ees, and oes. Plurals of consonants end in -s, or in -es in the cases of aitch, ess, ex. Of course, all letters may stand for themselves, generally in capitalized form (okay or OK, emcee or MC), and plurals may be based on these (A's, B's, etc.) The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), and is the most successful dictionary of the English language, (not to be confused with the one-volume Oxford Dictionary of English, formerly New Oxford Dictionary of English, of...

Letter    Letter name
(pronunciation)
A a /eɪ/
B bee /biː/
C cee /siː/
D dee /diː/
E e /iː/
F ef /ɛf/ (spelled eff as a verb)
G gee /dʒiː/
H aitch /eɪtʃ/; or /heɪtʃ/ (haitch) in Hiberno-English and sometimes Australian and British English
I i /aɪ/
J jay /dʒeɪ/; sometimes jy /dʒaɪ/ in Scottish English and elsewhere.
K kay /keɪ/
L el /ɛl/
M em /ɛm/
N en /ɛn/
O o /oʊ/
P pee /piː/
Q cue /kjuː/
R ar /ɑr/ (see rhotic and non-rhotic accents)
S ess /ɛs/ (spelled es- in compounds like es-hook)
T tee /tiː/
U u /juː/
V vee /viː/
W double-u /ˈdʌbəl juː/
X ex /ɛks/
Y wye /waɪ/
Z zed /zɛd/; zee /ziː/ in American English; formerly also izzard

Some groups of letters, such as pee and bee, or em and en, are easily confused in speech, especially when heard over the telephone or a radio communications link. Spelling alphabets such as the NATO phonetic alphabet, used by aircraft pilots, police and others, are designed to eliminate this potential confusion by giving each letter a name that sounds quite different from any other. For other uses of A, see A (disambiguation). ... For other uses of B, see B (disambiguation). ... Look up C, c in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see D (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see E (disambiguation). ... Look up F, f in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see G (disambiguation). ... Look up H, h in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... British English (BrE, BE, en-GB) is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere in the Anglophone world. ... Look up I, i in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see J (disambiguation). ... Scottish English is usually taken to mean the standard form of the English language used in Scotland, often termed Scottish Standard English[1][2]. It is the language normally used in formal, non-fiction written texts in Scotland. ... For other uses, see K (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see L (disambiguation). ... For other uses of M, see M (disambiguation). ... Look up N, n in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up O, o in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article is about the Latin alphabet letter. ... This article is about the Latin alphabet letter. ... Look up R, r in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... Look up S, s in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see T (disambiguation). ... For other uses of U, see U (disambiguation). ... Look up V, v in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up W, w in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see X (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Y (disambiguation). ... Look up Z, z in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see American English (disambiguation). ... A spelling alphabet, radio alphabet, or telephone alphabet is a set of words which are used to stand for the letters of an alphabet. ... FAA radiotelephony phonetic alphabet and Morse code chart. ... Flying machine redirects here. ...


Phonology

Main article: English phonology

The letters A, E, I, O, U are considered to be vowels; the remaining letters are considered to be consonants. However, Y is very frequently used as a vowel, and W may occasionally function as a vowel as well. (See Words without vowels.) English phonology is the study of the phonology (ie the sound system) of the English language. ... Note: This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ... In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a sound in spoken language that is characterized by a closure or stricture of the vocal tract sufficient to cause audible turbulence. ...


Letter frequencies

Main article: letter frequencies

The letter most frequently used in English is E. The least frequently used letters are J, Q, X, and Z. The factual accuracy of this article is disputed. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...


The list below shows the frequency of letter use in English.

A – 8.17%
B – 1.49%
C – 2.78%
D – 4.25%
E – 12.70%
F – 2.23%
G – 2.02%

H – 6.09%
I – 6.97%
J – 0.15%
K – 0.77%
L – 4.03%
M – 2.41%
N – 6.75%

O – 7.51%
P – 1.93%
Q – 0.10%
R – 5.99%
S – 6.33%
T – 9.06%
U – 2.76%

V – 0.98%
W – 2.36%
X – 0.15%
Y – 1.97%
Z – 0.07%

See also

ABCs redirects here. ... There are 95 printable ASCII characters, numbered 32 to 126. ... The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc are a runic alphabet, extended from the Elder Futhark, consisting of 29, and later even 33 characters. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic settlers and Roman auxiliary troops from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Northern Netherlands. ... Variants of the Latin alphabet are used by the writing systems of many languages throughout the world. ... The Greek alphabet (Greek: ) is an alphabet consisting of 24 letters that has been used to write the Greek language since the late 8th or early 8th century BC. It was the first alphabet in the narrow sense, that is, a writing system using a separate symbol for each vowel...

Footnotes

  1. ^ See also the section on Ligatures
  2. ^ a b Michael Everson, Evertype, Baldur Sigurðsson, Íslensk Málstöð ON THE STATUS OF THE LATIN LETTER ÞORN AND OF ITS SORTING ORDER

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