How many letters are in the alphabet? Here’s the answer, by language.

How many letters are in the alphabet?

Have you ever sung the English-language alphabet song? Well, here’s something that might surprise you. The song sounds totally different in other languages. Not only are familiar letters—like and u—pronounced differently, but some languages use additional symbols that don’t appear in the English alphabet at all. That’s because not all languages written with Roman characters share a 26-letter alphabet with English. Let’s look at a few different writing systems that use Latin script to see how their alphabets differ.

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

English

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 English alphabet consists of 26 letters, through Z. Of those, five letters are vowels, twenty letters are consonants, and one letter (Y) can be categorized as both a vowel and a consonant. Letters in English sometimes have dual functions; for instance, the letter can sound like a or an SSome lists of English letters include the ampersand symbol (&) as the 27th letter. That symbol stands in for the English word “and” and the Latin word “et.” 

Swedish

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 Å Ä Ö

If you’re looking for a language with more letters of the alphabet, try Swedish! The Swedish language consists of 29 letters, A through Ö. The last three letters of the Swedish language are all vowels. Two of them feature umlauts, which look like double dots. Aside from the extra vowels, the first 26 letters of Swedish match the English alphabet. The Swedish language contains 20 consonants and 9 vowels. 

Spanish

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N Ñ O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The Spanish language contains one extra letter, compared to English. The letter Ñ, a consonant, brings the total number of letters in the Spanish alphabet to 27. In Spanish, acute accent marks can be used over the vowels to add emphasis. Y is not considered a vowel, so the Spanish language has 5 vowels and 22 consonants. 

Hawaiian

A E H I K L M N O P U W 

The Hawaiian alphabet has five vowels, seven consonants, and one glottal stop. A single open apostrophe symbol, also called an ‘okina, signifies the glottal stop. Although it’s not included in the alphabet, Hawaiian writing also features another diacritical mark. A macron, known as a kahakō, indicates a long vowel. Fun fact: Although the Hawaiian language has been around for a much longer period of time, the alphabet only originated in the 19th century.

Czech

A Á B C Č D Ď E É Ě F G H Ch I Í J K L M N Ň O Ó P Q R Ř S Š T Ť U Ú Ů V W X Y Ý Z Ž

The Czech writing system couldn’t be more different than Hawaiian. Instead of 13 letters, the Czech alphabet has 42! It’s considered the model alphabet for most Slavic languages. Like Spanish, Czech uses acute accents for long vowels. Czech also employs a number of other diacritical marks, including the caron or the háček (the mark above the c in háček). You may notice one letter of the alphabet that looks distinct from the others. Ch is a digraph—a pair of characters treated as a single letter. Ch appears in a number of different alphabets, including Welsh and Igbo. In total, Czech consists of 14 vowels and 26 consonants. 

More Information About the Latin Alphabet

The Roman alphabet developed as a way to write the Latin language. For this reason, the terms Roman alphabet and Latin alphabet are used interchangeably. Today, many groups all over the world use Roman script to represent their languages. Roman script allows for uppercase and lowercase letters, although the rules for how to use capitalization vary from language to language. Phonics also differ, as some languages use phonetic pronunciation and others do not. 

The English alphabet emerged around the 7th century, when Latin script combined with Anglo-Saxon runic script to form the Old English alphabet. Eventually, English ditched Anglo-Saxon runes, like thorn (þ) and wynn (ƿ)and added the letters and u/v. Around the 16th century, following the invention of the printing press, the Modern English alphabet emerged. J became the last letter to join the English alphabet, achieving common usage during the 17th century. 

So, how many letters are in the alphabet? Well, the answer depends on which alphabet you mean. If you’re talking about Modern English, then you’ll find 26 letters in the alphabet.

Sources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_alphabet
  2. https://www.worldometers.info/languages/how-many-letters-alphabet/
  3. https://www.quora.com/How-many-letters-are-in-the-English-alphabet
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_alphabet
  5. https://www.spanishdict.com/guide/the-spanish-alphabet
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawaiian_alphabet
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czech_orthography
  8. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Roman+alphabet

The Word Counter is a dynamic online tool used for counting words, characters, sentences, paragraphs, and pages in real time, along with spelling and grammar checking.