How Many Letters Are There in the Alphabet?

How many letters in the alphabet
Whether you want to do a word count or a character count, it helps to know the number of letters in the alphabet. Knowing the correct number of letters in the alphabet depends greatly on which language’s alphabet you are referring to. While many may assume you’re talking about English, that might not always be the best assumption since there are so many different languages around the world. Below are the answers to this question for some of the more popular world languages.

How many letters are there in the English alphabet?

There are 26 letters in the English alphabet which range from ‘a’ to ‘z’ (with b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, w, x, and y in between). What many people don’t know is as recently as 200 years ago, there used to be 27 letters in the English alphabet. While many probably are familiar with the number of letters in English (if they are native English speakers), they may not be quite as familiar with the numbers in other languages.

How many letters are there in the Arabic alphabet?

Those curly letters do look pretty, and there are 28 letters in Arabic – just two more than the English alphabet. Sounds simple? Perhaps not as simple as it looks! All 28 letters of the Arabic alphabet are consonants.

That’s not to say that Arabic doesn’t have vowels. It does, but instead of having special letters, vowels are shown by a “diacritical mark” — a glyph that’s added to a consonant. Just to make things more confusing, you won’t always bother with vowels. They’re essential if you’re quoting the Quran or if you’re writing a book for children, but most of the time, you just leave them out.

How many letters are there in the Chinese alphabet?

Now things get really complicated! If you want to have functional literacy in Chinese, you “only” need to know three or four thousand characters. And I say “only” because there are literally tens of thousands of Chinese characters.

That’s because Chinese doesn’t actually have an alphabet at all. Instead of the marks you make representing sounds, they represent ideas (ideograms) or pictures (pictograms). And of course, you can combine ideas and get compound pictograms. So the word “good” is represented by the ideogram for “woman” and the ideogram for “child” superimposed on one another.

How many letters are there in the Japanese alphabet?

To read Japanese, you’ll need to know about 2,000 symbols from three “alphabets.” The first of these is known as “kanji,” and it consists of pictograms that originated in China. Then there are two phonetic alphabets, “hiragana” and “katakana.” At least these two alphabets actually represent sounds, so they are easier for a foreigner to learn and understand. Both hiragana and katakana have 46 letters.

How many letters are there in the Korean alphabet?

Westerners may heave a sigh of relief when they hear that the Korean alphabet, known as the Hangul in the South and the Chosan’gul in the North, consists of 24 characters – and there are vowels too. However, we may have some difficulty piecing together some Korean writing, because Korean characters are arranged in blocks that become syllables. So what looks like a single character to us, may be a combination of characters representing a sound.

How many letters are there in the Russian alphabet?

Are you eager to learn Russian? You’ll begin with the alphabet consisting of 33 letters. 10 of these are vowels, 21 are consonants and there are two additional “signs” to learn. Luckily, Russian is a phonetic language, so you can learn what sounds each letter represents and take it from there.

How many letters are there in the Spanish alphabet?

English speakers will feel as if they’re on some familiar ground with the Spanish alphabet – but be warned – there are actually 29 letters in the Spanish alphabet. The extra four are ch, ll, ñ and rr, each of which represents a different sound. And while we’re talking about sounds, “h” may be vital to spelling, but it’s a silent letter.

How many letters are there in the Italian alphabet?

Although Italian may not be the easiest language in the world if you take grammar into account, the alphabet is a breeze. It only has 21 letters. “Foreign” letters: j, k, w, x and y are borrowed to write foreign words. Spelling is phonetical, but you’ll have to learn a few spelling rules before you can join a spelling bee.

How many letters are there in the French alphabet?

We’re back on familiar ground with a 26 letter alphabet for French. Of course, there are some accent marks that make a difference: è, é, or ç, but these are just modifiers, not extra letters. Of course, French and English are closely related languages, so it’s hardly surprising that the two alphabets are basically the same.

How many letters are there in the Greek alphabet?

From Alpha to Omega, we’re looking at 24 letters in the Greek alphabet. Greek is one of the oldest scripts still in use, and it’s one of the roots of Latin script that determines how we write today. Once one gets used to the different-looking letters and how they should sound, there should be few problems reading Greek – even without understanding it. It’s a phonetic language with few tricky vices to throw you off.

How many letters are there in the German alphabet?

Despite some formatting differences and the presence of the umlaut, which has different effects on pronunciation depending on where you put it, the German alphabet has the 26 letters that English speakers are used to. Of course, learning an alphabet and learning a language are two different things. Reading German isn’t all that difficult once you have some vocabulary, but becoming fluent with it is a different matter.

Luckily, there are things that everyone understands

It’s important to remember that alphabets aren’t everything when it comes to communication. You don’t have to be a linguist to smile, something everyone understands. The game of charades, which is often the foreigner’s last resort when verbal communication fails, can also get you through some tight spots. It may not always be effective, but even when it isn’t, it usually provokes hilarity at the very least.

(Photo courtesy of Mike)

33 comments

  1. This was an interesting read. I was looking for information about the English alphabet once having 27 letters when I came across this. I feel that a simple search has made me a little more knowledgeable.

    1. This is exactly what I love to hear about the articles I post. it’s always good to hear someone comes away from one with a bit more knowledge.

  2. How many letter are in the alphabet joke!

    Guy: How many words are there in the alphabet? It has 20 letters, right?
    Girl: No, there are 26 letters.
    Guy: Oh, that’s right. I forgot U R A Q T.
    Girl: Ah, that’s nice, but that only makes 25.
    Guy: I know. I’m planning to give you the D later…

  3. Has everyone flunked kindergarten? This is a question that every kindergarten student should know. I feel sorry for our nation if people have to actually search to find the answer to haw many letter there are in the alphabet as adults!

    1. I think that you forget there are a lot of people who learn English as a second language. Do you know how many letters are in the French alphabet? In the German alphabet? In the Russian alphabet? In the Arabic alphabet? If you don’t know the exact number of letters in all of these, you shouldn’t be so high on your horse about people wanting to know how many letters there are in the English alphabet. You might want to think a little bit outside your own narrow worldview as to why somebody might want to have the answer to this question.

    2. @Gladis

      Seriously, get off your high horse and try to have a wider view than your current narrow mind allows. Not everybody is you. There are legitimate reasons someone might not know there are 26 letters in the English alphabet and why they would want to know the answer. Your condescending attitude isn’t going to help you at all in life.

    3. You might want to learn “haw” to spell before you go on a rant about knowing how many letters there are in the alphabet. I feel sorry for the nation that adults don’t know how to spell simple words!

    1. Is there even a Vulcan alphabet?

      I guess there is. I just went and did a search and there most definitely is a Vulcan alphabet. There’s also a Romulan alphabet and a Klingon alphabet. Who would’ve thought?

  4. I thought there were 25 letters in the alphabet. How is it that I thought there were 25 letters in alphabetic or so long when there are 26? I think my teachers failed me.

    1. By the look of your grammar, I would say you’re correct. Although you shouldn’t blame your teacher. You are fully responsible for your education and understanding how many letters there are in the alphabet ( as well as how to grammar correctly). In the end, the effort to learn it is up to you and while teachers can help, they aren’t responsible if you decide not to spend the time to learn it.

    2. Apparently there is a 26th letter so the alphabet goes like this 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 and also &

  5. This isn’t difficult. Just say your abc’s and count and you will know it’s 26 letters. Or write them down: 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 and count them. Is it really that hard?

    1. If English isn’t your first language, you may not be familiar with the ABCs. Just because it isn’t difficult for you doesn’t mean it’s not difficult for other people. Before you start spouting off about how knowing the answer to this question is not difficult, you might want to think from the perspective of not knowing English very well. For those who are just learning it’s important to know how many letters there are in the alphabet..

      1. There are so many different alphabets in the world I think sometimes we forget that. So this was a good read and to see how different alphabets differ from country to countr. It’s always good to be informed and to expand knowledge.

  6. I feel like I’m back in grade school. Now I’m going to have the alphabet song in my head for the rest of the day. I guess it might be good training since I do have a kid on the way

    1. Congratulations on your soon to be parenthood. You’ll be singing the ABC song more times than you ever thought you would in the coming years. Get used to that song being in your head.

  7. Does anyone one know why different alphabets have a different number of letters? Wouldn’t it be easier if they all has the same number? I mean, humans all make the same sounds, so they really don’t need a different number of letters. I’m just wondering why?

    1. They were created by different people and civilizations. If you tell two people to paint a picture of a tree, the picture isn’t going to be exactly the same. This applies to all things developed independently.

  8. It’s always interesting to find out new things and this was definitely a very interesting post. I always wanted to know more about the Japanese alphabet. I think anyone who comes to this will find more than they thought they would which is a pleasant surprise. I know I did!

  9. Thank you for including alphabets beyond the English alphabet. It took me forever to find information on alphabets other than English because everybody focuses just on the English alphabet. It’s good to know that others realize there are more alphabets than just English. Good job!

  10. It’s amazing that you can find absolutely anything on the Internet these days. I typed in “how many letters are there in the alphabet” is a joke just to see what would come up and I ended up at this article. I must admit that I didn’t know, or even think about, the number of letters in different language alphabets. I guess I should do searches like this more often.

  11. How many words are there in the alphabet? So, there is “a” and “I” which are words so that out of that has at least two words in it. Does it have any other words besides these two?

    1. Every word is made up of the letters in the alphabet. If you’re talking exclusively about 1 letter words, then “a” and “I” are the only two. Some people use “u” as an abbreviation of “you” but it’s not really a word. The same is true for “c” and “see”

  12. How many words are there in the alphabet? So, there is “a” and “I” which are words so that out of that has at least two words in it. It’s good to know that others realize there are more alphabets than just English. Good job!

    1. I think it depends on what alphabet you’re referring to? English will have a different number than Geman and that will be different than Russian.

  13. I think it’s interesting that all the alphabets have a similar number of letters. You don’t see alphabets with only 5 letters. I’m wondering if someone can expound on why most alphabets have 20 to 30 letters?

    1. I think it just comes down to this number of letters allow languages to cover all the sounds in it. There is no fast rule to this. Look at Chinese and Japanese that have thousands of characters.

  14. What is the difference between a letter and a character? Why does English have letters, but Chinese and Japanese have characters? Aren’t they the same thing?

  15. I would like to point something out about the German amount. I am currently learning German and doing quite well. I would like to say that it has 27. If you don’t count the umlaut.
    The one you are missing is the ezett. The special “B” looking letter: ß. Would just like to point that out. Not trying to be rude, just wanting to help people not be misinformed! I apologize.

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