The alphabet for Modern English is a Latin-script alphabet consisting of 26 letters, each having an upper- and lower-case form. The word alphabet is a compound of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta. The alphabet originated around the 7th century CE to write Old English from Latin script. Since then, letters have been added or removed to give the current letters:
|c.1500 to present|
|ISO 15924||Latn (215), Latin|
|U+0000 to U+007E Basic Latin and punctuation|
The exact shape of printed letters varies depending on the typeface (and font), and the standard printed form may differ significantly from the shape of handwritten letters (which varies between individuals), especially cursive.
The English alphabet has 5 vowels, 19 consonants, and 2 letters (Y and W) that can function as consonants or vowels.
Written English has a large number of digraphs (e.g., would, beak, moat); it stands out (almost uniquely) as a European language without diacritics in native words. The only exceptions are:
- a diaeresis (e.g., "coöperation") may be used to distinguish two vowels with separate pronunciation from a double vowel[nb 1]
- a grave accent, very occasionally, (as in learnèd, an adjective) may be used to indicate that a normally silent vowel is pronounced