If I wanted to sing the ABCs, how would I do it in Esperanto?

In all seriousness though, English letters are generally referred to by a name (Ae, Bee, See, ..., Aech, Eye, Jay). But I can't really say "Aech with a hat" or "Aech-ecks" (hx) for Ĥ.

So what are the names of the following letters?


  • 1
    By the way the name of "H" in English, which you're writing as "aech", is "aitch". Nov 4, 2016 at 15:20

4 Answers 4


You simply add an -o noise to the end of letter. So, for these letters, you would pronounce it as follows:

Ĉo, Ĝo, Ĥo, Ĵo, Ŝo, Ŭo

This is how it was presented to me, at least. I will also include a link to the video that actually taught me this so you can hear how it's pronounced here.

When wanting to say multiple letters, you should still add the -oj ending to each letter, as shown below:

Ĉo-oj, Ĝo-oj, Ĥo-oj, Ĵo-oj, Ŝo-oj, Ŭo-oj

P.S. After reading the other responses to this question, the question really boils down to Can you communicate a letter clearly? In my opinion, I think any one of the ways presented here would work, but to avoid confusion, you could say:

La literoj Ho, O, Mo, A, Ĉo, O

By doing this, the listener will not confuse them for other words, as they know you are listing off letters.

  • 2
    My suggestion would be to remove the part about this being like a noun ending, because it really is not. You can't turn it into an adjective or verb by changing the ending, and if you want to make Ĉo plural, you need to add an -o first. (Tri Ĉo-oj.) Nov 3, 2016 at 16:22
  • I agree with that and I added to the answer. Thanks for the help! Nov 3, 2016 at 16:33
  • @DonĉjoFrazoro As for avoiding confusion, I think many people may have a problem telling apart ĥo and ho.
    – miĥaŭ
    Nov 3, 2016 at 18:46
  • I would just stretch out the sound or make it really harsh sounding, but you could just say "Ĥo capela" Nov 3, 2016 at 20:14
  • @DonĉjoFrazoro I'm not sure if "making it harsh sounding" would work, because ĥ actually exists in my native language and I don't find it particularly harsh. It is the sound of plain h that I'm not used to, and I don't know if I can distinguish it reliably. I think adding "ĉapela" or "ĉapelita" to "ĥo" is the best solution.
    – miĥaŭ
    Nov 3, 2016 at 22:41

The most common procedure by far is to add -o to every consonant:

a, bo, co, ĉo, do, e, fo, go, ĝo, ho, ĥo, i, jo, ĵo, ko, lo, mo, no, o, po, ro, so, ŝo, to, u, ŭo, vo, zo

These are the names given at the start of the Ekzercaro in the Fundamento de Esperanto. The non-Esperanto letters in the Latin alphabet are called: Q kuo, W duobla vo, X ikso, Y ipsilono.

Hence, the Esperanto word for ABC is aboco.

The system has the virtue of being easy to remember for adult learners, but it poses problems, especially in maths and science. For example, the name ro clashes with the Greek letter rho, the word do ("therefore") clashes with the letter do, and structural formulas in chemistry are hard to distinguish when read out. In 1949, F. J. Belinfante asked readers of Scienca Revuo whether they considered the system usable for all purposes; three-quarters of respondents said no. As a result there have been plenty of alternative proposals, but none are widely used yet. To give you an idea of what they look like, here are four of them.

The lexicographer Gaston Waringhien suggested adding -a to voiced consonants and -o to unvoiced (with some exceptions):

a, ba, co, ĉo, da, e, fo, ga, ĝa, ha, ĥo, i, jo, ĵa, ko, lo, mo, na, o, po, ra, so, ŝo, to, u, ŭo, va, za

The physicist Frederik Belinfante recommended the following for scientific work, based on 17 natural-language alphabets:

a, be, ce, de, e, ef, ge, haĉ, i, jot, ka, el, em, en, o, pe, ku, er, es, te, u, vi, ŭe, iks, ŭaj, zet

Alternatives: ha, je, me, vaŭ, etc. For the Esperanto letters: ĉe, ĝo, ĥa, ĵe, ŝa, ŭo

The following alphabet-song was suggested by the poet Kálmán Kalocsay:

a, be, ce, de, e, ef, ge, ha, / i, je, ka, el, om, en, o, pa, / er, es, ta, u, ve, ĉa, ĝe, / ĥi kaj ĵi, eŝ, ŭo kaj ze, / plus ku, ikso, ipsilono, / jen la abece-kolono.

A very recent one, used by an accessibility add-on for Firefox, avoids clashing with any actual Esperanto words:

a, be, ce, ĉa, di, e, ef, ge, ĝe, ha, ĥi, i, jo, ĵi, ka, lo, om, no, o, pa, kuo, er, es, eŝ, ta, u, ŭo, ve, vavo, ikso, ipsilopo, ze.

  • 6
    It's probably worth noting that only the first method is actually in use in regular Esperanto. Nov 3, 2016 at 16:18
  • 4
    I don't think this post is very helpful, because it mixes correct information with a variety of hypothetical but never used suggestions. It's like teaching learners of English that "the most popular way of saying the alphabet is ay, bee, see, dee, ee... but my Uncle Brian likes to say oo, boo, sand, dog, whee..." If you want to sound like this guy, you're free to do it, but don't expect anyone to understand you. youtu.be/VNswoVE5vws?t=5m33s
    – Tim Morley
    Nov 5, 2016 at 10:58
  • I have added more context. Nov 5, 2016 at 14:32
  • 2
    You still suggest that there's a "most common way" of doing it alongside several other ways. Your answer should be much shorter: "Here is how to say the alphabet in Esperanto: a bo co ĉo do" etc. You could, in answer to a different question regarding a historically complete list of never used proposals, add the rest of your answer above, but it is entirely irrelevant to the question being asked here.
    – Tim Morley
    Nov 6, 2016 at 17:21

Are you asking about how to say them in English or Esperanto.

In Esperanto, as has been said, the official method is to say the sound of the letter followed by the -o sound. By the way, it fits to the traditional "Twinkle Twinkle" melody if you break it down like this.

  • a, bo, co, ĉo, do, e, fo,
  • go, ĝo, ho, ĥo, i, jo, ĵo,
  • ko, lo, mo, no, o, po, ro,
  • so, ŝo, to, u, ŭo, vo, zo
  • nun vi havas alfabeton
  • kantu kun mi la kanteton

When talking about Esperanto in English, I'll often just use the Esperanto names. "Eĥo is spelled Eee-ĥo-oh." You can also say "Eĥo is spelled Eee--Aich-hat--Oh."

  • What do you mean by Eee-ĥo-o? It gives an impression that you pronounce it like /i:/ or something similar, which is the name of the Esperanto letter "i" and not "e".
    – miĥaŭ
    Nov 3, 2016 at 16:42
  • I don't know the IPA symbols. I meant the name of the letter E in English. It's pronounced like the double E sound in see. Like I said, this is for when talking about Esperanto in English. Nov 3, 2016 at 19:05
  • 1
    /i/ in IPA is the same as "i" in Esperanto. Eee-ĥo-o is quite confusing, because it mixes English and Esperanto names. If you said it this way, I would think you are spelling the word "iĥo". I'd say Eee-Aitch-Hat-Oh is much better, because it's clear that you're using the English letter names.
    – miĥaŭ
    Nov 3, 2016 at 19:12
  • I just had my son read this out loud and he read it the way I intended it to. I agree that it's confusing, but that's because English phonetic spelling is confusing. I'm not sure what your language background is. I'll be glad to change it to something that's more clear, but since it's already clear to me and to the people in my house, I'm not sure what I should change it to. Your input is welcome here. Nov 3, 2016 at 19:20
  • 2
    English phonetic spelling is not confusing; what is confusing is mixing English and Esperanto phonetic spelling. I can't see any problem as long as you don't mix the two systems. I can understand both English "Eee-Aitch-Hat-Oh" and Esperanto "e-ĥo(-ĉapelita)-o" (with "e" as in English "get").
    – miĥaŭ
    Nov 3, 2016 at 23:03

The recommended system is as follows:

Zamenhof simply tacked an -o onto each consonant to create the name of the letter, with the vowels representing themselves: a, bo, co, ĉo, do, e, fo, etc. The diacritics are frequently mentioned overtly. For instance, ĉ may be called ĉo ĉapela or co ĉapela, from ĉapelo (a hat), and ŭ may be called ŭo luneta or u luneta, from luno (a moon) plus the diminutive -et-. This is the only system that is widely accepted and in practical use.

So, you have three possibilities:

  • a, bo, co, ĉo, do, e, fo, go, ĝo, ho, ĥo, i, jo, ĵo, ko, lo, mo, no, o, po, ro, so, ŝo, to, u, ŭo, vo, zo
  • a, bo, co, co ĉapela, do, e, fo, go, go ĉapela, ho, ho ĉapela, i, jo, jo ĉapela, ko, lo, mo, no, o, po, ro, so, so ĉapela, to, u, u luneta, vo, zo
  • a, bo, co, ĉo ĉapela, do, e, fo, go, ĝo ĉapela, ho, ĥo ĉapela, i, jo, ĵo ĉapela, ko, lo, mo, no, o, po, ro, so, ŝo ĉapela, to, u, ŭo luneta, vo, zo

There is no established standard for naming letters with the "hat" and several different names can be found, e.g. ĉapelita ĉ, ĉo ĉapelo and ĉo ĉapela.

In my opinion, it's best to mention the "hats" explicitly. For example, there are many languages that have either only the ĥ-sound or only the h-sound. Given that ĥ is infrequent, there are few opportunities to practice this distinction, and many Esperanto speakers may have a problem telling these two sounds apart. When you say ĥo ĉapela, there will be no way to be misunderstood.

Additionally, <q> is called kuo, <x> is called ikso and <y> is called ipsilono. The letter <w> has several names, but vavo is the most practical one. Its other names are simply too cumbersome when reading common abbreviations, such as "www" (it's definitely easier to say vavo-vavo-vavo than duobla vo - duobla vo - duobla vo).

  • "so ĉapela" really? I've always heard it as ĉapelita - and I haven't been able to find many examples of "so ĉapela" in use online. Nov 3, 2016 at 16:20
  • @TomasoAlexander I don't get any results when I google for "so ĉapelita", "ŝo ĉapelita", "co ĉapelita", "ĉo ĉapelita", etc. And there are some when I look for their "ĉapela" equivalents. But I see that "ĉapelita" is in NPIV, and "ĉapela" is not. Well, I guess both names are understandable...
    – miĥaŭ
    Nov 3, 2016 at 16:39
  • If you're going to use Google to decide this one, one thing to look at are the results for ĉapela litero and for ĉapelita litero. Both the number and the quality of the first few hits are very different. I did find a few hits for ""so ĉapela"", but mostly on Hungarian wiki sites. Nov 3, 2016 at 19:16
  • @TomasoAlexander I think it may be similar to the English use of the word "umlaut". As far as I can tell, it's more common to say "umlauted letter" than "umlaut letter", but when people refer to, say, "ö", it is more common to say "umlaut o" than "umlauted o".
    – miĥaŭ
    Nov 5, 2016 at 15:38
  • That would suggest "s-ĉapelo" - which seems at least slightly more common than "s ĉapela". lernu.net/eo/forumo/temo/13837 Nov 5, 2016 at 21:15

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