The Yorùbá alphabet


Welcome to the first Yoruba lesson on Naijish!

We are going to start from the Yoruba alphabet, pronounced àlìfàbẹ́ẹ̀tì (basically the word alphabet said in a heavy Yoruba accent).

The Yoruba alphabet actually looks very similar to the English alphabet, you’re not learning a whole new writing system like in Greek or Japanese, so it shouldn’t take you too long to get the hang of it.

To start you off, I’ve created a table below showing you how to pronounce individual letters and how to pronounce these letters when they’re in words. You know, like how we pronounce the letter b as ‘bee’ but when it’s in a word it sounds like ‘buh’ like in the words ‘block’, ‘bread and ‘brown’.

Alphabet in Yoruba with audio

LetterIndividual Letter PronunciationPronunciation in wordsAudio
aahpronounced as the a in ‘apple’
bbeepronounced as the b in ‘bold’
ddeepronounced as the d in ‘door’
epronounced as the ‘ai’ in ‘aim’pronounced as the ‘ai’ in ‘aim’
pronounced as the e in ‘effort’pronounced as the e in ‘effort’
ffeepronounced as the f in ‘for’
ggeepronounced as the g in ‘gold’
gbno English equivalentno English equivalent
hheepronounced as the h in ‘hold’
ieepronounced as the ee in ‘fee’
jjeepronounced as the j in ‘jack’
kkeepronounced as the k in ‘koala’
lleepronounced as the l in ‘live’
mmeepronounced as the m in ‘may’
nneepronounced as the n in ‘not’
oohhpronounced as the o in ‘old’
pronounced as the o in ‘opera’pronounced as the o in ‘opera’
pno English equivalentno English equivalent
rreepronounced as the r in ‘read’
sseepronounced as the s in ‘say’
shepronounced as the sh in ‘shall’
tteapronounced as the t in ‘tall’
uoopronounced as the oo in ‘cool’
wwepronounced as the w in ‘water’
yyeepronounced as the y in ‘youth’
The Yoruba Alphabet

Take note

From the table above you probably came across two really foreign sounding letters, P and Gb. I know, I could have told you about them earlier, but I didn’t want to put you off. These two sounds aren’t found in English and can be quite tricky for English speakers to pronounce, so here’s a top tip to pronounce the letter P, say the words pig and big at the same time, inspired by this article.

Two more things! The ‘n’ in Yoruba can sometimes have a nasal sound, and sound like the ‘n’ in sing (this happens in the word fẹ́ràn). Don’t worry, with practice you can get better at anticipating if an ‘n’ is going to be nasal or not.

The other thing! The ‘a’ in Yoruba can sometimes sound like an ọ when it’s next to an ‘n’ (like the ‘a’ in the word fẹ́ràn), again, you get better at anticipating this with practice.

For a video on the Yoruba alphabet, check out our Yoruba Alphabet video.

Well done! You’ve completed the first Yoruba language lesson, that wasn’t anywhere near as challenging as you thought it would be, was it? The next lesson will be on how to pronounce words in Yoruba.

To speed up your Yoruba learning check out our Digital Yoruba Learning Centre!

3 thoughts on “The Yorùbá alphabet”

    1. Ise ribiribi ni awon oludasile eko yi ti se. E tubo ba wa mura sii ki awon omo Yoruba to wa ni ile ajeji le ko ede ilu won.

  1. I love this site. Thank you all so much for creating this. I will faithfully practice every day. I wish there had been classes learning Yoruba (or other African languages) like they have classes for learning French, Spanish or Latin. The flash cards and games will help me and my grandchildren learn the language of our ancestors. Asè

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