Can anyone please explain what is the difference between "Letter" and "Alphabet" in English?

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    This question can be answered by referring to an online dictionary. Could you at least explain why the two words confuse you? – Mari-Lou A Apr 23 '14 at 7:01
  • @Mari-LouA I have seen two terms being used interchangeably. SO just want to know what is the exact usage for these. – Arvind07 Apr 23 '14 at 7:15
  • What was the phrase you read? – Mari-Lou A Apr 23 '14 at 7:17
  • As oerkelens says, in English these terms are not interchangeable. – Jeffrey Kemp Apr 23 '14 at 7:18
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    @Arvind07 the fault is yours for not explaining, one could say that without my asking for clarification, oerkelens would never have answered. You should always mention the dialect of English you are most familiar with, be it AmEng, BrEng, AuEng or InEng. – Mari-Lou A Apr 23 '14 at 7:21

It may be worth noting that in Indian English, the word alphabet can take on a similar meaning to letter, which can cause confusion.

In standard English, the difference is basically that an alphabet is a collection of letters.

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A letter is a particular symbol used in writing, an alphabet is the set of all the letters.

Here is a letter: A


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  • Seems to be valid, waiting for few more responses :) – Arvind07 Apr 23 '14 at 6:47
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    It's a pretty basic question, so honestly not sure what extra you are after. If you want more info, the wikipedia page has a lot more: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabet – Jeffrey Kemp Apr 23 '14 at 6:48
  • Just want to know if this is all or we have some other differences in terms of usage or so.. – Arvind07 Apr 23 '14 at 7:17
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    The terms are general, so in English we might refer to "the Hindi alphabet" or "the Greek alphabet", which refer to the collection of all the letters used in Hindi or Greek, respectively. If we refer to "a Hindi letter" or "some Greek letters", we are not referring to the whole alphabet, but just one or more letters in an alphabet. – Jeffrey Kemp Apr 23 '14 at 7:20
  • Nice explanation. – Arvind07 Apr 28 '14 at 8:42

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