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FRENCH LESSON - HOW TO PRONOUNCE FRENCH VOWELS

Vowels in French can have accent marks; except for "e", this doesn't usually change the sound:

 

a, ,  
like "a" in "father"
e
like "a" in "about"
like "ay" in "say"
like "e" in "set"
like "e" in "set"
i,  
like "ee" in "feed"
o, o, , au, eau 
like "oa" in "boat" or "aw" in "law"

ou 

like "oo" in "food", but a pure vowel
u,
more or less like "oo" in "food", but the tongue is like "ee" in "feed"; written uu in transcriptions
y
like "ee" in "feed"

The following video clip shows how to pronounce the letters of the French alphabet:

HOW TO PRONOUNCE FRENCH CONSONANTS

Final consonants of a word are usually dropped: allez (go) is pronounced ahl-AY, not ahl-AYZ; tard (late) is pronounce tar, not tard. Also a final "e" is usually silent. But if the next word begins with a vowel, the consonant may be pronounced; this is called liaison.

Stress is usually on the last syllable of a phrase, but sometimes when a word is emphasized, the stress moves to the middle of the word.

b
like "b" in "bed"
c
like "k" in "kill" (before "a", "o", and "u"), like "s" in "sun" (before "e" and "i")
 
like "s" in "sun"
d
like "d" in "death"
f
like "f" in "fun"
g
like "g" in "go" (before "a", "o", and "u"), like "g" in "sabotage" (before "e" and "i" and at the end of words)
h
usually silent
j
like "g" in "sabotage"
k
like "k" in "kill"
l
like "l" in "like"
m
like "m" in "me"
n
like "n" in "nurse" (but see 'Diphthongs' below)
p
like "p" in "push"
q(u)
like "k" in "kill" (not like "qu" in "quick")
r
guttural; kind of like coughing up a hairball
s
like "s" in "sun"; like "z" in "zero" (between two vowels)
t
like "t" in "take"
v
like "v" in "value"
x
like "x" in "exit"
z
like "z" in "zero"

Listen Saying letters of the alphabet in French - as an mp3 file

Listen French vowel sounds - as an mp3 file

Listen Examples of how to pronounce the French letter 'u' probably the hardest challenge for English speakers!

HOW TO PRONOUNCE FRENCH DIPHTHONGS (gliding vowels)

a
like "i" in "fight", like "ay" in "hay" (at the end of a word)
ail
like "i" in "fight"
ais
like "ea" in "bread" (at the end of a word)
au, eau
like "ow" in "blow"
an
nasal; kind of like "ahng", but without the hard "g" at the end
eu
between "ew" in "dew" and "ur" in "burp"; written eu in transcriptions
more or less like "eu", slightly more "open"
er
like "ay" in "hay" -- usually found at the end of word/verb
ez
like "ay" in "hay"
en, em
nasal; same as "an"
in
nasal; like "ang" in "Tang", but without the hard "g" at the end
oi
like "wa" in "walk"
oin
nasal; like "wang", but without the hard "g" at the end
ou
like "oo" in "food"
on
nasal; like "ong" in "long", but without the hard "g" at the end
oui
like "wee" in "week"
ui
like "wee" in "week", but with the tongue forward
un
nasal; like "ung" in "hung", but without the hard "g" at the end
ch
like "sh" in "bush"
gn
like "ny" in "canyon". This is particularly difficult  when followed by oi, as in baignoire (beh-NYWAR) "bathtub"
il
like "y" in "three years", with some exceptions (ville is veel)
ll
like "l"
ph
like "f" in "fun"
tch
like "ch" in "chew" (but kind of rare)
th
like "t" in "tin"
tr
"t" followed by a short gargle


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