French pronunciation with Audio

Master French Pronunciation with Audio: 5 Essential Rules

French pronunciation doesn’t have to be daunting! In just 10 minutes, you can master the essential rules for pronouncing French words and letters effortlessly. In this post, I share five crucial pronunciation rules along with helpful tips, accompanied by two tutorial videos.

Table of Contents:

1) French Vowels and Combinations

2) French Accents

3) Nasal Vowels

4) Silent Letters

5) Liaison

1) French Vowels and Combinations

Mastering French vowels and combinations is crucial for accurate pronunciation, but it doesn't have to be daunting. Let's break it down.

  • A: Pronounced like the letter "a" in the word “father”. 

Example: la, papa

  • Ai: Pronounced like “é” as in “bait”. 

Example: mais, aimer

  • Au: Pronounced like “oh”. 

Example: chaud, auto

  • E: Usually pronounced like “ø”, unless it has an accent.

Example: je, de 

  • Eu: Pronounced the same as "e".
Example: deux, bleu
  • Eau: Pronounced like “o".

Example: l’eau, peau

  • I : Pronounced like “ee”.

Example: Ami

  • O : Pronounced like "o".

Example: Gros

  • Oi: Pronounced as "wah".  

Example: moi, toi

  • Ou: Pronounced like "ou" in “soupe". 

Example: nous, vous

  • U: This sound is tricky, with no equivalent in English (ü).

Example: mu

2) French accents 

French accents play a crucial role in pronunciation. Let's explore:

L’accent aigu: Used only with the letter "e". It’s pronounced similarly to the vowel "a" in the English word "cake", but shorter and crisper.

  • Été (Summer)
  • Café (Coffee)
  • Thé (tea)

L’accent grave: Used with the letters "a", "e" and "u", indicating a similar pronunciation to the vowel "e" in "pet". 

  • Très (very)

However, l’accent grave does not change the pronunciation of the vowel a or u, 

  • Là (the)
  • Où  (where)

L'accent circonflexe

The circumflex accent is used with almost all vowel letters (a, e, i, u, o), usually not significantly altering pronunciation except for the letter "e" which is pronounced similarly to the grave accent.

Example: fête (party)

L’accent tréma 

Used with the letters e, i, u to indicate separate pronunciation of two vowel sounds.

Example: naïf (Naive)

La cédille

Applied only to the letter "c", it softens the sound to "s", as in "yes". 

Example: ça (that), français (French)

3) Nasal sounds

One of the most challenging aspects of French pronunciation is nasal sounds. In French, we have three main nasal vowels. 

1) "in"

2) "an"

3) "on"

With nasal vowels, the air passes through both the nose and mouth. In oral vowels, the air only passes through the mouth.

1) "in"

To make this sound, shape your mouth as if you’re smiling, similar to the vowel "i". Drop your chin and keep your tongue at the bottom of your mouth.

Examples: "Pain" and "Vin".

You can find this nasal in various syllables like "-en", "-in","-im", "-ain","-aim".

2) "an"

To make this sound, open up your mouth as if you’re making the vowel "a", then drop your chin.

Examples: "An", "Enfant", "Enchanté".

3) "on"

To make this sound, open up your mouth as if you’re making the vowel "o". Again, drop your chin.

Examples: "Bon", "Ton", "Oncle".

I covered all the nasal vowels in my previous tutorial, so make sure to check it out. 

4) Silent letters

In French, the final letter is usually silent in words like "trois", "petit" and "long".

Additionally, the final -e is also silent in words such as:

  • Livre
  • Active
  • Commode

*However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. I call this the “careful” rule, which means that the letters c,r, f, l are pronounced in certain words, such as:

  • Avec
  • Par
  • Sportif
  • Sel

5) Liaison Rule

Our last rule is liaison. In French, as in many languages, we like to link words to sound more natural.  

Even though in most French words, the final consonant is not pronounced, if there is a word starting with a vowel after them, we pronounce them:

  • Nous> nous avons
  • Vous> Vous avez
  • Des> Des amis

The letter "s" is pronounced like "z" in these word groups.  

We sometimes have "x", which is also pronounced as "z" in word groups.

  • De nouveaux étudiants
  • De vieux amis

However, the letter "d" is pronounced as "t".

  • Un grand ami
  • Un grand animal

French Pronunciation Video Guide

Finally, here is my video where I present all these rules with their pronunciation.

I regularly share new tutorials on my channel, so be sure to subscribe for more content.

If you're looking to take your pronunciation to the next level, consider signing up for my courses.  

See you in one of my courses! 

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