French Reading Tip – How To Say The AY Sound

One of the most baffling aspects to learning French is figuring out which letters to pronounce and which ones to not pronounce. In this lesson I’ll show you a simple reading tip that covers one single sound with multiple letter combinations. This simple reading rule will help you to pronounce thousands of French words correctly!

The rule is as follows: All words ending in these letter combinations end in the sound “ay” as in “play”. These letter combinations may also be found in the middle of words.

If you’re serious about mastering French reading and pronunciation and are looking for a complete online audio course then I’d suggest you take a look at Frechtoday.com’s Secrets of French Pronunciation where online teacher Camille does an amazing job teaching the rules to speak with a true French accent!

If you find this lesson useful you my also consider one of my private French lessons. Read some testimonials here!

Here are the letter combinations:
É/ET/EZ/ER/AIS/AIT

Words ending with or including É
café coffee
légume vegetable
parlé spoke
mangé ate
vélo bicycle
bébé baby
équipe team
école school
zéro zero
été summer
météo weather
élection election
travaillé worked
voyagé travelled
écouté listened
Céline
Cécile

Words ending with our including ET
et and
buffet buffet
ballet ballet
banquet banquet
juillet july
gourmet gourmet
bleuet blueberry
brevet diploma
forêt forest
jouet toy
déchet garbage
trajet trip
reflet reflection
volet shutter/blind
cabinet office

Words ending with EZ
vous parlez you speak (formal, plural)
vous voyagez you travel (formal, plural)
vous travaillez you work (formal, plural)
vous étudiez you study (formal, plural)
vous avez you have (formal, plural)
vous allez you go (formal, plural)
chez preposition – at somebody’s house
nez nose
assez quite, rather
rendez-vous meeting, appointment

Words ending in ER
parler to speak
chanter to sing
danser to dance
écouter to listen
jouer to play
regarder to look at
visiter to visit
aller to go
voyager to travel
travailler to work
téléphoner to telephone/call
manger to eat
monter to climb
habiter to live
premier first

Words ending in AIS
je vais I go
j’étais I used to be
je parlais I used to speak
je travaillais I used to work
j’habitais I used to live
je voyageais I used to work
français French
anglais English
portugais Portuguese
irlandais Irish
hollandais Dutch
cantonais Cantonese
jamais never
frais fresh, cool
mais but

Words ending in AIT (the i can also have an accent circomflex î)
S’il te plait please informal
S’il vous plaît please formal
il fait he makes/does
elle sait she knows
elle parlait she used to speak
elle travaillait she used to work
elle voyageait she used to travel
elle habitait she used to live
elle vendait she used to sell
elle serait she would be
elle savait she used to know
parfait perfect
souhait wish
satisfait satisfied
en fait in fact
lait milk
portrait portrait

Back To Home Page

Sign Up For A FREE Trial French Lesson On Skype And Get Instant Access To My French Pronunciation Crash Course.

Get the French Pronunciation Crash Course!

  • Suzanne Thepaut-Hasselback

    Very sorry to contradict you – the -ait/-ais endings are not sounded the same as the -é endings, as they are further back in the mouth: http://faculty.georgetown.edu/spielmag/docs/phonetique/voyelles2.htm
    Parisians do tend to pronounce them the same way, but this is a regional deformation.
    Hope this is helpful!