French PronunciationFrench pronunciation is one of the most challenging aspects of learning the French language for many students. A lot of the sounds are very unique to French and do not exist in any of the other Romance languages.

In this audio lesson you will learn how to pronounce the French sounds including vowels, consonants and accents. Please don’t hesitate to pause and replay the audio podcast as many times as you’d like. Indeed, the more times you listen the better luck you’ll have!

Part 1: Vowels

The basic vowel and consonant sounds are quite straight forward and easy to learn. Just make sure you spend some extra time on the “ew” sound (third from bottom on the table below). This is the tricky “u” sound used in the word “tu” (you singular or familiar). Make sure you do not confuse this with the “oo” sound as in “cou” (last vowel sound on the table below)

Vowel In English Equals: French Word Example How To Pronounce
a fun classe (class) clas
ai aisle travail (work)
tra-vai
air fair faire (to make/do)
fair
ay bay clé (key)
cl-ay
e bed est (is) ay
ee sea dit (said)
dee
er her deux (two)
d’er
ew “u” with puckered lips tu (you)
tew
o dot homme (man) o’hm
oo room cou (neck)
coo

Part 2: Consonants

Letter In English Equals: French Word Example How To Pronounce
b big boire (to drink) boir
d dig devoir (must) devoir
f fall faire (to make/do) fair
g go gris (grey) gree
k kick crane (brain) crahn
l let limonade (lemonade) lee-mon-ahde
m mop monde (world) moh-nde
n not ne (not) neh
ng bang cinq (five)
sank
ny canyon ligne (line) liyne
p pimple pomme (apple) poh-m
r rent rouge (red) roo-zhe
s sun soleil (sun) soh-lay
sh shine cheminée (chimney) shem-yee-nay
t tell tomate (tomato) toh-maht
v vest vagabond (homeless) vaga-bohn
w west oui (yes) wee
y yes payer, billet (to pay/ticket) pay-yay, bee-yay
z is ils ont (they have) eelz-ohn
zh leisure je (I) zhe

Part 3 – Hard-to-Pronounce Sounds

One of the tricky parts about French is that sometimes you do not pronounce words exactly the way you see the letters spelled out. Also, these sounds tend to be unique to French and do not exist in Spanish or Italian. These sounds can pose a lot of problems for beginner-level students. Memorize how the way these letter structures are pronounced now and you will have a much easier time learning French.

Letters In English Equals: French Word Example How To Pronounce
on like “o” in hot but nazal mouton (sheep) moo-tohn
in like “a” in cat but nazal magasin (store/shop) maga-zin
eur like “uh” + French “R” fleur fleur
oir “Oh” + Ee + French “R” boire (to drink) boir
ait/ais “Ay” like lay with a light “e” lait (milk) lay + slight e
ent Like “oh” but with a slight “un” different (different)
dee-fer-ent
ois Sounds like “uwah” François (a man’s name) Frans-uwah
au Sounds like “ooh” beau (beautiful) booh
eu Sounds like “uh” feu (fire) f+uh
ois Sounds like “woah” fois (time, an instance) f+woah

This is a basic introduction to the rules of how to pronounce the French language. As I mentioned earlier, learning how to say these sounds takes some time and effort. Bookmark this page and you can come back to it often and use it as an online reference. Keep listening to the sounds everyday and you’ll be speaking well very fast!