French 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|
|air||fair||faire (to make/do)
|ew||“u” with puckered lips||tu (you)
Part 2: Consonants
|Letter||In English Equals:||French Word Example||How To Pronounce|
|b||big||boire (to drink)||boir|
|f||fall||faire (to make/do)||fair|
|y||yes||payer, billet (to pay/ticket)||pay-yay, bee-yay|
|z||is||ils ont (they have)||eelz-ohn|
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)
|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!