Easy French Lesson 10: Pronunciation

Easy French Lesson 10 Pronunciation: Sounds of French

The easiest French pronunciation is

FRENCH PRONUNCIATION YOU KNOW FROM ENGLISH

The main purpose of all the previous nine Easy French Lessons has been to show you the similarities between English and written French that will enable you to read some French.

The secondary purpose is to prepare you for the next steps in learning this foreign language: listening to and then speaking French.

Sound similarities are far fewer than spelling similarities between French and English.

This lesson will help prepare you for a logical next step of learning -- listening to audio of French words and pronouncing them.

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French pronunciation is considered difficult by many people. Especially when compared to a foreign language that is easier to pronounce, for example Spanish.

But from all the French words in English, you actually know a lot about French pronunciation -- but you’re probably not aware of it.

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French Words You Know How To Pronounce

Some words in English may sound to you like they might be pronounced in a French way, but most adopted French words have been in English so long that you and other English speakers think of these words as English.

So some French words you already know how to pronounce in English.

You know much more about French pronunciation than you realize -- just because you know English.

This lesson will show you how much you already know about pronouncing French words.

French words that sound similar to English are the focus of this lesson.

Just as French words that look similar to English were the focus of all the previous nine Easy French Lessons.

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In these Easy French Lessons are letters written by someone taking a first trip to France -- and discovering that many French words are similar to English words.

Read French Words In English Sentences

The following letter in English has a few French words mixed in. This starts you reading a few French words in the easiest way – in a context of familiar English words in English sentences.

Reading French words in English sentences is the very easiest way to begin to read French.

In the following story, the FRENCH WORDS are IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

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Letter About The Sounds Of French

Dear Billy Bob,

When I got to Paris, I heard some French words that sounded somewhat familiar, and I could understand a few of them.

Listening to people babble away in French, every now and then an English-sounding word jumps out at me.

The easiest to understand when I hear them are all the English words the French obviously borrowed from us, and which they still pronounce like we do in English, more or less.

For example, LE HAMBURGER, LE HOT DOG, LE SANDWICH, LE FAST FOOD, LE T-SHIRT, LE HIGH TECH, and O.K. Also LE CAMPING, LE PARKING, and LE JOGGING.

The French pronounce some borrowed words a little differently than we do.

Instead of saying "hello" on the phone, they say ALLO ("ah-loh"), because the letter H is silent in French.

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Another group of words I heard and could understand are the French words we use in English,

Especially French restaurant words, like HORS-D'OEUVRES and ESCARGOT and CUISINE and CHEF.

And some of those words that end in -que that sounds like -k, like BOUTIQUE and TECHNIQUE.

And some of those words that end with an -ay sound, like CAFÉ, ROSÉ, FILET, and FIANCÉ.

Then I was surprised to hear a group of words I always thought were English and never suspected were French also, like LE TOAST, LA POLICE, and LE MACHINE.

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I don't know why the French bother with writing consonants on the ends of words, because in speaking they just drop them off. They don't pronounce the ends of many words.

In English the pronunciation of Paris is "PAR-ihs" – but here in France it’s pronounced "pah-REE" -- where the final -s is NOT pronounced.

Now I must admit that I have heard ‘Paris’ pronounced in the French way in several American movies about France, but it never fully registered that this is the correct French way to pronounce Paris, and just how different it is from the American way of saying Paris: in French the letter –a- is pronounced differently, the letter –i- is pronounced differently, and the letter –s- is not pronounced at all!

Some of the final consonants the French seem to have an aversion for are -s, -t, and -x., among others.

For example, the French don't pronounce the final -s in LE TOUS (every / both), the final -t in LE TOUT (all / everything), or the final -x in LE TOUX (cough) --with the result that all three words are pronounced the same -- "too". (Of course, we do something a little similar with the words too, two, and to, all of which we pronounce "too", also.)

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As a result, some of those French words with dropped endings sound like totally different English words, that end in a vowel.

So in French NOS (our) sounds like the English word "no".

The French word TOT (early) sounds like "toe" in English, as does TAUX (rate).

If you say the English word "foe", the French hear FAUX (which means false).

If you say "day" in English, the French hear DES (which means some).

In French both MES (my) and MAIS (but) sound like "may" in English, as does the French MAI (meaning the month of May).

The French sometimes drop only the last of two end consonants.

For example, LE NORD (north) is pronounced like "nor" in English.

LE PORC (pork) is pronounced like "pour" in English.

And TARD (late) is pronounced like "tar" in English.

So that’s how some things sound over here in France.

Your friend, Candy

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Learning About English While Learning French

Knowing how French words in English are pronounced will primarily help you begin to learn French more easily.

But this will also increase your understanding of your native language. You will see how many English words are pronounced the way they are because of their French origin.

You also learn more about words in English that still seem French, especially ones you may have seen or heard before but aren’t sure how to pronounce or spell. You may also find some useful new words in English.

So while using this lesson about cognates as the best way to begin learning French, you will also learn more about English as a side benefit. Just as when you learned English, you were unwittingly learning quite a bit about French also.

At the bottom of this web page is a link to a list of French words in English that still sound French.

During this lesson you could consult that list on Wikipedia, which includes meanings, if you come across any French words in English whose meaning you are unsure of.

In the list on Wikipedia you will also find many more French words in English that still sound French, because this lesson includes only French words that demonstrate French pronunciation you know from English, but other ones are not covered in this lesson.

From this list you could also learn more about English as a side benefit.

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FRENCH WORDS YOU KNOW HOW TO SAY

Some of the obviously French words used in English, like ‘chic’ and ‘chef’, you will recognize as French words you already know how to pronounce. As used in English, they retain their French pronunciation, more or less.

These French words in English can serve you as a good introduction to speaking French, because they are somewhat familiar words you already may know how to pronounce in the French way.

This Easy French Lesson focuses on pronunciation -- specifically on the pronunciation of French words that you already know how to say in English.

All the previous Easy French Lessons focused on the spelling of French words similar to English.

All the previous Easy French Lessons included the pronunciation of each of these French words that look like English words.

But French pronunciations were included only in case you would naturally try to pronounce these French words similar to English -- so that you could pronounce them the French way right from the beginning, rather than pronounce them as you always have said them in English, which may or may not be the same as in French.

So this lesson will show you how much you already know about pronouncing French words, but may not fully realize.

You may know many of these French words in English.

Or you may not know some of these French words in English.

If you do not immediately recognize some of these French words in English, simply skip over them and go on to the next French word that you do know from English.

So in the following lists, concentrate on the French words you do already know how to pronounce in the French way.

That way these French words in English that you know can serve you as a good introduction to speaking French.

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WORDS THAT SOUND FRENCH IN ENGLISH

You may have noticed that words which sound French in English do not follow the usual English patterns of pronunciation.

Or on the other hand, you may be so used to some of these adopted French words in English that you may not have noticed that they do not follow the usual English patterns of pronunciation.

In the pronunciation guides for this lesson on French pronunciation, the phonetic pronunciations of all the French words are listed, even though they may be pronounced in French as they are in English (which elsewhere on this web site are put in quotation marks to indicate similar pronunciation in French as in English).

For this lesson on pronunciation of adopted French words in English, in some cases the pronunciation guides list the familiar English pronunciation of a French word, rather than the authentic French pronunciation, which may be the same or different from the English pronunciation of the French word.

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FRENCH CONSONANTS YOU KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE IN ENGLISH

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Let’s start this lesson on French pronunciation the easiest way -- with letters pronounced in French the same way as in English!

SOME FRENCH CONSONANTS ARE PRONOUNCED AS IN ENGLISH

B - C - D - F - K - L - M - N - P - S - T - V - X - Z

Other letters in French are pronounced differently than in English -- but often in ways you already know how to pronounce from English:

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CH pronounced "SH"

Unlike this French -CH- pronounced "-SH-" in adopted French words, otherwise in English -CH- is usually pronounced in several ways:

English -CH- often pronounced as in: “chain”, “change”, “charge”, “charm”, “cheap”, “check”, “cheer”, “cheese”, “cherry”, “chest”, “chew”, “child”, “chocolate”, “choice”, “chop”, “church”.]

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations “-SH-“ are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

chef -- chef -- [SHef]

chic -- chic -- [SHeek]

chauffeur -- chauffeur -- [SHoh-fuhr]

champagne -- champagne -- [SHahm-payn]

charade -- charade -- [SHah-rayd]

chauvinist -- chauvinist -- [SHoh-vih-nihst]

charlatan -- charlatan -- [SHahr-lah-tahn]

chalet -- chalet -- [SHah-lay]

château -- château -- [SHah-toh]

chandelier -- chandelier -- [SHahn-deh-leer]

chaise (lounge) -- chaise (longue) -- [SHayz]

chute -- chute -- [SHoot]

chagrin -- chagrin -- [SHah-grihn]

Chevrolet -- Chevrolet -- [SHehv-roh-lay]

Chablis -- Chablis -- [SHah-blee]

---

machine -- machine -- [mah-SHeen]

brioche -- brioche -- [bree-ohSH]

pastiche -- pastiche -- [pahs-teeSH]

crèche -- crèche -- [krehSH]

rapprochement -- rapprochement -- [rah-prohSH-mahng]

---

crème fraîche -- crème fraîche -- [krehm freSH]

papier-mâché -- papier-mâché -- [pah-pyay / ‘paper’ mah-SHay]

porte cochère -- porte cochère -- port koh-SHehr]

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-G- pronounced "ZH"

Unlike this French -G- pronounced "-ZH-" in adopted French words, otherwise in English -G- is usually pronounced in several ways:

English -G- is often pronounced as in: “game”, “gas”, “get”, “girl”, “give”, “glass”, “go”, “gold”, “golf”, “good”, “gray”, “green”, “group”, “guide”.

English -G- is often pronounced “dj” as in: “gin”, “gel”, “gem”, “general”, “gentleman”, “genuine”, “geology”, “Germany”, “gym”.

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations of “-ZH- “ are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

genre -- genre -- [ZHahn-ruh]

gendarme -- gendarme -- [ZHahn-darhm]

Gigi -- Gigi -- [ZHee-ZHee]

collage -- collage -- [koh-lahZH]

concierge -- concierge -- [kohn-see-ehrZH]

cortege -- cortège -- [kohr-tehZH]

découpage -- découpage -- [day-koo-paZH]

dressage -- dressage -- [dreh-sahZH]

entourage -- entourage -- [ahn-toor-aZH]

garage -- garage -- [gar-ahZH]

massage -- massage -- mah-sahZH]

melange -- mélange -- [may-lahnZH]

montage -- montage -- [mohn-tahZH]

prestige -- prestige -- [pres-teeZH]

reportage -- reportage -- reh-pohr-tahZH]

rouge -- rouge -- [rooZH]

sabotage -- sabotage -- [sah-boh-tahZH]

bourgeois -- bourgeois -- [boor-ZHwah]

---

bon voyage -- bon voyage -- [bohn vwoy-ahZH]

noblesse oblige -- noblesse oblige -- [noh-blehs oh-bleeZH]

quelle dommage -- quelle dommage -- [kehl doh-mahZH]

ménage à trois -- ménage à trois -- [may-naZH ah trwah]

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-J- pronounced "ZH"

[Unlike this French -J- pronounced "-ZH-" in adopted French words, otherwise in English -J- is usually pronounced as in: “jam”, “jet”, “jib”, “job”, “just”]

déjà vu -- déjà vu -- [day-ZHah voo]

soup du jour -- soupe du jour -- [soop dew ZHoor]

du jour -- du jour -- [dew ZHoor]

joi de vivre -- joi de vivre -- [ZHwah de veev-ruh]

force majeure -- force majeure -- [fors mah-ZHuhr]

objet d‘art -- objet d‘art -- [ohb-ZHay dahr]

grand projet -- grand projet -- [grawng proh-ZHay]

jeu d’esprit (spirit of play) -- jeu d’esprit -- [ZHew dehs-pree]

j’adore (I adore) -- j’adore -- [ZHah-dohr]

je t’aime (I love you) -- je t’aime -- [ZHuh-tehm]

le mot juste (the right word) -- le mot juste -- [luh moh ZHewst]

jeunesse dorée (golden youth) -- jeunesse dorée -- [ZHuh-nehs doh-ray]

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-QU pronounced "- K"

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciation of “-K- “ are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

boutique -- boutique -- [boo-teeK]

critique -- critique -- [kree-teeK]

mystique -- mystique -- [mees-teeK]

oblique -- oblique -- [oh-bleeK]

technique -- technique -- [tek-neeK]

---

grotesque -- grotesque -- [groh-tehsK]

statuesque -- statuesque -- [stah-tew-ehsK]

---

risqué -- risqué -- [rees-Kay]

parquet -- parquet -- [par-Kay]

coquette -- coquette -- [koh-Keht]

communiqué -- communiqué -- [koh-mew-nee-Kay]

quelle surprise -- quelle surprise -- [Kehl soor-preez]

quelle horreur -- quelle horreur -- [Keh loh-ruhr]

quelle dommage -- quelle dommage -- [Kehl doh-mahzh]

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SILENT LETTERS

In certain cases there are letters you do not have to pronounce in French!

In American English words most consonants are pronounced.

Except for ones like the famous New England –r, which is silent in words like PARK and CAR, as in “pahk the cah”.

Also, English-speakers often drop the final –G off the ends of verbs in casual speech: “playin”, “talkin”, “runnin”, “walkin”, “sayin”, etc.; although the –G endings usually remain in written English.

This is important in that it can help you with the otherwise seemingly mystifying French pattern of silent consonants, especially silent final consonants.

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SILENT FINAL CONSONANTS

In French a consonant at the end of a word is usually silent

(unless the next word begins with a vowel)

or

(unless the final consonant is one of these four: C, R, F, L which are pronounced)

Some French words in English still show the French pattern of silent final consonants.

In English DEBRIS is pronounced “deh-BREE” (not pronounced “deh-brihs”, as it would be in the usual English pattern of pronunciation).

Similarly in English, the final –T is silent in adopted French words ending –ET such as BALLET, BUFFET, CABARET, CACHET, CHALET, FILET, GOURMET, PARQUET, RICOCHET, SORBET, and VALET.

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[NOTE: This lesson uses capital letters in a different way from the rest of Easy French web pages on easiest-foreign-languages.com -- where all those other French Pronunciation Guides have the last syllable of most French words in capital letters, to indicate the different pattern of stress in French than English.]

In this section, to better indicate the silent letters in the following French words, the silent letters are in lower case, while the rest of the word is in upper case, for example BALLEt.

[Of course in the actual French word, the final letter would be the same size as the other letters.]

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-ET Ending (with Silent –T) Pronounced "-AY"

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

ballet -- BALLEt -- [bal-lay]

buffet -- BUFFEt -- [boo-fay]

cabaret -- CABAREt -- [kah-bah-ray]

cachet -- CACHEt -- [kah-shay]

chalet -- CHALEt -- [shah-lay]

filet -- FILEt -- [fee-lay]

gourmet -- GOURMEt -- [goor-may]

parquet -- PARQUEt -- [par-kay]

ricochet -- RICOCHEt -- [ree-koh-shay]

sachet -- SACHEt -- [sah-shay]

sorbet -- SORBEt -- [sohr-bay]

valet -- VALEt -- [vah-lay]

Cabernet -- CABERNEt -- [kah-behr-nay]

Chevrolet -- CHEVROLEt -- [shehv-roh-lay]

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-ER Ending (with Silent –R) Pronounced "-ay"

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

dossier -- DOSSIEr -- [doh-see-ay]

couturier -- COUTURIEr -- [koo-tew-ree-ay]

sommelier -- SOMMELIEr -- [soh-meh-lyay]

metier -- MÉTIEr -- [may-tyay]

papier-mâché -- PAPIEr-MÂCHÉ -- [pah-pyAY / ‘paper’ mah-shay]

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-EZ Ending (with Silent –Z) Pronounced "-ay"

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

rendezvous -- RENDEz VOUS -- [rahn-dAY voo] [two words in French]

laissez faire -- LAISSEz FAIRE -- [lehs-sAY-fehr]

pince-nez -- PINCE-NEz -- [pawns-nAY]

chez (Marie etc.) -- CHEz -- [shAY]

Saint-Tropez -- SAINT-TROPEz -- [sahng-troh-pAY]

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[NOTE: As mentioned previously, to better indicate the silent letters in the following French words, the silent letters are in lower case, while the rest of the word is in upper case – where ordinarily all letters would be in the same case.]

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Final Letter NOT Pronounced in English Nor French

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

depot -- DÉPÔt -- [dee-poh]

Merlot -- MERLOt -- [mehr-loh]

Pinot Noir -- PINOt noir -- [pee-noh nwahr]

escargot -- ESCARGOt -- [ehs-car-goh]

---

coup -- COUp -- [koo]

parfait -- PARFAIt -- [par-fay]

ragout -- RAGOÛt -- [rah-goo]

rapport -- RAPPORt -- [rah-por]

faux -- FAUx -- [foh]

roux -- ROUx -- [roo]

éclat -- ÉCLAt -- [ay-klah]

apropos -- À PROPOs -- [ah pro-poh] [two words in French]

Chablis -- CHABLIs -- [shah-blee]

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très -- TRÈs -- [tray]

beaucoup -- BEAUCOUp -- [boh-koo]

fleur-de-lys -- FLEUR-DE-LYs -- [fluhr-duh-lee]

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One Final Letter NOT Pronounced in Phrase

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

mardi gras -- MARDI GRAs -- [mar-dee grah]

bon appétit -- BON APPÉTIt -- [bohn ah-pay-tee]

bon vivant -- BON VIVANt -- [bohn vee-vahn]

bon mot -- BON MOt -- [bohn moh]

vis-a-vis -- VIS-À-VIs -- [veez-ah-vee]

entre nous -- ENTRE NOUs -- [ahn-truh noo]

----

laissez faire -- LAISSEz FAIRE -- [leh-say-fehr]

excusez moi -- EXCUSEz MOI -- [ehk-skew-zay mwah]

pot pourri -- POt POURRI -- [poh poor-ree]

plat du jour -- PLAt DU JOUR -- [plah dew zhOOr]

prix fixe -- PRIx FIXE -- [pree feeks]

sans souci -- SANs SOUCI -- [sahn soo-see]

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Separate Final Letters NOT Pronounced in Phrase

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

coup d'etat -- COUp D'ÉTAt -- [koo day-tah]

faux pas -- FAUx PAs -- [foh pah]

pas de deux -- PAs DE DEUx -- [pah duh duh]

objet d‘art -- OBJEt D‘ARt -- [ohb-zhay dahr]

rendezvous -- RENDEz VOUs -- [rahn-day voo] [two words in French]

grand prix -- GRANd PRIx -- [gran pree]

grand projet -- GRANd PROJEt -- [gran proh-zhay]

esprit de l’escalier -- ESPRIt DE L’ESCALIEr -- [ehs-pree duh lehs-kahl-yay]

succès d’estime -- SUCCÈs D’ESTIMe -- [sook-seh dehs-teem]

tant pis -- TANt PIs -- [tahng pee]

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Two Final Letters NOT Pronounced

In the last word of the phrase Marine Corps, the two final letters –ps are silent. (If they were pronounced, it would sound like ‘Marine corpse’, a gruesomely different matter.)

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

corps -- CORps -- [kohr]

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Two Final Letters NOT Pronounced in Phrase

In hors d'ouevre, the final –RE is silent.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

hors d'ouevre -- HORs D'OUEVre -- [or-duhrv]

esprit de corps -- ESPRIt DE CORps -- [ehs-pree duh coor]

c'est la vie! -- C'Est LA VIE! -- [say lah vee]

c'est magnifique! -- C'Est MAGNIFIQUE! -- [say mag-nee-feek]

n’est-ce pas -- N’ESt-ce PAs -- [nehs pah]

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Otherwise ‘Silent’ Final Letters Pronounced if Next Word Starts with a Vowel

In saying this otherwise silent final consonant at the end of a French word before another word starting with a vowel, it actually becomes the first sound of the following word with the vowel at the start to make that following word easier to say -- as in faiT accompli -- [feh-Tah-kohm-plee].

You already link words this way in English in the following French phrases:

[The letter in question is capitalized in both the FRENCH column and the “SAY” column.]

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

fait accompli -- faiT accompli -- [feh-Tah-kohm-plee]

prêt-à-porter -- prêT-à-porter -- [preh-Tah-por-tay]

pied-à-terre -- pieD-à-terre -- [pyeh-Dah-tehr]

vis-a-vis -- viS-à-vis -- vee-Zah-vee

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Letter H- is NOT Pronounced

You may be familiar with the silent initial H- from some familiar English words, like "heir", “heiress”, "heirloom".

You may also be familiar with the silent initial H- in "herb" (most people pronounce herb as “erb”, but some pronounce the "H").

You are also familiar with the silent initial H- from some familiar names, like "Thomas", “Theresa”, and “Esther”.

Also 'homage', in which the H- is usually pronounced in English, but the French pronunciation "oh-MAHZH" (with a silent H- and with stress on the second syllable) is also heard about Hollywood films that honor a previous film by referring to it visually.

Similarly the H- is not pronounced in the authentic pronunciation of the following French words adopted into English, but some English speakers do pronounce the h- in these words.

[NOTE: To better indicate the silent H- at the start of the following French words, the silent H- is in lower case , while the rest of the word is in upper case – where ordinarily all letters would be in the same case.]

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

hors d'ouevre -- hORs D'OUEVRE -- [or-duv-re / or-durv]

haute couture -- hAUTE COUTURE -- [oht koo-toor]

haute cuisine -- hAUTE CUISINE -- [oht kwee-zeen]

haute monde -- hAUTE MONDE -- [oht mohnd]

hauteur -- hAUTEUR -- [oh-tuhr]

hors de combat -- hORS DE COMBAT -- [or de kohm-bah]

homme du monde -- hOMME DU MONDE -- [ohm dew mohnd]

quelle horreur -- QUELLE hORREUR -- [keh loh-ruhr]

herbs -- (fines) hERBES -- [erb]

heir -- hÉRITIER -- [ay-ree-tee-ay]

heiress -- hÉRITIÈRE -- [ay-ree-tee-ehr]

Hercule Poirot -- hERCULE POIROT -- [ehr-kool pWAH-roh]

In English you may hear the H– pronounced at the start of some of these French words by English-speakers who do not know French pronunciation, or who are unsure of it, and so tend to pronounce these words as they would be if the words were English and not French imports.

So these are more French words you will know how to pronounce from English, as long as you remember not to pronounce the letter ‘H’.

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Silent Letters in Names of French Origin

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

Jacques -- JACQUEs -- [zhahk]

Francois -- FRANCOIs -- [frahn-swah]

Versailles -- VERSAILLEs -- [ver-sai]

Calais -- CALAIs -- [kah-lay]

Marais -- MARAIs -- [mah-ray]

Des Moines -- DEs MOINEs -- [deh moyn]

Du Bois -- DU BOIs -- [du bwah]

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Margot -- MARGOt -- [mar-go]

Roget (Thesaurus) -- ROGEt -- [roh-zhay]

Bordeaux -- BORDEAUx -- [bor-doh]

Chamonix -- CHAMONIx -- [sha-moh-nee]

Saint Croix -- SAINT CROIx -- [saint kroy]

Illinois -- ILLINOIs -- [ih-lih-noy]

Iroquois – IROQUOIs – [ih-roh-kwoy]

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Louisville -- LOUIsVILLE -- [loo-ee-vihl]

Champaign (Illinois) -- CHAMPAIgN -- [sham-payn]

Sault Ste. Marie -- SAUlt STE. MARIE -- [soo saynt mah-ree]

Duquesne -- DUQUEsNE -- [doo-kayn]

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SUMMARY OF SILENT LETTERS IN FRENCH

From English, you already know quite a bit about silent letters in French.

Some French words in English still show the French pattern of silent final consonants.

In French, ‘silent’ final letters are pronounced if next word starts with a vowel.

The letter H- is usually silent in French.

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Mistaken Silent Letters in French Words in English

For some French words in English, ‘silent’ letters are mistakenly not pronounced by English-speakers who are unsure of French pronunciations, for example in the French phrase ‘coup de grâce’.

A coup de grâce is defined as ‘the final blow that results in victory’ (literally “blow of mercy"), historically used in the context of the battlefield to refer to the killing of badly wounded enemy soldiers, now more often used in a figurative context (e.g., business).

COUP DE GRÂCE is frequently pronounced without the final "s" sound by English speakers who believe that any such sound at the end of a French word is supposed to be silent.

In French with a silent final –S, this would sound like ‘coup de gras’ , or "blow of fat."

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CONCIERGE is another French word in English that many people do not pronounce the ending of.

Instead of saying “kohn-see-ehrzh” people leave off the “-zh” sound at the end and pronounce “kohn-see-ehr”.

[But pronouncing ‘congierge’ with this mistaken “-er” ending could be a case of mistaking it with the same ending on all the other English words for someone who does something: ‘worker’, ‘teacher’, ‘writer’, ‘singer’, ‘runner’, ‘climber’, etc.]

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HORS D'OUEVRE is another French word in English that many people do not pronounce the ending of.

Instead of saying “or-duv-ruh” most people leave off the “-ruh” sound at the end and pronounce “or-durv”.

[But this is a case where the ‘-vre’ ending does not occur naturally in English, so people have trouble pronouncing it the French way. For the same reason the last name of the famous American football player Bret Favre is pronounced “farv” in the USA, which is different than the family name would be pronounced in France.]

[The pronunciation of the –re ending of French words as “-ruh” is heard in English at the end of ‘genre’, and ‘oeuvre’.]

=====

PRONUNCIATION OF ACCENT MARK IN FRENCH YOU KNOW FROM ENGLISH

Only One Accent Mark In French Affects Pronunciation

In French, an accent mark over a vowel does not change the pronunciation, unless it is over an –E– and looks like this –é–.

From French words in English, you are already familiar with this distinctively French accent mark and pronunciation of this French –é– as “AY”.

(Otherwise without this accent mark over it, the letter –E– in French is pronounced “EH”. The letter –E– in French is also pronounced “EH” with any other accent mark over it.)

The following French words in English sometimes appear without the accent mark, but they are still pronounced the same way as when they had the accent mark.

Over time the tendency is for these French words in English to lose their accent marks to become more like all the other English words without accent marks.

-----

Accent Mark On Final -É

-é ending pronounced "-AY"

(Compared to English, where the letter –E– is usually pronounced “EH” as in ‘bet’ or “EE” as in ‘these’)

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations of -é as "-AY" are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

attaché -- attaché -- [ah-tah-shAY]

blasé -- blasé -- [blah-zAY]

café -- café -- [kah-fAY]

cliché -- cliché -- [klee-shAY]

communiqué -- communiqué -- [koh-mew-nee-kAY]

consommé -- consommé -- [kohn-soh-mAY]

décolleté -- décolleté -- [day-koh-leh-tAY]

divorcé (man) -- divorcé -- [dee-vohr-sAY]

fiancé (man) -- fiancé -- [fee-ahn-sAY]

habitué -- habitué -- [ah-bee-tew-AY]

lamé -- lamé -- [lah-mAY]

naïveté -- naïveté -- [nah-eev-eh-tAY]

macramé -- macramé -- [mahk-rah-mAY]

pâté -- pâté -- [pah-tAY]

protégé -- protégé -- [proh-tay-zhAY]

rosé -- rosé -- [roh-zAY]

roué -- roué -- [roo-AY]

sauté -- sauté -- [saw-tAY]

flambé -- flambé -- [flahm-bAY]

touché -- touché -- [too-shAY]

soigné -- soigné -- [swahn-yAY]

né -- né -- [nAY]

papier-mâché -- papier-mâché -- [pah-pyay / ‘paper’ mah-shAY]

-----

-é- pronounced "-AY-" wherever it occurs in French.

In French -é- is pronounced "-AY-" not just at the ending of words, as in English, but wherever it occurs in French words.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY FRENCH]

cinéma vérité -- cinéma vérité -- [see-AY-mah vAY-ree-tAY]

When this is pronounced in English, often only the ending is pronounced “-AY”.

-----

-ée ending pronounced "-AY"

This French ending –ée appears on French words to indicate a woman, (whereas the ending –é indicates a man). It also appears on other types of words.

divorcée (woman) -- divorcée -- [dee-vohr-sAY]

fiancée (woman) -- fiancée -- [fee-ahn-sAY]

protégée -- protégée -- [proh-tay-zhAY]

soirée -- soirée -- [swah-rAY]

melée -- mêlée -- [meh-LAY]

crème brûlée -- crème brûlée -- [krehm brew-LAY]

née (born) -- née -- [nAY]

=====

MORE FRENCH VOWELS YOU KNOW HOW TO PRONOUNCE IN ENGLISH

-----

-EAU pronounced "-OH"

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations of -EAU- as "-OH-" are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

bureau -- bureau -- [bew-rOH]

plateau -- plateau -- [plah-tOH]

château -- château -- [sha-tOH]

tableau -- tableau -- [tahb-LOH]

nouveau riche -- nouveau riche -- [noo-vOH reesh]

nouveau -- nouveau -- [noo-vOH]

beau (suitor) -- beau -- [bOH]

chapeau (hat) -- chapeau -- [shah-pOH]

flambeau (lit torch) -- flambeau -- [flahm-bOH]

beaucoup -- beaucoup -- [bOH-koo]

Bordeaux -- Bordeaux -- [bor-dOH]

Cointreau -- Cointreau -- [kwahn-trOH]

eau de cologne -- eau de cologne -- [OH duh koh-lohn]

merci beaucoup -- merci beaucoup -- [mehr-see bOH-koo]

très beau -- très beau -- [tray bOH]

-----

-AU- pronounced "-OH-"

[Unlike this French -AU- pronounced "-OH-" in adopted French words, otherwise in English -AU- is pronounced “aw” as in: “auburn”, “auction”, “audio”, “August”, “authentic”, “author”, “auto”, “automatic”, “autumn”, “sauce”, “sauna”]

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations of -AU- as "-OH-" are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

chauffeur -- chauffeur -- [shOH-fur]

faux -- faux -- [fOH]

faux pas -- faux pas -- [fOH pah]

gauche -- gauche -- [gOHsh]

gaucherie -- gaucherie -- [gOH-sheh-ree]

au pair (nanny) -- au pair -- [OH pehr]

au courant (up-to-date) -- au courant -- [OH koo-rahnt]

au naturel -- au naturel -- [OH nah-tew-rehl]

au contraire -- au contraire -- [OH kohn-trehr]

au revoir -- au revoir -- [OH re-vwahr]

café au lait -- café au lait -- [kah-fay OH lay]

haute couture -- haute couture -- [OHt koo-toor]

haute cuisine -- haute cuisine -- [OHt kwee-ZEEN]

hauteur -- hauteur -- [OH-tuhr]

comme il faut -- comme il faut -- [kohm eel fOH]

=====

-OU- pronounced "-OO-"

[Unlike this French -OU- pronounced "-OO-" in adopted French words, otherwise in English -OU- is usually pronounced “ow” as in: “bout”, “cloud”, “flour”, “loud”, “mouth”, “proud”, “sour”.

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations “-OO- “ are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

tour -- tour -- [tOOr]

coup -- coup -- [kOO]

mousse -- mousse -- [mOOs]

louche -- louche -- [lOOsh]

roux -- roux -- [rOO]

---

souvenir -- souvenir -- [sOO-veh-neer]

couture -- couture -- [kOO-tewr]

couturier -- couturier -- [kOO-tew-ree-ay]

bourgeois -- bourgeois -- [bOOr-zhwah]

touché -- touché -- [tOO-shay]

roué -- roué -- [rOO-AY]

soupcon -- soupçon -- [sOOp-sahng]

---

rendezvous -- rendez vous -- [rahn-day vOO]

ragout -- ragoût -- [rah-gOO]

beaucoup -- beaucoup -- [boh-kOO]

entourage -- entourage -- [ahn-tOO-rahzh]

découpage -- découpage -- [day-kOO-pazh]

dénouement -- dénouement -- [day-nOO-mahn]

nouveau -- nouveau -- [nOO-voh]

---

soup du jour -- soupe du jour -- [sOOp dew zhOOr]

plat du jour -- plat du jour -- [plah dew zhOOr]

nouveau riche -- nouveau riche -- [nOO-voh reesh]

nouvelle cuisine -- nouvelle cuisine -- [nOO-vehl kwee-zeen]

nouvelle vague -- nouvelle vague -- [nOO-vehl vahg]

coup d'etat -- coup d'état -- [kOO day-tah]

coup de grâce -- coup de grâce -- [kOO day-grahs]

tour de France -- tour de France -- [tOOr duh frahns]

tour de force -- tour de force -- [tOOr duh fors]

----

pot pourri -- pot pourri -- [poh pOOr-ree]

haute couture -- haute couture -- [oht kOO-tewr]

au courant (up-to-date) -- au courant -- [oh kOO-rahnt]

merci beaucoup -- merci beaucoup -- [mehr-see boh-kOO]

entre nous -- entre nous -- [ahn-truh nOO]

douceur de vivre (sweetness of life) -- douceur de vivre -- [dOO-suhr duh veev-ruh

=====

-OI- pronounced "-WAH-"

[Unlike this French -OI- pronounced "-WAH-" in adopted French words, otherwise in English -OI- is pronounced “oy” as in: “oil”, “boil”, “coil”, “foil”, “roil”, “soil”, “toil”]

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations of -oi- as "-WAH-" are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

memoirs -- mémoires -- [mehm-WAHr]

reservoir -- réservoir -- [reh-sehr-vWAHr]

repertoire -- répertoire -- [reh-pehr-tWAHr]

armoire -- armoire -- [arm-WAHr]

boudoir -- boudoir -- [bood-WAHr]

bourgeois -- bourgeois -- [boor-zhWAH]

croissant -- croissant -- [krWAH-san]

soirée -- soirée -- [sWAH-ray]

madmoiselle -- madmoiselle -- [mad-mWAH-zehl]

moi (me) -- moi -- [mWAH]

moi aussi (me too) -- moi aussi -- [mWAH oh-see]

voilà -- voilà -- [vWAH-lah]

patois -- patois -- [pah-tWAH]

soigné -- soigné -- [sWAHn-yay]

toilette -- toilette -- [tWAH-leht]

Cointreau -- Cointreau -- [kWAHn-troh]

Pinot Noir -- Pinot noir -- [pee-noh nWAHr]

Hercule Poirot -- Hercule Poirot -- [ehr-kool pWAH-roh]

----

joi de vivre -- joi de vivre -- [zhWAH de veev-ruh]

foie gras -- foie gras -- [fWAH grah]

soi-disant -- soi-disant -- [sWAH-dee-sahng]

film noir -- film noir -- [film nWAHr]

savoir faire -- savoir-faire -- [sahv-vWAHr fehr]

savoir vivre -- savoir-vivre -- [sahv-vWAHr veev-ruh]

au revoir -- au revoir -- [oh reh-vWAHR]

excusez moi -- excusez moi -- [ehk-skew-zay mWAH]

ménage à trois -- ménage à trois -- [may-nazh ah trWAH]

aide mémoire -- aide mémoire -- [ayd may-mWAHr]

sang-froid -- sang-froid -- [sahng-frWAH]

bête noire -- bête noire -- [beht nWAHr

=====

-ui- pronounced "-WEE-" sometimes

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations of -ui- as "-WEE-" are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

suite -- suite -- [sWEEt]

cuisine -- cuisine -- [kWEE-zeen]

oui (yes) -- oui -- [WEE]

ennui (boredom) -- ennui -- [ahn-WEE]

[This pronunciation of -ui- as "-WEE-" in French words in English will help you understand more foreign instances in French such as ‘fruit’ pronounced as “FRWEE”]

=====

-i- pronounced "-EE-"

In French -i- is usually pronounced "-EE-" as in ‘boutique’, ‘police’, and ‘machine’ (originally French words).

Unlike this French -i- pronounced "-EE -" in adopted French words, otherwise in English -i- is usually pronounced in several ways:

English -i- often pronounced "-ih-" as in: “bit”, “fit”, “kit”, “lit”, “mitt”, “nits”, “pit”, “quit”, “sit”, “writ”, “zit.”

English -i- often pronounced "-eye-" as in: “bite”, “fight”, “kite”, “light”, “might”, “night”, “plight”, “quite”, “rite”, “site”, “tight”, “write.”

[This French pronunciation of -i- as "-EE -" is why the stereotype of a French accent in English mimics this French pronunciation of -i- as "-EE -": "this is" becomes "zEEs EEz" in a fake French accent.]

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations of -i- as "-EE-" are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

ski -- ski -- [skEE]

chic -- chic -- [shEEk]

visa -- visa -- [vEE-zuh]

brioche -- brioche -- [brEE-ohsh]

liaison -- liaison -- [LEE-ay-zohn]

Gigi -- Gigi -- [zhEE-zhEE]

---

boutique -- boutique -- [boo-tEEk]

cuisine -- cuisine -- [kwEE-zEEn]

fatigue -- fatigue -- [fah-tEEg]

machine -- machine -- [mah-shEEn]

magazine -- magazine -- [mah-gah-zEEn]

motif -- motif -- [moh-tEEf]

mystique -- mystique -- [mees-tEEk]

oblique -- oblique -- [oh-bLEEk]

police -- police -- [poh-LEEs]

taxi -- taxi -- [tahk-sEE]

petite -- petite -- [peh-tEEt]

technique -- technique -- [tehk-nEEk]

Chablis -- Chablis -- [shah-blEE]

---

c'est la vie! -- c'est la vie! -- [say lah vEE]

fleur-de-lis -- fleur-de-lis -- [fluhr-duh-LEE]

=====

-A- pronounced "-AH-"

In French - a- is usually pronounced "-AH-" as in car.

(This is similar British English, where -A- is also pronounced as "-AH-")

(Unlike American English where -a- is also pronounced in various other ways, often as "-ay-" as in: “ace”, “brace”, “face”, “grace”, “lace”, place”, “race”, “trace”.)

In the pronunciation guide, it is written as -ah- to remind you, but the French do not draw out the sound like the English “ahh”, but rather say it shorter as in “bar”, and as in English words like “far” and “star’.

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations “-AH-" are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

á la carte -- à la carte -- [AH LAH kAHrt]

à la mode -- à la mode (fashionable) -- [AH LAH mohd]

avant garde -- avant garde -- [AH-vAHnt gAHrd]

faux pas -- faux pas -- [foh pAH]

Mardi Gras -- Mardi gras -- [mAHr-dee grAH]

foie gras -- foie gras -- [fwah grAH]

vis-a-vis -- vis-à-vis -- [veez-AH-vee

femme fatale -- femme fatale -- [fehm fAH-tAHL]

---

facade -- façade -- [fAH-sAHd]

panache -- panache -- [pAH-nAHsh]

entourage -- entourage -- [ahn-too-rAHzh]

armoire -- armoire -- [AHrm-whahr]

blasé -- blasé -- [bLAH-zay]

malaise -- malaise -- [mAH-layz]

sans serif -- sans serif -- [sAHn seh-reef]

ooh la la -- oh la la -- [ooh LAH LAH]

=====

-O- pronounced "-OH-"

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations “-OH- “ are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

mode -- mode -- [mOHd]

note -- note -- [nOHt]

photo -- photo -- [fOH-tOH]

police -- police -- [pOH-lees]

rosé -- rosé -- [rOH-zay]

sole (fish) -- sole -- [sOHL]

toast -- toast -- [tOHst]

zone -- zone -- [zOHn]

á la mode -- à la mode -- [ah lah mOHd]

escargot -- escargot -- [ehs-kar-gOH]

=====

-E- pronounced "-EH-"

[Unlike -E- pronounced "-EH-" in adopted French words and many native English words, otherwise in English -E- is in some cases pronounced “EE” as in: “be”, “these”, “region”, “senior”, “delay”, “delete”, “delicious”]

In the pronunciation guide here, the pronunciations “-EH-” are put in capital letters to draw your attention to them.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

chef -- chef -- [shEHf]

belle -- belle -- [bEHL]

crèche -- crèche -- [krEHsh]

negligée -- negligee -- [nEHg-lee-zhay]

escargot -- escargot -- [EHs-kar-goh]

derriere / derrière -- derrière -- [dEH-ree-Ehr]

restaurant -- restaurant -- [rEH-stoh-rawng]

vinaigrette -- vinaigrette -- [veen-eh-grEHt]

esprit de corps -- esprit de corps -- [EHs-pree duh coor]

tête-à-tête -- tête-à-tête -- [tEH-tah-tEHt]

crème de la crème -- crème de la crème -- [krEHm duh-lah krEHm]

crème brûlée -- crème brûlée -- [krEHm brew-lay]

crème fraîche -- crème fraîche -- [krEHm fresh]

=====

EN- pronounced "AHN-"

[Unlike this French EN- pronounced "AHN-" in adopted French words, otherwise in English EN- is usually pronounced “EHN” as in: “end”, “enjoy”, “enter”, “entertainment”, “entrance”]

In the guide below, the pronunciations "AHN-“ are for the English versions of these words, because the actual French pronunciations sound more like “AHNG-“.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

ensemble -- ensemble -- [AHN-sahm-bl]

entente -- entente -- [AHN-tAHNt]

entourage -- entourage -- [AHN-too-rahzh]

entr’acte -- entr’acte -- [AHN-trakt]

entrée -- entrée -- [AHN-tray]

entrepreneur -- entrepreneur -- [AHN-treh-preh-noor]

envoy -- envoyé -- [AHN-vwa-yay]

ennui -- ennui -- [AHN-nwee]

gendarme -- gendarme -- [zhAHN-darhm]

entre nous -- entre nous -- [AHN-truh noo]

en plein air -- en plein air -- [AHN plehn ehr]

en bloc -- en bloc -- [AHN blohk]

enfant terrible -- enfant terrible -- [AHN-fahnt teh-reeb-luh]

-----

[Some English speakers encountering these words for the first time and being unsure how to pronounce them, follow the general pronunciation pattern in English and pronounce these words “EHN” instead of with the French "AHN-"]

Over time the tendency is for these French words in English, instead of being pronounced the French way as "AHN-"s, the tendency is to become more like all the other English words pronounced “EHN”, for example in the following phrases:

en route -- en route -- [AHN root] [ehn root]

en masse -- en masse -- [AHN mass] [ehn mass]

=====

SUMMARY PRONUNCIATION GUIDE FOR FRENCH IN ENGLISH

From the examples above of familiar French words in English, you already are familiar with some French pronunciation, as summarized below:

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French Consonants

Some French Consonants Are Pronounced As In English

B - C - D - F - K - L - M - N - P - S - T - V - X – Z

Other letters in French are pronounced differently than in English:

G -- French G is pronounced “ZH” as in ‘genre’

J -- French J is pronounced “ZH” as in ‘soup du jour’

CH -- French CH is pronounced “SH” as in ‘chic’

QU -- French QU is pronounced “K” as in ‘boutique’

-----

French Vowels:

A -- French A is pronounced “AH” as in ‘á la carte’.

E -- French E is pronounced “EH” as in ‘chef’.

É -- French É is pronounced “AY” as in ‘rosé’.

I -- French I is pronounced “EE” as in ‘boutique’.

O -- French O is pronounced “OH” as in ‘rosé’.

-----

French Vowel Combinations:

AU -- French AU is pronounced “OH” as in ‘chauffeur’.

EAU -- French EAU is pronounced “OH” as in ‘bureau’.

OU -- French OU is pronounced “OO” as in ‘souvenir’.

OI -- French OI is pronounced “WAH” as in ‘memoirs’.

UI -- French UI is pronounced “WEE” as in ‘suite’.

EN -- French EN is pronounced “AHN” as in ‘encore’.

-----

So from all the French words in English, you actually know a lot about French pronunciation, which you may not have been aware of before this Easiest French Lesson.

[This list of pronunciations of some French letters includes only the pronunciations you already are familiar with from French words in English. So it is not a complete list of French pronunciations, because there are some French sounds we do not make in English, for one reason.]

=====

MORE LOOK-ALIKES THAT ALMOST SOUND ALIKE

The lists above include some of the more recent adoptees into English that may still sound somewhat French.

Some words adopted earlier into English also have a somewhat similar pronunciation in French. These you may think of as English words, so you may be surprised to find out they are French words too.

These words that look and sound alike in both languages are cornerstones you can build your learning around.

The lists below include some of the more common cognates spelled and pronounced basically alike. (Although in French, with its different system of pronunciation than English, these words may be sound somewhat different.)

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FRENCH PRONUNCIATION VERSUS STRESS IN FRENCH

The lists above focus on the pronunciation of consonants and vowels in French.

The lists below focus on stress put on syllables as they are spoken.

A word can sound quite different depending on which syllable is stressed, meaning spoken louder or longer to give it more emphasis than the rest of the word.

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French Stress is Often Different Than English

Any cognate longer than one syllable in French will probably be stressed differently than in English (as well as possibly pronounced differently).

English often stresses the first syllable:

The English pronunciation of Paris is "PAR-ihs"

Compared to:

The French pronunciation of Paris is "pah-REE"

French slightly stresses the last syllable.

Unlike English, in French syllables are pronounced with equal length and approximately the same amount of stress. The last syllable of a word group is slightly emphasized by making it a little longer (rather than saying it louder).

With some adopted French words, English kept the French pronunciation having the stress placed equally or on the final syllable. Use these to accustom yourself to French pronunciation.

-----

FRENCH STRESS YOU KNOW IN ENGLISH

In the following pronunciation guides, CAPITAL LETTERS indicate spoken stress on that syllable.

Stress On The Final Syllable

-----

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

café -- café -- [kah-FAY]

rosé (wine) -- rosé -- [roh-ZAY]

cuisine -- cuisine -- [kwee-ZEEN]

sardine -- sardine -- [sar-DEEN]

police -- police -- [poh-LEES]

locale -- locale -- [loh-KAHL]

boutique -- boutique -- [boo-TEEK]

chauffeur -- chauffeur -- [shoh-FUR]

express -- express -- [ex-PRESS]

velour -- velour -- [veh-LOUR]

chagrin -- chagrin -- [shah-GRIN]

-----

souvenir -- souvenir -- [soo-veh-NEER]

fiancé (man) -- fiancé -- [fee-ahn-SAY]

fiancée (woman) -- fiancée -- [fee-ahn-SAY]

personnel -- personnel -- [per-sohn-NEHL]

matinee -- matinee -- [mah-tee-NAY]

attaché -- attaché -- [ah-tah-SHAY]

cabaret -- cabaret -- [kah-bah-RAY]

derriere -- derrière -- [deh-ree-EHR]

femme fatale --- femme fatale --- [fehm fah-TAHL]

=====

SPELLED DIFFERENT BUT SOUND SOMEWHAT SIMILAR

Some French words sound somewhat similar to English but are spelled differently in French than in English.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

breeze -- brise -- [breez]

park -- parc -- [park]

sack -- sac -- [sak]

block -- bloc -- [blahk]

fresh -- fraîche -- [frehsh]

west -- ouest -- [wehst]

May (month) -- mai -- [may]

gay -- gai(e) -- [gay]

lesson -- leçon -- [lehs-sohn]

celery -- celeri -- [sehl-ehr-ee]

=====

FRENCH PRONUNCIATION YOU DO NOT KNOW FROM ENGLISH

Some Common English Cognates Are Pronounced Differently in French

Of the many words in French that look like English words, only some are pronounced like their English counterparts, usually ones that still sound and seem somewhat French.

So you will not recognize as many cognates in listening when you hear French being spoken.

For example, on a first visit to France you may be surprised to hear the way many familiar English cognates are pronounced in French.

The phonetic guide will help you understand the ways some French words spelled like English have different pronunciation in French than English.

An easiest introduction to French pronunciation is to pronounce each of these French words spelled somewhat like English throughout these Easy French Lessons.

This is the easiest pronunciation of foreign words for two reasons:

First, some parts of these foreign words spelled like English are probably pronounced the same way as in English. This reveals that you already know how to pronounce some parts of these Easiest Foreign Languages, which should give you confidence.

Second, by hearing how other parts of the foreign pronunciation are different from the English pronunciation you are familiar with, you will begin to get an understanding of the foreign pronunciation system in each of these Easiest Foreign Languages.

By hearing how the French pronunciation is somewhat similar to and somewhat different from the English pronunciation you are familiar with, you will begin to get an understanding of the French pronunciation system.

-----

SPELLED SIMILAR BUT SOUND DIFFERENT

In the following pronunciation guides, CAPITAL LETTERS indicate spoken stress on that syllable.

ENGLISH -- FRENCH -- [SAY]

banana -- banane -- [bah-NAHN]

tomato -- tomate -- [to-MAHT]

dessert -- dessert -- [deh-SEHR]

fruit -- fruit -- [frwee]

menu -- menu -- [meh-NOO]

orange -- orange -- [or-AHNSH]

mayonnaise -- mayonnaise -- [my-oh-NEHZ]

guide -- guide -- [geed]

silence -- silence -- [see-LAHNS]

=====

An easiest introduction to French pronunciation is to pronounce each of these French words spelled somewhat like English. By hearing how the French pronunciation is somewhat similar to and somewhat different from the English pronunciation you are familiar with, you will begin to get an understanding of the French pronunciation system.

Differences in pronunciation are important because all languages are systems of differences, specifically differences in sound, differences in spelling, and differences in meaning. For example, PAT, PET, PIT, POT, PUT. Differences in sound prevent one word from being confused with a different word that has a different sound – and should be made to sound different by speakers.

So if you mispronounce a French word, you might be pronouncing a different French word by mistake, and be misunderstood. This could happen with short words, but usually long words have enough syllables to make their meaning unmistakable. Usually you will not be misunderstood, and instead you will merely sound like you have an American or British etc. accent in French.

=====

PRONOUNCING UNFAMILIAR FRENCH WORDS

This lesson has shown you how much you already know about pronouncing French words -- just because you know English.

From all the French words in English, you actually know a lot about French pronunciation, and this lesson has been designed to help you become aware of it.

Now you know much more about French pronunciation than you realized before you read this lesson.

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This lesson has been designed to give you a basic understanding of the French system of pronunciation.

So on a trip to France you are prepared to encounter totally unfamiliar French words, because now you should be able to sound out unfamiliar French words syllable by syllable, based on what you now know about pronouncing French words -- just because you know English.

And you can feel confident that your attempts to sound out unfamiliar French words will be understood by French people.

Because you don't need perfect pronunciation to make yourself understood in France (even though it would help because French people like it). As a tourists you do not need perfect pronunciation -- just good enough to communicate your needs.

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EASY FRENCH -- LESSON 11 -- HUMOR LEARNING FRENCH


LIST OF FRENCH WORDS AND PHRASES IN ENGLISH -- Contains even more French words you may know how to pronounce from English.


EASIEST FRENCH PRONUNCIATION LISTS ALPHABETICALLY


NEXT STEPS IN FRENCH


Return to Easy French Lessons



For a similar approach to Spanish, see Easy Spanish Lesson Ten: Spanish Pronunciation You Know From English



For a similar approach in Italian, see Easy Italian Lesson 10 -- Pronunciation of Italian You Know From English.




If you have finished these Easy French Lessons, you will find Easy Spanish Lessons even easier, because they are similar to Easy French Lessons.



If you have finished these Easy French Lessons, you will find Easy Italian Lessons even easier, because they are similar to Easy French Lessons.




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