French Grammar


shortened pronunciation rules for beginners

If you only need French for travel purposes, for example, and you don't have time to study it properly, we provide very abbreviated pronunciation rules so that you can read the subtitles, etc. Please note that the rules given below are a great simplification and are intended only for a quick orientation in the intricacies of French spelling. Words pronounced on the basis of them may very often be misspelled (the spelling rules are much more confusing), but in general they should be understandable.


When the consonants are not pronounced :

we do not pronounce h (except for the combination ch, sh)

the consonants are not usually pronounced at the end of a word: d, g, p, s, t, x, z: cas, nez, riz

er at the end of a word is pronounced é (closed e), exceptions: cher, fier

double consonants are usually pronounced as single: attacher, sabbat

Other rules:

c before e, i, y is pronounced s; otherwise as k

ch is usually pronounced sh, in some words of foreign origin k

g before e, i, y pronounce s in "leisure, pleasure" , otherwise as g

gn pronounce ny (palatalized n + y)

il after the vowel is pronounced as y: bail; after a consonant as ee in "meek" (eel in avril, mil, vil, fil)

ill is pronounced y after a vowel: grenouille; after a consonant as ea in "tea"

m, n before a consonant and at the end of a word denote vowel nasality

qu is pronounced k: quatre

s between vowels pronounced as z : pelouse, ss: always as s

x as gz or ks, s in soixante, z in douxième, dixième, sixième


When not pronouncing:

we do not pronounce the final e, usually also e in the middle of a word; e is pronounced before x and before two consonants and at the end before a consonant: exister, clochet, fesse (the second e is not pronounced).

Vowel connections:

ai, ei as e in "red"

au as aw in "dawn"

eu, oeu as German ö or ir in "girl"

oi as oo+a (a like in "father")

ou as oo in "mood"

u as German ü

Nasal vowels:

if n, m stand at the end of a word or before a consonant, they are not pronounced and the vowel becomes nasal:

an, am, en, em is read as nasal a

ien, yen as y + nasal e

im, in, aim, ain as nasal e

on, om as nasal o

un, um approximately like nasal e (actually nasal ö)

oin as oo in "mood" + nasal e.

We also often pronounce ail, eil, aill, eill as i in "like", ey in "hey".

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