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Struggling with French pronunciation

I'm really struggling with French pronunciation and would like some encouragement. Other languages I've focused on studying (Spanish, Italian, Mandarin) are highly phonetic. I've used a practice of listening to a sentence, recording myself, listening to myself and then doing it over and over again until I hear no difference. This approach has allowed me to get to a point where native speakers are often quite surprised at how good my pronunciation is for the level I'm at in the language.

I've hit a pronunciation wall with French. I can reasonably pronounce words in isolation, but when I string them together in a sentence the result is not good at all. There are some combinations that I can't pronounce at all. For example, in the phrase "perdre du temps" there is a "rdrd" sequence that the best I can do is to drop the first "rd" or exaggerate every sound so hard that it's not even close to realistic speech.

Other examples are strings of sounds that are very similar such as "je veux neuf....." or "aujourd'hui" which I pronounce as the same sound in each syllable unless I go very slowly and exaggerate every syllable.

Another thing that happens all the time is that I trip over my own tongue and get all tongue tied and can't even read a sentence.

I've never hit a pronunciation block like this with a language, so I'm not sure how to proceed. Sometimes I get so frustrated I just drop all pretense of even trying to get it right and pronounce everything with English sounds just so I can finally make progress in an oral exercise instead of it taking so long just to say a few sentences that I lose interest.

I don't care if I have a heavy accent provided I can be easily understood, but I at least would like to be able to break through to a level where I can actually put the sounds together.

Does anyone have any tips or resources that helped them with their French pronunciation?

August 3, 2017



About 'perdre du temps': in French, we only drop mute e's if it is humanly possible. :) And 'rdrd' is not possible.

So you have two solutions: the correct one: 'per-dre du temps' (4 syllables, you pronounce the 'e'), and the lazy one: 'perd' du temps' (the most common one, because most people are lazy). But you cannot drop the double 'd', there: 'per' du temps' would sound stupid. We need to hear the two d's.


Thanks for the explanation. I have been trying to drop the e, so this is helpful.


I will take an example with 5 consecutive syllables with mute e's: 'Je te le referai.' Dropping them all is of course impossible (that would give us 6 consecutive consonants to pronounce). So, unless we are reading a poem (in which case we will pronounce them all), we will drop some of them. The most common solution is probably: 'J'te l'ref'rai' (we drop every other 'e'). There may be variants. If it is only 'Je le referai' (without 'te'), we can say: 'J'le r'f'rai' (we do not drop the same e's as in the previous sentence).

It is very complex and requires many years of listening and speaking to be correct most of the time. So the best solution, at first, is to pronounce the mute e's when you are unsure about the contractions.


I have the same problem bro.


Unfortunately, I never really had this problem. All I can think of is 1) slow everything down and speed it back up, but slowly and consecutively 2) Look up videos or websites on pronunciation.

I seriously don't know how to help without any more information on what your problem is.


I think that all that's really going on is that I need time, patience and practice. I'm used to languages that are highly phonetic with a straightforward one-to-one correspondence between written letters and pronunciation. I'm also not used to sound clusters that are difficult for an English speaker to learn to pronounce. I'll get there; I just need to relax and enjoy the learning experience.

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