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French pronunciation

This is something that's always confused me as I have never had French lessons, it's all self taught. Does anyone know of any good guides to pronouncing French words? Failing that, could someone please create one? I find that you drop most of the letters, which confuses me quite a bit. Are there any similarities to English, Welsh, or German? Those are the languages I have grown up speaking or learned in school, and I am therefore confident using.

December 6, 2017



French shares probably almost no similarities with Welsh since they come from very different language families. Same with English and German, although German has some similar vocabulary or loanwords. English especially has similar vocabulary, due to French's influence on English following the Norman conquest of Britain in 1066(?) I believe. Other than that, that's where the similarities end.

I don't really know of any guide to tell you how to pronounce words. In general, you don't pronounce the last consonant of a word unless it ends in an "e". So, for example, the word "lit" (bed) is pronounced "lee"; but the word "vite" (fast/quick) is pronounced "veet". There are, of course, exceptions, such as "fils" (son) which is pronounced like "feece".

My advice is to just listen to the sample recordings over and over again. Eventually it will become second nature and you'll be able to guess the pronunciation of most words without ever hearing it first. That's how you learn your native language; you heard how your parents talked when you were a small child, and you naturally became able to imitate their speech. It's the same with learning a new language.


TinyCards - creating your own deck, and using ones that others have set up - can be a great way to also learn to listen and hopefully produce the right sounds.


Is one I recently created for the Christmas theme.

And there are ones created by Duolingo as well.


One of the best things about TinyCards, is that it will give you French audio - just by you either using a deck that has it activated. Or if you create a deck, by selecting the option to turn on the French pronunciation on one of the sides of your deck.

Of course there is also listening to French Music, radio, TV and films. Which is ever so much more accessible these days.

ooooh - another thing - is you can type things in Google, and it will give some degree of appropriate Audio.

Drop back in and let us know what things you found useful for your language learning journey.


ooooohhhh - I also forgot - I have made a post like this - a while ago. About the sounds of French.

Check out:

  • 1275

Look up youtube videos. Find some about the alphabet first, then further pronunciation explanations from French teachers. If you find a teacher you particularly like, keep following his/her videos. For sounds that are particularly difficult to distinguish, you can probably find videos that focus on the difference. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaFM81EK8hU&feature=youtu.be

Once you start to have an idea of how things are supposed to sound, you'll want to try and find french music with lyrics (also available on youtube), watch French videos and movies, and do other things that practice your French listening skills.

One podcast I would recommend for pronunciation is "Advanced Podcast - French Etc.". The podcast host reads a short story. One time she'll do it slowly, with pauses for you to repeat after her. Then she'll read the whole thing at normal speed. It appears that new podcasts aren't being made anymore, but there are maybe 30 episodes on itunes. You'll want to wait until you get to an intermediate level to try that one, but I'm sure you can find beginner-level podcasts out there.

Keep an eye on duolingo labs. Their Spanish stories have much better audio than the regular exercises (I think they're read by actual people). If they ever make a French version you'll want to try it.

Be patient; listening & pronunciation is the hardest part of French, and it takes time.


I found that producing the French pronunciation is the easier part. I don't have too much trouble with that.

However, finding the correct answers in response to duo's French pronunciations is another matter altogether. It got me so frustrated that I took a long break with my French course. I'll resume when I have my Japanese tree all golden, and maybe my Spanish tree too...

It does get easier once I do the trees again, so what I might do is start the French tree over from the beginning and pay close attention to the pronunciation...

Does anyone have any other/better tips?


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