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Basic rules of spoken French

Some rules to keep in mind:

  • If a word is followed by another word starting with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), the two words are pronounced together. eg. bon après-midi is pronounced as bonna.pray-midi. Cet après-midi as seta.pray-midi. Grammatically, this is called a liaison.
  • A liaison between a word ending with s and another one beginning with a vowel has the sound z. Les arbres is pronuonced lay.zahr.br. More examples: Les amis, Les aperitifs.
  • H is silent as in the English word Honest eg. Hôtesse (hostess) is pronounced as 'otesse'.
  • Liaison does not apply to words beginning with H. eg. Les halles is pronounced as 'lay aall' and not 'lay.zahll'. Some exceptions do exist eg. Les hommes (lay.zohmm), Les heures (lay.zehr).
  • 'ch' is pronounced 'sh' as in Shunting and not as 'ch' of Cheese. eg. Charles de Gaulle (pronounced 'Sharl duh gol'). Note that words containing 'sh' do not exist in French.
  • D is pronounced as d in Deepak or Diwali and not as d in Drama.
  • T is usually pronounced as t in Taj Mahal and not as t in Tomato.
  • Some sounds in French don't exist in English eg. French 'u' as in rue (pronounced as 'rew').
  • French 'on' is a nasal sound distinct from the English on. It is pronounced 'on' as in Onkar. Try saying Pont with a nasal 'on' (in this case, the t at the end is silent so the pronunciation is 'pon').
  • 'tion', as in compilation, is pronounced as 'see.on'. Here again, the 'on' is as in Onkar. Try saying composition, explication, appreciation with a 'see.on'.
  • 'et' appearing at the end of the words is pronounced as 'ay'. eg. Chatelet is pronounced 'shaat.lay'. Some more examples of words with 'et' that you may come across- Chalet, Forêt, Chevrolet, Cabaret, Cabernet etc.






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