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French, like English, can be very difficult in terms of pronunciation, due to intricacies like silent letters,

multiple sounds for a single letter, and endless exceptions to whatever rules you find. This site contains
numerous lessons which explain the rules and exceptions of French pronunciation in great detail, which is
great for advanced students but can be very confusing for beginners. Therefore, this lesson is an attempt
to simplify French pronunciation, to make it easier for you to get started, even if you don't know how
every letter combination is pronounced in every situation. While at some point, you will need to study
more in-depth lessons on pronunciation, for the time being, this simplified pronunciation chart can help
you get a good idea about how to pronounce new words.

Whenever possible, I have provided English words which use the same spelling. Failing that, I used French
terms used in English, but if you don't know how to say these ?la fran 蓷 ise, you will need to look them up
in order to get the correct pronunciation. Failing either of these, I used an alternate spelling - these words
are in [brackets] and the letters which make the relevant sound are in bold. When there is no real English
equivalent, the nearest sound, if any, is explained in (parentheses) - for these letters and letter
combinations, you should look really at the in-depth lessons. The LKL column indicates how I write that
sound when spelling out pronunciation in other lessons. The letters and letter combinations are linked to
detailed lessons, while the examples are hyperlinked to sound files in .wav format.

Letter(s) LKL English Examples

A a father quatre, un ami
AI ay pain le lait, frais
AU o taupe chaud,
B b baby bonbons, bas
C k can caf?/a>, sucre
s ceiling ceinture, ni 鋃 e

?/td> s fa 蓷 de 蓷 va, cale 蔞 n

CH sh champagne chapeau,
D d dad la douane,
E, EU eu de trop le, un feu
?/td> ay fianc?/td> 彋?/a>, g 幯 ial

? ? EI eh b 皻 e noire expr 鋊, une t


EAU o eau de beau, l'eau

F f fat f 憝 rier, neuf

G g gag gants, une

zh mirage il g 鋩 e,
H hour hiver, un h 皫
(always silent in French)
I, ? ?/td> ee na 鴳 e dix, un lit

J zh d 嶴?vu le jambon, d 嶴
K k keep un kiosque, le
(rare in French)
L l little fleurs, mille
M m mom Madame,
(n) (nasal le parfum,
vowel) embouteillage
N n noun neuf, noir
(n) (nasal un, le pain
O o solo le dos, rose
OI wa foie gras boire, trois
OU u soup douze, nous
P p paper un p 鋨 e, la
PH f phone une
pharmacie, t 幨
廧 honer

Q k pique quinze, la
R r rouge, une
(similar to Spanish J, Arabic
S s sassy le sucre, un
SC sk scold les escargots
s science les sciences
T t tight la tarte,
TH t [tea] le th?/a>, le th
殪 tre

TI s [silly] attention
U u [food]* tu, une jupe
UE weh suede* saluer, la
UI wee cuisine* une nuit, fruit
*Approximation - see lesson
on U
V v verve vert, un avion

W v un wagon
(rare in French)

X ks express exprimer, taxe

gz example le x 廨鋊, un

Y y yogurt le yaourt, les


Z z zone la zone, la

1) le, la, l', les the

definite article

French Definite Articles

Les Articles définis

Definite articles | Indefinite articles | Partitive articles | Test on

The French definite article corresponds to the in English. There are
four forms of the French definite article:

Singular Plural

Masculine Feminine Before vowel or mute h

le la l' les H
le garçon la fille l'ami, l'amie les garçons
le père la mère l'homme, l'histoire les filles

aspiré and H muet - French


There are two different kinds of H's in French, and neither one is
The H muet is silent - the word acts exactly as if it began with a
vowel. This means that contractions and liaisons are done as if the H
were not there: l'homme, les hommes = [lay zuhm].
The other H is called H aspiré, but don't let the word aspiré fool you.
The H aspiré is just as silent as the H muet; however, you cannot
make a contraction or liaison in front of it: le homard, les homards =
[lay uhmar]. H's in words borrowed from other languages are usually
H aspirés.
The following words and their derivatives begin with an H aspiré. As
always, please note that there are exceptions and that the English
equivalents given here are only guide. When in doubt, consult a good
French dictionary. There will be an asterisk or some other symbol to
distinguish between the two kinds of H's.
la hache axe haut high
hacher to chop le havre haven
le hachisch hashish la Haye The Hague
la haie hedge le heaume helmet
le haillon rag héler to hail (a taxi)
la haine hatred hennir to neigh
haïr to hate le hérisson hedgehog
le hâle suntan la hernie hernia
haleter to pant le héron heron
le hall hall le héros hero
la halle market le hêtre beech tree
le halo halo heurter to strike
la halte break le hibou owl
le hamac hammock hideux hideous
le hameau hamlet la hiérarchie hierarchy
la hampe pole hisser to hoist
le hamster hamster hocher to nod
la hanche hip le hockey hockey
le hand-ball handball la Hollande Holland
le handicap handicap le homard lobster
le hangar shed Hong-Kong Hong Kong
hanter to haunt la Hongrie Hungary
harasser to exhaust la honte shame
harceler to harass le hoquet hiccup
hardi daring hors outside
le hareng herring la houille coal
le haricot bean le huguenot Huguenot
la harpe harp huit eight
le hasard luck hurler to shriek
la hâte haste la hutte hut
hâter to hasten

Which definite article to use depends on three things: the noun's

gender, number, and first letter. If the noun is plural, use les. If it's
singular starting with a vowel or mute h, use l'. If it's singular and
starts with a consonant, use le if it's masculine and la if it's feminine.
Meaning and usage of the French definite article
The definite article indicates a specific noun.

Je vais à la banque - I'm going to the bank.

Voici le livre que j'ai lu - Here is the book I read.

The definite article is also used in French to indicate the general

sense of a noun. The article is not used in this sense in English.

J'aime la glace - I like ice cream

C'est la vie ! - That's life!

The definite article changes when preceded by the preposition à or de

- the preposition and article contract into a single word. Learn more

2) être to be

Everything you need to know about the

irregular French verb être

Être is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in

conjugation and literally means "to be." Être is also used in some
idiomatic expressions and as an auxiliary verb for compound tenses and
the passive voice.

To Be
Être means "to be" in many senses that this verb is used in English.
1) It is used with adjectives, nouns, and adverbs to describe a temporary
or permanent state of being:
Il est beau - He is handsome
Je suis à Paris - I'm in Paris
Nous sommes français - We're French
Il est là-bas - He's over there

2) Être is used to describe someone's profession; however, note that the

indefinite article is not used in this construction in French:
Mon père est avocat - My father is a lawyer
Je suis étudiant - I'm a student

3) Expressions with être

There are a number of English "to be" expressions which are translated in
French by avoir (to have):
avoir froid - to be cold
avoir raison - to be right
avoir xx ans - to be xx years old
more expressions

When talking about the weather, French uses the verb faire (to do/make)
rather than être:
Il fait beau - It's nice out
Il fait du vent - It's windy
Quel temps fait-il ? - How's the weather?

Être as an Auxiliary Verb

1) Être is the auxiliary for some verbs in the compound tenses:

Je suis allé en France - I went to France
Nous étions déjà sortis - We had already left
Il serait venu si...
- He would have come if...

2) Être is used to form the passive voice:

La voiture est lavée - The car is washed
Il est respecté de tout le monde - He is respected by everyone

Present tense
je suis
tu es
il est
nous sommes
vous êtes
ils sont

3) avoir to have

Everything you need to know

about the irregular French verb


Avoir is one of the most common French verbs. It is irregular in

conjugation and literally means "to have." However, it is also used in
numerous idiomatic expressions and as an auxiliary verb.

To Have
Avoir means "to have" in most senses, including having in one's
possession and currently experiencing.
J'ai deux stylos
I have two pens.

J'ai trois frères

I have three brothers.

J'ai mal à la tête

I have a headache.

J'ai une idée

I have an idea.

J'ai été eu
I've been had (tricked).
Note: Avoir à can mean "to have to," but that expression is more
commonly translated by devoir.

Expressions with Avoir

Avoir is used in a number of idiomatic expressions, many of which are

translated by the English verb "to be":
J'ai 30 ans
I am 30 years old.

J'ai soif
I am thirsty.

J'ai froid
I am cold.
4) de of, from

French Prepositions


De is a very important and versatile preposition with many different

meanings and uses in French. As a preposition, it can express or
indicate all of the following:

I. Possession or belonging (learn more)

le livre de Paul Paul's book
la biblioth 鋂 ue de the university library

II. Starting point or origin (learn more)

partir de Nice to leave from (out of)
Je suis de Bruxelles Nice
I'm from Brussels
III. Contents / description of something
une tasse de th?br> un cup of tea
roman d'amour love story (story
of/about love)
IV. Defining feature
le march?de gros wholesale market
une salle de classe classroom
V. Cause
mourir de faim to die of / from hunger
fatigu?du voyage tired from the trip
VI. Means / manner of doing something
嶰 rire de la main gauche to write with one's left
r 廧彋 er de m 幦 oire hand
to recite from memory

When followed by the definite articles le and les, de contracts with

them into a single word:
For example
de + le = du du salon
de + les = des des villes
de + la de la de la femme
de + l' de l' de l'homme

Verbs with de Expressions with de ? vs de

De vs Du, De la, Des

More prepositions French grammar

5) un, une, des a, an, some

indefinite article
French Indefinite Articles
Les Articles indéfinis

Definite articles | Indefinite articles | Partitive articles | Test on

The singular indefinite articles in French correspond to a, an, or one
in English. The plural corresponds to some. There are three forms of
the French indefinite article.

Singular Plural

Masculine Feminine

un une des Note that the plural

un garçon une fille des garçons

un ami une amie des filles

indefinite article is the same for masculine and feminine nouns,

whereas the singular has a different form for masculine and feminine.

Meaning and usage of the French indefinite article

The indefinite article usually refers to an unspecified person or thing.

J'ai trouvé un livre - I found a book.

Il veut une pomme - He wants an apple.

The indefinite article can also refer to just one of something:

Il y a un étudiant dans la salle - There is one student in
the room.

The plural indefinite article means some:

J'ai acheté des haricots verts - I bought some green

Veux-tu des livres ? - Do you want some books?

When referring to a person's profession or religion, the indefinite is

not used in French, although it is used in English. I know, I know, the
exceptions never end. :-(

Je suis professeur - I am a teacher.

Il va être médecin - He's going to be a doctor.

In a negative construction, the indefinite article changes to de,

meaning any:

J'ai une pomme ==> Je n'ai pas de pommes.

I have an apple ==> I don't have any apples.
Learn more

6) je I
subject pronoun

7) il / ils* he, it / they

subject pronoun

8) ce this
indefinite demonstrative pronoun

9) pas not
negative adverb

10) à to, in


*I would have listed il and ils separately, but they were combined in the
source document.

Words with different forms but the same essential meaning (such as le and
la: masculine and feminine definite articles) are combined into a single

Words with different grammatical functions (such as le: definite article

and le: direct object pronoun) are usually listed separately.

This list of the most common French words is adapted from the following

French Coordinating Conjunctions - Les Conjonctions

de coordination
Learn about French coordinating conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions join words and groups of words of equal value. By equal value, I mean that
the two (groups of) words have the same nature or the same function in the sentence.

1. J'aime les pommes et les oranges. - I like apples and oranges.

Apples and oranges are both fruits, and I like them both.

2. Il ne mange ni la viande ni les l 嶲 umes. - He eats neither meat nor vegetables.

Meat and vegetables are both foods, and he doesn't eat either of them.

3. Veux-tu aller en France ou en Italie ? - Do you want to go to France or Italy?

France and Italy are both places, and you can go to one of them.

4. Je veux le faire, mais je n'ai pas d'argent. - I want to do it, but I don't have any money.

I want to do it. I don't have any money. Each of these statements is a complete idea.

French coordinating conjunctions

car for, because

donc so
ensuite next
et and
et... et both... and
mais but
ne... ni... ni neither... nor
or now, yet
ou or
ou bien or else
puis then
soit... soit either... or