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French E - Learn how to pronounce it

French E

Pronouncing the French e is often seen as a difficulty.

Indeed, there are 3 different ways to pronounce it, according to its place in the word!

Table of content

The French e is often silent

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The French e is silent in the following cases.

1. At the end of a polysyllabic word.

une vache (a cow)

Here, the two final e's are silent, because une (a, feminine) and vache (cow) are polysyllabic words.
2. At the end of a monosyllabic word, when e comes after a vowel.

une roue (a wheel)

How Many Syllables?

The word une is polysyllabic. We count 2 syllables: u + ne (even if the final e is silent).

On the other end, the word roue is monosyllabic, because ou is a combination of letters (one sound).

The French e can sound as in the English word (her)

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In the following cases, the French e will be pronounced as in the English word (her):

1. At the end of a monosyllabic word, when e comes after a consonant.

le (the)

2. Inside a word, when e is placed at the end of a syllable.

samedi (Saturday)

In this case, however, the native speakers sometimes drop the middle e:

samedi (alternative) (Saturday)

3. in the combination of letters eu:

l'heure (the hour)

The letter u reinforces the “usual” pronuciation of the vowel e.

When you see the combined letters eu, pronounce them as in the English word (her).

Learn more about combinations of vowels in French.

The French e can sound as in the English word (a bed)

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Pronounce the French e as in the English word (a bed) in the two following cases:

1. When e is inside a syllable ending in a consonant.

merci (thank you)

2. When e comes before a double consonant.

le verre (the glass)


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