French vowels pronunciation
The French vowels look the same as in English, but they are not always pronounced the same.
Here is a guide to help you pronounce the French vowels the right way.
Table of content
The “easy” French vowels: a, i, o, y
The French alphabet contains 6 vowels: a, e,
i, o, u
a, i, o and y are the “easy” ones. Let’s see how to pronounce them.
Pronounce A as in (the farm)
The vowel a is pronounced as in the English word (the farm), but it is slightly shorter:
Pronounce I and Y as in (a feet)
The French sounds i and y are similar to the sound (ee). Again, they are slightly shorter than in English.
The French O is the same sound as in (Not)
No difficulty here either…
How to pronounce u in French?
U and OU are different sounds in French!
The sound u has no equivalent in English.
But no worries… I’ll explain it all!
First, let’s hear the difference between the sounds u and ou in French.
The combination ou is pronounced as in the English word (a tool), whereas u is an “exclusive” French sound:
What about the vowel e?
To wrap up this guide on the French vowels pronunciation, let’s talk about the French e.
There is no technical difficulty to pronounce the French e, but different rules apply according to its place in the word.
I wrote a separate article on the subject, with more examples: French e – How to pronounce it.
And here is a summary of the different rules:
1. The vowel E is silent
- at the end of a polysyllabic word.
- at the end of a monosyllabic word, when e follows another vowel.
2. Pronounce the vowel E as in the English word (her)
- at the end of a monosyllabic word, when e comes after a consonant.
- at the end of a syllable, inside a word.
- the combination eu is also pronounced as in (her).
3. Pronounce the vowel E as in (a bed)
- before a double consonant.
- when e is inside a syllable ending with a consonant.
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Work on your French pronunciation with a collection of posts with examples and audio recordings.