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French Pronunciation Archives - FrenchMaestro
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Category Archives for French Pronunciation

How to pronounce the French o open sound

How to pronounce the French u sound

Bonjour ! and welcome to today's lesson focused on the French u sound. , which official IPA notation is /y/. This one raises an interesting dilemma : it's one of the easiest syllable for a French native (4 years old kids master it during their first year in school), and yet one of the most difficult for many foreigners students, as it does not necessarily exist in their mother tongue.

My students from Ireland struggle a lot to get it right, as there is no strict equivalent in English and they often mix up with their various "u" sounds (like in "duck", "fruit", "mule", "rule"...) . In the Spanish world, the confusion comes also from their common sound /u/ (like in "uno", "usted", "mucho"...). And for Japanese, well, this sounds /y/ just does not exist at all ! 

As always, before digging into the lesson for the sound U, we'd like to give you a few recommendations :

  1. ​don't give up because you don't understand everything in the video : at that stage, you are here to learn and perfect your pronunciation
  2. be active during this video : repeat each word or syllable during the blank spaces we left for you on purpose
  3. take a blank sheet of paper and write down any word you don't know to start building your own list
  4. if you can't pronounce a difficult French word with /y/, just leave us a comment : we will record it for you

If you watch all our videos on the French sounds and apply the method above, in no time you will be improving your French. And now, let's focus on the French u  /y/ sound video : 

Phonetics of the French u sound /y/

Since there is often a confusion between those 2 sounds /y/ and /u/, it's worth explaining them at that stage.  

  • /y/ : this  :
    • end of word : mot, bateau, crapaud
    • before [z] : rose, arroser, pause
    • ô circumflex : hôtel, hôtesse
  • /u/ : :  
    • preceding 2 consonants : pomme, homme, botte
    • before a "R" or a "L" : or, dormir, parole
    • latin words : serum, album
    • foreign words : chewing-gumfootball, volleyball

The rules are not that complicated, but there are a few exceptions and it might take time for you to know with confidence which sound to pick. Anyway, remember that practice makes perfect :-)

Sample French u words

We selected a few words from our 999 Essential French Words list to help you pronounce the /y/ sound. Don't forget : practice makes perfect, so repeat loudly after you hear the voice saying the words in French. 

  • fort : adjective : strong
  • une porte : noun, feminine : door
  • sortir: verb : to go out, to exit
  • tortue : noun, feminine : turtle
  • encore : adverb : again

Same /y/ sound... different spelling

French is usually difficult to learn precisely because the letters or combination of letters are not always pronounced the same way, and reciprocally, a same sound can be written in different manners. There are more than a dozen different manners to write the same French u sound : 

  • o : homme, gomme, pomme
  • o : culotte, compote, pilote
  • eo : Georges, rougeole
  • ho : horde
  • au : dinosaure, Laure
  • um : album, serum
  • aw : tomahawk

Essential “Mots-Outils” with /y/ sound

In elementary French schools, there is a list of about 150 critical French words that kids must know before they turn 8 years old, in the class level called "CP/CE1". I always make sure to teach them to my adults students, because by knowing them by heart, you will cut your learning curve and it will help you concentrate on other difficulties. By working on the pronunciation of the French sounds, you will learn get to know them very quickly ! Here is a short extract of this list with the /y/ sound : 

  • alors : then, so, well
  • comme : like, just as, just like, as well as
  • dehors : outside, out
  • encore : more, again, now, else, still, another
  • lorsque : when, as soon as, while

French Verbs with /y/ sound 

There are tens of verbs containing the u sound in their radical. Our intention there is not to be exhaustive, but to provide a selection of French verbs with this syllable in various positions (initial, middle, final). Here is a short list taken from our 222 Most Valuable French Verbs list.  :  

    1st group : divorcer, égorger, prospérer

    2nd group : ​forcir, obscurcir

    ​3rd group : clore, mordre

French idioms with /y/ sound

Again, a new expression with an animal : a pig this time ! Literally, it would mean "to have a pig's personality". We usually use it about someone who is difficult to deal with, quite stubborn, moody, difficult to live with. 

  • avoir un chat dans la gorge : to have a frog in your throat

French for Kids

This week, a gentle dinosaur came up in our drawing book. Pay attention to the 2 different O sounds here : the first "o" is actually the closed O sound (/o/) while the "au" is the open O sound (/Ɔ/). Note that in some regions the first "o" could also be pronounced as an open O... that's right, French is full of exceptions & subtleties :-)

  • un dinosaure: a dinosaur
French For Kids : dinosaur in French is dinosaure

French For Kids : dinosaur in French is dinosaure

French culture starring... the /y/ sound !

Who said pronunciation has to be boring ?! So why not discover a bit of French culture while practicing your pronunciation of the U sound ? We have selected for you those famous symbols of France - a purely subjective choice, based on our personal preferences ;-)

  • Georges Brassens : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Victor Hugo : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Roquefort : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Orléans : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Christian Dior : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Thorgal : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • 36 Quai des Orfèvres : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.

A difficult French u word ?

If you still struggle to pronounce correctly the /y/ sound in French, we're here to help. Leave us a comment below with the word you can't pronounce, and we will record it for you. We'll only ask you to avoid any slang / crude terms, as this page is accessible by general audiences - including kids.  

Requested French words with [U] sound  :

  •  none so far... be the first ( "Soyez le premier !") and leave us a comment below !

A bientôt !

That concludes today's lesson, I hope you have practiced well and feel more confident how to pronounce the French U. If not already done, read the specific lesson explaining the differences between U and OU sounds in French.

And now before leaving :

A detailed #frenchlesson from @FrenchMaestro to pronounce correctly the /y/ sound in #french. 

Click to Tweet

Mastering French phonetics

Bonjour ! and welcome to this French phonetics lesson.

I know, I know… If you are learning French (and chances are as you’re reading this blog post !), one of the most confusing parts is dealing with our phonetics. Imagine a single letter to be pronounced in two or three various ways. Conversely, three to four letters can only make one sound. What ?! Why would be French phonetics so complicated ? Isn’t France the country of philosophers and mathematicians, so keen on logic ?

Don’t worry, we are here to help you :-)

First, this is true : French phonetics is not easy. Not even for French natives kids. You can’t imagine how difficult it is when you’re 5-6 years old trying to learn reading and writing French ! Anyway, with just a few rules and a few exceptions, you can already go far in your learning.

French phonetics alphabet

Did you know that the French Alphabet has 37 total sounds? Ideally, the IPA symbol is being used by language experts in marking a certain sound.

To give you deep insight about French phonetics, let’s take a closer look on the 12 French vowels. These vowels refer to the sounds that are being produced in the absence of any obstruction to the air as it exits the month. If you are a beginner in learning French phonetics, your untrained ear would hardly hear these phonemes especially /y/ versus /u/ as well as /œ/ versus /ø/.

Here are some examples of French phonemes that are commonly spelled in words:

1. /i/ – vie, stylo, dix

2.
/e/ – fée, danser, , été, je partirai – in its future tense

3.
/ɛ/ – sel, treize, tête, je partirais – in conditional form

4.
/a/ – gars, là, ami,

5.
/y/ – vu, jus, , tu, sucre, une, nu (although no such sound in English language)

6.
/ø/ – le, œufs, veux, feu (although no such sound in English language)

7.
/œ/ – veulent, professeur, seul, (although no such sound in English language)

8.
/u/ –où, nous, doux, vous,

9.
/o/ – faux, beau, métro, bientôt,

10.
/ɔ/ –sol, pomme, homme, porc,

11.
/ɑ/ – bas, pates, las

12.
/ə/ – le, (Muted E) usually replaced by ø

In French, there are also 4 nasal French phonemes. When you are on your quest to learning French phonetics, you will notice that there is tilde symbol (~) that lies directly above every letter. Again, these phonemes make use of IPA symbol when being marked by linguists.


French Examples:

·
/ɛ̃/ – gain, , impatient, vin, pain

·
/œ̃/ – l’un, chacun, parfum,

·
/õ/ – long, pont, monde,

·
/ɑ̃/ – enfant, , chamber, dans, l’an

Here are 3 French Semi-Vowels:

How are semi-vowels in French produced? It is through the production of a rapid and upward motion of the tongue while you are pronouncing.

Examples:

·
/ɥ/ – huile, lui, nuit

·
/w/ – oui, moi, ouest

·
/j/ – yeux, dieu, fillette

French consonants:

These consonants are produced by means of an obstruction in the mouth while you are exhaling.


Examples:

·
/p/ – public, plage,

·
/b/ – bateau, bon, bêtise

·
/t/ – terre, thé, sottise,

·
/d/ – dimanche, diner

·
/k/ – cou, que, carreau

·
/g/ – gare, gallois, gants

·
/f/ – flic, fosse, pharmacie

·
/v/ – avion, vous,

·
/l/ – le, mille, lait

·
/s/ – sac, cerise, soixante

·
/z/ – zoo, guise, visage

·
/ʃ/ – chat, short, chinois

·
/ʒ/ – japonais, genial, je

·
/m/ – magasin, mêler

As you can see, French phonetics is really a bit complicated. However, as long as you are sincere and you are willing to learn the French language, rest assured that you would be able to pull it off in no time. To get adept with French phonetics, you should also study their stress, Liasons and Nasality. Also, do take note that French vowels can be classified as nasal or oral.

Source : International Phonetic Alphabet

Telling the time in French 10:00 to 11:00

"Bonjour ! Quelle heure est-il ? " That's a question that could catch you by surprise. Especially if you do not know very well how to express time in French. Whether at the office, at home, with friends or in the streets you may have to face the situation of being asked about time. No need to panic ! "Pas de problèmes" as we say in French. We will reveal you all the tricks that never fail.

Needless to say you first need to know how to count from 0 to 24 (in a few words " de zéro à vingt-quatre" ). If you don't master completely this skill, no worry, we have a dedicated lesson for French numbers, so you can always refer to it. 

And now, let's focus on telling time in French in the morning, starting at 10 am. 

French time format : 10am to 11am, per 5 minutes

It's 10am, "dix heures du matin" as we say. Usually at that time French people are half way to their morning.... sometimes already thinking about the coming lunch (no kidding, you know how important it is for us... I recall some conversations with my colleagues about the choice of the restaurant for the lunch starting even earlier !).

Now let's see in detail how we tell the time in French. The table below shows how to write the time starting from 10:00am up to 10:55am, broken down per 5 minutes slot. You can here the audio version of all those texts right above or directly on our Soundcloud page. 

10:00

  • dix heures
  • dix heures du matin
  • il est dix heures
  • il est dix heures pile

10:05

  • dix heures cinq
  • il est dix heures cinq

10:10

  • dix heures dix
  • il est dix heures dix

10:15

  • dix heures quinze
  • dix heures et quart
  • il est dix heures quinze
  • il est dix heures et quart

10:20

  • dix heures vingt
  • il est dix heures vingt

10:25

  • dix heures vingt-cinq
  • il est dix heures vingt-cinq

10:30

  • dix heures trente
  • dix heures et demi
  • il est dix heures trente
  • il est dix heures et demi

10:35

  • dix heures trente-cinq
  • onze heures moins vingt-cinq
  • il est dix heures trente-cinq
  • il est onze heures moins vingt-cinq

10:40

  • dix heures quarante
  • onze heures moins vingt
  • il est dix heures quarante
  • il est onze heures moins vingt

10:45

  • dix heures quarante-cinq
  • onze heures moins le quart
  • il est dix heures quarante-cinq
  • il est onze heures moins le quart

10:50

  • dix heures cinquante
  • onze heures moins dix
  • il est dix heures cinquante
  • il est onze heures moins dix

10:55

  • dix heures cinquante-cinq
  • onze heures moins cinq
  • il est dix heures cinquante-cinq
  • il est onze heures moins cinq

See, it wasn't that complicated :-) If you learn those 12 different ways to indicate time in French, you will be able to express yourself in nearly all situations. Yet, you may wonder : what about other times ? For instance : how do I say 10:28 in French ? Well, the system is quite easy, as you just use the following form : [the word for the hour + the word "heures" + the word for the minutes].  Finally, 10:28am would be written as "dix heures vingt-huit". More examples below :

  • 10:13 => dix heures treize
  • 10:28 => dix heures vingt-huit
  • 10:39 => dix heures trente-neuf
  • 10:57 => dix heures cinquante-sept

Enough for the rules & the writing, let's turn to the correct French pronunciation as we want you to get it, that's our commitment !

Time in French pronunciation

Providing you already know how to pronounce the numbers in French, chances are you won't have any difficulty for telling time. 

In the image below, we have gathered all French words for expressing time between 10am and 11 am. As you can see, that's only a dozen of words to master maximum. And the good news : you will find them in nearly all other time slots. 

French time words & expressions, 10am to 11am

French time words & expressions, 10am to 11am

Probably the most important point here is to make the correct liaison between the word "dix" and the word "heures". So eventually, "dix heures" must be pronounced like /diz œʁ/

To pronounce correctly the 10th hour of the day in French, there are around 15 different syllables / sounds to master : 

  • ​art : /aʁ/
  • ze : /z/
  • in : /ɛ̃/
  • ix : /is/
  • en, an : /ɑ̃/
  • moins : /mwɛ̃/
  • and the consonants d, z, c, q, r, d, m, l, t, which are usually easy for students

As you may have noticed, there are a few mute consonants in those words above. So be sure not to pronounce the final "gt", "t" and "s" of those numbers / words  :

  • vingt => /vɛ̃/
  • quart => /kaʁ/
  • moins => /mwɛ̃/
  • heures => /œʁ/

OK, so we've seen the rules, the expressions, their pronunciations, the syllables... I think we're done for today's lesson :-)

A bientôt !

So, did you get it ? Some figures/numbers were difficult to pronounce ? In that case, why don't you try our lessons about figures and numbers ? It could be a way to learn or consolidate numbers and figures which are one of the basis of French language. You can do it ! We know it. Keep learning and May the French be with you. 

If you liked this French lesson, don't hesitate to share it online : ​

a very detailed #frenchlesson : how to tell time in #french and get correct pronunciation

Click to Tweet

Source : heure en France

5 Proven Tips To Improve Your French Pronunciation

Every foreign language is tough on its own, without even mentioning the pronunciation. When speaking about the French language, having a huge vocabulary may not mean anything if there is no good French pronunciation. Whether it's reading or speaking the words correctly, knowing how to 'talk the talk' in the right accent demands commitment.

French pronunciation is not easy, particularly not with all the silent letters, multiple sounds for a single letter and many variations to the established phonetic rules. There are letters that have two or more sounds, letter combinations that sound different in every use, certain French accents as well as French phonetic symbols which can be found in dictionaries.

French pronunciation tips

But what is the best way to effectively master your French pronunciation? We are sharing some of the best tips below:

1. Listen To Everything In French - The more you listen and adapt your tongue to French, the better and more nature you will sound when reading or speaking out loud.

2. Listen And Repeat - Practice makes perfect, and repeating lessons, sentences and other verbal forms of French is the best way to develop your pronunciation skills in French.

3. Record Yourself - It may sound funny, but recording yourself while repeating will let you see your actual French pronunciation instead of only repeating it without purpose.

4. Read Out Loud - If you are still uncomfortable with all the French words and phrases, maybe your tongue could use some training by reading out loud.

5. Online Pronunciation Tools - Nowadays, we have instant access to everything - so why not use French pronunciation tools online, listen to native French speakers and finally get the hang of it?

French pronunciation of vowels

Just like the alphabet or most commons expressions, working the basic French sounds is actually a very effective way to drastically improve your French skills. Good news : we have prepared for you an extensive list of such French  syllables and sounds, starting with the French vowels. So read below or just follow the previous link.

FRENCH VOWELS TO BE LISTED !!!!!!!!!!!!

In the end, saying the words correctly and being confident when speaking is what your French pronunciation should be all about. Having a huge vocabulary is not enough - especially if you don't know how to use it, right?

Learn to speak and master French pronunciations with style - with French Maestro!

Source : French sounds on wikipedia

Why Learning the French phonetic alphabet Is Critical

The French phonetic alphabet is by far one of the most interesting and impressive parts when it comes to learning this great language. In fact, this is the backbone that you base all French language knowledge upon.

This is one of the main reasons why understanding and practicing the French phonetic alphabet is mandatory, because it can really pay off and deliver some outstanding results all around.

Even if the alphabet might be easy to learn when compared to other countries, you do need to take your time and fully understand it, because at the end of the day this is the basis of all your knowledge and you need to make sure that it’s as accurate as it can be.

Depending on where you learn French and how you do it, you will find the language quite demanding because the French phonetic alphabet will definitely guide you as time passes. It might not sound like much at first, but you do need to pay a lot of attention to the sounds and the way you are expressing yourself because the French language is filled with passion so you do want to showcase that with the way you speak.

It might not sound like much at first, but the French phonetic alphabet is indeed a cornerstone and it’s quite similar to other latin languages something that makes it very hard to learn and integrate into your own vocabulary if you already speak one of the latin based languages such as Romanian, Spanish, Italian and so on. Of course, the French phonetic alphabet and the language on its own isn’t that hard to comprehend even if you speak a Germanic language such as English, it all comes down to your commitment!

You should learn the phonetic alphabet because it allows you to study this great language in its entirety without any restrictions. It also makes the entire experience a lot better and more refined, not to mention hat with help from the French phonetic alphabet you can further solidify your knowledge.

Since French is one of the 3 most important languages in the world, it’s mandatory to learn it especially if you want to work in France, Africa and some regions of South America, but there are many other French communities that might require you to learn the language anyway.

As you can see, it’s a very good idea to learn the French phonetic alphabet, and with our help you can do such a thing directly on this site. All you have to do is to follow our instructions and repeat the alphabet as many times as possible until it sticks to your head. Remember, you need to learn this properly because you focus on learning any words so just focus on repeating the alphabet as many times as you need. Try to take your time and accumulate this knowledge properly, as you will certainly be amazed with the stunning results that can appear in the end!

Source : https://www.internationalphoneticassociation.org/

How to pronounce the French o open sound

How to pronounce the French o open sound

Bonjour ! and welcome to today's lesson focused on the French o sound. As you will read below, there are actually 2 different [O] sounds in French : the closed O and the open O. In this lesson, we will focus only on the open O. Its official symbol according to the IPA is /Ɔ/, but based on our experience with students learning French as a second language, we preferred to note it open [O-Ɔ] for clarity's sake. 

Before digging into the lesson, we'd like to give you a few recommendations :

  1. ​don't give up because you don't understand everything in the video : at that stage, you are here to learn and perfect your pronunciation
  2. be active during this video : repeat each word or syllable during the blank spaces we left for you on purpose
  3. take a blank sheet of paper and write down any word you don't know to start building your own list
  4. if you can't pronounce a difficult French word with /Ɔ/, just leave us a comment : we will record it for you

If you watch all our videos on the French sounds and apply the method above, in no time you will be improving your French. And now, let's focus on the French o open /Ɔ/ sound video : 

Phonetics of the French o open sound  /Ɔ/

There are 2 very distinct sounds in [O] in French. Contrary to the [A] sound for which the sounds are quite similar, the difference between the 2 [O] sounds is very strong and you must respect it to speak a correct French. 

  • /o/ : this is a closed sound, coming from the front part of your mouth. It is noted /o/ in the official IPA phonetic alphabet. Usually this sound is heard in the following circumstances :
    • end of word : mot, bateau, crapaud
    • before [z] : rose, arroser, pause
    • ô circumflex : hôtel, hôtesse
  • /ɔ/ : this sound is more "open", coming from the internal part of your mouth. It is noted /Ɔ/ in the official IPA phonetic alphabet. Usually this sound is heard in 4 situations :  
    • preceding 2 consonants : pomme, homme, botte
    • before a "R" or a "L" : or, dormir, parole
    • latin words : serum, album
    • foreign words : chewing-gumfootball, volleyball

The rules are not that complicated, but there are a few exceptions and it might take time for you to know with confidence which sound to pick. Anyway, remember that practice makes perfect :-)

Sample French o words with open [O-Ɔ] sound

We selected a few words from our 999 Essential French Words list to help you pronounce the [O] sound. Don't forget : practice makes perfect, so repeat loudly after you hear the voice saying the words in French. 

  • fort : adjective : strong
  • une porte : noun, feminine : door
  • sortir: verb : to go out, to exit
  • tortue : noun, feminine : turtle
  • encore : adverb : again

Same open [O-Ɔ] sound... different spelling

French is usually difficult to learn precisely because the letters or combination of letters are not always pronounced the same way, and reciprocally, a same sound can be written in different manners. There are more than a dozen different manners to write the same French o sound : 

  • o : homme, gomme, pomme
  • o : culotte, compote, pilote
  • eo : Georges, rougeole
  • ho : horde
  • au : dinosaure, Laure
  • um : album, serum
  • aw : tomahawk

Essential “Mots-Outils” with open [O-Ɔ]

In elementary French schools, there is a list of about 150 critical French words that kids must know before they turn 8 years old, in the class level called "CP/CE1". I always make sure to teach them to my adults students, because by knowing them by heart, you will cut your learning curve and it will help you concentrate on other difficulties. By working on the pronunciation of the French sounds, you will learn get to know them very quickly ! Here is a short extract of this list with the [O] sound : 

  • alors : then, so, well
  • comme : like, just as, just like, as well as
  • dehors : outside, out
  • encore : more, again, now, else, still, another
  • lorsque : when, as soon as, while

French Verbs with open sound [O-Ɔ]

There are tens of verbs containing the [O] sound in their radical. Our intention there is not to be exhaustive, but to provide a selection of French verbs with this syllable in various positions (initial, middle, final). Here is a short list taken from our 222 Most Valuable French Verbs list.  :  

    1st group : divorcer, égorger, prospérer

    2nd group : ​forcir, obscurcir

    ​3rd group : clore, mordre

French idioms with open sound [O-Ɔ]

Again, a new expression with an animal : a pig this time ! Literally, it would mean "to have a pig's personality". We usually use it about someone who is difficult to deal with, quite stubborn, moody, difficult to live with. 

  • avoir un chat dans la gorge : to have a frog in your throat

French for Kids

This week, a gentle dinosaur came up in our drawing book. Pay attention to the 2 different O sounds here : the first "o" is actually the closed O sound (/o/) while the "au" is the open O sound (/Ɔ/). Note that in some regions the first "o" could also be pronounced as an open O... that's right, French is full of exceptions & subtleties :-)

  • un dinosaure: a dinosaur
French For Kids : dinosaur in French is dinosaure

French For Kids : dinosaur in French is dinosaure

French culture starring... the open [O-Ɔ] sound !

Who said pronunciation has to be boring ?! So why not discover a bit of French culture while practicing your pronunciation of the [O-Ɔ] sound ? We have selected for you those famous symbols of France - a purely subjective choice, based on our personal preferences ;-)

  • Georges Brassens : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Victor Hugo : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Roquefort : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Orléans : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Christian Dior : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Thorgal : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • 36 Quai des Orfèvres : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.

A difficult French word with open [O-Ɔ] sound ?

If you still struggle to pronounce correctly the open [O-Ɔ] sound in French, we're here to help. Leave us a comment below with the word you can't pronounce, and we will record it for you. We'll only ask you to avoid any slang / crude terms, as this page is accessible by general audiences - including kids.  

Requested French words with [O-Ɔ] sound  :

  •  none so far... be the first ( "Soyez le premier !") and leave us a comment below !

A bientôt !

This was probably more complicated than the [A] sound, but I hope you enjoyed this lesson on the open [O] sound. I actually didn't think the video would last more than 25 minutes ! If not already done, I encourage you to read the similar lesson on the French O closed sound. We have a lot more to come in the next few weeks, so stay tuned with our method. If you consistently practice the pronunciation of all the sounds in French (remember, we have more than 150 !) I guarantee you will be speaking a perfect French in no time.

And now before leaving :

A detailed #frenchlesson video from @FrenchMaestro : 25 minutes to pronounce correctly the open [O] sound in #french. 

Click to Tweet
Learn how to pronounce the French O closed sound

How to pronounce the French o closed sound

The French o closed sound is relatively easy to pronounce, as it is quite frequent and common to other languages. In this lesson, we will focus only on the closed O, which official notation from the IPA is /o/ . You are probably aware that there is a second French O sound : the open O sound notated /Ɔ/

Before digging into the lessons, we'd like to give you a few recommendations :

  1. ​don't give up because you don't understand everything in the video : at that stage, you are here to learn and perfect your pronunciation
  2. be active during this video : repeat each word or syllable during the blank spaces we left for you on purpose
  3. take a blank sheet of paper and write down any word you don't know to start building your own list
  4. if you can't pronounce a difficult French word with [O], just leave us a comment : we will record it for you

If you watch all our videos on the French sounds and apply the method above, in no time you will be improving your French. And now, the [O] sound video : 

Phonetics of the French o closed sound

Contrary to the [A] sound, the difference between the 2 French o sounds is quite strong and you must absolutely respect it to speak a correct French. 

  • /o/ : this is a closed sound, coming from the front part of your mouth. Official notation is /o/.  Usually this sound is heard in the following circumstances :
    • end of word : mot, bateau, crapaud
    • before [z] : rose, arroser, pause
    • ô circumflex : hôtel, hôtesse
  • /ɔ/ : this sound is more "open", coming from the internal part of your mouth. Official IPA notation is /ɔ/. Usually this sound is heard in 4 situations :  
    • preceding 2 consonants : pomme, homme, botte
    • before a "R" or a "L" : or, dormir, parole
    • latin words : serum, album
    • foreign words : chewing-gumfootball, volleyball

The rules are not that complicated, but there are a few exceptions and it might take time for you to know with confidence which sound to pick. Anyway, remember that practice makes perfect :-)

Sample words having the French o closed sound

We selected a few words from our 999 Essential French Words list to help you pronounce this  closed [O] sound. Don't be shy : repeat loudly after you hear the voice saying the words in French. 

  • un kilo : noun, masculine : kilo
  • un pot : noun, masculine : jar
  • écologie : noun, feminine : ecology
  • trop : adv : too much
  • un hôtel : nouns, masculine : hostel
  • le dôme : noun, masculine : dome
  • un fantôme : noun, masculine : ghost

Same [O] sound... different spelling

French is usually difficult to learn precisely because the letters or combination of letters are not always pronounced the same way, and reciprocally, a same sound can be written in different manners. There are more than a dozen different manners to write the same sound [O] in French : 

  • o : photo, apéro
  • ô : nôtre, vôtre
  • os : nos, vos, vélos
  • ot : pot, mot, camelot
  • oc : croc
  • op : trop
  • : hôtel
  • au : autre, auto
  • aux : taux, faux, animaux
  • aut : saut, défaut
  • eau : beau, eau
  • eaux : bateaux, oiseaux
  • ault : hérault
  • ow : bungalow, marshmallow

Essential “Mots-Outils” with [O]

In French schools, there is a list of about 150 critical connectors that kids must know before they turn 8 years old, in the class level called "CP/CE1". As an adult, by knowing them by heart, you will cut your learning curve and it will help you concentrate on other difficulties. By working on the pronunciation of the French sounds, you will learn get to know them very quickly ! Here is a short extract of this list with the French o closed sound : 

  • au : at, to
  • autant : as much as, as many
  • aussi : also, as well, too
  • aussitôt : immediately
  • côte à côte : side by side
  • trop : too, overly, too much, too many

French Verbs with sound [O]

There are tens of verbs containing the [O] sound in their radical. Our intention there is not to be exhaustive, but to provide a selection of French verbs with this syllable in various positions (initial, middle, final). Here is a short list taken from our 222 Most Valuable French Verbs list  :  

    1st group : potasser, localiser

    2nd group : ​abolir, applaudir, appauvrir

    ​3rd group : promettre, produire, connaître, corrompre

French idioms with sound [O]

Again, a new expression with an animal : a pig this time ! Literally, it would mean "to have a pig's personality". We usually use it about someone who is difficult to deal with, quite stubborn, moody, difficult to live with. 

  • avoir une caractère de cochon  : to have a nasty disposition

French for Kids

Drawing done by my own daughter, 6 years old, representing a gentle robot helping preparing fruits and vegetables for the diner. Fell free to share this with your kids and help them learn French :-)

  • un robo: a robot
French For Kids : robot in French is robot

French For Kids : robot in French is robot

French culture starring... the [O] sound !

Who said pronunciation has to be boring ?! So why not discover a bit of French culture while practicing your pronunciation of the [O] sound ? We have selected for you those famous symbols of France - a purely subjective choice, based on our personal preferences ;-)

  • Johnny Halliday : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Guillaume Musso : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Pot-au-feu : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Bordeauxbla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Peugeot : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Obélix et Compagnie bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Jean de Florette : la bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.

A difficult French word with [O] sound ?

If you still struggle to pronounce correctly the [O] sound in French, we're here to help. Leave us a comment below with the word you can't pronounce, and we will record it for you. We'll only ask you to avoid any slang / crude terms, as this page is accessible by general audiences - including kids.  

Requested French o closed words :

  •  none so far... be the first ( "Soyez le premier !") and leave us a comment below !

A bientôt !

I hope you enjoyed this lesson on the French o closed sound. I actually didn't think the video would last more than 25 minutes ! We have a lot more to come in the next few weeks, so stay tuned with our method. If you consistently practice the pronunciation of all the sounds in French (remember, we have more than 150 !) I guarantee you will be speaking a perfect French in no time.

And now before leaving :

a detailed #frenchlesson from @FrenchMaestro to master the [O] sound pronunciation in #french. 

Click to Tweet
French pronunciation of the sound A

How to pronounce the French A sound

Bonjour ! and welcome to this lesson dedicated to the French A sound. The [A] sound in French is relatively easy to pronounce, as it is common to a lot of other languages. There are yet a few specifics worth noting, that we explain in this video and its transcript below. To get the most of this lesson, we'd like to give you those advice before starting :

  1. ​don't give up because you don't understand everything in the video : at that stage, you are here to learn and perfect your pronunciation
  2. be active during this video : repeat each word or syllable during the blank spaces we left for you on purpose
  3. take a blank sheet of paper and write down any word you don't know to start building your own list
  4. if you can't pronounce a difficult French word with [A], just leave us a comment : we will record it for you

If you watch all our videos on the French sounds and apply the method above, in no time you will be improving your French. And now, the [A] sound video : 

Phonetics of the French A sound

To be strictly accurate, there are actually 2 slightly different [A] sounds in French, even though this difference tends to disappear in modern French language. 

  • /​a/ : what I would call the "standard" [A], rather "closed", with the sound coming from the front of your mouth, like in "Paris" or "bateau
  • /ɑ/ : this sound is more "open", coming from the internal part of your mouth, it is more internal. Usually this sound is heard in 4 situations :  
    • before a "z" : gaz
    • before a "s" : base, phrase
    • before a silent "s" : en bas
    • with a circumflex accent : âme

My advice : don't overthink this. Depending on the regional accents in France, the difference might be more or less stronger. But in any case, if you pronounce both sounds the exact same way, I can assure you that any French people will understand you. 

Sample words with the French A sound

We selected those 3 different words, coming from our list of 999 Essential Words, to help you pronounce correctly the French A sound. More than the words themselves, relatively easy, pay attention to the liaison made between the articles (deux, trois, cinq, des, un, une) and the word starting with a vowel (année, avion). 

  • année : noun, feminine : year
  • avion : noun, masculine : plane
  • canard : noun, masculine : duck

Same [A] sound... different spelling

French is usually difficult to learn precisely because the letters or combination of letters are not always pronounced the same way, and reciprocally, a same sound can be written in different manners. There are at least 6 different ways to write the same sound [A] in French. 

  • a : avion, année, parade, lavande
  • â : âtre, appât, âme, âne
  • à : voilà, là-bas
  • as : tu as, tu auras, verglas, repas
  • at : rat, odorat, sénat, sultanat
  • ha : haleter, hasart, havre​

Essential “Mots-Outils” with [A]

In French elementary schools (in the class level called "CP/CE1"), pupils must know a list of about 150 critical connectors before they turn 8 years old. As an adult, by knowing them by heart, you will cut your learning curve and it will help you concentrate on other difficulties. By working on the pronunciation of the French sounds, you will learn get to know them very quickly ! Here is a short extract of this list focusing on the French A sound : 

  • afin : in order to
  • alors : then
  • après : after
  • assez : enough
  • avant : before
  • avant-hier : the day before yesterday
  • avec : with

French Verbs with sound [A]

There are dozens - if not hundreds - of verbs containing the [A] sound in their radical. Our intention there is not to be exhaustive, but to provide a selection of French verbs with this syllable in various positions (initial, middle, final). Here is a short list taken from our 202 French Verb Conjugator list.  :  

    1st group : acheter, appeller, apprécier, amuser

    2nd group : ​aboutir, agir, ralentir

    ​3rd group : abattre, appartenir, apparaître, apercevoir, aller

French idioms with sound [A]

Today, an expression with an animal : a cow ! Literally, it would mean "oh, the cow !" or "look at that cow !". We usually use it to express surprise about something incredible, shocking or unbelievable. Also when we admire a great performance (like in sports, someone scoring many times in a game). 

  • Oh, la vache ! : oh my god ! hell ! damn !

French for Kids

Drawing done by my own daughter, 6 years old, representing a raccoon (hopefully you recognized it !). Fell free to share this with your kids and help them learn French :-)

  • un raton laveur : a raccoon
French For Kids : racoon in French is raton laveur

French For Kids : racoon in French is raton laveur

French culture starring... the [A] sound !

Who said pronunciation has to be boring ?! So why not discover a bit of French culture while practicing your pronunciation of the [A] sound ? We have selected for you those famous symbols of France - a purely subjective choice, based on our personal preferences ;-)

  • Charles Aznavour : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Arthur Rimbaudbla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Macarons : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Avignon : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Petit Bateau : bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Le secret de l'Espadon bla bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.
  • Intouchables : la bla bla in anglish, 2-3 lines maximum.

A difficult French word with [A] sound ?

If you still struggle to pronounce correctly the [A] sound in French, we're here to help. Leave us a comment below with the word you can't pronounce, and we will record it for you. We'll only ask you to avoid any slang / crude terms, as this page is accessible by general audiences - including kids.  

Requested French words with [A] sound  :

  •  none so far... be the first ( "Soyez le premier !") and leave us a comment below !

A bientôt !

I hope you enjoyed this lesson on the [A] sound. I actually didn't think the video would last more than 25 minutes ! We have a lot more to come in the next few weeks, so stay tuned with our method. If you consistently practice the pronunciation of all the sounds in French (remember, we have more than 150 !) I guarantee you will be speaking a perfect French in no time.

And now before leaving :

a very detailed #frenchlesson to pronounce correctly the sound [A] in #french. 

Click to Tweet