10 basic rules of French pronunciation


The pronunciation in French is one of the aspects that most resists the Spaniards when we are learning this language. Something quite rare considering that, like Spanish, this language comes from Latin. French is the second most studied language in Spain (only followed by English), so we can’t let this continue to happen.

To fix this, in this article we’ve put together 10 basic pronunciation rules that will help you speak better in French. These rules will help you perfect the language, even more so if you put it into practice by talking to someone native, either on your next trip or taking a language course in France.


The 10 basic rules of pronunciation


1. First rule: “The E”


This letter is the cause of many of the problems of pronunciation of French. It has 3 different shades:the bass accent ( s), the circumflex (A) and the treble (é). They are pronounced similarly to the Spanish “E”, but depending on whether the accent is severe or sharp, the pronunciation must be more open or more closed respectively. On the other hand, there is also the “E” without an accent, which is mute at the end of the words and if it is at the beginning or between it sounds like a mixture of “E” and “O”.


2. Second rule: “The C”


This letter doesn’t fall behind either. The third letter of the alphabet has a crumb, and it is that when it is before the “E” or the “I” (or when it bears the “A” box)it sounds as if it were an “S”. Also, the CH in French has a softer sound than in Spanish and must be pronounced more or less as sh in English. All this except when preceding “L”, “N” or “R”, in such cases should be treated as if it were a K.


3. Third rule: “The R”


I’m sure you’ve ever tried to imitate the French accent and pronounced the “R” as if it were a “G.” Well, keep doing it! That’s what it should sound like.


4. Fourth rule: The “G”


This letter has the same sound as in Spanish, except when it goes in front of “E” or “I”. In this case it transforms and sounds like the French “J” (something similar to our “LL”. It is also important to know that the form “GN” is pronounced as our classic letter “A” (Espagnol, for example)


5. Fifth rule: The “PH”


This is one of the easiest rules to memorize. Just remember that this combination is pronounced as the letter “F” (Photographie, philosophie…)


6. Sixth rule: Vowels


In the first of the rules we went ahead with the “E”, since it is worthy of its own section, but the truth is that when speaking French you must pay attention to all vowels. The “O”, “AU” and “UAE” are pronounced as the vowel “O”, while the combination “OU” has the same sound as our “U”. “OI” should be pronounced as “UA” and “EU” and “OEU” as if you were pronouncing at the same time the E and the U. Special mention to the vowels that are followed by “M” and “N”, since they should sound as if you have your nose covered.


7. Seventh Rule: Terminations


The vast majority of the “E” and “S” are not pronounced. Also, the ending “-ENT” (third plural person), is also mute. And also some consonants!


8.Eighth rule: The dieresis


The French dieresis is used as in Spanish to destroy combinations between vowels. In this way, each will be part of a different syll and sound independently.


9. Ninth Rule: Acute Words


In French all words are sharp,so the tonic accent falls on the last syllroom. Although there are always some exceptions… As we have mentioned above, if the words end in “E”, it does not have to be pronounced so the accent falls on the vowel that precedes it. This also affects words that are modified by verbal endings or by the form of the plural.


10. Tenth rule: Liaison


This is how the words that link his last syllable to the first of the next are known in French. In these cases itmust pronounce as if it were a single word. This happens whenever one word ends with the silent “E” and the next one starts with the “H”, which is also mute. In this way, “Les amis” will sound like “Lesami”


There are many other aspects to consider, but these are the main ones. Now that you know them, it’s time to put them into practice. And what better way to do it than traveling to France with Ynsitu. Don’t miss out on our language courses abroad!