French Pronunciation Part 2: Consonants

This is a follow up lesson.  Part 1 can be found here.

Consonants in French are mostly the same as in English.  This post covers the main differences.  Vowels are the real challenge in French.  I still suggest you don’t dwell too long on pronunciation, otherwise you might get bored and quit. But, if you do really want to spend some extra time on it, focus on the vowels and see Part 1.

Last time we saw the following pangram:

Portez ce vieux whisky au juge blond qui fume.

Check that you’ve still got the pronunciation with Google Translate. Remember that pronunciation from Google Translate isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty good starting point.  What follows below are a few rules about the pronunciation of consonants.

  • In general, don’t pronounce the last letter of the word.
  • qu sounds like “k”: quinze or banque.
  • ch sounds like “sh”: chaud.
  • ç sounds like “s”: ça va.
  • h is always silent.
  • s between two vowels sounds like a z: chaise.

The french R sound doesn’t exist in English other than when people snore.  It sounds like this: sucre.  If you can’t get it, don’t worry.  You will still be understood regardless and it will come eventually if you keep practicing.  

As I said earlier, don’t dwell on pronunciation.  It is boring and unfulfilling.  As long as you care about your pronunciation and try to pronounce each word as best you can, you will improve with time.

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