Whether you’re new to speaking French or you’ve been studying a while, it’s never a bad idea to work on your French pronunciation. Language tutor Emmanuel M. shares some of the most common pronunciation mistakes…
Taking on the French accent can be a difficult task for many non-native speakers because the language relies heavily on pronunciation. If you want to be understood, you have to speak French properly. But don’t fret! With plenty of French pronunciation practice, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the language.
Tips On Pronunciation
Most of the time mispronunciations are due to people forgetting the basic French rules. For example, a very common mistake I hear all the time is either pronouncing the last consonant of a word or forgetting to pronounce it if the word ends in “e”.
For example, “petit” and “petite” are pronounced like this:
Another example would be “bon appétit” and “bon appétite” which are pronounced like this:
A mistake I also hear all the time is not pronouncing the last consonant of a word when the next word starts with a vowel. For example, “C’est un plaisir” where the “t” is pronounced because the next word starts with a vowel. However, in “C’est bien” the “t” is not pronounced because the next word starts with a consonant.
Remember, this applies every time a word ending in a consonant is followed by a word starting with a vowel.
Common French Words And Their Pronunciation
Now let’s get more specific and discuss a few common French words that you most likely will use when practicing your French. A ton of new French learners tend to pronounce these (and others like these) incorrectly, and if you want to learn French, you have to master at least these sounds. You may or may not have the whole French accent down, but regardless, just try your best to at least get the sounds of each word right – whether or not you sound French, it’s not necessary.
Rather than go through this list and try pronouncing them yourselves, then listen to the correct pronunciation to see if you got it right.
Bonjour/Au revior —— Hello/Goodbye
Croissant/Crêpe —— Croissant/Crepe
Aujourd’hui/Demain —— Today/Tomorrow
Zéro/Un/Deux/Trois —– Zero/One/Two/Three
Quatre/Cinq/Six —– Four/Five/Six
Sept/Huit/Neuf/Dix —– Seven/Eight/Nine/Ten
Common French Phrases And Their Pronunciation
Next, let’s focus on phrases and sentences in French. Pronouncing words can be tricky and difficult for those who don’t have the accent or the pronunciation down. And sadly, speaking sentences can be even more difficult and tricky because of the natural flow French demands of its speakers. In French, if you mispronounce a word or stumble over a phrase within a sentence, the entire sentence itself can become jumbled or result in the other person not understanding what you just said or were trying to say.
There is a distinct flow in French when speaking correctly and new French learners might have a tough time getting the flow right. Let’s try pronouncing the following sentences and phrases to see how well you do. Read them out loud yourself first then hear the correct pronunciation to see if you got it right.
Répétez s’il vous plaît? —— Repeat, please?
Quel âge avez-vous? —— How old are you?
A tout à l’heure. —— See you later.
Comment dit-on ___ en français? —— How do you say ___ in French?
Ce n’est pas grave. —— It’s alright.
Parlez-vous anglais? —— Do you speak English?
Parlez lentement, s’il vous plait. —— Speak slowly, please.
How did you do? If you had trouble that’s okay – just keep practicing. If you did alright but didn’t have the accent that’s okay too – just keep mimicking other French speakers. And if you did great well that’s wonderful! French is a difficult language but give it time and you will be a great speaker!
Emmanuel M. teaches singing and songwriting exclusively online. A California State University, Fullerton graduate and native Spanish speaker, he also teaches essay writing, study skills, and Spanish. Learn more about Emmanuel here!
Photo by Glen Scarborough