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Lesson Transcript

Virginie: Bonjour à tous! Hello everyone.
Eric: Eric here. Pronunciation season 1, Lesson 3. Accents, Silent Letters, and Final Letters. Okay thank you for being with us for this lesson. Today we are going to be focusing on more pronunciation.
Virginie: In this lesson, you will learn about the sounds “é” and “è” and their corresponding spelling.
Eric: You are going to also be learning about silent letters and when not to pronounce the final letters of a word.

Lesson focus

Virginie: Let’s start with how to spell the vowels “é” and “è”.
Eric: In French, some of the vowel sounds can be spelled in different ways.
Virginie: Yes the same sound has multiple spellings.
Eric: Now first example today is the sound “é”.
Virginie: The sound “é” has two main spellings. The most common spelling is “e - accent aigu”.
Eric: You will find “e - accent aigu” in a lot of words. It can be at the end of the word...
Virginie: As in the word “clé”, “c-l-e accent aigu”.
Eric: Meaning key.
Virginie: And as in the word “pré” p-r-e accent aigu.
Eric: A meadow.
Virginie: And you can also find it in the middle of a word.
Eric: As in “métro”: m-e accent aigu-t-r-o, subway.
Virginie: And finally, you can find it at the beginning of a word as in “études”, e accent aigu-t-u-d-e, which means studies.
Eric: So the spelling is pretty straightforward each time you will see the letter E with an accent aigu it will be pronounced “é”.
Virginie: Now the other spelling for the sound “é” is AI although Northern French people won’t agree with me on this one.
Eric: It sounds like some controversy. Why is that Virginie?
Virginie: Well the spelling AI is actually pronounced differently in the south and in the north of France.
Eric: Oh mon Dieu!
Virginie: It’s pronounced “é” in the south and it’s pronounced “è” in the north.
Eric: And you grew up in the south right?
Virginie: I did grew up in the south. Therefore I pronounce it “é”.
Eric: But someone in the north would say you are wrong. They pronounce it “è”.
Virginie: Yes however it is not wrong. It is perfectly fine to say “é” when a word is spelled with AI.
Eric: Okay. Enough of French regional rivalries. Let’s look at a few examples.
Virginie: Sure for example, the word “maison” is spelled m-a-i-s-o-n and it means “house” or you have the word “aigu” which is spelled a-i-g-u which means “high pitch”.
Eric: And those are both going to have the same sound but it’s interesting to see that people don’t agree on a way to pronouncing some of the words.
Virginie: Yes but again I want to reassure everyone here, it is officially okay to pronounce ai one or the other way.
Eric: So either “é” or “è”.
Virginie: And now, let’s see how else the sound “è” can be spelled. The most common way of spelling it is E with an “accent grave”.
Eric: And you are going to be finding this in the middle of the word, never at the beginning or the end.
Virginie: As in “frère” which is spelled f-r-e accent grave-r-e which means “brother”.
Eric: Or as in “père” p-e accent grave-r-e, “father”.
Virginie: There are other spellings now that are very common for “è” and this will be for example e with the accent circonflexe.
Eric: Right. V hat on the top of the letter right?
Virginie: Right. You will find it in the words “fête” which means “party” and”fête” is spelled “f-e accent circonflexe-t-e”.
Eric: Or in “bête”, “beast”: b-e accent circonflexe-t-e.
Virginie: And another way of spelling this sound “è” is just the letter E when followed by a double consonant. For example a double “l”.
Eric: As in pelle, p-e-l-l-e, a shovel.
Virginie: Or a double “t”.
Eric: As in “cassette”; c-a-s-s-e-t-t-e, which is a cassette.
Virginie: Let’s go to our second point which is silent letters.
Eric: Now while in English, you are used to pronouncing all of the letters of a word, in French, you are going to be forgetting about some of them. There are three categories of silent letters in French.
Virginie: Yes first the letter H. Then the letter E in a specific context and then final consonants.
Eric: So let’s start with the letter H.
Virginie: Okay the letter H when placed at the beginning of a word is not pronounced.
Eric: So I should just ignore it.
Virginie: Yeah absolutely just ignore it. Here are a few words beginning with H. “Haricot”, h-a-r-i-c-o-t.
Eric: And that means “bean”.
Virginie: And “hommage”, h-o-m-m-a-g-e.
Eric: Which is a homage. Can you repeat those one more time for us Virginie?
Virginie: “Haricot” and “homage”.
Eric: Although h is not pronounced in France, you do need to know that there are two kinds of Hs.
Virginie: There is what we call the aspired H and the silent H. We will talk about that in further lesson though.
Eric: But just remember, you don’t have to pronounce either of them.
Virginie: No. And our next silent letter is the letter E when placed at the end of a word.
Eric: When the letter E ends a word, you just pronounce the preceding letter.
Virginie: Yeah you don’t pronounce the actual E and sometimes the silent final E is followed by silent consonant.
Eric: There is a lot of silent letters in French, aren’t there, but this brings us to our third category of letters not to pronounce, the final consonants.
Virginie: There are many exceptions to the rules when it comes to final consonants.
Eric: But we want to keep it simple. Some of the consonants are not going to be pronounced at the end of the word.
Virginie: Yes and these consonants are D, G, M, N, P, S, T, X, and Z.
Eric: And do you have few examples for us?
Virginie: Yes for example, the word “froid” f-r-o-i-d ends with d and that means “cold”.
Eric: Say it one more time for us. Notice there is no d sound at the end.
Virginie: Froid.
Eric: Froid. The other word we have is “sang” which is blood, s-a-n-g but there is no g pronounced, it’s just “sang”.
Virginie: We don’t want you guys to get overwhelmed with all these words. So this will be our last example Eric.
Eric: Right. The word “champ” which means field, c-h-a-m-p, “champ”.
Virginie: No one heard a p right?
Eric: You shouldn’t have. It’s a silent consonant. However Virginie, there are going to be some exceptions to this rule right?
Virginie: Yes for example M and N are pronounced in Latin words like “forum” and “amen”.
Eric: Right. That makes sense because these words aren’t from French origins. They are from another language.
Virginie: Yes absolutely and then another exception will be, when word ends with the letters ct, the t will be pronounced like in “direct” which means direct.
Eric: Okay and one other very important point. When you are saying something plural, you are not going to pronounce S.
Virginie: Yes you never pronounce the s at the end of a word when it’s a plural word.
Eric: Okay to sum up, for the most part, the final consonants are not going to be pronounced in French.
Virginie: Right exactly.
Eric: But there are a few exceptions.
Virginie: There are some exceptions but you will get there. It’s not that hard.


Eric: Right. Okay that just about does it for today. Premium members, use the review track to perfect your pronunciation.
Virginie: It’s available in the premium section of the website.
Eric: The learning center.
Virginie: And through iTunes via the premium feed.
Eric: The review track gives you vocabulary and phrases followed by short pauses so you can repeat the words aloud.
Virginie: The best way to get good fast.
Eric: Okay.
Virginie: Bye.
Eric: Au revoir!
Virginie: Thank you for listening.


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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Hi FrenchPod101.com Listeners! Do you find French pronunciation difficult?

Frenchpod101.com Verified
Sunday at 05:17 PM
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Bonjour Amador!

Exactly, you will differentiate it by the article: un homme, des hommes. 😄

A bientôt !

Marie Alice

Team FrenchPod101.com

Amador Cuenca
Saturday at 06:34 AM
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> Okay and one other very important point. When you are saying something plural, you are not going to pronounce S.

So how do you differentiate between homme and hommes? By the article?


Saturday at 06:37 AM
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Merci beaucoup, c'est génial!:thumbsup:

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Friday at 05:24 AM
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Merci Jane vous êtes très gentille ! :smile: Mais je trouve que l'accent français est très prononcé...

Voici votre phrase corrigée :" Je peux t'assurer que les autres l'aiment, surtout les hommes !"

A bientôt !

Marie Alice

Team FrenchPod101.com

Jane de Vries
Monday at 01:36 PM
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Marie Alice might not like her French accent while speaking English mais Je peux t'assure que les autre l'aiment. surtout les hommes!!

SVP, kindly correct my grammar mistakes if I make any. Merci.

Jane de Vries
Monday at 01:34 PM
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When you record Monday at 6:30 why not add the date. For example, Monday Feb 2,2015 at 6:30. The should we look at comments at a later date, i would be more like a diary.

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Monday at 11:02 AM
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Hi Justin,

Thank you for your comment and feedback.

We appreciate it, and it will be considered.

Please, have a look at this video series about French Pronunciation:


Let us know if you have questions or suggestions.

Kind regards,


Team FrenchPod101.com

Monday at 05:19 PM
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This lesson and this entire section on pronunciation is a joke. There are so many concepts thrown around that aren't explained. I shouldn't have to Google what accent grav is to know what they are talking about in the lesson. This section needs to be redone where the concepts are explained from the ground up.

FrenchPod101.com Verified
Tuesday at 05:03 AM
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Bonjour Jane !

Merci pour votre message. Vous êtes drôle ! :grin:

Moi j'adore l'accent américain ! Je trouve ça très joli et sexy.

Mais je n'aime pas mon accent français quand je parle anglais :sweat_smile:

A très bientôt !

Marie Alice

Team FrenchPod101.com

Jane de Vries
Wednesday at 02:07 PM
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I heard myself on Premium plus for the first time. Mon Dieu, Je suis comme une Americaine mais, attends! Je suis Americaine. que faire??