PRONOUNCING FRENCH VOWELS

Pronouncing French Vowels French pronunciation is the most difficult aspect of learning French for many students, particularly English speakers. It takes a lot of practice to pronounce French correctly, but if you really want to speak French, good pronunciation is essential.

A vowel is a sound that is pronounced through the mouth (and, in the case of nasal vowels, the nose) with no obstruction of the lips, tongue, or throat.

Some general guidelines for the pronunciation of the French vowels

  • Most French vowels are pronounced further forward in the mouth than their English counterparts.
  • The tongue must remain tensed throughout the pronunciation of the vowel.
  • French vowels do not diphthong. In English, vowels tend to be followed by a y sound (after a, e, or i) or a w sound (after o or u). In French, this is not the case - the vowel sound remains constant: it does not change into a y or w sound. Thus the French vowel is a "purer" sound than the English vowel.
A, O, and U are sometimes called hard vowels and E and I are soft vowels, because certain consonants (C, G, S) have a "hard" and a "soft" pronunciation, depending on which vowel follows.

Vowels followed by M or N are usually nasal. Nasal pronunciation can be very different from the normal pronunciation of each vowel.
A nasal vowel is a sound made by expelling air through the mouth and nose without obstruction of the lips, tongue, or throat. Nasal pronunciation can be very different from the normal pronunciation of the same vowels.
Accents may change the pronunciation of vowels.




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