French vowels are here separated into single vowels (accented and unaccented), and vowel groups. The letter 'e' is treated in other section. Note that the vowels 'i' and 'u' can generally be pronounced with consonant sounds.

As French as croissants are the accents peppered over French vowels. The effects the acute, grave and circumflex have on pronunciation are given below. Of the remainder, some serve to distinguish otherwise identical words (For example: la vs l, and ou vs o), while others are merely garnish (For example: gte, mr). In addition, there is the dieresis which separates vowel sounds. For example, nave is not pronounced 'nev', but as two separate syllables, na-ive.


a a sack sac generally
a ah ah pas before 's' and 'z'
â ah bah gâteau
i ee meet police
i y yet bien before a vowel
o aw saw dome generally
o o bone clos before s and z
ô o bone cône
u ew lune
u w suis before another vowel
Between g and a vowel, u is silent
y ee meet système before a consonant

  • o (generally) - make with rounded half-open lips.
  • - like Scots 'oh': keep your lips tightly pursed.
  • u - hold your tongue in the position for 'ooh' and say 'ee'.
  • u (before a vowel) - like y as in 'yet', but with your lips in position to say 'ooh'.

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