French, like English, has a lot of rules and exceptions. It's probably one of the more difficult languages for English speakers to pronounce, simply because it uses some sounds that English doesn't have, and many letters can be silent. If you never plan on learning French, these charts will do you fine.

Consonants (where different from English):
  • ç: like soft English 's' ("soft")
  • ch: like English 'sh' ("shot")
  • g: 
    • before 'a', 'o', 'u' or a consonant, like hard English 'g' ("get"), 
    • before 'e', 'i', or 'y', like 'g' in "mirage" or 's' in "vision"
  • h: always silent ("hour")
  • j: like 'g' in "mirage" or 's' in "vision"
  • ll: usually like 'l', but after 'i', sometimes like English 'y' ('yet')
  • r: raspy, throaty 'r', no English equivalent
  • th: like English 't' ("toe")
  • ti: like English 's' ("sit")
  • w: like English 'v' ("vat")
  • The following consonants are usually silent at the ends of words (given names borrowed from other languages are common exceptions, though--e.g. David, Alfred, Agnes): D, G, M, N, P, S, T, X, Z

  • a: like in "father"
  • e: no English equivalent, somewhere between 'e' in "get" and 'oo' in "book"
  • é: like English 'ay' ("day")
  • ê: like 'e' in "get"
  • i: like in "ski"
  • o: like in "cope"
  • u: like English 'oo' in "boot"
  • The vowel preceding an M or N is usually nasalized.
  • E is often silent at the end of words

Digraphs (and trigraph):
  • ai: like in "main"
  • au: like in "taupe"
  • eu: no English equivalent, somewhere between 'e' in "get" and 'oo' in "book"
  • ei: like English 'e' in "get"
  • eau: like in "beau"
  • oi: like English 'wa' ("watch")
  • ou: like in "soup"
  • ue: like in "suede"
  • ui: like in "cuisine"
  • If there is a diaeresis (double dots) over the second vowel, they are pronounced separately, and are not a diphthong.

  • Achille (m)--"ah-sheel"
  • Anaïs (f)--"ah-nah-eese"
  • Didier (m)--"dee-dee-ay"
  • Elvire (f)--"el-veer"
  • Liliane (f)--"lil-ee-ahn"
  • Mathieu (m)--"mat-eeoo"

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