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Final consonants in French illustrated through practical pronunciation examples

January 26, 2024 by Mylene in Pronunciation Lessons  ▪  

The presence of many silent letters in French is one of the unique challenges that set this language apart, making precise pronunciation particularly tricky for learners. In this article, I focus on the pronunciation of the last consonant of a word in French. Mastering these tips not only helps in avoiding common pronunciation errors but also greatly enhances your fluency and confidence in speaking French. Embracing these nuances of the French language is a rewarding journey towards achieving language proficiency and cultural immersion.

  1. Main rule
  2. Learn with a video
  3. Case of adjectives
  4. Pronounced consonants
  5. The main exceptions

1. Main rule

A consonant at the end of a word is not pronounced.

  • vous [vu], 
  • un prix [pʁi], 
  • un avis [avi], 
  • un effet [efɛ], 
  • un banc [bɑ̃],
  • long [lɔ̃], 
  • un drap [dʁa], 
  • le temps [tɑ̃].

2. Case of adjectives

Mistake to avoid: you should not pronounce the final consonant when the adjective is masculine.

  • petit [pəti] masculine, petite [pətit] féminine,
  • lourd [luʁ] masculine, lourde  [luʁd] féminine,
  • second [səgɔ̃] masculine, seconde [səgɔ̃d] féminine,
  • suspect [syspɛ] masculine, suspecte [syspɛkt] féminine.

3. Pronounced consonants

Generally, if a word ends in the consonants such as C, R, F, L then that consonant is pronounced.

  • un sac [sak], 
  • un décor [dékɔʁ], 
  • neuf [nœf], 
  • un fil [fil].

To remember these 4 consonants, you can use one of these 2 mnemonic words:

  • CaReFuL 
  • LuCiFeR

4. Learn with a pronunciation video

I encourage you to watch the attached video for a practical demonstration to learn the exact pronunciation of each example. Don’t hesitate to reach out for further personalized guidance to perfect your pronunciation.

YouTube player

5. The main exceptions

Words ending with C, R F or L

Here are words ending with C R F or L but in which these consonants are silent:

  • Few words ending with C: estomac [ɛstɔma], porc  [pɔʁ].
  • Few words ending with NC: blanc [blɑ̃], tronc [tʁɔ̃], franc [fʁɑ̃], tabac [taba], croc [kʁo], escroc [ɛskʁo], clerc [klɛʁ].
  • Exception: donc [dɔ̃k].
  • All infinitive verbs ending in ER: aller [ale], marcher  [maʁʃe], manger [mɑ̃ʒe].
  • Few words ending with IER: dernier [dɛʁnje], premier [pʁəmje], quartier [kaʁtje].
  • Few words ending with F: nerf [nɛʁ], clef [kle].
  • Few words ending with L: gentil [ʒɑ̃ti], outil [uti], fusil [fyzi], cul [ky].

Words ending with other consonants

  • Few words such as ouest [wɛst], sud [syd], est [ɛst], gaz [gaz].
  • Some words ending with EN: pollen [pɔlɛn], abdomen [abdɔmɛn].
  • Some words ending with UM: forum [fɔʁɔm], album  [albɔm].
  • Some words ending with S : bus [bys].
  • Adjectives ending with T: net [nɛt], brut [bʁyt], mat  [mat], cet [sɛt].

Getting personalized advice

French pronunciation, with its unique sounds and rhythm, poses a notable challenge, especially for self-learners. Therefore, take the next step and book a study session. With easy scheduling and flexible timings, getting personalized advice has never been simpler. Embarking on the journey of learning French is not just about acquiring a new skill; it’s about opening doors to a rich cultural experience. With personal guidance, this journey becomes more enjoyable and far less daunting.

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