Phonetic Alphabet: How To Spell Vowel Sounds in French

March 31, 2022 by Mylene in Pronunciation Lessons  ▪  

write vowels in french phonetic alphabet

Vowels are the core of syllables in French. Each vowel must be pronounced distinctly to ensure proper understanding. Once you know how to pronounce the sounds you have to learn to recognize these vowels in writing. In this article, you’ll discover how to write all the vowels of the phonetic alphabet in French. The order of presentation is from the most common cases to the most difficult ones that include exceptions. In order, the different sections of this article are:

Write Oral vowels in french

To begin, you will be able to listen to the correct pronunciation of oral vowels thanks to this video.

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How to spell the /i/ sound in french?

There are 4 ways to spell the /i/sound:

  • i, for example: rire, il, aussi, cantine
  • y, for example: style, hymne, pyramide, type
  • ï, for example: maïs, héroïque, inouï, ambiguïté
  • î, for example: île, huître, gîte, dîner

How to spell the /e/ sound in french?

There are 11 ways to spell the /e/sound:

  • é, for example: été, beauté, école, bébé
  • e, for example: essence, erreur, effrayer,
  • er, for example: chanter, manger, boulanger, boucher
  • ez, for example: assez, chez, nez, vous parlez
  • es, for example: les, mes, tes, ces
  • ai, for example: il sait, j’allai, j’entrai
  • ay, for example: essayer, rayon, payant,
  • ey, for example: seyant, grasseyer, mareyeur, volleyeur
  • ef, in one word: clef
  • ë, for example: canoë
  • ed, in one word: pied

How to spell the /ɛ/ sound in french?

There are 7 ways to spell the /ɛ/sound:

  • è, for example: père, siècle, espèce, modèle
  • ê, for example: fenêtre, fête, forêt, rêve
  • e, for example: elle, escalier, sagesse, exemple
  • ei, for example: reine, neige, baleine, peigne
  • ai, for example: air, j’irais, chaise, fontaine
  • et, for example: jouet, alphabet, billet, sujet
  • ë, in one word: Noël

How to spell the /a/ sound in french?

There are 5 ways to spell the /a/sound:

  • a, for example: ami, par, délicat, salade
  • à, for example: à, voilà, déjà, au-delà
  • oi, for example: poids, trois, fois, choix
  • â, for example: bâtiment, pâte, tâcher, tâter
  • e, for example: femme, récemment, prudemment, ardemment

How to spell the /y/ sound in french?

There are 4 ways to spell the /y/sound:

  • u, for example: dur, pur, cru, chute
  • û, for example: mûr, sûr, nous fûmes, dû
  • eu, for example: j’eus, tu eus, il eut
  • eû, for example: qu’il eût, nous eûmes, vous eûtes

How to spell the /Ø/ sound in french?

There are 3 ways to spell the /ø/sound:

  • eu, for example: heureux, peu, jeudi, bleu
  • oeu, for example: voeu, des oeufs, des boeufs, noeud
  • eû, for example: jeûne

How to spell the /œ/ sound in french?

There are 3 ways to spell the /œ/sound:

  • eu, for example: peur, feuille, neuf, heure
  • oeu, for example: un oeuf, coeur, soeur, oeuvre
  • oe, for example: oeil

How to spell the /Ə/ sound in french?

There are 3 ways to spell /ə/ sound:

  • e, for example: je, demain, petit, mesure
  • ai, for example: faisant, bienfaisant, faisais, faisable
  • on, for example: monsieur

How to spell the /o/ sound in french?

There are 4 ways to spell the /o/sound:

  • o, for example: moto, chose, lavabo, trop
  • au, for example: chaud, aube, auditeur, jaune
  • eau, for example: beau, cadeau, bateau, beaucoup
  • ô, for example: tôt, nôtre, impôt, bientôt

How to spell the /Ɔ/ sound in french?

There are 3 ways to spell the /ɔ/sound:

  • o, for example: homme, sort, innove, solde
  • au, for example: restaure, Paul, Laure
  • u, for example: album, forum, maximum, uranium

How to spell the /u/ sound in french?

There are 2 ways to spell the /u/sound:

  • ou, for example: nous, amour, fou, tous
  • où, for example: où

Book a study session

Learning the pronunciation on your own can be very difficult. You need someone to explain to you where your mistakes are. This video is very educational but to overcome all your French pronunciation difficulties book a study session to receive personalized advice.

Suggested Reading

International Phonetic Alphabet to learn French Pronunciation

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