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Phonetic alphabet: How to spell consonants in French?

Updated: December 29, 2023 by Mylene in PhoneticArray  ▪  

write consonants in french phonetic alphabet

French consonants can be voiced consonants or unvoiced consonants. Each consonant must be pronounced distinctly to ensure a proper understanding of the pronunciation. Once you know how to pronounce the sounds, you have to learn to recognize these consonants in writing.

In this article, you’ll discover how to write all the consonants of the international phonetic alphabet in French. The order of presentation is from the most common cases to the most difficult ones, including exceptions. The different sections of this article are:

Write consonants in french

To begin, watch this video to listen to the correct pronunciation of the sound of each consonant part of the phonetic alphabet.

YouTube player

Besides consonants, it’s important to expand your knowledge by learning how to write the semi-vowels of the phonetic alphabet in French.

The oral consonants

First, I will describe the oral consonants. An oral consonant is a consonant sound in speech that is made by allowing air to escape from the mouth.

How to spell the /p/ sound in French?

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

  • p, for example: par, septembre, groupe, petit
  • pp, for instance: appeler, appartenir, échapper, nappe

How to spell the /b/ sound in French?

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

  • b, for example: habiter, bon, banane, octobre
  • bb, for instance: abbé, abbaye

How to spell the /t/ sound in French?

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

  • t, for example: ton, tête, actuel, ajouter
  • tt, for example: patte, nettoyer, frotter, attacher
  • th, for instance: thon, thé, méthode, menthe

How to spell the /d/ sound in French?

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

  • d, for example: date, demain, samedi, salade
  • dd, for instance: addition, addict, reddition

How to spell the /f/ sound in French?

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

  • f, for example: femme, fou, faire, café
  • ff, for instance: affaire, affamer, coiffure, afficher
  • ph, for example: pharmacie, dauphin, géographie, homophone

How to spell the /v/ sound in French?

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

  • v, for instance: venir, voiture, rêver, traverser
  • f, for example: neuf heures, neuf ans
  • w, for instance: wagon

How to spell the /k/ sound in French?

There are 9 ways to spell the /k/ sound:

  • k, for instance: kilo, koala, kayak, kyste
  • c, for example: cas, écouter, mercredi, écraser
  • qu, for instance: quand, cirque, qui, banque
  • cc , for example: accourir, accès, d’accord, occuper
  • cqu, for instance: acquérir, grecque, acquitter
  • ch, for example: lichen, orchidée, chrome
  • x, for instance: boxe, taxi, expérience
  • ck, for example: ticket, cocktail
  • q, for instance: cinq, coq

How to spell the /g/ sound in French?

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

  • g , for example: garder, grand, figure, goût
  • gu, for instance: bague, guide, baguette, catalogue, fatiguer
  • gg, for example: aggraver, agglomération, jogging
  • c, for instance: seconde, secondaire
  • x, for example: exercice, exemple, exagérer

How to spell the /s/ sound in French?

There are 8 ways to spell the /s/ sound:

  • s, for example: sur, artiste, réponse, bourse
  • ss, for example: boisson, essai, adresse, express
  • c, for instance: ciel, ce, cinéma, cycle
  • ç, for example: ça, garçon, reçu, façade
  • sc, for example: scénario, science, adolescent, piscine
  • t, for example: patient, démocratie, action, ambition
  • cc, for example: accident, accéder, accentuer, accélérer
  • x, for example: six, dix, soixante

How to spell the /z/ sound in French?

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

  • z, for instance: zéro, bizarre, dizaine, onze
  • s, for example: cousin, rose, visage, case
  • x, for example: deuxième, dixième
  • zz, for example: jazz, blizzard, jacuzzi

How to spell the /ʃ/ sound in French?

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

  • ch, for example:: chien, acheter, attacher, sachet
  • sh, for instance: shopping, crash, short
  • sch, for example: schéma, schisme
  • sc, for instance: fascisme

How to spell the /Ʒ/ sound in French?

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

  • g, for example: gentil, gymnase, girafe
  • j, for example: journée, jeudi, je, déjeuner
  • ge, for example: pigeon, géant, vengeant

How to spell the /ʁ/ sound in French?

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

  • r, for instance: père, partir, vendredi, rare
  • rr, for example: arriver, terre, nourrir, surréel
  • rh, for instance: rhume, rhabiller
  • rrh, for example: arrhes

How to spell the /l/ sound in French?

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

  • l, for instance: il, lui, lapin, appeler
  • ll, for example: elle, aller, coller, balle

The nasal consonants

Below, I will describe the 4 nasal consonants. A nasal consonant is a consonant sound produced by air moving through the nose with the mouth passage occluded.

How to spell the /m/ sound in French?

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

  • m, for instance: moi, mardi, aimer, mais
  • mm, for example: immobile, homme, femme, comme

How to spell the /n/ sound in French?

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

  • n, for example: non, dernier, nature, nuage
  • nn, for instance: année, bonne, inné, tienne

How to spell the /ɲ/ sound in French?

There is 1 way to spell the /ɲ/ sound:

  • gn, for example: montagne, vigne, gagner, signifier

How to spell the /ŋ/ sound in French?

There is 1 way to spell the /ŋ/ sound:

  • ing, for example: parking, shopping

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

Phonetic alphabet: How to spell semi-vowels in French?

spell semi vowels in french

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