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Leçon 4

Lesson 4

Sound [e]

French sound Similar English sound French letters and letter combinations Notes

vowel [e]

[e] as in the word hеy

Е, е

The sound [e] appears with the following letter combinations:

  1. [e] = er at the end of the infinitive verb (the infinitive form of the verb is the form with the particle “to”), for example: aimer [ɛme] — to love.
  2. [е] = ez at the end of words, for example: parlez ! [parle] — speak!
  3. [е] = es in the words: mes [me] — my (plural), tes [te] — your (plural, 2nd person), ses [se] — his, her, its (pl.), ces [se] — these, les [le] — definite article, plural form, des [de] — indefinite article, plural form. Besides, the conjunction et (and) is read as [е].
    É, é The sign ´ (e accent aigu) indicates that the letter е is pronounced as [е], and not as [ɛ] !
The capital letter É is more often denoted as Е.

You are probably wondering what is so special about this sound because you learned the same sound in lesson 2. Well, I have bad news for you. These are different sounds. In lesson 2 we had [ɛ], and now we have [e]. English speakers usually use only [ɛ] with the letter e. But you also accidentally use it in other words. The nearest sound in English is the long “a” as in “name,” but that’s a diphthong: [eɪ] which starts like the French [e] but ends in a sort of “i” or “y” sound. Also something similar you may hear in the word “yeah” or sometimes even in the word “get.”

Try to find the difference because it’s very important to know, otherwise you are going to mix up different words. For example, allez ! means go! and is pronounced as [ale] but if you say [alɛ] nobody is going to go anywhere because allais ! [alɛ] means I was going! (where? what the...)

Notice that when you pronounce the sound [e] your lips become slightly extended, as if with a slight smile. Do the first exercise in front of the mirror.

Exercise 1. Read aloud:

[pe — pɛ] [be — bɛ] [te — tɛ] [de — dɛ]
[fe — fɛ] [ve — vɛ] [me — mɛ] [ne — nɛ]
[le — lɛ] [re — rɛ] [se — sɛ] [ze — zɛ]

Exercise 2. Read aloud and mark the letter combinations in which [e] is pronounced:

1. sé ; 2. sè ; 3. sai ; 4. sa ; 5. sê ; 6. mé ; 7. né ; 8. mè .

The letter r is not pronounced in the letter combination er at the end of verbs.

Exercise 3. Read the verbs and memorize them:

parler [parle] — to talk, to speak
aimer [ɛme] — to love
aider [ɛde] — to help
aller [ale] — to go
traverser [travɛrse] — to cross
frapper [frape] — to hit, to strike
fermer [fɛrme] — to close

cesser [sɛse] — to stop
laisser [lɛse] — to leave
baisser [bɛse] — to lower
passer [pase] — to pass
répéter [repete] — to repeat
rester [rɛste] — to stay, to remain
espérer [ɛspere] — to hope for
adresser [adrɛse] — to address

The letter z is not pronounced in the letter combination ez at the end of words, for example: nez [ne] — nose. At the end of verbs, this letter combination indicates that the verb expresses order, wish, request or a piece of advice addressed to either several people or to one person politely. For example: Fermez ! — Close (it)!

Exercise 4. Read and translate peeping at the previous exercise if necessary. Pay attention to [е] and [ɛ]:

répétez !


laissez !


passez !


frappez !


aimez !


fermez !


baissez !


allez !


parlez !


adressez !


restez !


traversez !


espérez !


aidez !


cessez !


The letter combination es at the end of nouns is not pronounced.
It usually indicates the the noun is in the plural form.
Compare: affaire (case) — affaires (cases).

Exercise 5. Read and translate. Fill in the blanks and then read and translate them too:

1. ma place —

mes places

2. sa salle —

ses salles

3. cette balle —

ces balles

4. la mère —

les mères

5. ta malle —

tes malles

6. ta phrase —

7. ma lettre —

8. sa trace —

9. la tête —

10. cette table —


Exercise 6. Translate from English into French:

1. my table 10. speak!
2. these places 11. help!
3. your letters 12. Pass!
4. his room 13. stay!
5. her phrases 14. close (it)!
6. my head 15. go!
7. this trace 16. lower!
8. repeat! 17. leave!
9. stop! 18. hope!
The letter s becomes pronounced as [z] in the words mes, tes, ses, ces, les, des,
if they go before the words that start in a vowel.
Compare: mes frères [mefrɛ:r] — my brothers,
but mes adresses [mezadrɛs] — my addresses.

Exercise 7. Read the phrases trying to memorize new words:

tes vestes [tevɛst] (your jackets) — tes affaires [tezafɛ:r] (your deals)
mes traces [metras] (my traces) — mes élèves [mezelɛ:v] (my pupils)
les salaires [lesalɛ:r] (the salaries) — les années [lezane] (the years)

Exercise 8. Translate:

1. aimer sa mère

2. répéter ces phrases

3. aller au Подсказка Tibet

4. elle est prête

5. tête-à-tête

6. ma terre natale