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Leçon 5

Lesson 5

Sound [i]

French sound Similar English sound French letters and letter combinations Notes

vowel [i]

[i] as in the word hit

Y, у

The capital letter Î is more often denoted as I.
ï does not create combinations with other letters, for example, faïence [fajãs], égoïste [egɔist], i.e. the rule for combinations ai and oi is broken. Rarely used.

The French pronunciation of [i] is a bit different from the English [i]. It is not like [i] in the word “six”, it is more like [i] in the word “be”, but not that long. The lips are spread to the side, like a smile. The mouth is almost closed. The tongue is flat and touches the palate.

Also do not forget that sounds in all the French syllables should be pronounced clearly. For example: il vivifie — he enlivens. The pronunciation is [ilvivifi], not [əlvivifi] or [əlvəvəfi] etc.

Exercise 1. Read the words and try to memorize them:

il [il] — he; it livre [li:vr] — book
(masculine form) libre [libr] — free
île [il] — island ami [ami] — friend
idée [ide] — idea amie [ami] — friend (fem.)
Yves [i:v] — Yves (male name) mari [mari] — husband
ici [isi] — here parti [parti] — party
fils [fis] — son (the letter l midi [midi] — south; midday, noon
is not pronounced here) Paris [pari] — Paris
type [tip] — type merci [mɛrsi] — thank you
vite [vit] — quickly, fast triste [trist] — sad
mille [mil] — (a) thousand lycée [lise] — secondary/high school
ville [vil] — city, town pyramide [piramid] — pyramid
Lille [lil] — Lille (a city in France) système [sistɛm] — system

Exercise 2. Read:

cette idée [sɛtide] — this idea tes livres [teli:vr] — your books
ses idées [sezide] — his ideas ces îles [sezil] — these islands
il est libre [ilɛlibr] — he is free les pyramides [lepiramid] — the pyramid
elle est libre [ɛlɛlibr] — she is free Paris est là [pariɛla] — Paris is there
mes amies [mezami] — my friends (fem.) la ville est belle [lavilɛbɛl] — the city is beautiful
les villes [levil] — the cities Yves et Nana [i:venana] — Yves and Nana
ces systèmes [sesistɛm] — these systems elle est triste [ɛlɛtrist] — she is sad

Exercise 3. Translate into French:

1. your friends (fem.) 7. Paris and Lille
2. these cities 8. the city is there
3. its systems 9. Yves is free
4. his books 10. his there
5. these types 11. Anna is sad
6. the high schools Key

Exercise 4. Read and try to memorize the verbs with the sound [i]:

dîner [dine] — to have dinner
décider [deside] — to decide
terminer [tɛrmine] — to end, to finish
imiter [imite] — to imitate
arriver [arive] — to arrive
visiter [vizite] — to visit

dire [di:r] — to say, to tell
lire [li:r] — to read
rire [ri:r] — to laugh
vivre [vi:vr] — to live
finir [fini:r] — to finish, to end

Exercise 5. Read and translate:

faire vite

décidez !

lire et rire

dînez là !

terminez !

allez vite !


Silent / Mute letter h

The French alphabet has a letter that is never pronounced, that is why it is called silent — h (or mute h), the capital form is Н.

Exercise 6. Read and try to memorize the new words:

habiter [abite] — to live (in), inhabit
hiver [ivɛ:r] — winter
trahir [trai:r] — to betray
habile [abil] — skilled, skil(l)ful

hybride [ibrid] — hybrid
hymne [imn] — hymn
hésiter [ezite] — to hesitate

Sound [j]

French sound Similar English sound French letters and letter combinations Notes

semi-vowel [j]

[j] as in the words onion or yeah


Exceptions: mille [mil] — thousand, ville [vil] — city, Lille [lil] — Lille.

il The letter combination il is pronounced as [j] after a pronounced vowel, for example: détail [detaj] — detail.
i The letter i is pronounced as [j] before a pronounced vowel, for example: rivière [rivjɛ:r] — river.

Exercise 7. Read the words and try to memorize them.

famille [famij] — family
fille [fij] — daughter
il travaille [iltravaj] — he works/is working
travail [travaj] — work
détail [detaj] — detail
pièce [pjɛs] — room
ciel [sjɛl] — sky

Pierre [pjɛ:r] — Pierre (male name)
pierre [pjɛ:r] — stone
hier [jɛ:r] — yesterday
rivière [rivjɛ:r] — river
marié [marje] — married (masc.)
mariée [marje] — married (fem.)

Exercise 8. Read and translate:

ces rivières Sa fille est mariée
les pierres Yves est marié
Elle travaille Pierre est malade et triste
Ma famille est là Il travaille ici

Consonants at the end of words

The letters s, t, d at the end of words usually are not pronounced.

More about consonants at the end of words see also lesson 1, lesson 3, lesson 4, lesson 9, lesson 10, lesson 11, lesson 12.

Exercise 9. Read paying attention to the letters in bold and memorize the new words you meet:

après [aprɛ] — after les hivers [lezivɛ:r] — the winters
très [trɛ] — very bas [ba] — low (masc.)
mais [mɛ] — but lait [lɛ] — milk
ils [il] — they (masc.) tard [ta:r] — late
elles [ɛl] — they (fem.) il est prêt [ilɛprɛ] — he is ready
  elle est prête [ɛlɛprɛt] — she is ready
The letter s at the end of the word très is pronounced as [z] before the words
that start in a vowel or silent h, for example:
très avare [trɛzava:r] — very miserly,
très habile [trɛzabil] — very skilled.