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Leçon 9

Lesson 9

Sound [ø]

French sound Similar English sound French letters and letter combinations Notes

vowel [ø]


The letter combinations eu, œu are pronounced as [ø] at the end of words (including not pronounced final consonants), and also before the sound [z].

In order to master the French [ø] you are going to need to... whistle! Yeah, yeah, you heard me, try to whistle several times, but only with your lips, do not put fingers in your mouth. This will help you to “feel” the position of your lips, that is needed for the French [ø]. Remember this feeling, look at the mirror and see how your mouth looks like. Now prepare to whistle, but only prepare, and without changing the position of your lips, pronounce the French [e] that you already know. This gives you the approximate French [ø]. That is all. Simply put, [ø] is the rounded version of [e].

Exercise 1. Pronounce:

[te — tø], [le — lø], [ne — nø], [ve — vø], [ke — kø], [de — dø].

Exercise 2. Read the words and try to memorize them:

deux [dø| — two
bleu [blø] m, bleue [blø] f — blue
feu [fø] m — fire
jeu [ʒø] m — game

il veut [ilvø] — he wants
il peut [ilpø] — he can
paresseux [parɛsø] m, paresseuse [parɛsø:z] f — lazy

The letter x is not pronounced at the end of words.

Exercise 3. Read trying to remember the new words. Note the examples with the final x:

paix [pɛ] f — peace
je veux [ʒəvø] — I want
je peux [ʒəрø] — I can
adieux ! [adjø] — goodbye
monsieur [məsjø] m — sir, mister, gentleman (the pronunciation of this word is not according to the rules)
messieurs [mesjø] — gentlemen
affreux [afrø] m, affreuse [afrø:z] f — awful
capricieux [kaprisjø] m, capricieuse [kaprisjø:z] f — capricious
délicieux [delisjø] m, délicieuse [delisjø:z] f — delicious
fameux [famø] m, fameuse [famø:z] f — famous
heureux [œrø] m, heureuse [œrø:z] f — happy
merveilleux [mɛrvɛjø] m, merveilleuse [mɛrvɛjø:z] f — marvellous, wonderful
nerveux [nɛrvø] m, nerveuse [nɛrvø:z] f — nervous
précieux [presjø] m, précieuse [presjø:z] f — precious

Exercise 4. Read and translate:

Le ciel est bleu

Il est gai et heureux

Madame est très nerveuse et capricieuse

Ce livre est rare et précieux

Gérard a des idées merveilleuses

Je peux quitter la clinique mercredi

Il veut visiter Paris, cette fameuse capitale


Exercise 5. Translate from English into French (you may peep at the previous exercise, lessons, dictionaries):

  1. I want to arrive on Thursday.
  2. Pierre is sick, but he can work.
  3. The sky is wonderful.
  4. She is calm and happy.
  5. Your (pl.) son is capricious, he cries, he wants to leave the college.
  6. Madam has the wonderful face.

Sound [y]

French sound Similar English sound French letters and letter combinations Notes

vowel [y]

U, u

Do not confuse the French symbol [y] from the transcription and the English letter у!

Û, û The capital letter Û is more often denoted as U.

To reach good pronunciation of the French [y], use the same algorithm that was suggested for the sound [ø] above. So, prepare to whistle, then, not changing the position of the lips, articulate the already known sound [i]. You will get close to the French [y].

Exercise 6. Pronounce:

[ti — ty], [li — ly], [vi — vy], [si — sy], [ki — ky], [ri — ry], [mi — my], [ni — ny], [ʃi - ʃy], [ʒi - ʒy].

Exercise 7. Read and memorize the new words:

une [yn] — the feminine indefinite article in sigular form
tu [ty] — you (singular)
tu as [tya] — (sing.) you have
musique [myzik] f — musik
musée [myze] m — museum
revue [rəvy] f — review; magazine

rue [ry] f — street
sur [syr] — on (preposition)
sûr [sy:r] m, sûre [sy:r] f — sure, certain
lune [lyn] f — moon
fumer [fyme] — to smoke

Exercise 8. Read and translate:

Tu as une amie

Elle visite les musées et les théâtres de Paris

La musique est merveilleuse

La revue est sur la table

Il cherche cette fameuse rue

Je regarde la lune

Fumez là !


Звук [ɥ]

French sound Similar English sound French letters and letter combinations

semi-vowel [ɥ]



Hopefully you managed to pronounce the French [y], so that the new sound [ɥ] will not be diffucult. The sound [ɥ] is the same [y], but is pronounced very briefly before the next vowel. It is almost like the English w but with tightly pursed. So, start to pronounce [y] — but only start! — and then quickly move to the next vowel. The semi-vowel [ɥ] appears in this rapid change of sounds.

Exercise 9. Pronounce:

[y — a — ɥa], [y — ɛ — ɥɛ], [y — e — ɥe], [y — a — ɥa], [y — i — ɥi], [y — œ — ɥœ].

Exercise 10. Read and try to memorize the new words:

je suis [ʒəsɥi] — I am pluie [plɥi] f — rain
huit [ɥit] — eight
je suis sûr [ʒəsɥisy:r] — I am sure manuel [manɥɛl] m — manual, textbook
je suis prêt [ʒəsɥiprɛ] — I am ready nuage [nɥа:ʒ] m — cloud
je suis surpris [ʒəsɥisyrpri] — I am surprised fructueux [fryktɥø] m, fructueuse [fryktɥø:z] f — fruitful
nuit [nɥi] f — night

Exercise 11. Now let’s review the vocabulary we’ve learned! Fill in the blanks with the words on the right, so that all the words are grouped by meaning:

1. manuel, revue,  
2. deux, quatre,
3. nuage, lune,
4. rivière,
5. monsieur,
6. capricieux,
7. délicieuse,
8. sage,
9. jeudi, samedi,
10. chercher,
11. gai,