One of the biggest mistake student make when they learn French is to grab a book, learn a lot of rules, words or tenses. Then, they think if they keep learning like that, they will speak it in few years. It’s true but what they are learning won’t help them to speak with confidence. Languages are not about grammar and exotic conjugation. Languages need to be spoken. I really emphasize on how French people speak and what you have to know if you want to understand them and be fluent. A couple of advice are to drop that book, interact with native speakers and don’t trust written French.
If you’ve ever tried to read a French text, you know that the spelling can be weird. In French, we like to trap readers. That’s why we put a lot of silent letters and pronounce many different combinations of letters the same way. In this article, I will explain you how you should read the French consonants. In a previous one, I wrote how to read French vowels combinations here.
Most of the consonant sounds in French and in English are very similar with a comparable spelling: b, p, d, t… You might notice little difference between the 2 languages. For example, in French, T, P and K sounds are always short. A T sounds like in “stem”, not like in term. Actually, in French, all the syllables are very short. Nevertheless, most of the sounds will be very easy for you. In the chart, I just explain you the spelling you might find confusing. Some lines have the same color, it means that it’s the same sound with a different spelling.
The French most frightening spelling
When a French native speaker tries to speak English, he has some troubles, like saying the H sounds or making the difference between hit and heat (or worse bitch and beach). In French, we have the ILL sounds. It’s occurring in words such as fouille, grenouille ou paille. Don’t be affraid, there is no reason to run away, you just have to make a little change in your mind. First, you don’t say the L. After I, you say it like a Y (as the beginning of Yes).
le paillasson : pa ya son
If it ends with a silent E, the final sound is Y.
la paille : pay
Then, this sound has two endings. You can find IL (at the end of masculine word) and ILLE (at the end of a feminine word).
le soleil : so lèy
la merveille : mer vèy
Now, you have most of the hints to read French texts. I hope it helped you. If you like it, share it.
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