The Everything Essential French Book
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The Everything Essential French Book

All You Need to Learn French in No Time

Bruce Sallee, David Hebert

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  2. English
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  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

The Everything Essential French Book

All You Need to Learn French in No Time

Bruce Sallee, David Hebert

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About This Book

All the basics of French--fast and easy!Whether you are planning a vacation, adding a valuable second language to your resume, or simply brushing up on your skills, The Everything Essential French Book is your perfect introduction to the French language. With easy-to-follow instructions and simple explanations, this portable guide covers the most important basics, including:

  • The French alphabet, accents, and translation.
  • Common French phrases and greetings.
  • Everyday questions and answers.
  • Verb tenses and sentence structure.
  • How to place an order and give commands.

The Everything Essential French Book has all you need to get from bonjour to au revoir in no time!

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Pronouncing and Writing French

This chapter lets you dive into French, with a little speaking and a little writing. Here, you discover how to pronounce basic French letters, letter combinations, and words. You begin writing by focusing on punctuation marks and accents. You’ll be pronouncing and writing like a French pro in no time!

The Alphabet

While French and English use the same alphabet, in French, the letters are pronounced a little differently. If you ever have to spell your name out at a hotel, for example, you want to make sure that you’re understood.
Table 1-1
Letter Sound Letter Sound
a ahh n ehnn
b bay o ohh
c say p pay
d day q koo
e ehh r aihr
f eff s ess
g jhay t tay
h ahsh u ooh
i ee v vay
j jhee w doo-bluh-vay
k kahh x eex
l ehll y ee-grek
m ehmm z zed
Keep the following points in mind when pronouncing letters in French:
  • The sound of the letter “e” in French is very similar to the beginning of the pronunciation of the English word “earl.”
  • The letter “g” is pronounced jhay, with a soft “j” sound, like in “Asia.”
  • The pronunciation of the letter “j” uses the same soft “j,” but with an “ee” sound at the end.
  • The letter “n,” especially when appearing at the end of words, is pronounced very softly, with a nasal quality.
  • “Q” in English has a distinct “ooh” sound in it; it is pronounced similarly in French, but without the “y” sound.
  • When two letter “l”s appear together, it creates a “yeh” sound. The letters are not pronounced the same as one letter; it sounds like the beginning of the English word “yearn.”
  • The French “r” is more guttural than the English one, made at the back of the throat instead of at the front.


Most of the consonants in French are pronounced the same as in English, but many of the vowel sounds differ. It is almost impossible to describe the true sound of French using text. For best results, try to listen to actual French being spoken; only then can you appreciate the sound of the language. The following, however, is a list of sounds used in the French language. Practice making the sounds a few times, and say the example words out loud.
  • on: Sounds much like “oh” in English, with just a hint of a soft “n” at the end. You will find it in words such as maison (meh-zohn, meaning “house”) and garçon (gar-sohn, meaning “boy”).
  • ou: An “ooh” sound that you’ll encounter in words such as tout (tooh, meaning “all”).
  • oi: A “wha” sound, much like the beginning of the English word “waddle.” A French example is soir (swahr, meaning “evening”).
  • oin: Sounds much like the beginning of “when” in English, with only a hint of the “n” coming through, very softly. Coin (kwheh, meaning “corner”) and moins (mwheh, meaning “less”) are examples.
  • ai: Sounds like “ehh.” You’ll find it in a great many words, including maison and vrai (vreh, meaning “true”).
  • en: Sounds similar to “on” in English, but with a much softer “n” sound. You’ll find it in words like encore (ahnk-ohr, meaning “again”) and parent (pahr-ahn, meaning “parent”).
  • an: Is pronounced the same way as en.
  • eu: To make this sound, hold your mouth like you’re going to make an “eee” sound, but say “oooh” instead; it sounds much like the beginning of the English word “earl.” Heure (ehhr, meaning “hour”) is an example.
  • in: Pronounced like the beginning of the English word “enter,” but again with a much softer “n” sound. Magasin (may-guh-zehn, meaning “store”) and pain (pehn, meaning “bread”) are examples.
  • er: Sounds like “ayy.” You will find this at the end of many verbs, such as parler (parl-ay, meaning “to speak”) and entrer (ahn-tray, meaning “to enter”).
Sometimes, letters are silent and are not pronounced; this often occurs with letters at the end of words. The letters are still required in written French, of course, but you don’t hear them. Here are the letters to watch:
  • Words ending in -d: chaud (show), meaning “hot.”
  • Words starting with h-: heureux (er-rooh), meaning “happy.”
  • Words ending in -s: compris (com-pree), meaning “included.”
  • Words ending in -t: ...

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