Diphtongs in French: Pronunciation and Spelling

french diphtongs pronunciation

Are you looking to improve your French pronunciation?

To help you learn French diphthongs, we’ll discuss their pronunciation, spelling, and examples in this blog post.

Discover the world of French diphthongs and improve your French pronunciation!

How many Diphthongs are in French?

Perhaps you have heard about French nasals, but maybe French diphthongs are still a new term for you.

As the name suggests, a diphthong is made of two sounds, formed by two vowels that make one sound. French has three diphthongs:/ɥi//oy/ /wa/ and each diphthong can be spelled in different ways. I am going to show you different spellings for all French Diphthongs.

How to Pronounce French Diphthong/wa/?

The French diphthong “wa” is a combination of the sounds /w/ and /a/. This sound is often spelled with the letter combination “oi” or “oy” in French. The sound is commonly heard in French words such as “moi” (me), “toile” (canvas), and “trois” (three).

In some regions, the sound is pronounced more like “oua” while in others it is closer to “wa”.

To pronounce the French diphthong /wa/, you need to start with the rounded vowel /u/ sound, as in the English word “too,” and then transition into the open vowel /a/ sound, as in the English word “car.” Your lips should be rounded and protruded at the beginning of the sound, and then open as you transition into the second vowel.

Try to say it smoothly without separating the two sounds.

  • moi /mwa/ – Me
  • fouet (fwɛt) – whip
  • loi (lwa) – law
  • froid (fwɑ) – cold
  • soir /swaʁ/ – evening
  • joie//ʒwa/ – joy

Learn more about French Nasal Vowels.

How to Pronounce French Diphthong/É¥i/?

The French diphthong /É¥i/ is a combination of two sounds, the “u” sound, and the “i” sound. It can be found in words like “huit” meaning “eight” and “fuite” meaning “leak”.

To pronounce this diphthong correctly, start by forming your lips into the rounded position you would use to pronounce the “u” sound.

Then, while keeping your lips rounded, move your tongue toward the position used to pronounce the “i” sound. The tongue should be in a raised position towards the front of your mouth.

Practice moving smoothly between the two positions to create a seamless, flowing sound.

  • huit (wÉ¥it) – eight
  • huile /É¥il/ – oil
  • huître (É¥itʁ) – oyster
  • oui (wi) – yes
  • bruit /bʁɥi/ – noise

How to Pronounce French Diphthong/oy/?

The French diphthong /oy/ is a combination of two sounds: /o/ and /y/. To

To pronounce it correctly, round your lips like you’re saying “o”, but position your tongue like you’re saying “ee”. Your tongue should be raised high in your mouth, close to the roof.

The /o/ sound is made at the back of your mouth while the /y/ sound is made in the front of your mouth.

Practice saying words like “toi” (you) and “trois” (three) to get comfortable with this diphthong.

  • “roi” /ʁwa/ (king)
  • “voix” /vwa/ (voice)
  • “toi” /twa/ (you)
  • “oiseau” /wazo/ (bird)
  • “bois” /bwɑ/ (wood)
  • “moi” /mwa/ (me)

Tips for Improving French Pronunciation

  • Mimic Native Speakers:

Listen to native French speakers and mimic the way they pronounce diphthongs. Pay attention to the stress and intonation of the word and try to copy it as closely as possible.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice:

Practice is key when it comes to improving your diphthong pronunciation in French. Take the time to practice speaking French regularly and focus on getting the diphthongs right. Record yourself speaking and listen back to identify areas that need improvement.

  • Pay Attention to Mouth Shape:

The shape of your mouth plays a crucial role in the pronunciation of French diphthongs.

The story of French Diphthongs

One is good. Two is better. One is a vowel. Two is a diphthong. And French has three diphthongs.

In today’s lesson, you learned to pronounce and recognize French diphthongs in written French.

Remember to mimic native speakers, practice regularly, and pay attention to your mouth shape to improve your diphthong pronunciation.

So, what are you waiting for? Start practicing those diphthongs and let the world of French pronunciation open up to you!

Learn more about French Vowels for Beginners.

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