There is no way to know whether you should pronounce the final letter of a French word or not.
That’s at least what most French textbooks say.
Luckily, this isn’t entirely true. It turns out there is a formula that can help you know whether you should pronounce the last letter of a word or not.
And you want to know the best? It’s easy and works in the majority of cases. You didn’t expect a French rule to work all the time, did you? :).
Meet the CaReFuL rule
To know whether a final letter should be pronounced or not, think about the CaReFuL rule.
If a French word ends in C, R, F or L (the letters in CaReFuL), the final letter is pronounced.
If the word ends with another letter, the final letter is silent
This doesn’t work if the final letter is a “e”, “b”, “k” or “q” though. But since “b”, “k” and “q” are almost never used as final letters in French, the CaReFuL works in most cases.
Should you pronounce the end letter of these words?
Now that you know the theory, let’s see how it works in practice.
The final letter is a „c“ so you pronounce it.
The final letter is a „r“ so you pronounce it.
The final letter is a „t“, so you don‘t pronounce it.
The final letter is a „s“ so you don‘t pronounce it.
The final letter of „champs“ is „s“, so you don‘t pronounce it.
And the final letter of „Elysées“ is also a „s“, so it‘s silent.
You do need to link “champs” and “Elysées” together though. This is what we call liaisons.
I’m still not sure whether a final letter is silent or not
If you ever have a doubt, you can always:
- Check a French dictionary and look at the pronunciation of the word.
- See if the pronunciation of the word is available on Forvo.
- Ask someone to pronounce the word for you on Rhinospike.
- Pronounce the word and carefully look for any sign of surprise or confusion on the face of the person you’re talking to.
Over to you
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