French Pronunciation: Intonation

Intonation patterns of French speech

This tutorial presents an overview of the rules of European/metropolitan French pronunciation, focusing on the vowels, consonants, stress, and intonation patterns that are different from American English. For more practice with comprehension and pronunciation, please check the listening and repetition exercises.

For more French learning through authentic videos, I recommend Yabla French and FluentU. For audiobooks and lessons of modern French, try French Today. I've recommended some French books at Amazon, and Interlinear books are great for learning French by reading literal translations in English. French Listening and Authentic French provide audio and video clips of real, spoken French in various accents with transcripts so you can listen and read along, plus some exercises to test your comprehension. Need even more French? Try the French courses at Udemy or consider purchasing French Language Tutorial as an e-book to support ielanguages.com.


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For more French learning through authentic videos, I recommend Yabla French and FluentU. For audiobooks and lessons of modern French, try French Today. I've recommended some French books at Amazon, and Interlinear books are great for learning French by reading literal translations in English. Need even more French? Try the French courses at Udemy

French Intonation

Intonation in French is slightly different from English. In general, the intonation rises only for a yes/no question, and the rest of the time, the intonation falls. French intonation starts at a higher pitch and falls continuously throughout the sentence, whereas in English, the stressed syllable has a higher pitch that what precedes and follows it.

Listen to these sentences in English and French and see if you can hear the difference in intonation. Bold marks the higher pitch. Notice that even if the intonation pattern seems similar, the syllables with higher pitches are often in different locations. The numbers below refer to the pitch: 1) low, 2) medium, 3) high, 4) extra high.


English Intonation vs. French Intonation

Sentence Type English Intonation French Intonation
Yes/No Question Are you leaving? 2 - 3 Est-ce que vous partez ? 2 - 3
Information Question Where are you going? 2 - 3 - 1 est-ce que vous allez ? 4 - 2 - 1
Imperative Do it. / Don't do it. (2) - 3 - 1 Fais-le. / Ne le fais pas. 4 - 2 - 1
Exclamation What a surprise! 2 - 3 - 1 Quelle surprise ! 4 - 2 - 1
Declarative I bought a dress. 2 - 3 - 1 J'ai acheté une robe. 3 - 2 - 1

 


 

French Phonetics: Learn French Pronunciation



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