pronunciation of end consonants

MichaelH133

Regarding masculine nouns.  I understand that the last consonant is not pronounced (e.g., un crayon - "cray-oo") but sometime it seems that I hear a bit of the last consonant like (e.g. un jour) be spoken.  Can you provide guidance as to this?

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Salut MichaelH133 !

Merci pour votre question ! 

Silent letters in French can be quite tricky when you're first starting out, but don't worry: you will get the hang of them over time!

Consonants at the ends of words aren't always silent in French - the letter R, for instance, is usually pronounced (provided that there isn't an E in front of it to form -er). There are some final consonants that you can count on to be silent most of the time, though. These are:

D, G, M, N, P, S, T, X and Z.

It can be hard to go through vocabulary and try to remember a whole list of letters at the same time, so my advice might be this:

Create two short lists for yourself, one with one word for each of these silent end consonants (e.g. chaud, sang, nom, crayon, etc.) and then one with one word for each of the non-silent consonants (e.g. club, avec, chef, avril, etc.). (You'll be hard pressed to find French words ending in some letters, like -j or -k for instance, so don't worry about these.) Then, practice your lists separately aloud - this should help you start to group silent letters and voiced letters in your mind. The My Flashcards tool might be particularly helpful with this. 

Perhaps another forum user out there has another method that they've found helpful too?

Bonne chance ! 

Liss

Peter--252

I have heard of the mnemonic "for luck", i.e. the consonants which are usually pronounced at the end are c, f, l, r.
I just checked against the list that Liss provided, and it seems consistent. Missing are b, h, v, w, y which I assume rarely occur at the end(?) except perhaps in imported words.
(Have just thought of "plomb" = (English) lead, i.e. the metal.  Does this end with a nasal and silent ​b ? )

J'espère que cela peut vous aider !

Peter--252

There is another point which I'm not sure is mentioned in the course, but if a word is made plural by adding an "s", it seems that the end consonant will still not be pronounced, e.g. (from lesson 19.1)  "... pour attirer les clients."  in which the t in "clients" is not pronounced.

Could you confirm or correct me on this Liss?

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Salut Peter--252 !

I'll break my answer up with headings to make it easier to read.

End Consonants B, H, V, W, and Y
I have a difficult time thinking of words that end in V, W and Y that are not place names or borrowed words, so I'd say you're right there: you'll rarely see them at the ends of French words. They would likely be pronounced if they are pronounced in the language that they were borrowed from. 

Words ending in H are also usually borrowed, and so would work the same as the letters mentioned above. The one instance I can think of that is not a borrowed word is maths, which is short for les mathématiques "math."  In this instance, the H (and the plural S) is silent. 

Words ending in B are a bit more common, and some aren't borrowed, such as pub, which comes from publicité "advertising / advertisement." B is normally pronounced.

The word plomb is an exception - the B here is indeed silent. You can hear an example in this phrase here:

[rocket-record phraseId="1671"]

Adding -S
You are correct in thinking that if a word receives an -s on the end in the plural, this will not affect the way that the consonants are pronounced: if they were originally silent, they will still be silent. The S will be silent as well. Generally, it's when a vowel is added after a silent consonant that it will become voiced. Compare the masculine client and the feminine cliente below:

[rocket-record phraseId="35752"]
[rocket-record phraseId="1740"]

Silent end letters can also become pronounced when the word following them starts with a vowel - but this is a bit more tricky, and is something that is better learned as you go along.

I hope that this helps clear everything up!

À la prochaine,

Liss

Peter--252

Merci Liss,

I hadn't thought of pub.

 

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

De rien, Peter--252 ! :)

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