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10 English words the French can’t pronounce and 10 French words the English can’t pronounce

English tongue-twisters

Thorough and Through “fuh-ruh” and “froo”

The ‘th’ sound doesn’t exist in French, and how could you know that ‘ough’ is pronounced differently in both words!

 

Beach “beech”

French people can’t help pronouncing this word the same as a female dog, much to most English people’s amusement!

 

Hedgehog “hedge-hog”

Actually pronounced as written, but still a bit of a mouthful for French speakers!

 

Jewellery “jool-ry”

Is a tricky one with the confusing ‘w’ and extra ‘e’ to throw French speakers off the pronunciation scent!

 

Squirrel “sque-rul”

A word that is equally as difficult for French speakers to say in English and English speakers to say in French (see below).

 

Rural “roar-rul”

Another English word that is not pronounced anything like it’s written…

 

Clothes “clo-f-s”

Such a seemingly simple word, but French speakers struggle with the ‘th’ in the middle of the word, along with the ‘es’ and often pronounce it more like “clos-is”.

 

Crisps “k-risp-s”

Yes the humble British sandwich sidekick isn’t easy for French speakers to wrap their tongues round either. It must be something to do with the ‘ps” sound at the end.

 

Angry and hungry “ang-ree” “hung-ree”

Not to be confused with the newly coined ‘hangry’ which means you’re angry because you‘re hungry! These words are easily mixed up but as long as you pronounce the ‘h’ in hungry, you should make yourself clear which emotion you are referring to.

 

Work and walk “wer-k” qnd “worl-k”

Again, two sinple words that are often confused because of a very similar pronunciation. Funnily enough, ‘walk’ is almost pronounced as ‘work’ looks like it should be! We never said the English language was easy.

 

We never said the French language was easy either…

 

French flabbergasters

 

Roi (king) “rwa”

It looks like the English name Roy, but sadly the pronunciation is more complicated than that! Ensure you get the French ‘r’ sound correct at the beginning of the word.

 

Beaucoup (many) “bow-coo”

One of the most commonly said words in French, but the ‘coup’ sound at the end is tricky. You need to master this to avoid telling people that they have a ‘beautiful bum’ instead!

 

Malheureusement (unfortunately)“mal-er-roous-mon”

Unfortunately (ha ha) this word is as hard to say as it looks, but practice makes perfect and once you’ve perfected it, you will enjoy the sound of it rolling off your tongue.

 

Bouilloire (kettle) “buj-wa”

A very important word to learn how to say in French, if you’re a typical English tea lover. Unfortunately it’s arguably the trickiest of the lot!

 

Écureuil (squirrel) “eck-oo-roy”

The hardest animal name to pronounce in any language?!

 

Accueillir (to welcome) “ack-coy-ear”

Another word with lots ‘L’s’ and ‘I’s’ that sounds nothing like you would expect.

 

Oeuf (egg) “euf”

An everyday word that sounds trés français when you get it right!

 

Oeil (eye) “oi-ya”

The pronunciation of this word sounds like a long drawn out version of the English translation, but you wouldn’t realize that by looking at the word’s spelling.

 

Fauteuil (armchair) “Foo-toya”

Yet again the ‘eil’ complicates matters… once you’ve mastered one of these words, you’ve hopefully have mastered them all, then you can relax in your ‘fauteil’!

 

Cueillir (to gather, to pluck) “cooy-ear”

One final ‘llir’ word for you to wrap you tongue around. The double ‘l’ sound is like a ‘y’ in English, which ‘ear’ encapsulates, but you can also think of it as a drawn out ‘y’.

 

It seems that both languages have a plethora of difficult words to pronounce. Remember, practice makes perfect!


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Pronunciation

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VOUS vs TU

VOUS or TU ??   How embarrassing not to know which one to use ? Is there a rule, how do the French know which one to use ?   You are speaking to an adult : If the person is a family member = TU If the person is not a family member…

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