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The grammar of the French language teaches the art of speaking and writing correctly in French.


Words are composed of sounds, and have a conventional meaning


Letters are the signs by means of which the sounds and words are visibly represented. There are twenty-five letters in the French language, A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V X Y Z.



Six of these letters—A E LO UY—are called vowels; they each represent one simple sound of the language.


The remaining nineteen are called consonants; they assist in representing compound sounds by combination with the vowels.


The acute accent (") is a sign drawn from right to left, and only placed over the vowel e; it expresses a modification of the sound represented by that vowel.


The grave accent (") is a sign drawn from left to right, which, when placed over the vowel e, represents a modification of the sound of that vowel. The grave accent is also placed over certain small words to distinguish them from other words similarly spelt but having a different meaning.



The circumflex accent (^) is a sign occasionally placed over the vowels a e io u; it generally intimates that the sounds represented by these vowels are to be broad and protracted.


The apostrophe (') is a sign placed a little over and between two words, intimating that a vowel is suppressed at the end of the first, and that both words are to be uttered as if there were only one.


The cedilla ($) is a small sign sometimes placed under the c when the letter occurs in combination with one of the vowels a o u; it intimates that in such words the c is to be pronounced like an s.



The tréma or diæresis (“*) is a sign placed over the last of two consecutive vowels, intimating that each vowel is to be pronounced separately.


The hyphen (-) is a sign in the shape of a dash drawn between certain words to intimate that they are closely connected together in their meaning.


There are nine kinds of words, called the nine parts of speech; five of these vary for gender and number, and four are unchangeable.





1. Pronounce the French alphabet

a b c d f hij k l m n o p q r s t u v x y z. Pronounce the thirteen simple sounds_

a e é è io u eu ou an in on un.


2. Pronounce the following compound sounds, in which the consonants are combined with the simple soundsba, be, bé, bè, bi, bo, bu, beu, bou, ban, bin, bon, bun. da, de, dé, dè, di, do, du, deu, dou, dan, din, don, dun. fa, fe, fé, fè, fi, fo, fu, feu, fou, fan, fin, fon, fun. ja, je, jé, jè, ji, jo, ju, jeu, jou, jan, jin, jon, jun. la, le, ie, ie, li, lo, lu, ieu, lou, lan, lin, lon, lun. ma, me, mé, mè, mi, mo, mu, meu, mou, man, min, mon, mun. na, ne, né, nè, ni, no, nu, neu, nou, nan, nin, non, nun. pa, pe, pé, pè, pi, po, pu, peu, pou, pan, pin, pon, pun. ra, re, ré, rè, ri, ro, ru, reu, rou, ran, rin, ron, run. sa, se, sé, sè, si, so, su, seu, sou, san, sin, son, sun. ta, te, té, tè, ti, to, tu, teu, tou, tan, tin, ton, tun. va, ve, vé, vè, vi, vo, vu, veu, vou, van, vin, von, vun. xa, xe, xé, xe, xi, xo, xu, xeu, xou, xan, xin, xon, xun. za, ze, zé, zè, zi, zo, zu, zeu, zou, zan, zin, zon, zun.

3. Pronounce the following diphthongs

(Those representing the same sounds are between brackets.) ia, (iai, ié), (iais, id), (ian, ien), ion, ieu, yeu), (io, iau), iou, iu, oi, oua, (ouai, oué), (ouais, ouè), oui, (ouan, ouen), oin, ouin, oủon, oueu, ua, (uai, ué), (uais, uè), ui, ueu, uo, (uan, uen), uin, uon.

Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which the sounds represented by the above diphthongs are included

tiare, je pariai, pitié, vous pariez, parier, je riais, il riait, liant, patient, dieu, yeux, mioche, miauler, chiourme, reliure, loi, douane, je jouai, joué, je jouais, brouette, jouir, louange, Rouen, soin, marsouin, louons, noueux, nuage, je tuai, tué, vous tuez, tuer, je tuais, ruelle, truite, lueur, monstrueux, impétuosité, nuance, influence, juin, remuons.

Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which IEN is sounded I-AN.

patience, conscience, science, audience, patient, faïence, inexpérience, efficient, &c.

Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which IEN is sounded I-IN.

bien, chien, combien, ancien, mien, musicien, mécanicien, je deviens, je tiens, je retiens, je viens, &c.

4. Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which the similar sounds represented by é, ai, er, ez, are included

été, café, bonté, amitié, jeté, mangé, épée, je parlai, je dansai, je chantai, je m'amusai, parler, danser, chanter, s'amuser, vous parlez, vous dansez, vous chantez, vous vous amusez.

Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which the similar sounds represented by è, ais, ès, es, are included

père, mère, frère, nièce, pègre, lèvre, grève, je parlais, je dansais, je chantais, je m'amusais, les, mes, tes, ses, des, très, succès, procès.

5. Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which the broad sound of the vowels represented by the circumflex accent is included

hâte, pate, ame, ane, être, tête, bête, même, gite, côte, dôme, flate, bâche.

6. Practise the pronunciation of the following words, derived from the Greek, in which the y represents the sound of one i

système, symétrie, sycophante, symbole, sycomore, syllabe, sympathie, syntaxe, synthèse, synode, tympan, tyran, type, myrte, &c.

Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which the y represents the sound of two i's

pays, abbaye, voyage, croyance, rayon, nettoyage, balayage, payer, ennuyer, appuyer, essuyer, essayer, &c.—which must be pronounced pai-i, abbai-i, voi-iage, croi-iance, &c.

7. The consonant h is mute or aspirate ; when mute, it is a mere spelling sign, having no value at all in the pronunciation; when aspirate, it represents no sound either, but no vowel is replaced by an apostrophe before it.

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Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which the h is mute

l'hermite, l'héritier, l'histoire, l'heure, l'hésitation, l'hérésie, &c.

Practise the pronunciation of the following words, in which the h is aspirate

le héros, le haubert, le hareng, le harpon, les haricots, les harnais, les hasards, les hauteurs, &c.

8. With reference to the pronunciation of l and Il liquid (mouillé), there is a remarkable difference of opinion between purists. Some say that this liquid sound was imported into the French language by the Italians at the time of the Medicis, and should consequently be pronounced something like the gl in the Italian article “ GLI.” Others say that although this peculiar pronunciation may have been introduced by the Italians, yet the French, in practice, do not generally pronounce ? or ll liquid like the Italian gl, which is difficult to them, but rather something like a y in their own language. Most ench people— for instance—asking for “un bouillon," will rather pronounce “bouyon" than “boulion," or anything else which cannot well be represented in French.

Pronounce the following words, in which the sound of the l and ll is liquid (mouillé).

soleil, sommeil, vermeil, appareil, pareil, orteil, éveil, réveil, abeille, corbeille, corneille, oreille, groseille, bouteille, merveille, vrille, bille, coquille, fille, grille, billard, papillon, pavillon, goupillon, volaille, canaille, bataille, &c.

9. Pronounce the following words, in which the sound of gn is liquid

campagne, Champagne, agneau, lorgnon, mignon, seigneur, magnifique, ignorant, digne, borgne, besogne, Boulogne, Cologne, ligne, règne, grognon, champignon, compagne, compagnon, signal, &c.

10. Pronounce the following words, in which the g and the n are both sounded distinctly

inexpugnable, ignition, stagnant, stagnation, magnat, diagnostic, &c.

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