Consonants in French are very often ignored when they’re on the ends of words. Here are some tips for helping you navigate the world of final consonants.

What are vowels and consonants?

Letters can be split up into two categories: vowels and consonants. Vowels are the letters a, e, i, o and u. All the other letters are consonants (b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k…)

Silent consonants

If you’ve been learning French with 3 Minute French, you’ll have come across a few words in the first course that aren’t pronounced how you might expect. The following words, for instance, all end with letters that are completely silent:

  • délicieux (delicious)
  • parfait (perfect)
  • toujours (always)
  • tout (everything)
  • mauvais (bad)
  • restaurant (restaurant)
  • mais (but)

Non-silent consonants

However, there are then some other words in French that end in consonants that you do pronounce! Take these, for example, the consonants at the end are clearly pronounced:

  • sac (bag)
  • docteur (doctor)
  • œuf (egg)
  • vol (flight)
  • parc (park)
  • plaisir (pleasure)
  • neuf (nine)
  • appel (call)

So, how do you know when to pronounce a consonant on the end of a word or not? Well, the word careful can help us out. The only consonants you ever pronounce on the end of a word in French are c, f, r and l. These are the only consonants you can find in the word CaReFuL. Any other consonant is not pronounced. If a word ends in a C, R, F or L, you can pronounce the last letter, but if it ends in any other consonant, you can’t pronounce it.

Let's practise

How do you think you would pronounce these words in French?

  1. donc (therefore)
  2. alors (so)
  3. nord (north)
  4. nous (we)
  5. éléphant (elephant)
  6. soif (thirst)
  7. avril (April)
  8. finir (to finish)


  1. “donk”
  2. “ah-LOOR”
  3. “noor”
  4. “noo”
  5. “eh-leh-FON(g)”
  6. “swaff”
  7. “ah-VRILL”
  8. “fee-NEER”

ER ending

There is an exception to the CaReFuL consonant rule, and that’s when you have a verb that ends in “er”. When you have a verb that ends in the letters “er”, you pronounce the “er” like an “ay”. This means you don’t hear the R sound on these words.

  • parler (to speak) — pronounced “par-lay”
  • aller (to go) — pronounced “ah-lay”
  • manger (to eat) — pronounced "mon(g)-jshay”
  • arriver (to arrive) — pronounced "ah-ree-vay”
  • jouer (to play) — pronounced "jshoo-ay”


Now, there is a time when you can ignore the CaReFuL consonant rule, and that is when the next word starts with a vowel. When a word ends in a consonant, and the next word starts with either a vowel or the letter h, you can pronounce the consonant. This is called liaison.

So, with these five examples, you can either choose to keep the consonant silent, or you can pronounce it, since the next word starts with a vowel or a h.

je suis allé (I went)
“jsheugh swee ah-LAY” or “jsheugh swee zah-LAY”

il est heureux (he is happy)
“eel eh eugh-REUGH” or “eel eh teugh-REUGH”

c’est ici (it’s here)
“seh ee-SEE” or “seh tee-SEE”

assez utile (quite useful)
“ah-SAY oo-TEEL” or “ah-SAY zoo-TEEL”

tu vas aller (you’re going to go)
“too vah ah-LAY” or “too vah zah-LAY”

In context

It’s always good to look at rules in context, because it helps to solidify them in your mind. So, let’s read through a few lines from Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), and focus on any words that end in a consonant.


Lorsque j’avais six ans j’ai vu, une fois, une magnifique image, dans un livre sur la Forêt Vierge qui s’appelait « Histoires Vécues ». Ça représentait un serpent boa qui avalait un fauve. Voilà la copie du dessin.

On disait dans le livre : « Les serpents boas avalent leur proie tout entière, sans la mâcher. Ensuite ils ne peuvent plus bouger et ils dorment pendant les six mois de leur digestion. »

J’ai alors beaucoup réfléchi sur les aventures de la jungle et, à mon tour, j’ai réussi, avec un crayon de couleur, à tracer mon premier dessin. Mon dessin numéro 1.

j’avais I had (“jshah-VEH”)
six six (“seese”)
ans years (“on(g)”)
fois time(s) (“fwah”)
dans in (“don(g)”)
sur on / about (“seughr”)
forêt forest (“foh-REH”)
s’appelait was called (“sah-peugh-LEH”)
histoires stories (“iss-TWAHR”)
vécues real-life (“vay-KOO”)
représentait represented (“reugh-preh-zon(g)-TEH”)
serpent snake (“sair-PON(g)”)
avalait was swallowing (“ah-vah-LEH”)
dessin drawing (“deh-SAN(g)”)
on one (“on(g)”)
disait said (“dee-ZEH”)
les the (“leh”)
serpents snakes (“sair-PON(g)”)
boas boas (“boh-AH”)
avalent swallow (“ah-VAL”)
leurtheir (“leughr”)
tout everything (“too”)
sans without (“son(g)”)
mâcher chew (“mah-SHAY”)
ils they (“eel”)
peuvent can (“peughv”)
ne … plus no longer (“neugh … ploo”)
bouger move (“boo-JSHAY”)
et and (“ay”)
dorment sleep (“doorm”)
pendant during (“pon(g)-DON(g)”)
mois month(s) (“mwah”)
digestion digestion (“dee-jshess-tee-ON(g)”)
alors so / then (“ah-LOOR”)
beaucoup a lot (“bow-koo”)
aventures adventures (“ah-von(g)-TEUGHR”)
mon my (“mon(g)”)
tour turn (“tor”)
avec with (“ah-VEK”)
un a (an(g))
crayon pencil (“krah-YON(g)”)
couleur colour (“koo-LEUGHR”)
tracer trace (“trah-SAY”)
premier first (“preugh-mee-AY”)