Free online french grammar & pronunciation exercises

オンライン無料のフランス語文法と発音の練習 - 免费在线法语语法和发音练习

Exercices gratuits de grammaire et de prononciation du français

Difference between Y and En Difference between Qui, Que and Dont Difference between Bien and Bon Difference between Ou and Que The auxiliaries Etre and Avoir Difference between Dans and Après Pronouns Place of the adjective Liaison rules Pronunciation of the french language Negations (Ne…pas / Ne…plus / Ne…jamais / Ne…rien)

Verbs - Conjugation - Être or Avoir ? - Subjunctive - Past participle - Future tense or conditional tense ? - Être or Avoir ? - Indicative, Subjunctive ou Infinitive ? - Imperfect or Present perfect ? Articles, particles, ... - Expression of quantity - Prepositions - Articles - Pronouns - Interrogative adverbs - Interrogative pronouns Frequent confusions - Dans, Depuis or Il y a ? - Ce, Cet, Cette or Ces ? - très or beaucoup ? - y or en ? - qui - que - dont - tout, etc. - bien or bon ? - mieux or meilleur ? - ou or où ? - a or à ? - sur or sûr ? - où or que ? - Presque or Environ ? - Aussi or Non plus ? - Se or Ce ? - Savoir or Connaître ? - oui, si or non ? Word order - Place of the adjective - Word order Liaisons - Liaisons Pronunciation - Pronunciation of plus - Pronunciation of tous

Accent reduction

Réduction d'accent


What is an accent ? An accent is a characteristic pronunciation, mainly determined by the phonetic habits of the speaker's native language, carried over to his or her use of another language. An accent is therefore a pronunciation outside the admitted dispersion around the "normal" pronunciation. Why wanting to reduce one's accent ? The accent is the first impression received by the person addressed to. A strong accent may be perceived as embarrassing for the speaker, who is immediately identified as a "foreigner", and difficult for the person addressed to, to understand the content of the speech. Improving one's accent can bring, beyond an improved comprehension from the person(s) talked to, an increased personal and professional opportunities and image. Phonemes and intonation A non-native speaker has an accent because he or she can not properly pronounce the specific sounds of the target language, and/or can not reproduce the specific "melody" of the target language. Sound and melody are two different notions. Each particular sound of the language is created by the passage of the air in the mouth, tongue, and lips system (the vocal chords are not always involved in this process). On the unit level, these elementary sounds are called phonemes, such as for example [ã], [ő], [y], [u]... On the other hand, the melody, that is the intonation, is the "music" of the language, that is the fact that the rhythym varies within the same sentence, due to some parts of the speech being more stressed than others. Unlike a phoneme that is limited to a small portion of the speech (elementary sound), the melody is the characteristics of a whole sentence or at least of a group of words. Consider the following sentence 'Ça va', that is pronounced either as a rising intonation, or as an falling intonation. Stressing a different section of a sentence or of a group of words can lead to a different meaning. This is the case in the example above, where the rising intonation is typically the mark of a question, and the falling intonation the mark of an affirmation. But stressing the wrong section may also lead to an un-natural rhythym of the whole sentence, and the person addressed to might simply not understand you. Phonemes A phoneme is the minimal set of speech sounds that can be distinguished by the speakers of a particular language. Phonemes and letters are actually two different things : the same letter can represent different phonemes : for example, the letter "o" can be pronounced in French either [o], [ɔ] the same phoneme can be transcribed using different letters or combinations of letters : for example, the French phoneme [ã] can be transcribed "am", "an", "em", or "en" For this reason, phonemes are most of the time represented using the IPA (International Phonetic Association) notation. The number of phonemes greatly varies depending on the language, as shown on the following graph : The phonemes that are not part of one's native language will be more difficult to pronounce correctly, and some training will be required to get close to a native-like pronunciation. Even if one's native language is rich in phonemes does not necessarily mean that it will be easy to pronounce the phonemes of a different language, because they might not be closely related. Intonation A correct pronunciation is not only a problem of correctly pronouncing isolated sounds (correct articulation of phonemes), but also of pronouncing the whole sentence with the appropriate intonation. In fact, research seems to have established that intonation is more important than pronunciation for improving the intelligibility of speech. Intonation is the variation of pitch that is not, unlike the Chinese tones, used to distinguish words. It is rather the "melody" of the sentence : proper intonation means stressing the correct element (either word or syllable) in the sentence, using, depending on the language, one or several of the proper stress mechanisms below : intensity : the element is pronounced louder length : the element is pronounced longer pitch : the element is pronounced at a different frequency pause : a pause is made There are two types of intonation : one is the emotional (or affective) accent, and the other is the grammatical accent : the emotional (or affective) accent is the variation of pitch due to the speaker expressing emotions such as surprise, anger, etc... the grammatical accent is the variation of pitch that exists even when the speaker speaks in a neutral voice, and does not express any particular emotion. The grammatical accent is the core rhythm of the language, and this is what interests us here. The notion of intonation is closely related to the notion of rhythmic groups. The rhythmic groups A rhythmic group is a set of words that form a consistent meaning within a larger sentence, as shown in the examples below : J'ai acheté une voiture (I bought a car) J'ai acheté une belle voiture rouge (I bought a beautiful red car) Je viens d'acheter une belle voiture rouge (I have just bought a beautiful red car) J'ai acheté une voiture hier (I bought a car yesterday) Understanding the notion of rhythmic group is essential for a correct intonation of the sentence, as explained in detail here. Application to the accent reduction The table below summarizes all the potential causes of incorrect accent and/or comprehension : Potential problem Correction action → Phoneme level Incorrect pronunciation Parasite phoneme insertion This site can help you practice you listening comprehension of the different phonemes of the French language. Click here for additional details and to start practicing... Mute vowel not respected To assess this problem, you must first learn the basic rules of the mute vowels. Click here to consult the PDF grammar file. → Word level Incorrect liaison To assess this problem, you must first learn the basic rules of the liaison in French. Click here to consult the PDF grammar file. Incorrect word accent Click here for explanations and exercices on the word accent. → Sentence/group level Incorrect group identification Click here to learn how to identify the rhythym groups Incorrect group accent Click here to learn how to properly stress a rhythmic group Rhythmic Group definition A rhythmic group is a word, or a group of words, linked by a particular grammatical or logical relationship, such as : La voiture rouge est à Pierre : this sentence is composed of two rhythmic groups, one for the subject, and the other one for the verb and the object La voiture rouge qui est là-bas est à Pierre : this sentence is composed of three rhythmic groups, one for the subject, another for the explanation on the subject, and the last one for the verb and the object The decomposition of any sentence into rhythmic groups follows the few rules below : all the words within a rhythmic group are consistent from a logical and grammatical point of view. It is therefore impossible to split the sentence as below : La voiture rouge est à Pierre because the adjective ('rouge') is, by its meaning as well as from a grammatical point of view, related to the group : 'La voiture', and is not at all related to the group 'est à Pierre'. This is therefore the reason why in this example, the adjective must be in the same group as the related noun. the maximum size of a rhythmic group is limited by the possibility to pronounce it with a single breath to a certain extent, the decomposition can also be done in order to harmonize the lengths of the different rhythmic groups in the sentence the punctuation (colon, semi-colon) necessarily delimits two rhythmic groups. However, it is possible to have a rhythmic groups separation even though there is no punctuation mark (i.e. no punctuation mark does not necessarily mean rhythmic groups separation) The rhythmic groups are used to avoid ambiguities on the meaning of the sentence, when the sentence is pronounced orally and that the punctuation is not visible, as in the example below : Pierre a dit Jean est stupide (→ Pierre, a dit Jean, est stupide) Pierre a dit Jean est stupide (→ Pierre a dit : "Jean est stupide") Beyond the pitch, pauses within the sentence can help identify and/or strengthen the separation between the rhythmic groups, and thus help avoid ambiguities in the meaning of the sentence, as seen in the example above. Rhythmic Group accentuation The stress pattern of a rhythmic group is defined as follows : The stress always falls on the last non-mute syllable of each rhythmic group The stress is realized by lengthening the syllable, by applying a rising or a falling pitch, and also (though it is not necessary), by a short break just behind the stressed syllable The rising or falling pitch follows the two rules below : → Pitch inversion rule : two consecutive rhythmic groups have inverted pitch (i.e. : if the current group has a rising pitch, the next group will have a falling pitch, and vice-versa) → Pitch amplitude variation rule : all rhythmic groups do not have the same pitch amplitude (i.e. : the last group has a more stressed pitch : it is the one that gives the overall sentence its interrogative, rising pitch, or affirmative pitch, falling pitch) Listen to the recorded examples, and pay a close attention to the stress pattern (location and realization) of each rhythmic groups : The stressed syllables are marked in red. Notice that these syllables (the last syllable of each rhythmic group) are slightly lenghtened compared to the others. The pitch inversion rule is also respected, both for declarative sentences and for interrogative sentences. And last, the pitch amplitude variation rule is also respected : the final rhythmic group, that bears the global pitch (either rising for a question, or falling for a declaration) is more stressed than the other group(s). Except for the syllable that bears the rhythmic group stress, the syllables are pronounced on a rather flat tone, with no particular stress. Phoneme pronunciation As long as it is not possible for you to distinguish the different phonemes of the French language, it is impossible for you to reproduce them correctly. The correct identification of the French phonemes is the sine qua none condition to the accent improvement, and therefore the first step will be to train your hear to distinguish them, in particular those that are not part of your native language. In order to open your ears to the French sounds, you will be presented pairs of words that differ only by close phonemes, such as for example : Roi and Loi, pair of words that differ only by the liquid consonant R and L Pain and Bain, pair of words that differ only by the labial occlusive P and B Vont and Vin, pair of words that differ only by the nasal vowels ON and IN etc. This method, by focusing on close phonemes, provides an enhanced, and thus more beneficial, approach to the accent reduction. Vowels and consonants are addressed separately, but the method is the same : they will be displayed on a graph, that will be used as the starting point for the pronunciation exercices. Vowels : On the graph, vowels are set depending on the position of the mouth and of the lips : → The horizontal axis is the position of the lips : the more on the right, the more the lips must be in the front → The vertical axis is the mouth aperture : the higher on the graph, the more open the mouth must be Voyelles Close phonemes on the graph have close mouth and lips positions, and are phonetically close phonemes. These are therefore phonemes that will be difficult to distinguish and to pronounce correctly. Consonnants : On the graph, consonnants are classified by category : Consonnes Nasal The air escapes freely through the nose, like in [in], [on], [an] Fricative The air is forced through a narrow channel (for example : a channel formed by the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of [f],...) Labiale Consonant that uses the lips, like [m], [b], [p], ... Dental Consonant articulated by bringing the tip of the tongue and the teeth closer, like [t], [d], ... Palatale Consonant pronounced with the back of the tongue touching the top of the palate, like [k], ... Occlusive The airflow is stopped, then suddenly released, like [k], [p], ... voiced A phoneme using the vocal chords (that is the case for all the vowels, but also [b], [d], [z], ...) voiceless A phoneme that does not use the vocal chords (for example [p], [t], [s], ...) Clicking on any phoneme will display word pairs that differ only by this phoneme and some other close phonemes. These word pairs, that are difficult to distinguish and pronounce correctly, will be used as a basis to improve the accent. Listen to these words as often as necessary, until your ear gets used to it and manages to correctly distinguish them. Train to pronounce these words, until you can naturally reproduce the correct mouth, tongue and teeth position. Method In a nutshell, the method is based on the following 2 points : Train your hear : in order to be able to correctly pronounce the French phonemes, it is first necessary to be able to hear and distinguish them correctly. A repeated and careful listening will allow you to open your ears to the sounds of the French language. Train your mouth : to pronounce un-familiar sounds, you will have to use your mouth in an un-familiar way, and some training will be required at the beginning so that you eventually feel the mouth, tongue and lips correct position. That is the reason why you will need to repeat the words until the position of your mouth becomes natural to you. Below are some recommendations for a better utilisation of this site : Take the hearing assessment, that will take you about 15 minutes. This assessment will identify your weak points, such as, for example, a problem in distinguishing the P from the B Once your weak points are identified, go to either the vowel or consonant work page, to listen to the words you could not properly hear and/or tell apart. For example, if the assessment reveals a problem in distinguishing the P from the B, go to the consonant page, click on either P or B, then click on the item 'Between the sounds P and B'. Word pairs will be displayed, and you will be able to listen them as often as you want, till you can easily tell apart the phonemes that previously you could not properly distinguish. When you train your hear by listening to the words, make sure you repeat them so that you become aware of the correct mouth, lips and teeth position, and that this position becomes natural to you.

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