Hot Tip: Pronouncing The French ‘U’

On one hand, you’ve got ‘u.’ On the other, you’ve got ‘ou.’
older woman in yellow turtleneck and headphones making a whistling face french u

Learning French is one thing. Learning to pronounce it correctly is another. On one hand, it seems as though you can just ignore half the letters because a lot of them aren’t pronounced. On the other hand, subtle differences — like the one between the French u and the French ou — seem to matter a lot.

Babbel Live teacher Audrey admits that the French u sound is difficult to hear and pronounce for a lot of learners. Many of her students either use the English pronunciation of u or pronounce it the same way as ou, which can lead to misunderstandings.

To help her students, Audrey shows them where the difference between u and ou is physically in her mouth. Here is her quick guide to nailing the difference:

  • u: Lips in whistling position, tongue touching your bottom teeth
  • ou: Lips in whistling position, tongue at the bottom of your mouth

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