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About French

How to pronounce a French S? S or Z

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The rule states that you pronounce a written S – [s]

  • when it’s at the beginning of a word

o   sur

  • when it’s a vocal S at the end of a word

o   ours

  • when it’s a double-S

o   réussir

The rule states that you pronounce a written S - [z]

  • when it’s between two vowels (and the word doesn’t start with a prefix such as in ‘VRAIsemblablement’)

o   usé

  • when there is a liaison between a word ending in S and a vowel

o   les‿enfants, nos‿élèves, des‿œufs

/s/ /z/ English
embrasser embraser to kiss ≠ to set on fire
poisson poison fish ≠ poison
dessert sert dessert ≠ desert
saison saison season
oasis oasis oasis

 

Related: Pronunciation of Final Consonants . Liaisons in French

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