French vowel

The letter A has two different pronunciations in French. The explanation and equivalents provided here are based on the closest sounds that exist in American English, which are sometimes not very close at all. Phonetic symbols are provided in [brackets].

1. [a] is the most common pronunciation. It’s kind of like American English’s short o sound, as in "hot," but in French the lips are spread more widely. It may be spelled A or À (a accent grave).

French sound files Par exemple…
a sound
acheter   to buy
quatre   four
à cause de   because of

 In one word, it’s spelled E:

une femme   woman

2. [ɑ] is pronounced with more rounded lips and is slightly elongated; it falls somewhere between the sound above, and the short a sound as in "hat." This pronunciation is much less common, and in many French-speaking regions it’s dropped in favor of the regular a sound. Â (a accent circonflexe) should always be pronounced [ɑ], as should the unaccented A when it is followed by either a z sound or by a silent s.

French sound files Par exemple…
ɑ sound
pâtes   pasta
une base   base
un pas   step

  A’s pronunciation also varies depending on the letter combination it’s found in.

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French pronunciation

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