The letter combination ai has two different pronunciations.
1) At the end of a verb, ai is pronounced like é.
|j’ai||present tense of avoir|
|je serai||future tense of être|
|je donnai||passé simple of donner|
2) Otherwise, ai is pronounced like è.
|j’aime||present tense of aimer|
|je serais||conditional of être|
|je donnais||imperfect of donner|
In words that are not verbs, ai is almost always pronounced è.
|é sound||è sound|
|j’ai||I have||je t’aime||I love you|
|je serai||I will be||je serais||I would be|
|je donnai||I gave||je donnais||I was giving|
The pronunciation of the letter combination ai is a matter of some debate among French speakers. This lesson is based on my personal experience and extensive research, but there are regional variations and opposing viewpoints: some say that there is a difference between ai and ais at the end of verbs, some recognize it but don’t pronounce it themselves, and others insist it simply doesn’t exist. If you leave a comment, please mention where you’re from to put your pronunciation into context.
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