H aspiré

French aspirated h
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Aspirated h

Despite the name, the h aspiré is not aspirated or otherwise pronounced in French. Nevertheless, it is distinct from the h muet in that it does not allow elisions or liaisons – the h acts like a consonant.

Par exemple :  Je hais les hamacs. – I hate hammocks.

  • Because haïr begins with h aspiré, there is no elision with je. If it were h muet, you’d have to write j’hais.
  • Likewise, les hamacs is pronounced [lay ah mak], not [lay zah mak] as it would be if hamacs started with h muet.

The following is a fairly complete list of French words that start with h aspiré. As you can see, many of them are borrowed from other languages. Since they begin with h aspiré rather than h muet, their pronunciation remains closer to that of the original language. When in doubt, consult a dictionary, which will have some symbol, usually ‘ or *, to indicate the presence of an h aspiré.

hâbleur   boaster
la hache   axe
hacher   to chop
le hachisch   hashish
le haddock   haddock
la haie   hedge
le haïku   haiku
le haillon   rag
la haine   hatred
haïr   to hate
haïssable   detestable
halal   halal
le hâle   suntan
haler   to haul
hâler   to suntan
haleter   to pant
le hall   hall
la halle   market
le hallier   thicket, brush
Halloween  (f)   Halloween
le halo   halo
la halte   break
le hamac   hammock
le hamburger   hamburger
le hameau   hamlet
le hammam   hammam
la hampe   pole
le hamster   hamster
la hanche   hip
le hand-ball   handball
le handicap   handicap
le hangar   shed
hanter   to haunt
happer   to snatch, grab
harangue   harangue
harasser   to exhaust
harceler   to harass
la harde   herd
harder   to leash
hardi   daring
le hareng   herring
la hargne   spiteful anger
le haricot   bean
harnacher   to harness
le harpail   herd
la harpe   harp
le harpon   harpoon
le hasard   luck, chance
la hâte   haste
se hâter   to hasten
hausser   to harness
haut   high
la hauteur   height
le havre   haven
hercher   to haul
le hère   wretch, young stag
le hérisson   hedgehog
la hernie   hernia
le héron   heron
le héros   hero
la herse   hearse, harrow
le hêtre   beech tree
le heurt   collision
heurter   to strike
le heurtoir   door knocker
le hiatus   hiatus
le hibou   owl
le hic   snag
le hickory   hickory
hideux   hideous
la hiérarchie   hierarchy
le hiéroglyphe   hieroglyphe
hippie   hippie
hisser   to hoist, heave, haul
le hobby   hobby
hocher   to nod, shake one’s head
le hockey   hockey
la Hollande   Holland
le homard   lobster
Hong-Kong   Hong Kong
la Hongrie   Hungary
la honte   shame
le hoquet   hiccup
hoqueter   to hiccup
hors   outside
la houe   hoe
la houille   coal
la houle   swell
houleux   stormy
le hooligan   hooligan
la houppe   tuft
houspiller   to scold
la housse   cover
housser   to cover (furniture)
le houx   holly
le hublot   porthole
la huche   chest, trunk
huer   to boo
le huguenot   Huguenot
huit   eight
hululer   to hoot
humer   to smell
hurler   to shriek

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French h aspiré

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