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
heurter to strike
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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