H muet

French mute h
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Mute h

The French h muet is not just silent, but essentially non-existent: words that begin with h muet act as if they begin with a vowel. That is to say that elisions and liaisons are required in front of the h muet, in contrast to the h aspiré, in front of which they are forbidden.

Par exemple :  J’hésite à lire les histoires. – I hesitate to read the stories.

  • Because hésiter begins with h muet, the elision with je is required. Je hésite is incorrect.
  • Likewise, les histoires is pronounced [lay zee stwar], not [lay ee stwar] as it would be if histoires started with h aspiré.

There are more words that begin with h muet than with h aspiré, but when in doubt, check a dictionary. The pronunciation key will include some kind of symbol if it’s an h aspiré, or nothing at all if it’s an h muet.

habile     skillful
habilité (f)   fitness
s’habiller     to get dressed
habits (m)   clothes
habiter     to live in
habitude (f)   habit
hacker (m)   hacker
Hadès (m)   Hades
hadj (m)   hajj
hadron (m)   hadron
hagard     distraught
Haïti (m)   Haiti
haleine (f)   breath
Halloween (f)   Halloween
halluciner     to hallucinate
halo-     (prefix)
harmonica (m)   harmonica
harmonie (f)   harmony
harpagon (m)   skinflint, Scrooge
Hawaï (m)   Hawaii
hebdomadaire   weekly
hébergement (m)   lodging
héberger     to house
hébéter     to daze, stupefy
hébreu (m)   Hebrew
hectare (m)   hectare
hectique     hectic
hédonisme (m)   hedonism
hégémonie (f)   hegemony
hélicoptère (m)   helicopter
hélium (m)   helium
hélix (m)   helix
Helsinki     Helsinki
hématome (m)   hematoma
hémisphère (m)   hemisphere
hémophile     hemophiliac
hémorragie (f)   hemorrhage
hémorroïde (f)   hemorrhoid
hépatite (f)   hepatitis
herbage (m)   pasture
herbe (f)   grass
hérédité (f)   heredity
hériter     to inherit
héroïne (f)   heroin, heroine
herpès (m)   herpes
hésiter     to hesitate
hétérosexuel     heterosexuel
heure (f)   hour
heureux     happy
hexagone (m)   hexagon
hiberner     to hibernate
hibiscus (m)   hibiscus
hier     yesterday
hilare     beaming
Himalaya (m)   the Himalayas
hindou     Hindu
hip-hop (m)   hip-hop
hippodrome (m)   racetrack
hippopotame (m)   hippopotamus
hirondelle (f)   swallow
hirsute     hairy, shaggy
histoire (f)   story, history
hiver (m)   winter
holo-     (prefix)
hologramme (m)   hologram
homéopathie (f)   homeopathy
homicide (m)   homicide
hommage (m)   tribute
homme (m)   man
homo-     (prefix)
honnête     honest
honneur (m)   honor
honorer     to honor
hôpital (m)   hospital
horaire (m)   schedule, timetable
horizon (m)   horizon
horloge (f)   clock
hormone (f)   hormone
horoscope (m)   horoscope
horreur (f)   horror
horrible     horrible
horrifier     to horrify
horticulture (f)   horticulture
hospitalité (f)   hospitality
hostile     hostile
hôte (m)   host
huile (f)   oil
huître (f)   oyster
humain (m)   human
humble     humble
humeur (f)   mood
humide     humid
hyacinthe (f)   hyacinth
hybride (m)   hybrid
hydr-     (prefix)
hydraulique     hydraulic
hydrogène (m)   hydrogen
hygiène (f)   hygiene
hyper-     (prefix)
hypo-     (prefix)
hystérie (f)   hysteria

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French h muet

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