I

French vowel

The letter I 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. [i] is the normal pronunciation. It’s kind of like American English’s long e sound, as in "he," but without the diphthong to a "y" sound at the end. When I has an accent, it’s always pronounced this way.

Par exemple…
i sound
six   six
ici   here
inouï   unheard of
un gîte   tourist cottage

2. [j] – the letter I is pronounced like an English y whenever it’s followed by e or o and often when it’s followed by l (learn more). This sound is called a semi-vowel.

Par exemple…
bien   well
une déception   disappointment
un accueil   welcome
une fille   girl

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French pronunciation
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