French pronunciation

In French, ll has two possible pronunciations:

  1. [ l ]  (l sound)
  2. [ j ]  (y sound)

While there are patterns that can help you determine the pronunciation of most words, there are a few dozen words that you just need to memorize.

LL as [ j ]

In all letter combinations with vowel + ill, the double l is pronounced [ j ]:

aillla paillestraw
eillla veillenight before
euillla feuilleleaf
Ĺ“illune Ĺ“illadewink
ouillbouillirto boil
ueillcueillirto gather
uillla cuillèrespoon

Double l is also pronounced [ j ] in most words with consonant + ill, including

la BastilleBastille
le cédillecedilla (ç)
le chantillywhipped cream
la famillefamily
la fillegirl
MillauMillau (town in Aveyron)
la vanillevanilla

LL as [ l ]

After any other vowel, the double l is pronounced [ l ]:

la salleroom
le pullsweater
une syllabesyllable

And it’s also pronounced [ l ] after i in about two dozen words (and their derivatives). This is the complete list – anything not listed here is pronounced [ j ].

Achille Achilles  
un bacille  germ, bacillus  
billevesĂ©es nonsense  
un billion trillion  
capillaire capillary  
un codicille codicil  
distiller to distill  
une fibrille small fiber (fibrillaire, fibrillation)*
Gilles boy’s name  
-illaire -ilary (suffix)  
un krill krill  
Lille Lille (town in Nord)  
lilliputien Liliputian  
mille thousand (un millĂ©nium, millier, etc.)
un mille mile (le millage)
milli- milli- (prefix) (millimètre, milligramme, etc)
un milliard billion (un milliardaire, le milliardième, etc.)
un million million (un millionaire, le millionième, etc.)
osciller  to oscillate, swing  
la pĂ©nicilline    
un/e pupille* ward of the state  
une pupille* pupil  
une scille scilla  
une spongille spongilla  
tranquille calm, tranquil  
un verticille verticil  
un vexille vexillum  
une ville town (une villa, un village, etc.)
une zorille zorilla  

*The ll in these words may be pronounced either way.

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French pronunciation

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