LL

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 ]:

Letters Examples
aill la paille straw
eill la veille night before
euill la feuille leaf
œill une œillade wink
ouill bouillir to boil
ueill cueillir to gather
uill la cuillère spoon

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

la Bastille Bastille
le cédille cedilla (ç)
le chantilly whipped cream
la famille family
la fille girl
Millau Millau (town in Aveyron)
la vanille vanilla

LL as [ l ]

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

la salle room
belle beautiful
folle crazy
le pull sweater
une syllabe syllable

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    
billevesées   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 millénium, 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 pénicilline        
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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