French Pronunciation of Letter "U"

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The French letter U is one of the two most difficult sounds in French for most people. (R is the other one.)

The unaccented U and the U with an accent circonflexe Û or tréma Ü are all pronounced the same way: with the lips tightly pursed.

There is no equivalent sound in English, so for this letter more than any other is is essential to get help from a native French speaker. In the meantime, take a look at step-by-step instructions on how to pronounce the French U.

Pronunciation Tips

  • The French U sound does not exist in English. The closest sound we have in English is OU as in soup, but unfortunately the French have that sound as well with their OU. You must be able to tell these sounds apart.
  • The U sound is always spelled U and the OU sound is always spelled OU, so they are easy to tell apart in writing.
  • Practice the distinction between U and OU.

The Mechanics

  • Open your mouth.
  • Say O.
  • Draw out the O until your lips are where they would be to make a W sound.
  • Purse your lips as tightly as you can.
  • Keeping your lips pursed, say E.
  • Voilà the French U!

Examples of French Words with 'U'

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Team, ThoughtCo. "French Pronunciation of Letter "U"." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). French Pronunciation of Letter "U". Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "French Pronunciation of Letter "U"." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).