Les voyelles nasales

The nasal vowels in French

A nasal vowel is a vowel that is followed by a nasal consonant “n” or “m”

There are four nasal vowels in French, which could be sum up in these two little sentences:

  • un bon vin blanc (a nice white wine)
  • un grand pain rond (a big round bread)
nasal vowels un on vin an
phonetic [œ̃] [ɔ̃] [ɛ̃] [ã]
Examples UN BON VIN BLANC
nasal vowels un an ain on
phonetic [œ̃] [ã] [ɛ̃] [ɔ̃]
Examples UN GRAND PAIN ROND



Even though we could list four nasal vowels in the French language, we could actually shorten the list to three. In a lot of places, like in Paris for example, people do not really make the distinction between [œ̃] and [ɛ̃]. We just pronounce it as if both were the same.

Please watch our video below, you will see the different types of spelling for these three sounds:

 

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