Pronouncing the letter h in French

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Pronouncing the letter h

At the start of a word, the letter h is either:
•  silent: the silent h doesn’t alter the pronunciation. As with words which start with a vowel, we make liasons and contractions (le/lal’, ded’).
un hôpital a hospital, les hôpitaux hospitals
un hôtel a hotel, des hôtels hotels
l’histoire the story, les histoires stories
un habit an item of clothing, des habits items of clothing
•  aspirated or voiced: the aspirated h is considered to be like a consonant, so we don’t make any liaisons or contractions.
un héros a hero, les héros heroes
le hibou an owl, les hiboux owls
un haricot a bean, des haricots beans
In the middle of a word, the letter h allows us to separate two vowel sounds:
une trahison a treason, a betrayal
incompréhensible incomprehensible
ébahi dumbstruck
We don’t usually pronounce the letter h after a consonant.
le bonheur happiness
une bibliothèque a library
Special cases: ch is generally pronounced che , and ph is pronounced like the letter f .
un chat a cat
un éléphant an elephant

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