Pronouncing the letter s in French

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Pronouncing the letter s

The letter s is pronounced (with an ‘ss’ sound):

•  when it’s situated at the start of a word
super super
stupide stupid
la soupe soup
•  when it’s situated next to a consonant (either before or after)
rembourser to reimburse, to repay
un enseignant a teacher
une catastrophe a catastrophe
The letter s is pronounced (with a ‘zz’ sound) when it is situated between two vowels.
épouser to marry
une rose a rose
le désert the desert
Listen to and repeat the following terms!
désert desert, dessert dessert
baiser to shag/screw, baisser to lower
cousin cousin, coussin cushion
Note:
•  abasourdi (stunned) et aseptisé (sterilised) are two exceptions.
•  generally when the s is situated at the end of the word it is silent, although there are exceptions.
bus bus
un os a bone, but des os bones
mon fils my son
•  The ‘ss’ sound can also be written ss, c, ç or sc.
un dessert a dessert
un ascenseur a lift, an elevator
une licence a permit, a licence

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