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When Do I Pronounce The Final “...ENT” In French Words?

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Why do the French pronounce the final ENT in SOUVENT and not in MANGENT? Good question!

Girl surpising her boyfriend
Hmmm...I don't have a clue.

So why would we write letters when we don’t pronounce them?

Believe me, this is definitely very annoying for us French as kids when we learn how to read and write. So let’s be honest, our life is really complicated from 6 years old to….well, all through school. Good news is that yours is only getting complicated just now. Lucky you!

Actually, figuring this out is not that hard. We have just a few rules, and even fewer exceptions. You just need to be aware of them!

First We'll Learn Learn How To Pronounce ...ENT

The Final Consonant Rule

Before we discuss when to pronounce ...ent and when not to, we first need to learn how to actually pronounce it. For that we need to talk about the final consonant rule since ...ent ends in a final consonant. The rule is that most of our final consonants are mute or silent (c/d/p/s/t/..), including the t in ...ent. Examples: un porc, quand, beaucoup, un jus.

But you already knew that, right? If not, you can review the Instant French Lesson 1 Youtube video here around 11’43. So in general, we don’t pronounce the final consonants in French words—they’re silent.

Exceptions: With a few very short words like un bus, un car, un cap… we do pronounce the final consonant.

The Nasal Sound AN/EN

Next, let’s also make sure that you know how to produce the nasal sound an/en (both pronounced the same), which you will need to properly pronounce ...ent. This was covered in our Lesson 2 video which you can review by clicking here and watching from 8’30 to 10’00. So the bottom line is that when the ...ent is pronounced, it is pronounced just like the an/en sound. We just don’t pronounce the t.

Done? Good, let’s move on!

"...always pronounce ...ent unless it is the ending of a verb!"

When To Pronounce The ...ent Ending

So how do we know when the ...ent at the end of a word is pronounced, and when it is silent? You’ll be surprised how easy that one is! Take a look at these sentences:

Comment ? Quand il y a du vent, les enfants mangent rapidement des croissants et les parents boivent souvent du vin blanc?

Literal translation: What? When there is some wind, kids eat quickly some croissants and parents often drink some white wine?

Notice how many ...ent' s you have here—seven!

Comment ? Quand il y a du vent, les enfants mangent rapidement des croissants et les parents boivent souvent du vin blanc ?

Well, all of them are pronounced, just like an or en, except two, which are not pronounced at all. But which two?

All right, let’s see what the rule is, and happily, this one has NO EXCEPTIONS! Yihaaa!

Rule 1: When the word that ends with ...ent is a VERB, you don’t pronounce it. Why? No clue. Just because. (Actually it relates to language evolution from Latin.)

But the silent ...ent with verbs does have a grammatical value in writing—conjugation with either a plural noun or the plural pronouns ils or elles.

Rule 2: When the word that ends with ...ent is anything else but a verb, you pronounce it. Mainly, you’ll see ...ent in adverbs like souvent, rarement, lentement, or éventuellement.

Exceptions: NONE!

So let’s have a last look at our practice sentence. Which are the two verbs ending in a silent ...ent? MANGER and BOIRE, right?

Comment ? Quand il y a du vent, les enfants mangent rapidement des croissants et les parents boivent souvent du vin blanc ?

So it’s easy! The two verbs are pronounced just like they were MANGE and BOIVE.

So now, let’s highlight all the an/en sounds that we do pronounce, just for fun.

Comment ? Quand il y a du vent, les enfants mangent rapidement des croissants et les parents boivent souvent du vin blanc ?

Got it? That's a lot of nasal sounds. Try to say the whole sentence smoothly, making sure that you’re really using your nasal an/en sound.

Now, try a sentence on your own:

Les gens pensent souvent à partir en France pour les vacances, et la plupart du temps, ils reviennent très contents !

Which are the words in which you don’t pronounce ...ent ?

Leave your answer in the comment section!

Need a clue? There are two verbs in this sentence. Now guess!

So, in summary, you always pronounce ...ent unless it is the ending of a verb! Easier than you thought, huh?

Not sure about how to pronounce some of these words? To hear the proper pronunciation of all the phrases in today’s blog, all you have to do is click on the short video below!


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