Première classe A1 Breakthrough

Pronunciation: the French "h"

Écoutez les phrases. Appuyez-vous sur la présence ou non d’élision ou de liaison pour déterminer si le « h » est muet ou non.
Listen to the sentences and listen for the presence or absence of an elision or liaison to determine if the "h" is silent or not.
Cochez la ou les bonnes réponses Help on how to respond the exercice
haricot
The "h" allows elision, liaison and catenation.The "h" prevents elision, liaison and catenation.
hôpital, hôpitaux
The "h" allows elision, liaison and catenation. The "h" prevents elision, liaison and catenation.
hanche
The "h" allows elision, liaison and catenation.The "h" prevents elision, liaison and catenation.
heure
The "h" allows elision, liaison and catenation. The "h" prevents elision, liaison and catenation.
hôtel
The "h" allows elision, liaison and catenation. The "h" prevents elision, liaison and catenation.
nbOk item (s) out of nb selected correctly
Watch out !
Well done !
Conception: Geneviève Briet, Catholic University of Louvain
Published on 01/04/2013 - Modified on 13/12/2019

Pronunciation / The French "h"

The French "h" is a silent letter that is not pronounced. However, in the beginning of the word (handicap) and in a word like "dehors," "Tahiti," "Sahara," the "h" allows or prevents the combination of the consonant and vowel to form a syllable. 
The "h" that allows the consonant-vowel combination is called the "silent h" and the "h" that prevents this is called the "aspirated h."  
The "silent h" is not pronounced and allows elisions, liaisons and catenation.
 

The silent "h"

 
Elision
Liaison
Catenation (linking vowels from word to word)
NOUNS
L'hôpital
Un_homme, des_hommes
Cet_hôpital
ADJECTIVES
L'horrible accident
C'est très_humain
Quel_horrible accident !
VERBS  
Je m'habille.  
Ils habitent au Vietnam.  
Il hésite à aller aux urgences.  

The aspirated "h" is not pronounced and prevents elision, or omission (see: Pronunciation / Elision and deletion), liaison (see: Pronunciation / Liaison) and catenation (see: Pronunciation / Catenation (linking vowels from word to word)).  

The aspirated "h"

 
No elision
No liaison
No catenation
NOUNS
La // hauteur
Les // héros
Le handicapé
ADJECTIVES
C'est le // huitième étage.
Les // hautes études
Une // haute fonction
VERBS
Je // hurle.
Ils // hurlent.
Il // harcèle.

There is no rule to distinguish words that have an "aspirated h" from words that have a "silent h." The only explanation comes from etymology. The "silent h" comes from Latin and is often found in languages of Latin origin. The "aspirated h" comes from words borrowed from other languages like English (le hall), Frankish (le haricot), Arab (le hasard) and Dutch (le hareng)...  

The most frequent words

 
The silent "h"
The aspirated "h"
Masculine nouns
Un habitant, un hiver, un homme, un hôpital, un horaire, un hôtel
Le Hollandais, le Hongrois, le haricot, le hasard, le huit, le héros, le handicapé
Feminine nouns
Une habitante, une habitude, une heure une histoire, l'humidité, l'hygiène
La Hollandaise, la Hongroise, la hanche la hauteur, la handicapée, la hi-fi,la honte
Adjectives
Horrible, humain
Le huitième (étage)
Verbs
Habiller, habiter, hésiter
Harceler, hurler

You may also like...