Pronouncing the French " U "

For anyone who has ever struggled to understand, or even hear, the difference between French “u” and French “ou,” don’t worry…

You’re not alone.

(by a long shot)

How to Pronounce French “u” in Three Steps


Bouncing from French u’s to French r’s my mouth feels like it’s performing acrobatics, and not very well. When asked for pronunciation advice, native speakers have a hard time explaining the mechanics of what seems so obvious and natural to them.

Paying attention to your physiology is very important when learning to speak a language. You must train your ear to hear the nuances between the different “u” sounds and your mouth to replicate the sound back. If you want to speak any new language well, you need your ear and your mouth to work together.

Bon Courage!


  1. Open your mouth and say “O”

  2. Continue to say “O” while you reposition your lips the way they would be if you were making a “W” sound

  3. Keep your lips pursed tightly and say “E”

  4. There you have it! French “u”!

If you have access to a native French speaker, you should ask them for their help. If not to figure out how to make the “u” sound, at least to tell you when you’ve nailed it.

How to Pronounce French "U" | A simple, step by step guide to nailing French U in five seconds | Observations from a Broad | Copyright 2019 OFAB ( photo Matthieu Joannon )

How to Pronounce the French “u”

In Three Easy Steps


L.D. has spent the past two years traveling, writing, and encouraging readers to look at the world with fresh eyes. For anyone who feels like their life has lost its vibrancy, she offers some advice, “Open new doors, challenge yourself, and fall in love with other people's stories.”

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