Speak French: How some words sound the same but mean different things

Immerse Insights

  • French words are often not pronounced as they are spelled.
  • French has a lot of homonyms, which can be confusing - or fun!
  • Tongue twisters can help with remembering the meanings of such words.

Our Immerse French Host, Lenha, shows you how pronunciation can be hard to predict from spelling in French words, and vice versa.

If you’ve been learning French, you will have noticed that spelling doesn’t always show you how to pronounce a word. For example, ‘la mer’ and ‘la mère’ sound the same, as do ‘un pair’ and ‘un père.’ This can confuse beginners, and it also makes it difficult to look up a word if you haven’t seen it in writing.

But French homonyms can be fun to play around with!

Lenha shows you how to have fun with some French homonyms.

Challenge: See if you can write down the four words Lenha used in the tongue twister and spell them correctly!

Fun Fact about French homonyms

French spelling uses silent letters - a LOT of silent letters. This means there are lots of words in French that are spelled differently but sound exactly the same.

In French, the words for “glass,” “green,” “worm,” and “towards” are all homonyms!

A glass is un verre 🥛

The color green is vert 🥒

A worm is ver 🐛

And toward (the direction) is vers ➚

So if you say, ‘Le ver vert va vers le verre vert…’

You’re really saying, ‘The green worm is going towards the green glass.’

Try saying that three times fast 😄

Pro Tip

If you really want to learn to speak French, don’t get overreliant on written resources. Find lots of opportunities to listen to French being spoken, and really pay attention to how words are pronounced.

And whenever you learn a new word, make sure you learn how to say it and how it’s spelled!

Tongue twisters 🤪, such as the one Lenha told you in the video, can help you remember which words are homonyms.

Do you still remember the sentence Lenha said to help you remember the four words? 😁

Don’t stop here!

Want to meet our Immerse Host, Lenha, and practice more tongue twisters, or learn more French in a live class with an expert virtual world language instructor?

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