Pronouncing words that end in 's'

Often with learning a foreign language we like to use our native tongue as a model. When English speakers learn French, they will often expect aspects of French to behave like English. When French speakers learn English, they will often expect aspects of English to behave like French. This is certainly true when French speakers pronounce (prononce) English words that end in ‘s’.

English words that end in s

The general rule with French words that end in ‘s’ is that the ‘s’ is silent (muet) if the next word does not begin with a vowel. If the next word does begin with a vowel, the ‘s’ is not silent. For example:

  • Nous allons à Auch. (not silent ‘s’)
  • Nous y allons. Mais Pierre …(silent ‘s’)
  • Les tables sont …(silent ‘s’)

In English, this pattern (modèle) does not exist. As a general rule, in English the ‘s’ is pronounced, as follows:

  • A table has four legs. (not silent ‘s’)
  • Your legs are sun-tanned (bronzé(es)). (not silent ‘s’)
  • We eat eggs for breakfast (petit déjeuner). (not silent ‘s’)
  • He eats eggs for breakfast (petit déjeuner). (not silent ‘s’)

So, in English, the letter ‘s’ is normally not silent. In the words island and isle the ‘s’ is silent (and it is silent in the French word isle too). But the general rule in English is:

If there is a letter ‘s’ at the end of a word, say it!