Mastering the French Pronunciation of the Double L: Tips and Practice

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In this article, I am going to explain the French Pronunciation of the Double L.

In French, the double L is sometimes said like “L” and other times like “Y.” This lesson clarifies when to use each pronunciation and highlights exceptions.

Check also: Mastering Grammatical French Agreement: Rules and Examples

Rules for Pronouncing LL

Pronunciation of double L in French is generally straightforward: after A, E, O, U, and Y, it’s pronounced as “L.” However, when the double L follows an I, it takes on a “Y” sound in combinations with vowel + ILL.

  • eill (oreille)
  • euill (feuille)
  • œill (œillet)
  • ouill (grenouille)
  • ueill (cueillir)
  • uill (juillet)
  • aill (e.g., taille)

LL is pronounced like a Y in words like fille, la Bastille, Millau, and chantilly. However, there are numerous words in which the double L is pronounced like an L. Here is the complete list:

  • un bacille – germ, bacillus
  • billevesées – nonsense
  • un billion – trillion
  • capillaire – capillary
  • un codicille – codicil
  • distiller – to distill
  • une fibrille – small fiber (fibrillaire, fibrillation)
  • un krill – krill
  • Lille – town in northern France
  • lilliputien – Liliputian
  • mille – thousand (un millénium, millier, etc.)
  • un mille – mile (le millage)
  • milli- (prefix)
  • un milliard – billion (un milliardaire, le milliardième, etc.)
  • un million – million (un millionaire, le millionième, etc.)
  • osciller – to oscillate, swing
  • un/e pupille – ward of the state
  • une pupille – pupil
  • une scille – scilla
  • une spongille – spongilla
  • tranquille – calm, tranquil
  • un verticille – verticil
  • un vexille – vexillum
  • une ville – town (une villa, un village, etc.)
  • une zorille – zorilla
  • une famille – family (un familliste)
  • des coquilles – shells (une coquille Saint-Jacques)
  • l’intervalle – interval (intercaler)
  • une coccinelle – ladybug (une coccinelles à sept points)
  • travailler – to work (un travail)
  • un gorille – gorilla (le gorille des montagnes)
  • réveiller – to wake up (réveil)
  • un outil – tool (un bricolage)
  • une bastille – fortress (la prison de la Bastille)
  • des moissons – harvests (le moissonneur)
  • une étincelle – spark (étincelant)

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