French Corrective Phonetics Guide

The Vowel /i/

The Vowel /i/

The French vowel /i/ has the following features: high, front, unrounded and oral. Examples of words containing /i/ are: lit [li] , rire [ʁiʁ] , inné [ine] , rapide [ʁapid] .


Like all French vowels, the vowel /i/ is short and tense. When articulating, avoid adding a /j/ at the end. While English does have a similar vowel, they are not the same. This is obvious in the following pairs:


Word pair French English
"qui/key" [ki] [kij]
"oui/we" [wi] [wij]
"si/see" [si] [sij]



Speakers of English tend to draw out the vowel in stressed syllables. In unstressed syllables, be careful not to use a lax vowel. For example, the vowels in the English word limit are lax, while those of the French word limite should be tense.


The vowel /i/ is represented by the letter "i" (or "y") in certain contexts. Namely:

a) at the end of a word, e.g.: si [si];

b) before a non-nasal consonant, e.g.: miser [mize], cycle [sikl];

c) before a nasal consonant followed by a vowel (silent or pronounced), e.g.: sublime [syblim]

 Note that when "i" is followed by a pronounced vowel, it represents the semi-consonant /j/ and NOT /i/, e.g.: Pierre = [pjɛʁ] and NOT [piɛʁ] .


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  • Be sure to pronounce a short tense vowel and to avoid a diphthong (si = [si] and NOT [sij])
  • Make sure you use the high French vowel /i/, not the lax English one (/ɪ/).



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