le e muet (silent e)


le e muet (silent e)

In French, the letter e is often silent, such as at the end of a word, as in collège. There are several rules governing when e muet must be retained and when it must be deleted. Note however that retention or deletion also depends on the rapidity of speech, stylistic emphasis, and the type of consonants that precede or follow the e muet.
When the e is pronounced, as for example the vowel in the last word of suivez-le, it is represented by the phonetic symbol /ə/. To produce this sound, round your lips and protrude them as for the pronunciation of deux.
The deletion and retention of e muet

1. Phrase-final e muet is always dropped, unless it is the direct object pronoun le.

ex: la terminale; prochaine; la sociologie
MAIS: quitte-le; faites-le

2. Within a word or phrase, the e muet is always dropped if it is preceded by a single consonant.

ex:rapidement; lentement; sous le bureau; dans le cahier; prends le livre
* If, however, there are two consonants preceding the e muet, it is retained so as to avoid three consonants coming together.

ex: simplement; mercredi; gouvernement; appartement
3. With certain sequences of words that occur very frequently, the pattern of retention and deletion remains invariable.
ex:je ne je te parce que de ne

Je ne sais pas.
Je te dis qu'il n'est pas très intelligent.
Je redouble parce que j'ai raté tous mes examens.
Il est important de ne pas sécher les cours.

Listening proficiency

Listen and repeat the following. Decide whether each e muet is pronounced or deleted. Then, on a second pass, cross out the ones that are deleted.  Answers ...
  1. Pierre veut un diplôme.
  2. Je ne veux pas aller en classe.
  3. Il travaille dans le département.
  4. Je te demande la réponse.
  5. Il est important de ne pas oublier la phonétique.
  6. Tu aimes le français? Parle-le!
  7. J'ai cours le vendredi soir.
  8. Il vient de passer.
  9. Qu'est-ce qui ne va pas?