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I'm pretty confused by how to make someone understand I am trying to say tué, tu or tout.


J'ai tué mon ami. (I killed my friend.)
Tu es mon ami. (You are my friend.)
J'ai tout, mon ami. (I have everything, my friend.)

Please help.

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Watch out, the first should be "J'ai tué mon ami", which is very different. And the second should be "Je t'ai". – Joubarc Aug 18 '11 at 14:01
@Joubarc: I suspect that the OP was thinking of some contracted form of "je t'ai eu, mon ami". – Phira Aug 18 '11 at 14:24
Good news: you'll rarely use the first sentence :) – user22 Aug 18 '11 at 15:39
Lorsque "J'ai tout mes amis." est prononcé par un italien mafiosi, tu ne peux pas savoir si c'est ça ou "Je tue mes amis." (If I got you confused, ignore the comment, it's a joke) – Tipx Aug 19 '11 at 4:21

Nevertheless tu, tué and tout have all three different pronunciations.

In International Phonetic Alphabet

For the records, sounds are from Wikimédia.

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The sound linked for tué is closer to [tye], but indeed, in informal speech, it would be [tɥe]. – Evpok Aug 18 '11 at 15:02
@Evpok yes... I know. Can't find a better sample. – M'vy Aug 18 '11 at 15:11
no offence meant, just a clarification for IPA or French learners. Good answer anyway. – Evpok Aug 18 '11 at 15:17
I actually do pronounce "tué" just like in the sample. Can't hear what's wrong with it. – subtenante Aug 18 '11 at 19:04

To answer your question, "u" and "ou" are pronounced differently in French. However your first two sentences are incorrect, which is probably adding to the difficulty. The first should read J'ai tué mon ami and it's not totally clear what the second is trying to say.

For a real example of somewhere this can make a difference, note the difference between Vous lavez-vous? (Do you wash yourself?) and Vous l'avez vu? (Did you see it?) or of course dessus and dessous, or cul and cou...

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The three are pronounced differently. I don't know the IPA codes, sadly, but you can see the differences there:

You probably pronounce "tout" correctly, but "tu" is a very different sound.

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